Shop Man­ual

Street Rodder - - Contents -

Have you ever won­dered what’s go­ing on in­side the en­gine of your street rod? We’ve al­ways sub­scribed to the phi­los­o­phy “if it isn’t broke don’t fix it” and nor­mally chose to leave well enough alone. And while that the­ory has ac­tu­ally served us well over the years, cu­rios­ity re­cently got the bet­ter of us.

Our nor­mally re­li­able every­day driver is a Flat­head-pow­ered Model A pickup (we’ll pause to give Bren­nan an op­por­tu­nity to make snide re­marks about the en­gine choice). Other than a blown head gas­ket some time ago, the 276-inch V-8 has per­formed ad­mirably for the last dozen years, ac­cu­mu­lat­ing a lit­tle over 49,000 miles on the odome­ter, which has only worked spo­rad­i­cally in all that time.

While there were no signs of trou­ble, as the en­gine doesn’t run hot, the oil pres­sure is good, and oil con­sump­tion is neg­li­gi­ble, we were still cu­ri­ous about the con­di­tion of its in­ter­nals, par­tic­u­larly since it has a stock by­pass oil fil­ter that is only marginally ef­fec­tive. Since we had no in­ten­tion of drop­ping the pan just to take a look, we opted to do things the easy way and use the oil anal­y­sis ser­vice avail­able through AMSOIL INC. By an­a­lyz­ing used en­gine oil any prob­lem the en­gine may have can be iden­ti­fied.


comes with a suc­tion gun, tub­ing, and in­struc­tions for draw­ing a sam­ple into a plas­tic bot­tle. Then the bot­tle is dropped in­side the in­cluded mailer and sent off.

When the re­port is re­turned it will ad­dress is­sues such as:

Wear Met­als:

Wear met­als are mea­sured in parts per mil­lion (ppm). The source of these par­ti­cles in most cases is re­lated to en­ginecom­po­nent wear. Re­sults from wear met­als can in­di­cate if com­po­nents in the en­gine are oper­at­ing in a nor­mal state, near­ing fail­ure, or have al­ready failed.


Com­mon con­tam­i­nants in­clude sil­i­con, sodium, and potas­sium.

Ad­di­tive Met­als:

Many of these met­als are com­po­nents within the oil’s ad­di­tive tech­nol­ogy. Molyb­de­num, an­ti­mony, and boron are ad­di­tives in some oils. Mag­ne­sium, cal­cium and bar­ium are of­ten used in de­ter­gent/ dis­per­sant ad­di­tives. Phos­pho­rous and zinc are used in an­ti­wear ad­di­tives. De­creases in these met­als can be an in­di­ca­tor that the oil’s ca­pac­ity to pro­tect is also di­min­ish­ing.

Vis­cos­ity, Con­tam­i­nants, and Degra­da­tion:

This sec­tion of the anal­y­sis shows changes in vis­cos­ity; com­mon con­tam­i­nants such as fuel, wa­ter, and soot, as well as the degra­da­tion of the oil’s abil­ity to neu­tral­ize acids.

In­cluded in the re­port is a color-coded scale rang­ing in sever­ity from 0-4. The sever­ity of this re­port is dis­played in a larger box with a num­ber on a col­ored field.

The com­ment sec­tion in­cludes the anal­y­sis of the test re­sults, in­clud­ing main­te­nance rec­om­men­da­tions and feed­back from a data anal­y­sis team. These com­ments de­ter­mine the over­all sever­ity of the re­port, in­clud­ing wear par­ti­cles, con­tam­i­nants, mul­ti­source met­als, and ad­di­tive met­als. Test re­sults will have a col­ored back­ground that co­or­di­nates with the sever­ity of the scale at the top. We scored a 2.

Our re­port re­vealed that our en­gine does ex­hibit some bear­ing wear, more than we ex­pected and cer­tainly more that we wanted to see. At this point the re­port ad­vises that no im­me­di­ate re­pairs are nec­es­sary, but we will sub­mit another sam­ple in 3,500 miles as rec­om­mended to see if there are any changes. We want to make sure we catch any prob­lems, such as bear­ings that need to be re­placed, be­fore do­ing any real dam­age like scor­ing the crankshaft.

For un­der $35 (which in­cludes pre-paid postage) an oil anal­y­sis re­port is a cheap in­ves­tiga­tive tool—you don’t have to get your hands dirty and test­ing may even pre­vent ex­pen­sive re­pairs. For more in­for­ma­tion check

This suc­tion pump from AMSOIL INC. is used to draw oil out of the en­gine through the dip­stick tube. A plas­tic con­tainer (not shown) screws into the bot­tom of the pump.

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