Chains need the right lubricant09 February 2011

Tests by leaf chain manufacturer FB Chain reveal that the choice of lubricant, not just the frequency of greasing, has a dramatic impact on forklift truck chain performance.

FB Chain's Peter Church says getting this right is important, because, since a forklift chain is classed as a wear item, the cost of replacing a worn or damaged one is unlikely to be covered by your contract maintenance package.

"However, [choosing the lubricant] is not as straightforward as perhaps it should be – largely because most chain lubricants currently used were designed for transmission or motorcycle applications," he warns
FB Chain's study took three identical lengths of chain and coated them with three brands of commonly used chain lubricant – and found that the best performing oil outlasted the worst by nearly four times. In another test, the same three lubricants were applied to identical chains, before rinsing with water for one minute then putting them through a salt spray test to assess corrosion resistance.

"The oil that had been the second best performer in the wear test did not come out of the corrosion test at all well," says Church.
"The oil proved to have a low viscosity, which helps the oil to penetrate between the chain's pins and plates, but allows it to be removed when washed. For equipment working outside, this particular brand of oil would not stay in place long enough," he explains.

"I am pleased to say that of the three oils tested, one clearly offered the best performance in both the corrosion and wear tests and this is the brand that is applied to our leaf chain when it leaves our factory," he adds.

Brian Tinham

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