Lubricating Wire Ropes

Wire ropes are integral components for many buildings, machines, and structures. This material is comprised of contiguous wire strands that are wrapped around a centralized core.  It is important to lubricate wire ropes in order to limit friction and prevent corrosion.

There are two main types of wire rope lubricants: penetrating and coating.  A penetrating lubricant contains a solvent that transports the lubricant into the core of the wire. Once on the core, it evaporates and leaves behind a heavy, lubricating film that is capable of protecting each strand.  A coating lubricant penetrates the wire slightly, and protects the outside of the cable from moisture, wear, fretting and corrosion.

Both of these lubrications are used on wire ropes, but since most failures come from the inside of the wire rope, it is most important to thoroughly saturate the core with lubrication.

Most lubricators are a made up of a mixture between petroleum and other compounds.  The petroleum provides excellent corrosion and water resistance, which helps to extend the life of the wire.  In addition to petroleum lubricants, grease and vegetable oils are also uses to coat the wires. These mixtures penetrate the core and are easily applied.  Most cables are lubricated before they are used, but it is important to re-lubricated wires habitually.

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