Supplier protects inner mechanisms

28th July 2023

Local lubricants supplier Lubrication Engineers (LE) South Africa is celebrating 15 years of supplying its Pyroshield 9000 Synthetic Open Gear Lubricant to a major freight rail company in South Africa.

The customer had tested 38 other products to compare their performance on its locomotives, but none of them has been able to deliver the same level of traction lubrication.

The lubrication product the customer was using at the time was more of a compound than a lubricant and created a “sponge” between the gears. Over time this sponge caused wear and cracking in the gears.

This was particularly problematic in extreme temperatures and when the trains were in the Karoo during the winter months, as gearboxes would stick because the lubricant had frozen.

In contrast to this, the LE Pyroshield product, which contains LE’s proprietary Almasol additive, is a thin film product with a high protection value, able to perform well in both colder and hotter temperatures.

LE South Africa MD Colin Ford explained: “Almasol is a solid wear-reducing additive, able to withstand extremely heavy loads, chemical attack and extremely high temperatures. It minimises metal-to-metal contact and the resulting friction, heat and wear. This protects the gearboxes and increases their life span.”

Ford explained that the lubricant is also a “working conversion” product, which means there is little to no downtime, as the lubricant can be added to the system without removing any old product in the traction motor gearbox and will break down any other product that is already in the system.

Before switching over to Pyroshield 9000, the client ran trials against the compound that it was already using. It took profiles of the gear teeth to see how much wear there was compared to the original product.

The reports show that Pyroshield dropped the wear by 98% during the trial period, which meant that there was 2% wear, as opposed to 100% wear, in the same trial period with the original lubricant.

“Since they began using this product, many of the gears haven’t needed to be replaced in years because the lubricant is doing such a good job,” said Ford.

Tailoring Supply Quantities

LE’s product had been originally sold in a standard quantity of 20 ℓ, but it has worked with a local contractor in the packaging of the product in smaller quantities of 500 g sachets, upon client request.

This repackaging into these sachets has helped the customer to gauge and mete out the correct lubrication quantities for the different locomotives in its fleet. It also allows for more precise stock management.

“We are also able to supply the customer with a detailed [yearly] report on how much lubricant they have used on a month-to-month basis, what quantities its different depots and locomotives around the country have used and what their cost per locomotive has been,” said Ford.