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The Power of a Clean Machine Sump

Quality coolant is invaluable to the metalworking process. Cutting oils like HOCUT 795-B - a popular coolant for CNC machines, bar machines, lathes, checkers, and various grinders -  are known for their outstanding performance and long sump life. But, the quality of one’s coolant is not reliant on brand alone. A clean machine sump is just as imperative for maintaining the quality performance of your cutting oil.

A dirty machine sump has more consequences than a bad odor. Contamination from tramp oil, mold, and metal chips left over from machining can compromise your coolant. Bacteria that feed off oil and other contaminants can also change the pH of the coolant mixture and lower its effectiveness. The faster the coolant deteriorates, the more money you will spend on new coolant and maintenance.

There are several steps you should follow when cleaning machine sumps:

  • First, empty the tank. Skim the surface of the coolant to remove tramp oil. Drain all fluids and remove debris, such as metal swarf, that has collected in the tank. 
  • Then, fill the tank and the pumping system with water and cleaning concentrate. Circulate the cleaning solution through the system for at least two hours for the best results.  
  • Drain the tank and refill the system with water. Pump the water through the system to rinse, and drain again. 
  • Now add water to “charge the system” along with new or treated coolant. Pump the fluids through the system to mix them properly. 

Coolant that has been treated and filtered can be put back into a clean tank to ensure a longer sump life. Even the best coolants on the market, like HOCUT 795-B, can be greatly compromised by a poorly maintained machine sump. Not only will removal of chips and debris keep your coolant clean, it will also give you a more accurate indication of how much coolant is actually in the tank.

For more information, you can watch a tutorial on machine sump cleaning procedures here. To purchase vital cuttings oils like HOCUT 795-B, click here.

Choosing the Right Cutting Oil

Without using the appropriate cutting oil for the type of metal and metalworking you wish to do, drilling, grinding, broaching, and other methods of metal machining can result in unwanted wear, oxidation, and chip weld. Costly wear is avoidable if certain criteria are considered, such as operating speed or lubricant formula. Since the right cutting oil can make all the difference, let’s learn about the different types of cutting oil and their best uses.

Oil Type

Your options for cutting oil will fall into several categories: straight, soluble, semi-synthetic, and synthetic.

Straight oils, made from mineral or petroleum oil, are undiluted and work best as lubricants for slower, heavy-duty applications. Unlike the excellent heat transfer capabilities of synthetic (made from organic esters and other compounds) and semi-synthetic oils, straight oils do not work well as coolants.

Soluble oils, like synthetic and semi-synthetic, are diluted. These lubricants contain emulsifiers, a mineral base, and other additives to provide good lubrication, heat transfer, and corrosion protection. These oils are the most common and cost-friendly.

Metal Type

Some lubricants are more compatible with certain materials than others. When deciding on a cutting oil, you should differentiate between hard, low-machinability materials, such as stainless steel, and softer, ductile materials, like aluminum. Tougher metals require tougher cutting oils with greater lubrication and anti-weld capabilities to prevent build up on the tool.

It may also be helpful to choose a non-staining oil for aluminum and brass parts. Cutting oils that contain active sulfur can stain aluminum and brass. Active sulfur and chlorine are often found in cutting oils with a heavy concentration of extreme pressure (EP) additives.

Operation Type

Ultimately, the cutting oil that you choose will depend on the nature of the operation. Are you grinding? Are you thread-cutting? Cutting oils serve specific functions based on the difficulty and speed of the machining.

Grinding, drilling, and milling are often done at higher speeds with low-viscosity oils. The cutting oil’s main function will be cooling, especially with a synthetic cutting fluid, since the thinner, diluted fluid carries heat away more efficiently. Thread-cutting and broaching, however, require more work and slower operating speeds. A highly viscous oil is needed to reduce friction and lubricate the surface.
You can best choose your cutting oil by distinguishing between situations that emphasize a need for cooling and situations that emphasize a need for lubrication. A strong evaluation of the metal’s properties, as well as the machining method, can indicate which cutting oil will prevent corrosion or heat-related damage.

View our full list of Houghton specialty oils and lubricants here.

Proper Preparation for Brake Cleaning

Brake cleaning is as easy as a few sprays from a can, but the bulk of the work lies in the preparation. These powerful solvents require some extra attention to the mechanical and safety equipment that is used, as well as an awareness of the environment that you are working in, so that simple upkeep can stay just that—simple.

The most important complication to avoid is a health complication. Inhaling toxic vapors is the chief danger of working with chlorinated and non chlorinated solvents. Set up shop in a ventilated area, preferably outside, and you will prevent side effects like nausea, dizziness, neurological damage, and liver dysfunction. You should also plan on wearing gloves, boots, or protective eye gear to prevent skin irritation and rashes. Fresh air and reliable barriers between you and the solvent, or between flammable solvents and sources of extreme heat, will allow you to do the job most effectively.

Once you have supplied protective gear, it is time to protect the car. Before you have removed the tire to access the brake parts, or immediately after removal, you should protect all non-brake parts. If you would like to maintain the paint job on your car, then it is best to cover the car’s exterior closest to the area that you will be spraying. Not only can brake cleaner strip paint, it can also damage your garage floor if a covering is not put in place to catch excess brake cleaner.

So, you got out the wrench, used the jack to lift your vehicle, and removed the tire. But before you start spraying, you should have a plan for disposing of extra brake cleaner. The easiest thing to do is wipe excess brake cleaner with a lint-free cloth, or let the solvent evaporate on its own. Never dump brake cleaner down drains or in sewers, as this is harmful to the environment and may go against local regulations. It is best to look up your area’s suggested methods of disposal before doing any maintenance work.

Now that you have your safety gear, the proper equipment, and a disposal plan, the rest is smooth sailing. If you prepare your environment and keep the right tools handy, you can clean your brakes with the ease of any professional.

Browse Keller Heartt’s full selection of Brake Cleaner.

The different uses of Brake Cleaner

Making the Most Out of Your Brake Cleaner

Brake cleaners are powerful solvents designed to remove dust, dirt, and grime from brake parts, but these potent cleaning agents can also be used in other auto shop and household applications. The following are alternative uses—and warnings—for your brake cleaner so that you can get the maximum use from your product:

Clothing Stain Removal

Perchloroethylene, the chemical most commonly used at dry cleaners, is also a chemical used in chlorinated brake cleaner. Brake cleaner can be used in the removal of food stains, including oil stains from greasy food. Remove tough stains in clothing by rubbing a small amount of brake cleaner on the stain and then washing the garment in water. Remember to do this in a well ventilated area, and wear gloves as these chemicals can irritate the skin.

Cleaning Floors

Whether you’ve spilled oil on your shop floor, or you’ve stained your carpeting, brake cleaner can be used to remove tough substances from most surfaces. For oil spills in the shop, first remove the oil using an absorbent, then scrub the residue with brake cleaner. Scrubbing with brake cleaner can also remove stains from concrete driveways and patios.

If you are removing a stain from carpeting, spray some diluted brake cleaner onto the stain and let it sit for several minutes before brushing the spot. Since brake cleaner can cut through glue and adhesives, do not let the brake cleaner get deep into the adhesive that binds the carpeting and the floor.

Removing Ink and Paint

Brake cleaner can effectively remove streaks from permanent markers, paint, and nail polish that gets on counters, tables, or walls. Non chlorinated brake cleaners often contain acetone and other chemicals that are helpful in removing marks or accidental spills made by you or your children.

Gun Maintenance

Many gun owners swear by brake cleaner to get the metal parts of their firearms spotless.  This can be a cheaper alternative to popular gun scrubbers on the market, though brake cleaner can strip paint, wood finishing, and necessary lubrication from the firearm. Use a lubricant or gun grease after cleaning, and stick to non chlorinated brake cleaner for the safest option.

Inappropriate Uses for Brake Cleaner

In order to prevent ruining certain surfaces, avoid using brake cleaner on plastics, rubber, and any painted surface that you want to maintain. Protect these surfaces with careful application and small amounts of product at one time.  

In addition, read the safety information on all products before use. Non chlorinated brake cleaner is flammable, and chlorinated brake cleaner can give off fatal fumes when in contact with heat and certain chemicals. This is especially true for welding. Vapors from chlorinated solvents can break down into phosgene gas, a highly toxic gas that can immediately cause low blood pressure, emphysema, heart failure, and even death.

If used properly, brake cleaner can be an inexpensive, multi-purpose solvent for the shop or the home. Make sure to use caution with all chemicals, and make safety your first priority when using brake cleaner for new purposes.

The Difference Between Chlorinated and Non Chlorinated Brake Cleaner

Cars and trucks require a lot of maintenance and attention. After oil changes, car washes, new tires, and new windshield wipers, it is easy to forget less-obvious tasks, like cleaning your brakes. When it’s time to clean residue off brake pads, linings, drums, and cylinders, the two most common solvent options are chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaners. Both get the job done, but understanding their key differences can prevent maintenance and safety issues.

Chlorinated and non-chlorinated brake cleaner both contain toxic chemicals, though chlorinated solvents contain the more harmful ingredients between the two. Chlorinated brake cleaners are comprised of Perchloroethylene (Perc), Methylene Chloride (MeCl), and Trichloroethylene (TCE), which are considered Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs). As an alternative, non-chlorinated brake cleaners entered the market at a slightly higher cost with less environmentally impactful chemicals, such as acetone, heptane, isopropyl alcohol, and other low-toxicity petroleum hydrocarbons, such as mineral spirits or toluene.

For an auto shop concerned with employee safety, the difference in VOC emissions is no small detail. According to the EPA, VOCs pollute the environment in the form of gaseous emissions that can cause serious side effects in humans and animals. These side effects include headaches, nausea, loss of coordination, kidney and liver damage, and some cancers. As a result, chlorinated brake cleaners have since been banned in California.

Despite those less toxic properties, the chemicals in non-chlorinated brake cleaner are highly flammable. This makes them inappropriate for vapor degreasing and other more complex cleaning applications. Their drying time is slightly longer than chlorinated solvents, which is one of their largest trade-offs along with somewhat lower solvency. But don’t be fooled. While a chlorinated solvent may be toughest on grime, non-chlorinated alternatives are still much more powerful than water-detergent solutions, especially on paint and other substances.

Remember to keep these differences in mind when maintaining clean, healthy brakes. Check your local regulations on legal and illegal solvents and weigh the potential consequences and benefits. For more literature on solvents and safety assessments, you can also visit the Dow Chemical Company at

Browse Keller Heartt’s full selection of Brake Cleaner

Testing and Maximizing Energy Efficiency in Engine Oil

Today’s engines are better designed for low-viscosity oils and synthetic oils. This shift towards oils that maintain viscosity more effectively at extreme temperatures means there are plenty of options for conserving energy. They key to that for drivers and fleet managers is to understand how to accurately fit the demands of an engine and maximize energy savings, as these updates can revitalize an operation, even when the energy conservation is just a small percentage higher.

However, there is no magic trick or steadfast method of concluding with certainty that an oil can conserve energy in your specific circumstances, until after it has been purchased. This makes it tough to take a risk with a new lubricant. An API Service Symbol may specify that an oil for gasoline engines has “Energy Conserving” properties, or you may assume that a low-viscosity, synthetic oil will be more efficient for your diesel engine. While these are helpful hints, the most accurate way to measure energy efficiency is through controlled testing, as oil specifications cannot account for every variable in your specific engine.  

In any machine, an increased total output or decreased operating temperature can indicate energy conservation when switching to a new lubricant. In motor vehicles, the indicator is especially obvious: fuel consumption. An engine uses more energy, and therefore more fuel, when it must work against greater friction. Since low-viscosity oil is thinner, it flows easily and requires less energy to pump through the system. But, depending on special temperature conditions and manufacturer recommendations, simply switching to the lowest viscosity may not improve energy efficiency in all vehicles. Finding the proper balance is a deeper process.

Testing energy efficiency between different, multi-grade motor oils requires that all other variables are controlled in order to calculate the true benefits. Speed, temperature, load, driving conditions, and the amount of oil must be consistent when calculating fuel consumption between two or more oils. Noticeable decreases in fuel consumption may not be evident in one or two vehicles, this method works best when measuring savings on the fleet as a whole.

By measuring and calculating fuel consumption over the course of several months, you will find a more correct fit for your engine, especially when testing between two similar oils. While weighing the pros and cons of purchasing a new, possibly more expensive oil, the tangible data provided by recording fuel consumption can validate a financial investment and give an indication of a possible trade-off between fuel efficiency and wear protection.

To find the most energy-efficient oil for your engine, browse Keller Heartt’s full selection of Motor Oil, featuring trusted brands like Shell, Pennzoil, Quaker State and more. 

When to Switch to Extended Life Coolants

As technology advances and newer diesel engines prove to produce greater heat, the quality of one’s coolant becomes just as important as the quality of one’s motor oil in order to draw heat away from the engine. The case for Extended Life Coolants (ELCs) is strong in light and heavy-duty diesel engines due to the Organic Acid Technology (OAT) in ELCs and the benefits that this technology brings.

Unlike conventional coolants that use inorganic compounds, such as silicates, ELCs use organic acids that are less abrasive and corrosive, especially to materials like aluminum and magnesium. These OAT additives protect the parts of metal surfaces that are most vulnerable to corrosion rather than the entire surface, meaning that only a portion of the compounds deplete at once, therefore extending the life of the coolant. This decreases the need for frequent maintenance and additional silicate additives, and it also decreases labor costs for fleets and other operations.

    Most importantly, however, this technology keeps engines protected. Traditional coolants with silicate additives eventually build up deposits in the cooling system that amass and reduce heat transfer. ELCs, which do not contain silicates, improve heat transfer by over 10% to protect from damaging oxidation and cavitation. Their formulas are also easier on water pump systems so that water pumps and pump seals remain lubricated and safe from wear.

    Not all engines can handle ELCs, particularly old engines, but ELC formulas are appropriate for many applications. Ethylene glycol based ELCs are most common in truck and off-highway equipment. Many ELCs universally cater to diesel, gasoline, and natural gas engines. Propylene glycol based ELCs are less toxic and common in operations that involve contact with humans and animals. For warmer climates and marine applications, a water based ELC provides excellent heat transfer.

    Depending on the engine’s age and the manufacturer’s requirements, an Extended Life Coolant is a great way to provide heat protection in engines that are increasingly producing more heat. Automotive and industrial operations can universally benefit from the longer operating hours that ELCs offer, saving money and time in turn.