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Follower scar oil tests

Discussion in 'Norton Commando Motorcycles (Classic)' started by comnoz, Aug 21, 2018.

  1. comnoz

    comnoz VIP MEMBER

    Dec 10, 2008
    So after having a cam failure and getting sucked into reading way to much crap about oils, I decided if I wanted to know I better do some more testing.

    I had a Timkin scar tester some years ago but never thought it gave me any good valuable info so I put something together to do some testing. It is basically a scar tester that uses a Norton follower instead of a Timkin roller. This gives me line contact instead of point contact so I can use a lot more speed and load without causing an instant scar like the Timkin tester did.

    After spending time learning what I needed to know to build a good wide range tester I now have the final version. Thanks to all who have contributed to make this possible.


    It has been upgraded with a wider temperature range plus the ability to heat or cool the oil automatically.

    It now has the ability to apply as much as 500 lbs pressure to the follower and uses a load cell to sense the pressure.

    It now has a sensor for motor load to give a friction reading. The oil temp is no longer logged since it is controlled to a range between 220 and 230 F. for the first 30 minutes of the test and then between 320 and 330 for the final portion.

    The cooling fan run time is logged to show how much heat is being made by friction.

    If the cooling system is not able to keep up with the heat from friction then the cooling fan will stop cycling and stay on. The oil temp with then be displayed by the same trace that was showing the fan cycles.

    There is also a temp pickup located in the end of the follower to sense the follower Stellite temperature. Follower temperature that is higher than the oil target temperature is a good indication of the heat being produced by friction.


    The heating element brings the oil temp to 220 degrees. If friction raises the temp to 230 degrees then the cooling fan comes on and stays on until the temp drops back to 225 degrees. The on/off cycles are seen as a sawtooth pattern on the logs. Total cooling fan time is given as a percentage of test time to failure.

    After 25 minutes the controller raises the temperature to 320 degrees and the load on the follower begins to increase. The test ends when a scar is made on the follower and data is collected at this point.

    With the new test procedure there will only be one graph for each oil test. It will cover both a friction/heat test at 220 degrees and then a load test till failure at 320 degrees.

    A complete list of results will be linked soon. Jim

    Last edited: Sep 19, 2018
    Fultonrn, Yakatak, worntorn and 6 others like this.
  2. Fast Eddie

    Fast Eddie VIP MEMBER

    Oct 4, 2013
    Jim, why?

    What’s the difference between the XPR and the others?
  3. Brooking 850

    Brooking 850 VIP MEMBER

    Oct 3, 2011
  4. Onder


    May 11, 2010
    It would be useful to know how the oil stands up to prolonged use. At the price RP gets one is going to be dropping the oil after a thousand miles? Please run the test for about six months or so...:)
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
  5. MexicoMike


    Jan 31, 2010
    Interesting test, Jim. Nicely done. Re the "high zinc" note on the VR1 label...do you happen to know the level of zinc in all three oils? IF VR1 has a higher zinc level than the other two, that would point in a very interesting direction re zinc. ;)

    To offer a bit of support for VR1 (I have no dog in the fight; I have never used any of the oils you tested.):

    The loads in an engine, are, of course, somewhat different than the test, not being at the same level of pressure per square inch and also being reciprocating, where clearances and loads vary constantly from high to low, with fresh oil arriving constantly to cool and for more oil to flow when load reduces/clearance on that portion of the bearing increases. In the valve train, for example, the load on the lifter/cam is only at maximum for a tiny portion of it's travel. It is under literally no load for a longer period than it is under full load and most of the time it is somewhere between those extremes.

    So, I guess what I'm saying is that you may be a harsher oil tester than those of the oil/engine companies! :)
  6. rvich

    rvich VIP MEMBER

    Jul 25, 2009
    The mad scientist back in the lab! This is awesome!

    Please, please test some monograde oils. Are you taking requests?

    It would be interesting to add some ZDDP to that VR1 and see what it does. Oh boy are you gonna be busy!
    gtiller likes this.
  7. jaydee75

    jaydee75 VIP MEMBER

    Jul 2, 2012
    Now that is some real-world oil info we can use. Thanks and keep it up, Jim.
  8. mdt-son


    Jan 19, 2012
    Jim, I tried to do some reverse calculatioan. 150 lbf at the follower would resemble the load of a racing inlet spring and the lift of a full-race cam, right?
    My calculation shows that static pressure on the lobe assuming a standard inlet spring and std. camshaft amounts to 105 lbf. That's static load only.

    I am curious to see the results of your hot oil test. Maybe you should heat to 220 'F.

  9. comnoz

    comnoz VIP MEMBER

    Dec 10, 2008

    VR1 is listed at 1200

    Mobil 1 v-twin says 1600

    Bob The Oil Guy lists XPR 20-50 zinc at 1948 and Phos at 1402.

    I suspect my oil testing is harsher than the oil companies -but my Norton and I are a bit demanding also. :)
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2018
    Nater_Potater likes this.
  10. comnoz

    comnoz VIP MEMBER

    Dec 10, 2008
    I don't think there is much comparison between the load of my tester and the follower load in an engine. The follower load in an engine is going to be considerably higher than 150lb at peak lift and is going to have inertia load added that may be several times the spring pressure.
    The advantage seen in an engine is the load point moves and is spread across the face of the follower so it can handle more pressure.
    Dances with Shrapnel likes this.
  11. Dances with Shrapnel

    Dances with Shrapnel VIP MEMBER

    Jul 8, 2011
    Nice work Jim. The first question that came to mind was - Fire Watch?

    Can you comment on the specific hardnesses of the spinning mandrel and the follower surfaces?
  12. comnoz

    comnoz VIP MEMBER

    Dec 10, 2008
    The tester is set up on my welding bench and the extinguisher is at hand.

    The mandrel is RHc63 and the follower is RHc58.

    If you want to send some oil I will give it a spin.
  13. Clanger


    Mar 19, 2014
    This is awesome, actual tests and results rather than endless tittle tattle and speculation!
    Nater_Potater and cliffa like this.
  14. worntorn


    Dec 22, 2006
    Excellent info Jim.
    Was the VR1 conventional or the full synthetic? They offer both.

  15. MexicoMike


    Jan 31, 2010
    VR1's "high zinc" tag then is a good example of marketing at work. It IS higher than typical modern oils so they can say "high zinc" because they are comparing it to oils that are intentionally low in zinc. But clearly, if someone is really looking for a high zinc oil for an old flat tappet OHV motor, other oils are much higher and, in comparison with them, the label on VR1 would have to say, "Low in zinc." ;)

    Your test does indicate that greater amounts of zinc/phos reduces wear. Of course their are other additives in the package so maybe something else is contributing to the difference.

    Even though I'm totally against pouring ZDDP into your oil as opposed to just buying oil with the amount of ZZDP you want, I agree it would be interesting to re-test VR1 after adding some additional ZZDP.
  16. gtiller

    gtiller VIP MEMBER

    Nov 5, 2012
    Yes there are a lot of friction modifiers, detergents and anti-foaming agents at work too.

    My guess is that the more expensive the oil, the more research and goodies have gone into make up a dream formula!

    Royal Purple is certainly in the upper echelon of the price banding, so I’d expect it to behave like the Rolls Royce of oils.

    It’s awesone to see from Jim’s testing that it’s not just snake oil, and it does actually make a difference!

    Thanks for the work you do Jim!
    Nater_Potater likes this.
  17. worntorn


    Dec 22, 2006
    Nigel's Redline would be a good one to test.
    Its not insanely expensive, about $15 us per quart for the full synthetic.

    Abiut 2200 ppm zddp if I recall?
    manx850 likes this.
  18. manx850

    manx850 VIP MEMBER

    Aug 15, 2012
    I would like to see the Redline 20-50 tested also, I am running that in my bike and it seems to be perfect....I do not see the point in adding more zinc to the VR1 as that is not what you are buying off the shelf, I used to run that but it used a lot more oil when I did....great test Jim....thanks. I have also used Joe Gibbs, that seems really good also , would like to see that tested!
  19. worntorn


    Dec 22, 2006
    Now my device is showing the photo of the oil. The VR1 is the Silver bottle conventional which I have been using.
  20. Dommie Nator

    Dommie Nator VIP MEMBER

    Apr 2, 2013

    Those tests remind me of the ones I have seen at shows where the use of this additive looks far, far too good to be true...I don't suppose you get this in the US but I could send some as I would be interested to see if lived up to the promises.

    Plus one on the Redline 20/60 Synthetic test...unless it's crap of course.

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