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What are you using for Oil in your Compressor

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  • #676092
    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Moderator
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    We have had a couple of threads talking about compressors recently and also one about changing furnace filters which mad me think of our air compressors. I have three questions:

    What do you use for Oil in your Compressor?

    For those of us in extreme climates using our compressors outside, do you use a winter and a summer weight oil?

    How often do you change it?

    I will admit that we probably do not change our oil enough and I do not really know what we use, I usually just grab a “air compressor” oil off the shelf somewhere and use that. I can not really tell you what weight is even is.

    I will be very interested to hear what the rest of you have to say.

    #676093
    Sprokitz
    Pro
    Eastern shore of, Pa

    30w non detergent full synthetic
    – Good over a wide range of temps, even freezing.
    For extreme cold you could drop to 20w or use multi-viscosity
    – No need for detergent in compressors
    – Can go longer between oil changes

    #676094
    Doobie
    Moderator

    I just went and bought the Husky labelled one at HD. I didn’t really know what else to go with. I only have one little twin tank CH oil compressor. All my other compressors are oil-less.

    #676095
    Sorpa
    Pro
    Pierrefonds, Qc

    Oil-less is the way to go. I wouldn’t buy a compressor that needs oil.

    #676098
    jkirk
    Moderator
    halifax, nova scotia

    your wasting money if your buying a oil less compressor… on average they last 3 years in a professional environment… i had a last gen porter cable pancake unit that lasted 2 1/2 years of moderate use.. a mentor i had for interior trim only used the porter cables, doing production trim he would go through 2 or 3 a year

    my hitachi uses oil and has seen far more use and its now 8 years old..

    as for what oil i use,, hmm i think i have bostich oil in my hitachi right now

    heres a tip, dont fart in a space suit

    #676107
    ChadM
    Moderator
    Rogers, Ohio

    This is what I use in my oiled compressors. I also do not change my oil as often as I should – a web search came up with recommendations to change the oil in rotary screw compressors every 7000 hours or so and changing reciprocating compressor oil every 3 months…LOL I change mine once, sometimes twice, a year.

    Chad

    A Working Pro since 1993

    Member since 12/07/2013

    #676112
    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Moderator
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    your wasting money if your buying a oil less compressor… on average they last 3 years in a professional environment… i had a last gen porter cable pancake unit that lasted 2 1/2 years of moderate use.. a mentor i had for interior trim only used the porter cables, doing production trim he would go through 2 or 3 a year

    my hitachi uses oil and has seen far more use and its now 8 years old..

    as for what oil i use,, hmm i think i have bostich oil in my hitachi right now

    I would have to Agree, I had an Emglo that was an oil compressor I got 20 years of with quite a steady use. My oil less I have been lucky to get a couple years out of. we mostly have used them for trim where they do not run as lot. A year or so ago I bought a california air tools twin tank that is very quiet and an oil bath. Oil less are much noisier also.

    #676125
    jkirk
    Moderator
    halifax, nova scotia

    im pretty sure most companies reccommend changing the oil every 60 hrs of actually run time on the compresosr.. ive changed the oil on mine maybe 3 times total lol

    heres a tip, dont fart in a space suit

    #676174
    DirtyWhiteBoy
    Pro
    Honolulu,, Hi.

    I have some compressor oil but still need to change it.

    #676182
    CB
    Spectator

    im pretty sure most companies reccommend changing the oil every 60 hrs of actually run time on the compresosr..

    The company (Makita) who made Kurt’s and Dirty’s (and my) new compressor (the MAC 5200) recommends changing the oil every 300 hours, or every three months, whichever comes first.

    Kurt and Dirty, I highly recommend that you both change the oil immediately, within the first 30 minutes of break in operation. I’ll show you evidence why in another post, after I get my photos together, because without the photos, this just sounds OCD, but with the photos, you won’t even finish reading the post before runmmaging up a 10 mm wrench to drop the oil in your new compressor pronto.

    I had my MAC 5200 less than 24 hours, and I changed the oil 3 times, without ever building pressure. See? That just sounds OCD. Just wait for the photos.

    Back to what Makita recommends… changing oil every three months offers another advantage. An opportunity to change viscosity as the seasons dictate. Even if you only changed oil half as many times as the manufacturer recommends, or just twice a year, you could run a winter oil, and a summer oil, because ambient temperatures that the compressor is operated in is a principle factor in determining which viscosity to chose.

    Kurt, the MAC 5200 shipped with a bottle of oil. The store you bought it from most likely poured the bottle that shipped with the compressor, into the compressor. The SAE viscosity of the included bottle of Makita oil is 20W, which is good for ambient temperature operation between 33.8F to 78.8F. But you are in MN, with ambient temps at 10F right now, and on a good day, still well below 33.8F. So you need to run an SAE 10W oil for now, which is good from 3.2F (or -16C) to 32F (or 0c). I recommend that you drop the current oil in there right now, and change to straight grade non detergent compressor oil that is SAE 10W, as per Makita’s recommendations on page 12 of your manual. This will likely alleviate your cold start issues, significantly, as Makita makes this recommendation under the heading “Cold Weather Conditions”.

    Come summer time, you can change back to 20W, and run that until the end of Fall.

    Dirty, not sure how your coworkers missed the bottle of oil that was included in the box (although it was in the same bag as the manual, and if they tossed the manual aside, they tossed the oil with it). But then they also would have had to miss the big yellow label wire tied to the power cord. And, another big yellow label on the other side of the machine, wired into the crankcase via a temporary oil fill cap, with the breather cap included in the same bag as the bottle of oil.

    So you too, would be best served dropping the oil you finally put in, to wash out all the metals that are likely on the bottom of the pumps crankcase, because compressor oils, unlike engine oils, do not hold debris into suspension to be filtered by an oil filter, because there is no oil filter. Therefore the debris sinks to the bottom, but can be stirred up again via the crank/splash lube action. In your climate, the SAE20 oil is likely best.

    #676183
    CB
    Spectator

    Ok, got my photos together and annotated, as promised, but I couldn’t find my third photo, which showed the difference in the third (and final) break in oil change, where the oil poured out was about as clear as the oil poured in.

    Unlike the situation with the first and second 30 minute break in oil changes, as these two photos illustrate:

    #676270
    kurt@welkerhomes.com
    Moderator
    Owatonna, MN - Minnesota

    amazing photo’s, and great information on the oil weights. Our problem with the Oil weights is that one day or week we may be framing outside in 10 degree weather and the next inside with the compressor at 70 degrees.

    We can even see in a day that the temp will go from 10 degrees to 40 or more, making a one weight oil difficult.

    I will get it in the shop this weekend and change the oil, we have probably using the compressor about 2 weeks.

    I should probably dedicate a compressor to outside work and one for inside this time of year and keep seperate weight oils in each. the problem is educating the crew as to what to use where.

    #676304
    Doobie
    Moderator

    I should probably dedicate a compressor to outside work and one for inside this time of year and keep seperate weight oils in each. the problem is educating the crew as to what to use where.

    A big wide piece of painters tape with a marker aught to do the trick. I often use that method to remind me of all sorts of things versus either having to remember or reach for an owners manual….you know, things like wrench key size needed….reverse threading reminders….which way a switch is in the on/off position – (I can never remember those universal symbols for on/off and which one is which…lol)….hey, here’s one I do, DATE OF LAST OIL CHANGE DONE ON THE COMPRESSOR….lol.

    #676353
    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    Oil less are much noisier also.

    I believe they have looser tolerances to make up for the lack of oil. The looser tolerances contribute to the noise.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #676417
    Doobie
    Moderator

    Oil less are much noisier also.

    I believe they have looser tolerances to make up for the lack of oil. The looser tolerances contribute to the noise.

    So how do some of the quieter oiless compressors achieve their quietness like my Rolair JC10? Anybody know?

    #676439
    CB
    Spectator

    amazing photo’s, and great information on the oil weights. Our problem with the Oil weights is that one day or week we may be framing outside in 10 degree weather and the next inside with the compressor at 70 degrees.

    We can even see in a day that the temp will go from 10 degrees to 40 or more, making a one weight oil difficult.

    I will get it in the shop this weekend and change the oil, we have probably using the compressor about 2 weeks.

    I should probably dedicate a compressor to outside work and one for inside this time of year and keep seperate weight oils in each. the problem is educating the crew as to what to use where.

    In my investigation of what the best compressor oil to use in my newest compressor, I ran across a synthetic compressor oil that claims to be tolerant of ambient temperatures ranging from 0F to 110F. Unfortunately, I lost track of that oil when my computer bluescreened, as it typically does once a day. I’ll eventually find it again, but even still, it might not be a good thing.

    Synthetics, without a doubt, offer superior metal lubrication and protection, due in part to the uniformity and intrinsic characteristics of their molecular construction. However, some of the same chemical properties that make synthetic oils superior, also make them incompatible with seals, gaskets, oil level site glasses, filter regulator drain bowls, air lines, regulator components, and other elastomeric, polycarbonate, and rubber materials in the air stream.

    The MAC 5200 that we have in particular has a polycarbonate oil site glass, an elastomeric seal between the site glass and the crankcase cover, a gasket for the crankcase cover of yet to be determined material, a cylinder to crankcase gasket (check the torque on those two cylinder nuts… the one on the right has been looser than the one on the left on two compressors I’ve checked).

    Continuing, there is a also a head gasket, a valve assembly involving additional non metallic materials of unknown constituents, and, a black hose that feeds pressurized air from the bottom of the pressure switch to the regulator, and two more smaller black hoses that supply air pressure from the manifold to the gauges. If these black hoses are natural rubber, SBR rubber, low nitrile rubber with a Buna N NBR of less than 36% Acrylonitrile, EPDM, Neoprene, PVC, or a number of other substances that flexible hose lines running less than 150 psi can be made of, then their could be some chemical compatibility issues with some synthetic oils.

    The problem is, I can’t tell by looking at the hose what it is made of. There are no markings on the hose that would help provide any clues. So unless or until I can contact Makita, and ask them what material their manifold assembly hoses are made of, and what materials the seals, gaskets, and valves are made of inside the compressor, there is some risk of synthetic oil doing more harm than good, if the incompatibility causes those materials to degrade prematurely.

    Given that among the last 10 years of air compressor failures that I’ve experienced (with a sob story similar to yours), none of those failures to my knowledge involved a piston to cylinder lubrication issue… but instead involved some other downstream component failure that became too expensive or too time consuming to repair or restore in order to rescue an otherwise working pump. So this time around, I am paying closer attention (now that we all are empowered with better access to information) to all the details of the system, including, and especially, the “life blood” oil that goes into the compressor… not only the viscosity and frequency of change, but the chemical composition and compatibility with other components in the system.

    I was all set to use the same synthetic compressor oil that I use in my shop compressor (an 80 gal 7.5 HP Ingersoll Rand T30 model), until a note on the Ingersoll Rand oil bottle stopped me in my tracks. That note said do not use this oil in the T10 and T21 model compressors. Naturally, the question then became, so what is in the T10 and T21 compressors that is intolerant to what Ingersoll Rand promotes ardently as a superior oil? Hence, the research began.

    Suffice it to say, despite having several quarts on hand of Ingersoll Rand Synthetic compressor oil, and despite having easy local access to three different flavors of compressor oil that Home Depot sells, I ended up contacting my local Makita Factory Service center, who happened to have a few bottles of the exact same oil that Makita ships with the compressor, and getting those instead.

    I’m still investigating alternatives, because the Makita oil is $96 per gallon, and Makita does not require that their oil be used to maintain their warranty eligibility. But since it is well established, albeit not well known, that synthetic oils (whether diester based or polyalfaolefin based) have reactive characteristics with certain components commonly utilized in some compressed air delivery subsystems (valves, seals, FRLs, hoses, gaskets, site glasses, other leak points), I’m going to have to go over the illustrated parts diagram, make a list of suspects, and then send a letter to Makita asking what these suspect components are made of… because I suspect that if I ask Makita what oil they recommend, they will point back to the Makita part number I just purchased, as it has already been vetted by their engineers.

    #676519
    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    Amsoil makes a synthetic compressor fluid (oil) that works really well.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #676581
    CB
    Spectator

    Even Amsoil does not recommend their synthetic compressor oil to be used in air systems containing polycarbonates that are not metal covered.

    If one has a significant investment in filter regulators with transparent polycarbonate bowls, a choice must be made to buy new filter bowls that are metal (which in practice might mean buying new filters, since the bases for metal bowl filters are different diameters and threading). This may seem like a nit, but I’ve seen what synthetic compressor oil can do to a polycarbonate filter bowl within a year’s time.

    Chemical degradation of a material under pressure can lead to an unpleasant surprise, which is probably why Amsoil wants to see that polycarbonate covered in a metal jacket if using their synthetic oil.

    #676703
    theamcguy
    Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    Even Amsoil does not recommend their synthetic compressor oil to be used in air systems containing polycarbonates that are not metal covered.

    All of my filter bowls are metal or glass. Just replace your regulators.

    Automotive Pro
    Fayetteville, NC

    #676735

    @CB, wow I never thought about it in this light before, I guess that is the difference between knowing something intellectually and knowing it experience wise.

    Will

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