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There's a bracket around the top tube with a hole in it. A bolt passes through the hole, to hold a doodad that the swing chain can be connected via an S bolt.

enter image description here

When the swing swings, it makes an awful squeak. I was originally thinking of spraying it with silicone spray, but then thought white lithium grease or powdered graphite would be better. It's metal on metal contact, and outdoors.

What would be the most appropriate lubrication to use in this situation?

  • I have an aversion to silicone sprays. Destroyed a weeks worth of product because it interfered with paint adhesion; on the completely other side of a block long factory. –Looks like you need some Kilz(R). – Mazura Jul 25 '15 at 3:10
  • I've used silicon spray (garage door chain lubricant) on my motorcycle chain, and it's okay at first but degrades quickly out in the elements. I'm going back to a regimen of putting the bike up on a stand with a bucket of soapy water under it, scrubbing the chain with a brush, rinsing and drying it then soaking it with motor oil. – Craig Jul 25 '15 at 3:31
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    Let it squeak... our set used to squeak the same way and it let me know where the kids were without having to whistle for them. If it stopped squeaking, I would check to make sure they were not up to some kid-type mischief. – Jimmy Fix-it Jul 25 '15 at 15:35
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    @JimmyFix-it Plus one for squeaky swing sets. A comic I read recently: It's too quiet up there, -better see what's going on. It's too loud up there, -better see what's going on. There's just the right amount of noise, -better see what's going on up there. – Mazura Jul 28 '15 at 0:40
  • @Mazura, hilarious!! – Jimmy Fix-it Jul 28 '15 at 2:36
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Since this is exterior, and I'd be too lazy to oil it after the first time, I'd use grease. It's the preferred maritime lubricant, and that's good enough for me.

White Lithium Greasejoneakes.com

Lithium Grease is that thick white grease you often find packed into bearing housings. It is the workhorse of the lubricants and can take high temperatures and pressures. If you have a grease housing which will hold extra grease, using a thick lithium grease from a tube or a can is the best thing to do. They have now come out with Lithium spray greases. These are great for outdoor uses, tending to be thicker and stay put longer under the rigors of outdoor conditions than other sprays, but they are not intended to replace the even thicker grease that you pack into a gear box. They are definitely a grease and will stain clothing as well as attract dust when used openly, so although a great lubricant, not the best product for a bicycle chain. Be sure to shake the can well before using.

Google search: Marine Lubricant/Grease

  • "attract dust when used openly" sounds like a bad trait for something I'll be using outdoors on playground equipment. – Tester101 Jul 25 '15 at 4:36
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Understand that whatever grease, oil, spray etc. that you put on this joint will, when warm, eventually migrate down the chain an onto the children's hands. I would leave it alone and welcome the sounds of happy children. When they are teenagers and long gone from your back yard, you will want that memory, trust me.

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My favorite lube is Super-Lube. It contains PTFE (Teflon if you're DuPont). The grease is pretty water resistant, so rain won't wash it away. It also comes in a spray can. Their website is here. It's also great for guns. It withstands high temperatures (>500, if memory serves) and doesn't flow.

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I would use 3in1 oil, it lubricate moving parts, penetrate rust, it is great for cleaning and protecting. I have used this for year on the most stubborn tool, door, outside faucet handle and so on. I would use 3in1 oil at the Swing Fastener, putting drops starting at the top and working my way around, on both sides. Move the parts until it stop squeaking, clean up any excess oil and or gunk and repeat every 3 months.

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Okay, I'm totally editing this answer. My first answer was basically: products like 3-in-1 and silicone spray are great for loosening up stuck parts, but too light for long-term lubrication, pack it with grease (lithium grease, axle grease, pick your poison). I still stand by that...

However; what if you went high-tech and installed a couple of actual bearings? :-)

The picture is a couple of high tech racing bearings that go on something like a Porsche 911. They just looked like something that would be easy to clamp onto the swing, with small enough journals to run a bolt through and clamp them up nice and tight. There are lots of other bearings to choose from. You could even find some teflon bearings or even teflon tubes just the right size for the bolts--no lubrication ever again.

Racing bearings PTFE Tubing


Original answer:

Something like 3-in-1 oil or even silicone lubricant spray is great for penetrating rust and getting stuck parts to start moving again, but long-term I think you might want something a little heavier. I have doubts about the powdered graphite.

Motor oil is actually one of the best lubricants for car door hinges, for whatever that's worth.

Personally, I'd probably clean those up with either a solvent (which will evaporate) or motor oil, or both, then pack them lightly with axle grease. I'd do it just like you were packing wheel bearings, so that you get it squeezing out the other side, then wipe away the excess on the outside. I just think that would last longer than just about anything else, and protect the metal from rusting, which is where a lot of the squeak is coming from.

Lithium grease might be really good, too. It or axle grease, same difference probably.

As for silicone spray (garage door chain lubricant), I've used it on my motorcycle chain and it's okay-ish. It's convenient because I can put a newspaper or rag behind the chain and spray it in there to clean and lubricate without getting it on everything else. But it doesn't seem to really last out in the elements. I'm going to stop that and go back to a regimen of putting the bike up on a jackstand, cleaning the chain with a soapy brush, rinsing and drying and then soaking it in engine oil.

  • While bearings are a great idea, they're a bit beyond the scope of this project (at least for now). – Tester101 Jul 25 '15 at 4:33
  • @Tester101 I hear you. In that case, I'd personally do what my original answer said (more or less) and clean the moving parts as well as is reasonable with some kind of solvent, let it dry, then pack it with grease, or at the very least use a heavier lubricant like motor oil. I actually really like the idea of putting some kind of teflon sleeve in that bolt hole, though... ;-) – Craig Jul 25 '15 at 4:46

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