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4 Easy Ways to Remove Tramp Oil

First of all, what is Tramp Oil?

To remove tramp oil, you must first understand what it is. Tramp oil is unwanted oil that has mixed with cutting fluid (also known as coolant, lubricant, or metalworking fluids). It is generated as a byproduct during metalworking operations.

This type of oil is a contaminant and a potential pollutant if not dealt with properly. It usually originates as lubrication seeping out from the slide-ways and washes into the coolant mixture. Tramp oil can also originate as the protective film with which the steel supplier coats the bar stock to prevent rusting, or as hydraulic oil leaks. 

In extreme cases it can be seen as a film or skin on the surface of the dirty coolant or as floating specks. The odor in the air around contaminated sumps is also terrible.


Skimmers and Coalescers

Tramp oil skimmers are used to remove the tramp oil from the clean coolant. These are typically slowly rotating disks, tubes or oleophilic belts that are mounted and partially submerged below the coolant level. 

As these moving parts rotate through the coolant, tramp oils cling to them as they pass a tramp separator or wiper before returning to the coolant sump. These wipers direct the waste to a container where it is collected for disposal.

To remove tramp oils, Zebra Skimmers manufactures rugged tramp oil disk, tube, and belt skimmers. They also developed the Muscle™ coalescer that uses floating oil skimmers for removal from the surface of metalworking coolants.

All Zebra skimmers are designed as simple, trouble-free, economic solutions for removing free floating and mechanically dispersed old fluids from individual machine sumps.

tramp oil removal solutions - Zebra Skimmers

Here are four product options from Zebra Skimmers that help solve your tramp oil issues:

  1. Disk Skimmer
  2. Tube Skimmer
  3. Belt Skimmer
  4. Muscle Coalescer


Based on gravity flow and coalescence, Zebras disc, tube and belt skimmers can remove tramp oils to less than 1% in a single pass.

Skimmers have a value in today’s metal working industry as they help to extend the productive usage of soluble oil, semi-synthetic and synthetic coolants, as well as the cutting tool, increasing speed and productivity.

Benefits of using Zebra Skimmers:

  • Most Inexpensive Way to Remove Oil from Coolant
  • Reduces Bacterial Growth and Foul Odors
  • Prolongs Coolant Usage,
  • Reduces Raw Material Expenses
  • Extends Tool Life and Improves Part Quality
  • Prevents Plugging of Spray Heads and Filters
  • Reduces Disposal Costs
  • Minimal Maintenance
  • Returns on your investment
  • Extended life on your parts
  • American made products with American quality

How the GS Series Disk Skimmer saves the day:

The VP Industries Story

The Problem

Cary at VP Industries has been trying to keep his coolant free of tramp oils for the past ten years. He was experiencing issues with not just the cleanliness but limited options in models of a device. This caused excessive wear and tear on his machines and a terrible smell in the air.

His only criteria? Whatever he picks had to be effective at eliminating waste, and affordable for his multiple machines and coolant sumps.

Purification in machining is key! Cleaning his systems was a priority.

The Solution

A new invention that uses micro-coalescing technology. Cary was using sulfur based coolant in all the Metal CNC machines in his plant. Particularly in his Mitsui Seiki VR5A.

In addition, he had to dispose of 19 collection barrels. At a cost of $65 each, this came to $1,235. This is about $1.20 per gallon. That is a lot of gallons but these barrels contained coolant as well. Therefore an additional cost was incurred to replace the unnecessary lost coolant cost.

Cary decided to switch his machines over to Blaser coolants because it helped him cut better and reduced his contamination waste to 16 barrels. This was a good savings but he knew he could do better on his operation.

It also rejected the waste much better but the quantity in the machine were now more evident which was a critical issue.

Cary also knew that the new coolants were more nutritious for rapid growth of anaerobic bacteria. Something had to be done. If he didn’t eliminate the sludge, then his more expensive coolant would go bad just as the other coolant had.

At first, Cary used three common types of skimming options, and they didn’t do the job. Then he got a conventional disk skimmer. This did the job but that unit also pulled out much of the coolant into the waste drum. 

The unit also had to be on a timer, and the bowl that Cary was using to collect the discharge run-off had to be watched every day to make sure that it would not overflow.

In addition, his operator had to take the full container to the barrel and empty it every day. This would require only a few minutes a day, but over the course of a year, a few minutes a day adds up to a full day of lost work.

The Magic

At this point, he began to use a new product that not only skimmed his tramp oils out of the tank, but also cleaned the contaminants and returned the coolant to his sump.

This was the exceptional new type of disk skimmer introduced by Zebra Skimmers in Cleveland, Ohio. The skimmer uses patented micro-coalescer technology to separate the coolant from the oils, to clean it, and pump it back to where it needed to work. separation of the clean fluids to the reservoir needs the right combination of tools and design.

The units are portable and could be easily customized to fit in a special area, along with unbreakable plate disks. Mounting and installation are easy and it helps with a minimized downtime. When operated correctly, the durability of Zebra gives your components a larger span of time to operate.

As a bonus, Cary was able to use components of his old disk skimmer on the new unit, saving even more money. He could finally finish his search and rest easy knowing that because of his his purchase, his shop floor was in good hands.

Problem Solved

But the biggest benefit of all is that no coolant is removed by the filtration system because of the micro-coalescer. By leaving the skimmer on almost continuously, and using a small fan to move the oil towards the skimmer, he was able to keep his coolant pristine. It was an automatic bonus letting him put his attention elsewhere!

What was once costing him virtually $1,000 a year is now less than a hundred! By switching his unit to a standard Zebra GS unit, Cary has saved himself a lot of time and has increased extra cash on hand to allocate to other areas of production.

Even better, his equipment stays cleaner because he can have the skimmer on all the time. His dumping cost is minimized because the barrel contains only waste. Now the cost of hauling it is also much less.

Cary also doesn’t have to empty the can every day to remove the tramp oil. It was like gaining a whole extra day of production! And since the coolant is cleaned and returned to the proper area, it lasts longer, resulting in fewer changes and more efficiency of time spent in his plants.

Easy wins all around!



About Zebra Skimmers:

Our mission has always been simple. It is to provide the metal working industry with the oil skimmers and metalworking fluid management systems they need to complete jobs quickly and efficiently. Innovative and affordable solutions have gained us many accolades. Our continued growth is due in no small part to our excellent customer service… Not to mention our satisfaction guarantees and the performance of our tools.

Among our diverse options of oil skimmers and metal working fluid management systems, you can expect to find: