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Old 11-30-2010, 03:12 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Break in Oil for Crate Engines

Hello everyone,

There are a lot of people using new crate engines in their GTM builds, and I was interested to know what your doing or planning to do during the engine "break in" period.

Are you using any particular type of engine oil specific to the "break-in" process, or just the standard engine oils such as Mobile 1?

I'm starting to notice advertisements that argue that it's necessary to use a break in lubricant for a period of time/miles, and then change to you favorite brand. I am planning to use a synthetic oil, so would the break in oil also need to be a synthetic?

How about the transaxle? If you've had gears replaced, would you need to go through a similar process there as well? Or is it fine to simply use the Swepco 200 or 210 from the start?
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Last edited by The Stig; 11-30-2010 at 04:21 PM..
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Old 11-30-2010, 04:15 PM   #2 (permalink)
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This is break in procedures from GM posted on crate engine depot.

Start-Up and Break-In Procedures

1. After installing the engine, ensure the crankcase has been filled with the correct (refer to instruction sheets that come with the crate engine) motor oil (non-synthetic) to the recommended oil fill level on the dipstick. Also check and fill as required any other necessary fluids such as coolant, power steering fluid, etc.

2. The engine should be primed with oil prior to starting. Do this by using an engine oil priming tool. If you do not have one, one can be obtained through GM, part number 12368084. Follow the instructions enclosed with the tool. This is the sure way to get oil to the bearings before you start the engine for the first time. Also, prime the engine if it sits for extended periods of time.

3. Safety first. If the vehicle is on the ground, be sure the emergency brake is set, the wheels are chocked and the car cannot fall into gear.

4. Start the engine and adjust the initial timing. Set the ignition timing to timing specified in the instruction sheet and the engine idle to the speed as specified in the instruction sheet. Rotate the distributor counterclockwise to advance the timing. Rotate the distributor clockwise to retard the timing. Leave the vacuum advance disconnected.

5. When possible, you should always allow the engine to warm up prior to driving. It is a good practice to allow the oil sump and water temperature to reach 180 F before towing heavy loads or performing hard acceleration runs.

6. Once the engine is warm, set the total advance timing as specified in the instruction sheet.

7. The engine should be driven at varying loads and conditions for the first 30 miles or one hour without wide open throttle (WOT) or sustained high RPM accelerations.

8. Run five or six medium throttle (50%) accelerations to about 4000 rpm and 55 mph (if application is a vehicle), and back to idle (0% throttle) in gear.

9. Run two or three hard throttle (WOT 100%) accelerations to about 5000 rpm and 55 mph (if application is a vehicle), and back to idle (0% throttle) in gear.

10. Change the oil and filter. Replace with 20W50 racing motor oil (not synthetic) and an ACDelco oil filter. Inspect the oil and the oil filter for any foreign particles to ensure that the engine is functioning properly.

11. Drive the next 500 miles (or 12 to 15 engine hours) under normal conditions. Do not run the engine at its maximum rated engine speed. Also, do not expose the engine to extended periods of high load.

12. Change the oil and filter. Again, inspect the oil and oil filter for any foreign particles to ensure that the engine is functioning properly.

13. Do not use synthetic oil for break-in. It would only be suitable to use synthetic motor oil after the second recommended oil change and mileage accumulation.
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Old 11-30-2010, 04:27 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kempo View Post
This is break in procedures from GM posted on crate engine depot.

Start-Up and Break-In Procedures

1. After installing the engine, ensure the crankcase has been filled with the correct (refer to instruction sheets that come with the crate engine) motor oil (non-synthetic) to the recommended oil fill level on the dipstick. Also check and fill as required any other necessary fluids such as coolant, power steering fluid, etc.

2. The engine should be primed with oil prior to starting. Do this by using an engine oil priming tool. If you do not have one, one can be obtained through GM, part number 12368084. Follow the instructions enclosed with the tool. This is the sure way to get oil to the bearings before you start the engine for the first time. Also, prime the engine if it sits for extended periods of time.

3. Safety first. If the vehicle is on the ground, be sure the emergency brake is set, the wheels are chocked and the car cannot fall into gear.

4. Start the engine and adjust the initial timing. Set the ignition timing to timing specified in the instruction sheet and the engine idle to the speed as specified in the instruction sheet. Rotate the distributor counterclockwise to advance the timing. Rotate the distributor clockwise to retard the timing. Leave the vacuum advance disconnected.

5. When possible, you should always allow the engine to warm up prior to driving. It is a good practice to allow the oil sump and water temperature to reach 180 F before towing heavy loads or performing hard acceleration runs.

6. Once the engine is warm, set the total advance timing as specified in the instruction sheet.

7. The engine should be driven at varying loads and conditions for the first 30 miles or one hour without wide open throttle (WOT) or sustained high RPM accelerations.

8. Run five or six medium throttle (50%) accelerations to about 4000 rpm and 55 mph (if application is a vehicle), and back to idle (0% throttle) in gear.

9. Run two or three hard throttle (WOT 100%) accelerations to about 5000 rpm and 55 mph (if application is a vehicle), and back to idle (0% throttle) in gear.

10. Change the oil and filter. Replace with 20W50 racing motor oil (not synthetic) and an ACDelco oil filter. Inspect the oil and the oil filter for any foreign particles to ensure that the engine is functioning properly.

11. Drive the next 500 miles (or 12 to 15 engine hours) under normal conditions. Do not run the engine at its maximum rated engine speed. Also, do not expose the engine to extended periods of high load.

12. Change the oil and filter. Again, inspect the oil and oil filter for any foreign particles to ensure that the engine is functioning properly.

13. Do not use synthetic oil for break-in. It would only be suitable to use synthetic motor oil after the second recommended oil change and mileage accumulation.
Cool! I get to buy another TOOL!

Where do you pick up the Racing Oil that is mentioned in step 10. Is this special order, or have I just not noticed it on the shelves?
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Old 11-30-2010, 04:36 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Basically what you are trying to do when you "break in" an engine is get the parts that have very fine tolerances, such as valves and piston rings, to wear a little along with the corresponding mating surfaces so that sealing is increased.

A "non-detergent" or "break-in" oil can be used for this, but just a regular, non-synthetic oil is what is usually used.

I can tell you that it still takes time.

I don't know what oil was being used, but the GTM-R took about 30+ hours of racing conditions before the new engine stopped using a bit of oil and everything appears to now be sealed. That equates to around 300 miles of HEAVY use.

Synthetic oils tend to reduce friction and are great for long term wear characteristics, but not real good for the break in process.

The transaxle, because it really needs nothing to wear in in order for it to seal properly and therefore increase performance, doesn't really need to be "broken in". I would, however, recommend draining the trans fluid after a 100 miles or so and either straining it, or just replacing it. This will "flush" the new transaxle of any small pieces of "stuff" that maybe in there and contribute to increased wear. Use a fine paint strainer and you should get anything that would be a problem. If the fluid comes out and you can not see through it, or see lots of metal particles in it, you may have a problem and should replace the fluid and check it again after another 100 miles or so.
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Old 11-30-2010, 04:45 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by The Stig View Post
Cool! I get to buy another TOOL!

Where do you pick up the Racing Oil that is mentioned in step 10. Is this special order, or have I just not noticed it on the shelves?
Racing oils usually contain more zinc and are less "slippery" than engine oils that are designed to go 5000 miles between changes.

Remember, racing oil usually has a working life of about 20 hours or less. That's about 200 miles.

You don't need a true "racing oil".

Also, this instruction sheet appears to be from a regular Chevy small block point of view. In the SBC case, it is very easy to turn the oil pump by removing the distributor and inserting a tool that is made out of an old distributor shaft hooked to a drill. This is not the case with the LS crate engines. You would, I believe, have to have an external pump of some sort in order to prime the system as described in that list.

The easiest way that I know of is to just disconnect the coils, remove the spark plugs, and then turn the engine over until oil pressure is on the gauge. Without the explosions happening, or even the compression in the cylinders, there is very little force or stress put on the rotating components and as long as the engine was not put together absolutely dry, all should be OK. I have done this MANY times and had no issues with anything going wrong down the road.
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:40 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by crash View Post
Racing oils usually contain more zinc and are less "slippery" than engine oils that are designed to go 5000 miles between changes.

Remember, racing oil usually has a working life of about 20 hours or less. That's about 200 miles.

You don't need a true "racing oil".

Also, this instruction sheet appears to be from a regular Chevy small block point of view. In the SBC case, it is very easy to turn the oil pump by removing the distributor and inserting a tool that is made out of an old distributor shaft hooked to a drill. This is not the case with the LS crate engines. You would, I believe, have to have an external pump of some sort in order to prime the system as described in that list.

The easiest way that I know of is to just disconnect the coils, remove the spark plugs, and then turn the engine over until oil pressure is on the gauge. Without the explosions happening, or even the compression in the cylinders, there is very little force or stress put on the rotating components and as long as the engine was not put together absolutely dry, all should be OK. I have done this MANY times and had no issues with anything going wrong down the road.

I agree, no tool to prime the LS engines. I always use Shell Rotella T 10W30 or 15W40 non synthetic oil for breaking in a new engine. Has more zinc in it. 1200 ppm of zinc compared to the EPA mandated 800ppm of zinc for oils rated for cars..Run it for 10mins drain it and change filter, refill with Rotella drive it for 1500 miles, drain it and fill with mobil 1 of choice...Have 5000 miles on my 1000hp LS6 346ci motor I built and the LS1 I did for a friend has 30000 "hard" troble free miles at 875hp..Neither one uses any oil and I built mine pretty "loose" on the rings..
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Old 11-30-2010, 08:56 PM   #7 (permalink)
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also just for reference, Mobil 1 15W50 has 1200ppm zinc as well. Thats what I use now that the motor is broken in..

Here is a chart of all the Mobil 1 oils and the zinc content..
http://www.mobiloil.com/USA-English/...duct_Guide.pdf
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:11 AM   #8 (permalink)
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No offense to Kempo, but I would guess that what he posted was GM's break-in specs about 40 years ago. If I'm not mistaken, the LS engines are spec'd to take 5w-30. Engines are "engineered" to take a specific viscosity of oil. The tolerances inside the engine are calculated to flow a certain amount of oil at a certain pressure given that viscosity of oil. I'm guessing that running 20w-50 in an LS engine is not going to do much more than create excess pressure and blow past the by-pass.

Some good examples? Working as a tech in a Ford dealership for 4 years, I can give you a few good examples. Had a farmer who had a plan of getting better gas milage in his F250 with a 5.7L V8.....so he always used 5w-30 in it, instead of the 10w-30 that was recommended. At 58,000 miles all the main and rod bearings were toast and it cost him thousands of dollars to rebuild his engine......you can buy a lot of gas for that!

When the 4.6 engine came out, it was spec'd to take 5w-30, but many of the farmers (hey, I'm in Iowa here) were set in their ways and changed the oil with 10w-30.......and kept blowing up their oil filters! I changed MANY bulged oil filters for the first few years of the 4.6L......which sucks as they were usually expanded too big to get my small filter wrench on, but not big enough to use my big filter wrench.

As others have stated above, the 'Vette rolled out of the factory filled with Mobil 1 5w-30. I would agree that for break in, it's not going to hurt to use conventional 5w-30 for break-in for the first few thousand miles before you switch to synthetic, but I would stick with whatever viscosity the seller recommends if it's an "aftermarket" crate engine with non-OEM parts in it.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:31 AM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Shane View Post
No offense to Kempo, but I would guess that what he posted was GM's break-in specs about 40 years ago. If I'm not mistaken, the LS engines are spec'd to take 5w-30. Engines are "engineered" to take a specific viscosity of oil. The tolerances inside the engine are calculated to flow a certain amount of oil at a certain pressure given that viscosity of oil. I'm guessing that running 20w-50 in an LS engine is not going to do much more than create excess pressure and blow past the by-pass.

Some good examples? Working as a tech in a Ford dealership for 4 years, I can give you a few good examples. Had a farmer who had a plan of getting better gas milage in his F250 with a 5.7L V8.....so he always used 5w-30 in it, instead of the 10w-30 that was recommended. At 58,000 miles all the main and rod bearings were toast and it cost him thousands of dollars to rebuild his engine......you can buy a lot of gas for that!

When the 4.6 engine came out, it was spec'd to take 5w-30, but many of the farmers (hey, I'm in Iowa here) were set in their ways and changed the oil with 10w-30.......and kept blowing up their oil filters! I changed MANY bulged oil filters for the first few years of the 4.6L......which sucks as they were usually expanded too big to get my small filter wrench on, but not big enough to use my big filter wrench.

As others have stated above, the 'Vette rolled out of the factory filled with Mobil 1 5w-30. I would agree that for break in, it's not going to hurt to use conventional 5w-30 for break-in for the first few thousand miles before you switch to synthetic, but I would stick with whatever viscosity the seller recommends if it's an "aftermarket" crate engine with non-OEM parts in it.
No offence taken. I agree with you 100%. They even mention a distributor ignition in there. WTF???? Just copied and pasted the instructions from GM posted here:
http://www.crateenginedepot.com/stor...s-W106C46.aspx
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:47 AM   #10 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by chriswtx View Post
I agree, no tool to prime the LS engines. I always use Shell Rotella T 10W30 or 15W40 non synthetic oil for breaking in a new engine. Has more zinc in it. 1200 ppm of zinc compared to the EPA mandated 800ppm of zinc for oils rated for cars..Run it for 10mins drain it and change filter, refill with Rotella drive it for 1500 miles, drain it and fill with mobil 1 of choice...
Really? Run the Shell Rotella for 10 minutes, and then drain it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shane View Post
If I'm not mistaken, the LS engines are spec'd to take 5w-30. Engines are "engineered" to take a specific viscosity of oil. The tolerances inside the engine are calculated to flow a certain amount of oil at a certain pressure given that viscosity of oil.

When the 4.6 engine came out, it was spec'd to take 5w-30, but many of the farmers (hey, I'm in Iowa here) were set in their ways and changed the oil with 10w-30.......and kept blowing up their oil filters! I changed MANY bulged oil filters for the first few years of the 4.6L......which sucks as they were usually expanded too big to get my small filter wrench on, but not big enough to use my big filter wrench.

As others have stated above, the 'Vette rolled out of the factory filled with Mobil 1 5w-30. I would agree that for break in, it's not going to hurt to use conventional 5w-30 for break-in for the first few thousand miles before you switch to synthetic, but I would stick with whatever viscosity the seller recommends if it's an "aftermarket" crate engine with non-OEM parts in it.
Thanks Shane. What you're saying makes good sense.
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:53 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I started using Mobil 1 15W-50 when I did a Maggie supercharger install from Lingenfelter on my stock C5. They told me Lingenfelter fills all their motors(forged built or stock with cam or charger bolted on) with 15w-50 and their warranty is for 3 years 36,000 miles on the charger installs..Also told me 5W-30 for cars located in extreme winter conditions..
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Old 12-01-2010, 01:56 AM   #12 (permalink)
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Really? Run the Shell Rotella for 10 minutes, and then drain it?


Basically cleans out any assembly lubes and fine metal shavings if any..Oil is cheap...

no matter what oil you pick, you'll be fine...

Last edited by chriswtx; 12-01-2010 at 02:17 AM..
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