Fridge Compressor Teardown Reveals Engineering Compromises

Probably one of the most reliable devices you will have in your house is the refrigerator, as its compressor has the minimum of moving parts and carries its own lubrication. It’s not uncommon to find fridges many decades old still in use, and fridges are far more likely to be discarded due to broken fittings rather than a failed compressor. An interesting teardown of a failed fridge compressor comes from [turbokinetic], who gives us a professional analysis of how shortcomings in its construction caused it to fail. It’s both an opportunity for a look at the inside of a fridge compressor, and a commentary on the quality of consumer grade hardware.

Electrically the unit seemed unhurt, but the motor wouldn’t pump anything. Cutting the lid off revealed the motor, and it was soon established that the bearing had failed. As the teardown proceeded the conclusion was that the fault lay in the oil being too low viscosity. The designer had picked a very light oil in pursuit of low friction for lower energy consumption, but had ended up with one too light to provide adequate coverage within the bearing. The compressor has a lifetime of around ten years baked into it from manufacture, whether the designer intended it to or not.

You can see the full video below the break, but meanwhile this isn’t the first fridge compressor we’ve seen.

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The Mystery Of Automatic Lubricators Is Revealed

Industrial machines have all kinds of moving parts that require regular lubrication in order to prevent wear and damage. Historically, these would require regular visits from maintenance personnel to keep them greased up and slippery. Automatic lubricators eliminate that job by regularly dosing machines with fresh grease, and [Big Clive] decided to see what makes them tick.

The device can be set to deliver a full load of grease over a period of 1-12 months.

The simplest models merely use a spring to slowly force grease out over time. Changing the spring changes the rate at which grease is dispensed. Chemical versions exist too. A chemical pill is selected and inserted into a chamber with liquid, which releases gas over time. As gas is released, it creates pressure which forces a plunger down, dispensing grease over time.

Perhaps the fanciest versions are the electronic models, however, which have a dial on the back for selecting the rate of grease delivery. Turning the dial changes a resistance that is connected across two zinc-air cells which are sealed. Apparently, when current is forced through these cells and they’re excluded from oxygen, the cells liberate hydrogen gas, according to a patent [Big Clive] found. This then forces down the plunger, dispensing the grease. Turning the dial changes the resistance, changing the rate at which grease is dispensed.

The quest for labor saving in industry has produced multiple designs of automated lubricator, all of which are fantastically simple and optimised for purpose. It shows just how much can be achieved with a few components and some creative thinking, where one’s first impulse might be to reach for a timer or microcontroller to do the job.

Lubrication is incredibly important – don’t forget it when building your CNC machines! Video after the break.

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Big Chemistry: Synthetic Oil

For as long as I’ve been driving, I’ve been changing oil. Longer than that, actually — before I even got my license, I did a lot of the maintenance and repair work on the family car. It seemed natural to do it back then, and it continues today, despite the fact that it would probably be cheaper overall to farm the job out. I keep doing it mainly because I like keeping in touch with what’s going on with my cars.

Oil changes require supplies, but the last few times I made the trip to BigBoxMart I came back empty-handed. I don’t know whether it’s one of the seemingly endless supply chain problems or something else, but the aisle that usually has an abundance of oil was severely understocked. And what was there was mostly synthetic oil, which I’ve never tried before.

I’ve resisted the move to synthetic motor oil because it just seemed like a gimmick to relieve me of more of my hard-earned money than necessary. But now that it seems like I might have little choice but to use synthetic oil, I thought I’d do what normally do: look into the details of synthetic oils, and share what I’ve found with all of you.

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Custom Machined Pump Keeps CNC Lubrication Under Control

Rub two pieces of metal against each other hard enough, and it won’t be long before they heat up sufficiently to cause problems. That’s especially true when one is a workpiece and one is a tool edge, and the problems that arise from failing to manage the heat produced by friction can cost you dearly.

The traditional way of dealing with this is by pumping heavy streams of liquid coolant at the workpiece, but while that works, it creates problems of its own. That’s where minimum quantity lubrication comes in. MQL uses a fine mist of lubricant atomized in a stream of compressed air, which saves on lube and keeps swarf cleaner for easier recycling. The gear needed for MQL can be pricey though, so [brockard] decided to add homebrew MQL to his CNC router, with great results.

The video below shows the whole process, from raw metal to finished system – skip ahead to about 12 minutes if you just want to see final testing, but be warned that you’ll be missing some high-quality machining. The finished pump is a double-piston design, with each side driven by a cam rotated by a servo. An Arduino controls the speed of the motor based on the current settings; the pump is turned on and off through G-code control of a relay.

The lubricant stream is barely visible in the video, as opposed to the sloshing mess of traditional flood coolants, and seems much more suitable for a hobbyist-grade CNC setup. Need to build a CNC router before you build this? You can do much worse than this one.

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