ARCCO graphite

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Dec 13, 2002
North Carolina
I did a search and nothing came up. Does anyone remember this oil? What was the purpose of it being marketed with graphite? Just was wondering. I use to put it in my Grandmothers 98 Olds back in 77. I wonder what a VOA would look like as well as a UOA.
I used that oil in my 1978 Malibu around 1981 after reading positive remarks about it in a magazine (I was in HS and believed everything I read back then). Not sure if it was Arco, but it was a graphite oil. The weird thing was it was black as heck out of the can. When you are a kid with your first car, the last thing you want to see is black oil on the dip stick. So with my next oil change, I switched to Penzoil with Z7 (after it got a good write up in a magazine).
I used it for a while. Black as coal right out of the bottle. I seem to remember claims of lower friction and improved mileage. I never saw an increase in mpg and eventually discontinued it. Don't remember the year or what cars I used it in though.
Originally posted by Rat407: I did a search and nothing came up. Does anyone remember this oil? What was the purpose of it being marketed with graphite?
Best I recall the graphite was for friction reduction.
I did a search and had several hits.. It is ARCO (notARCCO) Graphite. In 1978 Indy 500 the sixth place car was ARCO Graphite, entered by Gurney and driven by Unser! Some hits talked about what a disaster it was but I never really heard anything bad about it, it just didn't deliver better gas mileage.
Colloidal suspension of graphite. Graphite is black in "color". Still can't figure out why the ARCO Graphite oil would be black, though... [Roll Eyes] On a more serious note, though, since we're talking about finely dispersed solid-film lubricant added to mineral oil, I wonder how many people who tried it bothered to shake the bottle a minute or so to get all the good stuff they paid for back in suspension before they poured it into their engines. I also wonder whether the graphite particles underwent any degree of "clumping" into larger chunks that ended up trapped in the oil filter.
I remember it well. Indeed black and rather thin for a full blown American Castrol (AG) 20W-50 petrofreak, such as myself. I seem to remember some lawyersuits about ruint engines 'n such.
I almost tried it, but I never did. I read an article in either Popular Science or Popular Mechanics about it and Exxon SuperFlo. Exxon used a chemical friction reducer. Eventually, Arco Graphite disappeared off the market. There is a product called Krex Graphite that as far as I know is still being sold. It used to be sold (and maybe still is) at lots of new car dealerships. It contained graphite. I took some of that Krex Graphite, put some in some motor oil, and left it in a clear sealed jar for several months on a shelf in my garage. The graphite never settled out.
I remember doing oil changes with this stuff in both my parents' '69 Mercury Colony Park station wagon and '73 Olds Delta 88. I also vaguely remember the following: 1. Like PTFE/Teflon, it was a solid and didn't bond to metal surfaces, and therefore was as useless as titties on a bull, just like Teflon. 2. It was known -- or at least believed/suspected -- to clog very fine, low-micron oil filters. 3. Garages had trouble marketing the stuff for oil changes since some customers simply couldn't deal with the fact that their newly changed oil was black. Evidently no "warm & fuzzy" feeling when pulling out that dipstick.
I have in front of me a can of "Groziers Air-Spun Lubricating Graphite". It is a one pound can of powder, and by the looks of the labelling would be 30's or 40's era. Here are some interesting uses for it as printed on the back of the can. UPPER MOTOR CYLINDERS: Valves - remove spark plugs every 1,000 miles or oftener(?) - pour about 1/4 teaspoon into each plug hole. Lubricates upper cylinder walls and valves, increasing pickup, power and petrol mileage. TYRE CASINGS AND TUBES: Use as a dusting powder inside tyre, prevents sticking and corrosion to rims and makes tyre removal easy. RADIATOR WATER: Use one teaspoonful to each complete radiator refill. Lubricates pump, keeps system clean and accelerates radiation. What do you think of that?
I used Arco Graphite a lot, years ago. It was a good oil. Had a friend who knew one of their tech people. Seems Arco had been experimenting with graphite for several years before finally perfecting & marketing it. They had found a way to permanently suspend the graphite particles in the oil. It was a very slick oil. The only problem I ever had, was putting it in an old 6 cyl '64 Ford pickup. After I started using it,a few of the lock nuts on the valve lash adjustment screws started backing off. After I replaced them, I had no furthur problems. And as far as oil filter problems, I or no one else that I know of, ever had a problem with the oil filters clogging up. I think it was one of the best oils at that time. The reason I quit using it, and I think the only reason it didn't sell well, was that it was very nasty. Seeing it black on the dipstick was one thing, but getting it on you was even worse. Changing the oil was a very nasty job. You couldn't just wipe it off your hands with a rag, you had to really scrub with soap and water to get it off your skin, and it would just about ruin your clothes, if any accidently got on them. And if you spilled any on your concrete driveway, or if your engine had a leak, it was very hard to clean up. Ronnie
I worked at a mine-mill in Idaho that produced molybenite disulfide concentrate as our primary product. This mineral was the black stuff used in The Arco oil, moly grease, and other wet and dry lubricants after further cleaning and fine grinding. A walk thru the mill left one's hands black from touching handrails or anything else. A trucker once lost almost his whole semi-trailer of one ton tote bags of product on the highway in a wreck. The asphalt in that area was BLACK and really slick. I tried the old Arco oil but couldn't stand the look of the stuff new or used.
I too used it in my 77 vega! Had to be carefully when you used that bottle top opener to open the can. That blackstuff would stain anything and everything. I remember that it was very very thin.
I also personally never heard of it ruining an engine. It did loosen a few of the nuts on my valve lash adjustment screws on my old worn out truck as I posted earlier. But the lock nuts were worn out and had lost most of their holding ability. And I guess they could have eventually backed off enough to do some damage, but those tappets would have gotten really loud before any damage would have been done, IMO. That though goes to show you that in an old engine, if anything is loose, a slick oil might loosen it up furthur. But if that were the case though, it would seem that todays synthetic oil's would be the same way, and I've never heard of that happening. Arco done a lot of extensive tests on their graphite oil before putting it on the market as I've been told, so a person would think that they would have been careful to cover all bases. And as far as gas mileage, I never really checked it, but it stands to reason that it having less friction than the other oils at that time, was probably better. I have wondered though, that if it were used in a car that was an oil burner, would the graphite eventually cake up in the leaky cylinders? And since most cars use a little bit of oil between changes, would the catalytic converters on todays cars be ruined by the use of it, if it were still available? I wonder if a graphite oil could even be approved for use in todays cars. Ronnie
Does anybody know of any actual cases where Arco Graphite motor oil ruined an engine? I personally never heard of any. As far as I have been able to determine, it was a good oil. People just did not like the black color (although oil gets dark anyway and the black color would help you see your dipstick oil level better even when the oil was fresh). I don't know if it actually provided better fuel mileage or not-in testing according to the magazine article I read it provided an average gain of 4.8%. In the same article the Exxon SuperFlo, which used a chemical friction reducer, produced I believe a 4.5% average gain.
Some people used to say it caused oil leaks. I don't know if that is any truer then the sythetic cause oil leaks rumour. I work in a machine shop back in 81,( doing valve jobs) and when we reasembled the head we coated the valve stem with a 50/50 mixture of STP and Arco graphite...wonder what the guys use now?
All I can say from memory is that it just quietly disappeared. ...and Arco shortly thereafter. Arco Chemical may still exist ..but some local facilities are closed.
Originally posted by Jimbo: ARCO has not disappeared. It is the number one selling brand of gasoline on the west coast. They are now a unit of BP and do not market lubricants anymore.
Arco is still very much in business, although I never heard about their acquisition by BP. As a young kid in the early 80's, I remember the commercials where Arco "blew up" their credit cards. I still remember an independently-owned Arco station that took Visa/MC. I've heard that the Arco gas sold in my part of the country is actually refined in Alaska and shipped via tankers to California. There are so many mergers and buyouts. The whole Unocal/76 thing is strange - something about Tosco + Conoco/Phillips. I'm not sure who makes the gas sold as 76 brand these days.
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