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Oil for the older gentleman

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  • Engine: Oil for the older gentleman

    I've a new 1936 Dictator, original under the hood. I'm not finding information much online. I'm ready to change to oil and am thinking a single weight non-detergent oil is the way to go. Any suggestions? And the rest of the fluids, I'm just not sure I can fine the products recommended in the Shop Manual.
    I'll listen to/read what ever I can get to learn more about maintenance.

  • #2
    I only use non-detergent oil in my 2 stroke gas/oil mix and in my air compressors.
    All my other engines get a good grade of multi weight oil. Anything from 10-30 to 15-40 is fine.


    • #3
      I do not see ANY significant difference from a 1936 Stude. Engine to a 1964 one in terms of Engineering Design.

      The only issue is, you really need to know it's history, if this engine is original, untouched, since 1936 (unlikely) and never had Detergent Oils you would be correct to continue with non-Detergent.

      However by this Date, most have been rebuilt, or otherwise cleaned out of all the gunk caused by that Non-Detergent Oil at least in the last 40 years of the last Century when Detergent Oils were always used.

      You will have a hard time today even finding Non-Detergent, but whatever you use I would use straight 30 Wt. or as a backup maybe 10W/30.
      Second Generation Stude Driver,
      Proud '54 Starliner Owner


      • #4
        When your 1936 vintage car was built, the petroleum industry had learned how to separate oils of various viscosity, so they could be used for the application they were best suited for. The chemists made great strides , particularly during WWII (you must remember the war, as George Gobel said - it was in all the papers), in modifying the molecular structure of oils to improve their performance. So called "multi weight oils" are simply oils with a modified viscosity curve, meaning the viscosity does not change so much with temperature. The example in the attached chart shows the viscosity curves for 5 weight and 40 weight oil, and they both have about the same slope of viscosity versus temparature. The 5w40 oil has the same viscosity at zero degrees C (the temperature of freezing water) as 5 weight oil, so it is easy for your starter to crank the engine, and it flows better through the engine during warmup. Once the engine is fully warmed up, at 100 degrees C, the temperature of boiling water, the oil has the same viscosity as 40 weight oil, so it has good lubricating properties.

        The only reason I can think of for using a so called single weight oil, as in a compressor, is that virtually all "multiweight" oils have detergents or other additives, which may not be wanted in some applications.

        Click image for larger version

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        Trying to build a 48 Studebaker for the 21st century.
        See more of my projects at


        • #5
          Do not forget, Straight 30Wt. Detergent Oils are still out there, the API Rating Code tells you that, not the Viscosity Number.

          Not ALL 30Wt. Oil is Non-detergent, MOST is not.
          Second Generation Stude Driver,
          Proud '54 Starliner Owner


          • #6
            I generally use a Diesel engine oil in mine as the solid lifters need an oil that prohibits wear at that point. Most cars now use a roller valve lifter.


            • #7
              Thanks for the posts, the graph really makes a clear statement.


              • #8
                Here is a little info. Schaeffer's oil 800 325 9962 If you call and ask they will help. They have been doing this since 1839!!


                • #9
                  I've yet to see a 30W oil (non-detergent) with the ASE burst ....


                  • #10
                    There are many posts about oil here. Put ZDDP in the advanced search box at the top of the page. Simply put - non detergent oil was used then because they didn't have good detergent oil like now. If you know the car always had non detergent than still use detergent but change it very often and clean things up. The metal to metal wear at the camshaft and lifters should probably be protected by ZDDP (especially in racing engines with a lot of spring pressure). You'll see a lot about STP, ZDDP, and Valvoline VR1 Racing oil. I use the Valvoline VR1 Racing Oil 20w/50 and some STP. You keep reading.