synthetic oil in a continental 0-300D

synthetic oil in a continental 0-300D

Having just bought my first plane (a C172F with a continental 0-300D) and after reviewing it's engine log for it's 3300 total hours, I am kind of amazed that the aviation industry still uses relatively primitive lubricating oils.  My plane has all of its cylinders overhauled at 2500hrs. and five of its cylinders overhauled in the last 800 hours.  All of the baffling is in place and the maintenance has been done as recommended. 

For the last 35 years I have been a small engine and lawn equipment dealer who also dabbles in hot rods as a hobby.  Nothing I own runs conventional oil, that went out in the eighties.  My Camaro SS came from the factory with synthetic, redlines 6500RPM, and pumps out 450hp with a nitrous charge all with a stock aluminum block. 

At my stores shop we regularly see air cooled engines that have delivered in excess of 6000 hours at 3200RPM in extremely dirty environments that have never had the cylinder heads removed but have always been run on synthetic oil. We have also used it in many severe applications with never a negative result, even in older engines once they were cleaned of combustion deposits.

I've read the Continental 0-300 service manual and they just recommend an SAE40 above 40F or SAE20 below 40F.  They do state that it needs to meet spec MHS-24 but that is an obsolete spec according to API.  I've read that the oil needs to be an "ashless dispersant" but most oils are now ashless (less than 1%) and dispersant (detergent) according to the API (American Petroleum Institute).

My question to all you aviation folks with much more air knowledge than I is what's up with this?  Is this aviation oil thing a scam to get you to pay $6 a quart for sixties oil?  Sell more cylinders and keep the A&P's employed?  Or are there bonafide reasons for this old oil.  Has anybody tried using something like Mobil 1 15W50 with a cleaning agent like Marvel added to it?

Seems to me that synthetic might be just what these old engines need with the current fuels.  I still can't believe I need to handprop this engine to loosen up the oil in cold weather according to the operators manual.

I realize that there are rules for good reason.  I'd just like to know why.  Is there a reason or is it because that's the way it was always done and the government says so.

Thanks for your advice, I will be joining soon.  Joe Cronin

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Re: synthetic oil in a continental 0-300D

Hello Joe;

The problem with fully synthetic oil in aircraft engines has to do with the lead in the fuel. Synthetics are poor at holding the lead in suspension, and it ends up adhearing to engine parts and causing all kinds of problems. There actually was a Mobil 1 oil for aircraft engines several years back that was discontinued after a lot of engines started having problems.

On the other hand, there are several good semi-synthetic oils available. I use Aeroshell 15W50, which is a synthetic blend with the Lycoming additive.  I have had good results with this oil in my 150, 172, and 182RG.  I think all the multi-viscosity oils with the exception of Phillips are semi-synthetic.

Eventually we will all be running unleaded fuel in our aircraft engines, and at that time I would imagine the fully synthetic oils will be practical.

Jon

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Re: synthetic oil in a continental 0-300D

I would not switch to multi viscosity oil in a high time engine. I have seen it many times in my shop where someone wants switch to the "high dollar" oil because they think it is better. It may be, however, I have seen this cause lots of oil leaks and increased oil consumption. I will probably get flamed for my statement but, I have seen the results of the switch. For lower time engines M/V oils work pretty well. I know that the goold ole straight weight oils seem out of date, however, if it aint broke, don't fix it. I have overhauled my share of Lycomings and Continentals running straight weight oils and the internals look no different from M/V oil usage. BTW my 5.3 Chevy truck has had Mobil 1  from day one with excellent results.

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Re: synthetic oil in a continental 0-300D

Thanks for taking the time to reply.  I needed some advice and I took yours and the other guys as well.  I just changed the oil and used the aeroshell you recommended but added a pint of Marvel oil to loosen it up some.  It's been well below freezing here and I could tell a difference in how the engine cranked up with it.  I also think the other guy is right about the straight weights in older engines.  But only when the weather will allow it.  I think I will use the thicker straight weight aeroshell during the hot months without the marvel. 

I appreciate both of your comments. I have learned a lot from blogs like these.  Before my son and I became pilots and plane owners, we restored and upgraded a 2000 Camaro SS. My hotrod days were filled with carbs and points, needless to say I needed help with the new technology.  The racing community is great about responding to blogs, they love to help.  And we pass on what we have learned.

I don't have much experience with the aviation community, but I think it would benefit everybody as well and the industry if things were opened up some.  Seems like everybody is worried about big government and big trial lawyers.  Folks this is America, we innovate, we share, we prosper.

Thanks again for both of you who responded to my question.  I have respect for you that your shared your advice with me and my son.


                                           Joe Cronin

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