I'm an out-of-the-closet motor oil freak, and have several times before stated that I use the cheapest 5W-30 oil I can find in my Model T. I have read countless articles on the subject, which is why I need to share this one with all of you: it has changed my perception entirely.
You'll need time to read all of this, but it's well worth it:
If I had his stable of Ferraris, I'd probably benefit from his research. But my stable consists of a Model T, a 1912 Buick and a one-lung Cadillac. The Cadillac is a total loss system; that is, each revolution of the engine puts a drop or two of oil on both bearings, on the piston, and on the connecting rod. It lubricates as best it can, and then blows out every crack in the engine - by design! Pre-T Fords work that way, too. I should think whatever crap Wal-Mart has on sale today is better than any oil that was available when these engines were designed.
Good article, thanks.
Most of what he wrote is true. There are several intentional misstatements however. He misstates the meaning of the W designation, it does indeed mean winter, and thus the testing is done at cold and warm temperatures for oil with W designation. That's just one example, I could go on for paragraphs, but I won't.
The more you know about oil the more obvious it becomes that the cheapest 5W-30 on the market is the best oil for a Model T.
A Ferrari or Porsche, on the other hand, has an oil pump and an oil filter, and much different requirements. I would not use 5W-30 in a Porsche or Ferrari unless it was what Porsche or Ferrari recommended.
Price of oil does not determine quality necessarily.
I'm sure that most of what he says is correct.
Two possible quibbles though:
1. He doesn't address additives. There is other information which advises against using oils newer than API SG(?) in older engines because catalysts and other emission devices don't work if the older, desirable additives (e.g. phosphorous, zinc compounds) are present. That's why oil companies continue to supply and recommend 'classic' oils for old cars etc.
2. All the discussion about flow and pressure is only relevant if you have an oil pump! There must be another discussion to be had about the formation and maintenance of an oil film in splash-lubricated engines.
I fell asleep trying to read it!!
He says thin oil is better in part 1, as far as I got. Does he discuss mixing ATF to thin the oil?
Pennzoil is very cheap and a poor alternative for real oil. It will gum up the inside of a motor faster than peanut butter. Havoline and Quaker State is about the same. At least pick a quality oil. How much money are you going to save? Scott
I have been running Wally World diesel 30 and 40w oil in all my stuff for years with good results. Tractors, ev8s, straight 8 and t's. Since you can get it in the 2 gal containers, its handy.
Other than our car and the T's i use Rotella 15-40 but i will Not Use it in a Model T!! If you stem wind you should like 5 w 30! Bud.
Well,I aint the brightest bulb in the 4 pack but it would seem a gallon of decent oil for the T is cheap insurance against problems.
At least that is my theory anyhow.
Lots of info...if you have a stable of expensive European cars. What I didn't see is the credentials of the author. Is this just some garage ramblings, another cut and paste work, or is it backed by the solid research of a professional chemist in the petroleum industry? Before I accept something as the gospel truth on a topic, I like to see the credentials of the author. Still, when was the last time a Model T had the performance requirements of a Porsche?
I guess i would have to disagree with the comment about Pennzoil because on tear down the 14 was clean new!!Bud.
Good article. Thanks
What would I like to ask you, after reading this, wouldn't a 0W-30 be the perfect oil for a Model T, if cost was no issue? Clearly, a 0-viscosity oil is thinner and thus will splash easier when cold. What are your thoughts?
What are your thoughts of using motorcycle oil? Most bike engines use the same oil for sump and transmission lubrication...just like the Model T engine. I've been using Mobil One 4 cycle motorcycle oil the past 8 years, easy starts, good compression, quiet engine. Rebuilt 10 years ago.
0W30 seems acceptable, my preference would be strictly synthetic.
Henry said to use a light to medium oil..... whatever that meant "in the day".
If 0W-30 was free I would probably choose it. The main thing to know about Model T oil is to change it frequently. The Ford Model T shop manual recommended 500 miles but I think for most people an annual change is more easy to remember so long as the mileage interval is less than 1000.
I've been using Shell Rotella 5W40 synthetic oil from Walmart in my motorcycles that share engine,transmission and clutch lubrication for years. It's for use in diesel and gas engines but also perfectly suited for unit engine motorcycles because of it's resistance to "shear" from transmission gears and multiple plate clutches. I think it has to do with it's higher content of zinc and sulphur compared to "energy saving" oils that are usually marked with a starburst symbol . Sounds like it greatly surpasses all the qualities needed for a Model T....... though I've never put it in mine.
Your absolutely correct. The absence of "friction modifiers" additive in motorcycle oils plus the increased wear additives, I believe make it suitable for the T engine.
I change the oil in the T very often, and I am still looking for an oil that smells good. That is the most important quality to me.
So, now that it has been brought up but not answered, what does the W stand for?
Hey Ed, that's probably more than half the reason I add Marvel Mystery Oil! Lol, it sure does make the T smell nice.
The W stands for Winter, essentially calling out the oil's low temperature capability.
Not that they mean anything, but here are some of my thoughts - most of what the guy is saying passes the eyeball test to me (although dynabeads did not pass the eyeball test and they work great, so . . .)
Obviously we can all agree that any oil today, regardless of weight, specific manufacturing additives, aftermarket additives, whatever, is significantly better than anything available when Ford was making our T's.
My biggest question is - is there an oil or an oil plus an additive that work well, or perhaps work better than other alternatives when it gets nasty. Since it's the rare T with pressurized oiling (and thus any kind of filter other than a screen) what oil does the best job despite the fact that it isn't getting filtered? It seems logical to me that there could be an oil engineered for application and it would do a better job than an oil that is meant to be filtered. If there were something like this availabe, I would put it in my T.
Personally, I'm pretty convinced that in terms of engine wear and tear that you can put ANYTHING available today in your T and you aren't going to be able to put enough miles on it to tell a difference between Walmart X brand and the most expensive synthetic.
SO, if you use that baseline, the only thing to really consider when choosing an oil is how it makes our engine feel for those of us stem winding and how it makes our bands feel when driving the car. The biggest issue being that without a filter, the oil needs to be changed a LOT. Personally, I really like the way that 3.5 quarts of Rotella T 10w-30 and 1 quart of Marvel Mystery Oil feel when I'm cranking the car and I like the way it interacts with my wood bands and transmission.
I say when I'm cranking it because really, the only time I can tell any difference in any of the oils I've had in the car is the way that it cranks and the way that it drives for the first few minutes before it's thoroughly warmed up. Once she's warm, she's driven EXACTLY the same regardless of what I've had in there. But, all of that is just my 2 cents. I don't think anybody else's approach is right or wrong and I don't really care what anybody else does. The only time I WILL care is someone presumes to tell me what I'm doing is wrong or that I should or shouldn't be doing something else - when they don't have anything other than their personal opinion to back up what they are saying.
It comes down to run whatever oil you feel is good for your t, oil is oil. We all agree that today's oils are 100% better then what was available when our t's were built.
My only issue would be finding an oil that is light (low viscosity)to insure adequate wicking (sp?) into the bearings.
You fella's are over looking the most important thing, how a non pressured dip feed Babbitt bearing works!
It has to build up it's own hydraulic pressures.
Hydrostatic lubrication. Thinner is not better!!
In the end, ANY motor oil you buy these days is orders of magnitude better than the sludge they had back then!