Castor oil and super juices
The text below is based on freely accessible information. Theory and practice may differ. For example, we know someone who swears by QMI because the engine of his Honda CB450 after the addition of the PTFE was clearly running higher at zero load.
It is very important to us to pamper the engines of our classics. But of course we also sometimes dream of magic potions with which we can bypass a block revision. Or prevent. Then we arrive at the shadowy path of the bottles, cans and flasks with magic potions.
You come a long way with it. For example, we once drove a very tired CB 750 F that only ran on additives at the end. And do you know what happened? The camshaft broke ... But that was entirely his own fault.
Auto Motor Klassiek is curious about the reactions of suppliers and users of these types of oil additives.
Experts agree that later additions to engine oil have little added value when an engine block is simply in good condition. They assume that there is little improvement in the oil as it is offered by the renowned manufacturers. The additions 'ex works' are tailored to the use in the power source of your classic. That is why it is wise not to put in too modern oil. The special classic oils are doped low. They smear and not much more. And that is usually enough for our transport. The selected range of additives that the factory mixes with the modern oil provides properties per additive or a synergy of properties that enhance each other's effect. Disrupting the balance between these agents can reduce the properties of the oil. Just think basic: a little salt makes the frites taste better. A pound of salt doesn't make them much better anymore.
The approach to load all providers of 'oil improvers' into a shopping cart went wrong. There are too many providers for our budget. There are even different brands that come from the same manufacturer.
That is why we started to group the case together. We looked at oil additives that fell into the same group, had the same basic ingredients and made the same promises.
We came to the following distinction in types:
1. Liquids based on mineral oils (with the corresponding standard additives plus PTFE. And PTFE is the species name of the products for which DuPont has registered the brand name 'Teflon'. And PTFE means: polytetrafluoroethylene, PTFE is an 'plastic' with an extremely low friction coefficient, a solid.
2. Products consisting of the above-mentioned normal mineral oil with the standard additives plus zinc diakyldithiophosphate (or zinc diaryldithiophosphate), known as 'zinc' as an additional addition.
3. Products that - as far as we could tell - have the same additives as standard engine oils. But in different proportions and combinations.
4. Products that mainly consist of solvents and cleaning agents.
PTFE, or if it comes from DuPont "Teflon".
The most sold oil additives are currently those in which PTFE powder is mixed with ordinary, say high-quality, mineral or synthetic motor oil. Slick 50 is the biggest player in this segment. Some of the names we found were: Slick 50, QMI, Lubrilon, Microlon, Petrolon, Matrix (from the same company that also makes Slick 50). A search on the Internet resulted in a much larger number of providers. And usually they also want to deliver in the Netherlands. Simply by mail.
The PTFE is given to these suppliers as the only additional working ingredient. This series of products has built up a serious reputation within car and motorcycle riders. But there have also been people with a more critical attitude. The inventor of the product, the American chemical giant DuPont, once explicitly reported that: "Teflon is not a sensible oil additive or lubricant for combustion engines". The company therefore refused to resell Teflon as such.
When DuPont stopped the delivery of PTFE powder to the additive makers, a number of them sought refuge elsewhere. They bought their PTFE powder in other countries and disguised that approach by mentioning the addition with fantasy names on the label. But it just remained PTFE. The stories about the larger 'flake size' of the non-DuPont PTFE powders also date from that time. Those larger particles would 'sag' more easily and cause blockages in filters and channels.
After a number of court cases, DuPont had to admit that PTFE also had no clearly identifiable disadvantages when used in combustion engines. The company had to resume the delivery of PTFE powders to the aforementioned manufacturers of additional lubricants.
The makers of the lubricant additives immediately claimed that the judges had proven that their approach worked. While the ruling was in fact only that the harmfulness of PTFE as an addition was not proven.
When purchasing a PTFE-bearing additive, there is a very easy guideline in that case: if the packaging states that the product must first be shaken, the added PTFE particles apparently tend to sink to the bottom. And if they do that in the bottle, then they will probably do the same in a usually little used classic.
Because PTFE is a solid. The additive makers claim that it is precisely those solid particles that leave the protective layer on the metal treads. A conclusive scientific proof has not yet been given for this. But it seems instinctively that the PTFE that has to be deposited precisely at the places that are the most heavily loaded in the engine, must still easily settle at the quieter places in the block. Like in the oil canals. Even NASA tests pointed in that direction.
On the other hand, the claim made by a number of manufacturers is opposed. They say that their PTFE is ground so finely that it remains in solution and passes through all oil channels and filters. That sounds good and can be true. But then we just have to hope that those manufacturers have taken into account that PTFE expands a lot when heated. Laboratory tests in America have proven that in some suppliers the growth of the PTFE particles is so great in practice that the particles apparently partially remained behind in the filters at the operating temperature of the engine. Only QMI informs that the PTFE particles in their product are so small that they remain in circulation until they precipitate at their workplace. QMI also had clearer references to monitor the use and results of their product.
The newest panacea: zinc.
In recent years there has been a product that PTFE wants to take the lead: zinc. Well, actually "zinc dialkyldithiophosphate" or "zinc diaryldithiophosphate". The representatives of this trend claim much better results than the colleagues from the PTFE corner can deliver. They do the opposite, by the way.
Zinc has been a component of ordinary motor oils for years. A percentage of 0,1 is common with standard oil types. With oil for higher taxes that can amount to 0,2 volume percent. First, those percentages were higher. But after there were claims about defective catalysts, the oil manufacturers lowered the values. But luckily we drive classic.
Organic zinc compounds are used because they provide better protection against wear under high pressures. Think of engines that run at very high speeds and turbo compressors. The zinc only does its protective work when metallic contact occurs in the engine block. And that should never happen under normal circumstances. But when someone likes to regularly run out their rev counter needle in the red area, the zinc can save it there.
Means that are 'zinc-containing' are easy to recognize. There is a warning sticker on it because, for example, the "zinc dialkyldithiophosphate" and "zinc diaryldithiophosphate" can cause eye damage. Always wear safety goggles and gloves when handling liquids that may be harmful to health in any way. Also ensure good ventilation.
Solvents and cleaning agents
We often find these agents in the older generations of oil additives. Block pollution was much more common then. They are usually based on cleaning agents and solvents that remove sludge ('mayonnaise'), varnish and carbon deposits from the block. In fact, they do the opposite of what the 'new' agents such as PTFE and zinc do. They do not leave a nice layer, they just remove dirt. The famous Wynn's Friction Proofing, for example, consists of 83% kerosene.
And kerosene is very close to petroleum in terms of family ties. Other brands partly consist of naphthalene, xylene, acetone or isopropanol. These are aggressive substances with danger of contact with the eyes and inhalation.
However, if the dosage is too large, they will not only remove the dirt, but also the lubricating oil layer. But used with cars from the fifties and sixties, they can be of use to 'clean up' the case once. With more recent engines, their operation is too gross and possibly ruinous.
A cautious conclusion
The engines of our engines are on average 15 years young. Often not even farm-fresh anymore. In the meantime, lubrication systems including filtering, materials and tolerances have been improved to such an extent that the comparison between a BSA A65 engine and a Goldwing block simply cannot be made. But perhaps that is precisely the reason that there are a good number of classic drivers who swear by experience of this kind of products. And why not?
Auto Motor Klassiek has another addition in mind. A product of which the makers proudly claim that it is based purely on mineral oil and which we were drawn to by a satisfied user. We will come back with a story about - among other things - TSL. At first we have already seen that it contains a fairly high zinc percentage.
And then there is Xado from former Ukrainian army laboratories. That means really promises miracles. But we have never received an answer to our letter to them ...
And what about those famous' dry-running demos?
Do you still remember them? The badly dubbed toppers on TVSell TV-like broadcasts. An excited man starts a goat-mounted engine. He adds the product 'X' to the oil. After a while he drains the oil. Then he starts the engine again. And it keeps running. A miracle! Or not?
Engine manufacturer Briggs & Stratton was unknowingly the supplier of some of those demo engines. They became curious and did the same test under laboratory conditions. It turned out that the engine treated with the product 'X' was indeed running for quite some time without oil. Just like the engine, which also ran dry without a panacea ever being added.
Later measurements showed that both engines had suffered considerably from the experiment.