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QUESTIONS & ANSWERS ON GREASE

What is grease?
Most grease are a mixture of soap(lithium) and oil. The soap solidifies the oil enough to hold it in place to act as a lubricant,usually between two or more pieces of metal. Clay is sometimes used but very rarely.

What is the ratio of soap (lithium) to oil?
The grease is usually about 85 to 95% oil.

What kind of oil is used?
Pretty much the same base oils that would be used for normal automotive lubricants. Some are blended with the equivalent of motor oils, some are blended with the equivalent of gear oils.

Is that all there is to grease - just oil mixed with either soap or clay?
Not necessarily. Lithium and oil make basic grease and that's all you should expect an inexpensive grease to be, however there is a multitude of additives as well as new blending methods that can alter the grease dramatically.

Do additives make a lot of difference in the grease?
Grease without additives is like motor oil without additives, which is what people used before the fifties. You changed oil every thousand miles and your engine still was burning oil by the time it reached 60,000 miles. The Good Old Days Huh?I don't think so.

Aren't additives expensive?
They do add to the price of the grease. Oil additives add to the price of motor oil too, but look at what they do for the motor oil. You can now drive thousands of miles between oil changes and it's not at all unusual to find engines with 200,000 miles or more on them.

Why then isn't all grease filled with additives?
Price sensitivity is still probably the main reason, but that's changing fast. We've found that more and more consumers want a sophisticated grease and price is secondary to quality when they are looking to buy a good grease.

How can you tell which additives are in the grease?
Rust and oxidation inhibitors are usually mentioned as such. They are probably the two most basic additives and are often added into the grease with nothing else. This small addition can be made without adding very much expense to the grease but still gives the package some bragging rights. E.P. is another additive that is often noted , but E.P. can be added in varying amounts. A true, premium grease will have a lot of this very important additive but we tested some that had very little. We tested some greases that claimed to have E.P. in their greases that had none. But we found that both the Lucas X-Tra Heavy Duty Grease and Lucas Red N’ Tacky Grease had plenty of E.P. and anti-wear agents in them.

What is E.P.?
E.P. stands for extreme pressure.This is a package of additives that allows the grease to stand up to high loads. The more E.P. the more load carrying ability the grease will have. A good E.P.package will also have anti-wear agents (much like motor oil) and anti-seize agents. These anti-seize agents are very important.
They produce an invisible film that keeps the metals from welding or tearing when the pressure is so great that all the grease is otherwise squeezed out. This ability to stand up to pressure is measured on a ball bearing apparatus called a Timken machine. This test is, of course, called a Timken Test.
Plain grease is seldom rated because the rating would be very low. Better greases are rated because a high Timken load rating is an excellent sales point.
Lucas X- Tra Heavy Duty Grease and Lucas Red N’ Tacky Grease has a Timken rating of 60.That's about as high as you can get.
Note: The above mentioned problems are sometimes addressed in different ways by other manufacturers. For E.P. some use silicone, some use aluminum, some calcium, some Teflon, some use even other material and everyone claims theirs is the best. Usually each one is better for a particular situation.

What does drop point mean?
Drop point is the temperature at which the oil drops or separates from the soap. Plain grease drops out between 300 and 350 degrees. Fast moving parts often generate temperatures far in excess of that. Lucas X-Tra Heavy Duty Grease and Lucas Red N’ Tacky Grease drops out at temperatures in excess of 540 degrees.
That's about as high as you can go and still maintain good lubricity but that should be high enough for virtually any situation. The dropping point should be one of the main considerations when shopping for grease.

N.L.G.I.. rated G.C.L.B. - what does this mean?
N.L.G.I. stands for National Lubricating Grease Institute. This means they have tested the grease. G.C.L.B. is their highest rating. The original equipment manufacturers use these greases in their "Lube for Life" parts. Very few greases have this rating. Of course, Lucas X-Tra Heavy Duty Grease has this rating.

What is Number 2 grease?
Grease is graded by its fluidity. Number 2 grease is the most common grade because it meets most needs. Number 1 grease is more fluid and is often used at low temperatures. Number 1 grease is usually considered too unstable for a summer time grease.
One of the most important features of Lucas X-Tra Heavy Duty Grease and Lucas Red N’ Tacky Grease isthat it has the stability of a Number 2 grease in hot weather and the fluidity of a Number 1 grease in cold weather. This is very important for good lubrication.

How do you measure lubricity and longevity?
Longevity of the grease can be measured on a "wheel bearing test" machine. Lucas X-Tra Heayy Duty Grease is outstanding in this test, by far the longest lasting grease we how of. This quality plus exceptional lubricity make Lucas grease perfect for wheel bearings.

How do tacky greases rate? Tackifiers can be added to any grease. The ones we tested had little or no other additives. The tacking agents can be a plus in some situations but if grease has to much tackifiers in them , then they "will chop up" and have a short life span in a lot of applications.

What does color signify in a grease?
The natural color of most grease is very close to mud. A moly or graphite grease is probably black. All the pretty green, blue and red hues are dyes and have no other significance whatsoever.

What about synthetic grease?
This is blended using synthetic oil instead of plain oil as a lubricant. Synthetic oil has good cold weather characteristics but we found it inferior to plain oil as a lubricant. Many users we talked to were dissatisfied with the synthetic grease, especially at the price they paid for it.
Synthetic grease is also incompatible with some other greases, when mixed together they break down and run out of the parts.

What is meant by complex grease?
Complex greases are usually just what the name implies - complex. These are usually premium greases with a lot of additives.

What is a moly grease?
Molybdenum is a good dry lubricant and is suggested for applications such as oven doors where the rest of the grease might evaporate; however, for general lubrication a premium lithium grease is considered better.

What is the significance of water wash-out and how is it tested?
Water resistance is tested in two ways, drip and spray. A given amount of grease is applied to a piece of metal and then dripped on or sprayed for a given amount of time and then measured again. Inexpensive greases usually fare poorly in this test because they are higher in lithium (soap) and lower in oil.
Marine greases are water resistant but are often lacking in other attributes.
Note:In our opinion not enough significance is given to water resistance by many grease manufacturers. We considered this one of the main factors when formulating our Lucas X-Tra Heavy Duty Grease and our Red N’Tacky Grease.The result is that Lucas X- Tra Heavy Duty Grease and Red N’Tacky are almost completely water proof.They tested better than any other grease on the spray test and they won't emulsify.
This is very important for trucks on wet roads or machinery exposed to lots of rain.

What is a four ball wear test?
This very important test measures the anti-wear characteristics of grease. A good score on this test means the grease will give extended life to the parts being lubricated. An average grease tests about 250 GF on this test . An average premium grease tests about 300 to 325 GF. Lucas X-Tra Heavy Duty Grease and Red N’ Tacky Grease tests 500 GF.
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Copyright 2002 Berry Enterprises
some material contained herein is copyrighted by Lucas Oil Products, Inc. used by permission.
Email: bob@bylucasoil.com
Last Modified: Friday, July 15, 2011