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#4434042 - 06/17/17 08:41 AM Oil advice for a 1914 Model T
2Slow Offline

Registered: 08/24/12
Posts: 15
Loc: Michignan, USA
I have a 1914 Model T and am looking for advice as to what oil to use. Anything modern has to be better than what was available in 1914, but here is some background.

The engine and the trans share the same oil sump.
There is no oil filter.
There is no oil pump.
The main and rod bearings are babbit
Top engine speed is below 2,000 RPM
The engine is water cooled but there is no water pump so it runs relatively hot.
Lower gear, Reverse, and the brake are achieved by pushing on pedals that tighten cotton lined bands around spinning drums in the trans that are bathed in the sump oil. Some oils seem to make the bands chatter more than others.
High gear is direct drive and is engaged by a wet clutch pack with several steel disks.
There is no starter, only a hand crank. Higher cold viscosity oils are harder to crank as they cause drag at the bands and the clutch pack.

The previous owner used Rotella 15W-40 and it was hard to crank start the car without jacking up the rear end. I switched to Rotella 5W40 and adjusted the bands and it was easier to start. I subsequently switched to Mobil 0W-40 and it was easier still to start. That is what I am running now, but it is time for the annual oil change. (It only sees a few hundred miles of use a year)

What oils have the lowest cold viscosity to help with crank starting?

Would a low friction modifier content like a motorcycle oil to help with the bands chattering as they engage, or would it make starting harder?

Would an oil with some EP content be advised since it also lubes the gears?

Thanks for your thoughts!

Edited by 2Slow (06/17/17 08:47 AM)

#4434057 - 06/17/17 08:53 AM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: 2Slow]
Ducked Offline

Registered: 10/25/12
Posts: 3810
Loc: Taiwan
For that use a sump heater would seem to be strongly indicated, and might mitigate any downside of using motorcycle oil, which seems well worth a try.

#4434061 - 06/17/17 08:57 AM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: 2Slow]
AZjeff Offline

Registered: 01/14/11
Posts: 2342
Loc: Cottonwood Az
Use what the owner's manual recommends! crazy Sorry.

No good advice but great thread topic.
86 Samurai 1.3 leftovers
14 RAV4 2.5 0W-20 PPP
16 Silverado 1500 4.3 Ecotec3, DI, AFM 5W-30 PPP

Why know when you can guess?!

#4434078 - 06/17/17 09:18 AM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: AZjeff]
passgas55 Offline

Registered: 09/26/04
Posts: 83
Loc: South La
Why don't you get in touch with a couple of major motor oil producers and see what they would recommend with the description you just gave?
I would try Chevron, Shell and Mobil to see what they would recommend. Just make sure you are talking to the right person not just someone who would read specs off without understanding them.

#4434082 - 06/17/17 09:25 AM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: 2Slow]
Wurlitzer Offline

Registered: 04/12/17
Posts: 55
Loc: Appalachia
Sign that bad boy up for the Castrol 350,000 mile challenge.

#4434095 - 06/17/17 09:44 AM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: 2Slow]
andyd Offline

Registered: 09/25/04
Posts: 6726
Loc: Marshfield , MA
Every car I've had since I went on line in 2K has a forum of enthusiasts. I would find a Model T club and ask them. Good luck with your Model T laugh
'16 Camry LE STP synth 0w20 and STP filter.

1994 Ranger ,the Rat, 5w30 dino, STP filter

'16 Camry SE, Valvoline bulk 0w20 and ? filter

#4434101 - 06/17/17 09:49 AM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: 2Slow]
Alex_V Offline

Registered: 04/10/16
Posts: 1056
Loc: Campbellsville, KY
There's a guy that goes by "Mr. Model T" on instagram and youtube with a very nice T he drives quite a bit. It's been on Jay Leno's Garage and he took it to TROG. Might try to contact him - based on his media feeds he works on all kinds of very old stuff and puts a few miles on them, as well.
I like Chevy and Valvoline.

'13 Cruze, 1.4T, 110K
'85 GMC C3500, 454, 130K
'82 Mercedes 300CD, OM617 turbo, 165K
'67 Suburban, 350, 331K

#4434146 - 06/17/17 10:30 AM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: 2Slow]
E150GT Offline

Registered: 03/11/12
Posts: 1015
Loc: San Antonio, TX
Go hit up your local dollar general. I bet they got the factory stuff there.
1984 Mercedes-Benz 300SD - 100k
1995 F150 XL 4.9 reg cab 5 speed - 247k 5w30
2016 Mazda 6 manual 6speed - 46k 5w30

#4434147 - 06/17/17 10:31 AM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: E150GT]
slacktide_bitog Offline

Registered: 03/20/08
Posts: 5606
Loc: USA
Originally Posted By: E150GT
Go hit up your local dollar general. I bet they got the factory stuff there.

I knew someone would LOL

#4434161 - 06/17/17 10:53 AM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: 2Slow]
2Slow Offline

Registered: 08/24/12
Posts: 15
Loc: Michignan, USA
I like the idea of contacting an oil company. If anyone has an email of someone they think could help, please PM it to me.

The manual states a light, high grade oil.

The general consensus of the Model T forum is any modern oil is better than anything that was available in 1914. Some guys will mix and match stuff from yard sales, and there is even a guy that likes the Dollar General stuff... Generally they know a lot about Model T's, but oil info is based on advertising and magic.

I have tried a few different types and I believe they all protect the engine better than anything from back in the day. I have noticed a difference in the ability to hand crank the motor, with the very simple trend of a lower advertised xW- viscosity rating being easier. My bands chatter a little in reverse, with all of the synthetics I have tried. (Wasn't as bad with the 15W-40 Rotella)

Looking for advice from this community of oil experts. Of the 0W stuff out there, which has tested particularly low cold viscosity? Are any of them ones that have EP additives, or have additive packages that would be appropriate for wet clutches?

Thanks for the help!

#4434178 - 06/17/17 11:21 AM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: 2Slow]
bioburner Offline

Registered: 09/19/16
Posts: 1418
Loc: Minnesota
Try the Shaffers Oil site. I use a oil from them for my cycles.

97 Ford E350 D,99 F350 dually D
13 Scion Xb
12 Ford Transit Connect
06 Nissan Xterra
03 K1200 BMW
07 Kawasaki KLR650
13 Madass

#4434237 - 06/17/17 12:37 PM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: 2Slow]
Triton_330 Offline

Registered: 12/24/13
Posts: 780
Loc: Illinois, USA
Originally Posted By: 2Slow
The manual states a light, high grade oil.

That couldn't be any less specific. What does light, high grade oil even mean?

Anyway, it being a 1914, it came factory with non-detergent oil for sure. So here's what I could come up with:


But since you say you've been using HDEOs, I guess those links will go to no use. I wouldn't have put that into a car that wasn't supposed to use detergent oil.
2001 Ford F-150 XLT 4x4 5.4L V8 ~132k miles
-> PPHM 5w-20 w/Fram Ultra
1989 Chevrolet Camaro RS 5.0L TBI V8 ~48k miles
-> Milesyn SB 5w-30 w/Puro Boss

#4434336 - 06/17/17 02:24 PM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: 2Slow]
maxdustington Offline

Registered: 01/21/17
Posts: 167
Loc: Toronna
You are my hero for running M1 0W-40 in that. Awesome!
03 Jetta AWP/09A 200k kms

#4434345 - 06/17/17 02:28 PM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: 2Slow]
FordCapriDriver Offline

Registered: 10/22/15
Posts: 2264
Loc: Balearic Islands , Spain
I'm surprised M1 0W-40 is doing ok in a model T engine!
If it's working though, keep using it, just a quick google search i find forums with people stating they run 5W-30, 10W-30, 10W-40, Straight 30...
1975 Ford Capri II Ghia 3000 V6
1988 Ford Escort 1.6 Xr3i Convertible
1999 Peugeot 106 1.1i Max
Finnish expat living in Spain

#4434357 - 06/17/17 02:39 PM Re: Oil advice for a 1914 Model T [Re: 2Slow]
Garak Offline

Registered: 12/05/09
Posts: 23711
Loc: Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada
Have you tried a monograde 30? I know people are falling over with me suggesting it, but that might be one of your best options.
Plain, simple Garak.

2008 Infiniti G37 - Shell ROTELLA T6 Multi-Vehicle 5w-30, NAPA Gold 7356
1984 F-150 4.9L - Quaker State GB 10w-30, Wix 51515

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