Bearing Lubrication Procedures: Cleaning
How can you develop a system when you know your bearing lubricant is operating efficiently? To get the right answers is critical to extending bearing life and performance.
The removal of any existing oil, grease and anti-corrosion coatings increases in importance as the operating life and reliability of the application becomes more and more critical. The wetting of the contact surface by the lubricating film will be enhanced by a clean contact surface. Removal of the oils, grease and coating will also eliminate any potential incompatibilities that might exist between these products and the subject lubricant. It is always advised to remove these materials prior to applying silicone or per fluorinated based products.
Existing surface coatings could act as separating agents, preventing the applied grease from wetting the bearing balls and races properly. For applications that operate in the high speed range, or when a specialty lubricant is being used, a clean dry surface may be critical to ensure the proper adhesion between the grease thickener matrix and the bearing surfaces.
Many bearing companies offer their products pre-coated with an oil film and/or anticorrosion coating. If this coating has both a micro-thickness and is compatible with the chosen lubricant, then a pre-cleaning may not be necessary. It is important to discuss this situation with the subject bearing and lubricant supplier.
Use of a non-residual solvent for the cleaning of bearing surfaces offers the optimum lubrication condition. Prior to selecting a suitable industrial solvent, it is important to refer to any applicable federal, state, local or global regulations regarding their restrictions or proper use.
The most efficient non-residual solvents were CFC-113 and methyl chloroform. But, restrictions on ozone depleting chemicals stop the use of these solvent types. In this case, the best allowable no residual solvent must be used.
The application criteria, along with the degree of contamination, will determine the extent of cleaning and whether multiple cleanings or ultrasonic cleaning is necessary.
As the cleaned parts dry, they become prone to atmospheric corrosion. If immediate lubrication is not possible, the parts should be coated with a dispersion of the intended lubricant prior to storage. Even if the bearings are immediately lubricated, the “non-lubricated” surfaces are still prone to corrosion. Hence, it is advisable to apply a light anti-corrosion coating to these bearing surfaces after lubrication.
* n = bearing rpm, ng = speed rating of bearing using grease (rpm)
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