Postby dporter » Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:44 pm

Can I use synthetic oils in my '48 8N?
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Joined: Mon Sep 13, 2010 3:10 pm

Re: Oils

Postby kgunter » Thu Sep 29, 2011 8:36 pm

Quick answer yes, but would I? No, but for some explanation:
Synthetic overall is great stuff and is quite popular for modern automobiles; it is very slick, keeps engines cleaner and is more stable under extremes. For older 6 volt systems it will allow for faster starts in cold weather, for fun put synthetic and conventional oil in the freezer, see which one pours better when it is cold. That being said let us reference a Ford “N” tractor. First of all pretty much any oil down to the “bargain brand” oils are MUCH better than what your N came with, there have been many advances in the 70 plus years since the first 9N’s came off the line. Remember that your engine design is at least 70+ years old and really has a heritage back to the Model A and even to an extent the “T”, the oil filtering system is pretty primitive especially by the standards of just a few years later on other tractors. You have a coarse screen on the drain plug for the pump and your canister filter only gets about 10-15% of the oil circulated per “pass”, so even the most expensive modern oil will only help so much. Are you using this tractor for show or really hard consistent work (e.g. many hours per week pulling something), if it is for show you probably never get is hot enough for any of the synthetic stability benefits to fully take effect (it can take quite a while to get a healthy unworked N TRULY hot). Synthetic has the potential to cause leaks in older seals, this may not be as much of a concern in N’s as they have “rope” seals but any gasket/seal that is older (especially rubber) may not like synthetic oil, in fact many oil companies caution using synthetic on pre 1980’s equipment. Synthetic is great at cleaning and staying clean, in fact for an older engine that was overhauled a while ago or is of questionable interior cleanliness (infrequent oil changes) this has the potential to “kill” an engine. The oil may dislodge particles or sludge that can plug up oil passages or screens, I am in Aviation and it has happened to my customers. In both cases the engines had a lot of time on them, the owners where convinced by someone who was well meaning that it would clean their engine out, well it did to the point of plugging up their oil systems, one overhaul cost $35,000 and the other was $65,000,an expensive lesson. Some will argue this point but I have seen it in action, and I do not want to take a chance on a questionably clean but otherwise good engine. Of course there is cost; do you really want to spend money on synthetic when conventional does the job fine? Really you are not going to extend the oil change interval as significantly as on cars especially if you do not use the tractor much as you should change the oil more often if you do not get it HOT or do not run the tractor hard often, synthetic’s cost will add up. The extreme temp and pressure benefits are not as much realized on old engines like this with loose clearances and cold running tendencies. Unless specified I would not use it on brand new engines as it could hamper the break in, only on broken in and “clean” engines. You could see some benefit in colder climates for starting with the original 6 volt system, and really hot climates for better thermal stability. As for me I use straight 30, all of my tractors are for show and fun and rarely do they get started below 50-55 degrees or above 90, I have never had a problem. However some people swear by multi-grade like 10W-30 (one in Canada I know uses 0W in winter now that is something else!) but that is up to the user’s climate, the recommended grade, and engine wear. In closing I would say that whatever you choose to a point will probably be fine, but take my warnings/ advice to consideration. If you have a limited use (or very dusty conditions) tractor change the oil more frequently, but please do not forget to change oil as recommended (it is far too common in tractors) regardless as old oil can eat your bearings and other parts alive, it can be very acidic. Also in a final plea to all tractor owners out there that use their machines very infrequently or for show get the oil hot once in a while! It will save your engine in the long run, look at your oil sometime and if it has grey in it (or worse a small bit of white) it could be that you are not getting the oil hot enough to evaporate the water out of it. I hope this helped you.
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