Steam mechanical Lubricators
Tips on Repairing and Reconditioning Steam Lubricators
I had the opportunity last winter to repair and
recondition eight Madison-Kipp, Manzel and McCord steam mechanical
lubricators. I had both blind and sight-feed types. During this
endeavor I received a thorough education on these units, as at the
time I had no troubleshooting information of any kind, and I kind
of flew blind.
Prior to the 2005 Pawnee, Okla., Steam School, I contacted my
friend Bruce Babcock, who had a manual for Madison-Kipp published
in 1936. I borrowed it for making copies for the school students.
Here, I am listing the many problems I discovered during the
reconditioning process that are well covered in the manual Bruce
1. Excess sediment in oil reservoir, from not being cleaned
2. Pump discharge valve missing parts, or had steel base and
steel check that were rusted from the terminal check at the steam
pipe ahead of throttle. I made new discharge checks of 360 brass
with 316 stainless ball choice.
3. Broken part: I had two lubricators with the pump eccentric
that swings through 54 degrees while moving the pump piston/plunger
stroke from 0.285 to 0.310 depending on the type, blind versus
sight feed. (The manual information tells you they are not
interchangeable. I found this out prior to getting Bruce's
help. I made new parts from 360 brass and this really tested my
ability as it turned into a geometry and trigonometry chore.)
4. Tubular sight glass leakage/broken: These were replaced with
new 1/2-inch Redline type, new rubber gaskets at bottom and leather
5. Allowed to freeze up: Due to steam condensate leaking past
both checks into the main pump cylinder. (It had to be cleaned
after disassembly and brazed.)
6. Sight-feed-type had the hood deteriorated/missing: It was
replaced with 0.050-inch thick, clear plastic obtained from a hobby
7. Using 1/8- to 1/4-inch pipe, checked for the terminal check
at the steam end. (Note: These were too big and could leak really
bad if getting the smallest of contaminant in the oil. The manual
addresses this as for steam usage; a special one was
8. Filled the pump with oil, primed it by hand to remove the
air, then installed a gauge directly to the discharge check valve
with pipe nipple and coupling to size needed by gauge. The gauge
needs to be at least 250 psi. I used a 600-psi gauge and pumped to
400-500 psi and left them pressurized overnight to verify the new
discharge checks were acceptable and not leaking. This discharge
check is of most importance, because if it does not hold, the pump
will not prime and is rendered useless.
Contact steam enthusiast Harold Stark at: 3215 S.
Meridian St., Indianapolis, IN 46217.