We have likely all been in a situation where something unexpected happens and the situation results in costing a couple hundred or thousand dollars. Yet, after that situation occurs, most of us fall back into a rhythm carrying on with the day-to-day. If you’re running a shortline railroad or track maintenance firm, you need to make costs as manageable as possible to stay on budget. Data from oil samples can provide a number of insights that will help you plan for repairs.

Many oil manufacturers provide in-house lab testing for a reasonable price. Gathering a sample is as easy as: 

  1. Ordering a sample kit from the manufacturer
  2. Gathering the sample
  3. Receiving the results and making data-driven decisions

Your lubricant expert will be able to suggest programs based on what you are looking to achieve. A few examples could include, identifying contamination (soot test) and detecting proper drain intervals (TBN test).

Soot Test  
Soot may be formed during the combustion process. Poor efficiency of combustion will result in a high level of soot which translates to several negative consequences:

  • Improper air to fuel ratios
  • Worn or stuck rings
  • High-temperature operation
  • Over-extended drain intervals

If results come back with Soot measurement over 2%, contact your lab manager for recommendations.

TBN (Total Base Number) Test  
As oil is used, acids are created due to oil oxidation and in turn the TBN level drops. TBN is important because it neutralizes acid. The higher the TBN remaining in the lubricants, the more acid the oil is able to neutralize. If you overheat or over-extend drain intervals, you will notice a drop in the TBN value. Monitoring the TBN helps determine the proper drain interval for the vehicle.

A TBN value below 4 is an indication that the additive package in the oil has been used up and the oil should be changed.

The soot and TBN are great tests to understand the health of your lubricant, and to provide the peace of mind of knowing when to expect repairs. Implementing an oil analysis program will be able to show data trends and provide greater insights into your fleet. If you don’t have a reliable lab expert, give our team at OilChek® a call or fill out a contact us form, and they will return your message in 1 business day!

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