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Valve lubrication, or not!

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  • Valve lubrication, or not!

    I have been seeing folk getting all over MMO and questioning the reason for using it. Well, I think it is time to clear a bit of air within these airheads and explain why MMO or Seafoam, or these top end lubricants are almost a must.

    Valve small.jpgIf you will take a look at this picture of the valve chamber, you will see to the right a copper tube protruding from the bottom of the valve valley. Well, this is my addition of Mike's A-Ford-Able oil filter tube. Look past that tube and think that this is where the oil from the oil pump comes out and begins it's journey to oil the mains and drain back into the pan. Please note the hole to the right of the tube in the engine casting, this is where oil should travel to drip down into the timing case and lubricate the timing gear.

    I would like to move your attention to the cast rib where the tube comes out of the hole, this is the first of 2 steps that the oil has to jump over on it's journey. Now, while the pocket between those two will fill with oil to do this climb, some of that oil is drained down a cast pipe to the front main bearing, which is a good thing. After the oil level reaches a point where it can overcome the height of that first rib, it flows into the second valley, where there is another drain hole that lubricates the center main, another good thing. On its journey it also fills up this section of the valley lubricating not only the center main bearing, but also the oil pump drive, which also drives the distributor, but then, it runs into another wall in the engine casting, right behind the oil pump drive. Now, the oil has filled up the second valley and over comes the second rib and continues to flow to the rear of the valve valley where we find, the cast in block drain to the rear main cap, where gravity feeds that, another good thing, but it also finds the external drain pipe that returns the oil to the oil pan.

    Now, here is the whole reason for me posting this, remembering that the engine is mounted on an angle tilting high in front, all the oils' natural flow is toward the rear of the engine.

    If you will take a straight edge, be it a folded piece of paper or a ruler and hold it up to the screen of this picture, holding it from the hole in the front to the second rib, you will notice that at NO time will any of the flow of the oil reach up high enough to touch the bottom of any of the 8 springs hanging down holding the valves in position. As a matter of fact, the ONLY way any of the tappets(cam followers) will get any oil is by splashing of the oil. Now, this means, that because gravity flows down, there is no way any of the flowing backward oil can get up to any of the valve stems or guides.

    Now you say, how do they get lubricated? Well, mainly through gas additives, but since most of the lead additives have been removed, there isn't much lubrication from that. So, those of us who like to keep the valves quiet and lubricated, we add the 4oz of Seafoam or MMO to the gas, which doesn't all burn off at ignition, at least we hope it doesn't.

    I do hope I have explained this sufficiently so there is not many questions about how the valves and valve guides get lubricated.
    You wana look waaay far up da road and plan yer route because the brakes are far more of a suggestion than a command!

  • #2
    Valve pointers.jpg
    Pointers where the oil flows for those who are imagination challenged.
    You wana look waaay far up da road and plan yer route because the brakes are far more of a suggestion than a command!


    • #3

      IF there is 'No Way' for oil to reach the valve stems & guides, why don't they don't seize ??

      Seems the pre-May '29 valve chamber had an oil level that was 'factory' too high (oil burner??), hence the change to a lower oil return pipe.

      I appreciate a shot of bourbon occasional, my '28 doesn't mind MMO .



      • DaWizard
        DaWizard commented
        Editing a comment
        "Well, mainly through gas additives, but since most of the lead additives have been removed, there isn't much lubrication from that."

    • #4
      Da, why when you take the valve cover off a Model A engine are the valve springs and everything else in there oil wet? MMO is fine to put in your gas but I seriously doubt it is what actually saves your engine. How many thousands of Model A's are still running around since we changed to unleaded gas? I doubt every one of those A's out there are putting MMO in their gas tank since the switch to unleaded. And I doubt the ones that aren't are having top end lubrication problems.


      • DaWizard
        DaWizard commented
        Editing a comment
        "As a matter of fact, the ONLY way any of the tappets(cam followers) will get any oil is by splashing of the oil."

        The oil that you find is by splash, not by direct oil flow.

      • Dennis
        Dennis commented
        Editing a comment
        I know that and this is a simple engine. It does not need to have pressure nor direct flow at every moving part internally. They have been running like that for nearly a century.

    • #5
      Somehow it seems this has become more complicated than it needs to be.
      A career engine builder will understand how the MMO in the gas, and even in the oil, will reach the valve stems. And it sure will not hurt them, even if someone believes it will do no good.
      Perhaps the issue is not 'what are other people are doing', but, 'Gee, I just paid 3500.00 for an engine overhaul, how pro-active can I be in keeping this engine as healthy as possible, and thus protect my investment.'

      I have actually UNSTUCK valves in multicylinder engines using MMO. For example, I worked on a straight-8 Packard which had 4 stuck valves. It was very hard to get the motor started because of this. I put a QT of MMO in the crankcase, rigged up a temp gas can loaded with MMO (way more than 4 oz per tank), finally got it started, ran the idle up, and once the engine warmed up, also used a spray bottle of MMO down the carb. I had blue smoke pouring out the pipe. But, one by one the valves unstuck and the engine came up to speed, you could hear them kick in. I ran it like this for a couple hrs. Then I re-connected the stock tank, with 4 oz MMO/tank, and turned the car back over to the owner. That was 7 years ago and the car runs fine to this day. The owner was spared the expense of a major teardown.
      Last edited by tbirdtbird; 09-06-2017, 01:29 PM.


      • #6
        I think what the main question here is do the valve guides get any lubrication from the oil that is in the valve chamber? I say yes without a doubt!
        The use of MMO is a good thing for added lubricant, but i wont use MMO in my oil,, that's just me...

        What Jim said above on post #3 there was a TSB on it!!!!
        3~ Tudor's & 1~ Coupe
        Henry Ford said,
        "It's all nuts and bolts"
        "Start by doing what's necessary; then do what's possible; and suddenly you are doing the impossible."

        Mitch's Auto Service ctr


        • tbirdtbird
          tbirdtbird commented
          Editing a comment
          Agree about not needing it in the oil. But in the case above, I needed all the help I could get. It is clear the oil reaches the stems, by mist alone if nothing else

      • #7
        Wasn't there an article/video/photo of an A engine being run with a plexiglass valve cover? I remember immediately on startup you couldn't see through it due to all the splashing.
        Last edited by Jim Mason; 09-07-2017, 10:00 AM. Reason: could should have been couldn't


        • Mitch
          Mitch commented
          Editing a comment
          Jim i remember that, it looked like a washing machine in there

        • Dennis
          Dennis commented
          Editing a comment

      • #8
        X3 Tried it.. in 2 seconds you could not see anything but oil splashing all over the place.


        • #9
          So what's the decision on STP?
          Life is what happens on the way to what you planned


          • #10
            too thick, especially since an A is gravity fed mains
            Last edited by tbirdtbird; 09-06-2017, 06:22 PM.


            • Mitch
              Mitch commented
              Editing a comment
              Good point

          • #11
            I believe that STP oil treatment has it's place, which isn't in the engine, but perhaps in the trans and rear end diluted enough to use the lubricity factors, but not decrease the oils lubricity and cooling factors.

            I have personally experienced the full use of STP in a trans and because it was used full strength, we were unaware of a broken tooth in the second gear gear. It is a great silencer with it's thickness.
            You wana look waaay far up da road and plan yer route because the brakes are far more of a suggestion than a command!


            • Mitch
              Mitch commented
              Editing a comment
              Lets ask Richard Petty what he thinks of STP

          • #12
            I can't say that it made a huge difference, but noticeable to reduce the noise in mine. Mine had been ran very low to might as well say nothing from previous owner. I know it was black in there before getting filled with 1/3 600w, 1/3 STP, 1/3 Lucas gear oil supplement whatever it is, and cleaned it up real good after 2,000 miles.


            • #13
              If you like it and feel it is necessary then use it. Use anything that will get you and your A out on the road.


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