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Which Lubricants to Use on Locomotives?

Chris T asks several questions:

“My mind has been working overtime so I jotted down a few questions re lubes. Apart from which oil(s) are the best to use, can I stick with just plastic compatible oil for everything? I have a new bottle of 3in1 oil which the bottle states can be used on plastic and metal. Is this stuff good enough? I have some LaBelle oil that has been in the shed for probably 20 years. Should I use this or is it too old? It looks ok.

Am I right in thinking the wheels need light oil and open gears will need something heavier? I picked up a couple of old locos still in their boxes. I don’t even think they have ever been run. Will they need lubing before I put them on the track?

A million questions I know and I haven’t even asked about dismantling locos, getting the shells off, and removing screws to get access. I told you my mind was racing. Ha! Ha! I was going to just dive in and do things but as usual, I overthink things and thought it better to ask first.”

8 Responses to Which Lubricants to Use on Locomotives?

  • Ronsays:

    Hi Chris,
    I use Hob-E-Lube for the axles, it is a precision lubricant for model usage, only small amounts are necessary, I use the end of a paper clip to apply.
    White Grease is what I use for the gears, again it is designed for models and you should be able to pick it up at any good hobby store.

  • Ken Bristowsays:

    Hi Chris,
    I use Labelle products only on my trains. On the gear train use Labelle 106 grease with PTFE, grease because it does not evaporate or run off and the gears are often harder to access Oil on the valve gear and wheel bearings, Use a paper clip or micro oiler as only very small amounts are required and it is not needed on the track and only attracts dust.
    As Ron say available at good hobby stores.

  • Brian N Hestersays:

    Less is more. I use Labelle on my N scale locos, but very sparingly. If you’re dropping oil on the table, you’re using way too much!

  • Léo Nourysays:

    when I was on instrumentatiion and copiers.
    we used to say,

    ”OIL AND WIPE”

  • Herveysays:

    Chris;
    All the aboveis good info. The only thing I want to add is in regards to your “old locos”. Here you may want to clean out whatever lubricant is currently there and replace with new lubricant. Again, go sparingly a little goes a long way.

    • Dale Arendssays:

      This can be a critical point. Old lubricant can pick up dirt and impurities and hold them in suspension. As Chris says, it’s important to clean off the old lubricant before applying the new, sparingly. Just like in your car, old oil and new oil shouldn’t be mixed.

  • phil johnsonsays:

    I like Labelle 106 and 108 lubricants. I know some modelers use their 107 Teflon grease but I don’t. The trick is not to over lube. I do a routine every 2-3 year degrease and relube depending on the miles ran.

  • Fred Taylorsays:

    What about Lithium grease. Any good?

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