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Old 08-29-2009, 02:54 PM   #1
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Oil cups in 100 year old furnace


Hi All,

I have a 100 year old furnace (literally). It is a coal conversion to natural gas with a blower and cabinett fitted to the back. The blower motor and the squirrel cage blower itself have little brass oil cups with covers on the bearings. I had been using motor oil in them but it seems to be running through alot quicker now (used to be once a month now once a week). I tore it down and the bearings seem fine (no slop) and seem to run smooth. I'm thinking of using a heavier grade motor oil so it doesn't run through as fast. Any suggestions on oil weight to use?

I'll say up front I have no intention of replacing this furnace with an upgrade. the furnace is far more reliable than fancy modern high efficiency furnaces that take an arm & a leg to repair. This 100 year old just keeps doin the job & my worse gas cost was a bit over $200 in January.
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Old 08-29-2009, 04:28 PM   #2
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Oil cups in 100 year old furnace


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It is a coal conversion to natural gas with a blower and cabinett fitted to the back.
What year was it converted?
Motors usually take SAE 10 viscosity.
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Old 08-29-2009, 05:25 PM   #3
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Oil cups in 100 year old furnace


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Originally Posted by Laughingchi View Post
Hi All,

I have a 100 year old furnace (literally). It is a coal conversion to natural gas with a blower and cabinett fitted to the back. The blower motor and the squirrel cage blower itself have little brass oil cups with covers on the bearings. I had been using motor oil in them but it seems to be running through alot quicker now (used to be once a month now once a week). I tore it down and the bearings seem fine (no slop) and seem to run smooth. I'm thinking of using a heavier grade motor oil so it doesn't run through as fast. Any suggestions on oil weight to use?

I'll say up front I have no intention of replacing this furnace with an upgrade. the furnace is far more reliable than fancy modern high efficiency furnaces that take an arm & a leg to repair. This 100 year old just keeps doin the job & my worse gas cost was a bit over $200 in January.
Sounds horribly inefficient, but not having some computerized control board can be a blessing, too. (Why do those boards burn out at the beginning of the coldest two weeks in winter, and always take two weeks to get shipped to you?)

Now, have your grain of salt ready. The following is my two cents worth of down and dirty farm-style tech.

Having a relatively large amount of old motors around, (mostly on or from old wood working equipment), I'm familiar with oil cups. Every old motor I have seen seems to use a worsted wool wick of some sort to distribute the oil to the bearing. Frequently, with age or the use of the wrong oil, the wicks get gummed or burned up, and really, they just seem to wear out after a while no matter what you do. Every old motor I have encountered that wanted frequent oiling seemed to be in need of new "wicks."

For what it's worth, several of my motors bear plates requesting SAE #20 oil, and the ones that have no special requirements run fine off of the #20. It's not typical motor oil, it's machine oil, and non-detergent. You can find it in a little bottle that says 3-in-One Motor Oil (blue bottle). http://www.3inone.com/products/motor-oil/ It's even handy to apply right from the little squirt bottle it's sold in. Regular 3-in-One will work in a pinch, but it seems to be prone to leaving deposits, which are probably the reason behind your current troubles.

I'm not positive about it, but I have cleaned up a couple of motors that had really gummy bearings that I suspect were from someone using the wrong oil. running them for a while with automatic transmission fluid seemed to do a good job of cleaning them up enough to hold larger amounts of the proper oil. They do not come clean by hand at all, so don't take the motor apart to try it, because they will simply be destroyed in the process. (Been there, done that.)

Maybe do a little Googling. Folks who work on and use a lot of old machine tools and wood working equipment tend to know a lot about electric motors, and you'll find stuff posted all over the Internet about what they've tried and how well it works.
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Old 08-29-2009, 07:14 PM   #4
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Oil cups in 100 year old furnace


Hi Yoyizit, I have no idea when it was converted. the house was built in 1909, so I would guess the conversion would be from the late 20s to 30s, possibly later kinda depends how long they used the coal bunkers in the basement. The conversion goes in the ash door.

Hi KAdams4458, ya not too efficient I'm sure but when I inherited a house with a modern 80% furnace , I had nothing but trouble with it (Payne Pain thread). Went through 2 hot surface igniters and a control board. All the while my 100 year old clunker kept my house nice & warm (and trouble free too LoL). The cups have an extremely small hole in the bottom. Even the cup itself in only about 1/2 inch across & about 3/4 inch deep. you may be right about the wicks, any suggestions where I could find something like that?

Thanks guys, I appreciate your thoughts.
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Old 08-29-2009, 07:25 PM   #5
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Oil cups in 100 year old furnace


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I would guess the conversion would be from the late 20s to 30s
Less than 4% get to be that old. . .
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Old 08-30-2009, 08:15 AM   #6
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Oil cups in 100 year old furnace


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Originally Posted by Laughingchi View Post
Hi Yoyizit, I have no idea when it was converted. the house was built in 1909, so I would guess the conversion would be from the late 20s to 30s, possibly later kinda depends how long they used the coal bunkers in the basement. The conversion goes in the ash door.

Hi KAdams4458, ya not too efficient I'm sure but when I inherited a house with a modern 80% furnace , I had nothing but trouble with it (Payne Pain thread). Went through 2 hot surface igniters and a control board. All the while my 100 year old clunker kept my house nice & warm (and trouble free too LoL). The cups have an extremely small hole in the bottom. Even the cup itself in only about 1/2 inch across & about 3/4 inch deep. you may be right about the wicks, any suggestions where I could find something like that?

Thanks guys, I appreciate your thoughts.
Hi don't worry about the year of conversion or the efficiency if you are happy with the equipment. Just read all the posts and pick out the one that makes sense to you. A lot of people try to confuse the issue and do not answer the question asked.
I am sure you will make out OK with the information provided.
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