Parts Positively, Inc.
NE 189th Street
Prairie, Washington 98606
a year ago I read about the reduction of zinc dithiophosphate (ZDDP) in
the oils supplied with API approval that could affect sliding and high
pressure (EP) friction in our cars. The reduction of these chemicals in
supplied oil was based on the fact that zinc, manganese and/or phosphates
reduce the effectiveness and eventually damage catalytic converters and
introduce minute amounts of pollutants into our atmosphere.
month or so ago I had a member of the Columbia Gorge MG Club bring a
totally failed camshaft and lifters back to me that had only 900 miles on
them!! I immediately contacted the camshaft re-grinder and asked how this
could happen. They were well aware of this problem as they were starting
to have many failures of this type. In the past, the lack of a molybdenum
disulfide camshaft assembly lubricant, at assembly, was about the only
thing that could create this type of problem. My customer has assembled
many engines and had lubricated the camshaft properly and followed correct
run in procedures.
got me on the phone to Delta Camshaft, one of our major suppliers. Then
the bad news came out: It’s today’s “modern” API (American
Petroleum Industry) approved oils that are killing our engines.
call: To another major camshaft supplier, both stock and performance
(Crane). They now have an additive for whatever oil you are using during
run-in so that the camshaft and lifters won’t fail in an unreasonably
short period of time. They also suggest using a diesel rated oil on flat
call: To a racing oil manufacturer that we use for the race cars
(Redline). Their response: “We are well aware of the problem and we
still use the correct amounts of those additives in our products”. They
continued to tell me they are not producing API approved oils so they
don’t have to test and comply. Their oils were NOT the “new, improved
and approved” ones that destroy flat tappet engines! “We just build
the best lubricants possible”. Sounds stupid, doesn’t it, New-Approved
but inferior products, but it seems to be true for our cars.
top this off: Our representative from a major supplier of performance and
street engine parts (EPWI) stopped by to “warn us” of the problem of
the NEW oils on flat tappet engines. This was a call that the
representative was making only because of this problem to warn their
engine builders! “The reduction of the zinc, manganese and phosphates
are causing very early destruction of cams and followers”. They are
recommending that, for now at least, there must be a proper oil additive
put in the first oil used on new engines, beyond the liberal use of
molydisulfide assembly lube. They have been told that the first oil is the
time the additives are needed but remain sceptical that the first change
is all that is necessary. Their statement: Use diesel rated oils such as
Delo or Rotella that are usually available at auto stores and gas
problem is BIG! American Engine Rebuilder's Association (AERA) Bulletin
#TB2333 directly addresses this problem. I had a short discussion with
their engineer and he agreed with all that I had been finding.
phone call was to a retired engineer from Clevite, a major bearing and
component manufacturer. First surprise was that he restored older British
Motor bikes. The second surprise was that he was “VERY” aware of this
problem because many of the old bikes had rectangular tappets that
couldn’t rotate and are having a very large problem with the new oils.
He has written an article for the British Bike community that verify all
the “bad news” we have been finding.
Cams put out “#225 Tech Bulletin: Flat Tappet Camshafts”. They have
both an assembly lube and an oil additive. The telling sentence in the
bulletin was “While this additive was originally developed specifically
for run-in protection, subsequent testing has proven the durability
benefits of its long term use. This special blend of additives promotes
proper run-in and protects against premature cam and lifter failure by
replacing some of the beneficial ingredients that the oil companies have
been required to remove from the off the shelf oil”.
question: Now what do we do?
the camshaft re-grinders (DeltaCam): “Use oils rated for diesel use”,
Delo (Standard Oil product) was named. About the same price as other
quality petroleum based oils. They are not API formulated and have the
zinc dithiophosphate we need in weights we are familiar with. From the
camshaft manufacturer (Crane): “use our additive” for at least the
first 500 miles.
General Motors (Chevrolet): add EOS, their oil fortifier, to your oil,
it’s only about $12.00 for each oil change for an 8 ounce can (This
problem seems to be something GM has known about for some time!).
Redline Oil: Use our street formulated synthetics. They have what we need!
our major oil distributor: Distributing Castrol, Redline, Valvoline and
Industrial oils: “After over a week of contacts we have verified that
the major oil companies are aware of the problem”. “The
representatives of the oil companies today are only aware of marketing
programs and have no knowledge of formulation”. The only major oil
companies they were aware of for doing anything to address this are
Valvoline that is offering an “Off Road 20W-50” and Redline.
Castrol: We are beginning to see a pattern emerging on older cars. It may
be advantageous to use a non-approved lubricant, such as oils that are
Diesel rated, 4 Cycle Motorcycle oils and other specified diesel oils.
question: So what are we at Foreign Parts Positively going to do?
much research we are switching to Redline Street rated oils and stocking
the Castrol products that are diesel rated. Castrol, owned by British
Petroleum, is now just a brand name. This is a difficult decision as we
have been a dealer and great believer in all Castrol Products for over 40
years. We have been using Castrol Syntech oil in new engines for about 3
years so the cost difference in changing to Redline is minimal. The actual
cost in operation is also less as the additive package in Redline makes a
1-year or up to 18,000 mile change recommended!
it is a long change interval but with lowered sulphur levels and the
elimination of lead and many other chemicals in the fuels there are less
contaminants in our oil from the fuel, which is the major contributor to
oil degradation. We will continue to offer the Castrol products but will
now only stock the suggested diesel oils that they produce.
many things are starting to show up on this subject and it has cost us
money and time. Be aware that “New and Improved”, or even products we
have been using for many years, are destroying our cars as it isn’t the
same stuff we were getting even a year ago.
the cars that use “engine oil” in their gearboxes this may even pose a
problem as these additives that have been removed could be very critical
in gear wear. We will be using oil specifically formulated for Manual
Gearboxes with Brass Synchronizers. The only oils we are aware of that fit
the criteria are from General Motors and Redline.
month’s report on this subject is turning out to be just the tip of the
iceberg! Many publications have had this subject of zinc-dialkyl-dithiophosphate
(ZDDP) covered in varying depths over the last few months. Some
publications have even had conflicting stories when you compare one
month’s article with their next month’s article! They are all ending
up supporting our report.
have had the good fortune to have the ear of quite a few leaders in the
industry including some wonderful input from Castrol. We have been very
reluctant to “dump” Castrol, as it has been such a great supporter of
our cars and industry over the years. Castrol hasn’t really abandoned
our cars, just shifted to a more mass marketing mode. Many Castrol
products are not appropriate for our cars today, some still are.
for the latest report:
Castrol GTX 20W-50 is still good for our cars after run-in! 10W-40, 10W-30
and other grades are NOT good. Absolute NOT GOOD for any oil (Any Brand)
that is marked “Energy Conserving” in the API “Donut” on the
bottle, these oils are so low with ZDDP or other additives that they will
destroy our cams. Virtually all “Diesel” rated oils are acceptable.
Castrol HD 30 is a very good oil for run-in of new motors. This oil has
one of the largest concentrations of ZDDP and Moly to conserve our cams
Only an unusual Castrol Syntec 20W-50 approaches the levels of protection
we need when we look to the better synthetic lubricants. We are attempting
to get this oil but will be using Redline 10W-40 or 10W-30 as these are
lighter weights for better performance, flow volume, less drag and has the
additive package we need.
The trend today is to lighter weight oils to decrease drag, which
increases mileage. Most of these seem to be the “Energy Conservation”
oils that we cannot use.
Redline oil and others are suggesting a 3,000-mile run-in for new engines!
Proper seating of rings, with today’s lubricants is taking that long to
properly seal. Shifting to synthetics before that time will just burn a
lot of oil and not run as well as hoped.
The “Energy Conservation“ trend was first lead by automakers to
increase mileage numbers and secondly because the ZDDP and other chemicals
degrade the catalytic converter after extended miles, increasing
pollution. We don’t have catalytic converters and the mileage gains are
not that significant for most of us.
you science buffs: ZDDP is a single polar molecule that is attracted to
Iron based metals. The one polar end tends to “Stand” the molecule up
on the metal surface that it is bonded to by heat and friction. This forms
a sacrificial layer to protect the base metal of the cam and tappet from
contacting each other. Only at very high pressures on a flat tappet cam is
this necessary because the oil is squeezed/wiped from the surface. This
high pressure is also present on the gudgeon pin (wrist pin) in diesel
engines, therefore the need for ZDDP in diesel engines.
part of the equation is Molybdenum disulfide (Moly). The moly bonds to the
zinc adding an additional, very slippery, sacrificial layer to the metal.
I found out that too much of the moly will create problems; lack of this
material reduces the effectiveness of the ZDDP. The percentage, by weight
is from .01 to .02%, not much, but necessary.
conclusions: Running our older, broken in engines on Castrol 20W-50 GTX is
in a new engine for 3,000 miles on HD 30 Castrol.
engines (after run-in) and fairly low mileage engines will do best with
the Redline 10W- 40 or 10W-30 synthetic.
OILS ARE BEST FOR OUR CARS?
oil to use with the additive I don’t think is a question that has a
definitive answer. Most oils are similar enough that there aren’t great
differences in the oils manufactured by quality companies. I’ll share
what I have learned, especially over the last years. By going into any
auto supply store you can see, by the fact that there are lots of
different brands and types of oils, that there isn’t one answer.
blend, or dinosaur juice? It seems that the quality of all the lubricants
may well exceed anything most enthusiasts would ever need. Synthetics are
the best; many people, including some manufacturers, will admit that
conventional oils are adequate in most applications.
manufacturer admitted to me that all their products were similar, just
marketing and some modifications to additives got higher prices and sold
your car’s owner’s manual recommends a single weight oil and/or
non-detergent, what should you do? Great improvements in oil since your
car was manufactured make those old recommendations no longer valid. One
exception: If you have been running a non-detergent oil it might be
advisable to stay with what you have been using until a new engine is
manufacturers realized in the early 1970’s that the new multi-grade oils
were superior and completely dropped recommending single grade oils. I
recommend using the grade of oil recommended during the last production
dates of your engine if it includes a multi-grade. Lighter weight oils get
more horsepower to the wheels and if properly used can increase engine
rule we use is that the oil pressure should be 10 Psi for each 1,000 Rpm
of redline. i.e.: If the redline of your engine is 6,000 Rpm you should
have 60 Psi, 50 Psi with a redline of 5,000, etc. If these numbers cannot
be reached using a 20W-50 it probably is time for a new set of bearings.
anything changes in the future I’ll put out new data. Now with the new
additives and some new oils we have products that will keep our engines
purring like they were designed to do! Just remember to have ZDDP at or
above 1,300 ppm for flat tappet engines!
25W/50 is a mineral oil with 800ppm Phos and 1200 ppm Zinc
10W/60 is a fully synthetic oil (Not suitable for running in phase after a
re-build) but is 950 ppm P and 1050 Zn.
which is now called GTX Professional 20W150 has 850 ppm Zn and 850 ppm
3 which is now called GTX professional I5W / 40 has 950 ppm P and 1000 ppm
diesel oils Tection mono (old CRF 30 and CRF 40), Tection Global 15W/40
and Tection Medium duty diesel oil have higher levels of both P and Zn and
are ideal for use in older engines BUT care must be exercised due to the
high detergent levels of these oils. If your old engine is a bit 'sludged'
you may not get the result you want by cleaning it out with a high
target levels of P and Zn are both above 1000 ppm.
has made a specific recommendation
1 15W/50 fully synthetic or Mobil XHP 15W/40 Super 1000X2.
is a “Mobil Classic” oil which is rumoured to be available shortly.
Super 20W/50 API rating SL which is available off the shelf in 6litre, 4
litre and 1 litre packs and Helix Super 20W/60 Older Engines which is also
are agents for Penzoil with 2 oils which have the right Zn and P levels
10W/30 multigrade and
25W/50 GT Performance Racing Oil.