In the Shop
As a farm machinery mechanic and writer, Dan brings a hands-on approach that only a pro can muster. Along with his In the Shop blog, Dan writes a column by the same name as well as the Shop Series for Farm Journal magazine. Always providing practical information, he is a master at tackling technical topics and making them easy for all of our readers to understand. He and his wife, Becky, live near Bouton, Iowa.
Conventional Versus Synthetic Lubricants
May 18, 2014
Without getting into deep, deep comparisons of hydrocarbon chemistry, here are some comments about the use of conventional and synthetic lubricants:
-Synthetic gear oils are great stuff. Problems with gear cases that develop high temperatures can often be reduced by switching from conventional mineral-based gear lube to synthetic gear lube. Even if synthetic lube doesn't drastically reduce operating temperatures, the synthetic lube will stand up to the higher temperatures better than conventional gear lube.
-Synthetic ENGINE oil can be too slippery. In conversations with guys who build racing engines for stock cars, they uniformally prefer to break-in high performance engines with traditional engine oil. Synthetic oils are so "slippery" they sometimes prevent piston rings from properly "seating" against cylinder walls. Once the engines are broken-in, those engine builders like synthetic engine oils due to their superior lubricative and heat control properties.
-It's best not to mix synthetic lubricants with conventional lubricants. Blending the two lubricants generally won't cause catastrophic failures, but it diminishes the benefits that each type of lube offers.
-If the owner's manual says to use synthetic lubricants, don't substitute or blend conventional lubricants. Because of the unique properties of synthetic lubricants, conventional lubes may not meet the needs of machinery designed specifically to be lubricated with synthetics.