Selecting the proper control cable lubricant can be tricky given the variety of materials, designs, routing requirements, loads, temperatures, and duty cycles. Tight cable routing and heavy loads make the selection of the right cable lubricant all the more critical.
the key is to choose a lubricant that improves cable efficiency — a measure of how quickly, smoothly and easily the cable moves under a broad range of operating conditions. This efficiency is directly related to how well a lubricant minimizes friction between the cable and its liner, that is, the lubricant’s ability to wet and adhere to the cable and liner surfaces under both test and standard operating conditions. Since most tests involve constant rapid cycling, high film strength and the proper base oil viscosity are essential to maintaining the right amount of lubricant where it is needed.
while oil is still used for some lightly loaded cables with high efficiency needs, greases offer several advantages for control cable lubrication. A grease’s stay-in-place capability mitigates leakage problems associated with oil. Greases also prevent wear better than oils. Formulated by gelling a base oil with a thickener system, they act as a sponge of oil, slowly releasing oil throughout the life of the cable and ensuring an adequate supply of lubricant during cycling. Special grease formulations can further improve cable performance and extend operating life. Nye’s fluorocarbon gels, for example, incorporate ptfe which creates a surface with a very low coefficient of friction and aids in supporting medium and heavily loaded cables to reduce wear. Other anti-wear and load-carrying additives, as well as antioxidants and corrosion inhibitors, may also be introduced into grease formulations for specific applications. Greases can also damp mechanical vibration and deliver a “quality” feel.