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Old 02-11-2024, 02:16 PM
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Default Breaking in your new engine and Break In Oil

There is a lot of controversy about how to protect your new rebuilt engine during initial start up, on the dyno, at the track or on the street. With high levels of flat tappet cam failures this has become an area of much concern. Without going down the road of flat tappet cams and lifters, proper lubrication is something we have direct control over. Using a special non-detergent oil for engine break-in has been around since the 50's and even earlier. Many like to dump their favorite additive in for break in yet are still using a high detergent oil. Many of these additives like GM OES and STP are heavier than your motor oil and they may sit in the oil pan too long before fully mixing with the oil and getting to the right place like on the cam lobes before damage can take place. Break-in oil is not only important for flat tappet cams but for all engine parts that are protected by your lubrication system. Rather than claiming to be an expert and maybe be giving bad advice I decided to provide some links from the experts and you can decide for your self. Happy reading.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=teDgJgPeeeU

https://www.speedwaymotors.com/the-t...lly-help/53663

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BM_sM9tsmoY

https://vpracingfuels.com/tech-talk-...hy-it-matters/

https://blog.amsoil.com/why-you-shou...rts-equipment/

https://www.enginebuildermag.com/2019/08/break-in-oils/

https://www.hemmings.com/stories/bre...the-right-oil/

https://butlerperformance.com/i-3164...html%3Fq%3Doil

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Old 02-11-2024, 06:41 PM
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I always have a hard time understanding how break in oil that increases friction for ring seat but doesn't increase friction for a lobe and lifter causing failure there, guess theres more pressure at the cam lobe / lifter activating the ZDDP

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Old 02-11-2024, 09:29 PM
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I've built dozens of engines over the last 5 decades. How in the heck did I ever get so lucky to never have trouble with them using plain old oil, and STP, or Lubriplate 110, calcium based grease, on cam, and lifters, ATF on the rings, and cylinders...........

Maybe I should start playing the lottery more..........

Break it in for 40-50 miles, change oil, and filter. and send it. Race engine, street engine, or daily driver.

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Old 02-12-2024, 01:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Sirrotica View Post
I've built dozens of engines over the last 5 decades. How in the heck did I ever get so lucky to never have trouble with them using plain old oil, and STP, or Lubriplate 110, calcium based grease, on cam, and lifters, ATF on the rings, and cylinders...........

Maybe I should start playing the lottery more..........

Break it in for 40-50 miles, change oil, and filter. and send it. Race engine, street engine, or daily driver.
Lubriplate make fantastic greases. I have seen their 1242 end bearing problems in industry. One guy even used it on a air cooled VW engines cam for break in and it worked.
My dad broke cams in with STP.
In High School I broke in Erson cam in my GTO with Sta-Lube White Grease and it worked just fine.

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Old 02-12-2024, 08:12 AM
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Just to comment, the practice of running startup oil for 500-1000 miles is wrong, never do that. Change the dang oil after startup, with no drive time, period. THEN do changes in the first 500, 1000, and 1500, cutting filters open. (Might not need the 1500 mile one, the previous 2 will determine).

I did an amateur review/overview of assembly lubes once in a thread here, still good info in the discussions in that thread, worth a read.

STP might be a go-to for some, but it's not a break in or assembly lube. I've done, was 'lucky', but that was early on in my engine-build days (and know better now).

General take-away from that thread, don't cheap out and use assembly lube that is specific to engine assembly.


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Old 02-12-2024, 03:11 PM
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OMG,....... how did people assemble engines before there was assembly lube? Yeah, I'm old enought to have been a professional mechanic when there was basically 2 choices, EOS, and STP. No "boutique breakin/assembly oils" Guess what, no problems after start ups, no failures. In 5 over decades, I have never used official "assembly lube," except what the camshaft manufactures send with a new cam, I used their lube only on the cam and lifters, no where else was it used, damn I'm lucky.

When you prime the oil pump, any ideas as to what happens to the assembly lube? The engine fires with a HVHP oil pump at 80 PSI, where does the assembly lube go? It's not there long enough to really lubricate any longer than cranking the engine until fire up. It then is flushed with the oil being pumped through to go on to the pan, and be mixed with the engine oil.

There is now synthetic assembly lube, and upon all the "expert opinions" synthetic oil should not be used as a start up/breakin oil, because it can delay ring seating. Well where does that assembly lube go but into the pan and mix with the oil. Even if your using a breakin oil, or a conventional oil, it now has synthetic slippery stuff mixed in it. Will the rings seat now?

Just the same as which oil is better, they will all lubricate an engine that is properly maintained. They are all close enough that switching brands, isn't going to cause a healthy engine, to self destruct.

Have people lost flat tappet cams when they've used top notch assembly lube, and breakin oil? Yes. Tells me that maybe there was another problem when this happens. If someone builds an engine, and there is a problem upon startup, is assembly lube at fault? likely not. Likely there was a problem with physical work performed, and a mistake wasn't checked, or caught, bad/inferior materials used in the parts, along with poor machining, cleanliness during assembly.

Will assembly lube work, undoubtedly it works, does it really make a majority of difference in the outcome of a successful engine build? Possibly it could make a tiny difference over another assembly lube, but it's not going to cause catastrophic failure, on a wholesale level.

Will a certain assembly lube, over another asembly lube, cause a failure, or avert one? IMO, the difference is minute, same as one oil brand, over another oil brand. As long as there is something in between the wear surfaces to stop metal to metal contact, until pressurized oil reaches those parts. If the oil system is primed, less than 5 seconds, then assembly lube is of little, to no conesequence after engine oil takes over.

Either I'm extremly lucky, or which assembly lube is used, isn't really an issue. I think I'll buy that lottery ticket today..........

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Old 02-12-2024, 03:39 PM
Formulas Formulas is offline
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Back in the day 50 years ago synthetics were not so mainstream hardly on radar and regular oils had higher levels of flat tappet goodness, different world today

I have run new engines of my own both ways break in oils and regular oils drive them all but wide open for a few days until i was confident something wasnt eating itself up or tune was way out then i would change oil at next earliest convenience using oils for older V8s then drive like i stole it just my way..

Always used cam lube / paste provided by cam manufacturer

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Last edited by Formulas; 02-12-2024 at 03:47 PM.
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Old 02-12-2024, 04:29 PM
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I try to keep up with everything lubricant related today, I read, and watch a lot of info about lubrication, new stuff, vs old stuff.

When I hear that the zinc additives in the oil, aren't compatible with the zinc additives in the oil fortifiers, (call them oil additives) and mixing the 2 can cause inferior results, I'm wondering why all this supposedly advanced formulations can cause problems when joe average starts mixing this, and that together. KISS principle shouldn't be overlooked.

After talking over the years to people that work for the major oil companies, they have always said that they, under no circumstances, advise using additives with their oils. That was true in the 60s and 70s, and is true today. There is way more to oil formulation than most people ever realize. The petro engineers work hard to bring the best product to market at an affordable price, only to have some backyard expert attempt to improve upon all their hard work, and likely make it inferior to the original formulation.

At the beginning of ZDDP limitations everyone was under the impression that zinc was zinc, and more is better. Turns out that's not true at all. There are more than one type of zinc in oils, and additives. Too much can be as bad as too little, and mixing 2 different types is also bad. No one knew these things, nor did they bother to ask someone who did.

There is a lot of information available today, unfotuneatly it's not all accurate, it concerns many things in our life. It take diligence to sift through it all.

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Old 02-12-2024, 05:12 PM
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Speaking of break in goodies, I’m going to add another ? here.

I believe it’s a C&A product, powder possibly, to aid ring seal. Supposed to wipe down the cylinders with it. I may be specific to their rings, or a specific type of ring regardless of manufacturer.

Any one have experience with said product and the veracity of its claim(s)?

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Old 02-12-2024, 06:40 PM
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Several years ago when I was freshening up my 455/474 race motor when I still lived in Arizona the machinist I was using, he was the best ever, gave me a little container of some black powder and instructed me how to apply it to the cylinder walls before installing the pistons. I don't really know what the stuff was but it's purpose was to seat the rings.

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Old 02-12-2024, 07:20 PM
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Total Seal sells a ring break-in powder similar to that.

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Old 02-12-2024, 07:36 PM
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My old autoshop teacher informed me to use white grease as an assembly lube. This was back before assembly lubes were really a "thing." Worked perfectly fine for me on several engines.

Flat tappet engines: Break in cam, change oil. Bring engine up to normal temp, adjust carb and timing. Seat the rings. Change the oil. After that, change the oil at 500 miles or a thousand, whatever makes you sleep well at night.

Roller cams: Start engine, look for leaks, bring to norm operating temp, adjust carb and timing. Change oil. Seat rings, change oil. 500 or 1000 miles, change oil again.

Cut the oil filter open after every change and monitor debris. Better yet, install a bypass oil filter before starting engine and use that as a guide for engine debris as well as MUCH better filtration.

I've changed the oil on a few brand new cars with 150-200 miles on the oil and the canister oil filter had metal shavings in every single pleat. Whether it's a rebuilt or new engine, IMMEADTILY CHANGE THE OIL!

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Old 02-12-2024, 09:01 PM
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Decades ago, GM recommended, as well as mechanics at the time used to lightly sprinkle Bon Ami abrasive household cleaner into a running engine that hadn't seated the rings properly. This was usually associated with chrome rings because the surface was so hard. I've heard of the procedure, but have never talked directly with anyone that did it, nor witnessed it.

Here's a post on Speed Talk about using abrasives to help seat rings, during a build, as well as after an unsuccessful breakin:

https://www.speed-talk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=41147

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Old 02-12-2024, 10:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sirrotica View Post
Decades ago, GM recommended, as well as mechanics at the time used to lightly sprinkle Bon Ami abrasive household cleaner into a running engine that hadn't seated the rings properly. This was usually associated with chrome rings because the surface was so hard. I've heard of the procedure, but have never talked directly with anyone that did it, nor witnessed it.

Here's a post on Speed Talk about using abrasives to help seat rings, during a build, as well as after an unsuccessful breakin:

https://www.speed-talk.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=41147
A I did SBC 400, with chrome rings, rings didnít seat very well, canít remember what abrasive I used, didnít work out very well I can tell you that. Had to do whole thing over and got rid of the chrome rings, which Iíll never use again. It was a mild build, he did end up running 11.60ís happer then a pig in chit.

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Old 02-12-2024, 11:28 PM
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Quote:
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Total Seal sells a ring break-in powder similar to that.
Thatís exactly what I saw, just confused it with Childs.

https://www.summitracing.com/parts/tsr-qs

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Old 02-13-2024, 06:47 AM
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Interesting discussion with tons of data to read out there.

Speaking of ring sealing, tony bischoff was discussing that years back and I recall him saying out of the thousands of engines he's run on his dyno and all kinds of oils tried, he's seen the quickest ring seating by using the amsoil break in oil. I don't know what type of hone process he uses and I'm sure that varies along with types of rings used, this was just a general statement he made years ago.

I'll have to research additives in that particular break in oil and send in an oil analysis on the next fresh engine break in I'm doing shortly. I'm curious now what's in it.

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Old 02-13-2024, 09:20 AM
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Just to say it out loud, the lubricant in assembly lube stays on the surface for some time, even if the 'carrier' gets almost immediately washed away. So thinking that it doesn't have an impact more than the fractions of a min oil reaches the assembly lube is incorrect.

What's the factor that causes the most engine wear? Initial startup. And that's through the life of the engine, not just the first startup.

Do you fill the oil filter when you do an oil change? Based on some mentalities, some would say it's not needed. Does it impact the life of an engine? It could make the difference between an engine that goes 100k miles and an engine that goes 300k miles. Same principal applies to assembly lube.

In almost every situation, there will be 'foreign matter' in a newly assembles engine. It might be fine enough of a material that won't cause immediate damage but can reduce the potential life of an engine (100k/300k).

If someone wants to avoid spending $10 on a bottle of assembly lube and just use oil or whatever, so be it, but can't deny there is no impact or risk.

STP as discussed here is an additive, and technically not a lubricant, also just to say it out loud. It may have some lubricants/properties in it, but not anywhere near what an assembly lube has. And because of how thick it is, it can actually prevent the lubricant properties of engine oil from reaching the surface.

'Professional' engine builders use assembly lubricants, 'general' mechanics in the field usually don't. Does it make a difference? You be the judge.


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Old 02-13-2024, 10:07 AM
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Originally Posted by rolling money pits View Post
Thatís exactly what I saw, just confused it with Childs.

https://www.summitracing.com/parts/tsr-qs
If the cylinder walls are honed properly, with a multi-stage plateau and the proper grits, cross-hatch angles and surface finish for the rings being used, no other band aids are needed to make the rings seal properly. In general, the rings are seated in the first 1/2 hour of running, about the time it takes to also know if your flat tappet cam and lifters are going to live a long happy life.
At the school, we generally use 2 types of engine build lubricants during assembly. If the engine is going on the dyno in one or two weeks, we assemble with oil only. This makes checking rotating torque easier and more accurate during the build. Also, checking end play and other measurements are easier without thick lube taking up space. If the engine is being built for a restoration and it will sit for months up to a couple years, then we use the heavier assembly lube on bearings and such so a film will remain and not run off. The cam shafts on flat tappet applications, we use the molly type paste supplied by the cam companies or something like cam shield paste.
Ran a SBF on the dyno last night that the student had packed the oil pump with white lithium grease without our knowledge because "that's the way his dad" had always done it. After 45 minutes on the dyno and it's first oil change, we cut the filter open. It had a large amount of white lithium grease in the filter element. Didn't clog the entire filter up but it certainly didn't melt and mix in with the oil after all that run time. Lots of solids. No harm done to the the engine, but not necessary either IMO. Engine ran well, a 306 Cu IN engine, small hydraulic roller cam. 387 HP @ 6400 RPM 375 Ft. Lbs. @ 4900 RPM. Idled a little choppy at 900 RPM. Going in a 32 Ford Hot Rod. 2200 Lbs.


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Old 02-13-2024, 01:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HWYSTR455 View Post
Just to say it out loud, the lubricant in assembly lube stays on the surface for some time, even if the 'carrier' gets almost immediately washed away. So thinking that it doesn't have an impact more than the fractions of a min oil reaches the assembly lube is incorrect.

What's the factor that causes the most engine wear? Initial startup. And that's through the life of the engine, not just the first startup.

Do you fill the oil filter when you do an oil change? Based on some mentalities, some would say it's not needed. Does it impact the life of an engine? It could make the difference between an engine that goes 100k miles and an engine that goes 300k miles. Same principal applies to assembly lube.

In almost every situation, there will be 'foreign matter' in a newly assembles engine. It might be fine enough of a material that won't cause immediate damage but can reduce the potential life of an engine (100k/300k).

If someone wants to avoid spending $10 on a bottle of assembly lube and just use oil or whatever, so be it, but can't deny there is no impact or risk.

STP as discussed here is an additive, and technically not a lubricant, also just to say it out loud. It may have some lubricants/properties in it, but not anywhere near what an assembly lube has. And because of how thick it is, it can actually prevent the lubricant properties of engine oil from reaching the surface.

'Professional' engine builders use assembly lubricants, 'general' mechanics in the field usually don't. Does it make a difference? You be the judge.


.
Excellent points!!! STP is very slippery, and I remember the commercials years ago with Andy Granatelli. Impressive and we tried the screwdriver test ourselves and it worked like on TV. Used STP many times when putting in camshafts in the 70's and 80's with no problems at all. That said, I would prefer the moly paste we used in school years ago, coating the cams before install. The teacher was insistent on this stuff, and it worked very well. Also learned about putting oil in the oil filter at changes so it can get to the bearings faster.

Initial startup is critical on engines as you mentioned especially if the engine has been sitting for a while which many of our collector cars do. I'm using Lucas Oil Stabilizer now because of the reported properties of it hanging onto the engine parts after shutdown. Something I did notice now is that after a month of sitting, I start my GTO and have oil pressure after the first rollover of the engine. Before that, it took several rollovers to get oil pressure. That is enough proof for me to conclude Lucas works! Everyone has personal views on oil/additives, etc., and use what they believe in. Still, nice to read members takes on products they've used and their experiences.

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Old 02-13-2024, 04:39 PM
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My brother in law is a chemist at Lucas oil and he develops special blended engine oil for Childress Racing, among other duties. Lucas makes some good products but also what my brother in law calls snake oil. He once asks the owner why he sells those products that he refers to as snake oil, his reply was they bring in a lot of money. He says the oil stabilizer is snake oil.

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