View Full Version : Make a high pressure oiler from a grease gun.

02-17-2008, 08:17 AM
Hey guys! I found this posted over on the PM site (ya...I know).
One of the best writeups I've seen on this.

02-17-2008, 09:30 AM
I'm surprised you haven't seen that before Russ -- it's been on the Metalweb News since 1996 :)

Created: 04/21/96

Your Old Dog
02-17-2008, 09:40 AM
What would that be used for?

The only think I can think of off hand is to mount one backwards on the roof of your car. When you get one of those freaking "Gators" on your tale just squeeze off a shot and give him something to do for a few hours?

Nothing in my shop fits tight enough to need high pressure :D

02-17-2008, 09:42 AM
What would that be used for?

The Bridgeport and Millrite lubrication ports are Alemite high-pressure oil ports. There's always some newbie who gets a new mill, sees the Alemite ports, and starts filling the table ways with grease :)

To lube the Bridgeport/Millrite table you need a high-pressure oil gun with an Alemite fitting. McMaster sells them for $45, but you can make your own for about half that.

Your Old Dog
02-17-2008, 10:02 AM
Thanks Lazlo, appreciate the help.

02-17-2008, 10:12 AM
Robert, I haven't spent much time on that site.
I'd like to make one of these for the oilers on my mill drill and for most on my lathe.
I have an old Italian made oiler that works really well but all the high pressure needed to overcome some of these china oilers has about wore this out.
I'm thinking that the grease gun with a solid feed tube would be good. Both hands on the thing and you could press pretty hard to overcome the spring pressure. Some of the oilers on these two machines are absolute witches to get oil into.

02-17-2008, 10:45 AM
Russ, it's been awhile since I sold my Mill/Drill, but I thought it had the press-in ball oilers. The Alemite fitting are threaded, so you'd have to tap the holes with a NPT tap.

I think BadDog said that he had retrofitted his Rockwell with Alemite fittings...

The nice thing about the high-pressure ports is that you can really fire the oil into the ways. When I got my Millrite, the ways were loaded with grease. I filled the McMaster high-pressure oil gun with mineral spirits, and the gun just blasted the grease out of the dovetails. It was pretty amazing.

I thought about tapping my lathe saddle for the Alemites, but they stick up, and I was sure I'd manage to impale myself on them, or that they'd catch swarf coming off the chuck...

Bill Pace
02-17-2008, 10:56 AM
What about the smaller, one hand, pistol grip type guns, reckon they'd convert?... those ole big guns are awkward at best.

It IS tempting to at least adapt Alemites to some of the oilers, those little ball oilers are a real pain, though like Laz says, I wonder about the 'sticking out' aspect of it

02-17-2008, 10:56 AM
Nice find Torker.

Proper lube is key to the best performance and longevity for your machines.

I've been accumulating parts to retrofit my mill with a single shot oiling system similar to this:


Once I get done assembling the goodies (the fittings are legris which I'm gradually acquiring on eBay for way below list), I'll have a go of it.

I've put together notes and links from several good buildups I've found on the subject for those who may be interested:


The one shot pumps are readily available on eBay too. I bought my Bijur for $25.



02-17-2008, 11:10 AM
Bob, I'd love to have a one shot on my mills. I doubt if I'll ever take the time to do it for my ol' mill drill as it's hopfully going to have an easier life once I get that Van Norman with BP head.
I'm betting your one shot install will be a big job from start to finish but your set for life once it's done.
Laz... I'll have to check out those fittings you're talking about. Never seen or used them (at least not on purpose :D).
In case the odd one of you out there doesn't know this... auto supply places carry a sharp needle type end for grease guns that would be perfect for ball oilers. They originally came out so you could grease the U-joints in the double Carden equipped driveshafts on the mid seventies pickup trucks.

02-17-2008, 11:13 AM
Yeah, I bought a Bijur TMD-5 (the automatic one-shot lubricator), but I've put off installing it because plumbing it is a pain in the ass. You have to bypass all the existing lube ports, and re-run them with the Bijur plumbing.

Kay Fisher has a great article about retrofitting his Bridgeport with a one-shot lube, and it's a lot of work:



02-17-2008, 11:14 AM
Laz... I'll have to check out those fittings you're talking about. Never seen or used them (at least not on purpose :D).

Yes you have Russ :) Alemite is the company who patented the tapered grease port we all use. It's the same connector used on the Bridgeport and Millrite mills for oil ports.

Many people just see the Alemite port, and assume it's for grease, and stick a grease gun on it... :rolleyes:

02-17-2008, 11:42 AM
Laz... ok.. now I'm embarrassed :D

Lew Hartswick
02-17-2008, 11:49 AM
It's realy easy folks. Just hold the gun (grease/oil) with the back end
up and pour way oil in . Don't even use the end cap/plunger bit.
All I did was replace the straight fittings on the knee with angle ones
and the ones on the end of the saddle orientate in an upward direction
Store the gun in a gallon can with the top cut partly open and the
nozzle down. (in a flamables cabinet with the doors closed) :-)
For our two Bridgeports with zerks works fine.

02-17-2008, 12:00 PM
I used some HF 4ton porta power pumps for one shot oilers on a conveyor I built.All I did was mount the pumps so the pump end was down and modified the resivoir tube so it used a radiator cap and neck for filling.They work great,no problems with pressure they put out 6,000 psi and cost a whopping $26 on sale.

Single shot tubing I use 1/8" copper tubing and compresion fittings.For an orifice 5/32" nylon beads shoved in the fittings bore and drilled to size work like champs.Last machine I did central lube on cost less than $40 total in materials.

02-17-2008, 12:28 PM
Lazlo is right about newbs greasing the ways!

Some in"duh"vidual in my bridgeport's past greased the ways with this horrible black grease which dried out. I just finished pulling the table and the saddle and using 2 cans of brake cleaner and a bunch of elbow grease to clean it off. Now I see why everybody else has engine cranes etc. . . My back still is sore.

It seems the entire machine was held together by grease. Now that the parts actually move, the gibs seem to be worn out, the backlash adjusters don't have enough adjustment left. But at least now that the machine is oiled with way lube it moves as smooth as silk. Removing the grease also got rid of these horrible stick-slip issue that would happen if you managed to get the x axis to move and crank it fast enough to mill something.

Unfortunately, now that the table is working it looks like something is damaged in the spindle with .006 of spindle runout. Grr. Time to send the spindle to wells index.


02-17-2008, 01:13 PM
I don't expect the one shot will be all that hard on an RF45. The fittings can be installed with a hand drill and tap if need be, though I will use my other mill ('scuse me while I whip this out! LOL) to do the work.

The biggest challenge on the Bridgie is it's just a whole lot more work to take it apart.

In my case, I have to take the mill apart anyway to CNC it. So, the one shot is one of several "improvements" I'll be doing all at once. I'm also going to fill the base and perhaps other castings with epoxy granite to see the impact on dampening and stiffness.

I like the idea of the various simple mods to the grease gun for dealing with zerks. I can imagine if worst came to worse you could even remove the nose/pump assembly and machine a new reservoir just for oil. Or use it with one end open.



02-17-2008, 01:42 PM
Yep. I made one of those back when I got my Bridgeport. Works great.

I've always hated those little ball oilers so popular on light lathes. And when I got my Rockwell lathe, it had some bad ball ports anyway. So I made some little adapters to fit "grease fittings" on the saddle for way oil. Add new holes in the cross slide for the same. Now I can force way oil into the center of the way surface and "flush" out any contaminants. While I was at it, I also rigged a sort of reservoir so that it retains some way oil there at the center and sort of oozes out during use. Keeps everything well oiled and clean, huge upgrade in my opinion...

02-17-2008, 01:48 PM
Oh, and I was worried about the "catching swarf" bit too. Worried enough that I ordered flush mounts from McMaster. However, it's not been a big deal and I've yet to "get around to" swapping the flush ports (that sit in a bin about 10 feet away). Now I'm the first to admit that I'm rather lazy, but it must not be causing me much grief given that it would take less than 10 minutes to swap. :D

The real reason is that I would have to swap the "quick fitting" from flush to standard when going from the Bpt to the lathe, and that's messy. Seeing as how there has been no discernible problem with the standard fittings, why bother?

02-17-2008, 06:29 PM
Oh, and I was worried about the "catching swarf" bit too. Worried enough that I ordered flush mounts from McMaster.

Russ, what's a flush-mount Alemite port? The only Alemite fitting I've ever seen or used is male, either straight or 90:


02-17-2008, 06:44 PM
There is a good article in the "Projects in Metal" issue #4 July 1995 for a pressure oil gun. I have been using it ever since it came out and find it works very well.

02-17-2008, 08:54 PM
i've seen that metalweb oiler before. the only thing is, when i found it i was looking to build one for another type of heavy iron... the track rollers on my 1954 Oliver OC-46 track loader. :)

andy b.

02-17-2008, 10:36 PM
Russ, what's a flush-mount Alemite port? The only Alemite fitting I've ever seen or used is male, either straight or 90:
See here at McMaster (http://www.mcmaster.com/ctlg/DisplCtlgPage.aspx?ReqTyp=CATALOG&CtlgPgNbr=2135&RelatedCtlgPgs=2132,2133,2134,2135,2136,2143&term=Grease%2bFittings&sesnextrep=715850483848963&ScreenWidth=1280&McMMainWidth=1028&ToolsetID=ToolPageFlip&ToolsetAct=), about half way down the page. Syle A, B, or C (mine are C). These are used on u-joint trunnions (particularly 4x4 knuckles) and other areas where there is minimal clearance. They use a different type of hose end, looks like a blunt needle. Not as convenient as the snap-on male grease fittings, but works well enough to force grease into a u-joint, so more than capable of forcing in way oil.

I've got several grease gun "quick connect" tips that snap into the typical female tip. That includes a blunt needle used for flush fittings (one long, one short), and a hypo type (sharp - about like an IV line) needle tip used for injecting grease (or oil) into sealed bearings and such. I use various of these for filling not only the high pressure fittings, but also regular ball oilers (sometimes buried deep inside the works like the back gear oil port deep inside the Rockwell 11" head).

02-17-2008, 11:15 PM
Hi All,

I made a pressure oiler out of one of the small hand grease guns. Just cut off the plunger rod and got rid of the plunger. Brazed the hole in the cap shut, filled with way oil, hold upside down and pump away. It easily forces oil throughout my Bridgeport. Total cost less than $10.00:D .


02-18-2008, 01:04 AM
Torker, Busy Bee sells a grease gun that works great as a compression oiler.

02-18-2008, 06:30 AM
Thanks quasi! You guys got me thinking. My ol' Ohio mill... it's got about 20 slotted 1/4" screws that all have to be removed to oil it before you use it. It was sorta fun the first couple times but after that it becomes a pain. I'm thinking the zerk type fittings would work in most of these.

02-18-2008, 10:13 AM
See here at McMaster (http://www.mcmaster.com/ctlg/DisplCtlgPage.aspx?ReqTyp=CATALOG&CtlgPgNbr=2135&RelatedCtlgPgs=2132,2133,2134,2135,2136,2143&term=Grease%2bFittings&sesnextrep=715850483848963&ScreenWidth=1280&McMMainWidth=1028&ToolsetID=ToolPageFlip&ToolsetAct=), about half way down the page. Syle A, B, or C (mine are C).

Russ, those look like they're just threaded ball oilers?


It doesn't look like the female port on the grease/oil gun can lock onto it like a normal Alemite fitting, which means you can't blast oil through it like a normal Alemite, right?

If you're using a needle adapter anyway, what's the advantage over using a press-in ball oiler?

02-18-2008, 12:39 PM
Yep, it looks a lot like a ball oiler.

The difference is in the standardized concave surface that mates to the commonly available "blunt needle" adapters.

It's nowhere near as convenient as the snap-on traditional fittings, but it will provide a pressurized seal sufficient to force in grease or oil if you can get the adapter normal to the port. And the ball is displaced by that pressure without intrusion by the "needle". For the traditional ball oiler ports you must have a have a point smaller than the hole so that it can displace the ball, and then (at best!) only a sharp edge is available to half seal the adapter as the ball tries to seat/seal in the end. I have seen them bottom on the spring and fully seal the end before the tip sealed the hole, which led me to slotting the end so that the oil could escape, and at which point it generally wanted to come right back out rather than squeeze by the spring and ball now mostly blocking the port. And there are many different ball/hole diameters with variable max displacements. Yes, with a proper oiler adapter (actually, typically requires several due to seemingly random sizes) you can get oil into the ball port in much the same way, but there is no "standard" diameter hole or ball or anything else, and no concave/conical sealing surface, so good luck getting an "adapter" that fits and works well with all of them. The flush fittings are a well understood and supported standard with adapters that fit them properly in all cases. There are still common ball ports that can't be easily replaced with these, and for those, I still manage. But for pressurized way oiling, there is really no comparison.

Oh, and as I mentioned before, these are commonly used as grease fittings on 4x4 knuckle trunnions. So they will seal enough for getting grease in there, but the snap-on version is definitely preferred since it allows for MUCH easier operation.

02-18-2008, 12:59 PM
That's interesting Russ. I'll have to order a couple just to play around with them...

02-18-2008, 01:16 PM
For some examples of the adapters. See McMaster 1091K9, or pages around 2126 for guns specifically designed for the flush fittings. I've also got "quick connect" tips that have a male "zirk" on the back side. See Enco 325-5992, 325-5993. These don't seal as well as the ball tips on "flush" fittings, but have the advantage of also working for traditional ball oiler ports. Biggest problem is they are messy and tend to leak oil around the fittings. If I did switch to flush on my lathe apron, I would build/buy a gun specifically for the flush oilers and avoid swapping the adapters.

02-18-2008, 02:28 PM
I was trying this out today with a Lumatic grease gun,(they do a gun for oil but it cost 60).

I was looking at the gun body, threaded both ends for the cap and pump I thought wonder if you could make a double header with two cheap guns? solves the sealing up job, ideal for grease nipples and another nozzle for ball oilers

jus a thought.


02-18-2008, 06:03 PM
shadoof... that'd be different! Ok guys... am I losing it here? I can't find ball oilers in the BIG KBC Tools catalog. I found Ball plungers and Spring plungers. They look like a ball oiler but the drawings don't show if they have a through passage for oiling. The pics they show ..the ball sticks out a long ways compared to the oilers on my lathe or mill.
There is no sign of the zerk type meant for oil and there is no sign of the recessed ones that Russ shows.
Do they maybe call them something different that I'm missing?

02-18-2008, 06:18 PM
torker, this is the one I use on my Harrison , one for way oil and one for 32w hydraulic oil. They are even on sale now.


02-18-2008, 07:49 PM
I can't find ball oilers in the BIG KBC Tools catalog. I found Ball plungers and Spring plungers.

No, you're not losing it Russ -- KBC doesn't carry the ball oilers. In fact, it used to be that McMaster was the only major supplier that carried them, but MSC now has them:


02-18-2008, 07:55 PM
See here at McMaster (http://www.mcmaster.com/ctlg/DisplCtlgPage.aspx?ReqTyp=CATALOG&CtlgPgNbr=2135&RelatedCtlgPgs=2132,2133,2134,2135,2136,2143&term=Grease%2bFittings&sesnextrep=715850483848963&ScreenWidth=1280&McMMainWidth=1028&ToolsetID=ToolPageFlip&ToolsetAct=), about half way down the page. Syle A, B, or C (mine are C).

Boy, Alemite is sure proud of those ball-oiler type ports! $5 - $12 each! I'd prefer the low profile type that screws in with slots on the edges, but those are $12 each!
The ball oilers are ~ .64 each at MSC :)

For the price it'd cost me to retrofit to the female Alemite fittings, I could plumb the saddle for a Bijur pressurized lube system! :)

02-18-2008, 08:25 PM
Robert...Thanks! That's what I was looking for. I'll have to look some more later as I'd like to get some threaded ones if I could.

02-18-2008, 11:37 PM
Er, might want to read that again. It's $4.78 for a pack of 5 like mine (10595K14). :D

Still, the standard version is cheaper at about the same price for 10, and I'm quite content with those on my Rockwell. Content enough that I've got a pack of 5 flush fittings, and lack the motivation to swap them. Or maybe that's just laziness instead of contentment? <shrug> Either way, I haven't felt the need to swap them... ;)

Boy, Alemite is sure proud of those ball-oiler type ports! $5 - $12 each! I'd prefer the low profile type that screws in with slots on the edges, but those are $12 each!
The ball oilers are ~ .64 each at MSC :)

For the price it'd cost me to retrofit to the female Alemite fittings, I could plumb the saddle for a Bijur pressurized lube system! :)

02-19-2008, 12:21 AM
Er, might want to read that again. It's $4.78 for a pack of 5 like mine (10595K14). :D

I'd really prefer the "Style A" because they're a lot lower profile than the Style C with the hex ring:


But you're right, the quantities on McMaster's page are crazy. All the "Style C" ports are ~ $4.90 each except the straight-threaded one you got (?)
The $12.98 price for the "Style A" is actually for 5 (about $2.60 each) , which makes it a lot more reasonable. The only downside is that I'd have to tap my saddle. Hmmm....

Edit: I just ran out to the shop and my saddle oil ports are 5/16" -- way bigger that the low-profile Style A ports. But 5/16" just happens to be just shy of the M8 (Metric) drive-in ports. Those are $11.77 for 5...

02-19-2008, 02:15 AM
Mine were much the same.

I made a bushing to adapt to 1/4-20. Looks like an old stove pipe had turned up-side down. Light press fit into the old ball oiler holes (mine were 3/8 IIRC), tapped ID for the grease fitting, held in place with LocTite. Hasn't been a problem, and required no permanent mods to the saddle. Get which ever style you like, but I seriously wouldn't sweat the protrusion. Maybe that's just me? <shrug>

However, I did drill and tap my cross slide for these fittings, as well as adding some distribution grooves (Dremel with 1/8" ball burr) and a bit of felt to form a small/limited reservoir. The Rockwell had NO provision for oiling the cross slide other than slathering some on the ways and running the cross slide over it. A sure recipe for carrying crap under there, and they generally show evidence of both insufficient oil and abrasion. I was VERY lucky to find a decent one from a fine fellow who was very generous to me. Now, each time (well, almost <grin> I run it, I start by wiping off the cross slide ways, and pumping the cross slide full of way oil till it's coming out the sides, and this generally keeps most of the crap flushed out. I keep planning to make way wipers for it... it's on "the list"...

02-20-2008, 12:01 AM
I couldn't seem to get time to go into town(to a real store) since I started this thread so tonight I broke one of my long standing rules and went to (uugh) Walmart and bought one of their cheap one handed grease guns that use the smaller cartridges. Also got a cool little needle tip for it.
Hack off the plunger handle... made a rubber gasket out of an old innertube, couple of washers and a bolt/nut, bit of teflon tape and bingo... got a hi pressure grease gun for $15.
Thing works very well. I always had a couple of oilers on my lathe that I never knew or not if they where taking oil. There is no doubt now. The grease gun "splodes" oil out of everything.
I should have done this long ago. Took all of 10 minutes.