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Real World Oil Consumption

May/June 2001

A few columns ago, I asked on behalf of one of our readers, "What is the real world oil consumption of our flathead Fords?"

Phil Howard wrote, "I installed a 35 - early 36  engine, which was nice and tight new piston rings, guides, etc.  Filled it with Mobil 1 15-50 and went 2300 miles before changing the oil. Used only one quart."  This engine has the long drain tube with the ball check valve on the rear main.   It also has the stock 34 pan with the windage tray and the early pump.  It has 45 psi down the road, and 20-25 at hot idle."

Phil also points out that labyrinth seals are used on turbine engines - not usually for oil control, more for controlling air pressure and flow. So I would guess that the labyrinth seals are not as archaic as I thought.

Wayne Taylor writes "Our 34 with a 'homebuilt' 59A (built from a NOS block) now has over 28,000 miles.  After a short break-in with non-detergent oil, I switched to 10-30 detergent. We have driven to Canada twice, Idaho, and several round trips to Oregon and southern California (from Napa CA). We have never used more than quart in 3000 miles.

Our 47 Merc has a good running stock engine, which was rebuilt by or for the previous owner. I'm running 20-50 detergent. It leaks oil at the rate of one quart per 1000 miles."

Both of these have Columbias and are driven at 65 mph on the highway.

Bill S responded, "We have driven our 47 Mercury to many National Meets during the last five years. The engine was overhauled before I purchased the car, so I don't know what was done to it.

The first trip we took was to Novi, MI, using 20w-40 Castrol; the car used one pint of oil.  I changed to Amsoil and have driven to Chicago IL, Iola WI, Atlanta GA, Indianapolis IN, and twice this year to Charlotte NC. The car has used no oil.  I am driving at highway speeds and averaging 19 miles per gallon."  This Merc does have a Columbia two speed rear end, just in case you are wondering.

My own experience with a 40 Sedan with 59A and 8CM engines, 275 to 295 inch, which I used as normal transportation and for towing, is oil usage of about one quart per 1000 miles with highway speeds of 75-85 mph solo and 60 mph towing.  This vehicle had a Columbia.

Our original, never had the heads off, 46 Ford gets about 1000 miles to one quart, also at highway speeds of 65-75; usage is mostly due to leaks.  It also has a Columbia.

My thanks to the members who responded with oil usage and engine information.

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