Bicycle Mechanics - Old Automotive Grease for Bearings
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I was just curious if there is any downside on using 30-ish years old automotive ball bearing grease from the 70's or 80's to repack my ball/cone bottom bracket. It is thick-ish black stuff.
I'm in a pickle, as tomorrow is a holiday and no stores will be open, but is also my only opportunity to repack my disassembled bottom bracket if I want to ride next week, and that is all I have on hand.
As far as I know grease doesn't degrade if just left sitting there, but I think that was more for 5 year old grease vs 30-35 years.
if the grease hasn't decomposed, or you don't notice anything odd about it, then I don't see why not.
I use boat trailer bearing grease (marine grade green grease that smells like mould) for my bikes.
Ok, as I thought.
Should I invest in any kind of grease for the future? Or will this automotive grease serve my purposes (commuting/leisure)?
I don't really see a point of buying another tub of grease that I will use once every two years if this tub of ancient grease works well enough.
I would just use what you have currently.
The only investment you might want to make is purchasing an injector/syringe type of grease gun, which will make your life so much easier for some small parts.
I have a cache of 30 year old grease. My neighbor owned a construction company that he sold back in the 80s, and he gave me a case of grease they would have used to lube the equipment. I push it out of the tubes into my tub, it works great.
So I used the old automotive grease with decent results. It's a bit chilly outside however so the grease was pretty thick after being left in the garage, but I can assume it will only get smoother as summer rolls around.
04-24-11, 09:22 AM
The BB is a slow-moving, heavily-loaded (in bicycle terms) bearing that is suitable for auto wheel bearing grease. A pure-race set-up would never use such a thing, but for long-term performance and durability you could have done a lot worse.
Thicker grease means better weather protection, and has the downside of more viscous drag. However even the stiffest grease made, on the coldest day won't gave enough added drag to be measurable in the scheme of things where 99% of your total drag comes from the wind.
The only thing you need to watch for is water contamination and
that is easy to see, it will turn the grease white, or whitish.
I use grease for boat trailer wheel bearings, because I have a
boat trailer and there fore, the grease. LOL! It has and
indicator that turns white when there is water.
Bikes don't need a great volume of grease. Old bikes had
an oil port and the hubs had cotton wicking in them,
the rear coaster brake needed oil, 3-n-1 was the standard.
04-24-11, 11:40 AM
+1 , I have used boat trailer wheel bearing grease for decades ..
seems prefect, the go to stuff for mountain bikes,
back in the days of their invention.
I use automotive axle/bearing grease. It smells terrible, but it works, and it comes in a big ~1L tube for like $4.
04-25-11, 11:41 AM
Isn't most of grease already a few million years old? :)
I think I have 30 year old Campy grease in my tool box. I just finished using about 20+ year old grease I had in a few baby food containers. I just got a pound of the stuff from Home Depot.
As long as it hasn't gotten contaminated.
My grease has got to be 10-20 years old, but I keep it covered when not in use.
I have an assortment of grease and oil samples, one and two ounce tubs and vials. I was
told it was from the '30's. I think there is 30+ different things. I still use it on my models
and other house hold things. Fans and such. The bottles have corks. They are still good,
I guess the oil keeps them from drying out. The tubs are bake-a-lite. The lids on the
vials are the same.
Does any one remember the old gear oil that was sulfur based? You could smell a leak
for miles. And it could not be washed off.
All purpose gear oil 90:
Useless information, but interesting to some. If you have a vintage
bike, I am sure I have the grease you need....
04-25-11, 01:14 PM
Does any one remember the old gear oil that was sulfur based? You could smell a leak for miles. And it could not be washed off.
I don't know what the base is for the gear oil used in my Evo, but it smells, well, like nothing else out there. Truly terrible in its own way.
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