1930 A 7 passenger sedan

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    I am retoring a 1930 A Model and I am interested if anyone has information on the proper procedure for rebuilding the Lovejoy shocks. I am also interested in any information on the proper lubricant fro the transmission and the rear end. I understand that the transimission uses a 140 W Mineral Gear Oil and that the rear end uses a more modern 140 W Hypoid gear oil. Confirmation or exceptions please. Thanks


    Hello, Syd,

    My 1930 B has Houdaille shocks (round ‘can’) so I can’t comment on Delco Lovejoys.

    Gear oil (I also use these products in my two Series 80s and in my 1922 Paige 4-pass. touring):

    For the differential, the most important thing is to use GL-4 (hypoid) oil rather than the more readily available GL-5 (suitable for limited slip) or GL-6 (synthetic), as both GL-5 and GL-6 contain sulfur which will attack bronze components, especially bushings. NAPA stores sell Sta-Lube brand in both GL-4 and GL-5 in quarts and gallons. As to weight, since we’re both in California I recommend SAE 140 if you have not had the diff rebuilt. For climates that drop below freezing more than very occasionally, or if you have fresh gears and bearings and bushings, SAE 90 is probably better.

    For the non-synchro transmissions (I have a Clark 4-speed in my 1930), you need to use GL-1 (straight mineral oil) or GL-4, again refraining from use of GL-5 or GL-6. A fairly heavy-weight oil will slow down the gears during shifting to minimize clashing. There are two options:

    (1) the old 600-W steam cylinder oil (essentially Pierce-Arrow’s "Special Compound") that you can get from Model A / Model T Ford suppliers at swap meets, but be sure you get the dark, smelly, viscous stuff rather than the translucent, less-viscous stuff also sold as 600-W but which I suspect is repackaged SAE 140. The dark, smelly, viscous version is probably equivalent to about SAE 200 in weight. I choose NOT to use this in my diff, but it’s fine in transmissions.

    (2) big-rig SAE 250 straight mineral oil such as Texaco Thuban. Downside is that the smallest size available is a 5-gallon pail. You MIGHT be able to take a couple of clean one-gallon containers to a big-rig repair shop and get them to pump you some from a 55-gallon drum. The SAE 250 will be stiff for the first five minutes in winter in coastal Calif.

    Perhaps someone from colder areas can add some info on fluids more suitable for their areas, or on semi-annual fluid changes where necessary.

    VBR, George


    George, thanks for the great response it is most helpful.. I understand the problems with the sulpur and will stay away from that like you suggested. So far I have used straight mineral oil in the transimission and it is in fact a Texeco product. I had to buy a 5 gallon pail but I will us it in my 27 as well. It was cheaper to buy the pail then to buy several gallons in the quart size so it worked out ok. I also went with the GL-4 in the differential as well and I believe it was the Sta-Lube like you suggested.

    I have determined that the shocks are in fact Lovejoy Delco and have already taken them apart. It looks like one of the internal compression springs is damaged but I am still in the disassemble stage and have not gotten to the point where I can make a comparison to the others. What is your thoughts on using hydraulic fluid?

    Once again, thanks for your timely and informative response.


    Syd, you’re most welcome. I need to get into the Delco Lovejoys on my 1934 840A, but was planning to send them out for rebuilding. You can buy shock oil in quarts from Buick reproduction parts specialist Bob’s Automobilia in Atascadero, CA (think his website is http://www.bobsautomobilia.com). I use a small, flexible-nozzle, trigger-operated oil can from the hardware store to fill shocks on the car (dedicate a specific NEW oil can to that purpose, and mark it appropriately).

    I hate to admit it, but I’ve bought time on shocks that leaked by adding STP via a small mustard squeeze bottle with a conical tip. It’s really very time-consuming but tides you over.

    Houdaille shocks originally used glycerine as fluid but are usually rebuilt with seals that will accept shock fluid/hydraulic oil. If I think the shocks may not have ever been rebuilt, I’ll add glycerine from the drug store as it’s probably more benign to the old seals than petroleum-based shock/hydraulic oil. For colder climates, dilute the glycerine 10% with alcohol, as Pierce-Arrow recommended.

    Delco-Lovejoys were manufactured to use petroleum-based shock/hydraulic oil.



    George, thanks again for the quick response. It looks like the use of the hydraluic fluid should be alright. I did note that when I took these apart that the last person to repair them used a "rubberized" material for the back plate gasket and it had deteriorated considerably. It was deteriorated to the extent that the rubberized material had become deformed and partially filled up the cavity under the cover plate. I have replaced it with a cork/rubber gasket which should stand up to the new fluid.

    You mentioned that you were going to send your out to be repaired. Would you mind telling me who you use for this kind of work. The two rear shocks that I have do not have the same range of motion and I am not wuite sure why just yet. I need to do so additional disassembly but it might be helpful if I had someone to discuss this with if I am unable to sort it out. Thanks again for the advise. Later.



    Any petroleum will cause rubber to deteriorate. I think vellumoid paper would have been sufficient to seal, unless the cover was warped–in which case it should be machined flat.

    I haven’t researched shock rebuilders yet. Our Parts & Service Directory lists Apple (east coast), Five Points (SoCal) and M&S (OR). About 10 yrs ago I had unsat rebuild on both rear shocks on my 1936 from M&S. They re-did them free, but I had to pay for an extra shipping roundtrip for 40 lbs. I’m inclined to use Five Points due to relative proximity unless someone has had bad experience.


    George Teebay wrote:

    "1) … but be sure you get the dark, smelly, viscous stuff rather than the translucent, less-viscous stuff also sold as 600-W but which I suspect is repackaged SAE 140. The dark, smelly, viscous version is probably equivalent to about SAE 200 in weight. I choose NOT to use this in my diff, but it’s fine in transmissions."

    I’d like to just throw out the thought that if the gear lube for the transmission is too thick it may not be able to lubricant the bearings or bushings sufficiently.

    I had a 1925 Franklin years ago in which I used that really thick, tallow-ey lube which was packaged as Steam Cylinder Oil (Exxon Cylesstic TK-1000). It was basically a fluid grease. Yes, it made shifting very smooth, but after 20,000-some miles, the new owner of the car reports that the transmission needs to be rebuilt. I don’t know the details, but the comment made me suspect that the thick lube did not lubricate sufficiently.

    A restoration professional once told me that you should use the lightest possible lube that will make shifting reasonably easy. Now, you figure out what that means !

    What I’ve been using in my 1920’s cars lately is Shell Valvata. From Shell’s website:

    " Shell VALVATA J Oils are premium quality, high viscosity, low volatility oils that contain fatty compounds. They are recommended for bath or pressure lubricated bearings that operate at low speeds and moderate loads. VALVATA J Oils are especially well suited for worm gears. They are not suitable, however, for use with hypoid gears. These oils are also recommended for lubrication of steam cylinders in the presence of wet steam in non-condensing systems."

    They come in two viscosities, but I can’t recall sitting here which I use. I’d have to look in the garage. But it does not contain sulfer and seems to work well.

    For what it’s worth — Scott

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