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Crawlers, Dozers, Loaders & Backhoes Discussion Forum

Important info about komatsu

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05-06-2004 18:33:49

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Hey guys, I discovered something today that might be of interest to ya'll if you are running a piece of Komatsu equipment. I have a customer that bought a new service and operators manual for his PC150 excavator to aid him in doing the correct maintenance on it. Due to the age of the machine and the operating conditions he went to the lubrication guide chart for the hydraulic system and chose what the chart said was a 10W-40 weight Engine oil and got what Texaco showed as being Komatsu's recommendation. Here is where the problems begin.......First you never want to use a detergent oil in a hydraulic system but according to Texaco's tech line EVERY multigrade oil available in the US is gonna be a detergent oil......Second, and I actually called Komatsu America on this, they DO NOT recomment a detergent oil in the hydraulic system......What is supposed to be in the hydraulic system is either a 10W or a 30W Non detergent oil. According to the guy I talked to at Komatsu what CAT calls their powertrain oil is correct for the excavators hydraulics, along with any other brand that meets the same CAT specs, which I believe he said was a TO-4 spec........What Komatsu told me is that there is basically something being "lost in translation" when the equipment is brought in here because the oil is rated differently over than it is here in the US. From what I understood there are non detergent engine oils available over there that aren't available here, so when the translation to 'use an engine oil' is put in the book is is correct for there, but not for the US. If you work on the equipment for a living like I do, or have been around and involved in maintenance long enough youprobably know that you shouldn't use detergent oil in a hydraulic system. Now we have to start looking out for those buying a piece of equipment for the first time and actually making an effort to do things right by going by the book, because the book isn't always gonna be right. Believe it or not both guys I talked to at Komatsu knew the manual was calling for the wrong type oil, but both said they had never had anybody call and ask them about this problem before. This tells me that there are alot of people out there that are blissfully going by the book and slowly killing their machine's hydraulics. Hopefully at least some of them have asked somebody knowledgable before they wasted alot of money and filled their system with the wrong oil. My custmer is a long time equipment owner so didn't ask me before he changed his oil...the book has to be right, right??....now he's stuck with a 50 gallon system that he can only change 30 gallons of at a time so it's gonna cost him big to fill and flush enough times to get all of the detergent oil out of the system . I'm just glad I was made aware of and was able to catch the problem before the pumps went and it became my nightmare........If you know anybody using a piece of Komatsu equipment please pass this info along. If you have any questions you can call Komatsu America and they should be able to answer them for you.

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05-08-2004 09:54:02

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 Re: Important info about komatsu in reply to Wayne, 05-06-2004 18:33:49  
It's too bad they don't let their "factory service personnel" know this. I recently overhauled a 95 series engine in a 220. When finished the owner wanted a complete service on the remaining systems of the machine. Knowing translations get ticklish on foreign machinery, I called my local dealer for recommended lubes. I was told to "put 15w-40 engine oil in the hydraulic system." Go figure. He should probably be aware of this, but I lack sympathy for the guy- he's already three months late on paying his repair bill. What goes around, comes around.

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Davis In SC

05-08-2004 21:31:21

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 Re: Re: Important info about komatsu in reply to greg, 05-08-2004 09:54:02  
Greg, he sounds like some of my customers..... after 3 or 4 months.... I have to "justify" why they should pay me.....

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05-07-2004 14:52:06

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 Re: Important info about komatsu in reply to Wayne, 05-06-2004 18:33:49  
I guess if you can use either a 10W or a 30W then a 20W should be ok too, since it falls in-between.
Or does it depend on ambient temperature?

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05-07-2004 05:42:34

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 Re: Important info about komatsu in reply to Wayne, 05-06-2004 18:33:49  
I'm going to take a wild guess that is what the Case designers were addressing by specifying the addition of a friction modifier to 10w30 engine oil used in their skid loader hydraulic systems.

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05-07-2004 01:49:03

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 Re: Important info about komatsu in reply to Wayne, 05-06-2004 18:33:49  
I found my Mitsubishi BD2G dozer's clutch worked better with a different oil than recommended by the manual.I put that down to our warmer climate in Australia.Some of the Jap/English translation in those books is really lacking,as plenty of people have found out.

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Davis In SC

05-06-2004 21:32:28

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 Re: Important info about komatsu in reply to Wayne, 05-06-2004 18:33:49  
The Book & dealer both say to use 30-W motor oil in the hydraulic tank of my Scat Trak skid steer..... Is this going to cause problems ??? Bought it used 2 years ago, topped it off to sight-glass level with 30-W Rotella.

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05-06-2004 22:21:22

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 Re: Re: Important info about komatsu in reply to Davis In SC, 05-06-2004 21:32:28  
Hey Davis, I've never had any dealings with the Skat-Traks so I'm not really qualified to make that judgement. I will say if the dealers service people all say the same thing as the manual then that's what you need to use. The service guys are the ones that see the problems and the causes, and if it isn't causing any problems then it must be OK in that application. Personally I feel the engineers designing this equipment always have a reason for recomending one thing or another. Often they don't know what it is any more than we do, that's why we have to always be watching and using our heads to make sure we don't screw up over some common sense thing that they did wrong....... Actually though what I was trying to pass on here was a contridiction in what Komatsu's manuals say -vs- what their service people say and what has always been common practice in the industry for more than one very good reasons. The use of a detergent oil in a hydraulic system can cause anything from foaming in the oil which will cause cavitation in the pump and result in premature pump failure, to it picking up waste/contaminants in the oil and depositing it as sludge throughout the system. Unlike an engine which is a fairly small system that has few actual "dead spots" where sludge can form and really be a problem, a hydraulic system is a large system with many dead spots, where sludge buildup could be very detrimental to the system operation. If you think about all the valves, spools, orifices, etc in a typical system it doesn't take but a little sludge in the wrong spot to cause major problems........ I haven't looked at any of our Komatsu dozer manuals yet but I imagine they also call for the same type oil (engine oils /multigrades) in the transmissions too. I know the excavator gave multi-grade "engine oil" as being acceptable in everything from the engine, to the final drives, to the hydraulics....basically everywhere but the fuel tank.... I don't know what all types of transmissions they use in their equipment but in some cases it will kill a transmission too. If you use a detergent oil in most transmissions that use clutch discs (like a CAT Powershift) or in a rear housing with a wet type steering clutch, it can also cause problems, but for a different reason than the hydraulics. Detergent type engine oils aren't recomended in these applications because they are simply too slick and can cause the clutches to slip causing premature wear in them. The main thing, just like in this case, is if your not sure..ASK....because the manufacturers nowdays are sure not gonna come right out and tell you they have screwed up.....First it would make them look bad, and second look how may more parts their able to sell when the equipment breaks because you follow their recomendations......it's not their fault you took their word for things and didn't ask......

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Brendan Casey

05-09-2004 18:43:08

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 Re: Re: Re: Important info about komatsu in reply to Wayne, 05-06-2004 22:21:22  
You have raised a very interesting subject. When the OEM doesn't say what the mean it can certainly make it difficult to follow their lube recommendations. I'd like to commment though on the use of lubes with detergent additives in hydraulic systems. There is a class of hydraulic fluids to DIN51524, (HLP-D fluids) which contain detersive and despersive additives. The use of these fluids is approved by most major hydraulic component manufacturers and can be advantagous in many applications, including mobile, to prevent build-up of varnish and similar deposits which can lead to valve stiction and other reliability problems. The 'red flag' with these lubes is they have excellent water demulsyfing ability, which means that if present, water is not separated out and therefore it reduces lubricity and filterabilty, leads to corrosion and cavitation and shortens the life of the oil. These problems can be avoided by maintaing water content below 0.1% - which is not a low water content target for any hydraulic system.

Modern lube chemistry means that detersive and anti-foaming properties aren't necessarily mutually exclusive. Recent research has also shown that the presence of foam actually reduces cavitation erosion damage by providing a cushioning effect against bubble collapse. This is not to say the presence of foam is a good thing - the compression and subsequent dieseling of aerated fluid can cause similar damage to cavitation.

I'm not suggesting that mutli-grade engine oils with detergent additives are good for use in all hydraulic systems, but on the other hand, if I were to realize retrospectively that the hydraulic system of my excavator or dozer had been
charged with this type of lube, I wouldn't be pressing the panic buttons right away either. Rational discussion with a technical specialist from the lube manufacturer in conjunction with the OEM would be in order.

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Davis In SC

05-07-2004 16:34:28

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 Re: Re: Re: Important info about komatsu in reply to Wayne, 05-06-2004 22:21:22  
Thanks for info , Wayne... It does make sense that detergent oil could be trouble in a hydraulic system. Volvo recently bought out Scat Trak, selling them under their name now. They are just up the road in Asheville. They are sold by LB Smith Co. now. I might give them a call & ask what they recommend... Regards, Davis

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05-06-2004 20:45:14

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 Re: Important info about komatsu in reply to Wayne, 05-06-2004 18:33:49  
Good info - THANKS!!!!
My HD3 Allis Chalmers has printed right on the sticker on the hydraulic tank to use "engine oil" in the hydraulic system. Fortunately for me, having grown up around old equipment of all kinds, and having a grandpa who believed only in non-detergent oil, I knew what the Allis people really had in mind. But as you mentioned, a lot of people have no idea. Good info to pass on - I'll do what I can, too. Thanks again.

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