Help on old GM papers on ATF as engine oil?

Maybe some of my fellow BITOG folks can help me with my quest. I have been researching rotary (Wankel) engines for some years. In the early 1970s GM was preparing to make rotary engines for use in cars, as some of you may remember. A little-known fact is that the lubricant GM was planning to use would have been Dexron II ATF, and the Dexron II specs were originally written to include use as oil in GM's rotary engines. Think about that next time you fill your tranny with Dexron! The Hydramatic division, which also headed automatic transmission development, was in charge of the rotary engine project, which probably had a lot to do with the choice of ATF as engine oil. SAE papers published by GM researchers in 1974 referenced two GM papers published the previous year by the Fuels and Lubricants Department. They are-- "Rotary engine test for lubricant evaluation", June 1973. "General Motors procedure for rotary engine approval of Dexron-II and additives", November 1973. At the time, these papers were evidently available to the public directly from GM. When I e-mailed GM through its main website about them recently, however, I was given the number for the GM library. The library in turn told me that it does not respond to outside requests and that its contents were for GM staff only. I also heard that the Detroit Public Library had copies but could not confirm this through its website, nor would its staff respond to my e-mails. A Canadian friend tried to get copies faxed to him from the Detroit library but never received the faxes after (supposed) repeated attempts. So now I throw the issue to BITOG members. Can anyone supply a copy of these two papers or know for sure how I may get them? Many thanks for your help.


Staff member
Iowegia - USA
You might want to request your documents through Interlibrary Loan; it may cost a few bucks but you will finally get your documents.
Washington St.
ATF lubricates gears and ball bearings in a transmission (and other stuff). Refresh my memory...what mechanical parts are lubed in a Wankel excluding the rotor seals? Engine oil in a reciprocating engine has to be able to live with blowby. That's not the case with the Wankel, so a different oil might work well. I think ATF is similar to an ISO 46 turbine and hydraulic oil, but with a specific additive package. Ken [ December 01, 2003, 05:52 PM: Message edited by: Ken2 ]


Berwyn, IL
Try the Society of Automotive Engineers SAE paper ordering They are in Washington DC, IIRC, and if the paper is not available on line, they will copy and ship it to you. I have ordered a number of papers from them. Not inexpensive, but top notch information.


Thread starter
Hopewell, Virginia, USA
Thanks for everyone's responses. Ken2, the Wankel has main and rotor bearings on the eccentric shaft (= piston engine crankshaft) directly comparable to those in a piston engine. Mazda also uses a couple of needle bearings in the front cover assembly. Also, in Mazda's and other designs, the oil splashes inside the rotor to cool it. Overall, however, the oil system is simpler than that of a piston engine: no upper end or camshaft to lube, etc. SAE would be of no help, as I already have the relevant papers that that organization published. Those papers referenced the GM Fuels and Lubricants papers I'm trying to find. SAE is not a clearinghouse for others' papers, unfortunately (I wish!). Likewise, if the Detroit Public Library actually has these papers, it isn't being very open about it, so I doubt that any kind of interlibrary loan would work. Ditto with trying to go through the GM library, which undoubtedly will not lend out documents such as this since its policy is not to respond to outside requests. I forgot to mention that I had Purdue University's Technical Information Service search service hunt for copies of these GM papers earlier this year with no success. I guess there's little hope of getting copies. To be honest, I was hoping that one of the BITOG packrats had copies squirreled away somewhere. Thanks to all anyway.