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1914-18 Engine oils.

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URL: http://www.crossandcockade.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=994
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Topic: 1914-18 Engine oils.
Posted By: whiskymac
Subject: 1914-18 Engine oils.
Date Posted: 26 May 2013 at 07:45
Can anyone confirm if aero engines such as the Sunbeam V12s, Mohawk, Maori etc, used straight mono grade oils, or was a mix of mono and castor used?






Replies:
Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 26 May 2013 at 11:28
C. Fayette Taylor "One of my first assignments in aviation (as Officer in Charge of the US Navy Power Plant Laboratory in 1917) was to make tests to show that mineral oil could be used in aero engines. Previous to that time, castor oil had been considered as indispensable for aero engines as it was for young children." (The Rotary Engine, Andrew Nahum).




Posted By: Paul R Hare
Date Posted: 26 May 2013 at 17:37
I have checked the RFC and Air Board engine handbook, which cover most types between them and althought they cover how each engine is lubricated, and how much oil eac h used ( a lot!) nothing is said about type; presumably they just used what they were given.

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Paul


Posted By: whiskymac
Date Posted: 26 May 2013 at 21:37
Thanks both.   Hmmm.   I suppose castor oil could be used in an in line engine but I believe i'm right in thinking that it is not a particularly easy oil to deal with when it's contained within a sealed system.
Not a problem with rotaries of course - it just gets sprayed all over the place!

I seem to remember something about the early form of Castrol oil being a mix of Castor - hence 'Cas' - and another type of oil.


Posted By: Paul R Hare
Date Posted: 27 May 2013 at 08:31
A couple of random comments;
The organisers of the 1912 Military Aeroplane competition supplied the competitors with only one kind of petrol, but a choice of four different kinds of oil.
C.C. Wakefield started calling all their oil "castrol" to imply that it contained castor, even when it didn't.


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Paul


Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 27 May 2013 at 11:53
There is a history of what Shell did in the War (the shell which hit the hardest), possibly Castrol produced something similar ?

Banks' 'I Kept No Diary' doesn't mention oil at this point, but Bulman's 'An Account of Partnership' (R-RHT) might.


Posted By: whiskymac
Date Posted: 27 May 2013 at 13:46
Oil companies telling untruths about their products - surely not!   The fact that there was a choice of four different oils at that early stage of aircraft development is very interesting though.
I've just had another look through Gunston's Aero Engine Encyclopidia in case i'd missed something but the only reference to lubricating oils is one dealing with rotaries.   I wouldn't mind betting that there is something in Gunston's other book, his Development of Aircraft Piston Engines, but that's one I haven't got.

Nick, I take it that R-RHT is Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust?


Posted By: Paul R Hare
Date Posted: 27 May 2013 at 18:20
There is nothing in "the Development of Aircraft Piston Engines".
 


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Paul


Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 27 May 2013 at 19:06
Yes, it's Rolls-Royce Heritage Trust. 
Gunston does tend to be a little general in his approach. I'll ask the R-RHT tomorrow


Posted By: whiskymac
Date Posted: 28 May 2013 at 09:07
I'm grateful for the comments from both of you.   Nick, thanks for that, i'll look forward to your findings.
A little book I picked up years ago called Aircraft in War and Commerce, published just after WW1, has a chapter titled 'Engines' but guess what, nothing about lubrication, apart of course form the usual comments about the prodigious wastage of castor oil in rotaries.


Posted By: WrightBrother
Date Posted: 28 May 2013 at 12:09
The 250hp Rolls-Royce uses Wakefield's Castrol, consumption 6 pints/hour.
The Castor Oil types are Pharmaceutical or Treated.
The mineral oils are Vacuum 'A' or Vacuum 'BB'
 
RFC/Air Board Technical Notes.
Peter Wright.


Posted By: whiskymac
Date Posted: 28 May 2013 at 14:36
Presumably this would signify that Castrol was indeed a mix of both castor and mineral oils.

Thanks Peter.


Posted By: Paul R Hare
Date Posted: 28 May 2013 at 16:35
something of a monopoly there as wakefield owned both the "castrol" and "vacuum" brands.

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Paul


Posted By: Paul R Hare
Date Posted: 28 May 2013 at 19:04
mea culpa!
wakefield didn't own the "vacuum" brand it was an american company; he just marketed the stuff over here.


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Paul


Posted By: MikeMeech
Date Posted: 01 Jun 2013 at 07:19
Hi
In the Cavalry Support Squadron documents from the TNA the lubricating oils carried forward by the Cavalry Division (in a GS Wagon) to resupply the supporting aeroplane in the field are mentioned.  In the June 1916 document it is 'Vacuum B.B. - 12 Gallons and Castor Oil - 8 Gallons'.  There was no 'named' squadron at this time so probably generic for any aeroplane type used for the role, B.E.2 series most likely.
In September 1916 No. 18 Sqn. (FE.2b) is the named squadron, their re-supply is 'Vacuum B.B. - 12 Gallons and Castor Oil - 8 Gallons', so same as previous.
In 1917 the named squadron becomes 35 Sqn. (FK.8), the re-supply now of oil is 'Vacuum B.B. Oil - 3 Gallons and Vacuum A Oil - 1 gallon'.  So a slight change in the oil types for the FK.8 with the replacement of Castor Oil by Vacuum A Oil.
 
I hope that is of use.
Mike
 
 


Posted By: whiskymac
Date Posted: 01 Jun 2013 at 18:10
This is wonderful! It does seem that the use of castor oil as an additive to the mineral oil was standard practice - at least in the European theatre in the winter months.

The machines that this supply would have been for - BE 2's and FE2b's as pointed out - used in-line V8's and V12's, so the use of mainly mineral oil would have been as I suspected.

Great info, thanks Mike.


Posted By: whiskymac
Date Posted: 01 Jun 2013 at 18:41
Bingo! Just come across a website - vintagegarage.co.uk - and it would seem that Vacuum 'A' was a winter oil, and 'BB' was the summer oil, at least this is according to a 1928 motoring chart, by which time the trade mark 'Mobiloil' had appeared.


Posted By: Ian Burns
Date Posted: 01 Jun 2013 at 21:07
The SHELL That Hit Germany Hardest is a paean to Shell fuels.
In the chapters devoted to aviation, just two, there is nary a mention of oil for aero engines.


Posted By: Paul R Hare
Date Posted: 01 Jun 2013 at 21:14
Both vacuum A and vacuum B were made available to competitors at the 1912 Militaryt Aeroplane Competition but then that August was a summer that felt like winter!!

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Paul


Posted By: whiskymac
Date Posted: 02 Jun 2013 at 07:20
It's strange isn't it that gasoline should have so much written about it's development over the years, and yet lubricating oil itself seems to be perceived as a much less worthy subject.


Cheers all, Peter.


Posted By: MikeMeech
Date Posted: 02 Jun 2013 at 09:59
Hi Peter
 
In 'The Aviation Pocket-Book' of 1918, on page 140, it has this to say about  engine lubricating oil:
 
"A temperature of 60 degrees cent. (150.8 degrees F.) should not be exceeded, or else a good working viscosity will not be maintained.  This condition of temperature can only be assured on the dry sump system, where all the oil not actually being pumped under pressure, around the engine bearings, is pumped out of the pump into a storage and cooling tank (open to the atmosphere).  A good quality castor oil (vegetable) gives superior results to the best mineral oils.  It is practically non-mixable with petrol, and hence is essential for use in rotary engines.  All oils should be prepared in such a manner as to resist too much thickening under low temperature conditions."
 
That is it as the rest of the page and part of the next is on 'Lubrication of Bearings', the next nearly 5 pages is on fuels.
 
Mike


Posted By: whiskymac
Date Posted: 02 Jun 2013 at 14:31
Thanks Mike. I think the word 'prepared' says it all.   The preparation and use of lubricating oils was obviously still a bit of a 'black art'; the life of aircraft engines probably having as much to do with the skill of the mechanic as the quality of the materials the engine was made of.


Posted By: EnglishGent
Date Posted: 02 Jun 2013 at 22:49
Interesting thread “1914-18 Engine oils”
Here is my 2 cents.
See: Air Board engine handbook 1917, on page 3.

Quote:

LUBRICATION. The importance of efficient lubrication in aero engines cannot be over-estimated and none but suitable oil of the very best quality should be used. In engines of the rotary type, a heavy vegetable oil, such as castor oil, is generally used. Under the conditions of use, oils of this type do not mix with petrol of which a certain amount is always present in the crankcase of a rotary engine. Pure castor oil forms an extremely good lubricant but is not the best for use in stationary engines .where the oil is in circulation and is passed through the bearings, etc., over and over again. Under such circumstances its lubricating properties are gradually destroyed, the oil becoming gummy and acid. In stationary engines mineral oils are generally used, but a mixture of a large proportion of castor oil, with a small proportion of mineral oil, known as Wakefield's Castrol, is also in use, and pure ,castor oil is recommended in certain cases. The castor oils in general use are Pharmaceutical Castor Oil and Treated Castor Oil. Castor oil deposits solid fats at low temperatures and should not be stored in cold places. When castor oil is used, the engine oil filter should be examined to detect this deposit. The mineral oils in general use are known as Vacuum" A " and Vacuum " BB," .and mixtures of these are also used. In general oils are prepared in summer and winter qualities.

PETROL. Petrol tanks should be kept scrupulously clean, and on no account, should water be allowed to enter. Petrol of low s.g. ensures easy starting, complete combustion and saving in weight, but the supply of petrol of a lighter
s.g. than about •720 is restricted.

Unquote:

I now know why they used Castrol. It’s all about what works best.

That’s all I know.


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Posted By: Errol Martyn
Date Posted: 03 Jun 2013 at 02:02
Whiskymac's little query has certainly generated an interesting exploration on the subject of fuel and oil, one about which I suspect like many others I previously knew next to nothing about, but am now grateful for being much better informed thanks to this splendid forum.
 
Errol


Posted By: whiskymac
Date Posted: 03 Jun 2013 at 09:05
Derek, many thanks for this great info. I think we have now got to the crux of the matter.
Much as with Peter Wrights earlier reply, these Air Board Notes seem to have all the information I was looking for. I was primarily trying to find anything which might help with my research into the issue of overheating RNAS seaplane engines in the Aegean theatre - Short 166, 184 etc - and just why they seemed to have so many reliability problems.
Rather than just looking at the coolant issue I wondered about the question of oils and their role in an engines life-span. Well now I know!

Many thanks to all who have contributed to this forum. Of course if anyone has any more they wish to add please do so, the more info the better.

Cheers all, Peter.


Posted By: whiskymac
Date Posted: 03 Jun 2013 at 09:12
Thanks Errol. I never imagined that oil could be so consuming.

(Pun intentional!)

Peter.


Posted By: NickForder
Date Posted: 03 Jun 2013 at 12:55

From R-RHT :

 
Rolls-Royce Aero Engine Instruction Book Eagle (Series I to VIII) and Falcon (I, II and III):

 

Oil recommended: The Oil Tank should be filled with a good aero engine oil such as Wakefield’s Castrol R Racing, Prices Motorine C or  Price Gas Engine Oil S. We recommend an oil viscosity (redwood) between the following limits : 54 C ... 250-420 secs 100 C ... 60-85 secs

 

The Oil Consumption of each engine is recorded during its test at our works and marked on the nameplate. It is about 1 gallon per hour for Eagle engines and ¾ of a gallon for Falcon engines



Posted By: whiskymac
Date Posted: 03 Jun 2013 at 13:17
Many thanks for your research Nick. It's amazing isn't it that a consumption figure of a gallon an hour was considered quite acceptable back then.

I wonder what the figures for the currant Rolls-Royce Trent are? No! Ignore that. That's for another forum.

Peter.


Posted By: KK
Date Posted: 07 Jun 2013 at 18:01
Originally posted by whiskymac whiskymac wrote:

Thanks Errol. I never imagined that oil could be so consuming.

(Pun intentional!)

Peter.
Look at you with your SLICK answers.Wink


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KK


Posted By: whiskymac
Date Posted: 22 Jun 2013 at 17:45
Now this will teach me to check my own book shelves before embarking on a subject on the forum!!

From 'Aircraft Engines' by AW Judge, 1941. (which I have had for a good many years!)

'There is a certain property associated with lubricating oils, which, for want of a better name, is termed "oiliness". It is difficult to define, but it can be stated that it is a surface effect produced by the lubricant upon the metallic surface with which it is in contact. In this connection "fatty" oils, ie, oils saponifiable or those containing "fatty" ingredients, such as castor, rape or olive oil, exhibit a greater degree of "oiliness" than purely mineral oils, so that the frictional coefficient at any given temperature is lower under severe conditions of loading and slow speeds.'

It continues: 'In this connection it has been found than when pure hydrocarbon (mineral) oils are blended with fatty oil, the former constituent appears to eliminate the normal tendency of the fatty oil to oxidise and thicken under engine operating temperatures. Castor oil alone was used in many of the earlier aircraft engines. This oil possessed good lubricating properties at engine temperatures and enabled high bearing pressures to be employed; moreover, as it did not mix appreciably with the petrol used in these engines the crankcase oil was not thereby diluted. Its chief drawback - and one that has since caused its abandonment for normal aircraft purposes - was its gumming tendency, which resulted in the sticking of piston rings in their slots and the valves in their guides ...
Castor oil, on account of its excellent "oiliness" is still [in 1941] employed for the purpose of running in new engines for the first few hours of their operation; thereafter special mineral or compound oils are employed.'

In my own defence said book was hidden behind a good many others!


Posted By: EnglishGent
Date Posted: 23 Jun 2013 at 21:30
Whiskymac,
What say after all the responses to your query on oil, maybe you could write a little article about oil for the CC&I Journal


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Posted By: whiskymac
Date Posted: 25 Jun 2013 at 10:45
Derek, that could well be a possibility. This all started with my research into my Grandfather's service in the Aegean, but I got a bit side-tracked!

I'm trying to put together an article for the Journal about my Grandfather so that is my priority at the moment.   Judging by the responses though, there does seem to be an interest in the subject so it's something to ponder.

Peter.




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