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daveco2

Housing button lubricant?

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I've read that it's a good idea to periodically put a drop of silicone lubricant around the shafts of the various actuator buttons on a housing to keep the o-rings in good shape?

Is this true?  Any recommendations for a silicone lubricant?

Thanks for any comments,

Dave

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Thanks, Wolfgang.  Much appreciated.

My housing has been working fine; but it's been a few years since I did anything but clean the main O-rings, and was wondering about the button seals,  considered taking all of them entirely apart.  I read this article and was hoping I could get away with simply a drop of silicone fluid.

https://meikon.com.hk/blogs/news/underwater-housing-maintenance

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Probably more than anyone wanted to know, but I thought I'd finish up this topic.

I followed Architeuthis' lead, but the USA was not listed as a country they ship to, so couldn't place the order; and found no way to contact them.

Next, followed the lead given by Meikon in their housing maintenance writeup, what they call "Silicone Pump" to Divetek in S. Africa.  That product had changed names and was now available only as a spray in the US.

I wound up with a product from Amazon, called MicroLubrol 200 Pure Silicone Oil 50 CST viscosity. Turns out, I had done viscosity measurements in my lab and figured that 50 CST would be about right for a lube around push buttons.  So, I'll give this product a try.

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:lol: Fabulous detective work daveco2!

But "I thought I'd finish up this topic...."?  Wishful thinking?

You have to report back on the MicroLubrol 200 Pure Silicone Oil 50 CST viscosity.

Great name.

 

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the very best thing you can do to keep your buttons in good shape is give the housing a good soak and work all of the buttons after each day's diving.  Salt water if it is left to dry in the button cavity forms salt crystals which can damage o-rings and also are highly corrosive as they attract moisture if it's humid and the salt solution is very concentrated.

You also need to be careful about what type of o-ring is used in your housing.  Silicone oil is in fact incompatible with silicone o-rings.  You need to know what type of o-ring is used in your housing.  I believe many housings use butyl rubber o-rings, but some like Nauticam might be silcone rubber.  I don't know what the magic o-ring fluid is it might be something more universally compatible.

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Personally, I would check with Nauticam before spraying silicone oil into the buttons.

And I would be interested in hearing what they say.  Normally they would say use only Nauticam lube, but it can't be realistically applied to the button O rings, so I suspect they will say do nothing.  But it would be interesting to find out.

 

 

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You need tp think about what it is that yu are trying to achieve. If an 'O' ring is dry (and feels as though it isn't operating smoothly, then it needs to be properly lubricated. To do so means dismantling the control, replacing or at least cleaning and relubricating the 'O' ring with the recommended lubricant (as per the manufacturer - lubricants vary). Trying to use any lubricant from the outside should not work because,the 'O' ring is there to prevent water and any other fluids accessing the inside of the housing and so should actually prevent the lubricant from lubricating most of the 'O' ring itself! If it doesn't then it is in need of replacement.

As ChrisRoss said, the best thing to do is to thoroughly wash/soak the housing after diving and work the controls to flush away any salt water to prevent crystals forming and causing physical damage to housing and 'O' rings. But, although its not what many want to hear, routine mainatainece and servicing are needed, again as per the manufacturer's recommendations.

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Posted (edited)

All the great comments much appreciated.

Yes, I always soak my gear in fresh water and work all the buttons.  But having done that for several years now, and regularly regreased the main O-rings, I'm left with the uneasy feeling that the buttons may be running out of lubricant.  I suppose I could try to send my Meikon case back to the factory for service, if they'll accept it; but I don't know exactly what they'll do or how well.  

I do have a vacuum test system for the housing that I regularly use.

My feeling about lubricating the button O-rings comes from having worked with O-rings through a career building high pressure and low pressure gas lasers, and rotating and plunging actuators through high vacuum sliding O-ring seals.  I can imagine that a micro layer of lubricant on a housing button rod would be carried through to the seal surface of its O-ring - a good thing.  

In any event, I have a large stash of O-rings of various compositions: silicone, Buna-N, rubber, and Viton.  My plan is to put the lubricant on each one and see if there is any deterioration or absorption.  In the past, I have used the standard silicone-based vacuum paste made by Dow Corning on all these with no problem.  For high vacuum less than 10^-8 Torr we gave up O-rings and went to soft copper or indium gaskets.

Edited by daveco2
more info
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I applied several lubricants onto some O rings, some years ago, and measured them with a digital caliper before and after. Some of the lubricants, such as silicone, caused the O rings to swell.
I also tested how easily the button shafts slid (moved) past O rings, and found that adding silicone and similar grease made the movement slower.
Since then to clean and maintain my housings I have only used fresh water to remove all the salt, sand and dirt, as Chris Ross recommends. After years of use, the housing buttons and locks work fine, the O rings show no damage.
Conclusion: Fresh water and care to remove all the salt, sand and dirt is all that is needed.  

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I have to agree, it's well established that silicone oil/grease will cause silicone o-rings to swell and you can find compatibility tables for o-rings to get the right lubricant.  It doesn't help that some vendors call all o-ring grease silicone grease.  I would not use any sort of silicone oil on Nauticam housings.  The magic fluid Wolfgang refers to may be something other than silicone oil - maybe fluro-silicone which is more compatible?  My self - I don't see a need to do this.

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Posted (edited)

I have no idea what stuff is in the "magic secrete" Manfred Werner from Unterwasserkamera sells, but just two points:

#1.: The right type of lubricant is certainly important for treating O-rings that are made of different materials. It is, however, the repeated and excessive application of the wrong stuff that makes O-rings swell (I once borrowed a Z-330 to a friend for a diving holiday. He excessively and every day applied ordinary silicone grease to the yellow O-ring. After he gave me the strobe back, I had to replace the yellow O-ring that was severely swollen...).

#2.: The O-rings make a seal for fluids with the surface tension of H2O. The "magic secret" has much lower surface tension and "creeps" into the tiny slots between housing and O-ring. I once had an extension with lock that rested probably too long in the store before I purchased it. The O-ring was try and after every dive there was a small drop of water inside, just where the drilling is. After a single application with "magic secret" from outside, the O-ring sealed perfect...

 

=> I believe that even when the "magic secret" may be the wrong grease (probably it is not), a single application per year will keep the O-rings in good shape and not do any harm (proven now an two Nauticam housings in our household for years). The situation may be different if one would apply the fluid after every dive..

 

Wolfgang

 

 

Edited by Architeuthis

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2 hours ago, Architeuthis said:

> I believe that even when the "magic secret" may be the wrong grease (probably it is not), a single application per year will keep the O-rings in good shape and not do any harm (proven now an two Nauticam housings in our household for years). The situation may be different if one would apply the fluid after every dive..

 

Wolfgang

I'm not doubting the magic secret is appropriate, just that if you can't buy that don't just buy any-old silicone oil and hope that it works.  There are a couple of different lubricants which are universal o-ring lubes and more than likely the magic fluid is based upon one of them.  Ordinary silicone oil is definitely not universal.

You are obviously more trusting than I am, If and I mean if I lent someone a strobe it would come with a tube of lubricant and a strict if it leaks it yours and you buy me a new one!

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Test results.  More than you wanted to know? 

I measured with a micrometer, six O-ring materials for absorption (swelling) with the Microlubrol  50 CST silicone oil and Meikon silicone O-ring grease.  The Microlubrol has the same viscosity as olive oil (50CST), and the grease feels the same as honey (7,000 CST).  

* With Microlubrol: After a week, no change in thickness for Buna-N, Viton, rubber, and wetsuit material.  For a yellow silicone Inon O-ring, 7% diameter expansion.  For a white silicone Meikon O-ring, 12% diameter expansion.  For background, measurement of a dry Meikon O-ring diameter over its length showed a 4.5% variation, max-min.

* With Meikon grease:  After a week, no change in diameter for the silicone Inon or Meikon O-rings.

The various materials were completely submerged in the oil and grease, not the same condition as the line contact for an O-ring around a housing button.  The much higher viscosity of the grease  (140 times) probably explains its lack of absorption.

My view is that lubrication around a sliding shaft seal is important; but that's based on high vacuum experience, quite different from submersion in water.  Nonetheless, I'll be using the Microlubrol.    

Edited by daveco2

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Great work, Dave! Thanks

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I think that regular cleaning is important but lubrication might be necessary as well. If you want to use an oil (not grease) that is universally applicable then you should try some perfluoropolyethers which are the base of things like Tribolube and Molykote and Christolube. Should be non-swelling for any o-ring composition.

Bill

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