Steel cylinders were slid against flat steel disks, using a liquid lubricant, in order to study the progression of events associated with “running-in.” It was found that, when using mineral oil, the electrical contact resistance varied over a small range of high values indicating no metallic contact, whereas with engine oil a high resistance with an intermittent negligible contact resistance was found. A surface film forms from the additives in the engine oil which produces lower wear, slightly higher friction, a retarded running-in, and a rougher surface finish in the direction of sliding than does the mineral oil. A film which is composed only of Fe3O4 is formed when mineral oil is used. In addition, the mineral oil lubricated surfaces develop a conforming waviness across the sliding tracks. The oxide must have enhanced this surface conformity since it was not seen in the surfaces lubricated with engine oil. The role of the oxide may be further seen in experiments in which wear debris that accumulated in the entrance region of specimen contact was removed at frequent intervals. Little conforming waviness was seen in the latter case, suggesting that oxide which gathered in the entrance region abraded grooves in the steel surfaces. After the oxides were dislodged the friction increased and the contact resistance decreased for a time, indicating that the oxide acted like a solid lubricant.

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