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Old 03-18-2013, 11:45 AM   #1
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Any Synthetic Oil Users Here?

I changed over to synthetic oil in my already old 3000 hours plus, the hour meter broke twice, engines and I couldn't be happier. I use Mobile Delvac1 which is 100% synthetic and has diesel additives.

It did three things immediately. 1. the cold engine smoke reduced at least in half. 2. the oil sheen on the water from the exhaust reduced a real 75% or more and 3. my temps dropped 5 degrees on each engine.

This was probably in 94 or 95 and I was on a forum that every one told me I can't use synthetic in an old engine, in a Ford Lehman, because it can't have a multi-weight, etc.etc.

I have used Mobil 1 since 1977 in every engine I own and I use a 2 stroke synthetic oil in my outboards too. It's biodegradable.

So after four years of using fossil oil in my boat I made the change over. I now change oil every 200 hours instead of the 100.

Another improvement is I have the canister style oil filters, not the spin on. When I was using fossil oil with 100 hr change intervals, there was always a heavy thick coating on the bottom portion inside the canister. I had to not only spray a cleaner on it I had to forcibly wipe it with a rag. It was thick and hard whatever it was.

Now when I change the filter the canister is shiny inside. It took a few changes to clean up the engine but now it's clean when I change oil. My oil consumption is less too. I think the carbon buildup in the iol rings cleaned up and that ring works properly. Just my guess.

I'm interested in seeing other's stories with synthetic. Please post them.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:22 PM   #2
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I've always been against using expensive synthetic lube oil in trawlers (especially old trawlers) because it makes so little economic sense. I've used synthetic extensively in 2 stroke high performance engines that run so hot ther'e on the verge of seizing much of the time. I'd need to burn more fuel (to keep the engine cool enough) and accept lower performance to run dino oil plus the increased chance of having stuck rings so running synthetic was a necessity as I saw it in that application.

If your'e looking to reduce wear the greatest enemy so I've been told is carbon. In diesel engines there's a lot more of it than gas engines and that indicates to me that the most important thing you can do for your trawler engine is to change oil more often.

I've also heard that the reason oil is slippery is because the molecules are very long and that after a lot of running the molecules break down (as in get shorter) and are less capable to keep metal parts apart.

So my approach to Lube oil on my trawler is to change oil twice as often.

I use a single weight oil as I don't believe more viscosity stability is needed since we can warm up our engines adequately before they are required to do significant work. No need for multi-vis oil at all.

Sounds like you're getting some slight benefits from the synthetic but the benefits you mention could perhaps be realized by cleaning up your engine (by whatever means including snake oil detergents) and then changing twice as often instead of using the synthetic.

But I will say that using a synthetic is clearly better in every way to dino oils except price. But price counts. I probably spend as much as you do but I change my oil 4 times as often. And I think it's more beneficial.

And almost none of us need to concern ourselves w how long our engines will last. All are very durable and we just don't use them enough to wear them out.
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Old 03-18-2013, 12:55 PM   #3
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My Perkins Manual specifically says they do not recommend synthetic oils.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:14 PM   #4
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Both our new vehicles call for synthetic oil and that's what we use in them. But every credible person we have talked to in the marine diesel industry about the best lubricant to use in our two 40 year old Ford Lehmans has cautioned strongly to not switch them over to synthetic oil They have given several reasons, all of which I have seen echoed in industry publications.from time to time.

So, like Eric, we run the Ford engines in our boat on what the manufacturer said to run them on--- single weight conventional oil. In our case we use Delo 400 30wt.

Later versions of the Ford manual for the same engine include a multi-viscosity oil in the recommended oil, list but on the advice of the aforementioned engine industry contacts we have stayed with the single weight. However we know a few people in our marina with Ford diesels who run them today on multi-vis and have been doing so for a number of years and have experienced no problems.

I doubt that problems would become apparent very soon in an engine like the Ford if the oil was switched to multi-vis or even synthetic. It's more a question of what happens over time, particularly if the engine has been around long enough to have a long history of operating on one type of oil.

I cannot see multi-vis conventional oil having much, if any, detrimental effect on an old Ford diesel, particularly in recreational service which on average doesn't put a lot of time on them. As I said, even Ford began including multi-vis in their operating manual.

Switching to synthetic is a whole different deal and based on the advice and reasons we've been given not to do it, we never will.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:17 PM   #5
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I understand what you are saying. Changing more often is an option. Running a by pass 2 micron oil filter is another. I have friends that do that and with synthetic as well and never change oil, just the filter and add new oil to top off.

I had a brother-in-law who was head chemist for Phillips 66 and was like a genius when it comes to oil. He taught me a lot. He gave me a 1/2 day long seminar on synthetic oil, which Phillips doesn't make, and the difference between it and dino oil. Down to the molecule. From that day on, I don't believe anybody's belief that you can't run synthetic in a diesel other than possibly the 2 stroke Detroits.

I also tried two other brands of synthetic because my supplier quit getting Delvac1. I learned that the FTC changed terminology for fully synthetic to mean anything above 75% and blend above 50%. This was because the only mfg of synthetic is Mobil Oil and Pennzoil and the rest couldn't compete selling a repackaged oil. Now they can legally blend and still call it full synthetic.

I switched back to Delvac 1 and I'll change filters every 100 hours, top it off.

Personally, I disagree with perkins and it certainly won't hurt the engine.

In 1966 Ford put Mobil 1 in a Lincoln with 500 miles on the odometer. Every 2000 miles they changed filter and topped it off. At 20,000 miles they did oil analysis and found the oil to be new, placed it back in the car, changed filter and went to 100,000 miles. Then they tore the engine down and Popular Science in 1976 had a 10 page or so story on it. All the pictures showed no wear. There were hone marks in the cylinder walls, coating still on the bearings, no sludge in the valve covers, inside it was clean.

They put it back together and drove it. They said the oil still tested as new but they decided to place new in it for the second 100,000 miles.

The first Mobil 1 was sold as forever oil because of the price. Back then it was 6.00 a quart and gasoline was .399 a gallon. That oil hasn't changed.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:20 PM   #6
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My Perkins Manual specifically says they do not recommend synthetic oils.
I have been struggling with the same issues with an older designed (but relatively new) Lehman.

Most of the manuals look like they were hand done by a monestary full of talented monks or at least a manual typewriter.

Does that mean what is printed there is absolutes?

I kinda think it's like in the old days where you got two doctors opinions on getting well. One wants to bleed you...the other wants to give you a shot of penicillin. The bleeder never heard of penicillin because it came out after his med school days.

Anyway...I never have heard of a good arguement against multi-weights or synthetics unless the synthetic wasn't compatible with the 30-40 year old tech rubber o-rings, gaskets, etc....or the manufacturer had some other good engineering reason that specifically addressed the 2012-2013 oils. Many rebuilds have newer parts that can probably handle newer formulations.

For most users it's hard to believe or justify the synthetic claims even though there are many boaters that swear by them...especially when most boaters are changing oil more on a calendar basis rather than hourly....and aren't pushing the engines (slower speed trawler types) anywhere near limits.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:21 PM   #7
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................... Switching to synthetic is a whole different deal and based on the advice and reasons we've been given not to do it, we never will.
Since one of the claimed benefits of synthetic oil in engines is less friction and greater fuel economy, I'm a little surprised that the US Government hasn't tried to force us to use synthetic oil in place of conventional oil. Perhaps the time will come.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:37 PM   #8
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I called Mobil and talked to an engineer about the old rubber seal problem. He admitted they had a problem with that but they have added an additive that stops any damage to and actually conditions the older seals. That was maybe 2002.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:41 PM   #9
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The reason Ron is that the difference is very small. Like a food product claiming to be "low sodium" because the went to 770 mg of salt from 850 mg of salt.


Capthead,
That seal problem was solved a long time ago and is definitely not an issue now.
I believe using synthetic oil (that isn't oil of course) is just fine and won't hurt your engine at all. It just costs more.

And re the "forever oil" concept/practice/activity or inactivity is questionable. And if it's valid the test's you cite aren't valid unless you run 100,000 or 200,000 miles with a good dino oil also. The "test" is comparing Synthetic oil to nothing. Not very scientific.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:41 PM   #10
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I have had Mobil 1 in my engines now 18 years. I think if there was going to be a problem I'd see it by now. They leak oil, always have. I call them the Harley of boat engines. But they don't seem to leak as much as they used to. I don't know, but I don't see any problems occurring from the change over.

On the positive, reducing my temps from running a steady 180 to now 175 means less friction to me. Less friction also means less wear, less fuel burn and a longer engine life.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:42 PM   #11
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Here is my take on multigrade dino oils and synthetics:

Many years ago multigrade oils were made by blending a synthetic additive, basically a rubber compound, with dino oil. That additive reduced the lubrication properties significantly. That is the main reason that DD recommended against them in the 70s (maybe they still do?).

Today multigrade oils are made with additives that don't detract significantly from lubricity and the benefits from easier cold start up make them very worthwhile. Almost all engine manufacturers now recommend them and if the old Lehmand/Perkins manuals were rewritten today, they would recommend them as well.

Synthetic oils have better lubricating properties and don't oxidize so they don't wear out like dino oils. But they are subject to sooting and fuel contamination just like dino oils. You can probably double your change interval with sythetics but I wouldn't just change the filter periodically like the Lincoln story referenced above.

Over the road diesel operators use synthetics and increase change intervals significantly. But they also monitor the oil with lab analysis and change based on soot laod and fuel contamination.

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Old 03-18-2013, 01:44 PM   #12
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I use multi-viscosity oil in my Lehman (Rotella 15-40).
I have been using synthetic 5-30 in my BW tranny after my rebuild 6 years ago.
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Old 03-18-2013, 01:55 PM   #13
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Neither of our Ford Dorset's leak oil with the exception of the fuel lift pump gasket on the starboard engine which needs to be changed. One of the cautions we've been given against switching to synthetics is that in the experience of the repair shop and engine industry folks we've talked to, and despite the claims of the synthetic oil manufacturers, our Fords WILL develop oil seeps and leaks as the synthetics attack the gaskets and, even more important, the seals like the front and rear crankshaft seals.

What the effects of changing a different or newer engine to synthetic oil would be I have no idea as the only engine we are interested in is the Ford Dorset (FL-120) so it's the only one we have talked or read about.
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Old 03-18-2013, 02:55 PM   #14
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Neither of our Ford Dorset's leak oil with the exception of the fuel lift pump gasket on the starboard engine which needs to be changed. One of the cautions we've been given against switching to synthetics is that in the experience of the repair shop and engine industry folks we've talked to, and despite the claims of the synthetic oil manufacturers, our Fords WILL develop oil seeps and leaks as the synthetics attack the gaskets and, even more important, the seals like the front and rear crankshaft seals.

What the effects of changing a different or newer engine to synthetic oil would be I have no idea as the only engine we are interested in is the Ford Dorset (FL-120) so it's the only one we have talked or read about.
Marin, I have the Dagenham Fords and they always leaked. The mechanical tach drive is the worse culprit. I thought about using my alternators to send to my tachs and capping off that drive. I do have a slight leak from each front main too. When i used dino the crankcase vent tube dripped a lot of oil but that stopped almost completely with the synthetic.

I could replace the front main seals and cap the tach drive and see if that stops the leaks. I've just gotten used to it.
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:04 PM   #15
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It's good to hear some "I did this and this is what happened" experience to balance out some of the "I heard this from someone who heard it from..."
I did use Mobil One in its early days in a 1972 Pinto with fairly low miles. Within 2,000 miles the rear main oil seal failed, the oil leaked out, and it cost a clutch, new seals, a camshaft, and a set of cam followers.
Many people believed the esthers in Mobil One could cause natural rubber oil seals to swell and fail, but I don't know that Mobil ever admitted that. However, the mid-70s probably saw the last of natural rubber oil seal production and by the mid-80s virtually all seals were synthetic and compatible with the synthetics and synthetic blends.
Without proof of seal replacement I'd be reluctant to switch an engine the age of Marin's, but not a later one.
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:28 PM   #16
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It's good to hear some "I did this and this is what happened" experience to balance out some of the "I heard this from someone who heard it from..."
I did use Mobil One in its early days in a 1972 Pinto with fairly low miles. Within 2,000 miles the rear main oil seal failed, the oil leaked out, and it cost a clutch, new seals, a camshaft, and a set of cam followers.
Same here, almost. I was an early adopter of Mobil 1, used it in my Toyota Corona - sweet little car I should never have let go. The front main started leaking heavily very soon after I made the switch. Fortunately, I was able to use the Hobby Shop at Pax River and replaced it myself. The only cost was for parts. My CPO cut me a lot of slack on a Reserve weekend to handle it.

I don't know that I'll go synthetic in my FL120, but I will definitely give muilt-vis dino oil a try this season.
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:34 PM   #17
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It's clear to me I'm the lone wolf here. Anyway guys, I've had very good experience with it, and I'll keep you posted as to any changes. Like I said, I talked to the Mobil engineer and he admitted that they had a seal problem and added a seal conditioner to their oil. The reason for my call is if you look at the spec sheet for Mobil 1 and Delvac 1 they are identical and I wanted to know if there is a difference since I can find Mobil 1 much easier. He said that Delvac 1 has diesel additives that aren't in Mobil 1.
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:44 PM   #18
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One last thing, I bought a Ford Thunderbird new in 1977 and when I had 2000 miles on it I switched to Mobil 1. Before the change I warmed up the car and drove it on a side street that was level. I let it idle in D and noted the speed at 17 MPH. I drove to a Mobil station and made the change, after that and a short drive down the freeway, I took it to the same street and did the idle in D. My speed was 20 MPH. It was a Carbureted car and the report in Practical Science said I'd have to lower my idle. The reduced friction was very apparent.

I never had any leaking with that car or any of the other cars I have ever owned, all of which I only use Mobil 1. Maybe I'm lucky.

I have a 1983 GMC Jimmy diesel 6.2L with 579,000 miles on it. I replaced the engine about 65,000 miles ago with one I bought from a re-builder in GA. I changed to Delvac 1 after about 5,000 miles and last fall it started throwing oil off the front of the engine.

I thought I had a blown front main seal. I bought the gasket set and the new seal and tore it down. What I found was that builder didn't use any gaskets. He used silicone. The silicone stopped holding and the front oil pan goes under the seal and that is where my leaking was. After replacing all the silicone with proper gaskets, I have a clean engine and I no longer leak.

I don't blame Mobil for that. I blame the mechanics and that garage.
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Old 03-18-2013, 04:57 PM   #19
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I use Mobile Delvac1 which is 100% synthetic and has diesel additives.

It did three things immediately. 1. the cold engine smoke reduced at least in half. 2. the oil sheen on the water from the exhaust reduced a real 75% or more and 3. my temps dropped 5 degrees on each engine.

Now when I change the filter the canister is shiny inside. It took a few changes to clean up the engine but now it's clean when I change oil.
Boy! I could stand an experience such as that! My engine runs at 192 degrees. I just may try it in my Cummins 330B and if I do, I'll be sure to post the results.
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Old 03-18-2013, 05:06 PM   #20
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The trouble is that so many engines go hundreds of thousands of miles or tens of thousands of hours on dino oil at a fraction of the price without an issue.

Especially many of our old design, heavy iron, slow turning, lightly pushed Lehmans and Perkins.

Now if I was running a 70 hp something high spinning, turbo Yanmar at 90 percent load all the time...I would also buy Mobil stock along with Mobil 1....
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