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Username Post: Best oils for old classic        (Topic#352974)
Mikeky 
Poster
Posts: 17

Reg: 09-12-18
09-13-18 02:08 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: 4401
Bel Air kiwi
Loc: New Zealand
Reg: 04-24-14
09-13-18 02:48 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


 
Gene_Schneider 
Ultra Senior Member
Posts: 12178

Loc: Wisconsin..USA
Reg: 09-27-02
09-13-18 06:28 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 06:30 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
Bad56Sedan 
"12th Year" Gold Supporting Member
Posts: 1006
Bad56Sedan
Loc: Pasadena, Texas
Reg: 04-29-04
09-13-18 06:32 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



 
Mikeky 
Poster
Posts: 17

Reg: 09-12-18
09-14-18 05:23 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.



 
IgnitionMan 
Valued Contributor
Posts: 3461

Reg: 04-15-05
09-14-18 01:37 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.



 
2blu52 
"17th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 18620
2blu52
Age: 85
Loc: Montana
Reg: 03-12-02
09-14-18 02:29 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.

"PEACE IS THAT GLORIUS MOMENT IN HISTORY WHEN EVERY ONE STANDS AROUND RELOADING"

THOMAS JEFFERSON


 
Bel Air kiwi 
"3rd Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 4401
Bel Air kiwi
Loc: New Zealand
Reg: 04-24-14
09-17-18 05:05 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 05:07 PM. Reason for edit: No reason given.

 
FortyNineCoupe 
Contributor
Posts: 414
FortyNineCoupe
Loc: Baltimore, MD USA
Reg: 10-03-09
10-11-18 06:53 AM - Post#2748426    
    In response to Bel Air kiwi

Some of you may recall that after my little bottom end knock a couple of years ago, we tore the '55 235 down and rebuilt it with a '62 "848" head and '62 crank. We used a conventional 10W30 (I think Quaker State or Havoline)along with a zinc/ phosphorus break-in additive for a while. I then changed back to the Valvoline VR1 which I was using for years before my knock developed. Here's my question: I've been hearing about people using Rotella T4 diesel oil in the older engines successfully to get more ZDDP. I also heard that the Valvoline VR1 may not be the best choice because of the low amount of detergents and anti corrosive agents. What do you folks think? Thanks in advance.


Mike
'49 Styleline DeLuxe Sport Coupe


 
Dave in VA 
Contributor
Posts: 138
Dave in VA
Age: 68
Loc: SW Virginia, USA
Reg: 03-11-18
10-11-18 07:43 AM - Post#2748429    
    In response to FortyNineCoupe

Rotella T4 10w-30 was recommended to me after I bought my car, and that's what I use.

"Knowledge is Good" -- Emil Faber

U S Navy MM2 1970-75 USS Canisteo AO-99, USS Miller DE-1091 (The Champagne of Ships)

1950 Styleline Deluxe 2dr, mostly stock, driver quality...new to me 3/18
2016 Equinox LTZ
2017 Silverado LTZ 6.2


 
FortyNineCoupe 
Contributor
Posts: 414
FortyNineCoupe
Loc: Baltimore, MD USA
Reg: 10-03-09
10-11-18 11:52 AM - Post#2748445    
    In response to Dave in VA

Thanks Dave. Where do you get yours? I was told that Walmart had it but after checking with three different stores, all I saw on their shelf was 10W30 synthetic (gray jug) and 15W40 conventional (white jug) for $12.97/ gallon. My local NAPA had a one gallon jug (only 1) of the conventional T4 10W30 for $19.99.

Mike
'49 Styleline DeLuxe Sport Coupe


 
Dave in VA 
Contributor
Posts: 138
Dave in VA
Age: 68
Loc: SW Virginia, USA
Reg: 03-11-18
10-11-18 12:29 PM - Post#2748447    
    In response to FortyNineCoupe

I get mine at Advance Auto parts. Our Walmart doesn't carry the 10w-30 T4, either.

"Knowledge is Good" -- Emil Faber

U S Navy MM2 1970-75 USS Canisteo AO-99, USS Miller DE-1091 (The Champagne of Ships)

1950 Styleline Deluxe 2dr, mostly stock, driver quality...new to me 3/18
2016 Equinox LTZ
2017 Silverado LTZ 6.2


 
Ray P W 
Contributor
Posts: 368

Reg: 09-30-15
10-11-18 05:17 PM - Post#2748462    
    In response to Dave in VA

"just wanting to get opinions on today's oils"

Mikeky,

You know the old saying about opinions and hemorrhoids don't you?

Why not call one of the many oil companies and ask them for a recommendation to match your situation? I've had great luck doing that.

Most recently I was looking for a true SAE 160 gear oil for my '36 Chevy PU transmission. A lubrication engineer at Lubriplate gave me an exact product number that matches that SAE designation and is available in small quantities (quarts). Now that '36 that I've owned since 1965 shifts way better than it ever has with any of the gear oils available from auto parts stores or the so called "600W" oil sold by the antique auto parts vendors.

Those oil company lubrication engineers are really experts in their fields. I've actually had them offer to send me "samples" as large as a case of synthetic chassis grease cartridges and a grease for the Vega steering box in my '32 Ford roadster street rod.

Ray W



 
Bel Air kiwi 
"3rd Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 4401
Bel Air kiwi
Loc: New Zealand
Reg: 04-24-14
10-11-18 07:15 PM - Post#2748471    
    In response to Ray P W

Hi Mikey, the thing with a 54 or any of our engines up to about 58 is that their oil filter, if they have one at all, is only a bypass filter.

So unlike the later stuff where all the oil going into the engine is filtered each time it passes. On the earlies only the oil that is bypassed (Not used in the engine but been through the pump.) is filtered on its way back to the sump.

Oil change intervals are far more important than fancy expensive brands, and they are much shorter than modern cars. So in truth the cheapest genuine oil in the correct weight is all you need as you will be throwing it away about five times more often than some modern cars.

You should check the online manual but some earlies were a grease and oil every 1000 in dirty areas of operation.

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


 
FortyNineCoupe 
Contributor
Posts: 414
FortyNineCoupe
Loc: Baltimore, MD USA
Reg: 10-03-09
10-14-18 04:49 PM - Post#2748681    
    In response to Bel Air kiwi

Thanks Kiwi for your input on this. I have been conflicted about this for a while now since the opinions vary widely.The page for Valvoline VR1 questions actually made some statements that confused me with regard to the VR1 Racing oil. That was the oil of choice (straight 30) as it was readily available and was heralded by most I spoke with as having the proper amount of ZDDP so that's what I used. Here's the information right from Valvoline's page that made me rethink this: " What is the controversy surrounding the amount of zinc in motor oil?

The controversy exists as a result of many hands-on car enthusiasts and engine experts belief that lower levels of zinc in API SN and SM motor oils can cause excessive wear in older style push-rod and flat-tappet engines. They hold this belief despite the fact that all new motor oil classifications are intended to be backward compatible. "
It also indicated that the racing oils contained less detergents than conventional oils and that zinc levels higher than what they should be can actually be corrosive so additional zinc additives were not recommended.
I started thinking about the backwards compatibility and wondered about what Gene had said about a good 10W30. Maybe I've been overthinking this all along. After all, I tend to want to overbuild everything I get involved in.
During any given year, I'll put 2000 - 3000 miles on the FortyNiner. Most of that happens between April and October. They tell me that the oil we use today is better in so many ways than what these engines had running through them back in the day so like I said, I'm rethinking this whole thing and I'm real close to ditching the VR1.



Mike
'49 Styleline DeLuxe Sport Coupe


 
Shepherd 
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 1504

Loc: Lake George, NY
Reg: 11-11-15
10-14-18 05:14 PM - Post#2748691    
    In response to FortyNineCoupe

Most issues arise as a result of older style agressive ramp flat tappet cams with high spring pressures, not properly broken in, these engines may experience cam failures, but it seems for a variety of reasons this problem has all but evaporated. Some of my club cars are using VR1, I am using Valvoline 10/40 high mileage, moderate cam, with 110# valve seat pressures, sbc, 10k miles, no issues.



 

Chevs of the 40s

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