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Correct oil for flat tappets #5356498 02/21/20 12:55 PM
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Gokhan Offline OP
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This question comes often. I was about to reply to it, but the thread was locked because an infamous blog was mentioned.

Originally Posted by Mad_Max_Sam
I own several 'flat-tappet' hot rods, including my mighty Cummins 5.9 (solid cam), and so I've got a couple questions...

I talked with the tech folks at Shell and they claim their Rotella T4, 5 and 6 all have the 'flat-tappet' package, so I've been running Shell Rotella T4 10W30 in my hot rods, ...

Meanwhile...I am still trying to determine what to run in my Cummins ... I may have to resort to the expensive mail order oils like Amsoil...

Would appreciate any thoughts/recommendations.

Cheers
- Sam

For a flat tappet, you need a thick base oil. Any CK-4 15W-40 is an excellent choice. It sounds like you have an oil-pan heater; so, you should be OK in Colorado. In properly certified modern oils, the ZDDP content (phosphorus level) does not matter whether it's a flat tappet or not.

Amsoil HD ACD 10W-30/SAE 30 is a monograde (no viscosity-index improver) with a very thick base oil, and it would be an excellent choice as well, except for the price. Some 5W-40 HDEOs are halfway decent choices, with a moderately high base-oil viscosity, if you don't have an oil-pan heater or a block heater, but they won't be as good as a 15W-40 or the Amsoil HD ACD 10W-30/SAE 30.

See my spreadsheet linked below for the base-oil viscosity. The base-oil viscosity is listed under the BO DV150 column (cP units). You want a high number.

Estimated VII content and base-oil viscosity of selected oils


2020 Toyota Prius Prime XLE plug-in hybrid, 2ZR-FXE engine, ~ 70 mpg on gas, ~ 5,000 mi
TGMO 0W-16 SN/RC Japan
OEM spin-on oil filter Japan
Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: Gokhan] #5356508 02/21/20 01:06 PM
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ragtoplvr Offline
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Just buy any motorcycle rated oil in the viscosity you desire, they have to do gears as well as flat tappets at RPM's your car engines can only dream about.

Rod

Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: Gokhan] #5356528 02/21/20 01:31 PM
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PontiacHO Offline
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With friction modifiers for wet clutches also. No. Not a good idea. Just curious. What are the valve spring pressures for these bikes you are referring to? Most automotive performance flat tappet cams have spring pressures in the neighborhood of 130 lbs Seat Pressure/300-325 lbs open.

Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: PontiacHO] #5356584 02/21/20 03:18 PM
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zrxkawboy Offline
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Originally Posted by PontiacHO
With friction modifiers for wet clutches also. No. Not a good idea.


I’m wondering what exactly you mean by this. Do you believe there is something specific in MC oil that will harm your car engine?

I’ve never used MC oil in a car engine, but I sure don’t think it would do any harm.


"Think of all the Ford owners who will someday want an automobile." John Dodge

Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: Gokhan] #5356717 02/21/20 07:03 PM
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PontiacHO Offline
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Automotive gaskets and seals aren’t designed to contain friction modifiers. Again back to flat tappet valve spring pressures in motorcycles... Are they like automotive pressures? It’s odd though i assisted with the disassembly of an early 70s 650 Honda engine. It had roller tappet. Are bikes being built with flat tappet currently?

Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: Gokhan] #5356723 02/21/20 07:11 PM
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tundraotto Offline
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Isn't it the automotive oils that contain the friction modifiers (labeled with energy conserving etc that the motorcycle manuals used to say to avoid)....the friction modifiers (like a 'big slug of moly' >200ppm)?
and not the dedicated motorcycle oils....since the friction modifiers can interfere with wet-clutch operation?

Last edited by tundraotto; 02/21/20 07:17 PM.
Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: Gokhan] #5356725 02/21/20 07:12 PM
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ammolab Offline
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Valvoline VR-1. My answer for each and every one of these threads.

Carry on.


1998 Jeep Cherokee
2011 BMW R1200R
2005 Kaw Ninja 250
1994 Jeep Wrangler 2.5L
2016 Chevy SS Sport Sedan
Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: ammolab] #5356730 02/21/20 07:20 PM
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PontiacHO Offline
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That’s good advice however I admit that I usually don’t what I’m talking about. VR-1 worked for 396 and multiple Ponyiac motors.

Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: Gokhan] #5356734 02/21/20 07:23 PM
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RDY4WAR Offline
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Originally Posted by Gokhan
This question comes often. I was about to reply to it, but the thread was locked because an infamous blog was mentioned.

Originally Posted by Mad_Max_Sam
I own several 'flat-tappet' hot rods, including my mighty Cummins 5.9 (solid cam), and so I've got a couple questions...

I talked with the tech folks at Shell and they claim their Rotella T4, 5 and 6 all have the 'flat-tappet' package, so I've been running Shell Rotella T4 10W30 in my hot rods, ...

Meanwhile...I am still trying to determine what to run in my Cummins ... I may have to resort to the expensive mail order oils like Amsoil...

Would appreciate any thoughts/recommendations.

Cheers
- Sam

For a flat tappet, you need a thick base oil. Any CK-4 15W-40 is an excellent choice. It sounds like you have an oil-pan heater; so, you should be OK in Colorado. In properly certified modern oils, the ZDDP content (phosphorus level) does not matter whether it's a flat tappet or not.

Amsoil HD ACD 10W-30/SAE 30 is a monograde (no viscosity-index improver) with a very thick base oil, and it would be an excellent choice as well, except for the price. Some 5W-40 HDEOs are halfway decent choices, with a moderately high base-oil viscosity, if you don't have an oil-pan heater or a block heater, but they won't be as good as a 15W-40 or the Amsoil HD ACD 10W-30/SAE 30.

See my spreadsheet linked below for the base-oil viscosity. The base-oil viscosity is listed under the BO DV150 column (cP units). You want a high number.

Estimated VII content and base-oil viscosity of selected oils


I'm not buying the thick base oil argument. I've seen a lot of solid flat tappet drag engines, pushing the extremes of valvetrain stability/jerk, with 0w-10 and 0w-20 oil and no excessive wear at all.


"He who is without oil, shall throw the first rod." - Compressions 9:1
Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: ragtoplvr] #5356769 02/21/20 08:12 PM
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SR5 Offline
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Originally Posted by ragtoplvr
Just buy any motorcycle rated oil in the viscosity you desire

Yes this should work.

PontiacHO, with MC oils they contain No friction modifiers (FM) as this could cause a wet clutch to slip. Resource Conserving (RC) car oils often do contain FM to improve fuel economy. So the problem is running a RC car oil in a bike, not the other way around.

Here is a link to a Castrol 10W40 semi-synthetic motorcycle oil, it has Moly 50ppm, Boron 60ppm and Zinc 1000 ppm with a TBN of 9.3

https://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php/topics/5343919/

The high zinc (ZDDP) is due to the engine oil also being the gear box oil in a shared sump motorcycle, so extra wear protection is required for the gears. Also this is a high shear environment so high shear resistant viscosity index improvers (VII) are used.

Motorcycle oils are definitely high performance oils. Having said that, something like VR-1 is also a good oil, and most diesel HDEO’s (like Rotella or Delo) have historically worked well too. Just agreeing that there are a few options out there for you, including MC oils.


---------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Valvoline DuraBlend 10W40 SN & A3/B4 semi-synthetic + Valvoline V06 synblend media filter
Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: Gokhan] #5356770 02/21/20 08:12 PM
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tundraotto Offline
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Any wear on a flat tappet drag engine valvetrain probably has very little to do with oil....

Now on a car that sees more than a few hours before rebuild, and NOT 200# valve springs and 9000rpm....probably a lot more so.

Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: tundraotto] #5356788 02/21/20 08:39 PM
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Gokhan Offline OP
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Originally Posted by tundraotto
Any wear on a flat tappet drag engine valvetrain probably has very little to do with oil....

Now on a car that sees more than a few hours before rebuild, and NOT 200# valve springs and 9000rpm....probably a lot more so.

thumbsup


2020 Toyota Prius Prime XLE plug-in hybrid, 2ZR-FXE engine, ~ 70 mpg on gas, ~ 5,000 mi
TGMO 0W-16 SN/RC Japan
OEM spin-on oil filter Japan
Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: tundraotto] #5356835 02/21/20 09:52 PM
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RDY4WAR Offline
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Originally Posted by tundraotto
Any wear on a flat tappet drag engine valvetrain probably has very little to do with oil....

Now on a car that sees more than a few hours before rebuild, and NOT 200# valve springs and 9000rpm....probably a lot more so.



These engines have 8-10 years on them and participate in drag week every year. They've got a lot of runs and hours on them. I've seen plenty of flat tappet cam failures using 10w-30 and SAE 30 oils with insufficient ZDDP for the application. Enlighten me how the starting base oil impacts a part of the engine that operates in boundary lubrication. Why would it care? If that was the case, we'd just run aviation oils.

Last edited by RDY4WAR; 02/21/20 09:54 PM.

"He who is without oil, shall throw the first rod." - Compressions 9:1
Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: Gokhan] #5356845 02/21/20 10:06 PM
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tundraotto Offline
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8-10 years...and probably 5 hours of running time....get real.

ZDDP is there for when the oil film strength has disappeared - like 9000rpm and 200lbs valve springs.

Like said - comparing flat tappet drag racing motor to a normal flat tappet engine in regards to wear is idiotic.
Whats next - 1.5L turbo Formula 1 motors from the 1980's to 1.5L Honda econobox engines for fuel economy?

Just stop.

Last edited by tundraotto; 02/21/20 10:06 PM.
Re: Correct oil for flat tappets [Re: Gokhan] #5356865 02/21/20 10:31 PM
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RDY4WAR Offline
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Even stock hydraulic flat tappet cams with 90 lb springs and <.450" lift and turning <5500 rpm still operate in boundary lubrication. I don't see how a more viscous starting base oil is going to improve upon that when there is no appreciable oil film present.

Say if we did have an impact of oil film, how can you substantiate any claims of better protection between different base oils of kinematic viscosity. This would claim that a 5w-30 using base oils with a higher pressure-viscosity coefficient wouldn't perform as well as a 10w-30 with a lower P-V coefficient. Are we just going to ignore the more relevant properties of these base oils and look at KV alone?

Last edited by RDY4WAR; 02/21/20 10:36 PM.

"He who is without oil, shall throw the first rod." - Compressions 9:1
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