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Username Post: Lead Additive for gas.        (Topic#264608)
b. dudley 
Posts: 109

Loc: Rochester, NY
Reg: 09-28-10
06-13-11 05:03 AM - Post#2102830    

Question for all of us that have original engines where we have to add lead substitute to the gas...

Are there any better or just as good options for lead substitute from a cost standpoint?

Someone told me once that adding just a little transmission fluid to a tank of gas is just as good as the commercially available lead additive.
Is there any truth to this?

I have a bunch of the bottled substitute, or at least enough for about 14 fill ups, and my '53 is pretty good on gas, so I am set for a while.

Just asking the question out of curiosity.
B. Dudley

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"13th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 15172

Age: 81
Loc: Montana
Reg: 03-12-02
06-13-11 07:41 AM - Post#2102889    
    In response to b. dudley

There is no reason to add lead additives to these engines I have over 15,000 miles on a head job and did not install hard valve seats. I use a little Marvel Mystery oil on long trips but that is all. The engines run cool, do not have high compression and work well with out lead.


"13th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 11255
Loc: L.A, Cal. & St. Louis...
Reg: 04-07-03
06-13-11 08:09 AM - Post#2102904    
    In response to 2blu52

When gas was first de-leaded, I religiously added aftermarket lead substitutes to my first '54 Chevy truck and to my old Farmall tractor. For years I did this, but eventually came to believe it was not necessary. I did get hardened valve seats installed though, in the tractor and the truck both, just as insurance. And when I had a valve job done on the 235 head I put on my 261 I did have hardened seats put in then. But other guys, who have regular valve seats and who are not using lead substitutes say there is no problem. So maybe I went to the expense of hardened seats for no reason.
1953 210 Convertible, 261 with dual Carter YF 966S carbs, P.S., Remote Bendix P.B. Booster... shade-tree restoration about done.

b. dudley 
Posts: 109

Loc: Rochester, NY
Reg: 09-28-10
06-13-11 09:42 AM - Post#2102929    
    In response to rrausch

That is what I have always heard, was that you can put unleaded in cars that originally took leaded gas, but obviously not the other way around.

I thought that the lead helped lubricate the valves.
B. Dudley

Bill K.b 
Senior Member
Posts: 4289

Loc: upstate NY
Reg: 10-24-05
06-13-11 02:13 PM - Post#2103024    
    In response to b. dudley

You want to run it after a valve job, but on a motor that's been seasoned with thousands of miles of leaded gas it's not really necessary.
Those who can, do. Those who can't, criticize it on the internet.

1988 G20 van 5.7L - driver.
1993 3500 dually 5.7L NV4500 - tow truck
1991 G20 van - parts truck

Plus cars for swap and sale
&yes, I once tried a frame swap on a 51 Chevy.

b. dudley 
Posts: 109

Loc: Rochester, NY
Reg: 09-28-10
06-14-11 05:43 AM - Post#2103282    
    In response to Bill K.b

The car has 59k on it and all of the internals in the motor are original, so it is seasoned for sure.
B. Dudley

"2nd Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 139
Loc: Mission B C Canada
Reg: 12-30-06
06-19-11 09:05 AM - Post#2105400    
    In response to b. dudley

I wish I had read this article before paying for hardened valve seats on my two MG's. It pretty well sums up this issue around unleaded gas and valve seat recession. And it is based on facts and research from Chevron, not a backyard mechanic. The entire article is available at ls/tec...

but briefly, it says:

Antique cars are typically exposed to such light service that they are not expected to have any valve seat problems. In fact, they stand to benefit overall from a reduction in exhaust system corrosion and oil contamination.

'52 Chev Deluxe Sport Coupe
'69 MGB Tourer
'01 GMC 2500HD daily driver

b. dudley 
Posts: 109

Loc: Rochester, NY
Reg: 09-28-10
06-20-11 06:39 AM - Post#2105699    
    In response to dpurdy


Thanks for posting that Link. That is very useful info from a good source.
B. Dudley

Lead sled 
Frequent Contributor
Posts: 1665
Lead sled
Age: 54
Loc: Walton,NY.
Reg: 11-04-09
06-20-11 07:09 AM - Post#2105709    
    In response to b. dudley

It doesn't mention anything about our early hi-performance double hump heads though.Had mine re-seated 20yrs.ago.
Late yr model (Dec. 51 BelAir/ 52 trim), with a basically stock 67 Camaro SS350/295hp Turbo Fire Edelbrock 1405, Saginaw 4spd/355 geared 55/6 Chevy rear.2,1st place,and 1 top five award trophies so far

Senior Member
Posts: 7591

Loc: Mustang, OK, USA
Reg: 12-25-99
06-20-11 08:10 AM - Post#2105731    
    In response to Lead sled

I also was once influenced by the "scare" of no lead in gas for pre-71 heads would cause extensive valve/seat wear. For the average, vintage pass car, that is not driven all day, every day, that has now been demonstrated to be no longer a concern.
True, MAYBE, MAYBE, MAYBE, in older SEVERE DUTY engines, such as big trucks with a gasoline engine that is subjected to MANY hours of extensive, heavy engine loading, that MAY be an issue.
But today, 40yrs later, there is overwhelming evidence and experience that the lead (or lack of lead) in gasoline just is not a factor in extensive wear of the valve train, ESPECIALLY valve seat wear/recession.
Now, for a fact, lead tetraethyl added to 87-88-89-91 octane gas will bump up the octane level for engines that require a higher grade of gas. But that's about the only benefit it will provide.

Now, let's address the issue of having heads machined and hard exhaust seats installed. There really is not an issue with having the hard seats in the head, BUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUT, when making the cut into the ex valve seat area for having the seat installed, there is ALWAYS the risk of the cutter getting into the water jacket --------------------- at which time your perfect, vintage heads become junk!!!

Bottom line to all of this is don't waste your money and risk perfectly good heads because you're concerned that unleaded gas in your 70-older engine is going to cause it to excessively wear prematurely.
Tom Parsons

"13th Year" Silver Supporting Member
Posts: 11255
Loc: L.A, Cal. & St. Louis...
Reg: 04-07-03
06-20-11 09:39 AM - Post#2105768    
    In response to DZAUTO

Wellll... being of a conservative mind, I always like to err on the side of caution. The article does say this about vintage cars:

"The problem can only occur in older engines when operating under sustained high speeds and loads."

When my '54 Chevy 3/4 ton truck was my daily driver I'd take it twice a year on 1,600 mile trips (one way), driving 67 mph for hour after hour, sometimes 14 hours a day.

And the article says this about vintage farm equipment:

"A federal sponsored study of older gasoline-powered farm equipment showed some performed satisfactorily on unleaded gasoline, but most experience valve-seat wear, especially during the water pumping portion of the testing."

I'll bush hog with my '42 Farmall all day long at about 2/3 throttle many times each summer.

Bottom line for me is I'm glad I had hardened seats installed. And no water jackets were cut into thank goodness.
1953 210 Convertible, 261 with dual Carter YF 966S carbs, P.S., Remote Bendix P.B. Booster... shade-tree restoration about done.

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