If you are like me, an ideal weekend is spent in the garage taking apart, repairing, and fixing things. There is a sweet soothing satisfaction that comes with being able to breathe new life into your old equipment and machinery.
Most of the time, your lawnmower, pulley, or chainsaw will not work as it should if it needs servicing. The great thing is that you can perform a lot of the standard maintenance yourself, from the convenience of your home.
Greasing is one of the most basic maintenance exercises you can perform on moving parts and ball joints. Keeping these parts and joints lubricated reduces friction and prolongs your equipment’s working life. In the past, this was a messy job that could be achieved using one’s hands, but with the recent technological boom, it can easily be accomplished more conveniently and efficiently using grease guns.
What is a grease gun?
A grease gun is a practical hand tool used by engineers, mechanics, and DIYers alike. It is used to apply greases and lubricants to various moving parts through a specific opening. They are designed to deliver lubrication under pressure, forcing it into hard to reach areas without disassembly. Grease guns offer better precision, flow control, and force in lubricating joints and bearings.
Grease guns can be loaded with several lubricants. However, they are usually used for thicker and heavier types of grease. Professionals use the guns for their speed and precision. They save a lot of time and reduce grease wastage. At home, you can use a grease gun to lubricate gardening tools such as lawnmowers and chainsaws.
What are grease guns used for?
Grease guns are used for a wide variety of both DIY and industrial lubrication applications, including;
- Gardening and landscaping
- Auto maintenance
- Agricultural machinery and equipment
Types of grease guns
There is a wide variety of configurations and formats for grease guns that come in different shapes and sizes. Some of these include;
Hand Pump Grease Guns (Manual)
Hand pump grease guns have a pressurized pump piston or handle integrated into the tool. It is usually primed before use to allow the build-up of pressure and subsequently released with ease via a trigger mechanism, forcing the lubricant straight through the fitting.
Battery-operated Grease Gun
These are more portable and can be used without a cord to the outlet. However, you need to recharge ùthe battery after use.
Air-powered Grease Gun
This type of grease gun is the industry standard when it comes to professional grease guns. They are mainly used in large companies for commercial applications. Air-powered grease guns do not require any physical pumping, which tends to make them quite expensive.
Parts of a grease gun.
Grease guns are made up of several individual components that work together to complete the task effectively. These components include;
- Lever/ trigger/ handle
- Grease tube
- Hydraulic coupler
- Filler nipple
- Air-release nipple
- Follower rod and follower handle
- Flexible hose and fixed tube
How does a grease gun work?
Lever, trigger, or handle
The lever, which is also commonly referred to as the trigger or handles, is usually found in manual grease guns. It is used for hand-pumping the grease out the barrel through the tube or hose.
The barrel is the outer casing of the grease gun. It covers the grease tube or the grease flowing from the bulk storage.
This is a replaceable housing of grease that can be swapped when the lubricant is depleted. It is also known as the grease cartridge.
The coupler is the connection joint that secures the fixed tube or flexible hose attached to the gun’s head.
The head is made up of several grease valves and pathways that enable the pumped grease to flow from the barrel into the fixed tube or flexible hose.
It is the injection point for the grease from the filler pump.
The air-release nipple is responsible for releasing all the air in the new grease you have pumped into the gun’s head.
This part applies pressure onto the plunger.
Follower rod & follower handle
The follower rod is also commonly referred to as a piston rod, barrel rod, or plunger rod. It keeps the plunger in a uniform path, keeping the pressure on the bottom part of the grease tube. It also helps pull back the spring when replacing the grease tube.
The follower handle provides a solid grip for pulling the follower rod.
The plunger creates uniform pressure on the back end of the grease tube. This pressure allows consistent flow as grease exits the grease gun.
Fixed tube & Flexible hose
The fixed tube and flexible hose can be used interchangeably for positioning the coupler or connector.
Can you leave grease in a grease gun?
Although it is safe to leave grease in your grease gun, always ensure that you have released all the pressure from the lubricant. You can achieve this by drawing back the handle and locking it into position. Increased pressure on the grease over a prolonged period can lead to the oil separating from the lubricant.
Loading the grease gun
Removing the empty cartridge
First, you will need to remove the end cap from the grease gun and remove the old cartridge. Screw the end cap and pull the plunger-rod handle to retract the spring, then twist and lock it in place.
Replacing the grease cartridge
Remove the plastic cap on the new cartridge, and unscrew the body of the gun. Attach the end of the cartridge into the body of the grease gun.
Remove the seal
To remove the seal, there is a grease cartridge you’ll need to remove on the other end of the grease cartridge. Most cartridge brands usually feature an aluminum tab that you’ll have to pop and peel off. Others will come with a foil seal.
Screw the gun’s body
After loading the cartridge, screw the body onto the head of the gun but leave it loose for now. Release the spring by twisting the plunger-rod handle.
Push the handle into the gun, and tighten the loose body-head connection.
Prime the grease gun
Before use, pump the handle until the grease begins to flow consistently. This will remove all the air trapped in the gun, providing enhanced effectiveness.
Remove the plug and continue priming, if necessary.
Sometimes the grease gun may fail to prime properly due to the air entrapped in the pathways. When this happens, remove the plug on the grease gun’s head and continue priming. Keep doing this until the grease emerges from the plug. Finally, install the plug and keep priming until the desired consistency is achieved.
Loading with a filler pump
Extend the handle.
For the pneumatic grease gun, you might opt to load the grease gun with a filler pump. To do this, you will need to pull back and extend the handle at a slow pace. Once it is fully protracted, lock it into place with the locking plate.
Insert the filler plug.
Once the handle is secured, insert the filler plug into the nozzle and start pumping in the grease.
Remove the filler pump.
When your gun is full, disconnect the gun from the pump.
Unlock the handle
Press the locking plate to release the plunger-rod handle, and press the handle in till as far as it will go. Now you’re all set and good to go.
How to properly use a grease gun
Now that your gun is loaded, it’s time to put it to use. Let’s take a look at some tips to help you get the most out of your grease gun.
Avoid mixing greases
There is a wide range of greases available for different applications. So first and foremost, it is essential to establish the right lubricant for the job. You should also avoid mixing greases as they may be incompatible.
Different brands use different thickeners and base oils for their greases, rendering them incompatible with any other grease.
Whenever you change greases, always ensure that you get rid of all the old grease if possible or flush it with a generous amount of clean grease while the gun is in operation.
Maintain a clean working environment.
Working with grease can get a little messy. However, with a rug in hand, it is pretty easy to maintain a neat work environment. Ensure that you wipe the grease fittings before injecting grease to avoid contamination. After greasing, also wipe off the excess grease. Finally, wipe the gun nozzle after every use.
Properly label the grease gun.
It is advisable to label the grease guns appropriately with the correct type of lubricant they contain. You should also establish the amount of lubricant they dispense with every stroke.
Pump a small amount of grease onto a scale and divide the weight by the number of strokes applied. This will help you determine the average amount of grease dispensed on every stroke.
Do not over-grease
Some of the grease guns available today deliver pressures as high as 15,000 psi, way more than most bearing seals can withstand. This brings along the risk of over-greasing, which can lead to raptured seals. Ruptured seals usually lead to increased friction and heat, eventually leading to downtime and costly maintenance.
However, it is pretty easy to get the right amount every single time. Always ensure you stop greasing as soon as you feel any backpressure. Adding more shots of grease past this might only bring more harm than good.
Use high-quality lubricants
Always make a point of finding the best-quality greases for use with your grease gun. This way, you will get the best base oils and thickeners to protect against wear and tear. The lubricants also provide excellent adhesion and fight corrosion to prolong the life of your component.
Things to consider when choosing a grease gun
Now that you understand what a grease gun is and how it can help you with your maintenance jobs, you might consider picking one out for yourself. To get the best out of a grease gun, there are several things you need to consider. These include how much grease will be applied, what type of gun is best suited for the job, and what sort of machinery will be lubricated.
Like earlier mentioned, there are several types of grease guns. However, the manual ones tend to be more popular with DIY enthusiasts and professionals alike. They are ideal for ultrasonic greasing, where vibrations are converted into audible frequencies to notify the technician when the right amount of lubrication has been applied.
Manual-configuration grease guns let you dispense the grease at reduced speeds, which gives you more control over the amount of grease dished out. Another great thing about manual grease guns is their compact size and design, which allows them to fit into tight spaces.
As you go out on your quest to find the best grease gun for your projects, the most crucial factor to consider is what you intend to use the gun for. For simple home projects, you might opt for the more affordable mini grease guns. However, if you plan to use the guns for larger-scale applications and operations, battery-powered and air-powered grease guns might be a better pick for you. Pointing out your specific needs will help you get the best deal and the most efficient grease gun for your project.
I hope you have gotten enough insights on how grease guns might just be what you have looking for, for your regular maintenance jobs at home.