Age old Question: What Oil to use?

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2016: Age old Question: What Oil to use?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John McQuiston on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 09:52 pm:

I am new to the Model T hobby and have been looking at various articles and blogs. Jury is still out.... What oil to use? I met a gentlemen at the MTFCA homecoming who swore by Shell Rotella 15W40.

Does anybody have strong suggestions?

Thanks,
John McQuiston


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Jablonski on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 10:08 pm:

John:

Be ready for many suggestions, I'm using 4 Cycle Motorcycle Oil , 5W40 , synthetic....

Reason,,, Motorcycles have systems that use oil to lubricate both the engine and transmission... just like the Model T engine.... plus it has additives for extra wear protection and no friction modifiers.

Just my 2 cents


Bob Jablonski


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tim Lloid on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 10:08 pm:

I use the rotella 15w 40 in my A model coupe but it was on the engine builders recommendation. I felt like I had spent so much extra on this one that I would take his advise. So far so good. Wal-Mart 5w30 in my other model A and both T s. I think it gets back to if you keep your oil changed regularly, it will be fine. I change mine every 300 to 500 hundred miles in all of my old cars or once a year. I have seen a lot of opinions, so I just stick with this for my old cars be it right or wrong.. Tim


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry Brancato, Burbank CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 10:33 pm:

John, if you do a Google search with "mtfca and motor oil," you'll come across many past threads covering this subject in great detail. And then you'll be confused as hell and wind up using olive oil. Jerry


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Frank van Ekeren (Australia) on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 10:47 pm:

NO...NO...NO!! Jerry, CASTOR oil!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry Brancato, Burbank CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 10:53 pm:

Castor oil really makes the car "Gooooo!"


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Jelf, Parkerfield KS on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 11:16 pm:

My dad was a still operator for Shell, Pathfinder, and Union Oil for about forty years, from the Model T era until he retired in 1965. He used to say it all comes out of the same pipe. He wasn't being literal, of course. What he was saying is that the main difference among brands is the name on the container. They all have to meet the same standards. Meeting those standards is indicated by the API label on the container.







I have a choice. I can buy the house brand that has the API label, or I can pay a couple of dollars extra for Shell, Pennzoil, or another major brand, with the same API label, to support their expensive advertising. I prefer to spend the extra dough on other things. Put another way, I think this is one place where extra money buys snake oil (advertising).


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry Brancato, Burbank CA on Tuesday, June 21, 2016 - 11:33 pm:

While we're on the subject, I remember hearing or reading somewhere that synthetic oil is superior at the molecular level because the molecules are manufactured, thereby rendering them "uniform" in shape throughout the suspension, thus allowing for more consistent performance. Has anyone else ever heard of this?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 07:40 am:

I heard that the Japanese manufacture their molecules to closer tolerances than molecules manufactured in the US. Reason being, the US uses old outdated and worn out molecule manufacturing machinery. Latest Japanese technology allows the manufacture of their own sub-atomic particles which can be stored in bulk, then shipped JIT to the various atom factories in the proper quantity to manufacture the type atoms that particular factory specializes in. Likewise the atoms are shipped to the molecule factories.

Sorry, couldn't resist.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By charley shaver- liberal,mo. on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 07:57 am:

i run wal-mart super teck in everything 40k on sporster,70k on Indian,260k on 97 Pontiac all runing fine. ok with me . Charley


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Joe LaMacchia, St. Louis, MO. on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 08:04 am:

I agree that most oils are usually all the same as long as they meet API, SAE, etc., specifications, while the viscosity just depends on your climate, and conventional or synthetic probably makes no real difference either. However, I've been told by some ole' timers to use non-detergent oils only because detergent oils may foam a little. Maybe not the same way a washing machine foams up with suds, but enough to make a difference in an old engine using a sling/splash method.
Something else to remember is just how often was the oil changed back then because of affordability? And just how advanced was oil technology in the early 1900s? Probably not much, or at least not like it it is today. And is most of it really "technology", or just gimmicks to sell one brand over another? Synthetics and additives may make a little difference, but these early cars ran forever on the oil of the day, just as they ran without oil pumps & filters, or fuel pumps & filters, and even water pumps!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Zibell, Huntsville, AL on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 09:09 am:

Like Bob Jablonski I run a 10-40 motorcycle oil for the same reasons. With a turbo 400 clutch, I is my thought that the motorcycle oil would work best with the wet clutch. I just use the non-synthetic version.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By john kuehn on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 09:09 am:

No rocket science on this subject. No head scratching necessary!
Any of the modern oils used today is way better than what was available in the Model T era.

No need to spend extra money on any exotic brands or this and that. Any 10W-30 that's sold at Auto-Zone, Walmart, Dollar store, TSC and etc is just fine. The house brands are just fine and your T will run great.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David L Corman on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 09:31 am:

Pick a good oil, run a screen, keep full, and change often/no more than 500 miles.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Albert Belling on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 09:45 am:

I agree with Bob,4 Cycle Motorcycle Oil , 5W40 , synthetic. It has zinc in it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Gregush Portland Oregon on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 10:14 am:

Depending on weather, regular store brand 10-30 or 10-40 detergent oil and change often.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Ted Dumas on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 10:18 am:

Rotella 15-40 should be fine. Any detergent oil should work, just use 4 quarts.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bill Everett on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 10:22 am:

I also heard what Joe just said; Non-Detergent is what to use (30WT for me) because the detergent in modern oils can harm babbitt.

Anyone else ever hear this?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gary Tillstrom 30 miles N of Memphis TN on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 10:59 am:

That can't be true. All engines are running babbit lined bearings today. If the additives in detergent oil caused an issue we wouldn't routinely see modern iron go 250K-300K miles.

One of the functions of oil is to cool. For this reason I advocate an external oil line.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Burger in Spokane on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 11:24 am:

Can I suggest using CLEAN oil ?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry VanOoteghem - SE Michigan on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 01:29 pm:

"Does anybody have strong suggestions?"

Yes, most people do...

When you get done reading everyone's opinions, you'll most likely come to the conclusion that just about any automotive oil will work. The MOST important thing is, use enough! Meaning, check your oil frequently, (at least with every gas fill-up). If it doesn't come out of the top petcock, you need more. I don't even use the lower petcock.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Jelf, Parkerfield KS on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 01:38 pm:


When it gets down like this, add some.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tyrone Thomas - Topeka KS on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 01:47 pm:

great idea Steve. I'm going to steal it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 02:24 pm:

I use whatever 5W-30 oil is the cheapest. Lately it has been Peak brand at Wal Mart, although before that it was Valvooline in the 5 quart jug.

You should use oil that is suitable for the temperatures that you operate in. Trying to hand crank a T in 60 degree temperatures is tough if you are running straight 30 weight.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Richard E Moore Jr. Pickwick lake Tenn. on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 02:32 pm:

That looks a little scary to me. The front tire is throwing rocks and dirt at the petcock and that plastic tube will harden and break.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Harold Schwendeman - Sumner,WA on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 02:39 pm:

Richard - If I understand correctly, the two petcocks are only opened for checking oil level,....but both are always closed when driving,.....harold


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 03:32 pm:

So if it comes out the top pet cock, how do you know how far above the pet cock, the level is?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry VanOoteghem - SE Michigan on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 03:37 pm:

Hal,

If it doesn't come out of top, I leave the petcock open and fill only till it does. (If I only have a small amount left in the bottle I'll dump that in too.)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Wednesday, June 22, 2016 - 04:50 pm:

Gotcha. Thanks.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Marty Bufalini - Grosse Pointe, MI on Thursday, June 23, 2016 - 08:12 am:

Being first generation Italian, I use olive oil!

But I really use 20w 50 and top off with transmission fluid.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Gregush Portland Oregon on Thursday, June 23, 2016 - 10:07 am:

Re; "NO...NO...NO!! Jerry, CASTOR oil!!" I think I have a cartoon about running a T on castor oil. If I can find it I'll post it. :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tim Lloid on Thursday, June 23, 2016 - 11:30 am:

I think the super tech is as good as anything. I change my oil in my work car that i drive 1500 a week and its always had Walmart brand oil. I have had many work cars that i have put over 250k on with super tech oil. Its about keeping oil clean to prevent damage to the internal parts clean and debris free!!. Just my opinion!!Tim


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Thursday, June 23, 2016 - 03:38 pm:

If it comes out the top petcock it is overfilled. You need to let it run out of the top petcock until it stops. The Model T is made to be a "Fill to Spill". You fill with oil until it just dribbles out the top petcock. It is safe as long as oil runs from the bottom petcock when opened.

With a dry sump it will hold about a gallon of oil.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Michael Garrison - Rice Minnesota on Thursday, June 23, 2016 - 09:32 pm:

Motor oil. Use motor oil. And make sure you use enough.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By George n Los Angeles CA on Friday, June 24, 2016 - 03:22 am:

A well known engine builder here in SoCal recommends 20W50 in his engines. I tried it and like. How ever 20W50 has been banned in SoKal because it's obsolete (???) so I use Shell Rotella 15W40.
I've tried synthetic 20/50 for classic and liked also and it worked well also. No problems splashing.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Friday, June 24, 2016 - 04:20 pm:

How does it hand crank in the Winter?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Royce in Dallas TX on Friday, June 24, 2016 - 05:04 pm:

George - 20W-50 is the standard weight oil used in the summer time in every diesel truck. It should be easy to find anywhere on earth. It is way too thick if you hand crank your car, but ought to be fine if daytime temperatures are above 70 degrees and you have a starter.

Splash oil system, or any oil system for that matter, need to get oil to the internals as rapidly as possible on startup. The more readily oil flows, the more quickly it reaches the necessary locations.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jared Buckert on Saturday, June 25, 2016 - 02:02 am:

This one might ruffle a few feathers, but here's a question that has bothered me for a long time. Urban legend has it Ford had a dream of people making their own fuel for their cars, in the form of ethanol, and being almost totally self-sufficient for maintenance and repairs. I'm not saying he did or he didn't, but for the sake of this hypothetical situation let's just say he did. What were you supposed to use for the oil in your car if you were to reach this level of self-sufficiency?

Probably a stupid question, but it's one of those things that rattles loose from my brain while motoring around in my flivver.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By George n Los Angeles CA on Saturday, June 25, 2016 - 02:09 am:

I understand that Royce and thank you for your reply, Oh Derrick Pang sez "Hi and thanks again" Yes,my 26 has a starter and I've hand cranked also. I'm getting ready to move back to Missourah soon and will go to a lighter oil for fall and winter, maybe not I don't anticipate any winter driving in a touring.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Andria Myers----------Long Beach, CA on Saturday, June 25, 2016 - 02:28 am:

Classic Car Oil from AP Fischer, Its been formulated for the older cars with additional Zinc. Its a 20w-50.

CC Oil


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Joe Fedullo, Milford MI on Saturday, June 25, 2016 - 06:51 am:

I have tried rotella 15w-40, rotella 5w-40 and am currently using Mobil 1 0w-40. My car is a non starter cat and as I lowered the cold viscosity, it became easier to crank, and creeped much less once started.

Like most people have said, any modern oil is way better than what was around in the model T Era and will be fine.

For now I am sticking with the 0w-40 because the car is noticeably easier to crank. Starting cold I usually spin the engine three times with choke on and ignition off, than turn to batt. With the 0w oil I sometimes get a free start using this method. With 15w, it would chuff but not start.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kevin Whelihan Danbury, WI on Saturday, June 25, 2016 - 07:19 am:

Considering the stuff available back in the day, Joe, you're right; most modern oils are fine for a Model T engine. I think I would base part of my decision on just how much leakage you have and how often you change your oil. All T's seem to leak a certain amount, but some are real "gushers". I use a high quality synthetic with a high zinc content. But, my car leaks very little and I drive (unfortunately) few miles, so I only change it once a year. Oil like so many things about these old cars is a matter of personal choice. And if you don't like your choice, you can certainly change it at any time.


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