Introduction to Chain Lubrication

Proper lubrication is the key to optimized operating performance and long working life. 

Without proper lubrication, even the highest quality chains cannot reach expected working life. 

It is necessary and important to pay attention to the lubrication and maintenance.

The purpose of chain lubrication maintenance

  • Reduce wearing between pin, bush and roller
  • Keep chain operating smoothly and reduce noise
  • Offer protection to avoid corrosion and rust
  • Chains have been pre-lubricated to prevent wearing in the initial application when delivered from the factory. After a period of operating, re-lubrication should be done to maintain optimized performance and working life.

Chain lubrication position 

  • Pin, bush and roller are wearing parts for roller chains while pin and holes on inner plate are wearing parts. Lubrication should be targeted to these area and parts.
  • As below graph shows, lubricate the chains interspace between roller and inner plate and inner and outer plates.
  • Please lubricate on the slack side of the chain. If the chain is taut, loosen the chain (if possible).

lubricate on roller chain and leaf chain

Suggested lubricants and viscosity

It is suggested to use vehicle engine lubricating oil to lubricate the chain. Please select lubricating oil with appropriate viscosity according to the temperature range in the following table:

Ambient Temperature
SAE 10
SAE 20
SAE 30
SAE 40
SAE 50
※ If the ambient temperature has two viscosities to choose from, please choose the oil with higher viscosity first.

Relationship between lubrication method and chain specification / chain speed

Generally, there are four methods to lubricate the chains: manual, drip lubrication, oil bath or slinger disc lubrication and forced pump lubrication.
The choice of method depends on the specification and operating speed of the chains

Chain Pitch

Chain Speed
Type A Manual or Drip Lubrication
Type B Oil Bath or Slinger Disc Lubrication
Type C Forced pump lubrication
12.70 mm
Below 88 m/min
Below 670 m/min
Above 670 m/min
15.88 mm
Below 73 m/min
Below 588 m/min
Above 588 m/min
19.05 mm
Below 64 m/min
Below 530 m/min
Above 530 m/min
25.40 mm
Below 52 m/min
Below 451 m/min
Above 451 m/min
31.75 mm
Below 44 m/min
Below 396 m/min
Above 396 m/min
38.10 mm
Below 38 m/min
Below 357 m/min
Above 357 m/min
44.45 mm
Below 34 m/min
Below 329 m/min
Above 329 m/min
50.80 mm
Below 30 m/min
Below 305 m/min
Above 305 m/min
57.15 mm
Below 27 m/min
Below 283 m/min
Above 283 m/min
63.50 mm
Below 26 m/min
Below 268 m/min
Above 268 m/min
76.20 mm
Below 23 m/min
Below 241 m/min
Above 241 m/min

Four methods to lubricate the chains

No matter which lubrication method applied, it is always suggested to periodically check lubrication status and oil reservoir.
It is the ideal to check lubrication condition every 8 hours.

Type A

lubricate type A (manual lubrication)

Manual Lubrication

  • Apply the lubricant on the slack of the chain between interspace of roller and inner plate and inner and outer plates by brush, oil can or spray can.

  • Periodically lubricate before the chain dry out.

lubricate type A (drip lubrication)

Drip Lubrication

  • Drip oiler lubricates the chain by dripping oil into the chain between interspace of roller and inner plate and inner and outer plates.
  • Oil amount is 4 to 20 drops per minute.
  • The faster the chain operate, the more oil drops is required.
    Type B

    type C (forced lubrication)

    Oil Bath

    • As below graph shows, the chains is in a closed chain case and the lower strand of the chain run through an oil bath. 
    • The height of oil bath surface should be the centerline of pin at the lowest point of the chain when the chain is running.
    • Too much oil might cause foaming and overheating. 
    • Oil temperature should not exceed 82°C (180°F)

    lubricate type B (slinger disc lubrication)

    Slinger Disc Lubrication

    • In a closed chain case, a slinger disc is installed with lower sprocket to rotate together.
    • It uses centrifugal force to deliver the oil to the collector plate and gutter below collector spray oil on the chain.
    • The height of oil surface should be 12 ~ 25mm higher than the bottom of disc but do not to soak the chain.
    • When the chain width is more than 125mm, please install slinger disc on both sides of the chain.
    • Slinger disc need to have circumferential speeds between 183m/min to 2238m/min. 
    • If Circumferential speeds is too slow, it may not effectively deliver oil, while too fast, it may cause foaming and overheating. Oil temperature should not exceed 82°C (180°F)
      Type C

      type C (forced lubrication)

      Forced Pump Lubrication

      • In a closed chain case, a pump is installed to draw lubricating oil to spry it on the chain.
      • Forced pump lubrication is suitable for chains running at high speeds and high loading.
      • The lubricating oil should be sprayed on the slack side of the chain and evenly sprayed on the entire width of the chain.
      • If necessary, install a cooling system to cool the lubricating oil.
      • According to the power (horsepower) of the chain drive, the required lubricating oil flow is as follows:
      TransmittedMinimum Required
      50HP (37kW)
      0.25gal/min (0.95L/min)
      100HP (75kW)
      0.50gal/min (1.89L/min)
      150HP (112kW)
      0.75gal/min (2.84L/min)
      200HP (149kW)
      1.00gal/min (3.78L/min)
      300HP (224kW)
      1.50gal/min (5.68L/min)
      400HP (298kW)
      2.00gal/min (7.57L/min)
      500HP (373kW)
      2.50gal/min (9.46L/min)


        • Grease lubricant do not have flowability and cannot not get into the joints of the chain. Therefore, it is not ideal lubricant for maintenance.
        • To confirm if the chain is lubricated properly or sufficiently, remove the chain the check the pin and bush on the connecting link (master link). If contact area of pin and bush show tearing, red or dark brown color, it usually means insufficient lubrication.
        • For type A manual lubrication, it is important to follow lubrication schedule and use correct grade of oil. Please clean the chain with kerosene or a nonflammable solvent if the chain is dirty before re-lubricating.
        • For type B and C lubrication methods, please change the lubricating oil after the first 50 hours of the new chain and every 500 hours thereafter (if operating under severe conditions, please change the lubricating oil every 200 hours).

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