4 Factors That Affect The Operation Of Your Gearbox

4 Factors That Affect The Operation Of Your Gearbox

Date: August 15, 2017

There are many factors that can affect the operational quality of your gearbox. A few simple preventative maintenance techniques will decrease your gearbox’s chances of breaking down. These practices for keeping your machine working efficiently relate to oil, operating temperature, vibration, and noise.

Oil and lubrication

Incorrect lubrication usually triggers gearbox malfunctions. If an unsuitable lubricant is loaded, it can lead to gear and/or bearing damage. An oil with the right viscosity provides a thin, protective coating over enmeshed gear teeth so that they cannot directly touch each other. Too little or no oil coating at all results in damage like tooth breakage, bearing rollers heating and melding, and other premature wear.

Operating temperature

Temperature fluctuations can impact an oil’s viscosity. If the seasonal operating temperature is extremely erratic, oil must be monitored and changed based on the condition. The temperature directly affects the proper circulation of the oil, and therefore, the operational quality of the entire gearbox.

Temperature spikes often mean that a gearbox cannot run as effectively as it should because of an issue with the gears and/or bearings. Temperature readings can determine whether a more thorough examination of the gearbox’s interior is necessary to prevent lengthy, expensive repairs caused by a major breakdown.

The sump lubricant temperature of an AGMA-rated gearbox should never exceed 200°F. If the sump oil temperatures exceed this level, mineral lubricants will begin to break down quickly, leading to excessive wear and frequently reduced seal protection.

Some synthetic oils can be used effectively in operating temperatures that exceed 200°F, but they also cost more than mineral lubricants. If your gearbox runs near or exceeds these limits, you should use cooling units like shaft fans or heat sinks.


It is vital to routinely monitor and sample the oil in your gearbox. Lubricant degrades as time passes, which makes it unable to consistently maintain a protective layer. Additionally, changing the oil flushes out any pollutants that accumulate in the sump. Scheduling regular maintenance and inspections can help you keep up with lubrication changes.

Measuring your gearbox’s vibration levels helps to identify improperly aligned couplings, inadequate base support, and any damage to the gears or bearings. You should take a baseline measurement while your gearbox is mounted and attached to the machinery it powers. Vibration measurements need to be analyzed by a qualified expert.


Unusual noises are usually the first clue that a gearbox is not working right. Excessive noise can signify worn out or broken gears and/or bearings. Knocking noises may indicate that the unit’s gear teeth are broken. Rattling sounds are often due to loose rivets or excessive vibration, while squealing noises can indicate lax bearings or chafing metal.

Verifying your gearbox is operating efficiently

Occasionally sampling and analyzing the lubricant will show whether moisture is thinning it out or if it is degrading. It also indicates whether there is any gear or bearing damage. Sampling is useful for establishing an oil change schedule that depends on the oil’s composition when tested.

Oil concentrations need to be regularly checked. In gearboxes that have too little oil, the gears and bearings will eventually become damaged. Low oil readings can also mean there is a leaky seal somewhere. Conversely, if a gearbox has too much oil, the running temperature rises, which diminishes the machine’s efficiency.

During your gearbox inspection, look for and swap out any leaking shaft gaskets or seals. In addition, many gearbox shaft seals and bearings have grease cavities that prevent dust and grime from entering the unit. A grease gun is used to flush these spaces during oil changes and more regularly in very toxic operating conditions.

Filters, vents, and breathers are essential for eliminating impurities in gearboxes that have pressurized oiling systems. These components should be inspected, cleaned, and possibly replaced during oil changes or any time a filter bypass alarm is triggered. A clogged filter will permit polluted oil to go straight to the gears and bearings, resulting in damage from particles and reduced machine life.

Considering how costly and time-consuming major gearbox repairs often are, it is very important to keep your unit running at a high level of efficiency. Once downtime is factored in, unit repairs can cost you hundreds of dollars.

The only way to get the most out of your gearbox and avoid costly repairs is to ensure it is properly maintained. Sticking to a precautionary maintenance plan keeps your equipment working as it should, minimizes operational expenses, and creates a safer and less polluted work environment.

Amarillo Gear Service offers high quality gearbox maintenance and repair

By choosing an experienced industrial gearbox repair company, you can expect concrete that enhance the longevity and performance of your gearbox. If you are looking for a reliable service provider that understands your gearbox, call Amarillo Gear Service in Amarillo, Texas today. You can call us at (806) 622-1273 for more information about our Amarillo Gear™ and Marley™ gearbox repair and Renewal services. You can also view the Regions We Service or Contact Us by email to learn more.

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