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Reliability-focused owner-operators understand the importance of frequently monitoring bearing lubricating oil quality.
Bearings exposed to contaminated oil are more likely to suffer heat-related distress. The fluid film between rolling elements and inner/outer raceways breaks down and metal-to-metal contact will result. The next step toward failure is equipment vibration and problems that often include mechanical seal failure.
Periodic checking of the lubricating oil is important to detect contamination trends. However, good surveillance is difficult when the equipment is operating.
A recently developed simple in-line product makes surveillance easier.
The LubeChek50 is a device that can be mounted directly in the lowermost threaded opening of an equipment bearing housing. It incorporates a ball valve positioned above a sealed, transparent container; the container is protected by an external spiral coil.
Metallic debris contained in the lube oil will settle out at the lowest point: the LubeChek50. Its transparent container makes debris easy to detect. An integral magnet is positioned in the container and helps to attract ferrous debris.
It is generally understood that moisture contamination of the bearing lubricating oil will adversely affect bearing life. Because the density of water is greater than that of lube oil, free water contained in the oil will migrate to the LubeChek50.
This now makes it possible for operators to detect solid and water contamination while making their rounds, whether the equipment is operating or on stand-by.
If further contaminant investigation is required, operators can simply close the LubeChek50 ball valve, which seals off the bearing housing. They can then detach the LubeChek50 container portion from the equipment, cap it and send it to a laboratory for analysis. In essence, this simple and cost-effective surveillance add-on helps identify and detect contaminants. Early detection and remedial action will certainly enhance equipment reliability.