Best Lubrication Methods for Wire Rope Applications

Noria Corporation
Tags: industrial lubricants

"Could you please tell me what kind of lubricant wire rope manufacturers use in the initial filling? What is the recommended lubricant and lubrication method to employ while lubricating moving wire rope in different applications?"

Wire ropes can be utilized in a number of applications. The intended application generally will dictate the initial lubrication of the wire rope by manufacturers. For example, some wire ropes are employed for the support of structures such as buildings and bridges. These ropes remain nearly static, so there is little need to relubricate them. They will not have the same internal friction and wear (although still subjected to surface corrosion) as a dynamic rope utilized in heavy equipment applications for lifting or hauling purposes.  

Wire ropes used in crane services often employ a fiber core which is saturated in oil with strands of wire wrapped around it. This fiber core acts as a sponge to actively drain or release lubricant when the rope is subjected to bending or loading. Most wire ropes fail from the inside, so this fiber core can be beneficial if binding conditions occur.

Wire ropes without a fiber core are typically coated with a lubricant during the manufacturing process to lessen internal friction and to coat the surface in order to minimize corrosion due to water or the environment.

While there are standards in place for lubricants used during the manufacturing process, most are generic and only help put you on the right track in your lubricant selection. Of course, all wire rope lubricants should have corrosion control properties as well as penetrating capabilities to get as far into the core of the wire rope as possible.

There are numerous methods of applying lubricant to wire ropes. For machinery in which the rope can move, you may choose to use a drip, spray or trough method. These methods apply lubricant at a single point and utilize the movement of the rope to spread the lubricant over the entire length of the system. Some trough systems are pressurized, which can be advantageous, as they push the lubricant into the rope.

If the wire ropes are static, manual brushing or sprays usually are the easiest way to apply lubricant. In most cases, it is best to remove excess lubricant from the surface to help minimize dirt and water from sticking to the lubricant, especially in dirty environments.