Steam mechanical Lubricators

Tips on Repairing and Reconditioning Steam Lubricators


| September 2006



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 provided.

1. Excess sediment in oil reservoir, from not being cleaned regularly.

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 at top.