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For the value of Oil Analysis Condition Monitoring and Preventive Maintenance to be fully realised, the end
user must have a basic understanding of the lubrication process and the various lubricants used. They are
called on to perform many functions in today’s increasingly complex operating environments. As such,
lubricants themselves have evolved to a high state of technological development to ensure correct
performance and protection of the lubricated equipment.
This booklet serves to provide an insight on lubrication, broken into six phases of understanding.
1. The basics of oil analysis
1. Benefits of Oil analysis
2. Reading the Report
3. The Sample Description Sheet
2. Testing of Lubricating oils. Includes tests applicable to Engine Oils, Hydraulic Oils and Drive and EP
Gear Oils for Condition Based Oil Analysis
1. Moisture (water) Analysis (ASTM D6304)
2. Particle Size Distribution Analysis (ASTM D6786)
3. Retained Solids (ASTM D4898)
4. Total Acid Number (ASTM D975/D664)
5. Viscosity (ASTM D445)
6. Oxidation (ASTM E2412)
7. Nitration (ASTM E2412)
8. Wear Elements (ASTM D5185)
9. Contamination Elements (ASTM D5185)
10. Additive Elements (ASTM D5185)
11. Total Base Number (ASTM D2896)
12. Pentane Insolubles (Soot) (ASTM D4055)
13. Fuel Dilution (OL1007 – GC)
14. PQ Index (OL1029 – ANALEX)
15. Dispersancy (OL1004)
16. RULER (ASTM D6810/ASTM D6971)
17. Glycol content by GC- HSA (OL1105)
3. Basic explanation of how lubrication works
1. Friction
2. Maintaining Lubricant Performance
3. Additives
4. Filters
5. How do we know that the lubricant is performing as required?
4. Other Testing Requirements
1. Coolant
2. Diesel Fuel
5. Overall summary of oil requirements
1. Engine oil requirements
2. Transmission, Drive and Hydraulic oil requirements
3. Oil Sampling
6. Interpretation of the Analysis
1. Standard Deviation
2. Normalisation Factors
The benefit of this book is to show why it is important to undertake oil analysis and Condition Monitoring
of equipment through an effective Oil Analysis Program. Such a program is applicable to any industry or
environment that utilises lubrication. As the book progresses it delves deeper into the Oil Analysis
Table of contents Page

1. The basics of oil analysis 3

1. Benefits of Oil analysis 3
2. Reading the Report 3
3. The Sample Description Sheet 5
2. Testing of Lubricating oils. Includes tests applicable to Engine Oils, 7
Hydraulic Oils and Drive and EP Gear Oils for Condition Based Oil Analysis
1. Moisture (water) Analysis (ASTM D6304) 7
2. Particle Size Distribution Analysis (ASTM D6786) 7
3. Retained Solids (ASTM D4898) 7
4. Total Acid Number (ASTM D975/D664) 8
5. Viscosity (ASTM D445) 8
6. Oxidation (ASTM E2412) 8
7. Nitration (ASTM E2412) 8
8. Wear Elements (ASTM D5185) 9
9. Contamination Elements (ASTM D5185) 9
10. Additive Elements(ASTM D5185) 10
11 Total Base Number (ASTM D2896) 10
12. Pentane Insolubles (Soot) (ASTM D4055) 10
13. Fuel Dilution (OL1007 – GC) 11
14. PQ Index (OL1029 – ANALEX) 11
15 Dispersancy (OL1004) 11
16. RULER (ASTM D6810/ASTM D6971) 12
17. Glycol content by GC- HSA (OL1105) 12
3. Basic explanation of how lubrication works 13
1. Friction 13
2. How is the lubricant forced between the surfaces? 13
3. Additives 16
4. Filters 16
5. How do we know that the lubricant is performing as required? 17
4. Other Testing Requirements 18
1. Coolant 18
2. Diesel Fuel 19
5. Overall summary of oil requirements 20
1. Engine oil requirements 20
2. Transmission, Drive and Hydraulic oil requirements 20
3. Oil Sampling 20
6. Interpretation of the Analysis 21
1. Standard Deviation 21
2. Normalisation Factors 21


1.1. Benefits of Oil analysis

The costs are relatively small insurance premiums
for optimum serviceability of equipment.
Oil Analysis provides the benefits of :
 Extending Equipment Life.
 Fault Cause and Prevention Diagnosis.
 Condition Monitoring and Diagnosis for
Warranty purposes.
 Enhancement to the Service Log for Better
Resale Value.
 Improved Safety Control
 Effective Maintenance Scheduling and
Reduction in unscheduled Downtime.
 Evaluation of maintenance systems.
 Determination of Optimum Oil Change
1.2. Reading the Report (Hitachi Probe
used as an example)

The oil diagnostic analysis will provide each report

 A “satisfactory”, “monitor trend” or “take
action” rating.
 A detailed trend analysis of the oil’s
characteristics, contamination levels and
 A set of recommendations for “monitor
trend” and “take action” results.
The recommendations from previous reports are
included to assist with corrective action.
Customers are invited to call Oilcheck to discuss
any oil-specific issues contained in their reports.
The sample analysis report is a composite of
several key areas.
 The key sample information
 The results table
 The customer and equipment information
 Trending graphs
 Did you know info and links

Key Sample Information Customer and
Equipment Info
The Equipment details
are the most crucial to
the reporting process.
This area dictates
where the sample is
from and links in
previous samples to
This section of the report shows the basic logistics the current sample.
of the sample, for example the Sample Number
The Operation details
(which may be quoted in the event of any
give information to the
questions) ,received dates, hours on the oil and
Laboratory to
equipment, report and K numbers for the sample.
categorise the results
The Key Sample Information Sections also
by Oil grade and type.
includes the previous status of past samples.
Did You Know 60% of
Results Table
failures are due to the
wrong type of oil used
in the compartment?
The Customer Details
are also just as
crucial, without the
correct details, you
simply will not receive
the report.


A brief recommendation from the analysis

performed on the sample will indicate where the
potential problems or in the event of failure where
This section of the report shows values of the the actual problems lie. The benefit of this is the
specified tests. The results determine the previous samples recommendations are also
characteristics & contamination in the oil due to available to assist you in what action you may
wear or the introduction of contamination into the choose to take.
oil such as; Authorised Signatory The report also contains
• Moisture (contamination) the contact details of the person who supervised
• Dust and dirt (contamination) the analysis and wrote the recommendations
• Component wear (contamination)

Trending Graphs

Trending is a very important part of the oil analysis

system. Using the trending graphs with the
analysis of your results will give you a far better
indication of how the compartment you have
sampled compares with the previous samples
results. The results on the graphed results will be
different to the results in the results table, this will
occur due to a normalisation factor applied to the
results (for more information on normalising
please refer to the Normalisation and standard
deviation Section.) In short the graphs give you
the ability to compare apples with apples by
adjusting the results to suit what we call standard
hours (engine 200 hours & Drive and Hydraulic
500 hours.)

1.3. Sample Description Sheet

The Sample Description Sheet can be broken
down into several key areas.
Page 1
• Machine Details
• Oil Details
• Report Recipients and Contact Details
Page 2
• Compartment Codes
It is ESSENTIAL that all the Information be filled
out Clearly and Correctly, this will ensure the
Probe data base is correct and the information you
receive is also correct. A sample with the wrong or
unidentifiable information is a waste of time.

Pre-Filled or Populated Sample Kilometres on the equipment clearly and
description Sheet carefully along with any other information.
4. At the bottom of the sample description sheet
there is now a facility to put in your own
comments about the sample. For example
“engine oil smells like it has fuel contamination
please check first and let me know ASAP” the
laboratory will instantly act on this comment.
Further to that the comment will also be printed
on your report this will help you maintain a
record of your findings.
What to Do
1. Check the information and change as
2. The purchased Oil analysis Kit will have a
blank Sample Description Sheet provided, in
the bottom left hand corner you will find a K
number Sticker. Remove the K number sticker,
the barcode is the proof of purchase, and place
on the printed pre-filled Sample Description
3. Pack up the Oil sample as you would normally
and send it to the lab as you normally would
with the pre-filled in Sample Description Sheet

The sample description sheet is also available as

an attachment to your email and can also be
available to be sent with the report on completion
of the analysis. This service is available to all at no
extra charge. Hitachi currently use this provision.
This facility enables you as the customer to ensure
the information is 100% correct and takes the
hassle out of filling in the sample Description
Sheet every time.Just a few points
1. If the sample information is not correct this is
the time to change it by simply crossing out the
information and writing it in the white space on
the back of the form (page 2 of the Sample
Description PDF)
2. Fill in any missing blanks that may be present,
as stated above this is the same information
provided in your last report and will be exactly
the same every time you receive a report
unless you change the info.
3. Use your saved time wisely and fill in the
Hours or Kilometres on the oil & the Hours or

Tests Performed for Condition Based Oil
1) Moisture (water) Analysis (ASTM D6304)
2) Particle Size Distribution Analysis (ASTM
3) Retained Solids (ASTM D4898)
4) Total Acid Number (ASTM D975/D664)
5) Viscosity (ASTM D445)
6) Oxidation (ASTM E2412) 2.2 Particle Size Distribution Analysis.
7) Nitration (ASTM E2412) Using a light scattering principle, particle size
8) Wear Elements (ASTM D5185) analysis for the various micron sizes are
 Iron computed. A good Particle Size Analyser utilises a
 Chromium laser scanner and can detect particles from 2 to
 Copper 400 microns. Results are presented utilising SAE
 Lead AS4059 or ISO 4406 cleanliness level codings.
 Nickel An example of standard particle count ranges and
 Aluminium the required limits areas are as per the diagram.
9) Contamination Elements (ASTM D5185) Establishing the level of cleanliness enables
 Aluminium (contained in dirt) assessment of the filter effectiveness for clear
 Silicon lubricants only. Engine oils, due to the dark
 Sodium opaque nature obtained during use, cannot be
 Potassium analysed in this manner.
10) Additive Elements(ASTM D5185)
 Phosphorus ASTM D6786
11) Total Base Number (ASTM D2896)
12) Pentane Insolubles (Soot) (ASTM D4055)
13) Fuel Dilution (OL1007 – GC)
14) PQ Index (OL1029 – ANALEX)
15) Dispersancy (OL1004)
16) RULER (ASTM D6810/ASTM D6971)
17) Glycol content by GC- HSA (OL1105)

2.1 Water Content by Coulometric Karl

Fischer.(ASTM D6304)
Contamination of an oil based lubricant by water
can damage the metal-to-metal surfaces that the
lubricant is designed to protect. The local frictional
effects within the lubrication system be it hydraulic,
engine, transmission, etc, can cause temperatures 2.3 Retained Solids Content in Hydraulic Oils.
in excess of the boiling point of water which would
Retained or Total solids content of hydraulic oil is
in effect cause steam cleaning of the oil away from
also determined by filtration to 1 micron. By
the surfaces. The boiling of the water or moisture
passing the oil through a filter membrane all
can also promote oxidation in the oil and be
particles larger than 1 micron are retained. The
blamed for corrosion and poor lubrication on the
filter is then weighed and a weight of the filtered
metal surfaces. Moisture can be sourced from the
material will give us through a calculation the
atmosphere when the compartment is cooling
Retained solids content. Various applications of
down, engine blow by gasses and coolant leaks.
hydraulics will dictate acceptable solids content
but usually retained solids content in excess of

500 parts per million by weight (0.05 %) is
considered unacceptable and will indicate that the
oil filtration system is either by-passing or
ineffective and requires attention. 2.6 Oxidation
Lubricants will oxidise when exposed to air or
2.4 Neutralisation Number or Total Acid products of combustion in engine oils. The
Number oxidation level can be determined using infra-red
The Neutralisation number of an oil is calculated signatures of the lubricant and any increase in
as the amount of acid OR base necessary to make oxidation from the “new oil” value is a measure of
the lubricant chemically neutral. The main how the oil is standing up to the harsh
Neutralisation Number value used is the Total Acid environment in which it must operate. The smaller
Number (TAN) and this is a measure of the oils the number quoted in the report, the lower the
acidity expressed in the same terms as the TBN amount of oxidation. Conversely a high oxidation
value (2.11). level will indicate the likelihood of the oil thickening
and eventual failure of the lubricated component
TOTAL ACID NUMBER (ASTM D664) due to a lack of effective lubrication. In
AND TOTAL BASE NUMBER (ASTM applications where the lubricant has only minimal
exposure to air such as sealed gear compartments
D2896) ANALYSIS BY AUTO- and hydraulic systems, the oxidation level would
TITRATOR not be expected to increase to the same extent as
occurs in engine lubrication. As such, the lubricant
life is generally longer in these compartments than
in engines. Oxidation preventing additives, called
oxidation inhibitors or anti-oxidants, are generally
incorporated into most formulations to counteract
the effect that oxygen and heat, the major cause of
the oxidation, have on the lubricant.
2.7 Nitration
2.5 Viscosity for Liquid Lubricants. A major component of air is the gas Nitrogen. In
extreme cases, it can react with the lubricant and
Viscosity measurements of new and used oil oxygen to produce an effect called Nitration. In
characterise the lubricant as to its grade. Viscosity compartments such as gear boxes or hydraulic
grades are listed as SAE or ISO. systems, the nitration effect would be minimal
The thickness of an oil is graded and calculated as since the exposure to air and high heat (>300 deg
the Viscosity in mm2/s (Centistokes). ISO oils are C) is rarely encountered. However, in the
specified at 400C. SAE oils are specified at 1000C. combustion process in engines, the temperatures
The Viscosity Index of the lubricant is a calculated exceed 600 degrees C. Oxygen, Nitrogen, fuel and
value based on the viscosity values at 400C and lubricating oil combine to form nitration products
1000C. Again, like the viscosity value itself, the VI including nitrogen oxides which by and large are
can be used to characterise or confirm the identity exhausted to atmosphere. Some can however,
of a lubricant as mono-grade or multi-grade. find its way past the rings and into the crankcase.
Once in the crankcase the nitration product will
AUTOMATIC CANNON VISCOSITY combine with soot, oxidation and sulphation
DETERMINATIONS AT 40 AND 100oC products The nature of the soot (carbon formed by
(ASTM D445) incomplete combustion of the fuel) is such that
nitrogen oxides and nitration products are
absorbed and retained in the sump oil. Again, as in
the case of oxidation, the infra-red signature of the
lubricant shows the extent of presence of nitration.
As would be expected, the value for a new oil is
low and would reflect the relatively small amount
of nitrogen based products formulated into the
lubricant as anti-oxidants. As the soot content of
the used oil increases, so does the nitration level.

AUTO-FOURIER TRANSFORM INFRA-RED associated with silica can indicate dirt. If
ANALYSIS ASTM E2412 aluminum is found in hydraulic systems, it could
generally be assumed it comes from dirt ingestion.
Aluminum in final drives can only be dirt or sand.
Some bearings can include aluminium (eg
refrigeration compressor bearings and some main
engine bearings)
Tin is a metal used in soft alloys of bronze in
combination with lead. It is generally present in
small amounts in hydraulic pumps. However, when
tin is present in engines, it is usually associated
with lead and copper to indicate bearing wear.
Lead is a very soft metal used in alloys in
combination with tin for engine bearings and
bushings. Lead is present in hydraulic pump alloys
2.8 Wear Elements as well. Highly oxidized engine oils attack bearing
material, which increases lead readings.
Iron can be present as fine particles produced by
abrasion or wear, but also as iron oxides Nickel it is seldom seen in oil analysis but when it
associated with the presence of water or a shows up it is an indication of turbocharger cam
corrosive reaction to additives. Iron generally plate wear.
comes from the liners in engines or from hydraulic Titanium is not a typical wear metal present in oil
cylinders, pumps, lines and reservoirs in hydraulic analysis from construction equipment. Some
systems, and from planetary gears and carriers in traces are possible from some alloys. Titanium in
final drives and differentials. the form of titanium oxides can be found in oil
Chromium is a very hard metal wear particle analyses as a contaminant from operation in
produced by engine piston rings. Chromium bauxite mines. Some industrial equipment
readings indicate that something harder than it is reservoirs have in the past been painted. As
present, namely silica or alumina (sand). It can titanium dioxide is used as a paint filler, titanium in
also be produced in new engines during the run-in oils may indicate break-down of the paint allowing
period, Chromium in hydraulic systems is typically particles to be present in the oil.
from valve spools or cylinder rods; it is also
produced by harder abrasives. Chromium is also 2.9 Contamination Elements
found in final drive and differential bearings.
Silicon is the principal component of dirt and it is
Copper is a soft metal from bronze alloys that are found in its natural and oxidative form as silica. It
present in engines, hydraulic pumps, differentials, is harder than any metal used in mobile equipment
final drives, and in cooler cores. In engines, its and can scratch hard surfaces easily. In new
presence could be caused by a coolant core or engines, its presence could indicate liquid silicon
water pump leak, but also from thrust washers in material used as sealant during assembly. It
the camshaft, rocker arm or piston wrist bushings. typically washes out after first oil change. Silica
When present with Glycol (in association with (the oxidative form of silicone) appears in nature
potassium and sodium) it could be coming from associated with alumina in a typical 5 to 1 ratio.
the oil cooler. When it is associated with lead Silicon up to approximately 10-15 ppm may reflect
and/or tin, but without glycol traces, it is an presence of silicone oil based anti-foam additive.
indication that it is being sourced from the
bearings/bushings. New oils can promote high Aluminum is generally present in association with
copper generation during run-in periods, ranging silica in a 1 to 5 ratio and enters together with dirt.
from 10 to 100 parts per million or more, Larger It enters the system in its oxidative form as
generation of copper is typically triggered by alumina, or in combination with silicon as
water, silica (dirt), high temperature operation and aluminium silicate and it is extremely hard.
most importantly, by additive incompatibility from Aluminum is the most abundant metal in the world.
fluid mixing. Copper is also found in final drives Potassium may be present in coolant formulations
equipped with park brakes and slip spin/diff lock and it is not an additive for engine oils as such,
differentials, or from thrust washers. although some small readings of about 1 to 2 parts
Aluminum is a wear element that generally comes per million (ppm) could sometimes be present.
from pistons in engines. High aluminum When combined with other elements such as
sodium, molybdenum or boron it is an indication of
coolant contamination.
Sodium may also be present in coolant
formulations but also in many salts, or seawater. In
small amounts it may be found as an additive,
however, if its presence is associated with
potassium and/or boron and/or molybdenum it is a
generally an indication of coolant contamination.
2.10 Additive Elements
Boron is an EP (extreme pressure) additive but it
is also found in coolants. Boron without the
presence of potassium is an indication of an
Barium as barium petroleum sulphonate can be
used as a detergent in oil formulation as well as
corrosion inhibitors. Metals are analysed using an instrument called
Inductively Coupled Plasma Optical Emission
Calcium as calcium petroleum sulphonate is a
Spectrophotometer (ICP-OES). Argon gas is
detergent. It cleans carbon deposits from engines
excited electrically and produces a plasma with a
and acts as a corrosion inhibitor and dispersant.
temperature of between10,000 and13,000oC into
When burnt, calcium additives have an ash
which the sample is sprayed. Elements all have
content of generally >1% in engine oil formulations
specific wavelengths the data collected is
Magnesium as magnesium petroleum sulphonate allocated to each of the wavelengths selected to
is also a detergent that leaves generally < 1% ash. give the metal content in parts per million.
It reacts with sludge and varnish to neutralize them
2.11 Total Base Number for Engine Oils.
and keep them soluble.
Corrosion inhibitors are added to counter acidic
Molybdenum may be present in some oil
effects on metals. In engine oils, reserve alkalinity
formulations as a solid lubricant additive
is included in the formulation to neutralise acids
(molybdenum disulfide) and may be used as an
formed by combustion. This is reflected by the
additive in grease. Soluble molybdenum additives
Total Base Number (TBN) of an engine oil.
are added to formulations in some cases also.
The TBN value of an oil is calculated from the
Sodium is found as an additive in some instances
amount of acid that is required to counteract its
as a detergent.
basic characteristics. The TBN is expressed as
Phosphorus is found in extreme pressure (EP) as the Equivalent mass in milligrams (mg) of
well as in anti-wear /anti-oxidant additives and potassium hydroxide (KOH) per gram of the oil.
friction modifiers in engine oils, hydraulic fluids and
gear oils.
2.12 Pentane Insolubles or Soot Content.
Sulfur is found in extreme pressure additives in
combination with phosphorus. The laboratory can also monitor the amount of
detrimental soot contained in an engine oil by
Zinc is part of ZDDP (Zinc Dialkyl Dithio
filtration of the material insoluble in a solvent
Phosphate) additive that acts as an anti-wear, anti-
called Pentane. This filtration is at 0.8 micron in
corrosive and anti-oxidant additive.
size, on the basis that material less than 0.8
micron would not be likely to cause problems. The
material removed is weighed and expressed as a
percentage of the oil. Values below 0.35 % by
weight are usually considered acceptable in the
normal service interval for a diesel engine.
Levels of at or above 0.35 % by weight indicate a
detrimental effect on the oil and reflects “elevated
sooting” which may be caused by poor ring seal.
Some of root causes of these detrimental effects
could be excessive periods of idle running, cold
running, or fuel washing the oil seal away in cases

of defective injectors and this in turn could be 2.14 PQ Index
evidenced by increasing viscosity and depletion of When wear occurs in equipment, the particles
anti-oxidant and dispersant additive. An increase resulting from the wear process can be of several
in viscosity at 100oC can lead to deterioration in types, namely:
the lubrication efficiency which can effect correct
operation of bearings, cams/lifters. Consideration Normal Wear - small wear particles due to typical
of change-out of the oil at this stage would be welding/breaking cycle as outlined in earlier
recommended depending upon other results of discussions
analysis. The soot content can be checked as Significant wear - medium sized particles causing
TOTAL SOOT by using a technique known as gouging of metal and resulting in larger than
THERMOGRAVIMETRIC ANALYSIS which is normal particles being generated. These in turn
commonly referred to as TGA Soot. become the cause of even larger particle
2.12 Fuel Dilution by Gas Chromatography. Severe Wear - large particle occurrence which
may reflect presence of metal particles due to
Fuel dilution in an engine oil can be caused by fatigue fracture or pitting of the metal components.
several factors. Determining the extent of the This production of large metal chips can in turn
contamination by fuel by accurate means is induce enough wear to cause further disintegration
essential for the effective monitoring of engine and rapid onset of failure.
performance. Gas Chromatography can precisely
determine the fuel dilution in a lubricant to as low Since most of the metal fragments referred to in
as 0.2% v/v by separating and quantifying the the above wear scenarios are iron in nature, the
actual fuel content. Other methods employed in effect of the particles on a magnetic field can be
the past included approximation from flash point used to detect the type of wear. Small fragments
values to an accuracy of + or - 4%. In instances would, as expected, have the least effect on a
where the 2 stroke engine of the Detroit type are magnetic field, while the large chips of iron would
used, the 4% margin can be the difference be expected to have a large effect. The instrument
between engine failure or not. This is due to used in the laboratory for determination of Particle
excessive fuel in the oil which can have the effect Quality (PQ), measures the effect of the wear
of thinning it out to an unacceptable level. particles on a magnetic field. When calibrated on
known standards, an index or relationship number
Although indication of fuel dilution can be can be produced and from this the criteria for
determined from viscosity values in some satisfactory, significant and severe wear can be
instances, “sooting”, another product of incomplete determined and reported as the PQ Index.
combustion of the fuel, can have a thickening
effect of the oil and thereby disguise fuel dilution 2.15 Dispersancy.
problems. Dispersant additives are incorporated in engine oil
formulations to ensure that minimal accumulation
of contaminants that result in sludging will occur.
Sludging is the combination of mainly moisture
and soot or wear debris from the engine. It can
adversely affect the engine operation through filter
plugging, deposition on moving surfaces and by
thickening of the oil to an extent that incorrect
lubricant supply will result.
Dispersancy is simply assessed using the “blotting
paper” test and is adjudged as:
GOOD Satisfactory dispersant properties in oil.
FAIR Unsatisfactory dispersant properties. An oil
change is required. Normally, other parameters of
analysis will be adverse.
POOR Totally unacceptable or no dispersant
PE Clarus Gas Chromatograph properties in oil. Oil in this state will be considered
overdue for change and will also be reflected in
adverse test results in other areas.

2.16 RULER measurement of Anti-Oxidant vapours collected are measured by gas
Content chromatography. Another method by Fourier
Oils, with the exception of EP Gear Oils, in general Transform Infra-Red (FTIR) analysis is unreliable
have one or more Anti-oxidants (AO) included into and subject to many interferences from oxidation
their formulation. AO’s are sacrificial additives in products in the oil as well as moisture.
that they are the first to be consumed in their
function of protecting the equipment that is
lubricated and more specifically the oil itself. It
stands to reason therefore that monitoring the AO
level in an oil (or grease) can provide data that
permits accurate determination of how much life
the oil still has. This saves money to maintainers
by using the oil until it can no longer satisfactorily
protect the lubricant (usually when the RULER AO
value is less than 30% of the new value) which
from past experience may be significantly longer
than the recommended service change-out. If the
AO levels are being severely depleted in a shorter
time frame than expected, then proactive
maintenance to rectify a potential problem can
also be reflected in saving by the reduction of
unscheduled down-time.

The RULER (Remaining Useful Life Evaluation

Routine) uses a small amount of the in-service
lubricant reacted with a special solvent based
chemical and then compared to a sample of new
lubricant of the same type and grade reacted with
the same type of special solvent based chemical.
The amount of remaining active Anti-oxidant
additive compared to the new sample give the %
of Remaining Useful Life (%RUL)

2.17 Glycol by gas chromatography method

Glycol contamination in an engine due to coolant
leakage is a major problem and requires accurate
and reproducible assessment. One method is by a
process called Head Space Gas Chromatographic
Analysis. A sample of engine oil is heated above
the boiling point of glycol (180-200oC) and the
A dictionary definition of lubrication is “...the
process of smearing with oil, grease, etc to reduce
friction”. Probably as good, a definition as you
might find from conventional sources, but-
 What is Lubrication?
 What properties are required in a lubricant?
X 200 X 100
 What can affect these properties and how
can these effects be monitored to
maximise lubricant and equipment usage? By adding motion, the asperities on the surfaces
3.1. FRICTION would generate enough heat to weld, the
Friction is an accumulation of Forces that tend to continued application of the force would cause the
prevent motion between surfaces that are weld to stretch and break leaving new, similar
designed to move relative to each other. The asperities generated on the surfaces. Metal
extent of these frictional forces directly relates to particles can also break off which can then act as
the load placed on the surfaces. The smaller the an abrasive leading to an accelerated process of
Area Of Contact , the greater the effect of the Load “wear”. It is obvious that the effects of these
per square millimetre On rough surfaces, this is surface peaks must be reduced. Lubrication
further increased. choice is critical to avoid asperities coming into
contact with each other, hence lowering friction
For example, consider the bearings in an internal and decreasing the amount of potential.
combustion engine, mating gear teeth in a gearbox
or the piston of a hydraulic ram. In each of these ADHESIVE WEAR WELD FRACTURES
cases, surface roughness is a critical factor. A
simple example of the effect of surface roughness
on motion is to place two files, one on top of the
other on a bench with a load on top of them. Try to
slide the top file out from beneath the load. It is ADHESIVE WEAR DEBRIS FROM A TRANSMISSION
difficult to achieve the desired motion. 120X MAGNIFICATION

If you take a very close look at even the

“smoothest” surfaces that would be encountered in
engineering applications, each surface would
consist of microscopic high and low spots. The
metal-to-metal contact would only be on these
high spots (called asperities) with the consequent
point loading similar to the “files example”. Point
loading leads to a High Coefficient Of Friction. viz. There are three main types of friction-reducing
look at the ball bearing surface. Under normal materials and these can be used singularly, or in
vision the ball looks, and feels, very smooth. A combination as the application requires
100X magnifications shows that the surfaces They are:
shows “grooves on the surface which look more  LIQUIDS
pronounced at 200X magnification. The edges of
the grooves are the high spots (asperities) and  SEMI-SOLIDS
when mated with corresponding surfaces of the  SOLIDS
inner and outer races with their asperities due to The liquid type material is generally employed
surface roughness, friction can occur leading to where it can be easily contained and relatively
heat and wear. protected from external contamination. These
include Oils (vegetable, petroleum, synthetic), or
other fluids such as water or solvents in
combination with additives. For simplicity only, This process is known as Hydrodynamic
consider all of these liquid lubricants as acting in a Lubrication.
similar manner.
A liquid can be considered as consisting of
“slippery balls” that are able to slip and slide over
each other but are nevertheless “stuck” together. If
the size of the balls can represent the thickness of
the lubricant (viscosity), the method of providing a
lubricant film can be explained.

0000000000000000000000000000 The fluid film, which develops pressures sufficient
0000000000000000000000000000 to carry the load and hence permit motion, is
0000000000000000000000000000 increased due to the “wetted” surfaces dragging
more “slippery balls” (molecules) between the
surfaces when these commence rotating.
A situation will be arrived at which the maximum
By forcing the “balls” between the surfaces which film thickness is achieved. The oil molecules can
are to move relative to each other, the asperities be considered as a wedge that continually
effect can be overcome to varying degrees supplies replacement lubricant to maintain this film
depending on the “size” of the “balls”. If the thickness. The faster the rotation, the greater the
lubricant is too thin, the balls cannot fully support separation un til a balance is acheived.
the load and keep the surfaces apart sufficiently to Conversely, as the rotation slows down the film
permit unimpaired motion. So if one of the two diminishes. The same principle applies to meshing
surfaces is harder than the other, it is logical that gears.
the softer material will be gouged away by the
asperities of the harder material. Microscopic A term “Molecular Shearing” should be mentioned
particles of the worn material will be picked up by at this point. The forcing of the lubricant molecules
the lubricant and carried around the system. between the surfaces causes a strain on the
molecules which are primarily long chain
Better surface separation can be achieved with a hydrocarbons. If the strain applied is great enough,
thicker lubricant made of bigger “balls” that are still usually associated with elevated temperatures,,
small enough to slide over each other while still the molecule can break. With normal paraffin oils
being in contact with the surfaces at all times. The the Shear Stability is good. The oil molecules
surfaces are constantly “wet” with lubricant. possess great bond strength. With Viscosity Index
Even thicker lubricants can maintain a satisfactory (VI) improved oils however, this is not necessarily
surface separation but the “balls” may be too large the same. VI improvers are generally very large
to maintain constant surface “wetness” during molecules, considerably larger than oil molecules.
motion. With a fixed clearance dictated by the They may be considered as being “coiled up” in
applied load to the surfaces, the “balls” cannot the rest position. Under load and heat, the
squeeze into the gap. molecule uncoils and stretches initially leaving it
3.2. HOW IS THE LUBRICANT FORCED weakened and further loading can cause the
BETWEEN THE SURFACES? molecule to “shear” into smaller coiled up
molecules. This results in a thinner oil with all its
A lubricant film will adhere to surfaces upon which consequences concerning boundary layer
it comes in contact. This is referred to as Boundary thickness mentioned earlier. It follows that VI
or Thin Film lubrication. It is the main source of improved oils may not necessarily be a good
lubrication in equipment upon starting from rest. In option in areas of high shear potential such as
this case the asperities can and will make contact gear boxes and transmissions.
and wear occurs. As the relative motion between
the surfaces increases, particularly rotational Consider now the semi-solid lubricant case.
motion, the boundary lubrication film is increased Grease is the most common semi-solid lubricant
as the lubricant is forced between the surfaces. and is mainly comprised of oil that has been
artificially thickened with soap or clay earth such
as bentonite. Greases are generally employed
where problems associated with containment of a engines, the VI is an important parameter. VI of
liquid lubricant are encountered. Open gear around 100 is indicative of a paraffin base which is
lubrication can also incorporate “tackifiers” to oxidation resistive. Lower VI’s can be tolerated
make the lubricant adhere to the gear teeth during where the operating environment is not subjected
their operation. The “ball” analogy previously to the same amount of temperature variation or
described for liquid lubricants is also applicable to possibility of external contamination such as in a
semi-solid lubricants. gear-box or hydraulic system. However, for the
The solid lubricant method of friction reduction stability factor among others, paraffin base oils are
entails “filling-in” the surface imperfections with a preferred for these applications.
material that has a good load bearing capability Fuel Dilution in engine lubricants can severely
but can easily shear when motion is commenced. affect viscosity measurements and hence will also
Consider again the “file” example. Place two affect VI. The greater the fuel dilution level, the
plastic sheets between the files and relative greater the effect on viscosity. Moisture
motion of the files is considerably easier to contamination can also affect the viscosity values
achieve. to an unpredictable extent in some severe cases.
Typical examples of such solid lubricants are This will also affect VI. Solid contamination such
Molybdenum Disulphide, and Graphite. Both of as soot will be encountered in most engine
these materials have structural characteristics that operations. A small amount of soot (or Pentane
can be portrayed as a deck of playing cards. The Insolubles) will not have any undue effect on the
deck can support a considerable top load, while oil viscosity but as this level increases the viscosity
motion can still be achieved due to the low shear and VI can be rapidly changed. It should be noted
strength of the material. Molybdenum Disulphide that the effect of soot is more pronounced at
has a load carrying capability greater than 5 times higher temperatures than at low.
that of steel and yet has a very low shear strength If lubrication was only concerned with reducing
that permits motion by layers of the Molybdenum friction by selection of correct lubricant viscosity
Disulphide sliding over each other while supporting and VI, the problem would be relatively clear cut.
the load. Coatings such as these can be applied However, in the service life of the lubricant other
by bonding processes for completely dry factors are involved which cause varied oil
lubrication applications, or they can be and are degradation. Some of these factors include:
successfully incorporated into formulated liquid  Dust particles that by-pass seals & air filters.
lubricants that combine the attributes of both solid  Varnishes and gums formed in fuel
film and liquid lubrication. Mention should also be combustion.
made of the introduction between the rough  Water formed by fuel combustion and
surfaces of plastic type materials such as “Teflon” condensation.
that have applications in some instances.  Wear metals due to aspirate abrasion.
Extensive research has been carried out in liquid  Burnt lubricating oils scraped from the cylinder
lubricants, including those that incorporate the wall linings.
advantages of solid lubricants. The main thrust of  Fuel and carbon particles from incomplete
such research has been in establishing the correct combustion.
lubricant thickness under varying environmental  Sulphur and nitrogen oxides from combustion
conditions. Accordingly, recommendations of of fuel.
lubricant Viscosity (the term used for lubricant  Organic acid formation by oxidation of oil
thickness) should be adhered to rigidly. While the during operation.
viscosity of the lubricant at one temperature may  Trapped air due to agitation.
be satisfactory to maintain the desired clearances,  Coolant leakage through leaking or cracked
it is the lubricant’s ability to maintain these gaskets, heads or liners.
clearances at higher temperatures that determines While the majority of these contaminants
the lubricant’s suitability. generated by fuel combustion are exhausted
The variation of the viscosity of a lubricant with through normal operation, a certain proportion will
temperature is called its Viscosity Index (VI). An find its way past the rings and into the crankcase
oil with the least amount of variation of viscosity and monitoring this may enable appropriate early
with temperature has the highest VI while warning of severe damage to be made.
conversely the greater the variation the lower the Hydraulic and transmission oils do not have such a
VI. In instances where wide temperature ranges problem of massive assault by possible external
can be experienced such as internal combustion contaminants, but some of the above are most
pertinent. Moisture by condensation caused by per million (ppm) (0.0050%) and a sulphur level of
systems “breathing” moist air on cooling is a major 10 ppm or 0.0010% has been mandated. for 2009.
problem in hydraulics, transmissions and drives. . The effect of sulphur oxides from combustion
The discrete particles of water can vaporise due to entering the crankcase area is, therefore, greatly
operating temperatures induced by fluid film and reduced and as such the conventional diesel oil
metal to metal friction and force lubricant away TBN value of up to 8 is quite suitable in providing
from the surfaces requiring lubrication. It is also a the required protection in a correctly operating
cause of corrosion in the compartments. Dust engine. When the TBN has dropped to 50% of
ingress through breathers and poor seals is also its original value, the lubricant’s reserve alkalinity
damaging due to its abrasiveness. Accurate is considered to be reduced to an unacceptable
monitoring of these contaminants is the key to level requiring that the oil be changed. This 50%
planning maintenance effectively. reduction, by virtue of the lower fuel sulphur, will
3.3. ADDITIVES rarely be met in modern diesel engines. A better
gauge of how long the oil should remain in service
To counteract the majority of ill-effects that is by monitoring of the AO level in the oil by
contaminants cause, additives are incorporated in RULER.
the oil formulations.
In short, the modern lubricant has been designed
3.3.1 Detergent additives clean deposits from and formulated to meet the harsh environment of
inside engines while the dispersant additive modern equipment. Contaminants, including most
keeps what is cleaned separated to avoid after-market additives can “Unbalance” the
“sludging”, particularly when moisture is present. lubricant and can result in less than optimum
3.3.2 Anti-Oxidant (AO) additives are widely performance in its duty.
used in oil formulations to provide chemical
protection to oil wetted surfaces as well as
providing protection to the base oil of the lubricant 3.4. FILTERS
to permit it to continue its major function of Removal of contaminants is necessary to extend
carrying the additives to the areas that need them the service life of lubricants. This is achieved by
and maintaining the fluid film gap between the filtration. There are many types of filters on the
moving surfaces. market and most employ cellulose or paper
3.3.3 Anti-foaming additives prevent bubble elements as the filtering medium. Some of these
persistence that may cause lack of lubricant to mediums claim filtration to 0.1 micron. Cotton is
critical locations. also used in by-pass filters with filtration rates of 2-
5 microns being generally quoted. External
3.3.4 Anti-wear additives chemically treat the “kidney-loop” filtration has become a viable means
metal surfaces and make them “slippery”. of maintaining a clean compartment and extending
3.3.5 Pour Point Depressants In some the life of the equipment lubricated as well as the
instances, cold temperatures can be experienced lubricant itself.
that could freeze lubricants, consequently an All filters will reduce the solid matter contamination
additive is incorporated that enables the oil to pour to the appropriate micron size without detriment to
at low temperatures. the properties of the lubricant, that is they cannot
3.3.6 Corrosion inhibitors are added to counter remove the additives from the oil formulations.
acidic effects on metals. In engine oils, reserve Even polymers employed as viscosity index
alkalinity is included in the formulation to neutralise improvers and tackifiers will pass through the
acids formed by combustion. This is reflected by filters as they are dissolved in the oil base. A good
the Total Base Number (TBN) of an engine oil. rule of thumb to use when considering filtration is:
3.3.7 Oxidation inhibitors are also necessary to “If It Can Be Removed By Filtration It Shouldn’t
prevent deterioration of the lubricant due to the Be There”.
action of moisture, air and temperature on it.
A detergent/dispersant additive in an engine
FUEL SULPHUR EFFECT ON ENGINE OILS lubricant formulation works Physical Attraction to
Mention should also be made of the effect that the contaminants such as particulate matter and
sulphur content makes on the TBN of the oil. water. When a filter medium stops particles of a
Sulphur is becoming less prevalent in engine fuels size greater than its rated size, some
due to the environmental concerns of the exhaust detergent/dispersant may be initially, temporarily
emissions from diesel fuelled engines. The sulphur held back due to its adherence to the particle.
removal by legislation at the refinery has However, this adhesion may be broken by the oil
effectively reduced the sulphur level to 50 parts flow through the filter, leaving the particle
entrapped in the medium. The detergent is then  CHEMICAL properties of the lubricant e.g.
free to continue its function. TBN or TAN value,
With modern engine lubricants, the filters will halt  AO levels (%RUL) to ensure proper levels
only particles of size greater than its micron rating of protection are maintained
due to the strong concentration of dispersancy  LEVEL OF CONTAMINATION of the
resulting in good adherence to particulate matter. lubricant e.g. Water content, Dirt content,
Ideally, a filter rated at 5 microns or less is Acidity Values
required to protect the 5-10 micron fluid film
thickness normally encountered in the lubricated  EXTENT OF WEAR METAL
region. However, this fineness of filtration may PRODUCTION e.g. Iron, Copper, Lead,
cause oil flow problems and these filters are Aluminium, Chromium, Tin etc.
generally placed in a by-pass mode with the The individual analysis of a lubricated
normally rated 25 micron filter left in full flow. compartment will provide a significant amount of
Protection of a system from premature wear can information concerning the operation of the
be attained by filtering out particles of as small a lubricant and more importantly, the condition of the
size as possible and should be exercised where equipment lubricated. If conducted on a regular
appropriate. basis, Trends will appear that will typify individual
As filtration of Hydraulic, drive and Transmission items of equipment.
oils is also utilised, the life of filters and lubricants Trends established for “normal” operation are a
should also be monitored for effective control of useful guide in interpretation of results. Actual
maintenance in these compartments. The work of trends developed from several (at least three)
the NASA programmes for fluids used in aircraft analyses on the same equipment compartment will
applications has provided the general lubricant establish criteria for “Normalcy” of that specific
market with a Cleanliness Rating Level which can compartment. For this important reason, accurate
allow decisions to be made about oil cleanliness timing, top-up quantities, lube type and operating
and filter effectiveness. ISO (International location information is essential in providing you
Standards Organisation) codes have also followed with an effective service.
suit. Although the lubricant is still considered the
Society of Aerospace Engineers Aerospace cheapest replaceable item in large plant and
Standard (SAE AS) 4059 particle size analysis equipment, the oil has a finite cost, both to
levels up to 10 are generally acceptable for normal purchase as well as dispose of, and to obtain full
operation in most applications of Hydraulic and value, the oil should be changed out only when it
Transmission Fluid. Greater than level 10 could can no longer effectively protect the oil and the
indicate that the filters are blocked and should be moving surfaces. The additive in the oil formulation
replaced. Continued usage at levels greater than that provides this protection is the ANTI-OXIDANT
10 could result in premature wear in the respective which can be measured using RULER.
areas. For drive applications, the cleaner the
system the better but achievement of the levels
expected of hydraulic systems and transmissions
is difficult. Ideally, Condition Monitoring
Programmes should include Particle Size
Distribution analysis for Hydraulic, drives and
Transmission systems that incorporate forced
lubrication and filtration.


To analyse a lubricant for all the additives it
contains is not an easy task even in the unused
state. Of more importance is to analyse the
lubricant to check the:
 PHYSICAL properties of the lubricant e.g.
viscosity and viscosity index

evaporation of filtered coolant and
RULER. weighing the residue.
Metals – Coolants are checked to
determine the metal content by ICP-OES
as for oils. Of particular interest are the
Calcium and magnesium contents as these
contribute to scale formation and are
present in the water content of the coolant.
Corrosion elements such as copper, from
radiator cores, lead from water pump
bearings, iron from crankcase and cylinder
liners and aluminium from some engine
heads should be monitored regularly to
ensure mo abnormal levels of corrosion is
occurring which may be due to low pH
values, other introduced corrosive agents
or depleted anti-oxidant and corrosion
IONS – Chloride ions from water and
sulphate ions from depleted sulphite anti-
oxidants and calcium ions from water
hardness can combine to form scale in
conjunction with other metals. Other ions
that are monitored on a regular basis are
4. OTHER TESTING REQUIREMENTS the additives in the coolant such as nitrate,
4.1. Coolant nitrite borate, silicate and molybdate salts
A significant proportion of engine failures are of sodium and potassium that protect the
attributed to the cooling system and therefore it is system from oxidation and corrosion.
prudent to analysis the coolant from the cooling These contamination ions are determined
system. Other compartments are, in some cases, using an Ion Chromatograph which
cooled and analysis of this coolant should also be identifies the type and quantity of each of
considered by the maintenance planners. Coolants the ions using electrochemical procedures
are tested for against standards. Caution levels of
contamination ion levels are
Glycol Content – A measure of the
glycol content in the coolant to ensure the
anti-freeze capability is intact. This is Chlorides 100 ppm
analysed using Refractive Index and is Sulphate 50 ppm
generally in the range of 25 and 55%. Calcium 5 ppm
pH Value – A measure of the acidity of
the coolant which typically should be Chlorides can cause corrosive products
between 8 and 11. while calcium and sulphate form insoluble
Total Dissolved Solids – Salts and salts that are the pre-cursor to scale
corrosion products are dissolved in the formation.
coolant and will increase during the service
life of the coolant. There can come a time
where the coolant is saturated and
deposits start occurring in the system. This
can lead to localised hot spots as the
hardened sludge is a poor conductor of
heat. Additionally, pitting corrosion can
happen under this scale or hardened
deposit which can rapidly cause holes in
liners. Values greater than 3% dissolved
solids can cause problems. The Total
Dissolved Solids content is determined by
ION CHROMATOGRAPH FOR is to perform the distillation of the fuel to
verify its composition. Contaminants such
COOLANT ANALYSIS as solvents, kerosene etc will show up as
abnormalities in diesel fuel distillation
Water - Water affects lubricity in injector
pumps and injectors if it can get by the fuel
filter. Water, in sufficient quantity can block
fuel filters and starve the engine of fuel. If
allowed to reside in bulk tanks, particularly
marine applications, the water fuel
interface can promote growth of bacteria
and fungus which again can cause rapid
fuel blockage and in some cases corrosion
in the fuel system itself. Checking the fuel
for water content is essential for assessing
fuel quality and the value typically should
be no more than 200 mg/l (ppm) for
efficient engine running.
Retained Solids – Solid contamination can
4.2. Diesel Fuel Tests be present in fuel system in the form, of
scale from storage tanks or dust ingested
Appearance – The appearance of the through breathers. While the vast majority
diesel fuel will give an immediate indication of solids would be captured by filtration, the
of the cleanliness of the fuel. Having presence of solid matter of any more than
shaken the fuel sample it is then visually 100 mg/l (ppm) may be detrimental and if
observed for signs of solid contamination present should be filtered out using
and free water. Any haziness indicates external filtration.
some contamination which is then
quantified in further testing. Microbiological Activity - The bacterial
and fungal infestations mentioned above
Colour – Diesel fuel has a specified colour should be checked frequently to determine
according the colour standards at the whether or not the fuel requires treatment
laboratory. Diesel fuel typically has a colour with a biocide. There should be no fungal
of 1.0 or less when new but as it ages the growth results for satisfactory condition and
colour can darken to greater than 3.0. This only slight amount of bacteria permitted
does not necessarily mean that the fuel is (usually airborne and not resident in the
unusable, but does require characteristic fuel as such).
testing to determine its suitability or
otherwise for use in diesel engines. Flash Point – The flash point of diesel fuel
is specified with a minimum of 61.5oC but is
Density – The density of the fuel is typically in the range of 70 oC to 80 oC. If
specified to be between 0.82 and 0.85 higher than 80 oC the fuel may be harder to
Kg/litre which is deemed to be the range ignite, and if it less than 61.5 oC the product
within which the fuel power is optimised would have to be classified as dangerous
when aligned with the Clean Air Act for goods.
particulates and noxious gaseous
Cetane Index – An indicator of fuel ignition
delay is the Cetane Index. Ignition delay is
Distillation – Diesel fuel is a mixture of the time period elapsed from injection of
aromatic, olefin and paraffin hydrocarbons the fuel to the start of ignition. Cetane
that are designed to, after ignition, burn Index is calculated from density
progressively to deliver the power over the measurement and the recovery
ignition component of the fuel cycle. The temperatures at 10% recovered, 50&
progressive burn evens out the combustion recovered and 90% recovered during the
process and does not put too great a stress distillation test. The higher the Cetane
on the engine components compared to an Index, the shorter the ignition delay.
instantaneous combustion of all the fuel. Conversely the lower the Cetane Index the
Accordingly, a good quality check on fuels longer the ignition delay which can lead to
rough running of the engine and increase  Counteract corrosive materials in the
the likelihood of sludge formation due to oil.
presence of unburnt or partially burnt fuel.  Rapidly eliminate the possibility of air
Cloud Point – Diesel fuel will freeze into a entrapment caused by agitation or in
gel-like substance if the temperature falls some cases cavitation.
too low. A precursor to this gellification is  Remain fluid at normal cold start
called the Cloud Point which is the conditions.
temperature at which the fuel commences  By constant monitoring of the “life
to go hazy due to the formation of the blood” of the compartment, adverse
crystalline structure of some fuel changes can be detected early. In
components which start to fall out of many instances it can permit avoidance
solution imparting a “cloudiness” to the of a catastrophic failure by attending to
fuel. It is important to monitor this a less major problem.
characteristic if there is a possibility of
encountering low temperatures. 5.3 SAMPLING OF LUBRICANTS
Biodiesel Content – With the push to Sampling method is one of the most important
utilise renewable fuels, the introduction of factors contributing to effective scheduled oil
biodiesel into diesel fuel is underway. The analysis. To achieve consistent and meaningful
presence in the fuel of up to 20% biodiesel data, samples must:
is being recommended in some circles,  Be taken at regular intervals.
however, there is currently no specification
that covers this type of fuel (called Diesel  Be free from external contamination.
B20). It has been established that 5%  Be taken at normal operating temperature.
biodiesel will not affect the diesel fuel and  Be sampled in the same manner every
should meet all the diesel fuel time.
specifications. Biodiesel will burn
effectively. 5.3.1 When to sample? Unless specific
information on sampling intervals is supplied in
your operating manual or other brochures, use the
SECTION 5 – LUBRICANT REQUIREMENTS following guide to determine sampling intervals. Engines:
5.1 Engine lubricant must:
Consult the operator’s manual for recommended
1. Clean engine surfaces to prevent build-up
oil change intervals (usually every 250 hours).
of contaminants.
Sample just prior to draining the oil.
2. Disperse these contaminants.
3. Provide correct lubrication film thickness Transmissions, Differentials, Final
throughout the temperature ranges Drives and Hydraulics:
encountered to lubricate and remove heat Initially sample at 250 hour intervals and just prior
from the sites of potential wear. to an oil change as indicated by the operator’s
4. Provide a slippery coating of anti-wear manual. If the results indicate no abnormalities
material on moving surfaces. after 1000 hours of equipment usage, the intervals
5. Counteract corrosive materials in the oil. may be extended to every 500 hours.
6. Rapidly eliminate the possibility of air 5.3.2 Where to sample?
entrapment caused by agitation or in some
cases cavitation. Always draw the sample from the same point in
7. Remain fluid at normal cold start the compartment.
conditions. Engines:
5.2 Transmission, Drive or Hydraulic  Draw sample from dipstick retaining tube.
lubricant must: Transmissions, Differentials, Final
 Provide correct lubrication film Drives and Planetries:
thickness throughout the temperature  Draw sample through oil level point or dipstick
ranges encountered to lubricate and retaining tube, whichever is provided.
remove heat from the sites of potential Hydraulics:
 Provide a slippery coating of anti-wear
material on moving surfaces.
Draw sample from the ‘oil fill’ port of the system normal distribution of data.A normal distribution of
reservoir, ensuring the sample is taken from the data means that most of the examples in a set of
mid-level of the reservoir. data are close to the "average or mean" while
5.3.3 What is an Effective Sampling relatively few results head to the outer
Technique? extremes.We are looking at the data set for an
Excavator Pump drive and the information we are
Ensure all compartments to be sampled are at doing the study is on Iron (Fe). We need to look at
normal operating temperature. the typical data that we have extracted from the Oil
Oil must be well circulated when sampled (within Analysis. Like most data, the outcome from the
15 minutes of shutdown) results will turn out being normally distributed. That
To avoid external contamination, clean all lubricant means that the Iron analysis will be close to the
access areas prior to sampling. “mean” while less Iron results will be lower or
Complete the sample description sheet prior to higher than the
drawing the sample. (Use the guide) “mean”.
Section 6 - Interpretation Tools

6.1 Normalisation
Establishing Testing BenchmarksIntervals need
to be specified to compare “apples with apples”
across the useful life of the equipment.
Oilcheck uses 200 hours or 10,000 Kilometres as
a standard on engines and 500 hours or 25,000
Kilometres on all other compartments.The results
of each oil analysis are weighted proportionately to
fit into the specified category to achieve a
The x-axis (the horizontal one) is the value in
“normalised” set of data as shown in the table.
question... Iron, Copper or even viscosity of the
Results (raw) for Formulae for Normalised
Hrs on oil IRON normalisation result for IRON oils, for example. And the y-axis (the vertical one)
(91 ppm x 200 hrs) is the number of data points for each value on the
235 91 ppm 235 hrs 77 ppm
(82 ppm x 200 hrs) x-axis... in other words, the number of EX1800
216 82 ppm 216 hrs 75 ppm
(93 ppm x 200 hrs)
pump drives that generate x amount of Iron.Now,
182 93 ppm 182 hrs 102 ppm not all sets of data will have graphs that look this
perfect. Some will have relatively flat curves others
The corresponding graph compares “raw” and will be steep. Sometimes the mean will lean a little
“normalised” data. bit to one side or the other. However, all normally
The “normalised” data is then compared with the distributed data will have something like this same
standard deviations to determine the status of the "bell curve" shape.The standard deviation is a
oil. statistic that tells you how tightly all the various
examples are clustered around the mean in a set
of data. If you can imagine the centre of this target
being the mean then all the shots taken around the
centre are spread out in proportional groups 68%
ended up in the middle 27% just out of centre and
1%on the extreme.
When the examples are tightly bunched together
and the bell-shaped curve is steep, the standard
deviation is small. When the examples are spread
apart and the bell curve is relatively flat, that tells
you, you have a relatively large standard

6.2. Standard Deviation

The standard deviation is kind of the "mean of the
mean," and often can help you find the story
behind the data. To assist in this we use the term
Element Mean St dev 0.5 SD 1 SD 2 SD 3 SD
IRON 160.6 113.3 217.2 273.9 387.2 500.5
CHROMIUM 2.7 1.2 3.3 3.9 5.1 6.2
LEAD 29.2 27.1 42.7 56.3 83.4 110.5
COPPER 4.2 3.1 5.7 7.3 10.4 13.6
ALUMINIUM 6.7 4.2 8.8 10.9 15.1 19.3
SILICON 26 13.4 32.7 39.4 52.8 66.2
SODIUM 7.2 4.2 9.4 11.5 15.7 19.9

One standard deviation away from the mean in
either direction on the horizontal axis (the red area
on the graph) accounts for somewhere around 68
percent of Iron results in this group.
Two standard deviations away from the mean (the
red and green areas) account for roughly 95
percent of Iron results.
Three Standard Deviations (the red, green and
blue areas) account for about 99 percent Iron
results.If this curve were flatter and more spread
out, the Standard Deviation would have to be
larger in order to account for those 68 percent or
so Iron results. So that's why the Standard
Deviation can tell you how spread out the results
are in a set from the meanThe computer will
calculate the mean and three levels of Standard
Deviation as shown in the table.
The analysis results are compared with the
Standard Deviation benchmarks to determine the
condition of the oil.The recommendations such as
1xSD, 2xSD, 3xSD 4xSD are valid in some
instances, yet in others a tighter or looser spread
of SD may be selected. For simplicity here, look at
the following:
1. If the results are less than 1 Standard
Deviation, the outcome is analysed as being
“Satisfactory”. For example, having an Iron
result less than 273.9.
2. If the results are between 1 and 2 Standard
Deviations, the result is assessed as being
“Slightly Elevated”. For example, having an
Iron score between 273.9 and 387.2.
3. If the oil has a value exceeding 2 but less than
3 Standard Deviations it is assessed as
4. A value greater than 3 Standard Deviations is
assessed as “High”, with values greater than 4
Standard deviations (not shown) would be
approaching Critical stage..