Proper lubrication is essential to just about any type of moving machinery, and Vulcan’s pile drivers are no exception. The most important single point of lubrication is the steam or air cylinder which pulls up (and with some hammers pushes down) the cylinder. Failure to do this will result in reduced efficiency and expensive repairs, usually ones that have to be done in the shop. It’s also important to use a lubricant that emulsifies with the air or steam; failure to do so (such as using motor oil) results in problems.
Although many contractors used their own versions of this, in the 1970’s Vulcan marketed its own sight feed line oilers. The principle is simple: the pressure of the air or steam (with some help from what amounts to a carburetor) forces a continuous mist of oil from the tank into the air or steam stream, and thus to the hammer.
Vulcan’s literature for this is here; a chart Vulcan prepared to match oiler with hammer is shown below. Note that the air and steam oilers are different, due to differences in temperature and the lubricant.
Vulcan didn’t sell too many of these, but wherever they come from they’re important. As Vulcan’s proverbial canny Scot always reminded everyone, oil is cheaper than spare parts.
Below is a photo of Vulcan’s air line oiler in action, along with other oiler photos and types used with the equipment.