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Oiling Toy gyroscopes

Most toy gyroscopes have plain bearings i.e. The metal shaft of the gyroscope has a pointed end that loosely fits in a small hole in the surrounding cage. This is very effective and usually won't need any maintenance. However, adding a few drops of thin oil will increase the spin times. DO NOT add oil or lubrication to gyroscopes with sealed ball races/bearings such as the'super gyroscope' or the 'Linaze gyroscope'.

Ball race bearing have a carefully controlled amount of oil in them. Adding too much oil (could simply be an extra drop) can flood the bearing with oil. The balls in the bearing will then need to push the oil out of the way (rather than having a thin coat of oil). This results in shorter spin time. Worst still, by mixing different oils can result in a congealed mixture that is much thicker than either. In short: oil plain bearing. Don't oil ball race bearings unless the manual states.

Type of oil to use on toy gyroscopes

There are numerous types of oils and having done customer service on products for 25 years it amazing what customers will use as oil!

You could use a sewing machine oil and that would work well but it is very thin and tends to run off the shaft and can even be thrown off by the speed the shaft is rotating at. A general purpose oil such as 3-in-1 should be ok or a medium thickness motor oil would do if you only have that lying around. I don't recommend WD40. Its never a great lubricant in my experience. WD40 can do many things but a good lubricant it is not.

About the Author

Glenn Turner has been designing and manufacturing gyroscopes since the late 1990s. He founded Gyroscope.com and has sold gyroscopes to 138 countries. He has developed a number of custom gyroscopes including gyros for specialist medical applications and has done consultancy work for a F1 racing team. He developed the first affordable control moment gyroscope for teaching space gyroscopes. His other passions include Stirling engines and Tesla Turbines.