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Old 10-22-09, 02:59 PM   #1
Jasmijo
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What's the difference? Grease, lube, anti-seize, etc...

I've been searching though old threads researching different topics and I have to admit, all of the references to grease and lube and oil and anti-seize and wd-40 and the lot confuse me. Like, I was reading that I want to grease threads, but not oil them. But, I thought that oiling and greasing a chain meant the same thing, so obviously I don't get it. Little help? Which, if any, of these are interchangeable and when? If grease and lube and oil are different things, what are their individual jobs? It'd be great if someone could just explain to me (as if I were a simpleton... I know, it's a stretch) what they are and what they do.
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Old 10-22-09, 03:50 PM   #2
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lube (lubrication) is a general term for application of a lubricant to your bike.

oil is a thin but viscous type of lubricant, and would be used on any exposed moving part- chain, cables, derailleur pivots, etc.

grease is a much thicker type of lubricant and would be used to pack bearings, or to coat seatposts, stems, and the threads of fasteners to keep them from bonding to their mating parts.
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Old 10-22-09, 03:53 PM   #3
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Here you go:

Lube= Anything meant to lubricate something

Grease= Lube used when high viscosity is needed. Grease is good because it does not quickly evaporate, hence when you use it for something like lubing a threaded surface before threading something on it, the lube will still be there to help you un-thread many mons later. It is also good for lubing parts that are not easily accessed like Bottom Brackets, so that you don't have to lube often.

Oil= Lube used when low viscosity is needed. Oil is used for chains and pivot points on small parts where the stickiness of grease might acually hurt more than help. Oil can also flow easily into small spaces. Oil tends not to allow larger dirt and mineral particals to stick to it like oil does, though it still attracts smaller dirt particles. Oil is also good for protection metal surfaces from rust.

And a better option for Oil application is teflon based dry lube which does not attract dirt as much.
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Old 10-22-09, 04:05 PM   #4
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Anti-seize is similar to grease, except the lubricating component is fine copper or aluminum suspended in grease, mainly used so threaded parts can come back apart again.
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Old 10-22-09, 04:08 PM   #5
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You will find that the stuff made for cars and trucks is the same as repackaged bike lubes and is as good as we need for our applications.
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Old 10-22-09, 07:19 PM   #6
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Grease is oil combined with a thickener (soap). When you put pressure on grease the oil comes out and lubricates.When the pressure is releived the oils ir reabsorbed. It sticks around longer than oil alone.

Anti-seize is grease that has metal (usually copper) in it that is less noble (more likely to corrode) than the parts that you put it on. It acts as a sacrificial anode (it corrodes instead of your expensive parts). It is used where two dis-similiar metals come into contact with each other to prevent them from cold weldeing together (galvanic corrosion).

Use oil on threads that are 4mm in diameter and smaller. Use grease on larger threaded fasteners unless you think that anti-seize is needed to prevent galvanic corrosion.
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Old 10-22-09, 10:49 PM   #7
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You will find that the stuff made for cars and trucks is the same as repackaged bike lubes and is as good as we need for our applications.
How about the stuff for boats? I'm thinking about the salty Chicago winter and my idea is that lubes for boats are meant to withstand salty sea water. Do you think that's true or is that a stretch?
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Old 10-23-09, 05:14 AM   #8
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Originally Posted by Jasmijo View Post
How about the stuff for boats?
I use marine grease because it tends to wash out less easily. I also use it for my boat, trailer wheels and fishing reels. Since I already have it it makes sense to use it. IMO though, any decent grease is adequate.
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Old 10-23-09, 08:47 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pete Hamer View Post
Anti-seize is grease that has metal (usually copper) in it that is less noble (more likely to corrode) than the parts that you put it on. It acts as a sacrificial anode (it corrodes instead of your expensive parts). It is used where two dis-similiar metals come into contact with each other to prevent them from cold weldeing together (galvanic corrosion).
Does this mean that the metal particles in the anti-seize will get "used up" at some point and therefore the grease needs to be reapplied periodically?
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Old 10-23-09, 11:39 AM   #10
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Does this mean that the metal particles in the anti-seize will get "used up" at some point and therefore the grease needs to be reapplied periodically?
Not in any sort of reasonable time frame. Literally many years unless it's exposed to a LOT of rain in our case and even then it'll easily be good for three to four years. Fasteners I've used it on with cars were still fine and oily even 4 to 5 years after the initial application despite being used on the underside of the car and on the wheel nuts. I think it would take a rather harsh marine environment before you would have to worry about replacing it on any sort of regular basis.

Jasmijo, boat trailer wheel bearing grease is an excellent grease for our use. It's formulated to resist water and contains more anti rust additives than some other greases. Just what our bicycles need since our bearings are not hidden behind the best of seals such as found in automotive use. And one of the synthetic marine greases has a dark green color suspiciously like the Park grease sold for much more. Grease comes in handy for packing the loose ball bearings found in our wheels and headsets along with coating seat posts and bottom brackets to avoid corrosion related seizing. I also use it for corrosion proofing all the fasteners on my bike. Chain bolts being a primary one that love to rust around here. In fact it's so wet here that any fasteners I use on my bicycles get a little smear of grease to rain proof them from rusting and seizing. In SOME cases perhaps an anitseize would be more appropriate but the grease has worked just fine for me for over 15 years now.

Oils come in a lot of varieities as well. But for our bicycle use you could do a lot worse than to get
a bottle of plain old straight grade 30W or 40W motor oil for a "thick" oil and a 6 oz bottle of synthetic air tool oil for your "thin" oil. The only time you really need the thin oil is if you're trying to get a little more life out of an old cable set. In such a case a wipe with a paper towel and some of the thin oil can help things along for a while until you can get around to changing the cables and likely the housings as well. Cables and housings in good condition typically work best if dry. But the key word there is "GOOD" condition so only use oil on them as a last resort. The light air tool oil is often the only thing you need for some of the smaller bearings in some of the control levers.

Add to this list a can of penetrating oil and WD-40. These both have good penetrating qualities and can help when trying to loosen a sticky part such as a spoke nipple that wants to wind up the spoke instead of turning easily. A small drop of either can get in the threads and let the corrosion snap loose. WD-40 is also a great spot cleaning solvent that leaves behind a thin protective oil. It doesn't last long though but it's better than nothing. A bottle of mineral spirits (low odor house paint thinner) also works well as a solvent for cleaning parts clean from grease and oil. It's pretty well a must for cleaning out things like hubs during rebuilds.

When choosing a lube try to be guided by what type of residue you see on the part. Greases will generally have some left behind or caked around the edges of the area. Oiled areas can often be sneaky since in cases of exposure to rain they can wash away completely if exposed. Things like brake calipers and derrailleur pivot points come to mind as an examples of this.

Chain lubrication is a bit of a Holy Mantra to most but I've found that if you're in a predominantly dry area then the dry lubes can work very well and do not attract dust and grit like oil. However if you're in an area where you ride in the rain often then a wet lube such as oil or some other sort of oily/greasy chain lube a must for avoiding chain rust.

Other than that go to the Park Tools website and use the helpful "How To" section as a guide for what to use and where.
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