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History of Grease cups


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As I spent the day doing routine maintenance on the '13 Stude to get ready for the Glidden I became very familiar with the many grease cups on the car. This got me to thinking about how little I know about the history of grease cups and their application to the early automotive industry.

My guess is they are a product of the American Industrial Revolution in the 1860-70's. It was probably a natural extension to use them for lubrication of the many shafts when the auto manufacturers started using bearings and bushings and the like.

Any history buffs out there who can help? Was there any standardization of cups or threads or size or? Was there a major supplier to dominate the market or only regional machine shops who churned them out for the local auto makers? I went looking at the cups I have for the '16 Hupp and they are all different from the Stude's. When did they phase out of the auto business?

I know I screwed a lot of them in and out all day today! I also found two cracked caps that won't hold pressure so I will be looking for them too.


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The history of grease cups and oilers goes back many years before the invent of the automobile. When the automobile came on the sceine grease cups and oilers used on the auto were standardized.

Grease cups: OOO 3/4 in. dia.--1/8 pipe thread

OO 1 in. dia.--1/8 pipe thread

O 1 1/4 in. dia. 1/8 or 1/4 in. pipe thread

these were also available with locking cups

Oil cups: #1 -- 1/4 X 32 3/8 dia.

#2--5/16 X 32 7/16 dia.

#3--3/8 X 24 1/2 dia.

#4-- 7/16 X 24 9/16 dia.

There was also a large variety of oilers with reservoirs.

When I grease my old cars I remove the grease cup and screw in a zerc and grease it with a grease gun, does a better job. I use water proof grease for the water pump and the grease cups so I can turn them up while I'm touring.

I remove the zercs and put the original grease cups back in when I'm done.

Filling grease cups and turning them down is a job.


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In the early years, many machines were lubricated with bees wax, or animal fat, before oil was refined and so abundant. Lubricating cups have been around a long time. Some early engines and machinery had trouths to fill and lub the bearings. Dandy Dave!

Edited by Dandy Dave (see edit history)
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Thanks for the info. I guess I was thinking of high pressure grease cups which is why I went to the Ind Rev. That era involved more refined metal shafts, higher RPMs and more heat generation needing pressurized lubrication so it wasn't displaced as easily.

I always thought that lubes in the earlier (medieval) times with animal fats, etc. was done by brushing it on a wooden wagon axle. Too many old TV shows showing a 'smithie' slopping it on with a mop type brush or a stick/paddle I guess. After all it was before my time!

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