By Peter Church
While aerosols no longer contain the chlorofluorocarbons that damage the ozone layer, there are reasons other than environmental impact to avoid using leaf chain lubricant from a spray can.
- Spray on lubricant may not reach the joints of the link plates and pins where needed
Leaf chain is made up of three components: inner plates, outer plates and pins. The pin is riveted to the outer plate and passes through the inner plate, which pivots around the pin.
That’s where you need your chain lubricant to end up, but the dispersal effect of an aerosol chain lube spray may mean that not enough oil, or indeed any, reaches the pins where it is needed.
As well as noisy operation, this inadequate lubrication will result in increased wear, a shortened service life and higher replacement costs.
- Product and money are wasted lubricating areas that don’t need it
The inaccuracy of the spray means that a lot of lubricant ends up on non-moving components that don’t need it. Applying chain lubricant in this way uses much more product than necessary, leading to increased costs. Over time, this can add up to a significant amount.
- Unwanted lubrication can damage other components
In addition to the waste it entails, getting lubricant on the wrong components could even be harmful. Modern materials handling equipment include an increasing number of electronics that could be damaged by oil accidentally being sprayed onto them.
Similarly, when trying to reach leaf chain at the bottom of a forklift mast, spray-on lube may end up on the brake pads. This can affect their breaking performance and cause a safety risk if the coefficient changes as a result of contamination with the wrong type of lubrication.
- Lubrication in the wrong areas can attract dust and dirt
Even where unwanted lubrication is not directly damaging, it can be a magnet for dust and grime. If the chain is not properly wiped down afterwards, the dirt can increase corrosion and decrease the service life. If this cleaning is carried out, it is an extra job that can be avoided by using other methods, saving time in the long run.
- Spray on lubrication can create a slip hazard
Finally, to make the lubricant sprayable, it typically has a low viscosity, meaning it can easily run off the chain surface onto the floor where it can create a slip hazard or contaminate other products.
Avoid these issues by applying chain lube with a brush
Most of these issues can be avoided altogether by applying the non-aerosol version of the same chain lube using a brush. This allows you to brush the leaf chain lubrication directly onto the leaf chain pin and plate joint, using less product and giving it the best possible chance to soak down deep into the chain.
We highly recommend treating the chain in a slack condition or removing chain tension for 10-15 minutes afterwards to allow the chain oil to penetrate the chain.
For further advice on leaf chain maintenance on material handling equipment, please feel free to get in touch.