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  1. #1
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    Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    The Problem: Sometimes, the mill and lathe in my garage sit for months without being used. In that period of time, the way lube dries out / gums up and then I have to clean the machines thoroughly and re-lubricate everything before I can use them. In some cases, the oil will gum up in passages and oil grooves, requiring complete dis-assembly and cleaning in order to restore functionality. All of the typical way lube products that I've seen or used do this. Vactra #2, SlideWay 68, and similar. On a machine being run every day, or even monthly, this isn't a significant concern. But when a machine sits totally idle for 4 months in a hot garage, it's a real pain.

    The Question: Has anyone found a good way lube that doesn't dry out and turn into glue after a few months?

    Additional Thoughts: I know that one of the design elements of way lube is the addition of tackifiers and such to help retain oil on vertical surfaces, and I understand the need for that. I also understand why grease is generally undesirable for box/dovetail ways because of the added friction. But what about lighter grease? For example, an NLGI 0 or 00 synthetic PFTE grease (Super-Lube 41150/0 or similar). Cost isn't a big issue, I just need something that isn't going to dry out / turn into glue and/or clog small passages when not in-use. The way lube I'm using now is Oemeta HYCUT SW68.

  2. #2
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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    ...try Turbine Oil maybe. I also heard Automatic transmission fluid has been used to check lube systems... because of the red color is easy to see where the lube is going

  3. #3
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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by Flyboy771 View Post
    The Problem: Sometimes, the mill and lathe in my garage sit for months without being used. In that period of time, the way lube dries out / gums up and then I have to clean the machines thoroughly and re-lubricate everything before I can use them. In some cases, the oil will gum up in passages and oil grooves, requiring complete dis-assembly and cleaning in order to restore functionality. All of the typical way lube products that I've seen or used do this. Vactra #2, SlideWay 68, and similar. On a machine being run every day, or even monthly, this isn't a significant concern. But when a machine sits totally idle for 4 months in a hot garage, it's a real pain.

    The Question: Has anyone found a good way lube that doesn't dry out and turn into glue after a few months?

    Additional Thoughts: I know that one of the design elements of way lube is the addition of tackifiers and such to help retain oil on vertical surfaces, and I understand the need for that. I also understand why grease is generally undesirable for box/dovetail ways because of the added friction. But what about lighter grease? For example, an NLGI 0 or 00 synthetic PFTE grease (Super-Lube 41150/0 or similar). Cost isn't a big issue, I just need something that isn't going to dry out / turn into glue and/or clog small passages when not in-use. The way lube I'm using now is Oemeta HYCUT SW68.
    I have never seen this happen with Mobil Vactra #2, something else is going on to cause this are you using any cutting fluid / coolant
    Mactec54

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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by mactec54 View Post
    I have never seen this happen with Mobil Vactra #2, something else is going on to cause this are you using any cutting fluid / coolant
    Nope. Just leaving a well cleaned and lubricated machine sitting for several months at a time. I guess you've never had to clean old crusty Vactra #2 off of / out of a machine before? If a machine is used regularly (monthly or more) and has a proper oil pump (manual or automatic) which is also used regularly, AND all axes are run through their full strokes regularly, Vactra and the other normal products work just fine. But let them sit for a while or only use part of the axis travel, and you'll see what I mean. Of course there are factors which make a difference... Way covers, lubrication interval, shop climate, etc. But my situation is almost a worst-case scenario... exposed dovetail ways, no form of central / pressurized lubrication, and a hot dry garage in a desert climate.

    So... I'm looking for recommendations from anyone who has dealt with and solved similar issues in the past.

  5. #5
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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Not sure I can compete with desert climate but here we get average -10C to +30C (occasionally) and mid to high humidity through the year, winter through summer and my machines whilst only 'enthusiast level' could be left 6 - 9 months between uses, in a garage, all surviving with regular 10w-40 motor oil over the ways and an oily sheet thrown over the machine. May not be correct but works ok for me.

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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by Flyboy771 View Post
    Nope. Just leaving a well cleaned and lubricated machine sitting for several months at a time. I guess you've never had to clean old crusty Vactra #2 off of / out of a machine before? If a machine is used regularly (monthly or more) and has a proper oil pump (manual or automatic) which is also used regularly, AND all axes are run through their full strokes regularly, Vactra and the other normal products work just fine. But let them sit for a while or only use part of the axis travel, and you'll see what I mean. Of course there are factors which make a difference... Way covers, lubrication interval, shop climate, etc. But my situation is almost a worst-case scenario... exposed dovetail ways, no form of central / pressurized lubrication, and a hot dry garage in a desert climate.

    So... I'm looking for recommendations from anyone who has dealt with and solved similar issues in the past.
    No because it does not happen by itself, just poor maintenance and contamination is what causes oils to get gummy

    The oil you are using is an ester based oil any condensation can turn it gummy as you are seeing

    I rebuild machines so know what works best contamination of the oils is what causes the oils to fail
    Mactec54

  7. #7
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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by mactec54 View Post
    No because it does not happen by itself, just poor maintenance and contamination is what causes oils to get gummy

    The oil you are using is an ester based oil any condensation can turn it gummy as you are seeing

    I rebuild machines so know what works best contamination of the oils is what causes the oils to fail
    OK, well, that's sort of my point... I never said and don't believe that oil breakdown happens "by itself." Un-written was the understanding that shops and storage areas are dirty, contamination is inevitable, humidity and condensation are a fact of life to be dealt with, and perfect maintenance isn't always practical or possible. So regardless of the exact / specific reason it happens, it still happens, and it's a real problem. This is especially true if you don't want to fully drain the oil, flush the passages, and coat the whole machine in cosmoline every time you're done using it "just in case" it ends up sitting for the next year or two.

    I need a solution for a machine that IS well maintained when in use, and gets "put away" clean, but sits for months in an environment of large swings in humidity and temperature, machines in storage, or "that old one over there in the corner we don't use very often but still need for special jobs every third blue moon". I'm looking for a solution that is more resilient in those environments. Something that works OK (even if not "the best") for day-to-day clean and well-maintained use, but which will NOT cause problems when left to sit for extended periods of time. Does your experience provide any helpful knowledge in that realm? Virtually any compatible (chemically) oil or grease will perform adequately when well maintained, kept clean and cycled regularly. Some better than others, of course. But that's not the subject here. I'm explicitly asking if anyone has ideas or advice on selecting a grease / oil which does NOT REQUIRE constant maintenance or a nuclear certified clean room storage environment to avoid trouble.

    The ester based oil I'm currently using is somewhat more susceptible to gumming up with condensation, that's absolutely true. It is water miscible, and intended for use on machines where the way oil drips into the coolant. This oil just makes more coolant instead of becoming tramp oil and growing nasty stuff. Excellent product under the intended conditions. I'll wholeheartedly agree that it's not ideal for my application. But it's what I have, and what I'm needing to replace. I know from my own past experience in several machine shops (including re-building a few machines myself) that Vactra #2 and (as far as I know) most equivalent "Way Lube" oils all ultimately have the same problem. Whether the means of the breakdown is moisture absorption or VOC evaporation or UV breakdown from the shop fluorescent lights, the end result is the same. Most way lubes, when not cycled regularly and refreshed, eventually turn first into glue, then tar, then varnish, depending on how long the machine has been sitting, and the environment. This happens both on the ways, and in the oil passages. Not usually the distribution tubes, but the flaking in the surfaces and grooves in the ways and gibs and such, where cleaning is nearly impossible (and, by the way, where the contaminants tend to accumulate).

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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by kawazuki View Post
    Not sure I can compete with desert climate but here we get average -10C to +30C (occasionally) and mid to high humidity through the year, winter through summer and my machines whilst only 'enthusiast level' could be left 6 - 9 months between uses, in a garage, all surviving with regular 10w-40 motor oil over the ways and an oily sheet thrown over the machine. May not be correct but works ok for me.
    Not a bad idea. Do you ever have issues with the oil not staying / sticking where it's supposed to be? I tried motor oil once, when it's all I had in a pinch, and didn't feel like it did a great job of staying put on vertical ways or the underside of a table, for example.

  9. #9
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    I use 90W straight mineral oil, no additives. Available at your local NAPA store. Seems to stay on the ways in all weather conditions, and no gumming noted with long idle periods.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dawson View Post
    I use 90W straight mineral oil, no additives. Available at your local NAPA store. Seems to stay on the ways in all weather conditions, and no gumming noted with long idle periods.
    Thank you, I'll try that out.

  11. #11
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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by Flyboy771 View Post
    OK, well, that's sort of my point... I never said and don't believe that oil breakdown happens "by itself." Un-written was the understanding that shops and storage areas are dirty, contamination is inevitable, humidity and condensation are a fact of life to be dealt with, and perfect maintenance isn't always practical or possible. So regardless of the exact / specific reason it happens, it still happens, and it's a real problem. This is especially true if you don't want to fully drain the oil, flush the passages, and coat the whole machine in cosmoline every time you're done using it "just in case" it ends up sitting for the next year or two.

    I need a solution for a machine that IS well maintained when in use, and gets "put away" clean, but sits for months in an environment of large swings in humidity and temperature, machines in storage, or "that old one over there in the corner we don't use very often but still need for special jobs every third blue moon". I'm looking for a solution that is more resilient in those environments. Something that works OK (even if not "the best") for day-to-day clean and well-maintained use, but which will NOT cause problems when left to sit for extended periods of time. Does your experience provide any helpful knowledge in that realm? Virtually any compatible (chemically) oil or grease will perform adequately when well maintained, kept clean and cycled regularly. Some better than others, of course. But that's not the subject here. I'm explicitly asking if anyone has ideas or advice on selecting a grease / oil which does NOT REQUIRE constant maintenance or a nuclear certified clean room storage environment to avoid trouble.

    The ester based oil I'm currently using is somewhat more susceptible to gumming up with condensation, that's absolutely true. It is water miscible, and intended for use on machines where the way oil drips into the coolant. This oil just makes more coolant instead of becoming tramp oil and growing nasty stuff. Excellent product under the intended conditions. I'll wholeheartedly agree that it's not ideal for my application. But it's what I have, and what I'm needing to replace. I know from my own past experience in several machine shops (including re-building a few machines myself) that Vactra #2 and (as far as I know) most equivalent "Way Lube" oils all ultimately have the same problem. Whether the means of the breakdown is moisture absorption or VOC evaporation or UV breakdown from the shop fluorescent lights, the end result is the same. Most way lubes, when not cycled regularly and refreshed, eventually turn first into glue, then tar, then varnish, depending on how long the machine has been sitting, and the environment. This happens both on the ways, and in the oil passages. Not usually the distribution tubes, but the flaking in the surfaces and grooves in the ways and gibs and such, where cleaning is nearly impossible (and, by the way, where the contaminants tend to accumulate).
    It is simple you need https://www.inoxmx.com/products/mx3-lubricant/ this will take care of all your problems I have used it for 20 years they have many products, the mx3 should work for what you need to do just give it a coat once in a while and everything will be as good to go, when you need to use it
    Mactec54

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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by Flyboy771 View Post
    Thank you, I'll try that out.
    And you will end up with a worse mess than what you have, automotive oils in general are a bad choice for machine use, although some automatic oils can have some uses in a machine shop
    Mactec54

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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by mactec54 View Post
    And you will end up with a worse mess than what you have, automotive oils in general are a bad choice for machine use, although some automatic oils can have some uses in a machine shop
    If you have something useful to contribute, please do. So far your posts on this thread have been nothing but arrogant, dismissive, and critical. It's okay to point out potential problems, but as you do so, please present solutions and/or explain the reasoning behind your critiques in a way that helps others increase their understanding of the subject. Otherwise, you are cordially invited to take a long walk off a short pier. Have a great weekend!

    Edit: My apologies. I did not see your prior post before writing this one. Thank you for the suggestion.

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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by mactec54 View Post
    It is simple you need https://www.inoxmx.com/products/mx3-lubricant/ this will take care of all your problems I have used it for 20 years they have many products, the mx3 should work for what you need to do just give it a coat once in a while and everything will be as good to go, when you need to use it
    Is this product, or a form of it something that could be used in a centralized lube system, or would you recommend just spraying it on externally? The disclaimer on the web page says it can affect rubber. Have you found this to be a problem at all?

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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    mactac - What I've heard about not using automotive oils on tooling has to do with the detergent content of (nearly all) motor oils. OK for circulating oil systems with filters and periodic oil changes, bad for tools. Note that Jim Dawson suggested oil with "no additives," so it should be just fine on machine ways.

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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    ...rubber or wrong type in 10 years or less these days...gets gummee with wrong lube for sure

  17. #17
    Community Moderator Jim Dawson's Avatar
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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by mactec54 View Post
    And you will end up with a worse mess than what you have, automotive oils in general are a bad choice for machine use, although some automatic oils can have some uses in a machine shop
    I have been using 90W in my machines for about the last 6 years. No problems so far, maybe with the exception that they are bit stiff when the temperature in the shop drops below about 30°F. But when it's that cold, I'm a bit stiff too.

    A 50/50 mix of ATF and acetone does make a great penetrating oil.
    Jim Dawson
    Sandy, Oregon, USA

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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by Flyboy771 View Post
    Is this product, or a form of it something that could be used in a centralized lube system, or would you recommend just spraying it on externally? The disclaimer on the web page says it can affect rubber. Have you found this to be a problem at all?
    There thicker lubes may work in the lube system send them an email I have rubber no Neoprene way wipers and they are still good on may lathe I don't know what rubber parts you would have on you mill that is related to the slide ways, the MX3 is thin like WD40 but a much different better product

    Rubber most machines don't use Rubber any rubber parts are normally made from neoprene or similar material and MX3 has no affect on it

    You could try the MX3FG which is a little thicker

    If you thought my post where arrogant then shame on you, most of my posts are from real experience not pretending like you have been with your total lack of knowledge of the oils you have been using and total made up stories of gum and tar that the oil turns into is total Bs, why do I say this is because I have one machine that has around 1 gallon of way lube it does not get that much run time and and sits for months at a time, as I have more than one of these machines, the tank has not been changed in15 years the oil in it is as good as the day it was put in, how do I know this I just checked it the tank is painted on the inside and I can still see the bottom in the tank this oil system circulates the oil so there is very little loss but lubes all the ways on this Okmoto surface Grinder

    Here is a photo of another machine you can see the way lube this has done more than 12 years of use, still looks like the day I built it lube is lube and it can not turn back into it's crude form once processed, unless you change it chemically
    Mactec54

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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by hman View Post
    mactac - What I've heard about not using automotive oils on tooling has to do with the detergent content of (nearly all) motor oils. OK for circulating oil systems with filters and periodic oil changes, bad for tools. Note that Jim Dawson suggested oil with "no additives," so it should be just fine on machine ways.
    It is to thick and sticky to put on machine ways, try it you will see
    Mactec54

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    Re: Non-Gummy Way Lube for milling machine???

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Dawson View Post
    I have been using 90W in my machines for about the last 6 years. No problems so far, maybe with the exception that they are bit stiff when the temperature in the shop drops below about 30°F. But when it's that cold, I'm a bit stiff too.

    A 50/50 mix of ATF and acetone does make a great penetrating oil.
    And the machine way wear you have caused from using an oil that is to thick, plus the jerking motion of tool/work (Stick-Slip) motion would be terrible, unless the machine is already worn out then you could use anything you like

    Machine Manufactures specify an oil viscosity for a reason
    Mactec54

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