The 3 Most Asked Questions from our CM-ET Motor (Hoist) Schools

The 3 Most Asked Questions from our CM-ET Motor (Hoist) Schools

During our CM-ET training classes we receive many questions, especially about chain and proper lubrication. In my opinion, the chain is the most abused and neglected part of the motor. It is almost rare to find chain in the field that does not need to be lubricated unless it has just come from the factory. So here they are, your three most frequently asked questions along with our answers:

1. How do I know when the chain needs to be lubricated?

The easiest way to know if your load chain needs lubrication is by watching it as it goes into the chain bag. If it is stacking up on one side as it enters the bag, it is a sure indication that you are lacking proper lubrication.

In past years when riggers were using the old Klein type bags with the single hook connecting to the side of the hoist, the question would come up: How do I avoid the chain coming out of the bag?  When the chain is dry and it stacks up, it eventually comes out over the top of the bag.

If the chain is properly lubricated, it will flow evenly and disperse into the bag like water.

Another sure sign of a lack of lubrication is when you have a full load and you hear that “tell all” creaking sound as the chain is running over the lift wheel. What you hear is the chain actually wearing itself out by friction welding the links together and breaking that weld because there is no lube between the them. This is where you get chain wear.

2. What is the proper lubrication to use?

The oil recommended by Columbus McKinnon is 10R made by Lubriplate. There are many other brands that are available that you can get at your local hardware store. What is important is that the lube you obtain have an “EP” additive. The “EP” is short for extreme pressure. Without that additive you will not be able to keep your lubrication between the links while under a full load. Most chain saw manufacturers produce oil for their saws that contain this additive. Most bar and chain lubrications will work.

3. How do I properly lubricate the chain?

There are many ways to lube your chain but I recommend to drop your chain into a bucket and pour the lube over the pile of chain. It is important that the chain be loose and the links separated at this point. If you spray it on while the chain is hanging you might not be able to get between all the links. After adding the lube, hang it up and let the chain drip dry as long as possible and retain as much of the run off so that you can reuse it.  At this point I recommend taking some dry rags and wiping the chain down to remove as much of the excessive oil as possible. You will not be able to remove it between the links with this process, and between the links is where you want the lubrication. It is ok if the chain appears to be dry as long as the lube is between the links where it is needed.

Again, lubrication is very important and can not be neglected. Keep an eye out for dry chain.

If you have questions about any of the above or are interested in attending a training class,  please feel free to reach us on our new Entertainment Technology website: or at our training site

Herb Hart

Herb Hart is an Area Sales Manager for Entertainment Products for Columbus McKinnon Corporation.

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12 Replies to “The 3 Most Asked Questions from our CM-ET Motor (Hoist) Schools”

  1. Hello Mr. Figueiras:

    I’ve attempted to read up on the lubricants you’ve mentioned, but have not found any information on compression pressure.

    To properly lubricate load chain you need a product that will remain between the links under heavy loads. The actual contact area between two links on 5/16″ Star Grade load chain is about 0.006 square inch. When loaded with 2000 lbs, the pressure between those links exceeds 500,000 pounds per square inch or psi. Most lubricants would squeeze out and not be effective. You need a lubricant that has an EP (extreme pressure) additive. We recommend LUBRIPLATE 10R. Most bar and chain oils also have this additive. Some chainsaw lubes will also work.

    To your other question, we do training all over the world. I am quite familiar with the training done here in the U.S., as this is where I teach. Please let me know your location and I will attempt to find you the right class.

    I hope this has been helpful. If you have any further questions please do not hesitate to get back in touch with us.

    Herb Hart

  2. Hello Mr. Herb Hart

    Sorry to be bothering again, I would like, if possible, to advise me in your opinion according to the characteristics of the Lubricants that I send to you (Link Bellow) , which one is better to apply in the chains of the motors, since the equipment in question is usually used outdoors:

    I would like to ask you if there is any possibility of getting a training on suspension of equipment and and learn a little more about the equipment, from you?

    Once again thank you very much for your attention


    Bruno Figueiras

  3. Hi Criss,
    As long as the suspension hook and the lower hook (chain) is in a straight line. As in roof systems, the chain runs over a sheave block which keeps the chain lined up directly from the hoist body. You can not have any change of angle coming out of the bottom of the hoist other than 90 degrees. It does not matter if the hoist is horizontal or vertical as long as the chain is running straight from the hoist. Hope that is somewhat clear. If not, please feel free to let me know and we can continue this conversation via email.

  4. Anyone ever tried to run a lodestar lift on its side? Lack of headroom makes me want to try and put the lift on its long side and pull the load. Would raise it up some so chain bag is below and chain can fall in as it comes out of hoist. Angle of pull would be 90 degrees to bottom of hoist as it would for overhead pull or inverted stage pull. Would hook chain to cable after 13′ pull length and use cable to redirect pull downward over a pulley sheave. Do not know if internal set up of hoist would be affected or if problems might come from chain not feeding properly as it goes in and out. Seems like pull point would be on top of internal sheave as in pulling from overhead.

    Thought anyone?

  5. Mr. Figueiras:

    Thank you for your comment. If you have a number of chains to clean I would recommend an inexpensive concrete mixer. A lot of large end users and repair stations take the blades out of the mixer, dump in the chain with different media, such as small pieces of rags, walnut shells and such. Let it run until the chain is clean.

    I’m told that Lubriplate can be hard to find outside of the US. What I would recommend is a good bar & chain oil like a good chainsaw lubricant. It must have an EP (extreme pressure) additive to stay between the links when the hoist is under load.

    I hope this helps. Please feel free to get back in touch with us if you have any further questions.

    Herb Hart

  6. Hello Mr. Herb Hart
    I have some questions regarding the cleaning and lubrication of chains for CM motors
    1st – What products can I use to clean , before lubricating , the chains (because they have some dust, and lubrication can not be good to be putting the lubricant without first clearing the chains) .
    2nd – I read in a previous post that aconcelham for lubrication one oil of Lubriplate Brand , 10R , could not find for immediate delivery the same lubricant, but to ask the price of this oil asked from the representative to Portugal a lubricant with similar characteristics, and showed the oil Shell Air Tool S2 A 32 ” “,and I wonder if I can use this lubricant to put on the chains of the motors?
    Thanks for attention
    Bruno Figueiras

  7. Dave:

    Thank you for your insights. I am quite surprised to find numerous maintenance shops around the world using cement mixers for the cleaning of load chain. Another surprise is that it is rare to find many using the same media inside the mixer. That just tells me there are many ways to accomplish the same goal. I like the idea of using the foam to quiet it down. The racket coming out of the mixer can run you out of the building. I also appreciate your suggestions on marking the links to be reinspected after cleaning. Good advice for all.

    The CM Motor Schools in the UK are handled directly by our UK office. I will send you their contact information via email.

    Herb Hart

  8. Do you have any details for CM Motor Schools in the UK?

    Just a quick thing for lubing chains, we have a cement mixer with the fins taken out of it. You can put about 50 metres of chain into it, then chuck in a load of oily rags and your graphite oil, and leave it for an hour. You’d be surprised how good a job it does. We have some extremely worn chains coming in – very white in colour, with signs of rust, and the tumbler cleans them up very well.

    If you’re going to do it, I recommend that you (1) strap the mixer to a pallet and counterweight the back with a couple of stage weights. A long chain can topple it; (2) put some flightcase foam around all the inside of the mixer, else the metal-on-metal makes a right bloody racket; (3) put cable ties in the last link at each end so you can find the end of the chain easily. When it comes out it will be in the most unimaginably tangled mess you can imagine and take half an hour to untangle.

    Another thing worth doing is inspecting the chain pre-lubrication, and put coloured cable ties into any ‘suspect’ links, so that when the chain comes out covered in oil, you can easily identify those links and see if the process has sorted them out or whether they are still a problem – since the lubrication process can obviously mask signs of damage in the links.

    Hope this might be useful to somebody!

  9. Great blog Herb,
    Your are right, scary! The contact area on the inner link in only about .006 square inches. Compressive stress exceeds 500,000 psi at full load. Steel on Steel with no lubrication gets hot quick. Simple exercise, rub your hands together as hard as you can. You can’t do that for long, gets too hot. Even a wood screw burns to the touch after it has been installed.

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