Pennsylvania Grade Oil

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Aug 3, 2003
I remember growing up that Penn grade oil was suppose to be the big thing. Even brand names like Pennzoil & Quaker State capitalized on it. From what I remember, Penn was parafin bases and others were asplalt based. Is this basically true and why dont we hear anything about Pennsylvania Grade anymore?
Wasn't it also naturally fluorescent green? I think that other companies, even recently, were adding green dyes to capitalize on the Pennzilvania reputation.
You are correct. In this day and age the art and sience of refining has gone way past that of 40 years ago. The old oils depended on a paraffin base to provide better lubrication. Those oils are as different with todays oils as 19th century axle grease is different from today's greases.
The oil industry started in PA, however most of the oil refineries there are are the oil company headquarters....
With the advent of SM category motor oil, less naphthenic content, if any, is in use for automotive engine lubes. Ironically, as demand ramps up for Group II and, especially, Group III paraffin base oils, the resulting plant conversions to supply these has resulted in a shortfall in naphthenic supplies in North America. They're still in high demand as electrical insulating oils in large transformers and capacitors, industrial uses such as cutting oils, and production of certain print inks to name a few uses. Additionally, naphthenics can be used as feed stock to produce Group II and Group III paraffin base oils through severe hydroprocessing.
The modern base oil market still has paraffinics and napthenics. They are blended to get the optimum properties in the finished product. Modern refining and the world market in base oils has taken away the regional designations (eastern, midwest, gulf and western) that was used 60 years ago. I have an old (1948) aircraft powerplant textbook that has a section devoted to the properties of different lubricating oils from different regions. The eastern oils were superior in most properties except pour points, due to wax.
I was told years ago by a mechanic friend and others to avoid the Penn grade oils (Penzoil and QS) due to the parafins in the oil that cause a wax build-up and can ruin motors. He showed me a torn down engine that was ran with Penzoil that had all this parafin build-up as he said which is bad for engines.
BTW, this goes back 25 years or so...
My experience with a well known paraffinic based oil is from an old company truck . My boss at the time would use nothing but this oil and as a new employee it was my job to service the trucks. The 10w30 oil would drain out as thin as water then in big sludgy lumps. this was back in the late 80's in new GM pick-up trucks. I still won't even look at any Penn grade oils. Others have probably had good luck with the stuff.
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