View Full Version : Recommend fan motor lube please

09-21-2010, 11:25 PM
We just got back from a visit to California's White Mountains wherein reside the Bristlecone pines, the world's oldest living things. At 4500 years old, some of these were seedlings when the pyramids were being built. Got up at 5 a.m. one morning to walk out on the view point at about 9000 feet to watch the sun rise upon the eastern Sierra. From our vantage point we could see from the mountains bordering Death Valley all the way up to those that define Tioga pass. Awesome. After that we came over Tioga through Yosemite, which always lives up to its reputation. This should be on everyone's bucket list.

Camping at 9000 to 10,000 feet altitude we needed the camper heater several mornings as the outside temps were down in the high 20s. But alas, the turbine oil I put on the fan motor bearings several years ago had dried up and the poor heater screamed like a marmot being eaten by a coyote. After it warmed up the motor quieted down, but before that I was worried that we were waking up the whole campground.

So the question is: Because we live in Central California and rarely travel into areas where we need the heater, it can be several years between uses. And during that hiatus, the temps. the heater sits in can range from the high 20s during winter nights to as much as 115 out behind the barn on a scorching summer day. So with those considerations, what sort of lube might you recommend for those bronze motor bearings that won't run off or dry up yet will allow that little DC fan motor to spin freely without complaint?

09-22-2010, 12:26 AM
Many hardwares carry a pure oil that is used for electric motors. Don't use 3-in-1 oil, it has additives that gum up. You could use clock oil or gun oil.

J Tiers
09-22-2010, 12:47 AM
Oil that never gums is rare...... maybe silicone oil, but I don't think it's lube qualities are as good, and you already have petroleum oil in there.

I use the stuff in those "zoom spout" oilers...... probably you do too, since you mentioned "turbine oil" and they tout that stuff as "T.O." In fact, I just oiled a window fan with it before I came down and looked on the computer. Works pretty well, and I've never seen it gum. That fan had been unused for 3 years.

Maybe the thing to do is to clean out the bearings if really bad now, and/or oil it before use, letting the new stuff soak in. Also run it a bit, and oil again. That usually works unless there is too much gum, in which case solvent and disassembly is the best cure...

09-23-2010, 04:43 PM
Thanks for the advice, J and Carl. I hadn't thought of cleaning out the little bearings, but I'll bet your right, that they're full of dried oil goo. I'll take a look next week.

Thx. again.

09-23-2010, 04:58 PM
If they are Oilite type bearings they were typically impregnated with 20% oil, vacuum impregnated.
I would clean them if possible and lube/re-soak them in White Lithium, you can get this in aerosol form from Home Depot etc.
White Lithium has excellent qualities over a wide range of temperatures, also widely used in automotive and marine use.
Also excellent for penetrating & lubing those squeaky car door hinges.

09-23-2010, 05:04 PM
Use the Zoom oil. Apply some run it and re apply. It really is good stuff.

09-23-2010, 05:04 PM
I have been using from the same quart can of original mobile 1 for about 15 years now and have had good luck with everything I have used it on. Some of the better electrical and refrigeration suppliers have electric motor oil in small (8 to 16 oz) squirt top bottles for reasonable prices. I agree that 3 in 1 oil does not work well long term.

I second the concern with using silicone oils. A friend once used a heavy silicone oil on his Browning auto shotgun. Upon being asked how that worked out, he stated that he now had the only single shot automatic shotgun in the country. It took him forever to remove all the silicone oil and get it functioning properly again.

09-23-2010, 07:07 PM
THANKS guys. I think I'll try the white lithium. I've put the Zoom All Purpose Turbine Oil in there and that's what dried out and caused the motor to holler. Thanks again for the help.

09-23-2010, 07:52 PM
Not to hijack the thread, but............ I have a washing machine and the motor locked up due to dried up oil in the bushings. I took it apart, what a bitch as it was epoxied together, anyways the bushings are now clean and I have the same problem every month now. I'm currantly using 30W car oil. I cant find any info on what the original lube was or where to get some. Does anyone repair washers and driers for a living??

Frank K
09-23-2010, 07:57 PM
I rebuild quite a few of the cheapo fan motors that use bronze and steel sleeve bushings. I've been using the oil from B&G that is used to lubricate their heating system circulating pumps. Never seems to dry or gum up. About 6 bucks a tube at Home Depot. A tube lasts forever.

09-23-2010, 08:31 PM
The best oil might be some "annual maintainence lube".

09-23-2010, 10:06 PM
The best oil might be some "annual maintainence lube".
You are absolutely right. But pulling that sucker out of the camper is worse than trying to solve a Chinese woodblock puzzle. Truck campers, and many other RVs as well, were definitely not designed to be worked on. I'll pay $20 for ten drops of the right oil if I never have to pull that thing again.

J Tiers
09-23-2010, 11:16 PM
Typically the zoom spout oil does NOT gum up fast.....

What really happens is that fuzz gets caught on the shaft, and it wicks OUT all the oil. What's left is the gum from the really old oil.......

I cleaned and lubed a bathroom fan with the zoom stuff 10 years ago, and it is still going fine. The original oil lasted maybe 5 years.... then it bound and squeaked. Cleaned out a good deal of gummy crap with solvent and q-tips. Yes I am both cheap, and stubborn...... they wanted $40 + for a new fan with plate...... I cleaned the old one in a half hour. I don't mind $80 per hour "pay".

09-23-2010, 11:33 PM
A Dupont high end lube available as oil or grease. I've used this at work under 150C conditions on small bearings.


Not at all inexpensive but will out last us all.

09-23-2010, 11:36 PM
J Tiers is correct. The fuzz he is refering to comes from over-oiling and the runout from the shaft attracts the dust that wicks out the oil. I was taught to use 20 weight non-detergent oil in motors. I think that is what is in the zoom spout turbine oil bottles.