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Author Topic: Lubrication with veg oil?  (Read 4715 times)

codesuidae

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Lubrication with veg oil?
« on: September 26, 2006, 02:13:08 AM »
Greetings all,

I'm planning to buy a lister-type engine, initially for backup power for an on-grid home and eventually for service as the primary generator for an off-grid home. Part of my goal in living off-grid is to be as self-sufficent as possible (or at least to demonstrate to myself the capacity to be) and so I'm planning to experiment with using exclusively home-grown seed oils for fuel. If this works out I'm left with supplying an appropriate oil for lubrication of the engine.

The obvious question follows, is there an oil I can produce myself (in the midwest of the USA) that could serve in place of motor oil for lubricating the lister?

Thanks for the advice.  I've just started reading about these engines in the past few weeks, and have yet to get my hands on one, so apologies if my question seems silly.

Guy_Incognito

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Re: Lubrication with veg oil?
« Reply #1 on: September 26, 2006, 07:50:52 AM »
If it was me, and if I couldn't find *any* other mineral lubricating oil around, I would probably go with castor oil.
And more frequent oil changes. And regular inspection of bearings and internals (which is relatively easy in a lister anyway)
Dunno how well it would grow in your location though.

A bit of scratching around on google has this little snippet - mainly for two stroke engines though :

http://www.go-cl.se/castor.html




slowspeed1953

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Re: Lubrication with veg oil?
« Reply #2 on: September 26, 2006, 07:38:36 PM »
Canola oil works great! It has a higher thermal stability than conventional oils and has very good lubricating properties.

I run it in my 6.9 ford diesel both as lube oil and as fuel I also run it in my small engines (lawn mowers ect) with no issues what so ever.

The best way to implement veggie oil in your lister is to use your crankcase as a fuel tank the canola is gravity fed into the crancase with a float switch and pumped to the injection pump via a small pump electric or belt driven. A 5$ junkyard Honda power steering pumps work very well as a transfer pump and are uncompilcated as they have a remote resivour and only two ports, one in one out.

With this system oil changes are a thing of the past and the oil that is in the crankcase is always fresh and gets preheated as a bonus.

Peace&Love :D, Darren
« Last Edit: October 04, 2006, 09:21:20 PM by slowspeed1953 »

Guy_Incognito

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Re: Lubrication with veg oil?
« Reply #3 on: September 26, 2006, 11:23:57 PM »
I suppose a 'flow-through' system as you decribe would be alright, depending on how much of the stuff codesuidae can grow.

If he can only grow a few bushes ( bushes? ) and get 50 litres of oil a year out of them, well that's enough for 4 or 5 oil changes, but not running continuously.

Ageing and gumming of the castor oil over time would probably be my chief concern. But a listeroid is relatively slow moving and no doubt in india gets by with much crappier stuff and rougher treatment than you would expect. Or what *I* would expect , anyway  ;).

codesuidae - if you can find the viscosity and other general lubricating capabilities of the seed oil you're using for fuel you might find that -  with care - you'll be able to use it for everything. What you really need is a lubrication engineer with an open mind who doesn't push his companies products as a cure-all.

buickanddeere

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Re: Lubrication with veg oil?
« Reply #4 on: September 26, 2006, 11:37:46 PM »
  A "Little dab will do yah" of the zink based "Head and Shoulders" shampoo will fortify the high pressure carrying capacity of the oil so the lifters/cam don't wear.

slowspeed1953

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Re: Lubrication with veg oil?
« Reply #5 on: September 27, 2006, 12:31:42 AM »
From my research canola is the same as 30wt motor oil but from my personal experance it seems somewhere in between 20wt and 30wt.

Buchanddeere,

Zinc is said to be a good friction modifier good looking out on the head and shoulder tip ;)  What about sun tan lotion?

Peace&Love :D, Darren

codesuidae

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Re: Lubrication with veg oil?
« Reply #6 on: September 27, 2006, 02:06:09 AM »
Thanks for the comments.

The crankcase flow-through idea is something that I was considering in the case that the seed oil could be used without additives. If additives are required this would have the unfortunate side-effect of greatly increasing the consumption of the additive.

If the oil is used additive free and provides marginal lubrication are the bearings that are likely to be affected easily replaceable, or would major parts of the engine also be affected?

Since my lister will be doing duty as a backup generator for a few years I won't mind experimenting with SVO lubricants, provided that the parts that would see excessive wear would not be terribly expensive to replace. I'd probably break it in on whatever the recommended oil is then run it for a while while sending regular samples to the lab for analysis. Once it's all happily broken in I'll switch to SVO and continue running to see what turns up in the analysis.

I'd like to be able to, in principle, not have to depend on regular replenishment of commercial products in my off-grid home. Pratically speaking I will continue to obtain replenishment items to save myself some time, but as a guiding principle I want to have the option to ignore the greater portion of civilization for extended periods. I have no reason in particular for the requirement other than the challenge and a general desire to be self-sufficent.

I registered over on the Noria boards to see if I could find someone who might already know why this is a bad idea, or what could be done to make it workable.

aqmxv

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Re: Lubrication with veg oil?
« Reply #7 on: September 27, 2006, 03:29:11 AM »
  A "Little dab will do yah" of the zink based "Head and Shoulders" shampoo will fortify the high pressure carrying capacity of the oil so the lifters/cam don't wear.

Uh, probably not.  It's possible that the zinc pyrithione in the shampoo has some EP lubricant quality.  I can't find a reference anywhere that it's ever been used for that commercially, but it's possible.  Of course, it's also possible that the moon is, in fact, made of green cheese and NASA scammed us so they could get a lock on the interplanetary green cheese market.

Guys, Zinc is used all kinds of places - in batteries, in vitamin pills, in oil additives, in pot metal, and, yes, in dandruff shampoo.  It's just a soft metal like copper and gallium (which are on either side of it in the periodic table) and cadmium, which is below it.

Silicon (which is brittle and glassy and makes computer chips) and Silicone (which usually in greases and rubbers) are two very different things.  So are batteries, pot metal fittings, lubricant additives, and shampoos.  They generally don't substitute well for each other.

The "zinc" extreme pressure additive in lubricating oils is zinc dialkyl dithio phosphate.  It has attatchment points to long oil chains at four corners of the molecule, so it's very oil-soluble.  It forms a large, flat molecule with a chemical affinity to electropositive metals (like iron and steel).  By mass, there's much more sulfur and phosphorus in it than zinc.  Zinc comes first in naming because metals always come first in molecule names...

The "zinc" in shampoo is zinc pyrithione.  It's water soluble, and would be insoluble in lubricating oil.  Dump it in the sump and it'll probably head straight for the bottom.  Likewise, it's missing the thiophosphate groups that make it want to stick to ferrous metals.  It is, however, quite poisonous to bacteria and fungi, which is why it's used in dandruff shampoos, fungistats, and bacteriastats, and its water solubility means that it can get into their systems to kill them.

Two completely different compounds desgined for two completely different uses.  They have as much in common as the sun and an ice cube, both of which are mostly hydrogen.  And, like the sun and ice cubes, they don't substitute well for each other.

Leave the tribology to the professionals, please.

So what will work?  If you do the total-loss lubrication system you're talking about, nearly anything oily will work as long as it's the right viscosity and is clean.  For engine longevity's sake, you'll want to make sure the oil is neutral or basic (not acidic).  Otherwise, pretty much anything that is in the range of  9.3 to 12.5  centiStokes at 100 C (212 F) and oily will do the job.  Total loss lubrication is a special field - you don't have to worry about changes of chemistry in the crankcase(the oil isn't there long enough to have chemistry happen), but you do have to be concerned with gum formation during storage, cold viscosity, etc.

Speaking of unmodified oils, there are only a few synthetic lubricants that are as good as castor bean oil for resisting scuff and protecting metal.  If all engines used total-loss lube and weren't required to be started below 20 C, we'd probably see a lot of castor oil everywhere.  We have to add things like ZDDP to petroleum (and synthetic) oils to make them anywhere near as good at scuff resistance as castor oil is right out of the box.  The problem, of course, is that castor bean oil thickens after high temperature exposure, forms gums, and can go acidic.  So you don't want to leave it in the crankcase.  For total loss lubrication, it's the bomb.

That would be my strategy for listeroid lubrication grown on the farm:  grow some castor beans, press the oil, degum it (basically, make biodiesel out of it), and thin as necessary with something light like corn or rapeseed ("canola" is redundant and lame) to get the right viscosity.  And skip the dandruff shampoo...

And yes, I am a degreed chemist...but work in IT because the money is better.



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