Using wire ropes and lubrication

Wire ropes are often used in various different situations within factory and manufacturing settings, amongst others. One of the things we get asked quite a lot is how best wire pore applications can be lubricated so that they

run smoothly with as few problems as possible, along with how often they need to be lubricated.

These are questions that do not have one simple answer because the type of application being used will, to a large extent, dictate how the wire rope is initially lubricated. An example of this would be the wire ropes that are used to support bridges. These tend to remain almost still, which means that there is not much need to relubricate them because they will not be experiencing very much friction at all.

Heavy loads and cranes

On the other hand, wire ropes which will be used for things like hauling heavy loads and in other heavy machine applications will need to be looked at much more carefully if they are to do their job properly and be kept in good condition for as long as possible.

The wire ropes used in cranes, for example, are often fitted with a fibre core, which is covered in oil and then wrapped with strands of wire. The fibre core basically works in the same way as a sponge, draining and releasing lubricant when the wire rope bends or handles a load. The reason why this kind of setup is so good is because the vast majority of wire ropes fail from inside, and this helps to prevent that from happening.

Wire ropes that are not fitted with a fibre core will usually be coated with the correct lube during the manufacturing process. Doing this helps to reduce friction, whilst also coating the surface of the rope – something that minimizes corrosion caused by the external environment in which the rope is kept.

Choosing a lube

Although there are standards available for lubricants in the manufacturing process, they are largely generic, and do not have to be strictly adhered to. You can basically use them as a starting point for choosing a lubricant that suits you where that be from Fuchs, Shell, Mobil or another company entirely. However, you will need to ensure that the lubricant you choose is able to control corrosion, and that it will have the power to get into the core of the wire rope as effectively as possible.


There are several different ways that lubricant can be applied to wire rope. If you are dealing with machinery which has a moveable rope, then drip, spray and trough methods are ideal because they allow you to add lube at one single point and then move the rope to spread the medium through the system.

If, however, ropes are static, brushing or spraying ropes manually will be your best bet.