Where do you stand on the break-in controversy, and why?

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2017: Where do you stand on the break-in controversy, and why?
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Jelf, Parkerfield KS on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 11:50 am:

Due to my current circumstance this is not an urgent question, but I will want to know after body and chassis repairs are made.

I believe Ford recommended not driving a new Model T over 20 mph for the first 400 miles. Others have different ideas on breaking in a fresh engine. What regimen do you prefer, and why?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bill Dugger on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 11:58 am:

I totally agree with you Steve as those are simple engines and I would want the Babbit and the rings to seat in slowly!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Gregush Portland Oregon on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 12:02 pm:

Me, if everything is setup right, after the a few starts and runs, I drive them as I normally would. Of course that means speeds from 0 to maybe 35 and anything in between. I have often seen suggestions not to run at one set RPM. Maybe change oil after about 100 miles. Reason, if the engine is setup right it's pre broke in and living in world of traffic, really no other choice.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Vern (Vieux Carre) on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 12:05 pm:

I've only broken-in six to eight engines after assembly (non-Model T). The last one I just let it idle for an hour before I even drove it. Then it cooled down and I let it idle again.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gary Blake, Kansas City on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 12:10 pm:

The cylinder and crank journal machining and grinding in the teens and 20’s left a lot to be desired, so you might say that breaking in an engine amounted to the final step in finishing those surfaces. With today’s technology I wouldn’t think those original cautions would apply.

My advice would be to make sure to vary your speed and load factor and don’t baby it too much. High cylinder pressure from higher loading assists with seating the rings.

And finally, DO NOT put a garden hose with the water on in the radiator and let it just sit and idle. That’ll just break it out.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rich Bingham, Blackfoot, Idaho on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 12:19 pm:

Perhaps modern rebuild methods are more precise nowadays than what Henry was able to produce in factory ? Much would depend on the quality of the work. Motors were "run-in" until bearings smoked in the factory. The manual suggests that rebuilds were also set up "tight". The 20mph directive means driving 20 hours at less than 900rpm. Probably a good idea so far as the bottom end is concerned. Seating rings is another story. The best results I've had seating rings depends on building pressure rather than rpm, the drill in my "modern" '37 car was to run full throttle to 50mph, coast against compression down to 30mph, and repeat ten cycles. This worked well to seat chrome rings, which one often hears "never seat". A similar process would likely work for a Model T, scaled to its capabilities, say, up to 30mph full throttle. Meanwhile, taking it really easy for the first few hundred miles would still be a really good idea, methinks -


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kevin Whelihan Danbury, WI on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 12:57 pm:

I think it pretty much accepted practice to go easy on breaking in any new or newly rebuilt engine. Vary speeds while driving and avoid quick starts and stops. Also a good idea to keep the rpm in a range that does not "lug" the engine. I follow those recommendations for the first 200 miles of operation and have never had an issue with any of the engines I've had. Not everyone does this, but I do change oil right after the break in period as well.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan Treace, North FL on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 03:03 pm:

Ford new car instructions were indeed hold speed to 20mph for first 500 miles. And to change out factory oil after 400 miles, and 750 miles thereafter.

One T engine re-builder told me to use non-detergent as break in oil, provides less froth, and to change it to good grade of detergent after break in. Moderate speeds and acceleration too for break in.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Corey Walker, Brownsboro TX on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 03:36 pm:

I've always taken it easy on rebuilt motors. I know people that say you have to "break them in like you drive them". That's no big deal for me because i don't go over 55-60 in my 2004 car, it these guys get a motor freshly rebuilt and white smoke the tires at every stop sign. I bought a '63 Chevy from one of those guys one time and it didn't last long, if that was the reason or not I don't know for sure. I just took up my #4 rod bearing and I let it idle a while just to wear in the one bearing some. I drove a '47 International KB5 for 500 miles at 30 mph back in '95.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie B actually in Toms River N.J. on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 04:19 pm:

I don't think much has changed as far as the material used and the methods used to machine said material so why not use the same recommended break-in procedures from way back when that apparently worked?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie B actually in Toms River N.J. on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 04:23 pm:

By the way: It's been many years since I've even heard a of breaking in period or break in oil but it always was various speeds and an oil change at 1500 miles. This was 50's/60's/70's cars. It faded out after that.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By john kuehn on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 04:34 pm:

Most engines I rebuilt I used STP on the rod and crank journals. Don't think think Ford or any early car manufacturers used any type of extra extra lube on the journals to help with break in.
You can also use lubraplate.
I'm sure opinions will vary. And no I don't use a lot of the STP on the surfaces. It does't take much.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 04:57 pm:

Gee, I'm kinda surprised a particular individual hasn't gotten on here and told you you were all wrong.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Richard Gould, Folsom, CA on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 05:11 pm:

In addition to Fords recommendation, I run a newly rebuilt engine for 30 seconds after initial start up. I let it cool and repeat a half dozen times increasing the time. I never let the radiator get very hot. I've also run them in with the rear end jacked up if the entire chassis has been rebuilt. Only when I am convinced the engine has settled in some will I drive the car, then I try to observe Henry's rule. Call me anal, but the engines hold up.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By George n LakeOzark,Missourah on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 06:16 pm:

What do the current Engine Builders have to say, chime in guys.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Scott Conger - Wyoming on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 07:24 pm:

My dad's engine had 2 miles on it when we took the car to the South Dakota tour. Drove as easy as I could for a couple of hours, but man that was a doozy of a tour. Plenty of hard pulls in low gear. Was removing Kevlar lint at noon and in evening...every evening the car got an oil change. Bands settled down in about 3 days. In a week, at the end of the tour, that car was running like a top. Certainly not ideal, but the car is running like a champ 7 years later.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kohnke Rebabbitting, Clare, Iowa on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 07:28 pm:

The first one to do something like that, would be a Dumb Ass like you Davis.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie B actually in Toms River N.J. on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 10:14 pm:

Why take the bait Rebab? That's EXACTLY the type of post that keeps lurker's lurking and creates bad feelings. Be bigger & he gets smaller.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Dimock, Newfields NH, USA on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 11:24 pm:

To add a bit of levity—

I don’t believe in break-ins.
First of all they are illegal and second someone usually looses something.
I think that if someone really wants something they can go to Walmart to get it or order it from Amazon.if they have a amazon prime they can get expedited shipping and even watch a few movies while they are waiting.
.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Aaron Griffey, Hayward Ca. on Tuesday, November 28, 2017 - 11:59 pm:

Don’t make the engine work hard, don’t over rev it.
Keep it running fast enough to to keep the oil moving fast!
I have rebuilt race car engines that were driven around the track a couple of laps under 4000 rpm’s and then run full blast.
They turned out the same as the ones driven carefully for a couple hundred miles.
If all the clearances are right and everything else is to specs there should be little need for break in.
The rings can get very hot the first few hundred miles, on especially when running fast and hard.
After the roughness from honing the cylinders smoothens out the heat should go down a lot.
Th T engine I am putting together now is a bit tight on the mains.
I will break it in with 0/20 motor oil.
We can no longer burn tree stumps in California so I have no use for non detergent oil.
After a 50 to hundred miles of driving the car I will insist the owner change the oil to 5/30 or 10/30.
Worry about retorquing the head and keep it running with a full radiator, not so much about the breaking in.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gilbert V. I. Fitzhugh on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 03:46 am:

If there's a consensus here, it seems to be don't lug, don't race, vary your speed, and change the oil. In other words, drive it the way most of us drive our Ts most of the time, and have fun!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 07:55 am:

Wow! Name calling AND going directly for the 'Last name' approach all in the first post.

I didn't name any names, Herm. Guilty conscience?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By George Mills_Cherry Hill NJ on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 08:51 am:

Most folks today have difficulty with the concept...but Ford (and others) of the era used the phrase "limber up" with an early oil change...because things like gears, rings, babbet, bronze bush achieved their final size and finish in the car itself by design plan!

Today folks think a design philosophy such as that preposterous, but that is how it was done in the era for everything. The early oil change was not because oils of the era were weak but rather picked up all of the "fines" that got self-lapped into best material size and finish for THAT car and washed away in a constant oil flush.

That said, I do subscribe to the "break them in as you'd drive them" philosophy available today, once I'm sure they idle smooth and can accelerate on a stand. I use to do Super Stock quarter milers, and also quarter mile top eliminators where it was fun skunking a fuelie railer for that final round :-). Never blew an engine, however they were blueprinted going together.

There is a truth to the "only driven by a little old lady school teacher" stories where the next owner uses it daily on the Interstate at high speed, and wonders why the shop visits seem frequent. The car, even modern, limbered up for the old ladies way of driving, and the 2nd owner gave it a new learning experience...ever wonder why cars bought from rental companies at a cheap price more often than not go on to be 250-300 thousand milers? Hah...during limber up they always see extreme brutal service :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gary Tillstrom 30 miles N of Memphis TN on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 09:29 am:

Freshly ground shafts on correctly bored Babbitt require zero break in. The clearance is set when assembled and if it was a quality job will be the same in 5K miles. Inserts are the same. Bottom end requires no break in.

Rings are another issue. Look at them closely under magnification and they will appear like saw teeth. This is on purpose and provides a high contact pressure. When first run, the edges become white hot and “smear”. This is by design. The cross hatch from honing retains oil to cool during this process. I get them hot as quickly as possible to “smear” or seat them. I do not baby them at all.

I do change oil within a couple 100 miles as the ring break in will create metal.

If you guys ever saw how airplane cylinders are broken in you wouldn’t worry about how you drive a T. They are operated at 75% power and not below until the cylinder head temps drop. Go find some big hills and attack them aggressively.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By George John Drobnock on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 09:43 am:

If you construct or build the motor according to manufacture's specifications why do the parts have to be, or obtain "seating in?"

Would not constructing a motor with proper clearances by pass the "seating-in" process?

I have heard to build a performance engine, the clearances are more than what the manufacture specifies?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By George Mills_Cherry Hill NJ on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 10:18 am:

George,

As weird as it seems, there are still some surface finishes, some 4th decimal place sizes that just can't be machined/ground/honed to a "best material condition" for the task at hand. The pistons above are one example...the concept of piston skirt knurling another...and I do know that in industry today many bronze/iron bronze/steel mating surfaces in a precision and application are set to self-lap. It is also why a good center distance mounted cam gear of bronze wants to end up quieter, the "rolling action" between the gear set burnishes the driving surface.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Norman T. Kling on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 11:45 am:

By the time you get this far into the thread, you might not even see this post.:-)

The tightest part of the rebuild are the rings against the cylinders because both have rough surfaces. The tendency is to be tight at first and the cylinders might get hot.

This is what I do. First I start up and run for a few seconds. The reason for this is to get the oil circulating throughout the engine. Then I start again and set at a high idle and run to normal operating temperature. Then torque the head and manifold. If a cast iron head torque hot. If aluminum wait until it gets cold to torque. Next time I start it I drive a few blocks varying the speed up to about 30 and down to about 20. I bring it back and torque again. I continue to do this until the bolts hold torque. After that I just drive as I normally would varying the speed and not going over about 30 mph. After about 100 miles I change the oil. If I have a transmission screen I also clean it out. You will probably find iron filings on the magnet if you have one in your transmission screen. This comes from the cylinders and rings soon after breakin and should not continue.

You will probably notice that the first time you start the engine you might need to pull start it because of the tight rings. Usually after it has run for the first time, it will crank start or start with the starter.

An important thing is not to let the engine overheat, especially during breakin period.
Norm


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By tim moore, "Island City" MI on Wednesday, November 29, 2017 - 06:11 pm:

I have added a little 2-cylce oil to the gas, don't know if it is right or wrong but makes me feel better.

Tim Moore


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gary Blake, Kansas City on Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 01:53 pm:

Break-in is all about the rings. The choice of grit for cylinder finish is intentionally rougher than say the finish of the crank journals to assist the rings in conforming to the cylinder walls. In high performance engines deck plates are used when finishing a cylinder to simulate the deformation to the cylinder walls caused by head bolts. That allows for a much finer finish hone for cylinder walls


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Peter McIntyre on Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 02:42 pm:

I subscribe to the break it in like you're going to drive it.HOWEVER don't forget the camshaft.Most damage is in the first few minutes of running.Make sure the engine will start with minimal effort,this means not towing for a few miles to get it started,when started put on a fairly fast idle for twenty minutes to break in camshaft to lifter surfaces.Change the oil.Drive and enjoy cheers pete


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gary Blake, Kansas City on Thursday, November 30, 2017 - 03:56 pm:

Break-in is all about the rings. The choice of grit for cylinder finish is intentionally rougher than say the finish of the crank journals to assist the rings in conforming to the cylinder walls. In high performance engines deck plates are used when finishing a cylinder to simulate the deformation to the cylinder walls caused by head bolts. That allows for a much finer finish hone for cylinder walls


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By jeff cordes on Friday, December 01, 2017 - 08:39 pm:

Run it like you stole it. It's always worked for me.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Gene Carrothers Huntington Beach on Saturday, December 02, 2017 - 01:01 pm:

I agree with jeff. No idling for any length of time.
I been taught and have followed that some short full open throttle then full closed is best for seating the rings. This puts good pressure against the rings on compression and then the full closed sucks up oil to coat the lower part of the cylinders.

Works for me


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kenneth W DeLong on Saturday, December 02, 2017 - 03:59 pm:

This is from he coffiee shop so it must be true.The power company had it on the news that ST Louis Mi would be without power from 1 am till 6 am and the doughnut shop was robed!!!! I'm agin break in's! Bud.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Richard E Moore Jr. Pickwick lake Tenn. on Saturday, December 02, 2017 - 06:27 pm:

I’m with Gary. Built many race car motors back in the day for Eagle Indy open wheel cars with small blocks in them and it was to the dyno and on the track. We drove them like we stole em. That’s what Chuck Parsons used to say. Hell he’d wreck em before he blew em.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Hal Davis-SE Georgia on Saturday, December 02, 2017 - 07:00 pm:

Someone mentioned consensus above. Seems the consensus is that you should dog the L out of it at a low idle and baby it gingerly around a race track trying your best to win.:-)

I read somewhere to start it and run at a fast idle for 45 minutes, varying the idle speed a bit evety few minutes. Thats what i did to both of ours. They both still run, so i dont guess i did too much damage. From the wide variety of answers here, im about of the opinion it dont much matter.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Dimock, Newfields NH, USA on Saturday, December 02, 2017 - 07:30 pm:

I agree with Jeff Cordes.
Drive it like you stole it!
Why baby a Model T?
It was built to be driven.
Just don’t treat it like a modern.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mack Cole ---- Earth on Saturday, December 02, 2017 - 08:42 pm:

Could it be that folks tend to "baby" a fresh rebuild in case something is not right inside and it was to fly apart? Low rpm's less damage?
Maby you will hear a rattle and shut off before the big bang?
Just a theory.


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