WHAT KIND OF MOTOR OIL SHOULD BE USED IN OUR MODEL T FORDS?
Oil is cheap. So a simple answer would be, “Use the best oil you can buy and change it often”.
But it’s not that simple. Sometime in 2004, the feds ordered the oil companies to start phasing out most of the zinc additive because zinc would destroy the new design catalytic converter. It is now 2009 and the latest and greatest motor oils(designated class SM), contains little zinc. This change has little effect on modern auto engines since the auto industry has redesigned the valve trains to perform with little zinc additive.
The Model T Ford engine has flat lifters with a valve train and cam that thrives on copious amounts of Zinc additive. The same can be said for the Model T transmission (lubricated with the engine oil) using bronze bearing bushings throughout. In fact, Mechanical engineers tell us the triple gear bronze bushings, driven at today’s speeds, are outside the bronze bushing design range and only survive if excessive clearance is provided. Model T Fords today are being driven at higher sustained speeds, exacerbating the problem.
Some well-meaning Model T folks point out that light valve spring pressures may eliminate the need for the zinc additive. Zinc additive wasn’t available in Henry’s day and most any old Model T engine you open up shows signs of excessive wear in the valve train. The lifters heavily indented by the valve stems and the cam heavily worn. It is not unusual to see both worn as much as 1/16th of an inch. All this was all done with light valve springs. Just because the zinc additive wasn’t available in Henry’s day doesn’t mean we don’t need it today to guard against excessive wear on our Model T valve trains and transmission bushings.
We were able to use Diesel Motor Oil for a period, but now even Diesel Motor Oils contain very little zinc additive.
If you want the protection provided by the zinc additives, there are still a few types of Quality Motor Oils that contain high levels of zinc. Most any Racing oil, plus those oils designed specifically for pre-1980 autos, and Motor Oils designed for the all-terrain vehicles.
eeewww...judging from past discussions on the subject, you're opening up a can of worms
Yea,But If I aint bad mistaken aint Fred the feller on them MTFCA video tapes that tells ye how to fix them?If I am right I saw him on my tv as I kept rewinding the tape of the rear axle rebuild.
So if anybody can fish with the worms dumped from the can,he should.
Castrol Motorcycle oil 10W40 or 20W50 are rated SG.
Most motorcycles use the same oil for engine and tranny just like the Model T.
Here's the castrol link:
Ok, Mack...I didn't know the name or reputation so maybe he'll be able to keep the fishing trip under control.
No disrespect meant to you Fred either way, just recall the last 11th-inning overtime dugout-emptying when this subject went on the table and ended up one step away from nukes
I don't know beans about motor oil additives, but I am sure Zinc is electrically conductive.
I wouldn't think Zinc would be good to have anywhere near a Model T magneto?
Ron the Coilman
I'd bet it wasn't in there back when,so why worry about it now? Just change it often and don't worry about it.
You know folkes,we never did answer Freds orignal question.He ask where the Zink was.Then went on to explain about zinc and oil related issues.
Actually to answer his question,there is a Zink in each bathroom and a bigger 1 in the kitchen!
zinc oxide is not electrically conductive..as alumina oxide(AL2O3)is not conductive that they make aluminum out of. What the zinc is doing here is acting as a dampening and wear inhibitor. it is lubriciuos.
OK, Mick, if alumina oxide (bauxite?) is not conductive, how is it aluminum smelters use great gobs of electricity?
In the 1950s they put up an aluminum smelter in Springfield, Oregon, far from any bauxite mine, because there were two electric companies serving the city, and rates were cheaper than anywhere else.
My experience with one engine and a re-ground cam: back in 88 or 89 my grandfather and I built the engine together and I built a car around it. Ran nothing but Castrol 10w-30 in it (this was back when rumour had it 10w-40 was bad for some reason). I used that car allot, year round for a few years. I dated in it, got married with it. The car changed hands and got torn down a few years ago to find out why it didn't go as good as it used to. It was having trouble climbing over speed bumps if I remember right. My grandfather tore it apart to see why. What he found was a flattened out camshaft.
Since then I have leaned towards zinc rich oils like Rotella diesel (and now I need to check again as I heard they stripped some of the zinc from that too).
As for an argument? I don't think many people that know Fred Houston will challenge him on T stuff.
For those that aren't familiar with him, read these:
I have the utmost respect for Fred Houston, both as a person and as a Model T expert.
Not much more could be said in Model T circles when it comes to machining & fit of any Model T part. Fred has hosted most of the MTFCA Video series recently, has been a past President of MTFCA and the recipient of the Rosenthal Award, helped author many of the club's restoration manuals, been active in the Tulsa Oklahoma chapter & helped to bring us the new CNC Stipe cams thru the Tulsa chapter's cam project.
I'm sure I've missed quite a few accomplishmemnts.
Those who disagree with Fred have the right to do so, but those who go further just show their ignorance of the Model T to the masses.
Fred has written many articles in the Vintage Ford on many subjects. His article on engine oil about 8-9 years ago had me convinced to switch to 5W30. Better cold lubrication, easier starting, taking advantage of all the good things in modern detergent oil.
But now, with the federal mandated absence of ZDDP high pressure additive, one must know what the ratings codes really mean to us and what benefit it has for flat lifter engines.
Sure, Model T engines plain wore out in the past after a few thousand miles, mineral oil turned to goo in the cold and thinned out in heat. In the day parts were plentiful & cheap. For those who have spent 3-4 thousand dollars for a complete re-build I sure you wouldn't re-spend that amount or more every few thousand miles.
If you really doubt Fred's advice, please look at the other car clubs discussion forums...... and you will see the same advice regarding oil with the " SM " designation.
"SM" really means no ZDDP protection to me.
"SJ" or "SL" rated oils still have the ZDDP, if you could find them.
There is a USA company that advertises a ZDDP additive for use in flat lifter engines. You may have come across their advertisements.
Why no more ZDDP in today's engine oils ??? All because the combustable components thru blowby & worn intake guides will coat the catalyst in the catalytic converter & lessen it's useful life.... ( as warrantied by the federal government on engine emissions )
Fred, i'll bet this topic did not come up in the car ride back from the clinic saturday....Hope you to had a enjoyable time. J
OK,Here is a photo of the back side of a Castrol 20-50 oil bottle I bought about 2 weeks ago at the local advance store to use-burn in my old chevy.
Help me understand why it meets the rateing for SJ-SH and SL and the oil in the bottle is SM?
If my alphabet is correct,aint j and h before M?So if the company is saying this oil exceeds those specs,how can it not have Zinc and meet them?Also I will check the castrol Highmileage oil next chance I git.
Which oil company advertises the additive in their oil?
Guys: In the last dealer letter I got from Mac's, they sell ZDDP additive. Part # ZDDPLUS, 4 oz does one oil change. Dan
The "zinc" in motor oil is not metallic zinc powder. It is zinc bound to the anion of dithiophosphoric acid.
SM rated conventional oils typically do have ZDDP, typically more than 800 PPM but less than 1000 PPM. So saying that "SM means no ZDDP protection" is a false statement. Note that some synthetic oils do not have any ZDDP, but meet service SJ or SM through other chemical means. The service rating is based on testing, not content per se.
SJ rated conventional motor oils typically have 1000 PPM to 1200 PPM ZDDP.
There are plenty of very high ZDDP oils on the market, available at any auto part store. Valvoline Racing Oil is available just about everywhere and contains more than 1200 PPM ZDDP. It is kinda expensive at around $3 a quart.
That being said, I have seen lots of Model T engines come apart that have their original cam and lifters in great shape. I just put my '13 touring back together with an original T cam that was like new, using original lifters that had faces that shine like mirrors. Saying that a lack of ZDDP caused some Model T engine to have "The lifters heavily indented by the valve stems and the cam heavily worn" is jumping to a conclusion with no data to support that conclusion.
I respect anyone who feels that they need to use ZDDP, and it certainly hurts nothing, but don't panic if you see someone using SM rated oil. The SM rated oil has ZDDP in it. Just a bit less than the SJ rated oil. Certainly any SM rated oil is far better than anything available from 1909 - 1956, during which time there was no ZDDP in any oil.
Back in the time from about 1930 - 1950 a Model T was nearly worthless. Many people drove them until they quit, never adding, checking or changing the oil. If you keep the oil in your T clean by replacing every 1000 miles or so you won't have any trouble, ZDDP or not.
Again I respect everyone here, but take issue with people trying to portray the slight decrease in ZDDP as being a crisis for Model T owners.
Nope Jerome, the topic did not come up on the ride home. I am just one of those well meaning Model T folks. LOL
Dan Hatch answered your question.
Some probably won't like it, you get it at Walmart for less than $2 a qt. Price is no way to measure the quality of oil.
It is rated SF.
There are still plent of SL oils. They have enough zink for a T with stock valve springs.
I have taken a lot of flat cams out of cars owned by folks who pay no attention to the zink myth. They believe in a certain brand and have used it for so many years with no problems.....untill now.
You misread my statement :
"SM" really means no ZDDP protection to me.
Your statement :
" So saying that "SM means no ZDDP protection" is a false statement. "
Not false. It was my opinion in a broad sense of lessened protection not worth using.
This is an opinion forum. All opinions are welcome. What makes you come to the conclusion that a reduction of 25% in ZDDP equals insufficient protection for a Model T?
Here are the facts that guide my opinion.
A Model T has about 20 pounds of valve spring open pressure. My '68 Cougar GT-E has a 427 cubic inch engine that has 400 pounds of valve spring open pressure. In the case of my 427 Cougar, the 1200 PPM ZDDP content is more than sufficient.
Let's do the math. A Model T valve spring at 20 pounds is 5 percent of the 400 pound valve spring pressure of my 427 engine. Meanwhile, SM oil contains 75% of the ZDDP that can protect valve spring pressures on a flat tappett cam.
Any of this making sense to you? Bob or Fred or anyone else, if I am overlooking some facts, let's hear them.
I think a crankcase full of oil beats one thats out of oil. This of course is independent of your choice of oil, so each to his own.
When Fred started to post us on the zinc issue and why it was important a number of years ago, I think he also posted a zinc additive, available at GM Dealers. Does Fred or anybody else know if it is still available ? What was it's name ?? Just in case you don't want to order by mail.
George n L.A.
It is called E.O.S. - Engine Oil Supplement but I don't know if it is still available.
Have you bought oil lately? Last time I looked, Accel 10w-40 SF oil is more like $2.75/qt at Wal-Mart (here in Shreveport) - not that it matters because I'll still buy it the next time my Mini needs a change.
I think last I read about the Gm additive it was history.
I know it aint relevant to this thread but if you run lead subsitute for any reason,better buy all you can find as it is being removed from the shelves.
Re- read my posts, you'll get your answer.
It's not only about spring pressures,transmission bushing lubrication at today's speeds is important as well.
Not every old Model T engine has worn out bushings or gears or anything else in it. You guys are assuming something that can't be proven by your logic or any history of failure. We are talking about 20 horsepower here. Let's not panic about a minor reduction in a chemical that is logically unnecessary in the first place.
Again, my opinion, massive amounts of ZDDP is unnecessary in a Model T.
ZDDP is necessary and required at levels above 1200 PPM in a 400 horsepower V8 that has a flat tappet camshaft.
By the way, GM EOS is now available under its new AC Delco part number 10-106. I had my local NAPA order a case for me to use when breaking in camshafts in my 427 engines. It is unnecessary to use EOS as an additive in high performance V8 engines on a regular basis given that it costs many times what a high ZDDP oil costs. EOS costs about $10 a pint if you buy it by the case. You can buy Valvoline Racing oil anywhere for around $3 a quart or less, it has about 1200 PPM ZDDP which is more than enough for valve spring pressures in the 400 pound range. You only need EOS for cam shaft break in.
A quote from above... "It's not only about spring pressures,transmission bushing lubrication at today's speeds is important as well."
Unless you drive in low gear and reverse way faster than they did back in the day, there is no "bushings" operating at higher speeds... The trans is all "locked up" and no bushings are turning when you are in high gear...
Does transmission fluid have zinc in it? I throw a quart in every now and then. It seems to have the transmissiion work more smoothly.
Last time this discussion came up I emailed several oil companies asking if there was significant ZDDP in automatic transmission fluid. All of them replied that this was not the case, it is a bad internet rumor. ATF does not contain significant levels of ZDDP.
I'd like to pass along some personal experience with Wally World's Accel 10W-40 SF oil. I've been following the ZDDP threads here and in other groups. Accel has come up a few times as a solution, so I gave it a try. The back of the bottle (direct quote) says, "It may not provide adequate protection against the buildup of engine sludge." Guess what? They're right. Within 400 miles, I looked through the filler and everything was a creamy white-brown. I thought I had water leaking into the oil until I remembered that quote on the bottle.
So out came the Accel and in went my last old stash of Chevron 10W-30 when it still had ZDDP, plus a dose of Marvel Mystery Oil. The sludge cleared up within a couple hundred miles. I'm now running Shell Rotella Diesel, but the search continues.
Is not the rear bearing of the camshaft a bushing ??
Not worth good lubrication ?
Expensive to replace.
Any brand of oil is OK if it doesn't contain lead or Moly. All the modern oils are better than what was available when they made the Model T and they have lasted a century. This is in reference to a stock or nearly stock T. If you are using overhead valves or high lift cams it might not apply.
“Use the best oil you can buy and change it often”.
The best Motor Oils available today for engines with flat lifter valve trains are oils containing 1200 PPMs of ZDDP. Why would we not want to use these oils in our Model T engines?
Perhaps I’m more sensitive than most to this issue as I have two overhead valve Speedsters with flat lifter valve trains. One I’ve been driving since 1975 has a Fronty R with full pressure VW pump and full flow filter. The rockers are hand oiled by wick and they will tell you when they need oil(like chirping birds). The other is a Roof Type A with it’s complex rocker system. Both have Model A Cranks, however, the Roof is a splash oiling system. The Roof rockers are also hand oiled with a 50/50 mix of Lucus Oil and ZDDP. For those of you that don’t know, Lucus Oil Additive is that heavy, sticky oil in the plastic gear box on the counter of your friendly Auto Parts store.
I use 10W30 in the crankcase.
50/50 mix of Lucus Oil and ZDDP
Fred,what is your source for the ZDDP?
The reason I ask,is not only for my little T's But I have sitting in the shop my 47 Pontiac flat head 6 banger that runs like a swiss watch and getting concerned about the additives that may be needed.I used the last 5 SL rated quarts of 30 wieght I could get at Napa and will be needing to get something to at least not have to worry about it.The car is a rust bucket but it drives and runs great,and I want to keep it that way.
I will be researching where to get the raceing oils referenced above also.
If I had a Rajo, Frontenac or other overhead valve equipped Model T I would use high priced high ZDDP oils too. In your case valve spring pressures are multiplied by the rocker arm ratio and the weight of the rocker arms and pushrods. You may have ten times the pressure at your lifters compared to a flathead engine. That type of engine may very well need the added protection. Or not. For the price of those irreplacable components I would not take any chances.
Mack your Pontiac was built ten years before ZDDP was included in motor oil. It's a flathead with little valve spring pressure, very similar to a Model T. I wouldn't worry much about it.
Mack - I'm glad you mentioned the Lucas oil. I use a little bit of Lucas oil in my two Model T's, but only a little bit. I think Lucas is good stuff as one of their "claims to fame" is that Lucas oil will prevent "dry starts" as the added "stickiness" clings to cylinder walls. However, I'm afraid to use more that just a few ounces or so with each oil change because the stuff is so thick. Seems to me that it's about the consistency of honey. I'd be afraid that 50% Lucas oil would not flow thru' the Model T oil tube and could possibly starve the front bearings for oil. Does this make sense?
Ok, I took Royce's number by the local Napa and it came up as some parts of different types but they could not get a oil additive to come up on the computer.
He told me that probably your parts man is ordering it outside of Napas warehouseing and such.
I appreciate the info in regards to the pontiac engine as well.I am at the place where it is in the shop and I have allready checked about the vavoline oil. 5.19 a quart.
Mack, I got my ZDDP online by doing a search on ZDDP. It's called ZDDP Plus and is about $9 per oil change, but I was hoping we could find a good quality oil with the 1200 PPMs. Seems like all agree that it would be the best we can do. I only use ZDDP Plus in the mix squirt can to oil the rockers. I wouldn't use Lucus Oil in my crankcase.
I had an interesting conversation with the technicion at Castrol. He insisted that their Syntec Auto Oils (snthetic blend) contain 1200 PPMs of ZDDP. I told him that I didn't believe him. I've yet to see it in writing. He said their 4 cycle Motorcycle Oils also contain 1200 PPMs but that we shouldn't use it in our auto engines. But that it is what I should use in my 21 Indian two cylinder. He said leakage might be a problem, then ageed it was no problem when I told him it was a "full loss" oil system.
Ain't this fun!
In your sentence, "I only use ZDDP Plus in the mix squirt can to oil the rockers." Do you mean you mix the ZDDP Plus with your choice of engine oil and then put in the squirt can or are you using the ZDDP Plus straight in the squirt can? If you mix with engine oil for the squirt can, at what ratio are you recommending?
Fred & All:
Most of my area motorcycle shops now have the ZZDP PLUS additive.
One could also order on-line at : http://www.zddplus.com/
I'm using the 5W20 synthetic for my winter driving with a quart of Morey's Oil additive, plus a dose of ZDDP PLUS. Yes I run 5 quarts in the sump.
I have about 3K miles on the re-built engine, Had to take .004 of shims off the rods. Cleaned the pan flange, set a pan gasket inside, lined up the two "horseshoes" & reused the pan with the same silicone covered gasket & bolted it up. No leaks !
The last time this issue came up, there was talk about the GM product, so I went to the local GM dealer and they told me that product was not an oil additive but a pre-lube used to coat bearing surfaces when rebuilding etc. and was no longer available. I then talked to the local Mobil oil jobber and we went out to the ware house and found 2 cases of Northland 10w30 pre SM rating and I bought that. I have no problem using synthetic oil I use it in my modern vehicles. He told me even though my model t had neoprene seals, neoprene was an old product and the synthetic oil was more than adequate for my model T but it would soften the neoprene seals and possibly cause it to leak more. What I have noticed about racing oil, it always seems to have a high viscosity. I'm not an oil engineer and don't claim to know the answer but I depend on and respect all opinions on the forum.
Hi all ;
Is there anyone who can TRANSLATE
1200 PPMs to our Metric system
There's nothing English or SAE about parts per million (PPM). 1200 parts per million is 0.12%.
Thank you very much I didnot know
that it was so easy
My pleasure, Toon. Have a great day!
I finally got my response from Castrol. It seems to conflict slightly from what they told me over the phone, in that they called it a "blended Snythetic on the phone while in writing it's described as full snythetic. Even tho some Castrol products are handled by Walmart, I suspect that these are expensive oils. They also told me over the phone that I shouldn't use motorcycle oils in my Model T. I wonder why not? I should have asked.
Thank you for contacting Castrol North America.
The latest API SM/ILSAC GF-4 category calls for reduced Zinc and Phosphorus levels to allow extended catalyst life in current model vehicles. There appear to be field issues associated with the SM/GF-4 oil's level of antiwear in the classic car engines known as flat tappet cam engines. The current late model passenger car engines are not flat tappet cam engines and have no reported field issues related to the level of antiwear chemistry in the SM/GF-4 oils.
Product Recommendations for Flat Tappet (Solid Lifter) Cam Engines:
Castrol Syntec 20W-50 (Recent reformulation identified by "Recommended for Classic Cars" text on back label) (min Zn = 0.12 = 1200 ppm)(full synthetic)
New Motorcycle Products
Castrol Power RS GPS 10W-30, 10W-40 and 20W-50 (min Zn = 0.12 = 1200 ppm)
Castrol Power RS R4 10W-50 and 5W-40 (min Zn = 0.12 = 1200 ppm)
Castrol Power RS V-Twin 20W-40 and 20W-50 (min Zn = 0.12 = 1200 ppm)
Castrol Consumer Relations
Kendall GT-1 High performance Motor Oil 20W-50 worked well fore me. I gave it a 11,000 mile test drive last year.
Look at their data sheet on the web. "The SAE 20W-50 viscosity grade is fortified with additional zink"
Around here Kendall and Wolfshead are hard to find.
Some brands have marketed "High-Mileage" oils for older car engines. I've seen 10W30 & 10W40 viscosities. Look into their ratings for your useage.