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Thread: Lubricating fans

  1. #1
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    Default Lubricating fans

    A while back I searched google for a way to lubricate fans. I came up with graphite powder and blogged about it http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcfo...for-noisy-fans. Then I found out from Chuck that high temperature grease is better because it's a poor conductor of electricty. I just found out today that if you hover your mouse in the right place a pencil appears and you can edit your blog post. But I digress...

    So I went to the hardware store looking for HT grease and found lithium grease in a big spray can but it has a warning about flammability. So I didn't buy it thinking it could cause a fire. Then I saw this from Chuck:

    You may want to try using some real lubricant, rather than WD-40, which is pretty much Stoddard solvent and not much more. White lithium grease comes in an aerosol form and may give you more lasting performance. I use it on noisy fan bearings quite a bit with very good results.
    http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcfo...ht=lubricating

    I think the fans I want to use it on has no bearings. Anyway I found this stuff in my house:

    Ultra Slick extreme sport synthetic grease... exceptional anti-wear and high speed performance... -28 to 282 celcius...Contains petrolium oils... Designed for use with ATVs, snowmobiles and other recreational vehicles

    http://www.canadiantire.ca/AST/brows...C%2B85%2Bg.jsp

    Can I use it or do I have to go back and get the white lithium grease?

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by sombunall View Post
    I think the fans I want to use it on has no bearings.
    No bearings? Do you mean air bearings or ??

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    Usually you can find an open shaft end by peeling off the label on the fans. Stick a glob of grease in over the shaft end and either glue the labels back on (I use Scotch Super 77 adhesive) or find a sticky label that you can use.

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    Quote Originally Posted by dave_m View Post
    No bearings? Do you mean air bearings or ??
    OK I just read up http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Computer_fan

    I mean fans with sleeve bearings lol.

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    Ok Chuck so I'm on the right track!

    So now what I want to do is remove the graphite and oil. I added too much graphite on one 92mm fan by mistake so I'm starting over with my sport grease. To clean it out I think I'm going to use some 94% grain alcohol with an eye dropper to try to rip the undesirables out. I figure 70% isoprophil has water in it, might rust the fan and is too weak anyway. I'm going to get that fan drunk. What could possibly go wrong?
    Last edited by sombunall; September 12th, 2010 at 08:16 PM. Reason: 94% not 96%

  6. #6

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    I never thought of using grease to lube fans, but it makes sense. I've always used Labelle lubricants. They're sold for lubricating things like slot cars and model trains and hold up well in harsh environments. Any hobby shop that sells those kinds of items will have them. I can't remember offhand which is which, but I use #106 and #107. One is oil and the other is grease. I've always used the oil to quiet down noisy fans and it's done well. I'll probably try the grease next time.

    To remove old lubricants, I would be inclined to use contact cleaner. CRC brand contact cleaner is available at hardware and auto parts stores inexpensively. It does a good job of removing the gunk, won't harm plastic, and it's non-corrosive. When I'm cleaning out an old motor, I just spray it down generously, then flip it upside down and let gunk run out. The same trick would work for a computer fan. The contact cleaner also works well for cleaning circuit boards.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Farquhar View Post
    To remove old lubricants, I would be inclined to use contact cleaner.
    Oh I have that. Just have to make sure it doesn't get on my skin.

  8. #8

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    Hi
    I don't usually recommend contact cleaner. These usually have some silicon oils in them.
    It is not a good bearing lubricant.
    I recommend removing the clip on the shaft ( keeping track of where all the washers
    go ) and clean the parts with Brake Clean ( find at any automotive store ).
    Use carefully, it will melt many plastics but evaporates fast. Also use
    out doors.
    After that put the bearing and assembly in the oven at about 130F.
    While still hot put some oil ( not grease ) on the bearing. The oil will
    soak in while it cools. These are what
    is called oil-lite bearings and are said to be self lubricating.
    In any case, as the bearing cools, it will soak up oil. If you have a solid state
    driver it is best to keep it below about 120F.
    When done, put it back together and it should work fine. I like to
    use synthetic oils because they usually have hight vapor pressure but
    are often not as good a lubricant. For the low loading of a fan, this shouldn't
    be an issue.
    Dwight

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    Dwight, that's great if you have a fan with oiltite bearings, but most of the Chinese stuff isn't built that well. It's usually just a brass or bronze sleeve bearing and some oil. The so-called "ball bearing" fans use a single stationary ball as a thrust bearing.

    If I had a noisy Panaflo or NMB fan, I'd probably inspect it for oiltite barings, but the usual Chinese stuff is almost certain not to use them. Grease 'em up!

    (FWIW, I've never had a Panaflo or NMB fan develop dry bearings). Same for Torrington, Rotron and Seikosha. I did have a Papst fail that way, however.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwight Elvey View Post
    Hi
    I don't usually recommend contact cleaner. These usually have some silicon oils in them.
    It is not a good bearing lubricant.
    I recommend removing the clip on the shaft ( keeping track of where all the washers
    go ) and clean the parts with Brake Clean ( find at any automotive store ).
    Use carefully, it will melt many plastics but evaporates fast. Also use
    out doors.
    After that put the bearing and assembly in the oven at about 130F.
    While still hot put some oil ( not grease ) on the bearing. The oil will
    soak in while it cools. These are what
    is called oil-lite bearings and are said to be self lubricating.
    In any case, as the bearing cools, it will soak up oil. If you have a solid state
    driver it is best to keep it below about 120F.
    When done, put it back together and it should work fine. I like to
    use synthetic oils because they usually have hight vapor pressure but
    are often not as good a lubricant. For the low loading of a fan, this shouldn't
    be an issue.
    Dwight
    Whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa whoa... whoa... whoa. /PeterGriffin

    The guy was talking about using contact cleaner just to clean it not lubricate it. Are you implying that I could permanently damage the bearings? Also this is for cheap sleeve bearing fans - is it really worth it to stink up the kitchen like that?

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