Support & MaintenanceHandling of Chains and Sprockets
Roller Chains/Sprockets for Roller Chain

Lubrication (Oiling)

Lubrication is extremely important for roller chain transmission. Improper lubrication could shorten the service life of a roller chain. Lubrication for roller chain transmission is also extremely important because chains have recently been used under more severe conditions such as high speeds and heavy loads.
The following is a list of lubrication points, lubrication methods, and types of lubricants, so be sure to lubricate chains with reference to this list.

Lubrication points

Lubrication pointsLubrication points

The important lubrication points for roller chain lubrication are (1) and (2) in the figure.

  1. Lubrication between pins and bushings
    This prevents wear between the pin and the bushing, which is the main cause of wear on the roller chain.
  2. Lubrication between bushings and rollers
    This prevents wear between the bushing and roller, reduces noise, and absorbs impact loads.

Lubricating oil

In general, use a high-grade industrial lubricant. Select a lubricant with appropriate viscosity according to the ambient temperature, lubrication type, and chain size from the table below.

Lubrication type I, II III
Ambient temperature (°C) -10~0 0~40 40~50 50~60 -10~0 0~40 40~50 50~60
Chain number 50 or less SAE10W SAE20 SAE30 SAE40 SAE10W SAE20 SAE30 SAE40
60・80 SAE20 SAE30 SAE40 SAE50
100 SAE20 SAE30 SAE40 SAE50
120 or more SAE30 SAE40 SAE50


  • Do not use waste oil as it may contain foreign matter, dust, or chips, or heavy oil or grease as they have a high viscosity and cannot penetrate the area between the pin and the bushing smoothly.
  • If the ambient temperature is below -10°C or above 60°C, a special lubricant is required. In such cases, please contact us.

Commercial lubricating Oil (for reference)

ManufactureViscosity Idemitsu Kosan Co., Ltd. ENEOS Corporation
SAE10W Daphne Mechanic Oil 32 FBK OIL RO 32
SAE20 68 68
SAE30 100 100
SAE40 150 150
SAE50 220 220

*Manufacturers’ names are listed in no particular order.

Type Lubrication method How to perform lubrication Illustration
I a Brush or oil bottle method A method of lubrication with a brush or oilcan periodically (every 8 hours), depending on usage conditions Illustration
b Drip lubrication A method of lubricating a chain by applying about 20 drops of oil per minute Illustration
II Disk lubrication A method of applying oil with a disc attached to the sprocket shaft Illustration
Oil tank lubrication A method of pouring oil into a sealed casing and immersing a part of a chain in the oil Illustration
III Forced lubrication A method of forced injection lubrication using a casing that does not leak oil and circulating the oil by means of a pump Illustration



(1) Caution during installation

  • Chain elongation is caused by the wear between the pin and the bushing.
  • Each chain is coated with anti-rust lubricant at the time of shipment. Do not wash or wipe off the lubricant when installing chains. Also, be careful not to place the chain directly on the floor to prevent sand or dust from adhering to it.

(2) Timing of replacement

  • When the chain elongation reaches +1.5%. (When the number of teeth is 60 or more, the allowable elongation becomes smaller as shown in the graph below.)
  • When the link plate is significantly damaged, cracked, or deformed.
  • When the chain is found to have significant scratches, cracks, or rotation defects.
  • When a bent pin or warped link plate is observed.
  • Significant rusting and chain bending defects are observed.
Number of sprocket teeth and allowable elongationNumber of sprocket teeth and allowable elongation


  • When replacing a chain, avoid replacing only one part of the chain with a new one. When replacing a chain, replace the entire chain with a new one.

(3) Check Oil Lubrication

  • Remove the chain periodically and clean it with kerosene. After that, fully lubricate the chain.


  • When cleaning, do not use acid, alkali, gasoline, or benzine.
  • Powders and foreign matter that accelerate wear must be completely removed.
  • Metal surfaces cleaned with solvents are prone to rusting, and should be lubricated immediately to prevent rusting.
  • Inspect the contact surfaces of the pins and the bushings, and if they are shiny, this indicates that the lubrication was proper. Apply oil again and use the chain.

(4) Chain elongation measurement procedure (caliper measurement)

  • Chain length is usually measured by applying a load of approximately 1% of the average tensile strength. To measure an existing chain, measure the inner and outer dimensions between the rollers on the tension side as shown in the figure below.
  • To minimize measurement error, measure at least 6 links.
Figure of 10links measuringFigure of 10links measuring

(5) Chain elongation measurement procedure (measurement with a measuring tape)

  • To avoid measurement error, remove the chain and measure a distance close to the number of all links in a straight line.
Chain elongation measurement procedure


When roller chains and sprockets are installed, perform the trial run inspection shown below before operation. In addition, since conditions may change over time during operation, perform daily and regular inspections to ensure safe use.

(1) Trial Run Inspection

  • Check the chain is correctly installed
  • Check the clips, split pins, etc. at the chain joint are correctly installed
  • Check the split pins at the chain joint are correctly spread
  • Check the appropriate take-up tension (Not too loose or too tight)。
  • Check that the chain doesn’t touch chain cover
  • Check that chain is lubricated properly

(2) Daily Inspection

  • Check for abnormal vibrations, noises, etc.
  • Check obstacles that may interfere with the chain and sprocket
  • Check the chain components, dirt, corrosion, improper lubrication etc.
  • Check each components for scratches, deformation, damage or other abnormalities.
  • Check the roller rotation, bending, or gaps in each part
  • Check the condition of the contact area with the sprocket
  • Check the chain wear elongation
  • Check abnormality of the joints, clips, or split pins
  • Check rusting of the chain (Red rust due to poor lubrication or rust due to environmental deterioration)
  • Check lubricating oil carbonization or other deterioration
  • Check adhesive powder or forging matter that accelerates wear

(3) Periodic Inspection

  • Check the paragraphs (1) and (2) above visually or with a measuring device while the machine is running, stopped, and with the chain removed.
  • Perform regular inspections according to the usage conditions and environment. If the usage conditions are severe, increase the number of inspections.

(4) Other

  • Predict failures are take measures to prevent accident according to the inspection result.

Clarification of problems and Countermeasures

Problem Probable Causes Countermeasures
Wear of parts
Wear of parts
  • Overload
    Insufficient lubrication
  • Proper lubrication
  • Replace with new chain if the elongation exceeds the allowable limit.
Pin rotation
Pin rotation
  • Overload
    Insufficient lubrication
  • Replace with new chain as soon as possible
Abnormal noise
  • Excessive chain tension or looseness
  • Contact with chain cover
  • Loose bolts and nuts (e.g., conveyor case)
  • Adjustment of chain tension
  • Adjustment of the chain cover
  • Retightening of bolts and nuts
Chain vibration
  • Excessive chain slack
  • Long distance between shafts
  • Poor bending
  • Adjustment of the chain tensioner
  • Idler installation
  • Lubricate the chain or replace it with a new one.
Wear of the inner plate and side of the sprocket teeth
  • Sprocket misalignment
  • Adjustment of sprocket alignment
  • Replace with new chain depending on the degree of wear
Poor chain bending
  • Excessive load
  • Sprocket misalignment
  • Insufficient lubrication
  • Foreign matter intervention, poor atmosphere
  • Rusting
  • Change chain size
  • Adjustment of alignment
  • Clean the chain and lubricate it according to usage conditions.
Chain rides up on sprocket teeth
  • Wear elongation
  • Excessive chain slack
  • Worn or deformed sprockets
  • Replace with new chain
  • Install tension if necessary
  • Replace with new sprocket
Chain doesn’t come off from sprocket smoothly
  • Long distance between shafts
  • Wear elongation
  • Worn or deformed sprockets
  • Install idler
  • Replace with new chain
  • Replace with new sprocket
Broken pins
Broken pins
  • The fractured part is close to the link plate position, and the fractured surface is characterized by a spherical shape with a bright surface.
  • Review the load and re-select a chain.
Broken pins
Broken pins
  • Center of pin is broken at nearly right angle
  • The pin was repeatedly subjected to loads exceeding its fatigue strength. Or, under corrosive environment, the pin may break starting from the corroded part.
  • Beach marks are observed on the fracture surface.
  • Review the load and re-select a chain.
Broken offset pin
Broken offset pin
  • Broken offset pin (cut at the base of the flattened part)
  • Discontinue the use of the offset link.
  • Review chain selection
Fatigue failure of a plate
Fatigue failure of a plate
  • Fatigue failure of the plate vertically from the hole
  • Occasionally also occurs from the center mark position.
  • Review the load on the chain
  • Review chain selection
Stress corrosion cracking of plates
Stress corrosion cracking of plates
  • Stress corrosion cracking of the plate, starting from the hole in the plate where the pin or bushing is press-fitted
  • Protect the chain from acid and alkaline atmospheres with chain covers.
  • Review chain selection
Broken rollers
Broken rollers
  • Cracking of the rollers occurs from flaws in the indentation caused by foreign matter
  • Fatigue failure
  • Review rotational speed and load as well as consider lubrication appropriate to usage conditions, and chain covers for removal of foreign matter.
Worn plates
Worn plates
  • The bottom of the plates are worn due to friction with the guides
  • Replace with new chain if wear of more than 5% of the plate height occurs
Fractured plate
Fractured plate
  • Static breakage of plate with overload exceeding tensile strength
  • Review the load on the chain and chain selection
Chain Trouble Shooter