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Greasing guide for your Classic

Grease is the word Published: 27th May 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Greasing guide for your Classic
Greasing guide for your Classic Classic formulated greases are available
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Greasing guide for your Classic Ensure the gun’s head fits squarely on the nipple
Greasing guide for your Classic
Greasing guide for your Classic If you can’t get grease in nipple may be blocked. Remove and clean
Greasing guide for your Classic Mini’s rear radius arms need periodic attention – often forgotten
Greasing guide for your Classic A sample of the different types of gun – last for years!
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Greasing guide for your Classic Some cars, like pre war and BMCs, need greasing every 1000 miles: consider once a year the minimum
Greasing guide for your Classic
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No, not the movie! Kim Henson advises on why you must keep your classic well covered

Owners of virtually all vehicles built during the last two decades or so do not have to think about regular lubrication of running gear components, but for those of us with older cars it’s a very different story. Until the 1970s/80s the majority of cars were equipped with lubrication (greasing) points which require regular attention if rapid wear within the components is to be avoided. The trouble is, many owners used to running modern vehicles do not even give a second thought to greasing their classics; it is also apparent that many are unaware of the necessity for attention with a grease gun or even know what one looks like!

Neglect at your peril

So why is greasing so important, what is required and just how onerous a task is it? For decades grease nipples were fitted to steering and suspension ball joints, king/swivel pins and also propeller shaft couplings, plus, sometimes, brake cables, to enable the lubricant serving these components to be replenished on a regular basis and so prolong their service lives. Provided that re-greasing is carried out at the specified mileage/time intervals, internal friction within the components is minimised, and they will last indefinitely in many cases far longer than equivalent later sealed for life parts. However, if greasing is neglected, the bearing surfaces will effectively run dry with obvious results. Another benefit of regular greasing is that water and dirt cannot easily penetrate a joint if this is full of grease. Conversely, if salty water from the roads works its way into a neglected and dry steering joint or swivel pin assembly (for example), it can seriously damage their bearing surfaces. The manufacturer’s handbooks and workshop manuals of most classic models give specific guidance on the required frequency of re-lubrication, the location of the various greasepoints and the type of lubricant to use. As examples, for some pre-War models, regreasing was recommended every 500 miles, whereas for some later classics, mileage intervals of 1000, 3000 or even 6000 miles (or annually, whichever comes first), are specified. In the absence of any specific recommendation, a good rule of thumb is to re-grease the vehicle at least every 1000 miles (or every six months, whichever comes first).

For most running gear applications, general purpose, modern lithium-based grease is suitable. Refer to your car’s handbook first but remember many greases may have been superceded over the years with better alternatives. Speak to a marque specialist or even one of the lubrication companies (Castrol, for example has its own classic lubricants division) if you are unsure. Occasionally the manufacturers will recommend the use of a lubricant other than grease for example an extreme pressure gear oil, for steering joints. In theory the oil will more readily flow to the surfaces requiring lubrication. A potential drawback can be that the oil may run out of the joint relatively quickly, so more frequent re-lubrication may be required. A variety of types and sizes of grease guns is available, but before buying a new one, check your classic’s toolkit, for many makers provided a small greasegun with each of their vehicles. Check too the type of grease nipple fitted to the car. Some older (typically pre-War) models have ‘shallow’ nipples designed for simple push-on greaseguns, whereas other cars have deeper greasepoints onto which the greasegun can lock. You need to make sure that your greasegun is compatible with the nipples fitted to your car.

If buying a greasegun, opt for the best quality you can find within your budget. I know from experience that some guns which initially look like bargains tend to last for just a short time, and some don’t even work properly from the start. Ideally you need a gun with a reasonable capacity for grease (so you don’t have to re-load it frequently), which is easy to fill, straightforward to bleed of air (if air is trapped in the gun, it won’t pump grease!), and which is relatively compact,so that you can reach inaccessible areas under the vehicle. Check these aspects before you buy. You can buy a reasonable quality compact gun for £20 or less, and this should last a lifetime. Grease is available in tins/plastic tubs and (for some guns) in cartridges. If buying grease in tins or tubs, I find it best to go for a container which incorporates a sliding disc with a hole in the centre. This disc sits on top of the grease in the container, and when re-filling the greasegun, enables the open end of gun to be held against the disc. As the gun is pushed down, the grease has nowhere to go except into the gun. Containers without this facility tend to be messy to use. The trouble is, until you have bought the grease and opened the tin or tub, you won’t know whether or not it has such a disc. I do know that the Castrol containers I have bought for many years definitely do! greasegun, before pumping in grease. Otherwise, grit may be introduced, and this will cause havoc with the bearing surfaces. If grease is reluctant to enter a nipple, try holding the gun at different angles. If this doesn’t work, the nipple may be damaged (in which case replace it with a new one) or blocked. To clear theobstruction, unscrew the nipple and gently probe it clear using soft wire (but be careful not to damage the nipple in the process). Agreed these are nicer, cleaner, more interesting jobs that you can carry out on your classic, but in terms of satisfaction and peace of mind grease is the word…

Pump it up!

Even if your car has (say) 20 grease points which require attention, it should only take half an hour or so to attend to them all. This is time well spent to reap dividends in longer component life (also sweeter, easier operation). It is sometimes recommended that the suspension is relieved of the weight of the car (by jacking/securely supporting under the bodywork) before greasing, to allow the lubricant to more easily reach the working surfaces of the components. Again your handbook may advise specifically on this. ALWAYS wipe clean the grease nipples, also the end of the



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