Temperature (° F)
< 40
SAE 5*
SAE 10*
SAE 20
* Type A or B Automatic Transmission Fluid may be substituted.

Proper drive lubrication is essential for a long service life. When properly applied, lubricants penetrate chain joints and serve to protect against corrosion, dissipate heat, cushion impact, and flush away debris. For most applications a good grade of non-detergent petroleum based oil is recommended. Multi viscosity oils are not recommended. Generally greases and high viscosity oils are too thick to penetrate chain joints and should be avoided.

A chain which does not receive sufficient lubrication will wear prematurely. An early indication is the appearance of a reddish brown, iron oxide deposit on the chain. When this is found the method and/or quantity of lubricant should be improved. Chain drives should also be covered or enclosed in a manner that will protect the oil from contamination by dirt or moisture. For best results oil should be filtered and cooled when necessary.

Lubrication Methods

Type I – Manual And Drip Lubrication

Oil is applied periodically to the inside of the chain with a brush, drip tube, or oil can. With a drip feed system, one oil drop opening should be provided for each .75 inches (19 mm) of chain width. The volume and frequency of lubrication should be enough to prevent chain overheating or discoloration.

This method may be suitable for applications involving low speeds and loads, or short duty cycles. It is not generally recommended for chain speeds exceeding 1,000 ft/min (5.1M/s).

Type II – Bath and Disc Lubrication

Bath-The lower strand of chain runs through an oil bath. The oil level should be such that the pitch line of the chain is just submerged. Also, to prevent excessive heat generation, only a short section of chain should run through the bath.

Disc-A rotating disc picks up oil from a reservoir and directs it to the chain by means of a baffle or trough.The chain is not submerged in oil. This method requires that the disc rim speed be between 800 ft/min and 8,000 ft/min (4 m/s and 40 m/s).

These methods may be suitable for chain speeds up to approximately 2,500 ft/min (12 m/s).

Type III – Force Feed Lubrication

Lubricant is supplied in a continuous stream by a circulating pump and distribution pipe. The oil should be directed to the inside of the slack strand with one oil stream for each 1 inch (25.4 mm) of chain width. This is the preferred method of lubrication, particularly for drives with heavy loads or speeds greater than 2,500 ft/min (12.7 M/s). Recommended oil flow rates will vary depending on the application. The equation below lists minimum recommended flow rates based on the power transmitted. In general, oil flow rates should be 1 gallon per minute, for every 1 inch of chain width (3.8 liters per minute, for every 25 mm of chain width).

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