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Clutch running in multi-grade oil


Ken G
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I posted a topic on this a few months ago, and although it provoked some interesting correspondence, nobody actually addressed my question, so I'll try again.

My 1925 Rover 16/50 uses the same oil for the engine and gearbox (i.e. common circulation). The cork-lined clutch runs submerged (at least partially) in that oil. Originally Rover recommended Castrol AA, which was (of course) a single-grade oil with an viscosity rating of SAE 30.

The clutch seems to work fine with a modern SAE 30 oil, but I would assume that the advantages of a multi-grade, of not being too thick when cold and failing to get around or of not being too thin when hot, would apply equally to an old engine as to a new one.

I think it likely that modern oils are rather more slippery that those of the 1920s, but as I say modern SAE 30 seems to work, suggesting that multi-grades would too.

My question therefore is whether anyone has experience of operating cork-lined oil-immersed clutches using modern multi-grade oil, or can think of any reason not to try. The answer is more urgent as I get close to putting the cylinder head back and refilling with oil!

Ken G, 1925 Rover 16/50

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Ken:

If I might make a suggestion. Below is the link to an Australian Oil Company who make lubricants for vintage cars. Unfortuantely, not available (that I know of) in the US. However, I had contacted them via email for some information about gearbox oils and they were very helpful. Since you are inquiring about a Rover, they might be of even more help to you.

http://www.penrite.com.au/

Good Luck,

Chris NJ

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Thanks for your comments. I emailed Penrite in Australia (specialists in lubrication for old vehicles) and received an instant response from their US distributor, who in fact recommended a multi-grade oil, so I suppose that is an answer from the horse's mouth, so to speak.

However, I was amused at 1937HD45's remark about non-detergent oil. I have in fact researched this point at length via the internet (including this forum). My understanding is that it is only if the engine has run for years with non-detergent oil without being totally cleaned out, and has therefore accumulated sludge (since the non-detergent oil does not carry away the dirt as well), that it is unwise to change to a detergent oil. The concensus seems to be that if the engine is clean (i.e. has been dismantled and cleaned), then there is no reason not to use a modern detergent oil, in fact quite the contrary, it is greatly to be preferred because it will reduce the subsequent build-up of sludge.

Ken G, 1925 Rover 16/50

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Well, I agree with 1937HD. He's talking about the clutch linings of his Model T running in the same oil as the engine and his using non-detergent because of it. I recommend doing the same. It wasn't just a matter of what oil to use in the engine.

Ron, what is recommended for Hudson cork clutches? I have always been told that using a detergent oil in a wet clutch, such as cork, will cause it to deteriorate it more quickly. I'm curious to learn more about this.

Rick

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The 1923 Hudson owner's manual says to use 50-50 mixture of motor oil and kerosene. I happen to use non detergent oil in the clutch. It's held up well for 8 or10 years with no problem yet. Other Hudson owners use transmission fluid with no problem.

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Point of order...

Hudson clutches are self-contained and do not share oil w/ the engine.

As for motorcycles, I had some difficulty w/ a Honda 450 with a touchy clutch which was much improved by switching to synthetic oil (engine & trans ran in same oil, clutch was multi-disc w/ non-cork friction surfaces...); so there's another angle to look at...

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