Air Chucks Need Proper Maintenance for Maximum Performance

IMG_2491Air chucks are the preferred holding method for OCTG. Their compact size allows every inch of spindle space to be put to good use, which is essential when your workpiece is 40’ long. But, where you find oil, like the deep South, you usually find heat and humidity. The resulting condensation creates rust, which plays havoc with the workholding. Not every shop can afford driers or dehumidifiers to keep the moisture out of the air. That’s why regular maintenance is so important to keep air chucks running smoothly and safely.

Down time is dollars down the drain in oil country. So, we thought it might be beneficial to give you a recap of the best practices for keeping your air chucks in tip-top condition.

Oil O-Rings Often
The average air chuck can have up to 20 O-rings or more. They help maintain the correct air pressure in the system to keep the jaws of the chuck engaged. Oil is the lifeblood of O-rings and checking the oil level in the lubricator daily goes a long way to extending their lifespan. We recommend 15-weight Parker 442 non-detergent oil. This combination has the right viscosity to run efficiently though the lubricator and won’t break down the poly bowls that hold the oil. Confirming that the oil lubricator is working properly is an inexpensive way to maximize productivity. Dry them out and you’re in for a service call and costly down time.

Lubrication is another method of keeping your chuck running smoothly. Chucks that aren’t greased daily can suffer a 40% loss of grip force in just one week.

Monthly Preventive Maintenance
Human nature being what it is (or because they don’t understand the value), a lot of operators don’t check the oil level and grease their chucks on a daily basis. That’s why we highly recommend a preventive maintenance routine at least once a month. This includes oil and lubrication, an inspection for O-ring and seal wear by pressure testing, and a check for the proper grip force.

IMG_2490Annual Checkup
In a pipe yard, the jaws on an air chuck can open and close every 90 seconds. If you are running 24/7, that is a whole lot of clamping and unclamping. After a year of that, your chucks should have a complete tear down and thorough inspection for wear on all moving parts. Once open, all internal seals should be replaced. At the end of the process, your air chucks will be in excellent condition.

DIY
Some operations have service engineers that are capable of performing the required air chuck maintenance properly. We carry the proper grip force meters and pressure gauges in stock so they can be assured of getting the proper readings.

We also offer training for in-house professionals to bring them up to speed on best maintenance practices. And of course, our factory-trained technicians are available to provide a total preventive maintenance program for any shop.

What happens if you don’t pay attention to the proper maintenance process for your air chucks? Let’s just say our repair team is always on call 24/7 in case you have an emergency.

Contact us to learn more on the proper preventative maintenance for your specific SMW Autoblok workholding.