By: Andrew Hamilton, CHS director of lubricants, technical services
Knowing exactly when to change or reapply grease to your equipment can seem like guesswork. Thankfully, there are a few important guidelines to consider to help keep your grease program on track.
When should grease be applied?
“We always recommend applying grease before, during and after usage,” says Andrew Hamilton, CHS director of lubricants, technical services.
Applying grease beforehand provides a protective barrier that keeps dirt and other debris away from the sensitive, moving parts of your machinery. Another application during peak activity ensures unnecessary and unseen wear-and-tear isn’t taking place. A final application once work has concluded helps fresh grease to occupy any newfound gaps or crevices and ensures equipment is ready to go the next time around.
How do you choose the right grease for the equipment?
The best way to determine the equipment’s needs is to refer to the owner’s manual or use an online equipment look-up tool that can provide grease recommendations. With that in mind, there are a few best practices to build into your routine:
- When purchasing grease, the number one consideration should always be choosing something that’s compatible with the product currently being used with the equipment. Whether different lubricants are compatible has nothing to do with the color in the tube. Instead, compatibility is dependent on the grease’s chemical composition and thickener. “The number one, sure-fire way of not properly maintaining your equipment or ruining your grease program is by putting an incompatible grease into your equipment,” says Hamilton. “Color has no bearing on whether a grease is compatible. Color is nothing more than a window dressing, with no beneficial property to the grease.”
- Different machinery components have varied grease requirements, so don’t assume buying only one grease is best for all your equipment’s needs. Components with sliding parts, like the axle, may take something like a Molyplex 500 or a Maxtron® EP that has molybdenum disulfide, or “moly,” in its formulation . But bearings can experience water wash-out and may need a more protective, multi-purpose grease like BlueGard® 500 TM or a polyurea grease like Poly-Xtreme®.
How do you switch grease types?
Switching between greases of different compositions requires great care to make sure no old materials are left behind. There are two effective methods:
- Push the grease through the equipment until the new product comes out the other end. This method is the most time-intensive and requires substantial grease, but is generally the most simplistic.
- The most effective way to switch greases, however, is to disassemble the equipment and use a grease cleaner on all components. “This method is the most efficient way of making sure your new grease does the work it needs to do without any interference from the previous grease,” says Hamilton.
How much grease should be kept on hand for the season?
Keeping a few tubes of each kind of required grease is a good guideline. However, even more important than having grease on hand is knowing the names and types of the greases currently being used. “Farmers come to us all the time with questions about their lubricant, but they can’t remember the name,” says Hamilton. “In these situations, there is just not a lot we can do to help them.”
An easy way to keep track of products is by simply taking photos of the front and back labels. In most cases, taking a picture of the name of your product is enough to look up any additional needed information online. This practice becomes even more important if the current product stops being manufactured or otherwise becomes unavailable.
The above guidelines will help turn uncertainty into an effective and efficient plan of action for keeping your equipment properly lubricated. Learn more about how to keep your equipment up and running year-round with tips and advice from Andrew Hamilton at Cenex.com.