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Rusty_OToole

Pierce Arrow smashes all speed records! 1932 Documentary

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"Flight Of The Arrow" is a documentary of Pierce's and Ab Jenkins'  astonishing 24 hours of speed records on the Bonneville salt flats. Notice that this is a stock Pierce roadster, stripped for racing, with Pierce's new V12 engine and that it is taking records from the best European racing cars and sports cars. To put this in perspective, at the time Rolls Royce warned their customers not to drive their cars at full speed for over 5 minutes, and the Grosser Mercedes could not be driven more than 2 minutes with the supercharger engaged. The Pierce averaged 117 for 24 hours.

 

 

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Thank you for posting this amazing documentary, what a interesting comparison to how today's thinking compares with circa 1932;

At 37:20 after breaking all kinds of world records the reception is so subdued: "Well, you made a nice ride"  then nervous chatter & laughs...,maybe it was restaged for the camera.

Then, there's the Pierce coming through the check point stand within a few feet at presumeably 100+ mph...., what could go wrong??

In any event, what a humble pro "Ab" Jenkins was. thanks again.

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One of the interesting points to me, is that they used Pennzoil 20 weight motor oil for a 24 hour marathon at speeds up to 140MPH in 117 degree heat. And there are morons who won't drive around the block in 65 degree heat without at least 30 in the crankcase.

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Rusty, that oil viscosity may not apply, and probably does NOT apply, to all Pierce 12s, much less other engines:  There were 11 or 13 Pierce 12 "experimental" engines in the 360nnn numbering series, some used for all three Salt Flats runs, and others in the five 1933 Silver Arrow halo or concept sedans.  It is generally known from primary sources that the 1933 and 1934 Pierce 12s in the Salt Flats runs had been somewhat modified including porting and relieving, higher-than-stock compression, much taller-than-stock final drive ratios, and a modified cam grind. I speculate that bearing clearances and oil pump volumes may have been "adjusted" as well.

 

I'd also like to see a comparison of viscosities from 1930s numbers to current numbers. 

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Did you watch the film? They show the oil cans and the oil being poured into the car, it is Penzoil 20 weight and they are most emphatic about that. Jenkins states he has used  Penzoil in all his record attempts for the past 12 years. At the beginning of the record run they show a thermometer reading 117. The speeds speak for themselves.

 

The point is, those who believe all old cars must use thick oil are wrong. Ab Jenkins and the Pierce Arrow engineers and speed record experts chose a relatively light oil for this most grueling test. The oil DID NOT break down and the engine DID NOT fail. You DO NOT have to use thick oil in old cars, if the engine is in good shape it will do more harm than good. I don't know why this is so hard to understand.

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I have that documentary on a Beta tape if your browser doesn't handle YouTube. :)

Bernie

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With respect, Rusty (as I am a frequent admirer of your interesting posts), you are extrapolating directly FROM (1) the oil used in a modified, selectively built with extreme care, engine raced in 1933 TO (2) a maxim for vintage autos operated today.  There are missing parts to your incomplete syllogism, among them:

 

* Are the bearing clearances and the oil pump pressure and volume (the latter especially important, IMHO) in the 1932-34 Pierce race engines the same as in the vintage cars we are operating today?

* Are the same viscosity measurement standards (i.e., SAE weights) in effect today?

 

My 1930, 1934, and 1936 Pierce 8-cyl owners manuals call for SAE 30 in "summer."  Haven't checked but I'll wager Pierce 12s also called for SAE 30.

 

I **infer** that the raced 12s had special bearing clearances and oil pumps. There is a special relationship between pressure and volume, and I'd choose volume over pressure anytime.  Prior to 1936, Pierces ran lower oil pressure at lower engine speeds.  In my 1918, the OM says 3-4 psi at very low speed, 6-10 psi at 15-20 mph in top (4th) gear, and 35 psi at 50 mph.

 

I generally agree with your recommendation for today's usage for other than well-worn engines.  Ab did not have the benefit of multi-grade oils in the 1930s.  I use 15W-40 year-round in my never-freeze climate. 

 

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Several years ago we took a factory crate motor out of its crate and disassembled it. Yes, a NEW 1934 Pierce twelve motor in its factory oak crating. While brand new, the motor was run on the factory dyno as advertised then disassembled and inspected, then reassembled and fired off for a short time. We documented every part of this engine, paint, hardware, gaskets, finish, and also all the toque on the bolts and clearance on all surfaces. We spent several days going over and documenting it. There were lots of interesting discoveries. Among them were gloss paint, high gloss paint, thickness of gasket material, an abundance of casting core support wire inside the water jackets, so much it was hard to comprehend why they left it in there, and lastly all the piston, and bearing clearance as well as water pump, fuel pump, and distributor settings. The entire motor was VERY tight, tighter than we would build it for a customer. It's fair to say they were holding close to what we would use on a modern high revving engine, thus the thinner oil would be a better choice for the application. When I built my motor in my car 25 years ago, we built it very tight, as we knew we could control the break in without any risk and we ran it on ten weight for the first three thousand miles. No problems with it twenty thousand miles later, and the pressure is still the best of any early multi Cylender motor ai have ever seen. We now run it on twenty weight. Oil pressure at idle when hot is twenty four pounds at five hundred rpm. 

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Ed, that would make a superb feature article for The Arrow (PAS quarterly magazine) and the details would also fill up a Service Bulletin (tech publication).  I'm sure the respective editors would be thrilled to see your findings.

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