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Old 12-08-2009, 06:08 PM   #1
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Default List of Flat-Tappet Oils

Many thanks to everyone that posted oil information across the Forum and on this thread!

Summary: If you use a flat-tappet cam run an oil from this list or another oil you're sure has at least 1000 ppm ZDDP. No additives (other than for break-in), no diesel oils, no racing oils and no miracle cures - just the right oil. For break-in run any oil from the list plus a break-in additive or use one of the specialized break-in oils.

If all you want is a good oil choice, you can skip the rest of the background here and just scroll down to the list of oils. More technical background is at the bottom of this post for those that are interested.

Quote:
Great Vette Magazine March 2014 article on oil for flat-tappet cams!

http://forums.corvetteforum.com/c3-t...ch-2014-a.html
Quote:
Regarding diesel oils: Diesel oils do not appear on this list as I'm not confident they meet the requirements for flat-tappet cams. Readers can make their own decisions by reviewing these posts as well as other threads:

For: http://forums.corvetteforum.com/1579422796-post494.html

Against: http://forums.corvetteforum.com/1579427200-post497.html
Quote:
Regarding "wear testing" by 540 RAT: Forum member 540 RAT has done extensive self-testing of oils with his own equipment and methodology. Although positioned as "wear testing", it measures only a single aspect - film strength - and discounts the need for ZDDP for flat-tappet cams. This is counter to guidance from all cam and oil manufacturers. Read and review for yourself:

540 RAT Testing: http://forums.corvetteforum.com/c3-t...post1582022844
Oil List
(Synthetic) AMSOIL Synthetic Premium Protection Motor Oils
Links provided by Corvette Forum vendor C66 RacingLLC (PM 'Subdriver')

AMSOIL Z-ROD 10w30

Claim: "AMSOIL Z-ROD Synthetic Motor Oil is specially engineered for classic and high-performance vehicles. A high-zinc formulation to prevent wear on flat-tappet camshafts and other critical engine components, along with a proprietary blend of rust and corrosion inhibitors for added protection during long-term storage. "

Verification: Zinc 1440 ppm, Phosphorus 1320 ppm

AMSOIL Premium Protection 10w40

Claim: "Premium Protection Synthetic Motor Oil is high-viscosity oil engineered to protect against metal-to-metal contact. It resists viscosity loss due to shear and is formulated with a heavy treatment of zinc and other anti-wear additives for excellent protection of gears, bearings, cam lobes and other high-pressure components in engines and transmissions. Premium Protection Synthetic Motor Oil helps extend equipment life."

Verification: Zinc 1378 ppm, Phosphorus 1265 ppm

AMSOIL Z-ROD 20w50

Claim: "AMSOIL Z-ROD Synthetic Motor Oil is specially engineered for classic and high-performance vehicles. A high-zinc formulation to prevent wear on flat-tappet camshafts and other critical engine components, along with a proprietary blend of rust and corrosion inhibitors for added protection during long-term storage."

Verification:Zinc 1440 ppm, Phosphorus 1320 ppm


(Semi-Synthetic) Brad Penn

Grades: 0W-30, 10W-30, 10W-40 , 15W-40, 20W-50

Claim: In addition to our unique base oil cut, increased concentration of “zinc” (zinc dialkyldithiophosphate a.k.a. ZDDP) provides outstanding anti-wear/anti-scuffing protection for engines employing either‘flat tappet’ or roller cams. BRAD PENN® Penn Grade 1® High Performance Oilshave been evaluated by a number of premiere camshaft manufacturers with tremendous success. Many are now recommending our Penn Grade 1® High Performance Oils to provide outstanding protection for their ‘flat tappet’ or roller cams.

Verification: http://www.penngrade1.com/Zinc.aspx

(Synthetic) Castrol EDGE 5W-50

Grades: 5W50

Claim: "Today's engines are engineering differently andface different demands than those of yester year. Now classic car owners who are particular about what they put into their vintage vehicles can receive modern protection from a higher zinc formula specially engineered for classic engines."

Verification: Claims compatability with API SJ & SL.

(Dino) Collector's Choice Motor Oil

Grades: 20W50

Claim: "Today's engines are engineering differently and face different demands than those of yesteryear. Now classic car owners who are particular about what they put into their vintage vehicles can receive modern protection from a higher zinc formula specially engineered for classic engines."

Verification: 2000 PPM claimed, which is significantly more than required for even extreme cams. http://www.mossmotors.com/graphics/p...0-815_INST.pdf

(Synthetic) CompCams Muscle Car & Street Rod Oil
Grades: 10W30, 15W50

Claim: "optimum amounts of ZDDP (Zinc and Phosphorous) provide unmatched anti-wear properties. available in both 10W30 and 15W50 formulas and is perfect for late model or classic engines with flat tappet valvetrains."

Verification: NONE CompCams Tech Line refused to provide any details on ZDDP levels and the MSDS provides no details. The tech would go so far as to say it has "more than" 1,400 PPM ZDDP.

(Synthetc & Dino) Driven Racing Oil (formerly Joe Gibbs Hot Rod Oil)

Grades: 10W30, 15W50 in both dino and synthetic.

Claim:"Higher levels of Zinc (ZDDP) than regular passenger car oils. Delivers proper anti-wear protection for older style push-rod and flat-tappet engines."

Verification: ~1270 PPM ZDDP Driven Racing Oil Data Sheet

(Dino) Lucas Hot Rod and Classic Hi-Performance Oil

Grades: 10W30, 10W40, 20W50

Claim: "Lucas Hot Rod & Classic Car Motor Oil is manufactured with the highest quality paraffinic base oils and is fortified with a unique additive package containing high levels of zinc, molybdenum and phosphorus, which provides a tougher, thicker additive film for maximum protection even under the most severe conditions. It lowers oil temperatures, extends oil life and minimizes metal fatigue. It improves the film strength between the cylinder wall and piston rings and slows oil burning and improves pressure in worn engines. It has good cold temperature properties and stands up to high operating temperatures. It is compatible with methanol and all racing fuels, as well as with synthetic and non-synthetic oils.

Lucas Hot Rod & Classic Car Motor Oil SAE 10W-40 is for muscle, showroom, classic and trophy cars without catalytic converters. It can be used in racing applications. Not recommended for passenger car use."

Verification: ~2100 PPM ZDDP claimed. This is higher than what is typically recommended (1,000 - 1,400).

(Synthetic) Mobile 1 15W-50

Grades: 15W50

Claim: "Mobil 1 15W-50 is also recommended for older valvetrain designs that may benefit from a higher level of anti-wear normally not required for newer generation vehicles."

Verification: http://api.viglink.com/api/click?for...duct_guide.pdf

Mobile 1 claims SN approval for this oil, although the grade (15W50) is not included in that specification. Regardless, it contains the right amount of ZDDP for flat-tappet cams.

(Synthetic) Red LineSynthetic Motor Oil

I made the decision to remove Red Line oils from the list as they make no claims regarding flat-tappet cam support on their website and I'm awaiting confirmation from them via email regarding their ZDDP levels.

(Synthetic) RoyalPurple RP

Grades: 10W40, 15W40, 20W50

Claim: "For stock or mildly modified flat tappet valve trains( less than .525” lift), we recommend our SAE 10W40, 15W40 or 20W50 engine oils."

Verification: NONE

(Synthetic) RoyalPurple HPS High Performance Street Motor Oil

Grades: 5W-20, 5W-30, 10W-30, 10W-40 and 20W-50.

Claim: It is fortified with a high level of zinc/phosphorus anti-wear additive... Protects valve trains using roller or flat tappet lifters requiring added protection due to high lift/ high ramp rate camshafts

Verification: NONE

(Synthetic) RoyalPurple XPR

Grades:0W10, 5W20, 5W30, 10W40, 20W50

Claim: "In applications with flat tappet valve trains using high-lift cams and/or high RPM applications, we strongly recommend upgrading to our XPR line of engine oils as these have an even greater concentration of ZDDP providing excellent protection with the higher spring pressures."

Verification:NONE

(Synthetic) Schaeffer Supreme 7000 20W-50 Racing Oil
C66 RacingLLC (PM 'Subdriver')

Grades: 10w40(AMO) , 20w50(ARO)

Claim: "ideal for high-mileage vehicles, vehicles with flat-tappet cams and high-stress vehicles subject to hot temperatures, heavy hauling, trailer pulling or off-road use."

Verification: ~1265 PPM: http://www.amsoil.com/techservicesbu...t%20Tappet.pdf

(Dino) Valvoline VR1

Grades: 20W50, 10W30

Claim: "High zinc/phosphorus provides extreme wear protection, including flat tappet applications."

Verification: 1300 - 1400 PPM ZDDP http://www.valvoline.com/pdf/VR-1_Racing_Motor_Oil.pdf

NOTE that there are some concerns with VR1 due to inconsistenttest results. Additionally, racing oils are not intended for extended (3,000+mile) change intervals nor start-and-stop cycles.

(Dino) Valvoline Specialty Racing Oil ("Not Street Legal")

Grades: 20W50

Claim: "High zinc/phosphorus provides extreme wear protection, including flat tappet applications."

Verification: 1300 - 1400 PPM ZDDP

http://www.valvoline.com/pdf/Special...acing_Oils.pdf Additionally,racing oils are not intended for extended (3,000+ mile) change intervals.

(Synthetic) Valvoline Roush Full Synthetic

Grades: 5W30, 5W50, 10W30, 10W40

Claim: "Provide longer lasting zinc/phosphorusanti-wear."

Verification: NONE

(Synthetic) Valvoline Racing Synthetic

Grades: 20W50, 10W30

Claim: "High zinc/phosphorus for extreme anti-wear,including flat tappets."

Verification: NONE. Additionally, racing oils are not intended for extended (3,000+ mile) change intervals.

Engine Break-In Oils/Additives
Brad Penn Break-in Oil

"The Brad Penn Penn Grade 1 Break-In oil is designed specifically with a lower level of ZDDP and other select additive components as a Break-In oil. Since break in is a wearing process high levels of an anti-wear additive may be counterproductive. The type of ZDDP used in this oil is also more suitable for break in applications." Taken from the Brad Penn website; the concept of less ZDDP for initial break-in is counter to offerings by other vendors and cam vendor guidance. Evaluate for yourself.

AMSOIL Break-in Oil

CompCams Break-in Oil

Joe Gibbs Break-in Oil

Lucas High Zinc Engine Break-In Oil

Royal Purple Break-In Oil

GM Engine Oil Suppliment (EOS) (additive)

Technical Background
ZDDP (Zinc Dialkyl-Dithio-Phosphate, "zinc" or"zink") is an anti-wear oil additive that contains roughly equal amounts of zinc (Zn) and phosphorus (P) and is particuarly critical for correct lubrication of flat-tappet camshafts. The amount of ZDDP has decreased over time with the broad adoption of roller-tappet cams and the negative impact ZDDP has on catalytic converters.

Standards for engine oil are set by the American Petroleum Institute (API) and the International Lubricants Standards Approval Committee (ILSAC). Prior to 1988 API SF specified a minimum of 1500 PPM P. In 1993 API SG reduced reduced the minimum to 1200 PPM, and it was reduced again to 1000 PPM with the SL specification. A broad wave of flat-tappet camshaft failures started in 2004 following introduction ofAPI SM and ILSAC GF-4 oil specifications which set a maximum of 800 PPM and a minimum of 600 PPM P for grades SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 0W-30, SAE 5W-30 and SAE 10W-30. Initially blamed on poor cam quality control, it was quickly determined that it was in fact the reduction of ZDDP combined with more agressive cam profiles and associated higher spring loadsthat were the root cause. Testing that showed the new oils would still have acceptable ZDDP for flat-tappet cams was done with very mild cam profiles and very low spring pressures. This is not what is found in even a mild performance engine, but may work - or at least appear to work- in older stock-type engines that don't see hard driving, have mild cams and tired valve springs or just see very few road miles - hence the perspective for some that ZDDP levels are not a genuine issue. Each needs toassess the risks and costs and determine their best choice. Note that as an additive ZDDP loses potency over time, losing approximately 1/2 of it's effectivness at approximately 6,000 miles. The latest API SN and ILSACGF-5 specifications do not change the maximum/minimum ppm ZDDP.

API/ILSAC Oil Specifications

From these events, specifications and timeline I propose that:
  • Flat-tappet cam failures started with the reduction of ZDDP < 1000 PPM.
  • Based on this, 1000 PPM ZDDP is the minimum required level.
  • Levels of 1200-1400 ppm ZDDP may be required for more extreme cams. What level defines too much ZDDP is unclear, but for street use more than around 1400 PPM is likely not appropriate.
  • Oil change intervals should be no more than ~3,000 miles with dino oil, ~6,000 with synthetic.
  • Any oil marked API SM/SN, ILSAC GF-4/5 or ILSAC CJ-5 in grades SAE 0W-20, SAE 5W-20, SAE 0W-30, SAE 5W-30 and SAE 10W-30 cannot have sufficient ZDDP.
The oils listed above claim to contain >=1000 PPM ZDDP and/or claim to be specifically formulated for flat-tappet cams. Note that the list is specific for product and grades - often a different product or grade by the same manufacturer won't have the same level of ZDDP.Where there is verification, it's linked. I am not making recommendations and I have no axe to grind - if there need to be changes, post the information for review.


Specifically not included in the list are:
  • Racing oils that are only available in single-weight. Additionally, generally racing oils aren't a good selection for the street, as they're not designed for extended change intervals or street start-and-stop cycles.
  • "ZDDP" additives (other than those specifically for engine break-in) as these are not recommended by any oil manufacturer.
  • Oils not readily retail-available.
  • Diesel oils, as noted at the top of the sticky.
Regarding switching from mineral to synthetic
There's a lot of feedback that making this switch causes engines to develop leaks. This can be the case, but it's important to understand why. Synthetic oil is more solvent than mineral oil, meaning that it can clean and remove deposits left by mineral oils - and expose worn or damaged oil seals. If your engine currently uses more than about 1 quart every 1,000 miles or is already "leaky", you may experience leaks (or worse leaks) by switching. Note that this solvency is a good thing; this is exactly what keeps an engine far cleaner when running synthetic.

Oil Analysis Companies
BlackstoneLabs

Oil Analysis Labs, Inc.

Note that it is CRITICAL that the oil be well-agitated before pouring a sample! Also note that the accuracty of "Virgin Oil Analysis" has been called into question based on a number of inconsistent results; see this link and associated links to evaluate for yourself. Brad Penn also notes disparity in these results.

Other References

Bob Is The Oil Guy forums - discussion of oil and test results

Copyright (c) 2009 - 2015 Bill Lattimer. All rights reserved.

Last edited by billla; 09-07-2017 at 12:07 PM.
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Old 12-08-2009, 07:32 PM   #2
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Thanks for doing the reasearch and posting the results. Hopefully when people do a search your post will will come up.
I always enjoy reading your input...thanks
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Old 12-09-2009, 04:49 AM   #3
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dont forget redline 10w30 and 10w40
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Old 12-09-2009, 08:35 AM   #4
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I use the Shell Rotella 15/40. It is a turbo diesel approved oil that can handle the heat and flat tappet cam of a diesel. The price is a hell of a lot better than the $5.00+ a quart fancy pants oils IMHO
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:20 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by 63mako View Post
AMSOIL Product Name Phosphorus Level (ppm) Zinc Level (ppm)

AMO 10W-40 Synthetic Premium Protection 1265 1378
ARO 20W-50 Synthetic Premium Protection 1266 1379
HDD Series 3000 Synthetic 5W-30 Diesel Oil 1266 1379
TRO 20W-50 Synthetic Racing Oil 1235 1370
AHR SAE 60 Synthetic Racing Oil 1265 1375
Can you send a pointer to the source of this information?
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:23 AM   #6
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dont forget redline 10w30 and 10w40
I need a source for the zinc content - they make no claim on their website to be specifically for flat-tappet cams and they appear to be SM - which means no more than 800 PPM ZDDP. Their single-weight racing oils have over 2200 PPM.
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:25 AM   #7
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I use the Shell Rotella 15/40. It is a turbo diesel approved oil that can handle the heat and flat tappet cam of a diesel. The price is a hell of a lot better than the $5.00+ a quart fancy pants oils IMHO
Shell Rotella T is SM - meaning no more than 800 PPM. If you've got a link with different information, please send
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Old 12-09-2009, 09:30 AM   #8
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I use the Shell Rotella 15/40. It is a turbo diesel approved oil that can handle the heat and flat tappet cam of a diesel. The price is a hell of a lot better than the $5.00+ a quart fancy pants oils IMHO
Shell Rotella T no longer has the minimum ZDDP of 1,200 PPM being a mass market oil, diesel or no diesel. All mass market oils, diesels included, were mandated by our beloved EPA to reduce the zinc content. Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel, for example, only has 1,000-1,100 PPM of ZDDP, less than their 15W-50, high performance gas oil, so just a word of caution, that just because it is a diesel oil does not mean that it has the correct amount of ZDDP for a gas flat tappet engine.

BTW-Mobil 1 is $4.40 QT at Walmart for a true synthetic (Group IV)!
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Old 12-09-2009, 10:37 AM   #9
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I just had to break in a new cam and used Brad Penn. It was at my local speed shop and seemed to work well. I don’t remember the price, but it wasn’t excessive. I used their break in oil, but they also have running oil.
Here is the zinc info http://www.bradpennracing.com/Zinc.aspx
zinc at 1,500ppm
Also 100% drilled and refined in the USA

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Old 12-09-2009, 11:08 AM   #10
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I too exclusively use Brad Penn. Great stuff!!
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:17 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billla View Post
Shell Rotella T is SM - meaning no more than 800 PPM. If you've got a link with different information, please send
http://www.shell.com/home/Framework?...ucts_home.html

All the multi grades Rotella T oils here have CJ-4 rating. I understand this means 1200ppm ZDDP content.
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:30 AM   #12
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Originally Posted by Mike Ward View Post
http://www.shell.com/home/Framework?...ucts_home.html

All the multi grades Rotella T oils here have CJ-4 rating. I understand this means 1200ppm ZDDP content.
My understanding is that CJ-4 is the disel equivilent of SM, and so is 800 PPM max.
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:42 AM   #13
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Brad Penn oil and break-in oil added.
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Old 12-09-2009, 11:54 AM   #14
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I suggest that you read Duke William's article contained here:

http://www.westcoastwillys.com/WCW_Sept08_small.pdf

particularly at the bottom of page 4

Also read this from the NCRS archives:

http://www.ncrs.org/forum/archive34....es/read/305521

Where a Shell spokesman specifically states that Shell Rotella T Multigrade Oils carry 1200ppm.
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Old 12-09-2009, 12:08 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by Mike Ward View Post
I suggest that you read Duke William's article contained here:

http://www.westcoastwillys.com/WCW_Sept08_small.pdf

particularly at the bottom of page 4

Also read this from the NCRS archives:

http://www.ncrs.org/forum/archive34....es/read/305521

Where a Shell spokesman specifically states that Shell Rotella T Multigrade Oils carry 1200ppm.
Thanks for the background, Mike - I'll take that I'm not 100% sold, but added.

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Old 12-09-2009, 12:27 PM   #16
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dont forget redline 10w30 and 10w40
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Old 12-09-2009, 02:50 PM   #17
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Originally Posted by billla View Post
Thanks for the background, Mike - I'll take that I'm not 100% sold, but added.
Those are old links from 2007. Shell Rotella has been reformulated since then to meet the new diesel requirements and is no longer 1200 PPM zink. The CI-4 rated stuff from 2006 was good. The CJ-4 rated is below 1200, always has been. They have since reduced it further (reformulated) although it is still labeled CJ-4. Here are some oil tests from over 2 years ago on the Rotella.
http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums...Number=1091920 The EPA has mandated reduced Zink and phosphorous in the diesel oils too. The old standby oils we used to use are not the same formulation even though the name is the same. A lot of the diesel oils have replaced ZDDP with boron and moly to still qualify as a CJ-4 rating with reduced levels of zink and phosphorous to meet the new guidelines. (reformulated). These may provide enough protection, or maybe not but especially with fast ramp, heavy spring pressure flat tappet cams 1400 PPM zink is a goal worth shooting for.

Here is the link you asked for. This thread should be a sticky.

http://www.syntheticwarehouse.com/am..._high_zinc.htm

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Old 12-09-2009, 03:11 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by jb78L-82 View Post
Shell Rotella T no longer has the minimum ZDDP of 1,200 PPM being a mass market oil, diesel or no diesel. All mass market oils, diesels included, were mandated by our beloved EPA to reduce the zinc content. Mobil 1 Turbo Diesel, for example, only has 1,000-1,100 PPM of ZDDP, less than their 15W-50, high performance gas oil, so just a word of caution, that just because it is a diesel oil does not mean that it has the correct amount of ZDDP for a gas flat tappet engine.

BTW-Mobil 1 is $4.40 QT at Walmart for a true synthetic (Group IV)!
I agree ! I have a new roller to prove it.

Old Rotella Good

New Rotella Bad
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Old 12-09-2009, 03:34 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Ward View Post
I suggest that you read Duke William's article contained here:

http://www.westcoastwillys.com/WCW_Sept08_small.pdf

particularly at the bottom of page 4

Also read this from the NCRS archives:

http://www.ncrs.org/forum/archive34....es/read/305521

Where a Shell spokesman specifically states that Shell Rotella T Multigrade Oils carry 1200ppm.
MW

Also, likely an unbiased statement (JG/LSpeed who do not sell diesel oil but do sell race oil) QUOTE from:
http://www.enginebuildermag.com/Arti..._got_zinc.aspx

According to Lake Speed, Jr. of Joe Gibbs Driven Racing Oil, one of the important differences between racing oil and API oil is the limited amount of phosphorous in API blends. The EPA limits the amount of phosphorous and zinc, specifically it’s the phosphorous, not the zinc that is limited. Phosphorous is a component of Zinc dialkyl dithio phosphate (ZDDP, or ZDP) is a family of zinc salts of dithio organophosphates. And they easily dissolve in mineral and synthetic oils that are used as lubricants.

Zinc phosphate is mainly for anti-wear. The zinc and phosphate go hand and hand. So when you limit phosphate you limit zinc as well.

“You can put zinc in the oil but it won’t act as an anti-wear agent until you add the phosphorous,” says Speed. “When you have a limit on the amount of zinc-phosphorous you limit the anti-wear agents. The combination of zinc and phosphorous is limited to a maximum of 800 parts per million in API/SM classification, which is the latest classification that came out in 2004.

“Any oil that you get that says API or ILSAC GF-4 contains a limited amount of zinc and phosphorous, and for most racing applications, that’s not what you want,” says Speed.

It is for this reason some engine builders have switched to diesel oil for break-ins as some of these formulations are known to have higher levels of zinc.
The current diesel oil spec is CJ-4 is limited to 1,200 parts per million (ppm), so it does have 400 ppm more than API pass car oil but it’s only marginally better. A lot of people get mislead hunting down the oil with the highest ppm, as if it were the Holy Grail, and it really isn’t,” says Speed.
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Old 12-09-2009, 04:43 PM   #20
MotorHead
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My buddy whom everyone must know by now has been building racing engines for the past 30 years Uses only Brad Penn oil now in the engines he builds.

That said don't forget this oil and others like it are "RACING OIL" meaning they don't have some of the same other additives in them as your normal everyday oils do.

I did contact Brad Penn and got a bit of a runaround on this subject of additives such a detergents etc. Bottom line, you can't put it in and forget about it. It has to be changed often and it is expensive but that doesn't bother me at all for the piece of mind it gives me with an expensive motor between the fenders
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