Neighbors have had a screw-drive garage-door opener for 15 years. They
had trouble. I downloaded the manual. It says to lubricate the rollers
and hinges of the door, but there's nothing about lubricating the closer.
Online experts advise silicone on the rail and white lithium grease on
the screw, annually. I didn't know if this brand was different. I
found a Q&A at the manufacturer's site. It recommends white lithium
grease on the screw and rail every 4 years.
I have two cans of white lithium grease, but what is it? One can is
Lith-ease and the other is Pennzoil 705. Both lids say "White Grease."
In the days when lubricants came from animal carcasses, white grease was
the purest, but lithium grease uses lithium soap as its base, not white
grease. The stuff in my cans is the color of peanut butter. I'm not
sure if it whiter when new.
The Pennzoil can says it's NLGI #2. That just means it's like peanut
butter at room temperature. That's the only specification on either
can. Lithium soap is a base for additional lubricants, which determine
what the grease is good for. How is a guy supposed to know what he's using?
I had the Lith-ease first. When I had to pack wheel bearings, I read
the list of uses on the can. They included bearings on boat trailers
and breaking bearings in, but didn't include wheel bearings. So I
bought the Pennzoil.
I don't know why Lith-ease is recommended for the wheels of boat
trailers but not other wheels. I don't know why Pennzoil 705 is better
The manufacturer of my neighbors' opener doesn't specify any kind of
white lithium grease. Genie, who makes most screw openers, recommends a
particular white lithium grease that costs $10 an ounce. I have no idea
whether another brand costing $3 a pound, or the stuff I have on hand,
would for practical purposes be as good.
At stores near me, we have spray cans of "white
lithium grease". I'd be tempted to buy a can from
a good brand such as Ace, or Lowe's. Spray it onto
the moving parts, and be done with it.
The reason I say good brand, one time I sprayed a
bicycle chain with Popular Mechanics silicone from
Walmart (great price!) and the chain siezed up a
few days later. Might have been more solvent, and
Christopher A. Young
Learn about Jesus
MY Genie Blue Max screw drive opener motor died after ~20 years.
I replaced it with Genie 140V DC motor opener Power Max. I use
spray white grease on the screw very little amount. Same with hinges,
rollers. Trick is using it very sparingly. Good one has wide range of
temperature from below freezing to hot. I once used liquid Teflon spray
but no more.
I'm considering CRC white lithium. Not long ago, I freed up the
handbrake lever in a brake drum. The manual said to grease everything
with high-temperature grease. The peanut-butter stuff I have wouldn't
spread itself in a thin layer or wick into tight spaces, so I decided to
put it back together and grease it later.
Is spray grease a bit like WD-40, with a solvent to help it spread and
There are more expensive sprays that advertise a wider temperature range
than CRC. I don't know if it would benefit me.
Last year, when I first serviced the opener that stopped in cold
weather, the only drag I found was in the plain bearings of the motor.
I used a q-tip to apply a little 20W machine oil to the shaft. Removing
the sprocket allowed some end play, so I worked the oily shaft in and
out of the bearings. It turned much better.
When there was more trouble this year, I figured I hadn't used enough
oil. This time I used 30W. A couple of weeks later, when there was
another cold snap, there was more trouble. Thinking the 30W was too
viscous for cold mornings, I flushed it with WD-40 and applied 20W.
For the first time, I noticed the plain bearings on the screw shaft. I
oiled them, too. It didn't help. The manual said nothing about
lubricating bearings, the screw, or the rail, but lubricating the screw
and rail was recommended online. It appeared that the screw and rail had
never been greased; I don't know if silicone spray had been used. I
used a little white lithium. It didn't help.
I found the manufacturer's Q&A online. It said to grease the screw and
rail. It also said that if it keeps stopping, either there's too much
end play, or what I call the optical interrupter wheel, is out of place.
Sure enough, the wheel had slid perhaps 4mm up the motor shaft. I
pushed it back and everything worked. With it out of place, I guess
contraction in cold weather moved it enough that it didn't interrupt the
beam to give the safety sensor a speed reading.
A professional had installed the opener and serviced it several times
for cold-weather failures. He'd turned the up and down force
adjustments to maximum. With the interrupter properly positioned, I
turned the adjustments to minimum and found that I still had to apply a
lot of force to the door to stop it. There's torque to spare. I guess
the professional didn't know about the need to check the interrupter.
That company needs a better manual!
I'll use spray white lithium on the screw and rail, but what's the best
lube for the plain bearings of the motor and screw?
I've never lubed a door opener but Lubriplate is my go to for white
assembly grease. They do make a couple of opener specific products.
Whether it's any better than what you have on hand is another question.
Wheel bearings on cars get hotter from braking so they need a higher
temperature grease. That said, in 50+ years of driving, I've seen more
trailers on the side of the road from bad bearings than I've ever seen
from cars. I'd use a better grease on my boat trailer.
From the Penzoil web site
Product Data Sheet
PENNZOIL® MULTI-PURPOSE 705 WHITE GREASE
Outstanding shear stability ensures dependable protection against
breakdown. Pennzoil® Multi-Purpose 705 White Grease has rust-preventive
properties, resists water and has excellent low-temperature properties.
White in color (minimizes staining). Pennzoil® Multi-Purpose 705 White
Grease is not recommended for wheel bearing use on vehicles equipped
with disc brakes.
If you pack the bearing and install it wrong(torquing), you can destroy
it in no time. I always carried spare bearings in the days when I towed
fiver camping trailer. I had tire failure but no bearing failure during
that time. Worst one was truck drive train steady bearing going out in
the middle of no man's land. I could drive only 10mph to get to a shop.
After driving amtracs in the ocean, we'd take a grease gun with 25
pounds of grease and pump grease into the 18 road wheels, driving old
grease out. I wonder if you're supposed to do that with a boat trailer.
Not doing it could account for bad bearings.
If Lith-ease is recommended for boat trailers but not car wheels, maybe
for some reason it won't last indefinitely in a bearing. I wonder why.
Water is definitely a factor with boat trailers, but I've seen problems
with utility and campers too. I think a lot has to do with the quality
of parts to start with.
Back in 1981 my brother bought a flatbed to tow with a car on. He drove
from San Diego to Philadelphia. Sold what be brought and bought another
car to take back. I drove it back along with my BIL. In St. Louis a
spindle broke. Next morning we got it to a trailer shop and the guy
showed us why it broke so soon. It was built wrong from the factory.
It was a twin axle so we could limp to a shop.
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.