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Helpful Tips to Protect Grease Life

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Helpful Tips to Protect Grease Life

Making sure you get the best from our grease is important to us. We’ve put together some information about using and storing grease we think you’ll find useful.

What's wrong with over-greasing?

It’s common to think applying more grease is better, but that’s not the case when you’re using Schaeffer’s greases. With our high-performance greases, you don’t have to use as much or apply as often as you would with conventional greases.

When you pack the bearings or gearbox full of grease, there’s not enough room for the grease to work. Grease acts like a sponge full of water. The thickener is the cellulose (sponge) part; you squeeze it and the water, or in this case the oil, is released. Once you stop squeezing the ‘sponge,’ it absorbs the oil back to retain its consistency.

By packing bearings too full of grease, you force out the oil so that it bleeds away. All you’re left with is the thickener, which is not what lubricates the bearings.

Over-greasing causes higher operating temperatures, which leads to a rapid separation (bleeding) of the base oils. Equipment has to work harder to push the grease, causing churning to occur. As the base oils dry, they create a cake-lock that prevents the grease from lubricating components properly. Over time, the extra grease can hurt equipment efficiency, affect seals and coatings, and lead to bearing failure.

Always make sure you’re following the right recommendations on how often you grease and how much you should grease. Most bearings may only need to be two-thirds to half full depending on the speed and size.

What is grease caking?

Grease caking is when the grease looks like it’s dried out, as if the base oil evaporated; it starts to thicken and build up internally on bearings and gears. You may have seen this—it looks like burnt cake stuck on bearings.

Understanding what causes grease caking can help you maintain your grease and equipment better.

Over-greasing leads to grease caking because it forces the oils out of the thickener; the base oils dry out over time. Not applying enough grease or not applying it when you’re supposed to can cause the grease to dry out.

Another culprit is grease contamination. Dirt and dust get in the grease and mix with it, causing the grease to dry out.

Grease caking can occur when you use greases that are not compatible. For example, a bentone-based grease cannot co-function with an aluminum complex grease. The oil may be released, and the grease will not be able to perform properly.

What's the best way to store grease?

Grease is made to release its oil when there’s pressure, high temperatures and whenever it’s in use. However, if you’re not careful with how you store your grease and grease delivery systems, you can make the grease think it’s being used.

To optimize grease life, keep your containers away from areas of contamination, and follow the first-in, first-out inventory system.

Grease tubes: It’s best to store grease in its original packaging and keep the container closed. When you’re not using the tube, store it upright in a cool, dry place where it’s not exposed to sunlight or heat. Avoid letting the tubes roll around. We know it’s easy to toss them in a truck and go. However, that causes air bubbles (voids) in the grease, which makes it harder to pump the grease through a gun.

Grease guns: Notice oil is bleeding from your grease gun? Make it a habit of storing grease guns with the tips upright, so gravity doesn’t force your oils to separate from the thickener. Be sure to depressurize each grease gun before storing them.

Grease delivery systems: Avoid adding pressure to your system, particularly on systems that have follower plates. Pressure causes the grease to start working. You don’t want to use more than 45 psi when you’re distributing or delivering the grease. Higher pressures cause the oil to be released first, making the grease seem really thin or mostly oil. At the nozzle, you may even experience grease with the consistency of shaving cream. The grease keg will feel heavy like it still has grease because the thickener will remain at the bottom, forming a caked up, hard lump.