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Number 10 or Number 30 Oil 1948 Commander

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  • Engine: Number 10 or Number 30 Oil 1948 Commander

    Back in the 50's I worked at a Northern Minnesota service station and we did a lot of oil changes on what are now the older Studebakers. I remember putting Number 30 oil in the crankcase during the summer months and Number 10 oil in the winter months.

    Now I have a 1948 Studebaker Commander that I'm restoring. The engine runs perfectly, and I'd like to start it once a week during the winter just to let it run. The temperature in the garage is below freezing. Should I put Number 10 straight grade oil in the crankcase like we did in the old days?

  • #2
    I would recommend a 10W-30 oil for your engine in the colder climates. I don't think you will have very good luck finding straight 10W oil as not too many engines use it anymore. You can also use a 15W-40 oil such as Chevron Delo 400 or Shell Rotella T which are used in both diesel and gasoline engines. Bud


    • #3
      I wouldn't get too hung up on which grade of oil you use. I use 20W-50 Valvoline Racing Oil in my '59 Lark in order to get the proper amount of Zinc in the oil.
      It turns over easily in Winter or Summer.
      '59 Lark VI Regal Hardtop
      Recording Secretary, Long Island Studebaker Club


      • #4
        Your better bet is to use something like the VR1 Valvoline Racing oil in something like 10W-30 or 10W-40--if you can find it rather than 20W-50---as that formulation has the zinc/phosperus in the right balanced percentage for old flat tappet engines, OR you can use a regular 10W-30 and add a bottle of a specialty additive like ZDDP Plus. Either way, you will get the cold temperature protection, and the critical wear protection of the zinc etc that USED to be in old time motor oils but isn't there in modern formulations anymore except for a few specific formulated oils like the VR1. It has been removed as it compromises catalytic converters, the way lead does. The cost of oil+ additive or special racing oil should be about the same, so its your choice.

        Note that it isn't there anymore in diesel rated oil either, generally, (again because of diesel cats) and Marvel Mystery Oil or STP just aren't really acceptable for this use anymore either ie cold weather once in a while startup.
        Last edited by Jim B PEI; 12-26-2011, 05:53 AM.


        • #5
          Ditto on ZDDP. However even without the absence of the zinc in most oils, the makeup of modern motor oil is VASTLY superior to what was available in the late 1940's or '50's. So the presence of oil is more important than what type you are using. Rotella and other diesel rated oils do continue to have some ZDDP in them, but to be safe I always add some in my diesel pickup. Flat tappet engines need ZDDP much more than the modern roller-tappet engines do. Personally I wouldn't start it up once a week in the winter. If it were me I'd winterize it and let it sit till Spring and then on the first sunny day in Spring I'd take it out for a nice spin.

          I don't start my old cars up in the winter because I don't want sludge to form in the engine from not being completely warmed up. Back in the old days, when I was driving my old cars I'd put a heater under the oil pan and heat the engine up for a half-hour or so before I started it up.
          Last edited by rrausch; 12-26-2011, 07:13 AM.
          1953 Chev. 210 Convertible, 261 6cyl w/Offy dual intake (But I always did love Studebakers!)
          1995 Dodge/Cummins Pickup, 250 HP, 620 Ft. Lbs. of Torque, ATS trans.
          Robert Rausch


          • #6
            You know what really amazes me? Here I am sitting up in the wilds of Northern Minnesota trying to do the best I can for my '48 Studebaker. And you guys are helping me without any ulterior motives. How rare is that in the world in which we live? Maybe the solution to bring the world peace is to give every man an old Studebaker so he has something important to concentrate on. Joe


            • #7


              • #8
                Well Joe, that's just the way this forum operates. I never cease to be amazed at the number of new members who say I just bought a Studebaker model "X" and need advice - within half to one day there areelots of answers - likely Studebaker folks near you would even come and halp.

                A wonderful bunch

                happy New Year from Australia
                John Clements
                Christchurch, New Zealand