Gearboxes are high-torque, high-speed machines that undergo severe amounts of stress. Oil and lubrication are critical to the operation of every gearbox. Most gearboxes have fill holes and drain plugs to facilitate the addition of oil and removal of used oil. However, the only way to know if your equipment has enough oil is to open it up and visually inspect it. Unfortunately, this means you need to shut down, costing your production valuable time.
To make this process smoother, most experts recommend you replace the drain plug with a component called a sight glass. With this, anyone who is walking by the gearbox can check the current amount of oil and make additions. To remove the need to fill the cap, you can replace it with a quick connect or breather to add oil and filtration abilities. The following are six other tips you can use to improve the operation of your gearbox.
The primary issue in using mineral oils in high-temperature operations, like in gearboxes, is their oxidation stability. Mineral oils are quite stable regarding their viscosity consistency and thermal stability. However, in the presence of air, most experts do not recommend using mineral oils in any operation in which temperatures exceed 200 degrees Fahrenheit.
A leak in your gearbox can indicate a serious problem. Most leaks are caused by pressure issues. When you are trying to diagnose a leak, start with plugged vents, higher than usual heat levels, and overfilled lubricants. If your gearbox is under too much stress, it can result in brittle gaskets that cause leaks as well. Having your gearbox inspected regularly and repaired when necessary can help prevent leaks.
It is normal to purchase rebuilt gearboxes because they can be more affordable, with the quality of brand-new gearboxes. When you are purchasing a rebuilt gearbox, you are probably not thinking about the type of grease that the rebuild shop uses. Make sure that you specify the type of grease you want to be used before your purchase. You want to make sure you use one that is compatible with the grease you use in your shop currently. You will eventually need to replenish lubricants, so it is essential that they use grease that you can mix with yours. Make sure you call to verify the type of grease you like to use.
Make sure you remove sludge from your gearbox as frequently as possible. The presence of sludge seriously reduces the useful life of your oil. For example, even one percent of sludge in a lubricant oil can reduce its operational life by 40 percent.
Water contamination in gearboxes can lead to serious problems. If you are having trouble keeping your gearboxes dry, consider checking for cooler leaks. Cooler leaks, especially those that are in gearboxes that run continuously, are responsible for a significant number of wet gearboxes. If your gearbox runs periodically, try using desiccant breathers. These breathers do need to be maintained, but they more than pay for themselves if your gearbox is having trouble staying dry.
Another common area of concern in outdoor gearboxes are the expansion chambers. Try adding water-removing breathers to the expansion chambers to catch water before it gets into the air in the system. You can also try off-line water removal by using filters or carts.
One of the best ways to diagnose gearbox issues is to sample the oil. However, when and where you sample the oil is critical to catching problems. For instance, if you are using a filter on your unit, you want to sample the oil before it is filtered. The filters usually remove contaminants that might indicate critical contamination issues.
Additionally, avoid sampling from centralized reservoirs such as those in hydraulic systems or steam turbines. A large amount of oil in these reservoirs often dilutes wear-metal trending concentrations below levels that are detectable. Rather, you should sample bearing drain headers and live-zone return lines to get an accurate reading of the issue.
Keeping your gearbox operational is a multi-stage job. You need to continually inspect and maintain your equipment to prevent critical failures. If you need affordable, high-quality industrial gearbox inspection, repair, or maintenance, contact the experts at Amarillo Gear Service in Amarillo, Texas today. You can call us at (806) 622-1273 or Contact Us by email to learn more about our Amarillo Gear™ and Marley™ gearbox repair services. We will be glad to tell you more about the Regions We Service and our Stock/Exchange Program, which allows you to purchase high-quality, rebuilt gearboxes.