Cylinder Lubricant

Hey CD,

What lubricants do you use for your cylinders? The cylinders on our shooter mechanism aren’t too happy right now and I’m pretty sure it’s a lubrication issue.

No lube required. sometimes the rod might get bent, and then you need a new cylinder. We had one get sticky like that in our first regional, used one of our spares to fix it.

disconnect the threaded end, pull the rod out all the way, turn it, see if it’s straight or bent.

You can lubricate them - and sometimes you do need to (especially on older bots). But usually the problem is a bent cylinder rod if it’s sticking. Any light weight lube oil, 3 in 1 sewing machine oil… they really aren’t to picky.

Would lube be considered non-COTS-ifying the cylinder?

Had this conversation with a LRI and a little oil was okay. Warned a little about compatibility with plastic tubing. That’d be a minor concern if you were getting much air tool oil on the outside of the tubing where the push-in connector is holding. Bent rods are probably a greater concern, we’ve rarely oiled or considered oiling pneumatic components and I don’t think it has been a problem. This year, however, we had some stickiness in one of our NITRA automation direct single solenoid valves and so we added a tiny bit there (not sure whether it helped or not).

If it truly is a lube issue, I’d consider a drop or two of air tool oil in each end of the cylinder inlets.

yup, there is oil made especially for pneumatic systems. But it’s for air powered motors, which have vanes inside them.

The cylinders use oilite bushings, generally. Which are supposed to never need lubrication. Maybe we should take apart a damaged one, and see what’s in there. Although I just looked at the end of a new cylinder, and it sure looks like an oilite bronze bushing in there.

I don’t know what’s on the piston end of the rod, though

I was thinking that the sliding surface between piston and cylinder wall might be the likely place in need of lube. Also, many air tools like nail guns and rivet guns use pistons.

Did it seem sticky without pressure moving it by hand or did it seem sticky when there was pressure because, and correct me if I’m wrong but I thought a lot of pistons used air bearings. So wouldn’t adding lube mess it up or not do anything at all?

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It’s very likely a slight bend, you may want to check for interference in the extreme extended and retracted positions. Depending on the length, it could be bent back, but never to the original condition.