Loooobrication!

Bear with me, there is Jaguar content here.

I have recently resumed slot car racing after a 50 year hiatus. The Viper Pit slot car track in Thomasville, GA, hosts races for “flexi” slot cars every Monday night at 7:00. I had to buy a car (about $100, I’ll eventually be buying at least two more) and a controller ($200 for the cheapest acceptable one available, but it’s worth it, this controller is light-years ahead of the Cox junk I used back then).

After each race, I come home and put the stuff away for the week. Sunday night break it back out and prep it for another Monday night race, lubing the bearings, cleaning the tires, etc.

What lube to use? There are two bushings in the rear axle and two in the motor, plus there are the gears themselves. Pretty much everyone is using something light. I pondered my options briefly and decided to go with 5W-20 full synthetic motor oil. I have some on hand because that’s what’s used in my 2004 Honda Civic LX Coupe. It’s as runny as water, should be perfect.

Two weeks in a row now, I have picked up my slot car on Sunday to find it totally seized up. The rear axle won’t turn at all, and I try hard enough I worry I’m gonna break something. After applying some fresh oil, letting it work in, and gradually turning the axle back and forth a little, eventually I manage to get it freed up and spinning like it should.

For years I’ve been advising Jaguar owners (I told you there’d be Jaguar content!) to lube important stuff like the Lucas centrifugal advance mechanism with synthetic motor oil so that hopefully it won’t seize up like the original grease did. If synthetic motor oil seizes a centrifugal advance mechanism in one week like it does my slot car, that would be very bad advice indeed! I should be apologizing profusely!

I’m opening this up for discussion. First off, have any of you experienced similar problems with synthetic motor oil? Has anyone come up with something they feel is better for lubing the Lucas centrifugal advance mechanism? And, while we’re at it, anybody have any better ideas what lube I should be using on my slot car?

My daughters late father in law did his apprenticeship on the XJS V12. He always said that at after the oil change they always lifted the dizzy cap and pulled the sump dipstick and let the stick drip onto the mechanical advance. He said they always used mineral oil. They never encountered a problem with the dizzy mechanism.
This might have been more about the frequency of lubrication than the type of oil.

What if you clean off any remaining lube with some sort of safe solvent (not sure what kinds of materials are used in those components), let it sit a week, and see if the same is true unlubed?

If it moves freely with no lube and a week standing time, then one could surmise the synthetic oil is somehow gumming it up. Alternatively, if it does not move, then it may be a case of the synthetic not sticking at all to the materials - i.e. it’s just running off the friction surfaces.

I really can’t see how the synthetic could be clogging things up - unless those friction surfaces are exceeding 300°F temps, I can’t see the synthetic hitting its flash point and decaying. And you’d see the evidence if it did. Nor is it likely it’s swelling something up like a rubber part - you couldn’t work it loose to spin freely later if that were the case.

Maybe a silicone grease would work? I can’t imagine that a slot car would put such a load on the grease that silicone grease wouldn’t be able to take it, but as you say these things have advanced a lot since the late sixties… surprised the maker doesn’t have a recommendation.

Dave

I lube my distributor annually with synthetic oil, and the engine runs fine. I use it to lube the bushings on a MGTD generator with no problems. I’ve used it to lube furnace blower motors successfully.
Are the axle bushings plastic or metal?
Perhaps a Moly additive lube? Or a graphite lube that would leave a dry film?
Interesting situation.

I have stopped lubing anything except engines with engine oil.
Oil tends to attract dust particles, effectively doing more harm than good.

For lubrication I now use Teflon (PTF) spray on surfaces that are compatible(more modern components) and graphite spray on those that aren’t (bowden cables of older years e.g.).

The axle bushings that came with the car were sintered bronze or Oilite. However, I had to replace them with “adjustable” bushings which have a larger flange but a smaller OD so they can move around in the openings in the chassis and you solder them in position. These bushings appear to be solid bronze. The axle is 3/32" steel, presumably a drill blank.

Some guys run ball bearings. I don’t because of the need to mislocate the axle, hence the adjustable bushings.

The motor gets very hot indeed, but as far as I can tell, it’s not the motor seizing up, it’s the axle itself. I suppose it could be getting hot, but I wouldn’t think so.

I would think a Moly lube would be too thick for this application. I have been thinking about graphite. I have straight graphite; I might try mixing some into whatever oil I use.

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V12 owners have been using synthetic oil in the centrifugal advances for many years now, correct? If it gummed up that fast, wouldn’t we hear about it on the forum? I did mine 2 1/2 years ago, so far so good.

Plus, do oil vapors rise up the shaft from crankcase?

Back in the 70s, when I was slot car racing, the best lube I found was Marvel Mystery Oil.

Hmmm. I’ve long liked that stuff for other things. Maybe I’ll try it.

What about Boeshield T-9 by Boeing?

I wonder about Marvel Mystery Oil. I’m not even sure it’s a lubricant. It’s marketed as an oil and gasoline additive, primarily to clean deposits off fuel and oil system components. That would make it a solvent, not a lubricant.

That said, I’m now wondering what would happen if someone with a sticky Lucas centrifugal advance system just poured a bit of MMO down that center hole. If it does anything at all, it might at least make the distributor easier to disassemble (Mine was a bear! Rotor carrier shaft was well and truly stuck!). Best possible outcome, it actually clears all the solidified crud out of that joint and opens it up for dropping a bit of oil in there, all without disassembly.

I have, among my trove of ancient junk, a spray can of Pyroil Silicone Lubricant. Can’t use a spray on a slot car, it’d get all over the tires and whatnot. But I have several dropper bottles, so I just sprayed some of that stuff into a dropper bottle. I dunno if that’s gonna work. It appears that, upon application, the stuff almost immediately dries up and disappears, leaving a slick, dry surface. Might work for the slot car, dunno if it’ll work for the dropper bottle. The bottle seems to be airtight, perhaps it’ll stay put, but I’m a bit worried the next time I look at it it’ll look empty with a very slick surface on the inside.

My can doesn’t look like this one, probably because it’s really old:

MMO’s base is about a 3 wt oil.

It’s great in places where you need minimal lubrication and don’t want gooey oil all over the place.

Slot car bearings and gears are perfect example.

In Monday’s race I broke a gear tooth, so I purchased a new gear. Then I found the old gear was pretty much welded to the axle! It’s right next to the bushings that have been seizing, so I guess it makes sense it’d get bound up, too. I eventually got it off, but I am definitely not using this 5W-20 on my slot car any more.

That dropper bottle I filled with the Pyroil Silicone Lubricant from the spray can? Overnight it sucked itself flat! Whassup wit dat? At least it’s airtight.

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