Subject: [JTAN] IS OIL KILLING OUR BIKES?
IS OIL KILLING OUR BIKES? !!!!!
By: Keith Ansell, Foreign Parts Positively, Inc.
About a year ago I read about the reduction of zinc dialykl 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
A 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.
This 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. Meaning all flat tappet (cam follower) equipped
engines as used in MG, Triumph, Austin, all BMC products, all British Leyland
Volvos, American hi-performance engines and many others.
Next call: To a major camshaft supplier, both stock and performance (Crane).
They now have an additive for whatever oil you are using during break-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 tappet engines.
Next 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.
this off: Our representative from a major supplier of performance and
street engine parts (EPWI) stopped by to "warn us" of the problem of
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
skeptical 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 stations."
This 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.
Next 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. Comp 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 break-in protection, subsequent testing has proven
the durability benefits of its long term use. This special blend of additives
promotes proper break-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".
Next 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 ZDDP we need in
weights we are familiar with.
camshaft manufacturer (Crane):
"…use our additive" for the first 500 miles.”.
From General Motors (Chevrolet): add EOS,
their oil fortifier, to your oil, it's only about $14.00 for each oil change
8-ounce can (This problem seems to be something GM has known about for some
time!). The additive says for break-in only, some dealers add it to every oil
From Redline Oil: Use our street formulated synthetics. They have what we need!
From 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.
So what are we at Foreign Parts Positively going to do? After much research we
are switching to Redline Street rated oils and stocking the Castrol products
that are diesel rated or otherwise seem acceptable. 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 (5W-50)
oil in new engines for about 3 years so the cost difference is minimal on new
engines. 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! Yes, it is a
long change interval but with lowered
sulfur 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.
Too many things are starting to show up on
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, destroys
our cars as it isn't the same stuff we were getting even a year ago.
If you have any additional input let us
know. We need
to let every flat tappet engine owner, i.e.: every British Car owner know that
things are changing and we MUST meet the challenge.
Keith Ansell, President
Foreign Parts Positively, Inc.
Oil is Killing our cars Part II
Last 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. I have had the good fortune to have the ear of
few leaders in the industry including some wonderful input from Castrol and
Redline. 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 oday, some still are.
Now for the latest report:
#1 Castrol GTX 20W-50 is still good for our cars after break-in!
10W-30 and other grades are NOT good. Absolute NO 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. (See third article to amend this!).
#2 Castrol HD 30 is a very good oil for
break-in of new motors. This oil has one of the largest concentrations of ZDDP
and Moly to conserve our cams and tappets. (SEE THIRD ARTICLE...This oil is NOT
now recommended by Castrol).
#3 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.
#4 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.
#5 Redline oil and others are suggesting a
3,000-mile break-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
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
For 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 all diesel engines. Second 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.
We'll keep you apprised of any new findings! Happy motoring for now!
OIL IS KILLING OUR CARS, Part Three (December 7, 2006)
Summation of what has been learned so far.
First is that there is a problem, lack of ZDDP (Zinc Dialkyl DithioPhosphate)
in modern oils kills at least our cams and tappets.
There seems to be no known alternative.
Second, our cars are a small percentage of the total market and BIG Corporate,
the American Petroleum Institute and possibly government have made decisions
that are detrimental to our cars. This problem isn't going away.
Third, that many oil companies may have products that will continue to function
well in our cars. Castrol, Redline, Valvoline, Mobil, Amsoil and others have
now commented on my original article and are making suggestions. For some companies they are offering short
lists of "acceptable" oils, others just one. One company has
responded without any
substantive information in a two-page "bulletin". By their account
all their oils are
superior and applicable. This is typical of most larger companies.
Fourth, some oil manufacturers are pointing to metallurgy, blaming poorly built
cams and followers. This may have some validity but the bottom line is that
there has been a big increase in failures with products that have been on the
market with identical products that are now having greatly increased failures.
To me the bottom line is, if the lubricants
are working there is no contact between surfaces, it shouldn't matter what the
materials are, within reason.
Fifth, on "modern" production cars, stay with the manufacturer' s
suggestions. For any car produced before about 1990 the owner needs to be aware
that the suggested lubricant may have changed and may not be applicable. Flat
tappet, stock, performance or modified may be affected.
Sixth, Yes there is more! Directly from Castrol Engineering November, 27, 2006:
"Also, at this time we are not recommending use of heavy duty truck
products due to different formula objectives between cars and trucks."
Now the important information:
Oils that seem to be correct for our cars:
Castrol: Syntec 5W-40, Syntec 20W-50, Grand Prix 4-Stroke Motorcycle oil in
10W-40 and 20W-50, TWS Motorsport 10W-60*, BMW Long Life 5W-30*
*= full synthetic, available only at BMW dealerships.
Redline: 10W-30, 10W-40 (Synthetic oils)
Valvoline: VR-1 20W-50 (Conventional oil)
Mobil: Mobil 1 5W30 and 20W-50 (Synthetic)
What are we going to do at Foreign Parts Positively has been difficult to
determine but with few options left, the following is what we are forced to do.
Some of our choices have been based on the manufacturer' s willingness to help.
Break in: Delo 400 30W
Conventional oil: Valvoline VR-1 20W-50
Synthetic: Redline 10W-30 in newer engines, 10W-40 on older engines.
Break-in is now 3,000 miles (using Delo 400 30W) before changing to running
Oil change interval: 1 year or 18,000 miles with Redline synthetic
1 year or 2,500 miles with conventional oil (Valvoline VR-1 20W-50).
Oil Filters: Correct Fram or Wix (Spin-0n), Felt in can type, changed with
every oil change. We emphasize Correct as many oil filter manufacturers do no
have proper backflow preventers, pressure bypasses or fine filter media.
Thank you to Castrol, Redline, Christiansen Oil, Valvoline, Mobil and Amsoil
We're sure this subject will continue: Please forward any new information
you may encounter.
Keith M. Ansell
Foreign Parts Positively, Inc.