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Is Synthetic Oil Worth it for Asphalt Machinery?

Is synthetic oil worth it for asphalt machinery? This is a normal question if you’ve been utilizing conventional oils in your asphalt machinery. Before we delve into that subject, let’s discuss some of the basic types of equipment that are found in an asphalt/paving company.

Basic Equipment Need For Asphalt Milling and Paving

Day in and day out, we travel on highways and roads and park our vehicles in asphalt paved parking lots. With that said, have we ever stopped and wondered what is involved in creating these important roads we travel and park on? The following illustrates some of the basic equipment needed to construct and maintain these asphalt roads.

First, we have milling machines. Milling machines remove the top layer from the existing pavement so that a smooth surface is available on which to apply asphalt pavement. It is also possible to end up with a grooved and rough surface after milling, which increases the surface area onto which pavement can be applied to. The best piece of equipment that is typically utilized are sweepers. After the milling process, the road needs to be swept clean so that any debris or excess dust can be removed. This sweeping process is critical so that the asphalt will bond to the surface.

To get the hot asphalt from the asphalt plant to the job site, various types of dump trucks can be used. Material transfer vehicles are utilized in helping the paver accept the hot mix asphalt. Flow-boy dump trucks are live bottom dump trucks that utilize a conveyor system to unload to asphalt payload. End dump trucks are the most common and they unload their asphalt payload by raising the front end and letting the asphalt flow down towards the bottom of the dump bed and out the tailgate. Belly dump or bottom dump trucks unload the asphalt by opening the gates on the bottom of the bed.

The next piece of equipment in the process are called asphalt pavers. An asphalt paver is a formless laydown machine that is self-propelled and utilizes what is called a floating screed. There are two parts to the asphalt paver. The tractor accepts the hot mix asphalt at the front of the paver and then transfers it to the rear and spreads it out. The screed is the most important part of the paver which determines the profile of the hot mix asphalt being placed.

The final pieces of equipment that are typically utilized are called compacters or rollers. There are three different types utilized for compacting the hot mix asphalt: the steel-wheeled roller, the pneumatic tire roller, and the paver screed. These are the basic machines that are typically used when constructing and paving roads, highways, parking lots, and various other paved areas.

Like any professional fleet operation, the goal is to protect the huge monetary investment in the purchase of this type of equipment. Such machinery does not earn the operation money sitting in the shop, so it is critical these machines operate without any unscheduled downtime.

When the subject of lubrication comes up, there are two types of lubricants to consider: conventional oils or synthetic oils. The question arises: is synthetic oil worth it for asphalt machinery? Let’s take a look and understand the value of utilizing synthetics for your asphalt machinery.

Asphalt construction equipment.
Critical components in asphalt machinery are exposed to high temperatures. AMSOIL Synthetic Polymeric Off-Road Grease handles the heat and has an amazing dropping point of 650 degrees F.

Is Synthetic Oil Worth it for Asphalt Machinery?

Dealing with extreme heat and high temperatures are factors to consider when trying to protect critical asphalt machinery components. It is critical to utilize grease that can withstand these high heat conditions.

Typical heavy-duty greases that are found in many asphalt paving operations typically have a drop point that ranges between 300 and 400 degrees Fahrenheit. The dropping point of grease means the temperature at which it goes from a semi-solid to a liquid state. In the case of asphalt machinery, the higher the dropping point, the better the oil will be able to deal with higher operating conditions.

Most greases utilize conventional/mineral base stock oils. Regular base stock oils naturally do not have the capability of withstanding high temperatures. They are not as thermally stable and in many ways, they are a compromise in terms of how they protect critical components. Also, most greases utilize a lithium thickener, which also is not the best choice for a high-heat grease. Another aspect to consider is that petroleum base stock oils that are utilized to manufacture greases are derived and refined from crude oil. There are some negative aspects to know about.

Even after crude oil has gone through various refining processes to make them usable for the manufacturing of lubricants, they still contain unwanted contaminating elements such as oxygen, sulfur, nitrogen, and other metal components such as nickel and vanadium. Right out of the container, petroleum-based oils are introducing potentially damaging contaminants that will cause unwanted deposits over their service life.

Also, these mineral base stock oils are made up of a dissimilar molecular structure. Dissimilar means that the molecules that make up regular oil are of different sizes. Different sized molecules find it difficult to flow easily, thus causing undue friction. This friction leads to rising temperatures and this vicious cycle slowly causes the performance of the grease or oil to degrade. Also, mineral base oils have wax, and wax, when exposed to cold temperatures, thickens.

Regular lubricants struggle to perform as needed when temperatures are cold. On the opposite spectrum, synthetic base stock oils are manmade and engineered in the laboratory. They are carefully designed to be free and pure of any unwanted contaminants. Their molecular structure is specifically designed to be uniform in structure. These same-sized molecules flow easily and without friction.

Also, they are wax-free and offer superior cold-weather flowability. Already, you can see the technical advantages offered by synthetic oils over regular oils. They offer huge benefits to the asphalt paving operator and over their long-term use, they’re well worth the investment. They help to reduce downtime, extend lubricant and equipment life and will save maintenance and repair costs.

AMSOIL Synthetic Polymeric Off-Road Grease, NLGI #2

For the ultimate in a multi-purpose grease that was tailor-made for the asphalt paving operation, we suggest AMSOIL Synthetic Polymeric Off-Road Grease, NLGI #2.

  • Superior heat resistance with a dropping point of 620 degrees F.
  • Excellent extreme pressure protection
  • Resistance to impacts from shock loads
  • Reduces friction and wear
  • Superior water resistance and water washout
  • Extends greasing service intervals
  • Outstanding ability to cling to metal services
  • Reduces downtime
  • Saves on repair costs
  • Reduces wear through the use of moly
AMSOIL Synthetic Polymeric Off-Road Grease, NLGI #2.
AMSOIL Synthetic Polymeric Off-Road Grease, NLGI #2

AMSOIL Signature Series Max-Duty Synthetic Diesel Oil 5W-40

  • Provides 6 times more wear protection
  • Lowers engine oil consumption
  • Improves fuel mileage efficiency
  • Excellent extreme pressure protection
  • Maintains correct viscosity
  • Delivers outstanding performance in extreme temperatures
AMSOIL Signature Series Max-Duty Synthetic Diesel Oil 5W-40.
AMSOIL Signature Series Max-Duty Synthetic Diesel Oil 5W-40

AMSOIL Synthetic SEVERE GEAR® 75W-140

  • Outstanding extreme pressure capabilities
  • Guards against corrosion and rust
  • Resistant to foaming
  • Reduces temperatures
  • Protects even with up to 15% water contamination
  • Improves efficiency
  • Controls thermal runaway
  • Extends equipment, seal, and oil life
AMSOIL SEVERE GEAR® 75W-140.
AMSOIL SEVERE GEAR® 75W-140

Is synthetic oil worth it for asphalt machinery? Hopefully, the basic information we’ve provided has led you to the conclusion that yes, investing in synthetic lubricants for your asphalt equipment will lead to many benefits, such as less downtime and savings in repair costs.

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