The Goldilocks Principle
July 21, 2022
Written By Adam Buckallew
There is profound wisdom in the stories and lessons we pass on to our children. Teachings learned at young ages like don’t take what’s not yours, play fair, and clean up your own messes, are foundational to a child’s understanding of society.
The popular fairy tale Goldilocks and the Three Bears offers a simple analogy about porridge temperature preferences that helps us understand the concept of finding “just the right amount” of something. In the tale, Goldilocks samples three different bowls of porridge. Goldilocks finds she prefers porridge that is neither too hot nor too cold but is just the right temperature.
The “just the right amount” concept is easily understood. It has become known as the Goldilocks principle with applications in a wide range of disciplines including astronomy, biology, economics and engineering.
Just the Right Amount of Grease
The Goldilocks principle is important to remember when dealing with lubricants. Applying too little grease can lead to excessive wear from friction. On the other hand, more lubrication is not necessarily a better option and can be just as problematic. Overgreasing can lead to higher operating temperatures, collapsed seals and equipment failures.
As Goldilocks found with the porridge, there’s a sweet spot – a happy medium – to be found. Applying just the right amount of lubrication will provide maximum performance and protection to your machinery or equipment.
The key is familiarizing yourself with the manufacturer’s recommendations. Using the right grease and reapplying it at the correct intervals is just as important as adding the right amount. How often you will need to regrease parts is usually dependent on the following factors:
- Size — the larger the component, the more frequently it will need greasing
- Speed — the faster the operating speed, the more frequently it will need greasing
- Temperature — the hotter the operating temperature is, the more frequently it will need greasing
- Contaminants — the more dust and dirt in the operating environment, the more frequently it will need greasing
- Moisture — the more water in the operating environment there is, the more frequently it will need greasing
- Vibration — the more vibration in the operating environment there is, the more frequently it will need greasing
How Much Grease is Too Much?
Purdue University offers a comprehensive overview of everything you need to know about grease, including a section dedicated to applying the right amount.
The excerpt below discusses considerations that come into play when determining the right amount of grease for various components:
“Your father or grandfather may have taught you to pump enough grease so that it comes out of a bushing or seal. If we are discussing a pivot point or a pin and bushing, then putting in enough to force out any excess grease works well. If the application in question is a rotating bearing, filling the entire space with grease can lead to serious problems including churning, increased friction and heat, and blowing out the seal or shield. Once the seal is damaged, it no longer prevents water and dirt from penetrating the inside of the bearing assembly.
Overfilling an unsealed bearing assembly, in the view of many, is just as bad as not greasing the bearings at all.”
Effective lubrication is essential to keeping your equipment running smoothly and is key to avoiding unexpected shutdowns and costly repairs. Remember the Goldilocks principle and strive to apply “just the right amount” of lubrication. This will help ensure your equipment is ready and available when needed. If you have any questions about grease or other lubricants, please contact the MFA Oil Laboratory for assistance.