Sunday, February 12, 2006

The dangers of the wrong lube...

No I'm not talking about petroleum jelly and condoms, I'm talking about a much more dangerous combination: GI issue CLP gun lube and desert warfare. Our guys and gals in Iraq have had problems with the gun lube being issued to them causing their weapons to malfunction and jam in the middle of firefights because the lube issued to them attracts dust and sand and jams the action of their weapons. Our guys and gals in Desert Camo and dying because the US Army issued the wrong kind of gun lube. This problem was known to the Pentagon, but like most bureaucratic organizations, it was ignored. When the guys and gals on the ground started to try to order their own, better, gun lube, those orders were cancelled en mass by the US Army. Supposedly this situation has been rectified somewhat, orders by individual soldiers or units of a lube called Militec can go through now, but the standard issue lube is still CLP. You can read more here.

Update: This PDF file still resides on the US Army's Logistics computers from 2003. It is from PS Magazine. And it of course derides any report of problems with CLP and denounces any cleaning or lubrication regimen other than that which uses CLP. And after perusing the 2004 article index (the latest on their website) there are no mentions of any other lube regimen that is approved. Bureaucrats can be slow learners....


Blogger Pigilito said...

Can this be the same crap I was issued from '82-'85? I spent 6 months in the Sinai desert, and that stuff is a sand magnet.

February 15, 2006 7:37 AM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

I'm not sure when CLP was first issued I'll try to find out. Stupid question, but were you in the US or the Swiss services at the time? I don't know if the Swiss used the same lube or not.

February 16, 2006 10:21 AM  
Anonymous John Lange said...

This sounds very familiar. When I was in the Marine Corps in VietNam it was during the time that m16's were first being given to the troops. There was a great deal of trouble with these rifles jamming. The "fix" from the Pentagon was to blame the users for improper cleaning. There were a lot of US troops found dead in their firing positions after a firefight with a cleaning rod in their barrel, trying to clear a jam. The solution was finally found. The wrong type of powder was used in the rounds that caused a slower burn and consequent short rounds. A lot of the names on "The Wall" in D. C. can be attributed to some bureaucrats covering their ass and delaying an investigation into the real reason for the jams. I'm sure some of the officers in charge of that shameful debacle went on to promotions and a long military career.

February 16, 2006 7:38 PM  
Blogger Pigilito said...

Rorschach, it was the US Army. Although I received my Swiss induction notice at around the same time I joined the US military, I never had to serve (a treaty prohibits having to serve in both militaries; although it is possible I believe, if one signs a waiver).

I'm pretty sure we were issued something called CLP (clean, lube, protect) at some time during my service ('82-'85), but it may have been a fore-runner of what the troops are now using. If it is the same product I feel sorry for them. There must be plenty of newer, better lubes out there.

February 17, 2006 6:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We used LSA (Lubricant, Small Arms) when I was in. Oil, mixed with soap makes grease.

Graphite is carbon mixed with small clay particles. Because it is dry, it doesn't pick up the sand. Carbon particles lubricate because they have many many slip planes, so the carbon fails rather than tearing up the metal. In a salty climate, you get a corrosion cell between carbon and steel, but in a dry climate, there is no liquid to act as electrolyte. The clay partly insulates the anode and cathode from each other, and partly absorbs any water, ending the corrosion cell.

Lithium grease is used for high temperature, high pressure automotive applications. It doesn't oxidize as quickly, and works well with a thinner coat than others. Alas, its oily nature will cause sand to stick.

Back during WWII, the Germans had a problem with sand in central asia. Flowers of sulphur were the preferred lubricant. Slightly abrasive, but they don't attract larger particles of grit like oil and grease.

Some advanced lubricants have temperature dependant morphology. At low temperatures, the molecules ball up, so the lubricant molecules roll over each other. At high temperatues they open out, and slide over each other.

Sometimes you are in a crappy environment, and small grit particles are as happy as you can get, if you don't get bigger pieces. No lube, and rubbing pieces of metal makes small asperities stick to each other, and create metal pieces with metal oxide on the outside. That can be much nastier than small grit.

February 18, 2006 10:38 PM  
Blogger Rorschach said...

I would expect a combinantion of Moly Disulfide and Graphite and possibly a bit of teflon in the mix in a VOC carrier like maybe hexane awould be an excellent dry lube with little propensity to gum up the works or to attract dirt. I also think modification of the action design to allow room for a plasma spray ceramic hard coating on moving parts of the action (smaller machined diameters that are plasma sprayed with a hard coat ceramic and then finish ground to size) would be another improvement. increasing the clearance for those parts with a sliding fit would be another improvement that could be made to the weapons design. After all, the AK is well known for it's ability to fire under the worst sorts of abuse. it may be inaccurate as hell, but it doesn't tend to jam at the drop of a hat either, even when never cleaned.

February 19, 2006 11:51 AM  

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