Home > Resources > Articles & Research > Basic Handbook of Lubrication - Interview with the Editor
Basic Handbook of Lubrication - Interview with the Editor

July 24, 2012
Evan Zabawski

Audio Interview with the Editor of the Basic Handbook of Lubrication, 3rd Edition, Evan Zabawski, VP of Technical Services, CAN-AK

Click here to download the audio, or stream the audio in your screen on STLE's blog, The STLE Compass


  • (1:20) Background on the book
  • (2:30) Intended audience
  • (3:05) Unique qualities compared to other books
  • (4:10) Topics addressed in the book
  • (5:15) Examples of how you might use it in your daily work
  • (6:45) Evan’s highlights about the book
  • (8:15) Sales and updating this edition
  • (9:55) Major contributors


LEMAR: Hello, I’m Kara Lemar. Welcome to the STLE Compass, brought to you by the Society of Tribologists and Lubrication Engineers. The STLE Compass is your convenient and reliable resource for the latest developments in the tribology community.

In today’s episode we will feature an “Interview with the Author,” giving you the opportunity to hear from the editor of the Basic Handbook of Lubrication, published by the STLE Alberta Section. We’ll get an overview of the book, the contents and some insight on the editor of a very helpful book that should be on your professional bookshelf.

Our interviewee, Evan Zabawski, is the Senior Reliability Specialist at FluidLife. Evan is a Fourth Class Power Engineer with a diploma in chemical engineering. Prior to joining Fluid Life Evan gained previous experience as a manager of a tribological lab before moving into the field of power generation fluid maintenance. He has been a member of STLE for over 12 years and is Chair of the STLE – Alberta Section, and also an instructor of the Condition Monitoring course at STLE Annual Meetings. He has published several technical papers and is also a member in good standing of API and ASTM. Evan is Editor of TLT Magazine, and served as the Editor for The STLE Alberta Section's Basic Handbook of Lubrication - Third Edition, the book we’ll be discussing today.

Editor’s Note: Evan is now VP of Technical Services with CAN-AK in Alberta, Canada.

LEMAR:  Evan, welcome to the STLE Compass.

ZABAWSKI: Thanks, Kara.

LEMAR:  We’re glad to have you. First, can you give us a little background on the book?

ZABAWSKI: Certainly. The book was published as a first edition in 1989 as a fundraiser for our hosting of the Annual Meeting in 1993. We resurrected that book from a short, 51-page edition, to about a 330-page edition in 2001 as a fundraiser for the 2006 Annual Meeting. And after that particular publication, we were approached by Ed Salek at Headquarters, who suggested we review our book and turn it into a study aid for the certification exams. That’s what prompted the third edition to be created, and by modernizing some of these sections and publishing that in 2011, it’s now boasting about 350 pages. So, the book has significantly grown and has changed a little bit in its intended audience.

LEMAR: So, who is the intended audience?

ZABAWSKI: Well, the intended audience, as we outlined in the objective for the book was pretty much everybody. We wanted it, as we say, “non-exhaustive reference in everyday language.” So we wanted to make sure that from the laymen on the shop floor all the way up to someone who is in charge of a lubrication or reliability program would find useful sections within the book as well as people simply seeking certification in one of the STLE exams (outside of the CMFS exam).

LEMAR: So, what makes this book unique from other reference or study books?

ZABAWSKI: The biggest difference this book has versus most of the other ones is size. It’s relatively compact at 350 pages. Considering the scope of topics that it covers, it covers a much wider range than the typical book – it’s not your heavy textbook, though. And it is, as I said, written in everyday language, which makes it much more readable and less of a textbook. So, we felt that the combination of the wide variety of topics in concise chapters and nice language makes it a much better reference than some of the existing books that are out there that tend to be textbooks, tend to be pushing 600 pages and tend to only cover 1 or 2 sections. We manage to throw in about 30 different sections with this book.

LEMAR: That’s significant. And it’s a good change – a different type of format, keeping in mind the way someone might use it. You mentioned there is a wide variety of topics in the book – what are some of the topics included?

ZABAWSKI: Well, we start off with a lot of the basics or fundamentals, so we seek to identify different types of oils and additives and finished products and we branch out from there to specific applications of oils and lubricants, so we have sections on engines, turbines, hydraulics and compressors. And then we cover other lubricants like greases and solid films. Then we continue to related topics such as solvents, seals, lubrication delivery devices – all kinds of branches here that partly were guided by the recommend reading material for CLS certification, and that’s what gave us our overall scope.

LEMAR: So, one could use it to study for an exam, but how might someone use it in their daily work?

ZABAWSKI: Well, in their daily work, there are the quick clarifications that could be looked up in this book. If you’re having trouble selecting a lubricant, you could look up different base stocks or additives to help identify the intended usage. But a good example of something very specific you might do would be if you experienced a failure of a component like a bearing. There’s a section on bearing failure analysis, there’s another section on wear types to help identify the wear types. So, you could take a failed part and compare it to the pictures within the book to see if you could decipher how it failed and the root cause of the failure. There is another section on used oil analysis that would help guide you as to what oil analysis could have helped in detecting this failure before it happened, and you can trace that right back to lubricant selection – if you needed to review what lubricant you were using to see if it was, in fact, the proper lubricant for that application.

LEMAR: Well, great. Those are all good examples that if you do need the book, it’s there for you to use. It’s handy, it’s compact and written in an easy language, so it’s easy to decipher and utilize on the floor.

ZABAWSKI: Exactly.

LEMAR: Based on our conversation today, what would you want listeners to take away from the discussion or what would you like to highlight about the book?

ZABAWSKI: Mostly what I’d like to highlight is the fact that it’s a very diverse set of topics in here, and a relatively low price as far as technical references go. And that was part of the planning for the book – to make it affordable and broad so that just about anybody would choose to have this book on their shelf. And though it’s not the most comprehensive guide to any particular topic, it’s the most comprehensive on a wide variety of topics. I’d encourage people to review the list of covered sections here and as long as they feel that there are a half dozen even that are of use to them, this book is probably the most economical solution to satisfying that particular demand. The other side of it would be that anyone looking to study for the certification exams, this is the book for you. It’s the easiest book to get your hands on – it is in stock, it’s not out of print, like so many of the other recommended readings, so it satisfies that demand quite easily and it’s the most economical choice for that.

LEMAR: So, it’s a book that solves problems that you might encounter either at work or studying for an exam. We hope to see it on a lot of bookshelves, and I’m sure it already is.

ZABAWSKI: Yes, it has sold remarkably well and has been very popular in its demand. That was another reason that prompted the third edition. The second edition sold out in four years and had been out of print for a little over two years before the third edition came out. In that two years there were a few requests for the book – people who had seen earlier editions, wanted to know if we still had additional copies and/or if we were updating it – because of course, certain things in the lubrication field are ever evolving, and they wanted to know if we had addressed that. We certainly did that with this edition. There are about 39 separate sections within the book and 18 of them were updated for this third edition to help keep it current, so that it wouldn’t languish on the back shelf somewhere. That is another problem with some of the existing materials out there – they’re hard to keep up to date because they are such massive tomes and authors are often now retired because they were chosen to contribute chapters at the peak of their careers. It gets hard to have someone come in and bring it up to date. Whereas our book was written by a lot of active members, who had maybe 10-20 years in their positions – so they’re still out there, pulling strong, still able to contribute and do it in a very effective manner because they are still heavily involved in the lubricants industry.

LEMAR: Who are some of those featured authors that contribute and are active members in STLE?

ZABAWSKI: Two of the most prominent contributors to the book…one would be Bob Scott of LubeWorks – he contributed about half of the material in the book, whether he solely wrote a particular section or co-wrote it with another contributor. So, Bob is definitely our most prolific contributor and very knowledgeable. He holds multiple CLS and OMA certifications and has been an active member within our local section for over 20 years. He is very well- respected in industry, so we greatly appreciated his contributions. Bob is the kind of guy that seeks to give you the best answer possible, so he put a lot of effort into his sections and made sure that they were as up to date and complete as possible. The second contributor that I think stands out as a major contributor to the entire effort is Dr. Roger Melley of Champion Technologies. Roger was the senior editor for the second edition and he contributed the foreword and introduction and a few chapters and Roger again, is a very well-respected member, with well over 20 years in the local section. In fact, he was the 2006 Vic Joll Award winner, due to his efforts. Partly he was recognized because of his push to have this Basic Handbook of Lubrication created and continued to support it, even though his job sort of took him out of the lubrication world – he continued to give us moral support and editorial support in promoting the second edition and led us into the new millennium with the third edition. So, those would be the two authors I think stand out the most – both very well-respected and major contributors to the bulk of the material within this book.

LEMAR: Great, thank you for giving us more detail about the book. So, thanks again, Evan!

ZABAWSKI: Thanks, Kara.

LEMAR: I’m Kara Lemar. For more news, information and research on basic lubrication concepts and ideas, please visit our website. You can also purchase one of two versions of the book: Perfect Bound for an easy visual on your bookshelf, and Spiral Bound, for ease of use on the shop floor). Thank you for joining us today. This has been another episode of The STLE Compass, pointing you in the right direction.

You might also like:

©2008 STLE All rights reserved.