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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
We had a brief discussion about this topic on the oil pump thread but, having found some additional info, I decided to move it here and start a new thread.

I'd asked Gordon (yet another) question about the need for ZDDP in Alfa twin-cam engines and he made a very cogent reply. I think it's only prudent to make sure the oil in our engines contains plenty of ZDDP. The problem, of course, is that modern oils have sharply reduced ZDDP. I've always liked Castrol GTX 20-50, for instance, but its ZDDP content has been reduced.

I did some digging on the 'net and found that STP has a couple of their "oil treatments" that contain high levels of ZDDP. While there are other products that do this several are expensive. STP isn't. In fact, STP has a ZDDP rich additive, the "red" bottle, that is specifically designed for 4 cyl engines. The only problem is that it's hard to find. Well, I found it! My local Big Lots store carries the 4 cyl "red" bottles of ZDDP additive. I bought several today for $2.50 ea.

To muddy things up even further, I found a discussion on the Hot Rod magazine web site that seems to exempt twin-cam motors with bucket cam followers from the need for high levels of ZDDP. I include it here for consideration and nothing more.

Faced with ever more stringent emissions standards and the governmentalmandate for extended emissions-control- system warranties, the OEMs gottogether with the motor oil makers and decided to reduce the amount ofZDDP in street-legal, gasoline-engine motor oils. After all, theyweren't needed with modern roller lifters and overhead-cam followers.The reduction first started in the mid-'80s, and it has been a gradualprocess, but the latest API SM and GF-4 specs have reduced ZDDP contentto such an extent that the new oils may not provide adequate protectionfor older, flat-tappet-equipped vehicles running nonstock, performancecams and valvetrains. And it will only get worse; projected future oilspec revisions will likely reduce ZDDP content even more.
 

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I have spent many hours reading statements and claims from every brand of oil and oil treatments from Amsoil all the way through the alfa-bet to finally end up very confused once I got to the end reading about ZDDP additives. There seems to be positive press surrounding Lubro moly Mos2 as an additive to normal nonsynthetic oil for proper lubrication for flat tappet engines like ours. Can anyone verify this claim or have any experience with this product? If the current phase out of ZDDP in oil continues, the cure to proper lubrication could end up being that an additive,at some point in time ,could be our only alternative. ZDDP itself ,as an additive, could be eliminated by a stoke of the pen any governmental agency; think EPA, etc. Remember when we had lead in toothpaste and DDT was available off the shelf at the hardware store? I guess my question is, will a Moly additive have the same positive effect as a zinc additive?
 

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Jerry,

Mobil 1 15-W50 still has a high level of ZDDP. 1300 PPM. http://www.mobiloil.com/USA-English/MotorOil/Files/Mobil_1_Product_Guide.pdf

I have spent many hours reading statements and claims from every brand of oil and oil treatments from Amsoil all the way through the alfa-bet to finally end up very confused once I got to the end reading about ZDDP additives. There seems to be positive press surrounding Lubro moly Mos2 as an additive to normal nonsynthetic oil for proper lubrication for flat tappet engines like ours. Can anyone verify this claim or have any experience with this product? If the current phase out of ZDDP in oil continues, the cure to proper lubrication could end up being that an additive,at some point in time ,could be our only alternative. ZDDP itself ,as an additive, could be eliminated by a stoke of the pen any governmental agency; think EPA, etc. Remember when we had lead in toothpaste and DDT was available off the shelf at the hardware store? I guess my question is, will a Moly additive have the same positive effect as a zinc additive?
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I have spent many hours reading statements and claims from every brand of oil and oil treatments from Amsoil all the way through the alfa-bet to finally end up very confused once I got to the end reading about ZDDP additives.
Me, too, Jerry. The "received wisdom" seems to be all over the place and, lacking some real research, we're pretty much left to our own devices. Apparently, there are two separate, coincidental issues: flat tappets, made offshore with inferior metallurgy appeared at about the same time that the oil companies began reducing ZDDP in their oil. Then, reports of tappet failure, even with new engines, began to appear in unprecendented numbers.
Some people blamed low ZDDP oils and others blamed poor quality tappets.
The jury is still out on the actual cause.

I found several reports that commented that "modern" engines, i.e., twin cams w/cam followers don't suffer from the problem. Well, our cars are "modern" using that criteria but they are also quite old in desgin. Should we trust low ZDDP oils in our engines? The oil companies I contacted basically hedged their bets and suggested using their special blends that have higher ZDDP values. These range from relatively cheap Valvolene 20-50racing oil, to moderately expensive Castrol Syntec 20-50 (branded "for classic cars"), to seriously expensive Brad Penn oils. Similarly, the oil additive companies also recommend special ZDDP additives ranging from cheap (STP 4 cyl. oil treatment: $2.50 ea at Big Lots) to pretty expensive ZDDP plus, along with some others in the $10-15.00 price range.

Personally, i don't see a definitive resolution to the question. Old School, classic car engines are not significant enough for anyone to spend reasearch time and money on. It's lots cheaper to simply sell additives which is what both the oil companies and oil treatment companies are doing.

So, what should we do? In the absence of definitive research we have to rely on observed evidence. Take a look at Gordon's photos over on the Oil Pump thread which show what a worn/damaged cam follower looks like. I could decide that, since my Alfa's engine, is twin-cam and therefore modern it's safe to use a low ZDDP oil. However much I like empirical evidence, I'm unwilling for my Super's engine to be a test subject. ZDDP additives and high ZDDP content oils are avaliable and so I intend to use them.
 

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I feel exactly the same way Jim. I would rather be driving my vintage sports cars in summer than rebuilding the engines. I lean toward the "belt and suspenders" security of plenty of ZDDP, even though I understand it does imbed in cam and follower surfaces. How much imbeds? How fast might it go away? I think I'll continue to use an oil with plenty, or add some!
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Well, I guess that rules out Jiffy Lube. :) Last time I was there the guy had a bar code tatooed on the back of his neck. Somehow, I don't think he'd get it.
 

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Moly?

Thanks for all of the fast replies! I would still like to know about any moly product,that could be used as an oil supplement instead of zinc, with hopefully the same results. Oh, about the bar graph lube tech, totally my guess is that some prisons could be using this method for use in identifying inmates once they have been released from the big house. If not they should be. They could start with sex offenders.
 

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In fact, STP has a ZDDP rich additive, the "red" bottle, ............
STP Red use to contain a significant amount of Zinc additive. Currently it does not. This info I found out more than a year ago from BTOG website from those who did oil analysis. You can blaim all this on the EPA. FWIW, I use Redline engine oil supplement in the Alfa and in my old Chevy flat tappet motors. Even the Diesel motor oils Delvac, Delo 400 and Rotella, which use to contain over 1200 ppm of Zinc are now becoming borderline and need a supplement. My .02.
 

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There are no easy answers (to elongated questions)

The reason that there is no definitive answer to this question is because it is a very complex question. (Well, duh.)

Although on the face of it "How much ZDDP do I need in the oil for my older Alfa?" seems straight forward it is not. It depends on many factors that are specific to the engine model, its current operating condition (e.g. mileage), its current operating state (e.g. operating temperature), and what type of oil used.

Everyone wants to know the lowest concentration of ZDDP that is acceptable. There is no easy answer to this question.

Here is one of the many reasons why: ZDDP, or Zinc Dialkyl Dithiophosphate, is not a single compound but a class of many related compounds. Each manufacturer uses a different specific compound, or mixture of compounds, to make sure that the ZDDP works as intended. For example to make sure it stays in the liquid oil when it is cold and does not end up in the sludge in the oil pan (technically, "doesn't precipitate out of solution"), or to make sure the ZDDP doesn't degrade to another compound that is ineffective (technically, "oxidative degradation").

So asking how much ZDDP is needed only scratches the surface of the question. You also need to know what specific ZDDP is used and how it behaves in the oil, which itself has many other components.

The only way to get at the answer is by talking to owners and mechanics of your model Alfa and gain from their experience. People that race their Alfas are a particularly useful source of info. Yes, this is a poor substitute for testing but who is going to cough up the millions of dollars to study all aspects of the problem for our wonderful Alfas?

In reality the common advice is best: Use a good quality oil and change it often.

Technical details: This is a picture of the ZDDP class of molecules. Zn = zinc, P=phosporous, S=sulfur (the element that harms catalytic converters), O=oxygen. The parts labeled R1 through R4 are organic substitutents typically made up of carbon and hydrogen. There are literally an infinite number of possibilities here, and R1 through R4 can all be different for a specific ZDDP. (Begin to see the complexity here?) Generally the Rs are short hydrocarbons (e.g., R=-CH2-CH2-CH2-CH3) with between 4 or 8 carbons, they may be branched. The hydrocarbons make the ZDDP soluble in the hydrocarbon oil. (Like dissolves like!) Oil companies keep their ZDDP formulas secret, but there are ways to find out what they use (but not necessarily why they use a specific compound.)
 

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STP Red use to contain a significant amount of Zinc additive. Currently it does not. This info I found out more than a year ago from BTOG website from those who did oil analysis.
Can you provide a link for this? I have googled it and have found only information stating that it still contains ZDDP.
 

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MALDI. GREAT POST! I am NOT a chemist, but know enough to agree 100%. I stated this in my earlier posts. I use a racing oil (Valvoline 20-50) which is not intended for road use or catalytic converters. I change that oil when it becomes opaque when hot, not by miles of use. I have never had any valve gear or lubrication related problems with either Alfa engines or older Ferrari V12's.
Thanks for your explanation.
 

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Discussion Starter #13 (Edited)
The oil additive business has always been based on selling snake-oil and mouse-milk so any claims from companies selling in that market should be viewed with some skepticism. My latest communications from STP
(which I deleted) advised that 1) STP 4 cyl additive had "more than enough" ZDDP for an Alfa engine, and 2) that STP 4 cyl additive wasn't being made or marketed anymore. That would explain why I was able to get the stuff cheap at Big Lots, although there appeared to be plenty avaliable.

There are numerous ZDDP additive products being sold. Some are cheap, some are expensive, and, since we're talking about selling mouse milk here, price may or may not relate to actual quality of the product. So, 'ya pays 'yer money and makes 'youse choice. :)

Bob Is The Oil Guy (BITOG.COM) is a great site with long discussions of this topic. Here's some measurements I found there for STP 4-cyl oil additive.

Mangan: 0
Phosphorus: 1814
Zinc: 1959
 

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This modern oil issue is a tough one, as the reality is that finding an oil or additive that works is a moving target, as the American Petroleum Institute (API) specifications change every couple of years. Lately, the specs have been very focused on achieving higher fuel economy in newer engines and protecting catalytic converters. The oils are being designed to meet these API service specs and the specs really don't take the needs of older engines into account.

An oil that is API certified may have sufficient ZDDP today but will probably be reformulated every time the API issues a new service specification.

Note, API certification is voluntary - it is a marketing bonus to have the API "Sunburst" logo on your product. The API is an oil and gas trade organization, not a government body. Oils do not have to be API certified to be high quality.

One way to neatly sidestep this issue is to use an oil that doesn't pursue the API certification. The obvious examples are Redline and Amsoil, athough there are other high quality boutique oils out there. These oils don't carry the API "Sunburst" trademark, thus they have no need to reduce the content of ZDDP or other anti-wear additives like Moly to meet current API specifications.
 

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I agree, Valvoline 20/50 Racing Oil has a higher ZDDP then the other oils.


I feel exactly the same way Jim. I would rather be driving my vintage sports cars in summer than rebuilding the engines. I lean toward the "belt and suspenders" security of plenty of ZDDP, even though I understand it does imbed in cam and follower surfaces. How much imbeds? How fast might it go away? I think I'll continue to use an oil with plenty, or add some!
 

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I have read that there are oils that are marketed for off road use - stationary engines, etc that meet the old specs for ZDDP. Has anyone had experience with these? It may be worthwhile to buy a drum of suitable oil from the local Chevron distributor.
 

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It seems to be an issue with modern oils all over the world.
I have done much searching on this and found that generally oils for "classic" or "hotrod" are often outside of the 'comercially sold' legislation for modern everyday use car oils.
Here in Oz we have some Penrite oils with relatively high ZDDP levels, in the US you should have a look at Joe Gibbs Oils site for suitable products, and some education on the subject.
The other thing that is pertinant to our quest: older, flat-tappet, pushrod V8s with high valve spring pressure kill lifter faces and lobes in no time with current road oils........therefore to protect their warranties, you will find many US cam companies recomend and supply high content ZDDP additive to put into the oil at start-up and then at every oil change,(CraneCams, CompCams etc.) CompCams 159 is the one I use in Alfas and I have seen advantages in reduced wear in all areas, mostley hard used race engines. But I also would recomend for road also as the materials and metallurgy in our older Alfas was designed around oils with high ZDDP levels.
Cheers,
Vince.
 

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Ed,
For my home generator, an old Nascar Onan, and my log splitter and snow blower, I've been using Valvoline All-Fleet Plus engine oil, a diesel oil, part #VV388. I bought a case about 2 years ago, and still have about 2/3 quart left. This did have plenty of ZDDP when I bought the case. You might want to check with Valvoline to see if it has been reformulated. It is a 15-40 weight. Valvoline says on the bottle; "Questions? Comments? Call 1-800-ALL-FLEET" Give them a call, let us know!
 

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"HD" Diesel oils were better before they went with the Low Emission formula about 2-3 years ago.
 

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Valvoline All-Fleet Plus engine oil

Hi Gordon,
The new VV-388 meets CJ-4 specification which I understand meets the new low ZZDP standard. So my guess is that it is in the same boat as Rotella T, DELO, etc - oils that had high ZDDP prior to the CJ-4 spec but now are limited to about 1200 ppm.
 
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