New Member / New Pierce-Arrow Owner

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    Hello everyone:

    I just bought a 1926 Series 80 in superb condition and I’m anxiously awaiting its delivery.

    I have a couple other classic vehicles but the oldest is 1940, so 1920’s hardware is going to be a new experience for me and any advice you’re willing to give a newbie is most appreciated.

    Specifically, I’d be interested in engine oil recommendations, fuel recommendations, and anything else you think important to know.  We have one service station in my town that sells ethanol-free gasoline, which I presume would be preferred, although it’s 91 octane, which I have to imagine is much more potent than anything available in 1926.

    I appreciate a leg up and I’ll look forward to meeting some of you at one of the future events.



    Hi Richard,

    Congratulations on the “new” Series 80 Runabout.  I had one for years and drove it over 18,000.  Great car. Not knowing how clean the oil passages are  in the engine, I recommend SAE 30 non-detergent.  If you don’t already have it, get the Series 80 Operation and Care manual.  It can be downloaded from the PAS Library at AACA.   The manual contains a wealth of information.  Feel free to contact me if you have other questions.

    Paul Johnson   (503) 503-5700




    Thank you, Paul.  I neglected to mention that it is a 5 passenger sedan.

    The engine is newly rebuilt, with very few miles on it, so it ought to be pretty clean inside.  I am reading through the Operation and Care Manual now, and learning lots along the way.

    Appreciate the help,



    Richard, welcome to the club. The 91 octane won’t be any more potent, ir just means it could tolerate a much higher compression ratio without knocking. The engine originally would have been running on something like 70 octane. The potential problem with 91 octane even if it is alcohol free is that it likely has more of the volatile petroleum fractions that can give vapor lock problems, which is also a problem with ethanol blends. Hard to predict, so regardless I would stay close to home in hot weather to see how it runs. Worst case is usually trying to restart and run after the car has been warmed up for awhile on a hot day then shut down for 10-30 minutes. This can be tested at home.


    Thanks, James.  Sounds like some experimentation close to home will be a first order of business.  We’re still seeing 95-100 degree days out here in southern New Mexico.



    Adding to the comments above, if you have the opportunity to run non ethanol gas, I think it’s a good idea.  Ethanol may dissolve older rubber parts in the fuel system, plus if the car sits for a while the ethanol can separate out. In addition to driveability problems, it will absorb moisture from the air (maybe not much of a problem in New Mexico) which can rust out the gas tank if the car sits much.  Because of the cost of non-ethanol fuel here ($5.50/GAL) in Cal., I run normal pump gas until near the end of the driving season, then run non-ethanol with a fuel stabilizer so that is what’s in the tank over the winter.

    As far as oil is concerned, there are a multitude of opinions out there.  You indicate your engine is freshly rebuilt and should be clean inside. In that case a detergent oil should be OK.  I run Delo 400 15-40 in my cars (rebuilt engines) and haven’t had any problems. It is a high detergent oil, primarily for diesel engines, but also rated for gasoline engines. Shell Rotella is similar. If your engine is older and you don’t know what type of oil has been used in it, a non-detergent may be your safest bet as Paul mentioned.  The best way to know for sure is to drop the pan and check for sludge.

    The other oil controversy out there is the amount of zinc/phosphorus in the oil.  Our cars were built before those additives were invented (1940s) so I don’t worry much about it.  Do some internet research and you can form your own opinion on the subject.  There is a LOT of information out there on the subject, some of it good, some of it uninformed opinion.

    Have fun with the car.




    Thanks very much for all the info.  Luckily, I can get ethanol free gas here for about $2.80/gal, last I checked, so that will be my go-to.

    I was reading through the owners manual and studying the lubrication schedule.  Anyone have a recommended source for water pump grease?




    Water Pump specific grease is available from Restoration Supply in Escondito.  Lubriplate 115 I believe. Don’t use regular or Marine grease as it will gum up your cooling system.

    Even with non-ethanol gas, a stabilizer such as Stabil is a good idea if the car is going to sit for a while, such as over winter.

    I had a conversation with Paul Johnson after my last post and he suggested you check with the engine re-builder to make sure they cleaned the crankshaft oil passages during rebuild if you are going to use a detergent oil. He had a bad experience where a plug of sludge broke free from an uncleaned crankshaft oil passage and trashed a bearing.



    All very much appreciated, Dave!  Thanks for the tips.



    I understand that 91 /93 octane fuel (Premium) does not separate / degrade as do the Regular (87) or Mid-Grade (89) gasolines.

    The higher octane gas does no harm to a Pierce-Arrow engine.

    Below, I post a link to a SUNOCO article on Fuel Stability.





    Thank you, sir.  Great article!



    Most octane is boosted today with ethanol….and thus much less stable. Additives don’t help before or after…….non E-10 fuel is you best bet if it’s available in your area. The best cure for fuel issues is to drive your car. Long term storage is best done with aviation fuel or a special fuel from companies like VP. We run C-9, and it’s stable for six years. Cost is about 7 dollars a gallon, but a half tank of it is cheaper than going through the entire fuel system.


    seems the zinc issue affects mostly high-compression engines beginning in the 1950s, with strong valve springs and high cam loading. As was stated earlier, all Pierces were built before zinc oil additives were in motor oil anyway, so I don’t worry about it. Whatever I put in it (I use Shell Rotella 30-weight) is so much better than anything available in the pre-WWII era anyway, and no oil will make up for a worn-out engine or one with too much sludge and dirt.

    Enjoy your car; that’s what it was made for, and it will help preserve it to exercise it!

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