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Username Post: Best oils for old classic        (Topic#352974)
Posts: 6

Reg: 09-12-18
09-13-18 03:08 PM - Post#2746066    

I have just finished rebuilding my 1954 Chevy Belair, 235 ci engine. I bored .030 over, everything new except the crank. I'm breaking in now, I'm at about 500 miles using a good 30w, high zinc and phosphorus break in oil. What do you great people recommend as a good oil to run after break in? I have read about these old engines needing high zinc, but not sure what weight...10w 40? 10w 30? stick with a straight 30w? It's been years since I've owned an old car, and I know oils have changed drastically. This car will be a weekend get away car for my wife and I, 300 to 400 mile trips, at 65 to 70 mph speeds. Want to get the most out of my rebuild!!


Chevs of the 40s

Bel Air kiwi 
"3rd Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 4325
Bel Air kiwi
Loc: New Zealand
Reg: 04-24-14
09-13-18 03:48 PM - Post#2746069    
    In response to Mikeky

Hi Mikeky, welcome. I would ask your engine builder who set all the clearances in the bearings and rings what they intended.

Otherwise, I would go to the online manual for the factory recommendations.

You may find that touring at 65-70Mph may be a bit too high for good economy and engine life. If you really need this level of speed then you probably need more gears or the 3.55:1 auto rear end to replace the 4.11 in manual cars. (May be a 3.77:1 by 53-54.?)

Cheers Kiwi

48 3100 RHD, 51 Deluxe 4DR RHD, 51 Bel Air parts car, 52 Bel Air P-Glide LHD. Others 23T, 32 Tudor, 58 Edsel pacer 4DR HDT, 79 F250 351C RHD. 69,70,82 Capri. No mobile, no TV, and no Jap cars.

"They made a desert and called it peace." Tacitus

Ultra Senior Member
Posts: 12158

Loc: Wisconsin..USA
Reg: 09-27-02
09-13-18 07:28 PM - Post#2746100    
    In response to Bel Air kiwi

First off there is no such thing as 30W oil It will be just #30 as it is not tested for winter temperature.
An engine should be broken-in with a light oil. When the 1954 was new Chevrolet used and recommended #10, today I would use 5W-20 as #10 is no longer available.
Once broken -in 10W-30 will be a good choice. A 1954 straight 6 had fairly low cam to lifter pressure so no additives are necessary. There is enough zinc and moly in 10W-30 oil.

A 1954 will have a 3.70 rear end (3.54 if Power Glide) and 65-70 should be a comfortable speed after you get 2000 miles on it. That speed is OK now for shorter distances.

When your'54 was new there was next to no zinc in the oil and they never wore out camshafts.

ChevGene 1934 Master sedan 1939 Master DeLuxe Town Sedan 1950 Styline DeLuxe Power Glide 1957 Nomad 283 PG 1963 Corvair Convertible

Edited by Gene_Schneider on 09-13-18 07:30 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

"12th Year" Gold Supporting Member
Posts: 967
Loc: Pasadena, Texas
Reg: 04-29-04
09-13-18 07:32 PM - Post#2746101    
    In response to Mikeky

First off I'm not a chemist or a ironologist,
This just maybe a question for those that chime in,
What about switching to mobil1 synthetic oil?
Just a question,
I have heard reasons for and against,
My situation is a bit different, small block, ran typical 10w30 twice, actually rinsed motor out then switched to 10w30 mobil1 syn.
No issues, just a thought.

VC56S 2 door Sedan, 38 Years

Posts: 6

Reg: 09-12-18
09-14-18 06:23 AM - Post#2746132    
    In response to Gene_Schneider

Thanks for the responses. The reason for inquiry, is oils have changed over the years, and just wanting to get opinions on today's oils. The 1954's did do well on those oils, but will they last longer on today's oils? Just thought I'd get a few opinions, other than ones the local classic car owners expressed. Never hurts to look at newer options for older classics!!! Thanks to all for your valued input.

Valued Contributor
Posts: 3404

Reg: 04-15-05
09-14-18 02:37 PM - Post#2746159    
    In response to Bad56Sedan

NO synthetics should ever be used in older soft metals engines.

I would use the oil I was going to run it for its entire life, not lower viscosity to break it in. 30 wight oil would be fine, and if you had to have a multi-viscosity oil for winter use, no lighter than 20W-50.

I live in a climate that changes from minus 10/F to 112/F this year, and no problems doing it that way on my older engines.

Please be aware, our older engines do not have modern low drag, low friction engine parts, so, the lighter oils designed for those low friction engines, especially a partial, or full synthetic that is fine in that later engine, just don't work well in our earlier engines.

"17th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 18562
Age: 85
Loc: Montana
Reg: 03-12-02
09-14-18 03:29 PM - Post#2746166    
    In response to IgnitionMan

I would break the engine in on the oil suggested by the rebuilder if for no other reason than the possibility of a come back. After wards nothing but Castrol 10/30.



Bel Air kiwi 
"3rd Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 4325
Bel Air kiwi
Loc: New Zealand
Reg: 04-24-14
09-17-18 06:05 PM - Post#2746473    
    In response to 2blu52

Hi Guys, I am with Ignition man here. Do not try and run in an old engine on Synthetic oil.
Also don't use a high detergent oil either.

Oil is oil is oil. It doesn't lose its lubricity over time. What happens is it gets contaminated, and the additives get used up.
Synthetic oil is not made from flowers, its still oil, just processed more.

During the run-in process, the important requirements on older style engines and parts was a controlled wear process called bedding in.
Primarily this is about the rings bedding properly.

If you let them idle without load two big things go wrong. The rings polish against the bore and don't make a seal surface and there isn't sufficient splash lube on the cam lobes and they fail. Some modern oil additives act against old school break-in.

Procedure is as important as oil here.

In modern engines, the rings usually have a special bedding coating on them and self-seal quickly, plus the cam lobes have a surface treatment for the same reason. Lubrication is also often far more effective and clearances are set based on modern oil performance.

Your reconditioner should tell you what oil to use once run in. It depends on the conditions and how they set up the clearances.

Cheers Kiwi

48 3100 RHD, 51 Deluxe 4DR RHD, 51 Bel Air parts car, 52 Bel Air P-Glide LHD. Others 23T, 32 Tudor, 58 Edsel pacer 4DR HDT, 79 F250 351C RHD. 69,70,82 Capri. No mobile, no TV, and no Jap cars.

"They made a desert and called it peace." Tacitus

Edited by Bel Air kiwi on 09-17-18 06:07 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.


Chevs of the 40s

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