View Full Version : About these oil cups

06-03-2006, 04:41 PM
I could have sworn I saw a fairly recent post on oil cups, pipe cleaners and all, but I'll be darned if I can find it now.

Anyway, I have this old Sheldon lathe that has a bazillion oil cups on it. The only two books I have are the Lindsay Care and Operation of a Lathe,
and the Army manual for this lathe. The Army manual has a diagram that
specifies the lube areas, frequency, and lube type.

Lube type. The manual says for oil:

"high quality general purpose machine oil (sae 20) such as gargoyle
vactra oil, heavy medium"

Can someone translate that for me. Do they still make this stuff? Is
this what I should be using? Is there a more readily available modern
alternative? Where can I obtain some?


"general purpose anti-friction bearing grease such as gargoyle grease
BRB No.1"

The machine has zerk fittings at all the grease points. Can I just use the same chassis grease I use in my vechicles?

Oil Cups:
There are of course oil cups all over this machine. Do I fill the cup up
with oil? I heard something about putting a piece of felt or a pipe
cleaner in the cup?

How do these cups operate? Are they intended to drip
oil on the part at a controlled rate? Or does the oil typically leak out
quickly, run all over, and eventually find its way to the bottom of the machine, and out onto the floor?

How about the little push ball type oil points. Do I need some sort of
special oil can for those??


George Hodge
06-03-2006, 06:06 PM
Wayne,I bought a bunch of 1/4in.dia.felt,about 6in.long,at a garbage sale.If you need some for the oilers,give me a email and I'll let you know how to obtain some.The price is right!

06-03-2006, 07:10 PM
you can use the felt wheels from dremel type tools for the inserts or the felt feet for furniture and duct collectors on tables just cut the glue off the bottom. also you could wad up some cotton balls, or the cleaning patches for gun cleaning to fill the bottom of the cup. As to the gargole ect was a brand name of a 20 weight (medium) oil they had all types. 20 sae is still 20 sae hope this helps

06-03-2006, 07:57 PM
So each of these cups are supposed to have some sort of felt or other material in them? What is the basic design concept behind this lube system? Is the piece of felt supposed to hold oil and distribute it on the part to be lubed? Does the end of the felt piece need to be physically touching the part to be lubed?

Can you get sae 20 weight oil from your typical auto parts store, or do you typically need to go to an industrial supply house?


06-03-2006, 08:12 PM
Mobil now sells a 'Vactra' line of machine oils, check an industrial supply house. Just guessing, but gargoyle probably got bought by Mobil. Maybe one of the old timers knows.


06-03-2006, 08:14 PM
You can get the wicking from Gits.


This rather long post is courtesy of thistle, and covers the topic of machine lubrication very nicely:

What kind of oil should I use on my lathe/mill?

This is certainly a frequently asked question! The first answer is to
use whatever the manufacturer's manual suggests, presuming you have
a manual for your machine.

Feed-screw threads, half nuts, back gears and similar are usually
lubricated with a heavy oil such as Vactra 2 or 3, or grease if
protected from chips and swarf. Some suggest a mixture of oil and
STP oil treatment. (South Bend recommends the same oil as used on
the ways).

Beds and "ways" are often treated with special oils, called "way oils".
ISO 68 (medium weight). Examples: Exxon Febis K 68, Shell Tona T-68,
Sun way lube 1180, Mobil Vactra No 2, Texaco Way lube 68, Gulf Gulfway
68, Chevron Vistac 68X.

Spindle bearings call for "spindle oil" such as Exxon Nutto H32,
Shell Tellus V32, BP HLP32, Castrol Hyspin AWS32, and Mobil DTE 32
(in this case the 32 is the ISO VG32 spec, about the same as SAE
10-weight, and is what Myford recommends for their lathes). ISO
grade 22 is also used (it's what South Bend recommends, for example).

All three types are available from the better supply outfits,
such as MSC. Remember that the money you spend on proper oils will
be a lot less than the cost of replacing the machine!

That's a lot of names, but how do you choose? Probably the first
thing to do is follow the manufacturer's recommendations, if you
can find them.

South Bend, for example, recommends four different lubricants for
their 9" and 10" lathes: CE1671 bed way lube, CE1603 medium machine
oil, CE-1600 light machine oil, and CE1625 teflon grease. These are
available from South Bend, and the discussion and tables below
should allow you to choose an equivalent oil available from an
industrial supply house.

Failing a manufacturer's recommendation, a key issue is typically
the viscosity. There are a number of ways of describing viscosity,
most of them confusing. We will now make a quick attempt to remove
some of this confusion.

Machinery's Handbook has a nice section that goes into the different
kinds of oil performance for lubrication and how viscosity changes
with temperature. But it's not really detailed enough to make
a practical choice.

Most people are familiar with the SAE viscosity scale, because most
people have bought oil for their cars. What isn't immediately apparent
is that there are two SAE scales, both in common use: one for crankcase
oils, and one for gear oils! There is an ISO scale (VG numbers) and there
is the Saybolt scale. Let's start with the Saybolt scale, which is
measured with something called the "Saybolt Universal Viscometer":

In said viscometer, the oil flows through a tube 0.1765 cm in
diameter, 1.225 cm long, under an average head of 7.36 cm, from
a vessel 2.975 cm diameter. The time in seconds required for 60 cc of
oil to flow through the tube is the viscosity in seconds Saybolt.
The specification is typically given at a particular temperature,
such as 100 degF or 210 degF. (Something tells me that the numbers
in the description above were originally English units, not metric.)

With that description of Saybolt Universal Seconds (SUS) in mind,
let's look at the SAE scales. First, for the crankcase scale:

SAE SUS @ 100F SUS @ 210 F
5 92 38.5
10 165 44
20 340 54
30 550 64
40 850 77
50 1200 93

In addition, "Mark's Standard Handbook for Mechanical Engineers",
Eighth Edition, lists the following for Crankcase Oils:

SAE SUS @ 210 F
20 45 min - 58 max
30 58 min - 70 max
40 70 min - 85 max
50 85 min - 110 max

But it goes on to show the following for gear and transmission oils:

SAE SUS at 210 F
75 40 min
90 49 min
85 63 min
90 74 min - 120 max
140 120 min - 200 max
350 200 min

So you can see that the viscosity at 210 F for SAE 80W gear oil is
about the same as SAE 20W crankcase oil.

Finally, there's the ISO VG scale. From perusing a number of Mobil
oil data sheets, it appears that the ISO VG value of an oil is
exactly its viscosity in centiStokes at 40 degC. Unfortunately,
the relationship between cSt at 40 deg C and SUS at 100 degF is
not a linear one. But you can find a fairly complete table
of tradeoffs at http://www.bconnex.net/~noco/nocovisc.htm.
Here's an abbreviated version that relates cSt and SUS @ 100 degF:

cSt SUS at 100 degrees F

10 58.91
15 77.39
20 97.77
25 119.3
30 141.3
35 163.7
40 186.3
45 209.1
50 232.1
55 255.2
60 278.3
65 301.4
70 324.4
75 347.6
80 370.8
85 393.9
90 417.1
95 440.3
100 463.5

(Taken from ASTM Table 1, D2161-63T)

Also, SUS at any temperature is SUS at 100F multiplied by
1 + (t-100)0.000064

ie 58.91 SUS at 100F is 58.91x(1.007)= 59.32 at 212 F

To pull this all together, let's look at some specific examples.
Above, we mentioned the South Bend recommended oils. Not only does
SBL give part numbers, but they give viscosities in SUS at 100 degF:

Usage SBL p/n SUS @ 100 F ISO VG SAE (crankcase)
light spindle CE1600 100 21 5
medium machine CE1602 150-240 30-55 10-20
way lube CE1603 250-500 57-100 20-30

Thus, a good substitute for SBL CE1600 would be Mobil Velocite No. 10,
which is an ISO VG 22 spindle oil. Mobil Vactra No. 2, ISO VG 68, is
probably a good substitute for SBL CE1603 - it matches the viscosity
and is formulated as a way lube (has appropriate coolant separability
and corrosion resistance).

Now, multigrade motor lubricants are not recommended as machine oils.
This is for two reasons: 1. Motor oils have additive packages that are
designed to avoid corrosion and condensation problems that are unique
to the heat cycle and high-temp operation of an engine, problems
that are not found in machine tools. 2. Modern motor oils have detergents
that keep the contaminants in suspension (so they can be removed by
the oil filter) - most machine tools do not have a filter system,
so the contaminants will be circulated around to the bearing surfaces
rather than falling out of suspension to the bottom of the gear case.

That being said, there are several people on the list who are
very happy using Mobil 1 motor oil as spindle and countershaft
lubricants. The 5W-30 oil is approximately the right viscosity for
spindle bearings, and the 15W-50 is heavy enough for countershafts
and gearboxes. (Remember that Mobil 1 is a detergent oil, and it has
been recommended that it should be changed a couple of times a year
to flush suspended particles). The final choice is up to you, of
course. Machine oils have their own special additive packages geared
towards the requirements of machining.

Now that you've made a decision about what oil to use, how do
you oil it? Most lubrication charts assume production use,
and give oiling intervals accordingly. I prefer to spend five
minutes oiling the machine every time I use it, just to make sure
everything is wet and topped off.

A suggestion I've read is to oil lathe ways before using, to clean off
dust/grunge that may have accumulated since you last used it. After
work is finished, wipe off but leave a film for rust prevention.

Elsewhere we mentioned the book "A Brief treatise on Oiling Machine
Tools" (Guy Lautard) but nobody's posted a review yet.

06-03-2006, 09:09 PM
hey thats not mine!
some one else must take the credit.
some one else did all the hard work ,
i just cut and paste every time an oil question comes up......

06-03-2006, 09:15 PM
I recently bought felt cord from macmaster carr.

for just holes i cut a short lenght to plug the bottom so crud could not get in and rub on the shaft.
for cups i cut the plastic off a piece of electrical wire (#12 multi strand )cuz i had it ,
and used a couple of stands of the wire to wrap the cord to make it stiff enough to go where it was put.
I used copper because i didnt want a piece of steel getting into a shaft or sliding suface as it would cause mayhem , copper
should not do much if it gets inviloved in the works.

06-03-2006, 09:52 PM
Ok thanks for the info. Interesting that I could us mobile 1 5w/30 for spindle oil. That would be convenient as that's what I use in our vehicles. But changing it out twice a year... that's not going to happen.

What is the service life "real" spindle lube in a home shop machine?

What is the specific purpose of the felt in the oil cups, does the felt need to be a specific length?

Do I need an oil can with a special tip to depress the ball on the ones that have a pinpoint ball deal?


06-04-2006, 10:20 AM
You also can use cotton rope in the cups, the filler in the cups keeps out curd from fallingin the hole that leads to the bearings and oil ways grooves. the felt would slow down the oil transfer as a wick sort of in reverse.
On some of the old steam engines and pumps we had running in the buildings all the oil cups had cotton rope stuffed in the hole to the bearing surface. and the cup filled with coiled rope that was staturated with oil. #0 years ago I once seen a box with the label called oil wicking for the purpose. But any cottom string or rope would work.