Metal Lubricants

Ok time for another installment of “what belongs in every teams toolbox” Todays topic; WD-40, JB-80, Grease, 3 in 1 sewing machine oil, or other? Here are my thoughts.

At robotics:
WD-40: Used for lubricating our pneumatic cylinders, chain and lubrication on other metal on metal rubbing points that are hard to get at.

Grease: Used for metal on metal rubbing points that are easy to get at and will be rubbing together for long periods of time (ie the whole season)

In the auto shop use:
JB-80: used to prep pneumatic tools and lubricate stubborn rusty bolts

Grease: used on the key grease points on every car

Personal use:
WD-40: used on my bike chain

sewing machine oil: used to maintain my hand tools and i also use it for my home appliances with any sort of gear box (most commonly my paper shredder)

So what do you guys and gals on chief delphi use at robotics, work and or home as lubricant.

WD-40, or “Water Displacement” is not actually a lubricant; it’s designed to displace any water in a mechanism so it can be greased with actual lubricant. Only once have I ever actually used WD-40 to displace water.

White lithium grease.

That is very interesting I didn’t know that. I have been using it on my bike chain for years.

*see attachment



I can’t speak so much for robot chains but I can tell you that you should absolutely never lubricate a bike chain with WD-40. It will strip any existing lubricant from the chain and leave you with metal-on-metal. Not to mention that it will leave behind a paraffin residue that will muck up with dust and dirt faster than any other product. The only time you can use WD-40 on a chain is if you’re trying to clean rust off it, after which you should de-grease and clean it and then properly lubricate it.

Not sure where you got that picture, but even WD-40 themselves say that its not meant for bike chains.

This year our team tried something a little different for lubrication. We used Dupont Teflon Chain Saver. Very little mess and a little bit of this amazing stuff goes a long way. In addition to using this on chain, we put in our gearboxes and even the gearing in our shooter head. Plays nicely with polycarbonate.

JB-80 is an excellent all around lubricant for more than pneumatic tools and rusty bolts.

Any of the Justice Brothers products for lubrication is great to use. They have an excellent chain lube, and white lithium grease( worked great in the AM super shifter gear boxes we used this year). They also have a silicon spray that is useful in applications that do not need the extreme lubrication that grease and spray lubricants add.

In the automotive world, we consider WD-40 a reasonably effective adhesive. It makes things slide for a little while, but then it gums up and gets sticky.

We use Mobil Velocite Spindle Oil #6 for a light lubricant, Mobil Vactra #2 Way Oil for a medium lubricant (both are used on the lathe too), WalMart spray white grease for a light grease, and Mobil synthetic grease (not sure of the number, but recommended by BaneBots to lube their planetary transmissions - it’s dark blue) as a heavy grease.

Chains get light oil, shafts with bearings get light grease, transmissions get heavy grease, everything else is a best guess.

WD 40 has some lubricants in it and can be used for the task, but its really not very good for it. My favorite general purpose oil is 3 in 1 oil, and a lighter oil for finer mechanisms(bought it originally for a camera shutter mechanism, but I now use it on bikes chains and other stuff) For those I use NYOIL.

I love lubricants but i have to say is don’t put to much on the part. I have ruined more than one bike chain by over lubing it and having dirt cling on and work there way into the joints.

We use this as well. Works great for all our applications.

I was introduced to it by RC, owner of West Coast Products. He also suggests this as the lubricant of choice for WCP products. The McMaster part number is also listed.

My dad and I both are avid bicycle mechanics… and we use:

WD-40: My dad uses it for chains. I use it for chains once in a while. Also used for reviving dried seals in Presta valves and pike pumps.

ATF - I buy whatever happens to be cheapest (currently dextron-mercron mix). I use it for chains via an oil can. I also use it in 3 speed hubs, in freewheel mechanisms, and as a general de-gunker for cleaning old gunked up bearings and the like. I even have a plastic crystal light tube of it that I soak really crusty parts in. Once in a while it gets used as a cutting oil.

White Lithium grease- Used for packing loose/caged bearings, press-fit things (headset cups, square taper cranks, etc), sliding clamps (stems and seatposts), and heavy threads (bottom bracket cups, freewheels, track cogs/lockrings, crank threads). Also used to pack coaster brake hubs and to coat new brake/shift cables.

Not quite a lubricant, but PB-Blast often gets used for dealing with rusty things…

Back in my days as an FRC student, 3-in-1 was used by both former teams to cut stuff. Both teams used whatever grease happened to be donated for transmissions and the like; 1747 used white “food grade” grease; 2783 used black “ford/lincoln” grease. We had no issues either way…

WD-40 is not a very good lube. It is primarily Stoddard Solvent/paint thinner, which evaporates. What’s left does gunk up. It does make a good grease cutter.

For light lubrication, air tool oil isn’t bad. It should have rust-preventative additives.

My recent favorite is Fluid Film. While primarily intended as a rust preventative, it does a decent job of penetrating and lubricating, doesn’t dry out and is somewhat waxy. It contains Lanolin. Some use it on bike chains. I spritz it on battery terminals to prevent corrosion.