Q&A with Bill Gay

Technical Service Manager, Bel-Ray Lubricants


What’s so important about choosing the right lubricant for gear production?

With the right lubricant, it all comes down to contamination elimination, which extends the life of the gears. Contamination comes in through various mediums, such as seals in different areas, dust, and water. The size and hardness of particles really affects the type of the wear.

We have a “lubricant advisor” tool on our website; it’s a huge time-saving tool for maintenance personnel. It not only gives them the right choice of products, it also gives them correct quantities, change intervals — every bit of information normally found in a maintenance manual is at the tip of your finger. It’s also very simple to use.

It’s a great tool. How did it come about?

It started in our power sports division. That’s where you see the “lubricant selector” tool being a little more common. But we wanted to offer it to our industrial customers as well.

The information produced by the lubricant advisor tool comes from a database compiled from OEM specifications. This isn’t about recommending some certain lubricant that we’re stocked up with; the answers come from OEM recommendations. In the industrial sector, we usually have most of the necessary lubricants, but occasionally we won’t have the specific product available. In that case, the customer is directed to our technical services; we want you to talk to our specialists, instead of just saying, “Oh, this one’s close enough.” We calculate the pinion speed, the number of reductions in horsepower, operating temperature — everything that goes into account to pick the right oil.

Tell me about a particular lubricant that Bel-Ray offers with specific uses.

Extreme pressure additives are invaluable tools for maximizing gear lubricant performance. The Bel-Ray 100 Gear Oil contains great extreme pressure additives for gearboxes. Under these heavy loads, the pressure gets very high because the areas are so small; the asperities can actually weld together and pull chunks out of the base of the tooth. Localized temperatures can be extreme. The additives in this particular gear oil, when exposed to the temperatures created by these contacts, are activated, and “plate over” the asperities, preventing these asperities from welding together.

It doesn’t sound like lubrication is a “one-size-fits-all” deal.

It’s really not. There is a concept that people overlook often: The importance of different kinds of additives — anti-wear additives, extreme pressure additives, antioxidants, corrosion and rust inhibitors, etc. Many people think, “If there’s oil in it, we’ll run it.” There’s much more to it than that. Concepts such as the cleanliness of the oil, keeping moisture out, oil analysis — these are all important things to consider when choosing the right lubricant.

Des-Case, for example, makes desiccant breathers that go onto the gearbox. When the atmosphere inside the gearbox heats up and expands, it goes out through the breather. There is a silica gel within the breather that absorbs moisture. Then, when the interior area cools down, the atmosphere contracts and draws air back in through the desiccant breather, before it goes to the enclosed gear case. This is important, because moisture can interfere with the lubricant film formation and the effectiveness of load carrying additives, which leads to wear. Moisture can also contribute to rust, foam, and oxidation. Contamination also has to do with the handling of the lubricants — methods used to transfer the lubricants to the equipment.

What do you recommend using to transfer the lubricant?

People will put it in anything. Oil-safe containers are designed for that kind of operation, to be transferred to your gear case. That’s a good way to prevent contamination.

So what’s next for Bel-Ray?

We’re developing some new open gear lubricants, new viscosities, and a new product called Clear Gear used for mill and kiln gear teeth. It takes about 48 hours of application to clean the old lubricants off the gears and clean them up to the point where you can inspect them in the mill. When we are working on a lubrication problem, if we don’t know the technical aspect of it ourselves, we go right to the chemist and find out exactly how to do it. We’ve got access directly to the R and D chemist. Everybody here is on a first-name basis with each other.

MORE INFORMATION: Try out Bel-Ray’s Lubricant Advisor at www.belray.com/lubricant_advisor, or call 732-938-2421 for more information on Bel-Ray products.