Lubricating Harvester Cutting Attachments

Harvester Working

Lubrication of a harvester's cutting attachment is important. Just like a chain saw, the bar, chain, and sprocket system must receive adequate lubrication to deliver maximum service life. A minimum oil flow rate of two cubic inches (30 cc) per minute is required for most mechanized applications except 3/4" (#11H and 11BC) . This requires about 25% more lubrication.

Oil Quantity

On some machinery, the guide bar and cutting chain is lubricated by bleeding a small amount of hydraulic fluid on the cutting attachment. This is often a problem, because hydraulic fluid is not a good lubricant. Another issue with hydraulic oil or any light-weight oil used for lubrication is it flings off. The cutting chain travels at speeds of up to 8000 feet per minute. That translates to a speed of up to ninety miles per hour. At these speeds, light oil gets thrown off before it provides much lubrication.

Using Used Oil

Some harvester operators use used motor oil in their harvester's oiler. This can cause a host of problems. For one, motor oil usually lacks the viscous qualities needed. Contamination is another problem. Small metal particles and acids in the used oil may damage the harvester's oiling mechanism and cutting attachment. An effort to save money by using used oil may create expensive problems in the end.

Saving Money On Oil

The best way to save on bar and chain oil is to buy in bulk. For most harvester operators, buying a fifty-five gallon drum works out best. If its being used every day, it doesn't take long for a harvester to use fifty-five gallons. Most drums are reusable and can be returned for credit. By buying a drum, you don't have to pay for buckets or jugs you end up throwing away. 

Viscous Oil 

A separate oiling system, utilizing high-quality bar and chain lubricant, is required for best lubrication. Bar and chain oil should have viscous or "honey like" qualities. The same bar and chain oil used for lubricating the cutting attachment on  professional chainsaws works fine. This oil stays on the cutting attachment longer than motor oil or hydraulic oil and does a better job.

Installing a fine wire-mesh filter in the oil tank filler opening is also a good idea. This helps stop debris from entering the tank and clogging up the pump and oiling system.

Cutting In Cold Weather

Cutting frozen wood causes heavy wear. To a large extent, this is normal, but  good maintenance and following a few hints can help minimize its affect. First, use a lighter weight bar and chain oil. This oil still needs some "sticky" qualities, but should flow better than regular bar and chain oil when it is cold. Do not dilute regular bar and chain oil with diesel. If lighter oil can not be obtained, blend regular bar and chain oil with motor oil. You may have to experiment a little to get the perfect "winter-weight" blend. Second, double the oil-flow rate when using the lighter oil. Third, periodically cycle the bar without cutting to increase lubrication and to make sure the oiler is working.

In cold conditions, it can take several minutes for a new or refilled oiler to begin delivering lubricant to a bar and chain. Under these conditions, increase saw speed gradually over the first few minutes of running time.

Hopefully this information is helpful. If you have questions, please contact us.