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Oil information

76658 Views 142 Replies 61 Participants Last post by  rbabos
Another New Guy

Thanks to Kaz, I have been pointed to this website. As soon as I get thru with my last kid's college loan 1st quarter 2004, I will be V-Rodding with you all. I work for ChevronTexaco as an lubrication engineer. Not counting a previous life as a mechanic, I have over 25 years of fuel and lubricant testing and developing under my belt, so although I'm primarily involved in lube related stuff, I also have a pretty strong fuel background. I also handled all of the tech service for Amoco's racing programs, including CART, NASCAR, WoO, NHRA and AMA. I told Kaz that if anybody has any technical needs regarding fuel and lubricant issues of any type, send me an email or call me at 386-775-9309. I'm not pitching any products here, I just enjoy helping out. I've even come out to various clubs and conventions and given talks on general fuel and lubricant technology. Those of you who are getting oil analyses, if you're confused on anything, feel free to FAX me your reports and I'll look them over. Be sure to include some history, and always try to get samples of the fresh oil to use as a comparison baseline.

I look forward to interacting with all of you. Also, once I get my V-Rod, I'll be counting on you all to help me out with technical issues, mods, etc. as well.

Merry Christmas to all of you.

Sam Vallas
Orange City, Florida
Fax: 386-775-1033
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do we really have to break in new motors"50 for 500"?What about switching to synthetic.How about high octain does it help or hurt? Whats the Pro say?:cool:
Replying to Kaz.....
do we really have to break in new motors"50 for 500"?What about switching to synthetic.How about high octain does it help or hurt? "

1. Regarding engine break-in, the only consensus I've seen over the years is that the engine not be run at a steady speed for the first few hours of operation, and also, no idling, especially with new cams. Most of the guys I've worked, myself included, do a lot of "pulls" in moderate gears with coastdowns in gear as well. Try to ramp up to RPM, you know, 2-3,000, repeat a few times, 2-4,000, etc., etc. After a good few hours of this, the rings should be pretty well sealed. Another reason for this type of break-in and probably more critical is the transmission. Gears require a good running in so they can develop a comfortable wear pattern. This is the thin gray line you see when you take apart a gearset. Good loading and coasting along with moderate speeds play a big part in determining whether the transmission will last 50 or 250,000 miles. Also, after a few days of running, drain the oil and replace the filter. Getting the metal fines out of the machine is the single most important key to long life.

2. Properly formulated synthetics will always outperform most mineral oils, mainly because of their ability to:
. Maintain viscosity (film thickness) over a wide temperature range
. Remove heat more efficiently than mineral base oils
. Resist oxidation (cooking) that leads to acid buildup, deposits, and engine wear.
Our experience with all types of engines has shown that engines can be broken in from day one with synthetics. Or, broken in with mineral oils, then switched over to synthetics. This is what I do, mainly since I will be changing out the oil in a very short time, and only need it for a break in flush anyway.

3. Octane in of itself is of no benefit to an engine that is not tuned to take advantage of it. Octane is strictly the resistance of a fuel to detonation. This occurs after regular ignition and is caused by the pressure front of the traveling flame front increasing the pressure/temperature of the remaining mixture. In certain cases this can cause an autoignition to occur from the pressure, which causes the two flame fronts to collide. Instead of a nice "push" on the piston, a sharp pressure spike occurs which, at the very least, causes a slight pinging sound (sonic boom), at worst, the pressure spike and its associated high temperature will blow torch a hole thru head gaskets, pistons, etc. High performance engines are designed to run at much higher cylinder pressures than street engines. This is accomplished through timing advance, increased compression, power augmentation (super and turbocharging, NOS, etc.) Any combination of these changes can require fuels to have higher octane resistance. The only real way to know how much octane is needed is through extensive dyno testing using various timing and mixture maps with the race fuels. Racing fuels not only have high octane, but are usually formulated with heavier components that give more energy and tend to run richer. Engines that experience more power by just changing to these fuels with no timing or compression changes, are typically running too lean to start with and are simply running more efficient with the race fuel.

Hope this helps. One of these days, I'm going to put together an article on some of these topics. Meanwhile, give me a call or email me if you have questions.

Happy Holidays
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Hey, Max.... Back from the field. Nothing like a day at a paper mill and coal fired powerplant to keep the sinuses working.
Anyway, regarding your questions on oil analysis. For it to be a good tool, keep a couple of things in mind....

One, get a baseline test periodically on fresh oil so you have a starting point for your used oil data. Also, oils have a tendency to be reformulated from time to time and may have subtle differences in some of the additive and physical properties like color, etc.

Two, most people I know sample at each drain. Those who are running longer drains and will do intermittent "in service" oil analysis to "stretch" the intervals.

Three, make absolutely sure that when you pull your sample, that you do a hot drain and "clean catch" First, clean the area around the drain plug with brake cleaner. Don't wipe it down unless you are absolutely sure that you will not get lint into the sample. As you start pulling the drain plug, let some of the oil (at least a quart, or probably the amount that comes out before you can get the plug all the way out!) and take the sample bottle into the running stream for the sample. This is the best way to eliminate variables not engine related.

Be sure that whatever lab you're using is doing complete engine oil analysis. I'm not sure who you're using, but if you like, FAX me one of the test reports and I'll look it over and advise. Matter of fact, anybody out there with oil analysis concerns can FAX me a copy of their reports (386-775-1033) and I'll be glad to look it over. Just make sure to email me so I know it's arrived, and also give me a return email address.

Finally.... If you can, cut your oil filter apart and inspect if for metal and other contaminants. Just an added safeguard. Big chunks of metal do NOT show up in the spectroanalysis!


PS: Any of you guys get out here for Bike Week?
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This is some great information so I wanted to save it near the top of an area at the request of Via VRSCA.
I agree!:thumb With all You Smart Guy's I'm gonna Get a Complex!;) Naw your never To Cool to Learn something New.:cool:
Sam V.

Welcome aboard, and thanks for your offer.

I've got a question. When you get your new VROD, what kind of oil will you put in it? (and why)

Oh, and how many miles will you go between changes?
Sam V., welcome to our forum. I believe you will fit right in. Hope you get your v-rod before Bikeweek:D
Hey, all.... Regarding engine oil on my bike, I'm going to be running one of my company's diesel engine oils. Either Delo 400 15w40, or Delo synthetic 5W40. Don't follow me on this until I can do a little more research. Those of you with service manuals will recall that if "genuine HD oil isn't available, they will permit an oil with diesel specifications like CF-4, CI-4 etc. Diesel engine oils have a tendency to do a much better job on deposit and high temperature wear control than automotive formulations, regardless of the base oil type. I have enough data on the Delo products including double length engine tests, etc., that exceed even the best synthetic equivalents. Also, I'm not as convinced as everybody else seems to be that a 20W50 is the best choice for the liquid cooled V-Rod engine. The tolerances in a liquid engine are much more consistent and tighter than the air cooled equivalents PLUS, the V-Rod revs a lot higher, PLUS a 15W40 will remove heat better than a 20W50. I've worked with Original Equipment Manufacturers in the past, and while they may have good engineers when it comes to building bikes, they generally depend WAY too much on the lubricant suppliers for that technology. I've been on both sides of this fence, trust me. Anyway, make sure you don't jeapordize your warranty. For those of you who love synthetics, and you should, any of the majors as long as it has API approval will do a good job. I would change the oil every season, since for most of us it is based on time rather than miles. This insures that the additives will protect the engine during extended shutdowns.

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Sam V,
Very Good! :plause How does "Blow- By" created from my extra cylinder head pressure"Nitrous Oxide"effect my engine oil?How often should I change"runs?",and what should I use?10000+rpm and allot of Sauce!:diablo:
Sam V,

I have looked into Delo oils in the past for the bike and my truck. They are very highly regarded on many fronts. I often read bobistheoilguy.com which contains much info on oils and used oil analysis. I just took a sample of my Syn3 w/ 2000 miles on it and am looking forward to the results.

The only thing with the thiner oils is the V-Rod is already knowing for burning oil. Just a thought. Although Kaz may be interested in freeing up that extra .6759 HP going with thin stuff.;)

First to KAZ. How do you know you are getting a lot more blow by with the increased pressures? Technically, the piston rings are gas seals that expand with gas pressure that pushes from behind. . If there's a good oil film everywhere, there should be little increase in blowby unless something is not sealing in the first place. Also, most of the blowby gas gets reburned through the crankcase breather system. Whatever does get by the piston rings will be handled by the various additives in the engine oil. Chemicals that occur in blow by, are mostly CO, NOx (from atmospheric nitrogen, NOT your N2O system), unburned hydrocarbons, CO2, and whatever else forms in combustion. Kaz, two things....if this engine/dyno guy is as good as you say he is, have him teach you how to do leakdown tests. You may have to hook up with Max since I believe the VRod has a compression release that needs to be disabled. This is the only true way of measuring cylinder sealing and has been done by racers for years. Also, he can measure crankcase pressure during dyno runs and make sure that you're not getting too much leakage. Finally, run frequent oil analyses and look at things like fuel dilution, oxidation, viscosity loss etc.. I can help you with that. Regarding oil changes, that would depend on how your analyses are looking. Again, get some done and I'll look them over.

Youngster.... Taking your reply from the end, there are a lot of reasons for oil consumption. First of all, If the ring and cylinder geometry is correct, the 15w40 will not necessarily be better than a 20w50. The rings need only a very thin oil film to seal the cylinder walls and move in the lands. What can affect oil analysis and is one of the main causes I see are deposits on the pistons. The engine oils on the VRod engines, like diesel engine oils, have a big role in heat removal. What happens is that combustion gasses combined with motor oil can bake deposits on the pistons. The critical areas are the crownland (sides of the piston above the first ring, and ring lands (grooves). Couple of things happen. One, crownland deposits grow and begin to polish the crosshatch marks off the cylinder walls. The crosshatch is designed to trap engine oil plus allow particles to escape from between the ring and cylinder. When this polishing occurs, oil consumption starts to rise and more wear and blow by occur. When the grooves start filling with deposits, the rings cannot move freely and lose their sealing properties with resulting loss of oil control as well as power loss and increased blow by. Going from a mineral base oil to a synthetic can stave off some of these concerns, but there's no substitute for a properly formulated engine oil. Diesel engine oils are designed to handle these high temperature deposit areas as well as neutralize a lot of crap that gets by the rings in those engines. Regarding SYN3, I hear from most people that they're satisfied with it. I don't know what's in it. Let me see a copy of your oil analysis. Also, get a fresh oil sample for reference. Is it the best? I don't know. I hear the same for Amsoil and other majors. Buying good stuff and changing it often will always work. My FAX number is 386-775-1033. I'll be here in my office finishing up paperwork for the rest of the year, so feel free to write or call (386-775-9309).

Merry Christmas!
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Sam you can't imagine how much I appreciate your input here on the forum, you are an invaluable source of information. Now for my question about the oil that I use. I had not checked properties but after reading several of your post intend to. I use the Mobil 1 V-twin 20w50 oil, any thoughts?
Max, I've always been a big fan of MOBIL I. When I worked for Amoco, I helped develop their first synthetic, and at the time, Mobil had been out there (after Amsoil, of course) for a few years. I am not completely sure what differentiates Mobil's V-Twin synthetic and their MX4T for inline engines other than viscosity. Again, I'm still not convinced that the liquid cooled engine needs that much viscosity, but there may be something else going on in there that I don't know about. I have dug into the shop manual for the V-Rod engine and having had some background in the German engines, I can really see Porsche written all over the engine design... you know, different codes for piston and bearing fitments, etc.... Torque to yield on fasteners. This may be where some of the viscosity craze comes from. Porsche, like most big diesel builders, likes to use oil for cooling, and probably want to make sure that the viscosity will not thin out at the high temperatures. I plan on doing a LOT of oil analysis, including boroscope, to make sure the Delo is working well on my bike. Meanwhile, stick with the Mobil product if it's working for you. Again, if you have any questions about oil analyses, Fax them to me. 386-775-1033.

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All I can say is WOW, it's great to have an industry expert finally answering some of the myths that are so pervasive in the MC community.

I have a question, I know you answered this in a previous post but I want to elaborate a little. I hear everyone talking about "break-in" period. What I know from first hand experience having worked with a couple of nationally known engine builders doesn't match what the prevailing myths circulating the boards and dealers.

Here's the myth:
The engine needs to seat the rings and that takes thousands of miles (BMW states 6000 miles). During that period a certain amount of wear is required to properly seat the rings, valve guides, etc. To allow for this wear you should always use standard motor oil. Use of synthetic oil will shorten the life of the motor, prevent proper break-in and cause excessive oil consumption.

I don't buy that and my experience disproves that. I contend that the engine never seals any better than it does after the initial run in period. I also contend that wear, of any kind, is bad and you should run a lubricant that will minimize wear from the very beginning.

Below is a breakdown of how I've been taught to run in a motor. The references are a regionally renoun NASCAR engine builder (Express Engines), and Internationally renoun Offshore race engine builder (Keith Eikert) and an Internationally renoun Porsche endurance engine builder (Alex Job).

Here's the reality as proffered by top notch engine builders and experienced by me in real world situations:
Proper engine break-in involves carefully running the motor through complete heat cycles at various rpm ranges to properly seat all seals and rings and evacuate the byproducts of manufacturing as well as the initial wear byproducts as the parts seat. To accomplish this use a good standard oil and use either an engine dyno or an afternoon to run the engine through it's heat cycles and rpm ranges. Once this is complete (usually takes less than 4 hours) drain the crankcase, replace and examine (cut open) the oil filter then replace the filter and put in top quality synthetic oil (we use either Redline or Dyson Synergyn in the race motors). Bring the motor back up to temperature, do a quick compression test (followed by a leak down if we see anything odd) then make your power runs to document the motors performance. Once these tests are complete we do a full leakdown for a baseline. From what I've seen the motors never seal any better than they do at that point. BTW, the ONLY reason we use regular oil in the first cycle if cost. We know we are going to dump that oil in a matter of hours so we don't use the expensive stuff. It has nothing to do with wear, they've tried using synthetic from the start and have seen no difference.

How I translate this to production motors (and how my engine builders do also) is that you follow the procedures of running the engine through various RPM ranges, never staying at one for too long, and run it through at least 2 full heat cycles. Dump the factory oil, cut open and inspect the oil filter and replace the oil (and filter) with the synthetic of your choice. At that point you are all "broken-in" and you simply ride (drive) the bike (car, boat) as you like.

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Sam V said:
I can really see Porsche written all over the engine design... you know, different codes for piston and bearing fitments, etc.... Torque to yield on fasteners. This may be where some of the viscosity craze comes from. Porsche, like most big diesel builders, likes to use oil for cooling, and probably want to make sure that the viscosity will not thin out at the high temperatures.

Don't discount the fact that Porsche has decades of experience building air cooled motors which, in reality, are cooled more by the oil than by air ;)


PS, I can't wait to see the results from the Delo tests. I currently have Syn3 in mine and since we are in the same neighborhood maybe we can run some comparison tests using both bikes, that should cut the research time in half. PM me if you want to discuss a test plan ;)
I told ya this Guy was GOOD!:thumb
Hey, Mark.... Dead on on the break-in comments.... If you look at my previous response in that regard, I've kind of paraphrased (loosely) the technique you describe. No idling, no steady RPM's, lots of pulls up and down for a few heat cycles. Drain and fill with the best stuff you can get. The first couple of hours are the most critical..... U BETCHA! Not just engines but the rest of the driveline. As I said earlier, the gearbox run in is also in play, and proper load cycling will insure good mating of the gearteeth faces. What makes these darn machines even worse is the mutual engine/gearbox oil sump. Nothing contributes more to break-in metal than a brand new gearset. Biggest concern is that the really tiny assembly and break in grit will brinnell roller and ball bearings and reduce their overall life. One other thing I do, whether on my two cycle or four cycle oils. Get paint strainers from your local body and fender supply store and filter the oil when filling your engine.

Also, I don't discount Porsche one iota! Back in my autocrossing days in Chicago, I worked with a few 911 racers and am well aware of the oil requirements! My concern is that the Revolution engine, while using shared technology (probably more shared by Porsche than H-D), is still managed by H-D when it comes to items typically considered commodities like engine oils, fork oils, etc. They also may be depending a little TOO much on their technology from their lubricant supplier, who A), may want to consolidate. B), may know less about lubricants than most of the people on this forum. Remember, I've been at meetings with darn near all of them. I've got plants that can respond better to technical questions than some of the guys responsible for the well being of these beautifully crafted pieces of machinery.

soapbox exits stage right.


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Sam V,

This is the oil analysis on my 2003 VRod with 2748 miles. I am using HD SYN3 oil since the first change at 601mi. I added 1 quart make up in the 2147 miles also SYN3.

I am a little concerned with the Aluminum but as its an aluminum engine this may be expected from machining. Also concerned about the high fuel but the rings may not be seated yet. Although I think if the rings were not seated I would have more insolubles from blow-by?

The additive package seems to be decent as far as anti-wears. The TBN was 7.6.

Miles on Unit 2748
Miles on Oil 2147

Current Universal Average
Aluminum 41 24
Chrominum 1 1
Iron 15 13
Copper 7 6
Lead 3 2
Tin 1 1
Molybdenium 1 9
Nickel 0 0
Manganese 2 1
Silver 0 0
Titanium 0 0
Potassium 0 1
Boron 242 231
Silicon 24 14
Sodium 4 4
Calcium 1279 1450
Magnesium 749 633
Phosphorus 840 877
Zinc 1063 1028
Barium 2 1

Visc @ 210* 60.6 82-95
Flashpoint 265 >385
Fuel % 6% <2%
Antifreeze 0 0
Water 0 0
Insolubles 0.2 <0.6

Thanks for your knowledge
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02man My #s are similar lubeman please comment

you seem to have high levels of gas in your oil. 6%

I have an oil analysis done by Blackstone labs every change now.

I had 7% at 4,000 miles w/ a subsequesnt viscosity of 20w

I had 5% at 5,800 miles w/ a subsequesnt viscosity of 30w

The mfg / dealer/ zone rep all told me that this is normal for the Vrod as long as it stays below 10% The Vrod takes 10k miles before the rings are fully seated because they are so hard. The quote was the Vrod engine needs to be "RUN HARD" Having just read all your post above on break in proceedures this looks to be all BS.


I ride the bike daily putting about 600 miles a week. That being a combo of 400 70mph highway miles and 200 city miles.

I would love to have you look at the reports I have had done on my oil from Blackstone and get some insight.

I sure hope you stick around. You appear to be a real expert,a nd one that can shead much light on the holygrail of M/C.... oil
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