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Thread: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

  1. #1
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    Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    Which type of Oil do you use in your 1950s and older Antique and classic Cars???
    There are some old car folks who like straight weight oil (ex; SAE #30W) in their old cars while some say Multi-viscosity (ex:10W-30W)
    is the best, and modern way to go...

    Some say use only NON-Detergent Oil in an old dirty engine...Some say to use ONLY Detergent oil as it is far better and won't free-up old dirt deposits...

    And what about synthetic (Mobil 1 ) & Blends in an old car ?

    What is your opinion???

    What are your arguments (Both + & - ) for the oil you use!!!

    How about Rear-end gear lube for pre-Hypoid
    type of Antique worm gear (600W) Steam Cylinder Oil??? Is there a better Modern lube for this application??? I had a tough time finding 600W steam Cylinder Oil and had to "Special Order" 20 gallons !!!

    WHAT IS THE REAL TRUTH ABOUT LUBE OILS ???

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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    This has been dsiscused on the forums at diffrent times for several years. Go to the search at the bottom of the page . There has been a lot said about this.

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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    diesel oil.

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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    A multigrade oil is better than a single grade because the single grade oil tend to be too thin at higher temperatures. A Texaco oil expert advised me to use 20W-50 in my Hupmobile 1929 and 10w-40 in my other prewar cars.
    All modern oil is much better than the old stuff. Just chose the correct viscosity. However, you have to be careful with one thing: Most old cars use some yellow metal (e. g. bronz) in gearbox and differential. Some modern hypoid and other heavy duty oils are harmful to yellow metals and should be avoided. In the specification for the oil you can find information about if it is harmful to yellow metals. You can get best advise by talking to one of the big oil companies oil expert.
    Jan
    Buick 32-87
    Buick 40-56S
    Hupmobile 1929 Century 8

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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    my choice is delo 15-40,it is a good split between 10-30 and 20-50.it is used in 70 to 80 % of semi trucks and has proven track record.engines in the 40`s and 50`s tend to (smudge up)and the delo has additives for this, and it will rival the synthetics in performance.valvoline is also a good choice,as is castrol.most oils on the market are suffient,some are a little better than others. the synthetics will do a little better job but i dont think the price difference warrants it if you keep it changed.

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    Senior Member De Soto Frank's Avatar
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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    Yes, a lot has been said on the subject...butbthat won't stop me from adding my $.02 ...


    Personally I would be reluctant to begin using detergent oil in a pre-1960 engine unless I had seen with my own eyes that it was squeaky-clean and sludge-free inside. If it was an old junker that was ready for an overhaul anyhow, I might not care so much...
    Factor into this the rebuild cost for the engine in question, and whether you want to risk incurring and engine rebuild by taking the chance on detergent oil loosening a bunch of crud and grit that either scours the bearing surfaces or (and) clogs-up some oil galleries and trashes the engine...

    Detergent oils prevent the formation and deposition of sludge in a clean engine; they will also begin to attack it in an old dirty engine.

    Straight-weight vs. Multi-Weight: once upon a time, there was nothing better then single weight motor oils; usually SAE 20 in the Winter and SAE 30 in the Summer. One of the problems with the single-weights is that they are usually very thick at cold temperatures, and cannot circulate through then oiling system as well until the engine and the oil are warm...this is why most auto engines read higher oil pressure at start-up than when thoroughly warm...
    The phenomenon can result in oil-starvation at cold-start and during warm-ups, parictularly if one "loads" the engine heavily (lugging in too high a gear, for example) before the oil is thoroughly warm.

    Here's a wrinkle though, I'm not aware of any non-detergent multi-visc oils, so refer to the first paragraph.

    Some folks prefer to use heavier single-weight oils in an old beater that burns a lot of oil and/or has bad rod or main bearings, as doing so somewhat reduces oil consumption and quiets loose bearings a bit...it really is a "band-aid", and not a very good one.
    Also consider whether the subject vehicle is a trailer/parade queen, or something that's going to see hundreds or thousands of touring miles each season...

    SAE-40 ND in a trailer queen might suffice to keep it running reasonably quiet between the trailer and the exhibition field.

    As for what to put in gear boxes, rear-ends, and such...some caution is advised, as some newer gear oils are harmful to any bronze bushings inside ( I believe the sulphur content is the issue?).
    Many folks who tour with Model A and T Fords seem to prefer 600-weight oil, among other reasons is that it's "stickier" and doesn't seem to get past the simple leather or felt seals as easily as newer lubes...


    Hope this helps somewhat...I am running Valvoline 10W-30 "dino-oil" in my newly rebuilt 1960 Chrysler during it's run-in period. I'm approaching oil-change time, and will probably switch to synthetic, now that the engine is "broken-in" and appears to be "leak-free".

    A friend's father (and subsequently my friend himself) kept a 1977 Ford LTD II going to over 300,000 miles with no major engine work, by using synthetic oil (changed regularly). My friend "inherited" said car at about 200,000 miles, and I drove it for about six months while I was between cars myself...the engine used no oil between changes and did not smoke or knock.
    The tranny was another story - it refused to go forward until it was thoroughly warm, but new seals would've fixed that...). The car was sold to a high-school senior about two years ago, and as far as we know, is still going on the original engine.

    Well, that's a lot of gas from me...lets see what others have to say...
    Frank McMullen
    1928 Ford 49-A Special Coupe
    1930 Chevrolet Special Sedan
    1941 De Soto S-8 De Luxe Sedan
    1948 & '50 Chrysler NY'ers
    1941, 1954, 1955-first Chevy trucks
    1961 Rambler American Convertible :D
    1965 Ford F-100 long-bed pick-up
    1982 Honda Silverwing GL-500 Interstate :cool:

    Dearly Departed:
    1955 De Soto Fireflite S-21 sedan
    1960 Chrysler Windsor PC-1 sedan
    1961 Plymouth Belvedere sedan

  7. #7

    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    I just bought steam cylinder oil from a Texaco dealer, Vanguard 680. They also had Vanguard 1000. I was able to buy 5 gallons, the oil wasn't expensive but the shipping was outrageous. As to engine oil, the experts will disagree, but I'll never put detergent oil in a car without an oil filter. I've already been down that road.
    Official member of the L.S.S. I know it's misspelled, they only let me use 16 letters

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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    I have also been using cylinder oil in my prewar cars. It was recommended by Shell. Texaco also recommended Ursa Super LA 50.
    Jan
    Buick 32-87
    Buick 40-56S
    Hupmobile 1929 Century 8

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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    i agree the engine should be clean to use a detergent oil.ive ran the delo in my 41 buick century for 3000 miles,since the overhaul.valvoline is also an excellent choice it is a proven product.

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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    I will argue that the engine should be clean inside even if you don't use detergent oil. One day some crud will get lose and maybe clog an oil line.
    So if you have an old car running on the old type of oil, CLEAN THE ENGINE as soon as possible and put in modern oil. That may save your engine.
    Jan
    Buick 32-87
    Buick 40-56S
    Hupmobile 1929 Century 8

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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    I have been watching this thread with great interest while waiting the arrival of my yet to be seen ebay, 1951 Olds 88 with 51k on it. I wanted to know what oil to put in it upon arrival. The detergent, non-detergent question really had me concerned.
    I watched a tape copied from the speed channel, on the birth of the rocket engine. It was mentioned there that the rocket engine was the first to use and reccomend detergent oil. that made me feel better.
    The car finally arrived on the 5th of January. Other than some minor wisconsen body rust, the car is a cherry. body straight arrow, and the interior is like brand new. I found numerious scraps of paper in the glove compartment and under the visor mirror, with the original owners service records. It would have been nice had he kept a log book, but several hours with a magnifing glass and I was able to put together a pretty good service history on the car. It has dates, milage, type and weight of oil. There is even a note saying the transmission was replaced at 38k, which means it only has 12k on it. Nice bonus!
    Now I can change my oil, put in 20w40 and breath easy.
    The car was last driven in 1979, and it had an oil change 1000 miles before it was parked, indoors for all these years. So far, I have only pulled the plugs and squirted some Kroil in the cylinders. Haven't had time to try putting a wrench on the crank bolt, but I will be very surprised if it doesn't turn freely. I'll keep you posted.....

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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    I never had luck with Castrol oil - it seems to thin out before any other brand, and 5 minutes after putting it in , it turns black !!! Quaker State , Vavoline , and others take a while !!!!!

    ..................Steve
    1954 Packard Pacific
    1954 Packard Caribbean

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    Senior Member De Soto Frank's Avatar
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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    The above-mentioned '77 LTD II was run for over 200,000 miles primarily on Mobil-1 synthetic, I believe.

    Castor-based oils go way back... that's what they used in Rotary airplane engines back in early aviation; these were essentially two-cycle(?) engines that recieved their fuel/air mix through the crankcase, and therefore needed to have their lubricating oil mixed with the fuel. Castor oil was used on the theory "that being "plant-based", it's lubricating qualities would not be compromised by being mixed with mineral-based fuel...", at least that's what I remember reading in a book about old airplanes, some thirty years ago. I think the book focused on Cole Palen and his collection that became Old Rhinebck Aerodrome in NY state.
    Frank McMullen
    1928 Ford 49-A Special Coupe
    1930 Chevrolet Special Sedan
    1941 De Soto S-8 De Luxe Sedan
    1948 & '50 Chrysler NY'ers
    1941, 1954, 1955-first Chevy trucks
    1961 Rambler American Convertible :D
    1965 Ford F-100 long-bed pick-up
    1982 Honda Silverwing GL-500 Interstate :cool:

    Dearly Departed:
    1955 De Soto Fireflite S-21 sedan
    1960 Chrysler Windsor PC-1 sedan
    1961 Plymouth Belvedere sedan

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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    Hi Frank! I believe that Castrol WAS in fact origionally castor bean based...I don't believe that it is today;or has been for a long long time! I could be wrong on this??? If so... smomeone will let us know.???
    Castrol castor bean oil was in fact used by early aircraft engines in WW I and before...These engines had to be very light weight.Ran at very high + low temps at times. They turned at fairly high speeds. and had to be able to run at all angles + upside down. Some did have conventional oil sumps...some did not!!! The oil was in fact mixed with the fuel in some types, but not all types!!!
    The castor bean based oils would lubricate well with the fuels and burn-away fairly cleanly.
    It did cause one real problem... The pilots when exposed to it would get very sick!!! Very often the engine would spray a vapor mist of this castor oil. When inhaled, or exposed to the skin it would cause digestive upset,abdominal cramps and in extreme cases diarrhea! I am not kidding!!! Often pilots would not be able to fly the next day!!! I remember mothers used to give their children Castor Oil from the drug store as a laxative. Don't know if it's around anymore???
    Early race cars used to use this very same oil in addition to mineral based oil in their sumps. It was mixed in the fuel to give better top-end lubrication for the valves and pistons.
    I hear at early race tracks you could really smell it's unique odor!!! Later Marvel Mystery Oil and others were used the same way!!! I have a MGTD that used Marvel Mystery Oil to lubricate it's Judson Supercharger by dripping a small amount of Marvel Oil into the Supercharger intake via a special marvel drip lubricator!

    Does anyone know if Castrol is still castor bean based??? I know it once was in the early ays ...BUT...today I think it is mineral based and has not been castor bean based for decades...I could be wrong!!!

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    Senior Member De Soto Frank's Avatar
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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    In the same book that dealt with Cole Palen & the Rhinebeck collection, they described in detail the process of actually flying one of these pre-1920 crates with the rotary engine; they mentioned the pilot taking note of whether or not the leading edges of the lower wings (bi-plane) were being spattered with castor oil from the engine...if they were, they "knew" that the engine was recieving adequate lubrication !

    They also described the signficant (and often dangerous) effects of the gyroscopic forces generated by that whirling engine block of the rotary engine, and its effects on the handling of the plane.

    Supposedly the (in-) famous Sopwith Camel was a notoriously difficult plane to manage...but also one of the few that could compete with the German's Fokkers.


    I remember as a kid, being threatened with a dose of Castor Oil by my grandmother, if I would not behave...
    Frank McMullen
    1928 Ford 49-A Special Coupe
    1930 Chevrolet Special Sedan
    1941 De Soto S-8 De Luxe Sedan
    1948 & '50 Chrysler NY'ers
    1941, 1954, 1955-first Chevy trucks
    1961 Rambler American Convertible :D
    1965 Ford F-100 long-bed pick-up
    1982 Honda Silverwing GL-500 Interstate :cool:

    Dearly Departed:
    1955 De Soto Fireflite S-21 sedan
    1960 Chrysler Windsor PC-1 sedan
    1961 Plymouth Belvedere sedan

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    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    Yes you can still get Castrol-R racing oil, from Englind that is castor oil based, it's what we use in the Speedway motorcycles. Because we burn methonal regular dino based oils are washed off the cylinder walls, where as castor based oils will mix with the methonal. And yes it does have a unique smell.. I also have a Marval Mystery Inverse Oiler on one of my 54 Packards.

  17. #17

    Re: Type Of Oil for pre 50s "Antiques"?

    My daily driver had nothing used in it except Mobiloil #30 for the first 99,000 miles of its life. When I started driving it (1959)it was burning a quart of oil every 500 miles. The shop foreman at the GM dealership where I worked said to use lighter weight oil as it would scrape off the cylinder walls easier. I switched to 20 wt and after three oil changes the consumption was down to a quart in one thaousand miles. When I overhauled my engine at 200,00 odd miles I started out with the best rated "DG" oil # 5 weight. I used this weight oil for over 100,000 miles and then went to #10 wt that I still use. I have 18 lbs pressure at an idle and 30 lbs when driving. The pressure stays like this all day driving at 40 to 55 mph. I had the pan off around 450,000 miles because one of my new pistons developed slap. Everything was clean and the bearings showed no wear ( I plastiguaged all nine of them). I would use nothing but the best detergent oil at the lightest weight possible.

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