What is the best transmission oil?

Classic Norton Commando Motorcycles.

Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby comnoz » Tue Mar 09, 2010 11:55 am

Jim C.
A machinist square and some bluing compound can tell you if the lifter is cut square. The pad needs to be perpendicular to the flat side of the lifter.

I will be tearing my high milage motor down in the next month and I can show you what the last 35,000 miles with Mobil 1 has done. I know the pistons are rather loose but I would bet the rest looks great. The bike has spent many hours being thrashed on the dyno doing the research for the injection setup. Listening to it howl away at 6500 rpm with the electric brake holding it against wide open throttle for 10 minutes at a time makes you appreciate how tough these motors really are. Jim
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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby comnoz » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:13 pm

Hmm, makes one wonder how Norton Commandos ran for many thousands of miles originally when there was no such thing as synthetic oil and they were generally ridden a lot harder by us young guys than they generally are now by us old guys...


Remember in the 70's when Norton, GM, Detroit and a few other manufacturers were having engine failures [or Nortons oil consumption problems] caused by lubrication failure. Most of these problems were caused by the spin additives used in mujlti-viscosity oils. The answer back then was to go to a straight weight oil. Now days with hydrocracking being the main oil processing method spin additives are not used in premium multi-vis oils and oil breakdown is no longer seen. Now the main concern is making an additive package that protects the moving parts without harming the enviroment. Jim Comstock
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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby comnoz » Tue Mar 09, 2010 12:22 pm

And in this corner we have Mobil-1 and in this corner we have Redline, 15 rounds of boxing for your pleasure. Let the games begin. Oh and by the way I only use Amsoil, LOL LOL LOL.



I like Redline and Amsoil also. I use Mobile 1 because I can get it anywhere.
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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby Hortons Norton » Tue Mar 09, 2010 1:25 pm

The best oil is clean and fresh oil, I have a buddy that uses a cheap recycled oil in his work boat and thing is still going strong after years of hard service, But the thing never gets hot as it always has fresh cool seawater to keep it cool. I believe the biggest concern is heat and how it breaks an oil down, For some time now I have been thinking of an oil cooler as it does get hot here in the summer. I really wish I could come up with one that would fit in a place that would look good. I have been thinking of making one that would fit on the down tube behind the oil tank, Enough air? I'll just keep thinking I guess.
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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby Danno » Tue Mar 09, 2010 3:18 pm

The main advantage synthetic has over petroleum is the resistance to heat-related viscosity loss. This is why synthetics can be run longer than petros. That being said, other than syn vs. petro, the quality of any oil is due to the quality of its additive package. Additives are the main reason auto motors that used to be shot at 100,000 miles now run 3 times or more that long. I always used to run Pennzoil 50 Racing, but now I'm going to try the Mobil 1 V-Twin 20W-50. I have had good luck with Mobil 1 4T Racing 10W-40 in liquid-cooled Triumphs and Kawasakis so I'm not concerned about running the brand in the Norton.

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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby 71Norton750 » Tue Mar 09, 2010 4:56 pm

WOW!!! this is alot of info to take in! thank you all for you input on the topic.
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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby BrianK » Tue Mar 09, 2010 5:33 pm

This thread made me run out to the garage and put fresh Redline SPH in my gearbox! I mean, c'mon, 75W viscosity with 250W protection? Is this a difficult decision?

Can't wait til my new rings are fully broken in, and then I'm going back to Redline engine oil too. YMMV!
Last edited by BrianK on Sun Mar 13, 2011 5:02 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby BrianK » Tue Mar 09, 2010 6:27 pm

Coco wrote:
JimC wrote: Does anyone else have experience with Web cams?


CNW (as far as I know) uses Web Cams in all their rebuilds including mine. I was told not to use synthetic.


Things that make you say, "hmmm"!

Matt R is an occasional poster these days. Matt, if'n yer out there, I for one would love to hear your views on lubricants. Very few folks with as much Norton-specific expertise and experience. (And we know Mr. Hemmings won't be posting!)

"Stuck with Mobil 1 with those Rotella blues again...."

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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby JimC » Tue Mar 09, 2010 9:23 pm

I will be tearing my high mileage motor down in the next month and I can show you what the last 35,000 miles with Mobil 1 has done.


I will be real interested. I'm thinking that Mobil 1 probably does work well in the Norton. I just didn't want to push my luck with the girl from Web cam if I developed another flat lobe. Thanks for the tip on the lifters. I was kinda' thinking that was a way to check them. Thought there might be some super sophisticated way with which I could drop another $100. Is there a way to check that the lobe surface is parallel to the lifter surface other than dye?
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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby comnoz » Wed Mar 10, 2010 6:25 am

Jim, A very thin layer of dye is how I do it. I guess you could check the cam for taper with a micrometer before you install it but I have not seen problems with taper on the lobes yet. I have seen automotive cams that were supposed to have taper that were ground with no taper however.
The best thing you can do for a new cam is avoid turning the engine any more than needed for assembly and then start the bike with the least amount of cranking and then bring the rpm up to over 1500 for a few minutes. Don't let the motor set at slow idle even for a minute with a new cam because the surface speed between the cam and lifters is not high enough to create a hydrostatic wedge and prevent metal to metal contact. I totally destroyed a cam and rod bearings in 1993 without ever starting the engine learning about hydrostatic pressure. I can tell you how not to do it if your intrested. Jim Comstock
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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby lcgtr » Sat Mar 12, 2011 4:40 am

Anyone got ant more info on why people are using ATF?

What about these comments?
http://www.ajs-matchless.com/topic.asp? ... Title=Help

I just brought a new Norton labeled inspection plate for my gearbox on an Ebay impulse buy. When I removed the cover I found the gearbox had virtually no oil in it. Ive only had the Commando for 6 months and am still working out some ill conceived maintenance issues. It seems the previous owner forgot to tighten up the screws on the front cover when he rebuilt the gearbox a wile ago.
Glad I didnt find that out while I was skidding down the road after the thing seized.
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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby builder » Sat Mar 12, 2011 9:14 am

Gearbox -

After trying everything (except ATF) listed in this thread, I personally have settled on Motul Gearbox Mineral 80/90. Black, stinky, and slick...my right foot tells me that this stuff brings the gear box to nothing short of dreamy. Simple click, click, click through the gears.

MOTUL DETAILS

Gearbox and differential lubricant Molybdenum bisulphide MOS2 reinforced Extreme pressure.

Specially recommended for noisy or/and loaded gearboxes. All mechanical transmission, synchronised or not synchronised gearboxes, gearbox/differential, transfer gearboxes and hypoïd differentials without limited slip system operating under shocks, heavy loads and low revolution speed or moderate loads and high revolution speed.

API GL4 and GL5 / MIL-L-2105D Extreme pressure lubricant for an efficient anti wear protection, reinforced with Molybdenum bisulphide to handle heavy loads. Stays in 90 grade after KRL 20 hours shear test as requested by SAE J306 Standard, July 1998 update Very high lubricating power which decreases friction and wear. 90 grade at hot temperature to provide outstanding oil film resistance at hot temperature and/or to reduce transmission noise. Suitable for any type of seal and yellow material used in gearboxes design. Anti-corrosion, Anti-foam.

Viscosity grade SAE J306 80W-90
Density at 15°C (59°F) ASTM D1298 0.902
Viscosity at 40°C (104°F) ASTM D445 164 mm²/s
Viscosity at 100°C (212°F) ASTM D445 21.7 mm²/s
Viscosity index VIE ASTM D2270 157
Flash point ASTM D92 198°C / 388°F
Pour point ASTM D97 -24°C / -11°F


To add to the engine oil portion of the discussion...the biggest thing is change it, along with a new filter regularly. Personally I run Valvoline VR1 50W - OR - if I happen to have it on hand Torco V/ST 50W.

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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby hobot » Sat Mar 12, 2011 10:52 am

Tankx for the Motul lead and ugh to Comez on turing and turning a new engine till it wears out, ugh. Implies if some fuel or ignition problem prevents early easy starting and run up, its a lost cause, ugh.

I now select lube in gearbox by how fast-long I intend to run it in lower gears, and consider Comstock's 10 min of WOT on max load as mild compared to what I enjoyed spanking sports bikes over the ton by staying over 6500 rpm for 20 to 45 min a heat for 45-60 miles in steeps. Only something as thin as ATF can get into the sleeve bushs to carry off heat to avoid filling their gap with gritty ceramics.
After ATF the bushes stayed fine and talk about thoughtless shifting ease,yum.

Changing often is the best policy as what is almost never mentioned in oil threads is most wear is from chemical corrosives that accumulate and etch surfaces just sitting up. This is one of the wonders of additives to extend oil changes longer.
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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby pete.v » Sat Mar 12, 2011 3:05 pm

Last edited by pete.v on Mon Mar 14, 2011 8:43 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What is the best transmission oil?

Postby Carbonfibre » Sun Mar 13, 2011 6:50 am

The best oil for any engine is relative to operating conditions and how well the engine is likely to be maintained. If you are running a current model car and want to clock up quite a few miles between oil changes, then a synthetic oil conforming to manufacturers specs will be the best choice. On air cooled engines which run far hotter than modern water cooled car motors, the additive package in any oil is going to deteriorate a lot faster than in the cool running modern engines.

This linked to the fact that viscosity of non motorcycle specific synthetics, is a lot lower than the air cooled motors were designed to use, will mean synthetics will need changing more often, and are not likely to provide a great deal more protection than a high detergent diesel specific oil, which costs a lot less than synthetics, and can be changed frequently and will keep the inside of the motor very clean.

There are specific synthetics designed for motorcycle use, and those intended for modern 4T mx bikes, would very likely be ideal for anyone who has a particular wish to use a full synthetic in an old air cooled motor. These oils are also compatible with alcohol fuels, and oil dilution will not be a problem as it is if old fashioned castor based oils are being used.

Have had some experience of Mobil 1 being used in saloon car race motors, and it seemed that even with windage plates and sump baffling fitted, the very low viscosity appeared to have resulted in oil pick up being starved of oil during very hard cornering, which meant very limited lower end life.

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