Ball-race arm-bearings - lubrication an absolute no-no? - diyAudio
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Old 18th September 2007, 04:30 PM   #1
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Default Ball-race arm-bearings - lubrication an absolute no-no?

'Received wisdom' seems to be that ball-races such as in Rega arms should always be left completely dry, I assume because they are open to the elements and would (sooner or later) gum-up from the ingress of air-borne contaminants.

That said, from what I can gather they would in fact function better in several ways if they were lubricated (until the aforementioned contamination offset it), such as less stiction and, more importantly, bearing rattle.

By "bearing rattle" I don't mean actual gross or audible buzzing, but rather the way they deal with noise (pops and clicks), and the overall coupling of the arm-tube to the yoke/carrier.

I'm about to clean the bearings on an elderly RB250 in-situ (probably by flushing using lighter petrol followed by isopropyl) before installing new wiring, and I'm seriously tempted to try using a suspension of very light (synthetic?) oil in the final flush.

Could anyone convince me this is a Bad Idea?

Thanks.
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Old 18th September 2007, 04:53 PM   #2
djQUAN is offline djQUAN  Philippines
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I think the notion that lubrication is a no no came up since when you add oil to an open bearing, chances are, dust will stick to the bearing and be more difficult to remove than a dry one...
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Old 18th September 2007, 05:22 PM   #3
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Originally posted by djQUAN
I think the notion that lubrication is a no no came up since when you add oil to an open bearing, chances are, dust will stick to the bearing and be more difficult to remove than a dry one...
Aye, which is exactly the point I was making.

I guess how quickly the bearings get fouled depends on the cleanliness of the environment in which they subsequently live.

I wouldn't like to try the flushing exercise I mentioned with the wiring in place, let alone the foam I'll be stuffing into the arm-tube.
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Old 19th September 2007, 10:46 AM   #4
Nanook is offline Nanook  Canada
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Default what about dry lubricants?

graphite types, or silcon based types? I live in a particularly dusty climate, and haven't had "Bullshot" bicycle grease foul up over several years (in a exposed bearing tonearm)
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Old 19th September 2007, 12:34 PM   #5
EC8010 is offline EC8010  United Kingdom
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I once lubricated the ball races in an SME3009mkII arm. Big mistake; they gummed three years later.
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Old 19th September 2007, 01:12 PM   #6
AMV8 is offline AMV8  United Kingdom
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Hi

I have used a lubricant when I rebuilt an arm bearing. I figured that watches and clocks use a very fine oil so it should be ok - and has been. However the turntable is in a cabinet so it keeps reasonably clean.

I used wd40 as the lubricant. Very fine oil and does not tend to pick up much dust. I found the arm better with wd40 than without.

Don
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Old 19th September 2007, 03:26 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally posted by EC8010
I once lubricated the ball races in an SME3009mkII arm. Big mistake; they gummed three years later.
Was that due to dust sticking to the races, or did the oil itself gum up?

I know some oils break down over time with exposure to air and form a sticky gunge all on their own, synthetics are apparently much more stable.

A couple of the other guys have mentioned using lubes which are formulated to be minimally 'sticky'.

And did you manage to clean those bearings out?
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Old 19th September 2007, 03:33 PM   #8
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It's probably a bad idea, since arms can be so tough to clean well. FWIW, I've heard of people putting WD-40 in a cup and letting it settle for a few days, then using the clear oil from the top. IMO, WD-40 is not a good lubricant. It's many things, but that's not one of them. There might be some merit in using one of the special damping greases from Nye, and their stuff is formulated not to gum up, but the cleaning issue remains. They also make some very high tech oils. Eventually, no matter what you use, it will be time for a rebuild. I often fix old cameras where the oils and greases have turned into something close to an epoxy, and it's not fun.
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Old 19th September 2007, 04:57 PM   #9
tvi is offline tvi  Australia
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Never had a problem with this stuff
Click the image to open in full size.
but I haven't usesed it in a tonearm.

From here
Quote:
Won't drip, run or evaporate
Repels dirt, dust, grit and grime
Regards
James
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Old 19th September 2007, 05:59 PM   #10
EC8010 is offline EC8010  United Kingdom
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I can't remember what oil I used in the SME but it wouldn't have been exotic. I got it out by removing the bearings and giving them a good soak in isopropyl alcohol. I doubt if it was dust; the SME is quite well shielded.
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