View Full Version : Surface Grinder lubrication

08-15-2003, 10:23 PM
I just purchased an old Delta/Rockwell surface grinder.
This is my first metalworking machine and probably will be the most important for my hobby(folding knives). The machine seems to be fairly decent condition for the price I paid. What would anyone recommend for lubricant to put in the spindle cup? Also, could I use this same lubricant in the way cups? Thanks for any information!

08-16-2003, 01:51 AM
Synthetic motor oil in the spindle,way oil on the ways,if you can,t get way oil try some STP oil treatment,its thick as snot and usually sticks pretty good.Have fun.

08-16-2003, 02:38 AM
DO not use motor oil in the spindle! Get teh proper R&O Gear & Bearing lubricant of the correct viscosity. If you cannot find R&O then you can use either Anti-Wear Hydraulic or a Tracctor/Hydraulic Lubricant. Way lubricant should be used instead of plain oils as it has additives to help dampen sympathetic vibration (chatter).

Synthetics should be your first choice. Semi-synthetics your second, Dinosaur puke your last.

Neither motor oils or STP has a place in the machine shop - sorry to disagree with WS. STP is a Viscosity index improver with additives - why it even exists is a mystery to me.

08-16-2003, 05:23 AM

STP must have been invented by a used car salesman. Use it 50/50 with regular motor oil and you can hide piston slap and rod knock long enough to see tailights down the road.

Me duck now! I used to sell used cars, in Edmonton.

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 08-16-2003).]

Dr. Rob
08-16-2003, 09:19 AM
Oh so it was you Evan who sold me that lemon! Finally I've caught up with you!

Where did you sell cars? Just curious. Happen to know many of the dealers.

Sorry CDS; didn't mean to interrupt your thread. Don't know the answer either.

08-16-2003, 09:35 AM
You'll want lightweight spindle oil and
medium way oil. Places like MSC www.mscdirect.com (http://www.mscdirect.com) and travers www.travers.com (http://www.travers.com) sell it.

As per Thrud: NEVER motor oil! Especially in a precision spindle.

08-16-2003, 11:01 AM
Dr. Rob,
To eat.

Brian Holley Motors

[This message has been edited by Evan (edited 08-16-2003).]

Forrest Addy
08-16-2003, 12:06 PM
Cool looking machine. I like the cast iron base.

Mix lubricants as you would medication and expect about the same results: unexpected side effects. Motor oils are designed for automotive engines and that's where they should be used.

Lubricant manufuacturers are in a highly competitive business. If they could improve a specific product by adding STP they would do so and tout it as competitive advantage.

Stating it baldly: STS is for rubes. People who use it are wasting money. You won't find STP and related "enhancement" products in responsibly run large operations where technical savvy and good bean counters rule the roost.

If you want an example to emulate follow major fleet operators or manufacturers who employ a staff lube engineer. You'll find they stock no more than a half dozen lube oils and three greases (not counting coolants). Equipment suppliers who insist on a specific lubricant not normally stocked can expect to meet stiff resistance or, more likely, be eliminated from the competition.

Synthetic oils are not necessarily superior in all cases. Most are specifically designed for automotive service and there's some penetration in the industrial lubricant.

To dismiss petroleum based lubricants as "dinosaur puke" certainly demonstrates a preference but it's hardly helpful to an owner of a recently purchased machine tool seeking advice on suitable lubricants. A lubricant for your application should be selected for its suitability and manufacturer's reccommendations not the origin of the basic feedstock.

CDS, it would be best if you found a manual for your machine. In it you will find lubrication data, an IPD, parts list and numbers, and all the rest. Delta has excellent archives. While a manual may cost you a few bucks it's well worth it in the long run.

It's possible the spindle bearings in your grinder are grease lubricated for life ball bearings. If so your problems are solved.

Have you found an oil cup or a lube filler cap on the spindle housing? There's often a drain in the form of a pipe plug. Loosen it and see if oil comes out.

If the spindle is oil lubricated, a 10 Wt spindle oil is probably a good choice. Buy a guart or gallon from MSC or Enco or your local lubricants supplier. A light hydraulic oil is usually an acceptable substitute.

For the ways use Mobil Vactra II. This is almost a universal choice for plain bearing way systems.

Small dry surface grinders such as yours generate an enormous volume of abrasive dust. If you're running a knife studio a large share of your work is hand grinding and polishing. Your new grinder will double the abrasive amd steel dust in your breathing air.

You should have a dust collection system in your shop AND a room air filter if don't already. Seriously consider purchasing a small bag dust collector like those used by woodworkers. Plumb the place with dust duct with a drop and a blast gate for each machine or roll the DC to the machine as needed. The Grizzly G1163 is a good place to start looking. Be sure to select a dust collector for which 0.3 micron dust bags are available.

Expedients like a shop vac and the 2 1/4" clear plastic tubing kits they sell at Home Base and Sears is plain inadequate. Don't even look at it. The tubing is too small and the even the 12 Amp shop vacs pull less than 100 CFM through a 7 ft hose.

You need 300 CFM right at the point of operation if the dust is to be captured in spite of the grinder/sander/polisher's considerable windage. For that you need a 4" duct.

[This message has been edited by Forrest Addy (edited 08-16-2003).]

08-16-2003, 12:36 PM
Forrest wrote: "It's possible the spindle bearings in your grinder are grease lubricated for life ball bearings. If so your problems are solved. "

The Delta grinders used an adjustable tapered bronze spindle bearing. The manual tells how to adjust and what lubricant to use.

The spindle bearing has been one of the most troublesome issues with these grinders. Without proper bearing adjustment and lube the grinder can't do quality work.

Keep your fingers crossed that a previous user has not damaged the spindle/bearings by lack of attention.

L Webb
08-16-2003, 01:46 PM
Great machine.
Plan on taking the table off and doing some cleaning. There is felt rope in the oil passages that will be dirty and restricting the oil flow. You can buy new felt rope from McMaster-Carr. There should be two oil cups for the table. Use way oil.
Check the oil holes on the top of the casting right behind the handwheels for the table. They could be totally clogged. These are really a poor design as they allow grit to get in and as you use the machine, you are constantly lapping the shaft and it wears. I had to make a new shaft for the table traverse. Fairly simple job.

The front spindle bearing is the critical item. It must be assembled correctly and end play adjustment is critical. Too loose and you will get chatter. Too tight and you can seize and gall the bearing.
Spindle oil is what you want to use. There should be an oil cup on the left side of the spindle right behind the wheel guard.
The rear spindle bearing will probably be a sealed New Departure bearing.

These grinders were made to take apart and service/clean fairly easily and regularly.
DO NOT take the motor pulley of the motor. It was balanced as a unit at the factory.
A good clean well adjusted machine will reduce chatter. Clean the column and make sure the column lock is adjusted properly. This can be a source of chatter resulting in a poor finish. You lock the column and use the fine feed knob to the right of the column to adjust downfeed as you grind.

There should be several data plates on the machine. One will show and tell you the spindle disassembly routine. It should be on the right side on the spindle housing.

I found a copy of the manual a little while back in the metalworking dropbox archives.
If you can't find it I can send you a copy.

Good luck with your new machine and you got it for a very decent price if it is in good shape.
Contact me if you have any questions.


08-16-2003, 11:01 PM
Be sure to oil the ways every day as this will help keep the grit flushed out. The oil is a lot cheaper than another grinder.

08-17-2003, 10:06 AM
A simple expedient that helps with metal 'dust' from my surface grinder has been to place the cheap but very powerful magnet that I bought at Herbert Frieght for no reason just at the receiving end of my magnetic chuck. It captures an amazing amount of the stuff near it's point of origin and so far has kept my table x-axis feed screw reasonably clean. I gather iron shavings for use in the garden and that machine has quickly earned it's keep in blooming squash.

08-17-2003, 02:01 PM
Guys,dealing form experience of rebuilding presicion spindles for industry there is nothing wrong with synthetic motor oil in spindles,infact you would be supprised to find out that your"proper"spindle oil is really motor oil in a different can,I have run Castrol syntech for quite awhile in spindles and gearboxes with excellent results,(we are talking gearboxes with $200,000 price tags)I have found that they run cooler longer and have consistantly longer bearing life.Correct viscosity matters more than anything anyway.
I do not use "dinausaur puke"as Thurd says its bad for a number of reasons.

The STP I only use on grinders and other things who's ways are upside down,and I only use it because it is sticky and stays put very well.
Bottom line is that the correct oil is often hard to obtain anyway,and since most of us do not use a single machine 8-10 hours at a time it simply isn't practicle to have 14 different varietys of oil laying around the shop.
The synthetic motor oil is a good all around oil for most bearings,this can easily be supported by the number of oil lubed ball bearings in the modern automoblie engine,if it were not none of the supercharged,or turbo charged engines would last five minutes.One other consideration is that machine tools have a mixture of ball,roller,bronze,needle and babbit bearings,I don't care what the mfg or anyone else says no one lubricant can do it all.The fact is most of the tools we own will outlast us regardless of what we use.

Go back in time,and ask a machinist of 50 or so years ago what to use and I'll bet he says anything that ain't cutting oil,then realise that we are possibly using the same machine he was,makes you think don't it?

Forrest Addy
08-17-2003, 02:59 PM
Wierd, you say you have experience in precision spindles. Maybe so but I differ with a few of your remarks.

In many cases motor oil will work just fine as a GP lubricant but not in the spindle of a surface grinder having a bronze spindle bearing. How would you feel if CDS followed your advice and fried his spindle bearings running motor oil? Yes, it could happen if the clearances were set up for 5 wt spindle oil.

You won't be dumping motor oil in any of my $200,000 transmissions. You'll use an oil complying with the manufacturer's specs or find a new job.

Worm and hypoid gears have unique requirements unsatisfied by motor oil. Local loggers fry worm winch drives for this very reason.

Some high speed transmissions require lubricants having anti-foaming characteristics.

ATF is a good all purpose light transmission oil but it's not suited for everything with gears in it.

Most shops stock a minimum number of lubricants and select four to six that comply with the requirements of nearly all their equipment. If a few specials are required they're purchased in small quantities and stay in the maintenence storage.

Here's another point: motor oil emulsifies with water and it's designed to do this for a good reason. ICE produce moisture as a normal compustion product and a small portion of this blows past the rings to the crankcase. Any moisture it picks up emulsifies with the oil and is evaporated by air circulating through the crank case spray instead of accumulating in the bottom of the pan by the quart to be sucked up and circulated in a cold start.

Transmission and spindles run much cooler then ICE's and there is little air circulation through the transmission case except by hot/cold breathing. If a motor oil is used in a transmision, water from condensation can emulsify and drop out of emusion in embarassing places like lower bearings in vertical shafts. A bearing running in a teaspoon of water will soon die.

Try your own oil preferences on a helicopter transmission and you can expect to spend to lose your ticket and possibly spend time in jail - even if it worked so well it extended O/H interval by 10,000 hours. You're mandated by FAA regs to use only the right stuff, no exceptions.

On equipment where high cost or high confidence is a factor, a bench mechanic - even one having wide experience - cannot arbitrarily use non-approved lubricants without consulting the customer and possibly a lubricant engineer.

Pour motor oil in Cincinnatti or Landis spindle bearings and they'll run hot and wipe. Ever rebuild a Flimatic spindle bearing? Drive you nuts. Some bearings are tolerent of lubricants and some have specific requirements.

I think it's irresponsible to suggest one size fits all lubrication to people new to the machinery business - particularly when they have a machine that seems to have definite lubrication requirements.

All of us who post here are exercising significant power. To the new in naive all advice - good or bad - is equal. We owe it to each other to post the best advice we can qualifying it in suitable terms if we're not confident. Things are done differently down on the farm compared to NASA and for good reason. You don't use plow bolts on the Space Shuttle and you don't use graphite pins on a three point hitch.

The point is never to lead anyone astray.

As for the merits of STP. That's a subject for a stimulating discussion over pizza and beer.

[This message has been edited by Forrest Addy (edited 08-17-2003).]

08-17-2003, 07:51 PM
WS. Forrest

In all cases a PROPERLY FORMULATED pure sysnthetic lubricant will outperform ANY natural petroleum based product.

The oil companies don't give a **** about your car or you - they make the cheapest crap they can for the least amount of money. They know poor maintenance and cold starts are what causes the death of most engines.

In a january issue of Lubrication World the onwers of Quaker State (The man who rescues Cambells soup from oblivion) was interviewed and related the following story: "Quaker State marketed their new 4x4 oil at $.25 more than their regular oil in their corporate stores. Could not sell a single bottle till they increased the price from $2.25/qt to $5.00/qt - then it sold like hotcakes. Mostly women in SUV's bought it." (not verbatim, but close)

The reason I have recommended Amsoil and Mobil is because they are the top two leaders in Industrial lubrication.

Amsoil further stands behind their products with a warranty to repair or replace equipment damaged by the failure of their products (this is easily proven by analysis of the lubricant). Call them and have them recommned full synthetic product for your application - if they do not have the proper stuff, they will flatly tell you to source it somewhere else.

Disclaimer: I have nothing to gain from either company.

[This message has been edited by Thrud (edited 08-17-2003).]

L Webb
08-17-2003, 08:52 PM
I am not about to use STP on my punch presses.
Bliss gave me very good specs in the manual for all lubricants.
Any good oil distributor can meet those specs.
They spec very certain properties along with a tackifier for the way oil. It needs to hang on the vertical ways and gibs, yet be pumped through the automatic oiler system.

The STP is also far more expensive. So why use it?

I have to agree with Forrest on this one. If you want to use other than spec'd lubricants in your own machines, that is fine.
For someone who is new to this or who doesn't understand oils and applications, go with the manufacturers recommendations.


08-17-2003, 11:35 PM
Listen to Forrest.