Chinese Lubricants; Its Just Oil, Right? (Oy Vey!)

As one might expect, I tend to get involved in alot of discussions about machine tool lubrication on different forums (against my better judgement). My views are VERY CLEAR: buy good stuff for your machine tools, and they will love you long time. PERIOD.

The other night I posted some sources for the ROY DEAN  DE112 grease for the cone pulley and back gear on the South Bend Lathes on the South Bend Lathes group on Yahoo. This is the grease that SBL recommended as the lubricant for these parts when it was determined that the oil points were not being lubricated on a daily basis.  I always wondered why some lathes were marked “OIL”, and some marked “GREASE” on the cone pulley and back gear. It is my IMPRESSION (because I have no facts to back it up) that the parts marked OIL and GREASE are identical, just the lubrication requirements are different. It was felt that in production shops that the lathes weren’t being lubed with oil every day, so SBL changed the lube to the ROY DEAN DE112 grease applied ONCE A YEAR. Their feeling was that that should provide enough protection to the cone pulley and back gear. Thanks to Jim B from the Yahoo South Bend Lathe users group for that tid bit. I have to believe that SBL spent a little time and money researching what grade and viscosity of grease or oil would work best in this application. Their word is good enough for me.


The ROY DEAN “grease” is more like a very thick oil than grease, and flows really well. To the best of my knowledge, it is only available from TWO sources: I’ll call them: THE TWO STEVES.

STEVE WELLS was the first guy to contract ROY DEAN to make up a batch of this grease for SBL users, after SBL went out of business, and still sells it on his site:   I don’t endorse many sites, but this is one that every South Bend Lathe owner should visit, both for the great brand specific parts, but also his information archive. It is clear that Steve loves South Bend Lathes.

STEVE BROOKS sells on Ebay under the ID of  STEVEWB, and sells the ROY DEAN grease and manuals and overhaul parts for South Bend Lathes and Bridgeport mills. He has put enough time and effort into writing the excellent manuals and overhaul parts that he sells, that it is evident that it is not just about the money for him either.

I have dealt with both these guys, and would be hard pressed to find better, more knowledgeable merchants than either of them. Both of these guys have told me that their supplier has told them that they hold the last stock of ROY DEAN grease that will be produced. I’m rambling, and should get to the reason for this post:

One of the guys on the South Bend Yahoo group mentioned that Super Lube Teflon (don’t ask me who makes it; don’t care) would be a good substitute. I have been told (by some very reliable sources) that this stuff is too thick to flow like the ROY DEAN does. I don’t want to sound like some kind of “Lube Snob”, but HF ain’t the place to buy lubricants for precision rotating parts. HF sells some stuff that really fits the bill for Home Shop Machinist types for way less than the going rate of quality stuff, but lubricants ain’t one of them. I own some of their stuff, but usually replace it with good stuff once I’ve made enough money  to afford quality stuff. Its been my experience that if you leave the HF “grease/oil” in some of their equipment; you better get the extended warrantee, cause it won’t make it’s first birthday. Two (maybe three) areas that I have learned to avoid from HF are:

ABRASIVES: HF sells VERY cheap grinding wheels and sand paper made in India that really isn’t worth the price (and thats saying alot).

ELECTRICAL:  I don’t think I’ve ever bought anything with an electrical motor on it from HF that didn’t need a lube before running it. I just had to lube two BRAND NEW abrasive tumblers tonight, that were frozen from sitting, before they worked. It seems they lube their motors with super glue. That is what prompted me to off on this rant.

LUBRICANTS: Anyone that has purchases a 4X6 horizontal saw from HF, and listened to the sage advice to drain the gearbox oil as soon as they get it home will know what I’m talking about. The oil/grease that is in the saws as shipped is not like any oil that I have ever gotten from a domestic source. It looks more like hog snot than anything that came out of a well, and seems to have a very high concentration of sand in it. I’ll be d@mned if I will trust their SUPER LUBE TEFLON to lubricate the spindle cone pulley on my lathe, I don’t care how cheap it is. The cost of the replacement parts far outweigh the insignificant savings I would see by buying Chinese oil/grease. Sometimes you have to take a step back, and look at the big picture; You just spent (fill in a figure) alot of money on your new toy, and you are going to lubricate one of the more critical and expensive parts of the machine with lubricants supplied by the people who brought you poisoned pet food, lead painted kiddie toys, and contaminated drywall?


OK, the rant is over. Buy good quality lubricants, and your expensive tools will last longer.

Please have a look at the and let provide your special maintenance and tool needs..

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