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Progression of Lubricator Technologies

When using advanced machinery, it’s important to have proper lubrication and in order to have proper lubrication, you need an automatically maintained system.  Automatic lubricators ensure that the correct amount of lubrication is applied to bearings at the right times.

Without automation, workers manually service machinery which results in costly over and under lubrication.  At Sloan, we recognize this problem, and it’s why we have spent our many years in the business perfecting these systems.

Inside the Founders’ Room at the Sloan offices, we collect bits of lubrication history.  In this museum-like part of our facility, we display everything from single point systems made by the famous Manzel Brothers in 1899 to vintage multiple pump systems.  The best way to innovate for the future is to understand what was used in the past.

The First Automatic Lubricator

Have you ever heard the phrase “the real McCoy?” Often used to describe “the real thing,” people have been using this saying for many years, and there is a standing theory that it has its origins in the lubrication industry.

In 1872, the first automatic lubricator was developed by Elijah McCoy, as a result of his efforts to improve the performance of steam engines.  His invention was a type of oil-drip that could lubricate train engines while the train was still in motion.

Prior to this innovation, trains’ engines could only be maintained when the train was at a complete halt.  So, during long trips, trains would have to frequently stop and shut down their engines in order to properly lubricate.

McCoy’s automatic lubricators saved time and manpower, and as a result, were in high demand.  Engineers began seeking out “the real McCoy” systems for their train engines, instead of inferior alternatives and imitations.

Multiple Pump Lubricators and Divider Blocks

After McCoy’s discovery of the first single pump automatic lubrication system, systems began to evolve into multiple pump systems.  With multiple pistons, these systems were able to pump oil or grease to specific lubrication points on a compressor.

The use of divider blocks furthered the output of these systems because one pump’s output could be distributed to up to 18 points.  Sloan Lubrication manufactures our very own divider blocks in house, and we are always looking for ways to improve upon their performance.

There have been many innovations in the history of lubrication since Elijah McCoy’s invention of the automatic lubrication system.  Sloan Lubrication is working hard everyday to build safe and reliable lubricators that are becoming a part of that history.


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