SCIENCE AND INDUSTRY
HOW A MODERN LUBRICATING OIL IS MADE.
THE average motorist little realises the complex processes necessary to refine and blend a modern lubricating oil. It is a work which calls for the expert scientist. The chemist is the keyman of the industry. Oil must be specially prepared to suit the individual requirements of every type of industry. In addition to the grades of Castrol, for example, with which motorists and motor cyclists are familiar, the Wakefield Company prepare hundreds of different oils, ranging from the heaviest
grades intended for use in the largest locomotives and liners down to light instrument oils and oils for household use. The laboratory has two functions to perform. It carries out research to discover means of improving existing oils and devises new types for new purposes. To ensure the strictest uniformity in every grade of oil supplied by the Wakefield concern, tests are taken of all sup
plies delivered to the works, and samples of every batch of manufactured oil are tested before dispatch. Every consignment must conform exactly to formula. In addition to laboratory reports, . actual samples of all oils are ” filed ” in labelled bottles for future refer ence. •
Supplies are delivered by water to the Company’s works at Hayes. High speed pumps, working at the rate of 200 gallons a minute, pump the oil from the tankers straight into huge storage tanks. When necessary, these are steam-heated to keep the oil fluid, whilst in cold weather a steam system warms the
oil in the tankers to facilitate quick pumping. Flow meters register the quantity of oil delivered to the storage tanks, whilst barrels and drums containing special ingredients are all of them weighed, before being stacked, on scales which automatically register
the correct weight without a moment’s delay.
The success of lubricating oils depends, of course, not only on the quality of the raw materials, tbu on the care with which they are refined and blended. No oil of any type is suitable in its raw unrefined state. From the store house, barrels of oil are rolled down conveyors to the blending department where they are rapidly delivered to the respective vats. All the mixing vats, which will each of them treat 2,400 gallons at a time, are placed below floor level. Bulk supplies are drawn by
different coloured pipes, according to their grade, from the storage tanks direct into the vats. Meters register the quantity of appropriate oil delivered from the storage tanks to each mixing vat, while the barrels and drums of special oil, which, as it were, “season ” the
mixture are rolled directly over the vats and their contents poured through a sieve which collects dirt and foreign matter, such, for instance as the bung of the barrel. With the aid of dial thermometers, the heat is regulated from the steam
jacket which surrounds each vat, and, of course, the length of time each “boiling ” is treated is strictly regulated. Mixing is simple, but very effective. Air pumped in at the bottom
of the vat at high pressure makes the oil seethe and bubble like a witch’s cauldron. This ensures thorough mixing and at the same time obviates the use of paddles or accessories requiring periodical other cleaning. When blended the oil is pumped
to a battery of storage tanks, each of 4,000 gallons capacity, from which the drums, and cans, are filled ready for dispatch to Castrol users all over the world. Thanks to the use of one of the most ingenious devices to be found
in the whole works, cans are filled with lightning rapidity and without the slightest loss or mess. The stand on which the can is placed is, in fact, the platform of a scales. The operator moves the lever and the oil gushes out from a large tap, but so soon as the can is
filled down go the scales and in so doing they break the electric circuit, and immediately cut off the supply of oil. The operator has then merely to seal the can. The process is very speedy and remarkably accurate. A test can,
weighed on a special scales registering ounces over and under weight, hovered within a couple of ounces overweight of zero. The, exactitude of the electrical apparatus by which ordinary cans and drums are filled guarantees their weight, but although the larger containers are also filled by auto matic fillers which can be set to cut themselves off when required, they are always checked for weight before
dispatching, and the customer is charged only for the actual weight of oil supplied.