Replacement oil for MIL-L-46152

   / Replacement oil for MIL-L-46152 #1  


Gold Member
Dec 12, 2004
Andice, Texas
Hey guys, I'm changing the compressor oil in my Ingersol-Rand air compressor. The information tag on the door says use a MIL-L-46152 SAE 10W oil for the compressor. This is a 1980s vintage air compressor so I think this specification is obsolete. Anyway, it looks like transmission fluid and probably is, but I know there are different types. I'm going to make a run into town tomorrow to look for a 5 gallon bucket. If anyone knows of a current spec to look for, please let me know. Thanks.
   / Replacement oil for MIL-L-46152 #2  
MIL-L-46152 is a very old spec. The current ones are MIL-L-46152C/D/E. This is a spec for engine oil NOT TRANSMISSION OIL. Probably what they wanted was a 10W non detergent motor oil. You would be fine changing it out to a conventional modern compressor oil. You can pick that up at TSC if you have one close.
   / Replacement oil for MIL-L-46152
  • Thread Starter
This is a big rotary compressor and takes 14 quarts. Can I find compressor oil in a 5 gallon bucket at TSC?

The oil I drained out was pink and smelled like transmission fluid. Even before I drained this oil out, it was in my mind that transmission fluid is used in these compressors.

I take it that any modern non-detergent 10W oil I can find will meet the MIL-L-46152?

Thanks for the help.
   / Replacement oil for MIL-L-46152 #4  
No compressor I know of has ever taken transmission fluid. Years ago most all compressors specified non detergent motor oil in either SAE 10,20 or 30 viscosity depending on the type of compressor. Since that time true compressor fluids have been formulated and that is what most manufacturers now use. In older compressors I alway's recomend using compressor oil instead of non detergent motor oil as it is better suited for the application.

I doubt you will find a 5 gallon bucket of compressor oil at TSC. They usually only have pints and quarts (at least the ones around here). If you can't find any locally or your looking for a good compressor oil you might want to check out TRC's compressor oil.
   / Replacement oil for MIL-L-46152 #5  
TSC has SAE 10, 20, 30, 40 Non-detergent in 2 Gallon jugs or SAE 30 non-detergent in 5 gallon pails according to their site.
   / Replacement oil for MIL-L-46152 #6  
Mil spec is ancient.

like the other guys sed.. ND oil should work.

for that matter I'd suspect just about any oil is going to work in an air compressor.

trying to think what is special in an air compressor that would require a specific type of oil and cant come up with anything.

Over the road vehicles that have an engine driven compressor are lubricated by whatever engine oil is used in the vehicle.

pretty much the same thing here, one or two cylinder compressor with pistons pumping air and some type of pressure or splash lubrication of the bottom end.
no combustion byproducts to take into consideration.
   / Replacement oil for MIL-L-46152
  • Thread Starter
I went back and re-read the stickers on the inside of the door on my air compressor. It says a "heavy duty detergent oil, SAE 10W".

I found a local oil distributor who can get detergent 10W motor oil. I'm not sure why it needs to be a "detergent" oil verses a "non-detergent" oil. In my limited shopping today, I noticed some motor oils say "non-detergent" and others don't say at all.
   / Replacement oil for MIL-L-46152 #8  
Actually MIL spec is not ancient. The spec's get updated every few years just like API, ACEA, ILSAC category's do.

Hmm, the plot thickens. It is rather rare to see a compressor spec a "detergent" oil. Most call for non detergent oil. It might be because it is a rotary screw compressor and not a reciprocating or flooded vane type.

As for which engine oils are and which are not, if it sais non detergent that's what it is. If the container does not say then it is most likely a detergent oil. Most all engine oils today are detergent, the non detergent ones are the ones that are hard to find.

In any case, a good compressor oil in SAE 10 / ISO 32 viscosity designed for rotary screw compressors would still be my suggestion.
   / Replacement oil for MIL-L-46152 #9  
I have a 25hp Gardner-Denver screw compressor that specifies Dexron II transmission fluid.
   / Replacement oil for MIL-L-46152 #10  
Actually this particular spec was cancelled on 31 Oct 91 and the cancellation letter said to use the CID (Commercial Item Designation) spec A-A-52039 which was Automotive engine oil API spec SG.

If you came to me asking for this, we would give you Rotella 10wt in a commercial designation or I would give you Mil-PRF-2104 10wt in a MIL-spec Oil as we stock for Tactical vehicles.

Most compressors are not very fussy as to what they run though.