Castrol fluids at work at WilliamsF1

Castrol, the UK sponsor and lubricants technical partner of BMW WilliamsF1 Team, has published an application note describing the use of its 'Alusol XT' cutting and grinding fluids in the team's main production shop at Grove, UK. WilliamsF1 cuts metal for a range of transmission, suspension, steering and other components using CNC lathes and mills, which work in aluminium, magnesium, stainless-steel and titanium, and run on a seven-day, three-shift basis

Castrol fluids at work at WilliamsF1

WilliamsF1 machine shop manager Steve Blewett says that machining complicated components to tight tolerances and very tight deadlines makes the shop a demanding environment for cutting fluids. "We had some product and service concerns with coolants from another manufacturer," he said, "and agreed to look at Castrol as an alternative. This is a hard-water area with high levels of chloride, so they were asked to run initial trials on one machine. The results confirmed that, to improve component quality and optimise the performance of both lathes and grinding machines with Castrol's recommended fluids, we needed to install a reverse osmosis unit to remove impurities from the water and soften it."

Following the award of the contract in 2001, Castrol 'Alusol XT' replaced the previous fluids for general machining and grinding operations in all but two of the machines. 'Hysol MG' was recommended for these machines, which are dedicated to machining magnesium. The same fluids are also used in a smaller R&D workshop.

Blewett: "The first thing operators noticed was that the Castrol products are much cleaner than anything we'd used in the past. They eliminated the misting and foaming problems we had been experiencing, and the screens and machines stayed clean."

The CNC machines are maintained by the machine shop operators, who also check 'pH' and coolant levels on a regular basis, but the monitoring process is still a joint effort, with regular visits by the local Castrol sales engineer Phil Eltham. He said: "'Alusol XT' is also saving money for WilliamsF1. It is naturally cleaner than other fluids and prevents tramp oils from emulsifying, making them separate easily for removal with skimmers. That means it lasts much longer than the previous coolant, even in this environment, which is confirmed by the fact that they haven't had to clean out the sumps since 'Alusol XT' was introduced over 12 months ago."

Blewett concluded: "When a racing component has been machined, tested and proven reliable in the R&D machine shop, there may be as little as three or four days for the production machine shop operators to produce them to the same standards before qualifying and race days. It goes without saying that we must be able to rely on our coolant supplier."

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