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Brake-in Smokin out
I read with interest the latest Cycle World ("TDC" by Kevin Cameron - May
1997) regarding his experiences on the initial use of crappy dynosaur based
oils for break-in periods on "new" motors. The summary of the article is
that beginning with the "advancement" of oil anti wear additives, more cycles
and cars were not bedding in their rings and pistons properly. The
proposition is that the older "inferior" oils allowed for some rubbing of
parts to help properly seat reciprocating assemblies.
For some time in the 80's, car manufacturers found that oil consumption in
the new cars increased during the "break-in" period, and didn't necessarily
decrease over time. Since that time, we have seen less importance on the
"break-in" procedure rigeur (I remember Dad being pretty retentive in the
70's). The shift to "pre-lapping" engines made a shift from consumer
break-in to manufacturers break-in. Kevin proposes that this move was
necessary for two reasons, 1) more protective oils, and 2) consumers found
high oil consumption on new "machines" to be unacceptable.
Kevin further proposes that this thinking has a sound history, reciting some
experience with old motorcycle racing/builder cronies, a most credible
argument being the "dry break-in" of BMW bikes in the early 70's eliminating
the grand oil consumption on new motors (drop of oil on the cylinders then
30seconds of 1/2 redline, <yea, right!>). He postulates that the car
companies are now going through what bikes did then, the need for
manufacturers to bear the brunt of the break-in process, since oil technology
is hardly a retroactive business.
I find this article to raise more questions on this theory, but it certainly
shows that oil technology is giving great protection from wear, maybe even
too much initially. Kevin's summary "It's facinating to see that additive
technology can in some cases get ahead of manufacturing, actually being to
good to allow full break-in."
Makes ya think some about the use of synthetics from the get go on a new or
freshly rebuilt engine, car OR bike. I doubt this is without some
controversy, however, the article has good anecdotal and sound engineering
presentations in the argument. Sounds to me like an oil company might want
to consider a "break-in" oil formulation that is pure dynosaur, to let us
properly "bed" our toys. Maybe the most copelling argument for buying the
brand X stuff at Walmart before the tythe to synthetic payments.