Published 07/12/2019

A penetrating fluid will not function well to keep parts moving long-term. Lubricating oil will not work well to free stuck and seized parts. Each fluid is formulated for a specific purpose. Read on to learn more about the differences between these fluids and how to make the best choice for your switching operations!

The Differences Between Penetrating Oils And Lubricants

Determining which product is needed to free a stuck part can be challenging. It’s pretty common for manufacturers to use the words “penetrating oil” or “fluid” and “lubricant” interchangeably, even though these two products have completely different functions and purposes. Using the wrong product can only increase difficulty and cause significant equipment issues down the road.

The Stinger® system was engineered and is manufactured by FirstPower Group LLC. FirstPower has been testing penetrating fluids, lubricating oils and aerosol sprays commonly used in electric power applications for over ten years. Some of the results of this testing are included in the following information.

What Are Penetrants?

Penetrating oils, or penetrating fluids, contain a very low-viscosity oil. The low viscosity of the penetrating fluid allows it to flow easily between close surfaces and loosen dried lubricants. It is best to use penetrating fluids to free corroded or rusted mechanical parts. It can sink into the narrow spaces between parts and wash out elements like rust and corrosion. 

Using penetrating fluids as general-purpose lubricants is not advisable. The mixture of solvent and oil is very thin and not an effective lubricant. 

Penetrants should be used if parts are corroded, have dried out lubricants or other environmental elements that make switch operation difficult.

What Are Lubricants?

A lubricant is a higher-viscosity fluid (oil) or semi-solid (grease) with much oil in it. Lubricants are commonly used to reduce friction between moving surfaces in mutual contact. Typically, grease lubricants contain about 85% base oil and less than 15% thickeners and additives. 

A lubricant should be used if the materials that the parts are made from have undesired friction when operated against each other.

How Does This Apply To High Voltage Disconnect Switches?

Efficient switching operations are critical for system reliability and productivity.

Disconnect switches often are not operated for long periods of time. They are fully exposed to the elements. This environment is extremely harsh for contacts and bearings that corrode and for greases and lubricants that dry out and become stiff. Salt, dirt and chemicals hasten this degradation. These factors may cause disconnect switches to be hard to open or break during attempted opening, creating delays in completing planned work. 

What's The Best Way To Get Disconnect Switches Moving Again?

Applying a safe and effective penetrating fluid as a pretreatment is the best, first step before trying to operate a switch.

While there are a few different options to help make switches easier to open, only 1FR Penetrating Fluid is safe and proven to work in 30-minutes. 1FR is purpose-formulated to penetrate switch parts and, with chemical action, dissolve and flush away the rust and corrosion that prohibit normal switch movement. 1FR™ works only with The Stinger® system.

Why Choose 1FR Penetrating Fluid?

Over three years of field use by electric utilities proves switch operation is achieved in as little as 30 minutes when pretreating with 1FR Fluid.

1FR Penetrating Fluid was designed specifically to penetrate tight clearance switch parts and dissolve corrosion and rust that inhibit normal switch movement. 1FR Fluid uses CO2 as a propellant, is non-flammable and arc-quenching.

1FR is distinguished from other sprays and lubricants available in the utility marketplace as it is a synthetic ester-based formulation. The presence of oxygen within the molecular structure of esters creates polarity. This polarity gives 1FR Penetrating Fluid attraction to corrosion byproducts. This improves wetting and helps to remove them.

In simple terms, 1FR fluid dissolves and flushes away corrosion, rust and dried grease. The key to using 1FR effectively is to pre-treat disconnect switches prior to attempting to open them, just as one would spray penetrant on rusty bolts before attempting to loosen them with a wrench.

An electric utility conducted independent field testing of the Stinger® System. The test results showed that pre-treating a switch using the Stinger® and 1FR Penetrating Fluid will:

·      Reduce the amount of force required to open a switch by 50%

·      Reduce peak muscle exertion of workers by over 50%

Where Do I Get 1FR Fluid?

1FR Penetrating Fluid is available for use with The Stinger® System.

 It is packaged in an aerosol style can with a proprietary threaded attachment that’s only compatible with The Stinger® tool.

 1FR is also packaged in 4-ounce squeeze bottles with a long spout.

You can find and purchase 1FR fluid online at the Stinger® System website or by contacting a FirstPower sales representative. Visit the Stinger® System website to learn more and view the video on how the Stinger® System and 1FR Penetrating Fluid reduce equipment damage and employee injury and accidents in switching operations. You may also Contact Us directly with any questions!

Have you had an experience using a penetrant or lubricant on a stuck disconnect switch? Do you have a tip for freeing a stuck switch? Please send us a comment!