12 ways to help maximize speed reducer life

July 9, 2020
These twelve tips will help your speed reducers and their gearing get maximum life, which increases your cost savings.

Editor's Note: This post was sponsored by Motion Industries.

These twelve tips will help your speed reducers and their gearing get maximum life, which increases your cost savings. There is no intent implied or suggested that these recommendations are the only way to care for products, but a summation based on the suggestions of many industry-leading manufacturers. Most importantly, be sure to follow the manufacturer’s specific recommendations for the individual product.

  1. Reducers not yet in service should be kept in an indoor environment free of dust, dirt, and moisture. Keep reducers away from chemicals or chemical fumes due to adverse reactions of the sealing arrangements.
  2. While the reducer is waiting to be in service, it is very important to keep the reducer in the same mounting position, as the gear reducer has been configured for its particular application. For example, if the unit is to be mounted vertical shaft down, that is the position in which the unit should be maintained before installation.
  3. Small reducers that are shipped dry should be kept dry, with the vent plug in the highest position.
  4. Small reducers that are shipped wet should have the vent plug placed in the highest position.
  5. Where possible, maintain the factory packaging until the product is placed into usage.
  6. When placing the reducer into service, review the manufacturer’s specs for proper mounting configurations. 
  7. After mounting the reducer for service, consult the manufacturer’s specifications for recommended type, frequency, and amount of lubrication. You may need to relocate vents and/or drain plugs. On some reducers, failure to relocate the vent plug could cause lubricant to escape through the vent, resulting in catastrophic damage.
  8. For reducers waiting to be placed into service, it is best practice to exercise the shafts on a three-month maximum period. This will allow the internal components and gears to remain lubricated. It should be noted that the input shaft must be turned the same number of turns as the reduction. As an example, a 30:1 reducer should have the input shaft turned at least 30 times. In the same manner, a 1300:1 would have the input shaft turned 1300 times. This is a very important procedure.
  9. If reducers have been subject to adverse changes in temperature while waiting to be installed or re-installed, remove the drain plug located at the lowest point and check for condensation. If condensation is a problem in your area, fill the reducer with the correct amount of preservative oil, per the manufacturer’s recommendations.
  10. Anytime the reducer is not in service, where possible, maintain a protective coating on all exposed shaft surfaces. If coating is absent, the recommended coating is Cosmoline 1102 MIL-C-16173 Grade 2 or equal.
  11. Caveat: If it is not possible keep the reducer indoors to due to space limitations or due to very large reducer size, observe the standards mentioned above; however, additional precautions must be maintained. Remove the breather plug and extend a length of pipe to extend above the highest point of the reducer. Then place a cap on the pipe and tap the cap for an Alemite #317400 fitting to relieve potential internal pressure. Fill reducer completely with a heavy rust preventative, such as Lubri-Loy’s Lubri-Cote VSI. Observe the shaft exercising as mentioned in Tip #8 above. Before installing the reducer, drain preservative oil and refill to proper level with an approved oil as listed by the manufacturer. Restore the proper configuration of drain plugs and vents to the manufacturer’s specification.
  12. Due the numerous styles and types of speed reducers, the gearing and shaft configurations will vary. Always check the specifications regarding your specific model for additional manufacturer’s recommendations.
About the Author: Brandon Brownlee

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