Roy Dean DE-112 Grease and the Modern Equivalent

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One of the most frequent question I get from my customers is if I carry Roy Dean DE-112 grease (as specified in the SBL Lube Chart). This chart dates back to when cars had running boards, and some of the lube requirements are somewhat out-of-date. the Roy Dean grease IS still available through Steve Wells @ the SBL workshop at, and Steve Brooks at stevewb on Ebay. These guys have THE LAST remaining inventory of the Roy Dean grease, and have told me when its gone, there won’t be another production run. Get some now, if you want it! This led me to look around for a modern alternative, and I have come up with a reasonable substitute. But lets look at the history of Roy Dean grease first:


Sometime during the late 50s-early 60s South Bend Lathe Works changed the lubrication requirement on the Spindle Cone and Back Gear on their lathes from oil to grease (with the corresponding markings on those components). Earlier lathes are marked “OIL”, and later lathes are marked “GREASE” (I have not seen dates associated with the change-over). It seems that the change was requested by the Service Department to insure adequate lubrication and to avoid warrantee claims. While the lube schedule for the oil was once per 8 hour shift, the schedule for the grease was once per year. I’ve spoken to a few people who are what I’d call experts on SBL lathes, and decided that the switch from oil to grease was more of a CYA move than an actual “improvement” to the lubrication procedure of the lathes. The move was designed to lessen warrantee claims on PRODUCTION machines that ran three shifts a day: unnecessary for hobbyist machines, in my view.

SBL specified the use of Roy Dean DE-112 grease (SBL catalog #CE1625) for this application. Unfortunately, this grease is now out of production and the two vendors that carry the remaining stock will someday run out. Fortunately, technology moves on and there are products that meet or exceed the performance of the lubrication specified back in the 30s, 40s, 50s, and 60s. 2015 brings us to a Soy Based Lithium grease that flows well and offers 4 times the lubricity of the original 20% Teflon grease. Sold in 8 OZ tubes for easy application, it should keep your machine happy for years to come (3 OZ application dosage).  More importantly, this item should be available well into the future, allowing you to lube your lathe the way the manufacturer intended.

I’m not trying to lessen the validity of Roy Dean Grease, just add another tool to the toolbox. I have tried this grease on my own machine, and am happy with the results. If you ABSOLUTELY need Roy Dean Grease; I can’t help you, but if you want a modern alternative , this is it. The supply of original stuff is finite, so get some while you can. When its gone: its gone.

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