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#1584948 - 08/31/09 08:18 PM Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes
Gary - K7GLD Offline


Registered: 01/26/05
Posts: 40
Loc: Canyon City Oregon
I keep running across Amsoil related threads, and every so often the old "4-ball test results" Amsoil uses in their advertising resurfaces. I've been curious as to the validity of that test method, in regards to *engine* oils, and did an Internet search - found out others, including Mobil co. had related comments and opinions:

Quote:

Question:
Oil Film Strength of Mobil 1 Compared with Royal Purple

Does Mobil 1 have less oil film strength than Royal Purple? I have seen many times the friction test of oils using the machine that test the oil film, test result shows that Royal Purple has more friction protection that Mobil 1 does, seeing these results makes me think that Mobil 1 is lacking some benefits, therefore Royal Purple has the better protection of all.
-- Guillermo Tristani, Miami, OR

Answer:
There are certain oils in the market today that use EP (extreme pressure) additives in their engine oil that are really designed for gear oils and not engine oils. Extreme pressure additives are typically not used in engine oils for a number of reasons but the most important is because they can cause engine corrosion over time. The rigs being used in these demonstrations are primarily designed for industrial applications like gear oils where extreme pressure is an important performance feature you need. These demonstration rigs have very little to do with modern engines and that is the reason that market leading oils in the industry perform poorly in these tests


I guess a more direct approach/question where the "4-ball" test is concerned - especially since Mobil stated that particular test was primarily for gear lubes and similar where characteristics differ significantly from that of purely ENGINE lubes - is, do ANY major oil refiners use that particular test to evaluate and advertise their engine oils? (*I* sure haven't seen any!) OR, is it as Mobil claims, primarily for test and evaluation of gear lubes and similar where different operating characteristics and lube requirements exist?

If it IS primarily for gear lubes - and use pretty much restricted to those type tests by most lube producers, WHY does Amsoil - and apparently Royal Purple use that test on their *engine oils* - and then rely upon the results as a major advertising tool?

Should buyers be looking for, and satisfied with an engine lube largely because it provides substantial gear lube characteristics? Not a trick question, there ARE gear trains in many engine types - as well as various direct sliding metal-to-metal contacts - such as in the camshaft/valvetrain - just not sure I'd necessarily be satisfied with an engine lube that placed greater emphasis upon the gear-type characteristics, than what the rest of the engine required - as the Amsoil focus upon gear train test methods and advertising might imply...

Are there no BETTER and more pertinent oil industry tests available SPECIFICALLY designed and accepted specifically for engine lubes? IF so, where can THOSE test results by major dino and synthetic producers be seen?

How about it - is the "4-ball test" really a valid test of *engine* lube quality and performance - or just a smoke-and-mirrors advertising gimmick used by Amsoil that is rather meaningless outside gear lube testing? shrug
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#1584957 - 08/31/09 08:25 PM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: Gary - K7GLD]
buster Offline


Registered: 11/16/02
Posts: 28956
Loc: NJ
This has been addressed a billion times. Noria had a good write up about it and essentially it's used as a screening test for additives. Has poor correlation to real world engine testing.

Oils have to go through sophisticated, controlled engine sequence testing to prove their wear capabilities.

Quote:
"The 4-ball test (ASTM D4172) is often used as a screening test for many different lubricant types that contain antiwear additives or similar base oil properties. Other tribo-mechanical bench tests are often used as well, including the Timken Test (ASTM D2782) and the Pin and V-Block (ASTM D2670). Because engines have different contact geometry, loads, metallurgy and speeds, numerous bench tests and test protocols are needed. It is not uncommon for several oils to be tested using two such methods and to find that the performance rankings between the oils to reverse (no correlation). This is why, among other reasons, Passenger Car Motor Oils and Heavy Duty Oils (diesel crankcase) are tested in actual engines using controlled methods such as ASTM D5533 Sequence IIIE and D5302 Sequence VE.

Jim Fitch, Noria Corporation"

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#1584960 - 08/31/09 08:26 PM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: Gary - K7GLD]
OVERKILL Online   content


Registered: 04/28/08
Posts: 24969
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Its a pretty useless test for engine oils.

It is a pretty useful test for greases and gear lubes.

This is why no major oil manufacturer uses it to test their oils. But they do use it (ASTM D-4172) to test their greases and gear oils.

It is a wow-factor test. It doesn't mean the companies who use it are selling a sub-par product and using smoke and mirrors, but the results are really not all that relevant to what takes place inside an internal combustion engine.

Another example is the "one armed bandit" machines that Shaeffers salesmen have used. Doesn't mean the oil is a bad product, but the performance of EP additives in an EP test has little to no relevance to the product's subsequent performance in a gasoline engine.
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#1584966 - 08/31/09 08:29 PM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: OVERKILL]
buster Offline


Registered: 11/16/02
Posts: 28956
Loc: NJ
If you look at Mobil's PDS for gear lubes and some other lubes, they use the 4-ball wear test. It is a legitimate test, but not called for in motor oil testing.

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#1589808 - 09/05/09 12:50 AM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: buster]
Trex101 Offline


Registered: 11/07/03
Posts: 292
Loc: Melbourne, Australia
RLI technical papers did included a 4-ball wear test for engine oil wear performance. They seem to have a whole suit of tests and their engine oil performs pretty well with 0.35mm wear scar.

See page 10
http://www.teraspeed.com/RLI/Introduction%20to%20RLI%20Technology%20.pdf

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#1589827 - 09/05/09 01:18 AM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: Trex101]
OVERKILL Online   content


Registered: 04/28/08
Posts: 24969
Loc: Ontario, Canada
I would hardly call RLI a major oil manufacturer (compared to SOPUS, EM, BP...etc).

Per the sheet you posted, RLI used:
1. DIN 51354 FZG (Gear oil test)
2. ASTM D-4172 (four ball)
3. Denison/Vickers pump wear tests
4. Penn State Micro-oxidation test
5. ASTM D 2272 (Standard Test Method for Oxidation Stability of Steam Turbine Oils by Rotating Pressure Vessel)
6. ASTM D-5864 (Standard Test Method for Determining Aerobic Aquatic Biodegradation of Lubricants or Their Components)
7. ASTM D4684 (MRV) (Standard Test Method for Determination of Yield Stress and Apparent Viscosity of Engine Oils at Low Temperature)
8. ASTM D-97 (Pour Point)
9. NOACK (Volatility)
10. ASTM D-892 (Standard Test Method for Foaming Characteristics of Lubricating Oils)
11. ASTM D-6082 (Standard Test Method for High Temperature Foaming Characteristics of Lubricating Oils)

To test their lubricants.

Originally Posted By: RLI
A modified Four-Ball Wear Test using a sequential method to obtain a "run-in" wear and a
"steady-state" rate of wear has also been developed for use with heavy-duty hydraulic
systems using a large Caterpillar data base. (6) (7) In many cases, such as transmission fluids
for heavy loaded gearboxes, the lubricants are required to have superior extreme pressure
(EP) properties. The properties can be screened using the Four Ball Wear Tester assembly.
This test can be supplemented with a scuffing evaluation of lubricants by increasing the
load until scuffing occurs.



Now, for comparison, lets look at the tests (the posted ones) that a single grade, in this case M1 0w40, has been tested with:

1. API SM/SL/SJ/CF
2. ACEA A3/B3
3. ACEA A3/B4
4. NISSAN GT-R (manufacturer specific)
5. MB-Approval 229.3
6. MB-Approval 229.5
7. GM-LL-A-025
8. GM-LL-B-025
9. BMW LONGLIFE OIL 01
10. VW 502 00
11. VW 505 00
12. PORSCHE A40
13. ASTM D 445 (Standard viscosity test)
14. ASTM D 874 (Sulfated Ash wt)
15. ASTM D 92 (Flash point)
16. ASTM D 4052 (Density)
17. ASTM D 4683 (HTHS)
18. ASTM D 4684 (MRV)

Not to mention the tests that the add packs and base oils would have gone through that are not mentioned on the oil's spec sheet.
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#1750490 - 01/21/10 12:00 PM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: OVERKILL]
Kaboomba Offline


Registered: 10/05/09
Posts: 782
Loc: SE WI, USA
My view of ASTM D 4172 has become more positive lately. It's not a be-all/end-all, but it's not too shabby, either.

See below, from Southwest Research Institute (renowned for excellent applied research):

http://www.swri.org/4org/d08/ShearTst/4ball.pdf

And SAE uses it to test engine oils:

http://www.sae.org/technical/papers/930160

And the Army included it when evaluating scuffing test correlations. Table 3 on page 13 is interesting:

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA321790&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

Best

K
_________________________
Kaboomba

94 Buick Park Ave 108K miles, aging gracefully though totalled!
95 Merc Sable 92K miles, raised from the dead by me



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#1750575 - 01/21/10 01:15 PM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: Kaboomba]
Kaboomba Offline


Registered: 10/05/09
Posts: 782
Loc: SE WI, USA
Oops, my bad, the Army link and the SRI link are for the same study. The dates on them got me goofed up. Use the Army link:

http://www.dtic.mil/cgi-bin/GetTRDoc?AD=ADA321790&Location=U2&doc=GetTRDoc.pdf

K
_________________________
Kaboomba

94 Buick Park Ave 108K miles, aging gracefully though totalled!
95 Merc Sable 92K miles, raised from the dead by me



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#1755140 - 01/25/10 02:02 PM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: Kaboomba]
Extreme-Duty Offline


Registered: 10/14/05
Posts: 291
Loc: Schafflund, Germany
Looks like syn. and ester-based oil has some superiority in the ring/piston area of high speed heavy duty diesel engines.... some board members may be surprised now. tongue2

Oh wait, I forgot it's all about the add-pack. duh


Edited by Extreme-Duty (01/25/10 02:08 PM)
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#2836172 - 12/15/12 07:02 PM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: Gary - K7GLD]
theaveng Offline


Registered: 12/07/12
Posts: 224
Loc: Irvine CA and Lancaster PA
QUOTE: "The rigs being used in these demonstrations are primarily designed for industrial applications like gear oils where extreme pressure is an important performance feature you need. These demonstration rigs have very little to do with modern engines and that is the reason that market leading oils in the industry perform poorly in these tests"

Sounds similar to what Royal Purple said about the 4-ball test this month. (That it's invalid to compare engine oil brands.) Next thing Amsoil will do is add teflon to their oil


Edited by theaveng (12/15/12 07:10 PM)
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#2836240 - 12/15/12 08:11 PM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: theaveng]
OVERKILL Online   content


Registered: 04/28/08
Posts: 24969
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: theaveng
QUOTE: "The rigs being used in these demonstrations are primarily designed for industrial applications like gear oils where extreme pressure is an important performance feature you need. These demonstration rigs have very little to do with modern engines and that is the reason that market leading oils in the industry perform poorly in these tests"

Sounds similar to what Royal Purple said about the 4-ball test this month. (That it's invalid to compare engine oil brands.) Next thing Amsoil will do is add teflon to their oil


Yet Royal Purple has used the "one armed bandit" in the past, which is equally useless..... shrug
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#2836289 - 12/15/12 08:46 PM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: Gary - K7GLD]
Rand Online   content


Registered: 08/20/03
Posts: 6670
Loc: Akron,Ohio
"motorkote" also uses the one armed bandit.

what they dont tell you is pert plus shampoo

outperforms all the oils there....

at least until it heats up.


Edited by Rand (12/15/12 08:47 PM)
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#2836895 - 12/16/12 01:39 PM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: OVERKILL]
theaveng Offline


Registered: 12/07/12
Posts: 224
Loc: Irvine CA and Lancaster PA
Originally Posted By: OVERKILL
Originally Posted By: theaveng
QSounds similar to what Royal Purple said about the 4-ball test this month. (That it's invalid to compare engine oil brands.)
Yet Royal Purple has used the "one armed bandit" in the past, which is equally useless..... shrug
So in other words we should just avoid all the MLM and other shady companies. We can't trust a single word out of their mouths.


Edited by theaveng (12/16/12 01:40 PM)
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#2837151 - 12/16/12 05:29 PM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: theaveng]
OVERKILL Online   content


Registered: 04/28/08
Posts: 24969
Loc: Ontario, Canada
Originally Posted By: theaveng
Originally Posted By: OVERKILL
Originally Posted By: theaveng
QSounds similar to what Royal Purple said about the 4-ball test this month. (That it's invalid to compare engine oil brands.)
Yet Royal Purple has used the "one armed bandit" in the past, which is equally useless..... shrug
So in other words we should just avoid all the MLM and other shady companies. We can't trust a single word out of their mouths.


LOL, well, I don't recall XOM, SOPUS, Ashland or BP ever using one of these tactics to sell their product wink
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#2837281 - 12/16/12 07:29 PM Re: Validity of the "4-ball" wear test in engine lubes [Re: OVERKILL]
Garak Online   content


Registered: 12/05/09
Posts: 9766
Loc: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: OVERKILL
LOL, well, I don't recall XOM, SOPUS, Ashland or BP ever using one of these tactics to sell their product


Big oil is far from innocent in marketing. Aside from that, we do have to remember that the boutique oils had to differentiate themselves somehow from the mainstream companies, particularly when trying to explain why they didn't have the latest certifications.
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2008 Infiniti G37 coupe - Mobil Delvac 1 ESP 5w-40, Wix 51358
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