- Adam Morris
McLube OneDrop vs Dry Lube - Review and Usage Tips for Lubricating Marine Ball Bearings
Updated: May 15
I thought I would let you know that the original working titles for this article were:
You're Lubricating your Balls Incorrectly, or
Are you Taking Care of your Balls?
But Connie's current crew (Oliver, Joanna, and Co-Captain Angie) told me that I mustn't! So I put down the rum and told the crew that I would definitely not include it in my article, at least not in the title, anyway.
Ah, yes, the point! We've found that McLube OneDrop is the best lubricant for keeping our ball bearing blocks working like a dream. And I was making a big mistake using other lubricants, especially dry lubricant.
Dealing with Sluggish/Difficult Traveler Cars
We got invited over for sundowners from a fellow Privilege catamaran in Tolomato River in Saint Augustine. The boat was a Privilege 495, and it was a beauty!
After the usual comparing notes on maintenance nightmares and useful upgrades (often quoting SV Zatara), the captain mentioned that his traveler was such a bear to use. On a cat without a boom vang, the traveler is really your most effective mainsail trim.
I asked him how he was lubricating the ball bearings in the blocks on the traveler cars, and he mentioned that he was not!
Blocks with ball bearings or roller bearings need to be lubricated periodically to function their best. Connie's traveler cars and mast track cars get very unruly if we don't keep them lubricated properly.
When the lubrication starts to wear thin, usually after 4-6 months, the mainsail is a bear to raise. It's a slow winch all the way up. Add the proper lubricant, and you can hoist the 50ft sail by hand.
So, which lubricant to choose?
Here's the problems with using just any old lubricant:
Contamination: Ball bearings can easily become contaminated with dirt, sand, or other debris, which can cause them to malfunction. Traditional lubricants that contain oil or grease can attract dirt and debris, which can make the problem worse
Missing the mark: Ball bearings can be difficult to access, especially in tight spaces or hard-to-reach areas. Connie's top most mast track car requires some acrobatics. This can make it challenging to apply lubricant evenly and effectively.
Over-application: Applying too much lubricant can be just as bad as not applying enough. Over-application can cause excess lubricant to collect and attract dirt and debris, which can cause the bearings to fail.
Slippage: using the wrong lubricant (like a dry lube) will actually make the balls slide instead of rotate. This wears flat spots in the bearings, and significantly decreases their effectiveness over time. Any lube with PTFE especially has this problem.
The solution is Mclube Onedrop
It has many advantages:
It comes in a needle nose shaped dropper bottle that allows you to apply the lubricant precisely where it is needed and actually get to hard to reach places
It lasts pretty long. I generally go about 4 months or so before feeling like we need to reapply.
You need very little. On smaller blocks, I actually use ONE DROP. On larger cars like the mast track cars, I use maybe 3 or 4. Overlubricating is actually a detriment, as the lubricant will attract too much dirt. This stuff goes a long way.
Little improvements like having your ball bearing blocks working at their absolute best really make a difference. If you've found a product that you like or disagree with any points, sound off in the comments!