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I few weeks back I received a package, which among other things included factory lubrication instructions for Wisconsin T-head engines including models: A (Stutz & FWD), G, L, M, P, & PT engines. I thought I would share some of the info since it might apply to other makes as well.


The Instructions call for:


Summer Light duty: Gargoyle Mobil Oil "A"


Summer Heavy duty Service: Gargoyle Mobil Oil “BB”


Its noted that for fire pumper service an extra heavy oil such as Mobil Oil "B" should be used.


Winter: Gargoyle Mobil Oil "A" though in extreme cold (below 0 degrees F.) they recommend an oil similar to Mobil Oil Arctic.


Of course the challenge is cross referencing these long gone oils with a modern equivalent. The instructions recommend changing the oil every 750 miles in summer and every 500 miles in winter or if in industrial service every 50 hours.


In regards to oil pressure: “At 1,000 revolutions per minute of the engine, the pressure gauge on the dash should show a pressure of five pounds per square inch, with the engine warmed up.”


Note that the Wisconsin M, P & PT models were developed circa 1921 and were probably some of the last T-heads to come onto the market. This at a time when Wisconsin had a diverse and well established lineup of mono-block engines on offer. As late comers they had a rather sophisticated pressurized lubrication system with no provision for splash lubrication.


They warn against flushing with kerosene and suggest that “After draining it is well to replace the drain plug, put a quart of fresh oil into the crankcase and turn the engine over for a few revolutions to wash out the old oil; then remove plug and drain again.”


As a final note: “The idea is prevalent that heavier-bodied oil should be used in engines that have seen considerable service and are somewhat worn. This is fallacious. The worn condition of the engine makes oil pumping inevitable with any oil, and the use of heavy-bodied oil will simply result in greatly increased carbon deposit. To make worn engines perform properly regrind the cylinders, fit oversize pistons and piston rings.”


“No oil can take the place of and perform the functions of metal that has worn away”


Thinking about all this I am curious about some of the lubricating systems used on various brass era automobiles. Total loss, pressurized, plunger pumps etc.  its all interesting technology.





Best regards,



Edited by Terry Harper (see edit history)
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In my opinion and many others, just about any oil today will be far superior to any oil 80 years ago.  No need to be concerned.


That said, if you go to gear oil for differentials then you need to be sure that you have a gear lube that does not affect brass if your differential or manual transmission has brass.

Edited by Larry Schramm (see edit history)
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I believe I remember that the late Harold Sharon wrote that this concern is much exaggerated. That the corrosive effect of some lubricants on brass (more properly bronze) only occurs when the unit reaches 350ºF and, that since no differential and few transmissions are likely to get this hot, it was not terribly worrisome.



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I've been spending quite a bit of time on the engine lubrication problem and find the very low pressure Terry's Wisconsin engine demanded to be quite interesting. In fact, I'm planning on making or adapting an oil pump for my 1910 Mitchell. It was made with an external oiler, a feature near obsolete in 1910 and almost immediately abandoned by Mitchell for some sort of plunger pump driven by an additional lobe on the camshaft. The oiler had external lines attached in 5 or 6 places and I will mimic this by having the pump attached to the same inlet ports. What the optimum pressure should be is a question but I am thinking that it should be quite low and this appears to be confirmed by Terry's information re his Wisconsin engine. My biggest problem at the moment is finding an appropriate dash-mounted pressure gage that only goes to about 10 lbs.



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Hello Joe,


Rather than a gauge how about a sight glass? Sounds odd since we usually associate those with a total loss system or a locomotive boiler, but with the low pressures we are dealing with here the most basic concern is if oil is indeed flowing through the system. An example of this would be Mercer. Oil picked-up from the sump was pumped through a sight glass on the dash which provided proof that the pump was working and oil was indeed flowing.




Another "tell tale" would be the "Winker system" used by Stanley - when the "Iris" is dark all is ok, when clear....well... Granted none of these indicate pressure but they would be period correct and provide that all important proof that oil was flowing which at the pressures we are looking at might be all that's needed and it might be a fun shop project!


More info here:



Edited by Terry Harper (see edit history)
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