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I just had a valve job done on my 1984 Spider. I had always used Castrol 20-50but now I am wondering what other owners are using.

My machine shop told me to use an addative ZDDB which contains zinc. Personally, I have never heard of this. I have a mechanic for my other cars and they have never heard of using this stuff.

So I am in a quandry. Am I using the wrong oil? Incorrect viscosity range? or am I fine? or is this is just atypical for a Spider. Can has 60k original miles. I need a new cam, lifter and valve for #2. Any Ideas or Suggestions?

Also, I live in Central/Northern NJ and I need a good Alfa mechanic. Not Col-Gen in Newark. Anyone have an alternative. Would very much like to hear from you.
 

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Castrol 20W50 is fine.

On the valve job, a couple of points:

First of all, unless you are the original owner, 60k miles on a 27 year old car that has an odometer that turns over at 99k is something that would be hard to verify. I'm not saying it isn't possible but low miles like that also mean either chronic low usage or a long period of inactivity and neither of those scenarios are necessarily good for an engine.

Secondly, the Alfa valve train has no hydraulic compensation for valve clearances - it doesn't need any but if something does go off it needs to be addressed by installing the correct sized shim. You should probably check the clearances every 30k or so (I can't remember what the manual recommends) but in my experience you will rarely have to make any adjustments between overhauls.

In your case it's possible the car sat idle for a number of years and, depending on what position the cams were in, could have developed some corrosion on one of the lobes that would later turn into excessive wear or spalling. That's just speculation but in any case your problem wasn't caused by the lack of "ZDDB" what ever that is.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
KCabpilot; You are correct in several of your assumptions. The car had sat for some 15 years with just 17k miles on it. I had car fax run. Also, this is not my first alfa - I had a 1986 which I purchased new at the time so I am familiar with wear patterns. The guy I purchased car from said that he had the car "fixed-up" which I pretty much knew what to expect. Unfortunately for me it was more than even I bargained for. I had to replace all 4 injectors. When was the last time you heard of an Alfa injector failing but because the car had sat for so long had to do this. Actually only 1 failed but better to change them all.

I live in NJ and could not find a machine shop to do the head so I had it sent to a friend in Florida who is the ex service manager of BobCor. He had the head repaired and provided the parts (cam, lifter and valve - #2). I called the machine shop and they told me about ZDDP. Personally, I think this is nonsense. Castrol 20-50 was what the dealer used with my 1986.
 

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The issue is that manufacturers have been dialing back how much zinc they are adding to their motor oils. Zinc is a high-pressure lubricant that is particularly important to flat-tappet engines like yours. They have dialed it back for emissions purposes and most modern car engines don't have flat tappets.

I don't know specifically about your Castrol, but I really doubt it has the same formulation as in 1986. There are several additives that can be used, including ZDDPlus, BG MOA, and one of the flavors (though not all I gather?) of STP among others.

http://www.bobistheoilguy.com/forums/ubbthreads.php?ubb=showflat&Number=853913

Chris
 

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Howard,

Another way of ensuring that your engine is protected by ZDDP without using an additive is to simply buy a motor oil which already has it. Most "fleet" oils (dual purpose for diesel or gas applications) have around 1200 ppm of ZDDP, which is plenty. If you are brand-loyal to Castrol, there is a 15W-40 available. More widely available are Shell Rotella T and Chevron Delo, also available in 15W-40.
 

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Marco hit the nail on the head!
As a retired Engineer from one of the "major" oil companies. I would recommend the use of a 15W40 Disel oil, that is also rated for gasoline service. Shell 15W40 Rotella T is my favourite.
Zinc as an additive has disappeared in the formulation of many oils...they are not the same as they were because of CAT converter sensitivities. Be especially wary of the ones that say energy conservation on the API rating.
Elio
 

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This I was not aware of.

I can say that I last did an overhaul on my engine about 7 years ago at which time I installed new cams, tappets, valves and springs. It now has close to 50k miles and I just performed a valve clearance check last weekend along with some other servicing. I found no issues as regards to cam or tappet wear and have used Castrol GTX the entire time. The cams are 11.5 mm lift and I drive with "spirit"

So personally I'm skeptical that this is an issue but if you wish to use an additive it's certainly not going to harm anything.
 

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Actually, it will accelerate the demise of your CAT - but if this doesn't bother you, go ahead and use it. I've used 20W50 GTX sice 1984, and just switched to Redline 15W50 for a more extended change interval - and no probs w/ cams/tappets.

I do add zddp to my BMW ( no cat )....

One leg in each camp....
 

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This I was not aware of.

I can say that I last did an overhaul on my engine about 7 years ago at which time I installed new cams, tappets, valves and springs. It now has close to 50k miles and I just performed a valve clearance check last weekend along with some other servicing. I found no issues as regards to cam or tappet wear and have used Castrol GTX the entire time. The cams are 11.5 mm lift and I drive with "spirit"

So personally I'm skeptical that this is an issue but if you wish to use an additive it's certainly not going to harm anything.
I came from the V8 performance world before I got hit with the addiction here. Do some searches over at nastyz28.com or speedtalk. It's well documented. It may be that the camshaft failures are more frequent due to the performance cams having more aggressive ramps and high spring pressures, but it is still a fact. All manufacturers use roller cams & lifters now. They don't care about our flat tappet cam set ups. I wouldn't take a chance.
 

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In some car circles (okay, the links in 86Spider's post), the oil of choice is Brad Penn 20-50 (it's the old Kendall green stock). There is a strong opinion that you want a oil formulated with ZDDP rather than using additives.
 

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If memory serves, that would be API S/F or S/G rated - those not having been manufactured for some years now... not by an oil bottle now, but they are at what?, S/J or beyond now, having removed anti wear chemicals to protect delicate CAT's & so forth...
 

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I took the time to read through some of the material in the links that were posted and honestly I don't think this is an issue that we need to worry about. Most of the talk is about old V8's and air cooled engines. In the case of old V8's you've just got a heck of a lot of inertial mass in the valve train - lifter, pushrod, rocker arm etc. The four cylinder Alfa has none of that nonsense and on top of that the tappets are always partially submerged in the oil bath that resides in the cam towers.

I view and read most of this as an over reaction similar to what has gone around concerning unleaded fuel and ethanol. A lot of talk about how it's going to destroy older engines but never any real empirical data to prove it. For instance, since this reformulation has been ongoing for some time, is there a pile of trashed Alfa camshafts laying around somewhere that I'm not aware of? Is there a thread filled with horror stories of engines destroyed due to a lack of sufficient anti-wear zinc and phosphorous in the oil?

My main point is, going back to the original post, that the reformulation of motor oil is not the cause of Howard's problem (needing a new camshaft) That was something else. Nor, in my opinion is it necessary for him to pour twelve bucks worth of special additive into his oil at every change. He'd be perfectly fine just using the Castrol GTX like he always did. Regardless of changes in the formula it's got to be better than what was available back in the 50's when these engines were designed.

No?
 

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When tearing down my 74 engine, I found some black "jell" in the crankcase and head. Last oil change, I put some of the aftermarket zink stuff in. I dont know if thats the "jell" or not, but I have never seen that stuff before. By the way, the crank, cams and cylinders had almost no measurable wear. I dont know if a previous owner had it rebuilt, but the crank was within 1 thousandth of stock. I have used castrol gtx for years.
cliff
 

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I found some black "jell" in the crankcase and head
Hylomar will produce that when it mixes with oil.
 

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Pudding is a good description of the hylomar by-product.
 

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I just came across this, seems it's only been out a couple of months, has a good dose of what our cars need.

I've used Amsoil stuff for years - as well as Redline and Mobil1 - not just in Alfas, but in all my cars. Oil isn't the place to save a buck...

AMSOIL - AMSOIL Z-ROD 20W-50 Synthetic Motor Oil (ZRF)

"AMSOIL Z-ROD™ Synthetic Motor Oil is specially engineered for classic and high-performance vehicles. It features a high-zinc formulation to prevent wear on flat-tappet camshafts and other critical engine components, along with a proprietary blend of rust and corrosion inhibitors for added protection during long-term storage. Z-ROD Synthetic Motor Oil is designed to perform on the street and protect during storage."


Chuck
 

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