Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

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Brucey
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Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby Brucey » 18 Jan 2018, 12:40am

the topic of grease guns comes up from time to time and I thought maybe it is worth starting a thread on this subject. In this day and age a grease nipple/drilling is not a popular design feature with manufacturers, but they are still used on a few parts (e.g. moulton pivots), they can be added to others, and if they are used regularly there is no doubt that parts last longer and maintenance can be a doddle; just whack the grease gun on and pump away; the job is done after 30s. Just remember to wipe up any excess, which may not all emerge immediately.

Hubs, bottom brackets, headsets, pedals etc can all be fitted with lube ports. These can be as simple as drilled holes that are sealed with tape again after they have been used. Nothing on a bike which is fitted with a lube port that I have ever owned has ever worn out inside ten years, provided I have remembered to actually use it...

I've owned many different grease guns including bulk dispensers (for lubing up tractors etc), servo operated ones that run on compressed air, various manual grease guns (telescopic, pistol, lever action etc) right down to tiny tecalemit grease guns that are meant to be part of a vintage motorcycle tool kit.

In most bicycle parts with rolling element bearings a standard #2 grade grease that is suitable for car wheel bearings (eg Castrol LM) would be OK, provided it is used often enough. However if it is forced into some parts (like freehub bodies) it can cause the pawls to stick. It is of course possible to choose a grease that is considerably better for any given application; eg

- a less viscous grease (#00 or #000 even) would be best inside bicycle parts that have good seals. Only if it leaks out too fast is it 'too thin'.
- a grease with a more viscous, (ideally fully synthetic) base oil provides better lubrication than one with a thinner, mineral based, base oil.
- greases with EP additives provide more protection against wear
- greases with solid lubricants are good in applications with sliding element bearings (and usually it does no harm in rolling element bicycle bearings either)
- greases with corrosion inhibitors help parts which see road salt and heavy rainfall
- greases can be formulated to provide good water resistance

If you have a proper grease nipple, (commonly available with 6mm or 1/4" threads in car spares shops) you usually need a high pressure grease gun with a jawed chuck (or less good, a press-fit end) to force grease into it. If you have a drilled part, a grease gun with a pointed nozzle will do the job. A very high pressure is not usually required, but it will normally do no harm if the grease gun has that capability.

The most basic grease gun for bicycle use is a small one with a pointed nozzle that accepts small tubes of grease which screw on to the pump body. This is OK for use on drilled parts but first time out, you will use up several tubes of grease filling up the voids in hubs and pedals, without necessarily getting much grease into the bearings immediately. Buying grease in small tubes is an expensive way of doing it.

My favourite grease guns are made by Wanner. They are extremely well made, and you can buy spare parts for them too. Although the current 'miniWanner' model is different to older ones, most of the spare parts

http://www.abnox.com/data/docs/en/2823/E30955-00-A.pdf?v=1.0

fit older model guns (some of which are over 60 years old now and still work OK) too. In fairness the only spare part I have ever needed (in several decades of use with multiple guns of this type) has been a bleed nipple, which I broke by clumsily dropping the grease gun onto a concrete floor.

Wanner grease guns have good features like bleed/priming valves, check valves, floating pistons and 1/8" BSP threaded outlets, none of which are apparent on cursory inspection, but all of which help enormously in use.

There are several older wanner variants in the commonest sized pistol gun; they vary in knurling on the reservoir, tolerance on the reservoir threads, presence of a hanging hook, articulation method for the trigger, delivery tube type and number of bleed valves. With a standard two-port pump body, you can swap the delivery tube for the upper bleed valve and turn the gun from a pistol configuration to an in-line lever type instead. There are a few examples (from t'interweb) below:

Image
Image
Image (~1lb reservoir type wanner)
Image tecalemit mini grease gun, ~5" long
Image
current model mini-Wanner
Image Wanner model 300-1 telescopic gun (~8" long when half-full); reservoir is only pressurised (automatically) when the grease gun is in use, so there is no pull chain and spring to remember to use. There are no bleed valves either; swings and roundabouts....

cheers
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Mick F
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Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby Mick F » 18 Jan 2018, 9:31am

Great info there Brucey! :D
I'll post my findings of my new grease gun that I'll be buying later today, though may not get round to using it until tomorrow.

I have these.
Chain Saw.png
Chain Saw.png (48.54 KiB) Viewed 3310 times
Bike Hut.png
Bike Hut.png (47.09 KiB) Viewed 3310 times
Both are excellent for what they're for, though the Bike Hut grease in a tube is expensive, so when it's used up, I'll be re-filling the tube with grease from a tub.
Mick F. Cornwall

francovendee
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Joined: 5 May 2009, 6:32am

Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby francovendee » 18 Jan 2018, 9:36am

Totally agree about Wanner as the Rolls Royce of grease guns. I bought mine in the early 60's, lots of grease nipples on cars then.

It wasn't cheap but it always worked. i had it up until 2003 when it 'disappeared' in a house move.

I thought about replacing it but because of cost bought a new Chinese eBay item instead, which was rubbish.
I've since bought something else (unbranded) and it's OK'ish but only has one bleed screw, nowhere as good as the Wanner.

cycle tramp
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Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby cycle tramp » 18 Jan 2018, 9:43am

In 2002 (I think it was) I bought a pair of yellow alloy off road pedals, with ball bearings, but they lacked any meaningful seal at the crank side..
.. So the first time I had the pedals apart I drilled a 5.5 mm hole in each of them, cleared out all the metal swarf, fitted 6 mm self tapping grease ports (re-checked for swarf again) and built them up. About every quarter of a year a pump fresh grease into them (from my grease gun) and wipe off the old grease that comes out of the crank end and the little breather hole I put in the pedal caps.. Throughout the life of the pedals I've fitted them to 4 of my bikes and despite many years of use.. I've only had to adjust them 3 times... The bearings have now become silky smooth... plus I've saved myself the time & bother about pulling apart my pedals every year to re-grease them.

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Mick F
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Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby Mick F » 18 Jan 2018, 9:51am

Speedplay pedals have a hole in the outboard ends covered by a screw.
Remove said screw and inject the grease. Easy peazy.

I have Speedplay Frogs on my Moulton, and if the fancy takes me, I'll remove the Campag pedals on Mercian and fit Frogs instead.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_x1hst38NpA
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d2RWuzq-mFg
Mick F. Cornwall

mig
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Joined: 19 Oct 2011, 9:39pm

Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby mig » 18 Jan 2018, 12:17pm

interesting.

re the wanner guns. is there...er....a gun to keep them greased?

Samuel D
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Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby Samuel D » 18 Jan 2018, 12:27pm

I’m glad that bearing seals on bicycles (and cars) have improved.

9494arnold
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Joined: 21 Jan 2007, 3:13pm

Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby 9494arnold » 18 Jan 2018, 12:30pm

Did a rebuild of a vintage bike with Harden Hubs which have a central grease nipple as part of the design.
(As did Blumfield "back in the day")

The rear hub was decidedly "crunchy" . Pumped it through with grease and it was like a new hub.

Some older beraings used to have a leather seal whcih needed to be kept oiled/greased to keep it supple.
Modern Rubber Compounds do an excellent job here.

RobC
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Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby RobC » 18 Jan 2018, 12:49pm

Some good info here, thanks.

What would I use with the sprung ball-bearing type of nipple that's on the BB shell of an old raleigh lenton? It tends to start creaking a bit after rain and it's a faff having to undo it all to get rid of the noise. Incidentally whenever I do undo it all there's still loads of fresh grease in there so I'm at a loss as to why it's creaking...

Brucey
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Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby Brucey » 18 Jan 2018, 1:27pm

A few notes on filling grease guns:

There are such things a low pressure pumps to fill grease guns with, but most folk will buy their grease in tubs and will have to get it (air free) into the grease gun somehow. To fill a wanner grease gun (or other with spring-loaded reservoir and bleed valves on the pump body), there are two convenient methods

1) filling with stick or paddle from an open tub

2) filling from a tub will a fill-plate in it.

The first of these works with most greases of #2 viscosity or lower. Make sure the floating piston is not too far down, and take a stick (sanded smooth and scrupulously clean, you don't want bits coming off it) or paddle that is not much smaller than the reservoir, and start to spoon the grease into the reservoir with it. I find a square section paddle about 7/8 the size of the reservoir diameter is about right). With practice, you can get the grease into the reservoir and then (e.g. by twisting it as you move it up and down) you can fill the reservoir with air-bubble free grease. I suppose that it is possible for some greases to have the wrong consistency for this to work (basically it relies on the grease that is being worked being thin enough to be sucked into the space that the stick was in as you withdraw it, a stage at a time, and the stick being large enough to burst any bubbles that there might be) but it is usually successful.

Grease tubs with a fill plate are easier. Depress the fill plate a little so that there is bump of grease standing proud of the fill plate. Make sure the floating piston is at the bottom of the stroke, and that the spring loaded piston is fully withdrawn and the chain latched, so that the floating piston can move easily as the grease is pushed into the reservoir. Push the reservoir down on the fill plate, so the grease pushes the floating piston upwards. You will notice a change in the resistance when the reservoir is full, and grease will start to ooze out where it didn't before. Twist the reservoir as you remove it, so that you don't make a void in the top of the grease.

In either case refit the reservoir, let the spring load onto the floating piston, and open the (lower) pump bleed screw. Unless the grease is unusually thick, the spring pressure will force air and then grease out of the bleed screw opening. If you are not sure, or you want to help it along, work the pump gently with the bleed screw open, in any case until air-free grease emerges. Next, open the upper bleed screw (where fitted) and work the pump a few times, again until air-free grease emerges. Finally work the pump until fresh air-free grease emerges at the chuck/nozzle end. Make sure both bleed screws are tightly closed and have at it.

Note also that
a) if the grease is very thin (or oil is used inside a wanner gun, which is OK but it does tend to make a mess when the gun is stored) there may be no need to open the bleed valves at all; spring pressure may be enough to bleed the gun out. With very thin lubes, once the gun is primed, it may be best to use the gun with the spring pressure off (i.e. in the storage position), else the lube may start to come out and won't stop by itself.
b) ALWAYS remember to pull the toggle out and relatch the chain so that spring pressure is not applied to the grease during storage. If you fail to do this you will come back to your grease gun and find that it is sitting in a puddle of oil, and the 'grease' inside is the consistency of cheese. If it is bad enough, it will be struggle to clean the pump out.

Some grease guns (including the current mini-Wanner model) have extra valves in the pump body, such as a check valve in the delivery line, and/or a self-bleeding air valve (typically with a ball in the top of it). These can alter/simplify the bleeding process. However there is one issue to be aware of with guns of this type; not that you should be using grease with bits in it, but it can happen that a piece of debris gets into an open tub of grease and thence into the gun. If it then gets into the pump circuit it can jam one of the valves so that it does not work any more. If the grease gun has a pointed nozzle it can happen that debris will block a small exit drilling. Either will usually cause much wailing and gnashing of teeth to occur before you have cleared the gun.

If you have an old tub of grease that has debris in it (or is suspected to) then you can filter it and use it for non-critical applications. It can easily happen; an open tub of grease will seem to attract any airborne crud there happens to be around the place and in addition some greases undergo a reaction when they are stored such that lumps of the thickener compound appear to crystallise out from the grease. These lumps can be big enough to cause problems with grease delivery inside a grease gun. To filter the grease of large-ish particles, fill the grease gun reservoir with unfiltered grease, and secure some fine (metal) gauze over the reservoir end e.g. using a jubilee clip. Then let the grease out by spring pressure into a clean container. Carry on with this process until all the suspect grease is filtered. You will know if you are doing any good by inspecting the gauze between fills. Clean everything carefully before you refill the gun with clean grease. Obviously if the grease is contaminated with small, hard particles (eg grinding dust) then it shouldn't be used in any bearing or grease gun, filtered or not.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Brucey
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Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby Brucey » 18 Jan 2018, 1:35pm

RobC wrote:Some good info here, thanks.

What would I use with the sprung ball-bearing type of nipple that's on the BB shell of an old raleigh lenton? It tends to start creaking a bit after rain and it's a faff having to undo it all to get rid of the noise. Incidentally whenever I do undo it all there's still loads of fresh grease in there so I'm at a loss as to why it's creaking...


It is probably the cotter pins that are creaking?

If of the 'shallow depression with a ball in the middle' type, the BB fitting you have was originally meant for oiling. If it is threaded into the BB shell, you might want to change it for a nipple and use a grease gun on it. (BTW you should use a length of tube to prevent grease escaping from between the cups; IIRC CJ suggests using a length of radiator hose for this purpose). If the fitting is riveted in position or won't unscrew, you have to keep it. An oil can with a decent pump on it will force oil or thin SFG into a fitting of this type, provided the nozzle has the correct radius on the end; the idea is that the ball is depressed by part of the nozzle and then oil is able to flow easily. You can buy (or modify) a grease gun nozzle to have the same shape, and use that instead.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Suffolker
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Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby Suffolker » 18 Jan 2018, 2:23pm

I've long been a fan of grease guns, both for marine diesel and deck machinery use, and for cycles (plus a whole lot of other things, like wheelbarrow wheels with grease nipples). Most things that should be greased but have failed in use turn out to be lacking grease (neglect, broken nipple etc.) whereas things I've kept well-greased have turned out impeccably when I've dismantled them.

There certainly isn't anything better than a well-designed and constructed grease gun, and my "big guns" are a couple of Tecalemit PomPoms of different sizes. However, a newer acquisition which I find very useful for greasing via small grease ports or gaps, is a little Dualco gun, with a very long, thin stainless tip. This is also excellent for getting grease into Shimano roller brakes, when I want to grease IGHs, or inject grease into pedals etc. when just slackening off to allow a small gap.

I tend to keep each gun filled with a different grease, in accordance with what it's likely to be used on, but from time to time I wish that I had a few more of the things. I also have a fair collection of nozzles, tubes and connectors, most of which are not very useful on cycles.

Although it seems counter-instinctive, as they are constantly lubricated, I have found that grease nipples quite regularly wear out or cease to work, especially when the spring fails, and it pays to replace them when they play up, rather than trying to fix them or force grease in harder than it should be. Another nipple-killer is omitting to clean dirt off it before attaching the gun, as grit etc. forced in with the grease isn't too good for the nipple or whatever is being lubricated beyond it. The same hygiene is needed around grease ports with push-in plastic covers etc.

In some situations a grease nipple is isn't very well-placed for access without a flexible or angled delivery tube on the gun(s), and it has been worth changing it from vertical to, for example, a 45 degree angled nipple for easier access. This often involves a bit of cursing, as the new nipple often won't screw up tight and face the way I want without a washer or spacer.

Brucey
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Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby Brucey » 18 Jan 2018, 5:20pm

by 'pom-pom' you presumably mean a telescopic action gun?

I agree about a long thin nozzle being handy BTW; I have made ~10" long stainless steel nozzles to fit Wanner grease guns. They reach nicely between the spokes to lube ports on hubs, and so forth.

cheers
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~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Brucey~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Suffolker
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Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby Suffolker » 18 Jan 2018, 7:18pm

Brucey wrote:by 'pom-pom' you presumably mean a telescopic action gun?

I agree about a long thin nozzle being handy BTW; I have made ~10" long stainless steel nozzles to fit Wanner grease guns. They reach nicely between the spokes to lube ports on hubs, and so forth.

cheers

Those are the ones. I think Tecalemit picked on the name as a description rather than a trademarked name. Presumably it derived in some way from the recoil action of the gun of that name; but I suppose it's possible a recoil-fed military weapon could be named after a grease-gun. An American sub machine gun was nicknamed a "grease gun". But I digress.

Those long nozzles are very handy, as you say.

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Mick F
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Re: Grease Guns, lube ports and grease nipples

Postby Mick F » 19 Jan 2018, 6:25am

I bought a Clarks grease gun and a cassette of grease yesterday from Machine Mart yesterday.
https://www.machinemart.co.uk/p/cgg400- ... rease-gun/
Screen Shot 2018-01-19 at 06.13.48.png


The chuck is a four jaw item and is very tight on the grease nipple, in fact it's quite a tug to get off.
I fitted the cassette tube of grease easily as per the instructions. To bleed it? It didn't seem necessary at all.

The instructions tell you to pull the plunger back and lock it, then fill the grease gun and to fit the gun end but unscrew it a few turns. push the rod into the gun and pump the handle until grease comes out. Then screw the gun end tight.

That's all, and it works brilliantly and I'm very pleased with my purchase so it's highly recommended.



Comparisons to my old grease gun:

Old, three jaw chuck that is very worn indeed.
New, four jaw and very tight and seals perfectly.

Old, the plunger piston seal is worn and probably leaks or doesn't give enough pressure.
New, the plunger piston is tight and gives a very good seal.

Old, the plunger spring is weak.
New, the plunger spring takes some pulling!

................. and the new grease gun is much bigger.

I'll be chucking metal bits of the old gun in the recycling bin.
Mick F. Cornwall