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oiling a variac. bad?

11/9/2004 5:10 AM
oiling a variac. bad?
Hello I just got a new variac and I want it to last as long as possible. Would it be a good idea to put some kind of lubricant on the contact surface where the graphite 'brush' runs or better not? I know there must be replacements but better not needing them.  
Thanks indeed.  
11/9/2004 7:09 PM

No, don't oil it. What better dry lubricant than graphite anyway? As to wearing out, just how much do you expect to be turning the thing up and down? The Variac on my bench has been siting there for over 30 years. I have to replace the fuse now and then when I get too frisky, but I gotta say there is a lot of wear left in my brushes. My bench is in commercial electronic service, so I use the thuing regular, but even at that, I don't spend ,my day turning the knob.  
The Variac is a powerful tool for the bench. Yours will last for years, enjoy it and learn with it.
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11/17/2004 6:15 AM

"Oiling" it is perfectly fine, and recommended for smooth operation and long life . . . as long as you use the proper product.  
Look over the offerings from Caig Labs. (  
They're the best there is. (I'm not a Caig rep, just a technician for the last 35 years who's used this stuff to great success.)
11/17/2004 5:13 PM

Great. So now I am in a quandary thanks to you both.  
11/17/2004 7:31 PM
Mark Lavelle

FWIW, I'm voting with Enzo. You'd have to use the hell out of the thing in a truly dirty/dusty environment to ever need to lube it...
11/17/2004 10:39 PM

Sorry we confused you JC, we are both right. You can oil the shaft bsuhings and obvious stuff. Don't oil the contact surface. You could use some Caig MCL or Deoxit on it if you like. Those are not oil, but are contact surface dressings. They certainly won't hurt it, and if you do any amount of electronic work at all, you should have a can of each on your bench anyway. Caig makes all kinds of contact enhancers.  
But my underlying point was that on a Variac, no lube or surface dressing is needed. The brush is its own lubricant. And wear is really not an issue. I got mine in the 1960s and it was used then. SO I have been using it for 40 years with no end in sight for the wiper. It will last longer than I will. And if that is the case in my commercial shop use, it should last even longer in home shop use.  
If the thing sits unused for long periods, it might need a wipe with something. I am talking years now, not days.  
So don't oil it, but you can apply contact conditioner if you like.
11/18/2004 7:36 AM

Enzo is correct, of course.  
I used the term "oiling" because I read somewhere that the Deoxit line of products use mineral oil as their base. If you rub some between two fingers, it definitely feels "oily". ;-)
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