Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Maserati 250 F...and Castor Oil...


  • Please log in to reply
23 replies to this topic

#1 taflach

taflach
  • New Member

  • 13 posts
  • Joined: October 19

Posted 14 October 2019 - 21:56

I write a blog on Formula One history and I'm currently researching the Maserati 250F. During its first race at the 1954 Argentine Grand Prix, they were having difficulties with the oil overheating and frothing due to the hot weather and the placement of the oil reservoir in the engine bay. I found an interview with their chief engineer in Motor Sport Magazine about how they used castor oil to try to remedy this. He said he needed 30 litres that he obtained from going around all the local pharmacies and buying half litre bottles.

Now, the fuel makeup of the Maserati 250F is listed as having 1% castor oil...my first assumption is that the collected castor oil was added to the fuel to improve lubrication in the engine.

Another thought is that they added it to the oil...though castor oil and mineral oil don't mix particularly well - a bit like trying to combine oil and water...one hydrophobic and one hydrophillic. It might take more than just stirring them together and hoping for the best.

I did find that Castrol-R is oil with 0.7% castor oil. Interestingly Mercedes Benz used this oil in the W196 at the 1954 French Grand Prix.

Or, did they replace all of the oil with castor oil...the 30 litres would be about right for this, but it doesn't seem like it would necessarily work as a straightforward swap...

Is this much simpler than it looks? It might just be that I don't know enough about oils and engines, though I know a lot more now than when I started to try to find the answer to this question! I have three different books about the Maserati 250F and none of them go into any details about this...though maybe they are all assuming basic engine knowledge which I don't have!

Thanks for any information anyone might havesmile.gif

Jennie Mowbray

https://taflach.wordpress.com/

Advertisement

#2 Kelpiecross

Kelpiecross
  • Member

  • 1,464 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 15 October 2019 - 04:27

I thought Castrol R was all castor oil.

 

 Nice article on Vanwall etc. - spelling and proof-reading need some work.

 

 Duckworth was right. 



#3 maserati300

maserati300
  • New Member

  • 3 posts
  • Joined: July 11

Posted 15 October 2019 - 08:21

Hi Jennie,

I believe they used to put the 1% castor oil in the fuel to lubricate the mechanical pump, as methanol based fuels were very dry.

Castor and mineral don't mix, so the mineral oil would have had to be drained to change over. I thought Castrol R was a vegetable based oil, but don't know about castor oil. Normally a 250F will need 25 litres approximately, depending on the car. They used to run very thick oils back then.

I hope this helps a little.

Best regards

Steve.



#4 taflach

taflach
  • New Member

  • 13 posts
  • Joined: October 19

Posted 15 October 2019 - 23:17

I thought Castrol R was all castor oil.

 

 Nice article on Vanwall etc. - spelling and proof-reading need some work.

 

 Duckworth was right. 

 

I'm almost certain that Castrol R was not all castor oil...

 

Unless you are a professional writer or editor, commenting on my spelling is just being patronising. And if you were a professional writer or editor, you would have more tact than to do so.



#5 taflach

taflach
  • New Member

  • 13 posts
  • Joined: October 19

Posted 15 October 2019 - 23:21

Hi Jennie,

I believe they used to put the 1% castor oil in the fuel to lubricate the mechanical pump, as methanol based fuels were very dry.

Castor and mineral don't mix, so the mineral oil would have had to be drained to change over. I thought Castrol R was a vegetable based oil, but don't know about castor oil. Normally a 250F will need 25 litres approximately, depending on the car. They used to run very thick oils back then.

I hope this helps a little.

Best regards

Steve.

 

Thanks Steve, that was very helpful.

 

I had presumed that the castor oil was already in the fuel.

 

I was not sure if my assumption they used pure castor oil was correct, but it seems very likely that that is what they did.

 

Thanks for your input, Jennie



#6 Kelpiecross

Kelpiecross
  • Member

  • 1,464 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 16 October 2019 - 10:05

I'm almost certain that Castrol R was not all castor oil...

 

Unless you are a professional writer or editor, commenting on my spelling is just being patronising. And if you were a professional writer or editor, you would have more tact than to do so.

 

 My middle name is "Patronising".   But seriously if you are a writer on Formula 1 history - spelling "Sterling" and  "Hawthorne"  both with an "e"  is a bit off.  For Chrysts'  Sake what is next?  - Wuan Manual Fangeo or Airton Semma?

 

  As far as I can tell Castrol R  is castor oil with  a small percentage of stabilisers  and antioxidants etc.  At 17 Quid per litre it should have a high percentage of gold leaf in it.



#7 taflach

taflach
  • New Member

  • 13 posts
  • Joined: October 19

Posted 16 October 2019 - 23:10

 My middle name is "Patronising".   But seriously if you are a writer on Formula 1 history - spelling "Sterling" and  "Hawthorne"  both with an "e"  is a bit off.  For Chrysts'  Sake what is next?  - Wuan Manual Fangeo or Airton Semma?

 

  As far as I can tell Castrol R  is castor oil with  a small percentage of stabilisers  and antioxidants etc.  At 17 Quid per litre it should have a high percentage of gold leaf in it.

 

Thanks!

 

Constructive criticism is much more helpful :)

 

Fangio is actually pretty easy to spell...unlike Manuel....



#8 scolbourne

scolbourne
  • Member

  • 515 posts
  • Joined: January 09

Posted 17 October 2019 - 08:15

Castor oil is very good in engines that are liable to overheat, as where other oils lose their lubrication at high temperatures, castor oil carries on working. For this reason it was popular  (and still is used) in two strokes and model aircraft engines.



#9 taflach

taflach
  • New Member

  • 13 posts
  • Joined: October 19

Posted 17 October 2019 - 23:12

Castor oil is very good in engines that are liable to overheat, as where other oils lose their lubrication at high temperatures, castor oil carries on working. For this reason it was popular  (and still is used) in two strokes and model aircraft engines.

 

Thanks...the whole chemistry of castor oil is quite interesting - a polar molecule like water, rather than a non-polar molecule like mineral oils. One reason it works as high temperatures is that the triglyceride fatty acid physically attaches itself to the metal of the piston, keeping the oil where it is needed.

 

Castor oil bought at the chemist is obviously a lot less pure than that used in engine oils...so it's a miracle that the 250F was actually able to finish that race...



#10 Joe Bosworth

Joe Bosworth
  • Member

  • 642 posts
  • Joined: May 05

Posted 18 October 2019 - 19:16

Back in the early 1950s I was chasing HP pretty hard for drag racing purposes. I was drag racing a road registered car.

 

In the process I was playing with oils as a way of gaining performance.  There is no question that I and every one else was being forced to going to very high viscosity oils for both engine life and friction reduction purposes.  Castrol R was rather widely used by many, myself included.  It was expensive and did not have a very long life but it helped to make things work better and more reliably.

 

As well as using it in the sump which was not a terribly good idea in cold weather as it certainly stayed highly viscous and certainly like the 5w - 40 stuff that people find at every price point now,  An alternative that we went to was suitable vis oil in the sump and adding Castrol R to the fuel.  I don't remember what ratios we settled on but they were pretty high.

 

And besides, they smelled good, :clap:.  It may have fitted in with those that worked on the premise that if it did not go well then chrome it.

 

Regards



#11 BRG

BRG
  • Member

  • 17,059 posts
  • Joined: September 99

Posted 20 October 2019 - 19:22

Castor oil bought at the chemist is obviously a lot less pure than that used in engine oils...

I would rather hope that the reverse was the case.  Given that the stuff at the chemist's shop was for human consumption!



#12 Kelpiecross

Kelpiecross
  • Member

  • 1,464 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 21 October 2019 - 05:05

I would rather hope that the reverse was the case.  Given that the stuff at the chemist's shop was for human consumption!

 

 I thought the same thing.

 

  "Castrol R - the Motor Oil of Choice for Discerning Pirates". 



#13 taflach

taflach
  • New Member

  • 13 posts
  • Joined: October 19

Posted 22 October 2019 - 00:56

I would rather hope that the reverse was the case.  Given that the stuff at the chemist's shop was for human consumption!

 

Maybe medicinal castor oil was "pure", but the lack of additives made it an undesirable substitute for engine oil...

 

I have read a lot about the processing of the castor bean to make castor oil but have yet to find exactly what they did to make engine oil out of it...surely they added something...but what?



#14 Paulleek

Paulleek
  • Member

  • 36 posts
  • Joined: February 13

Posted 31 October 2019 - 07:05

An article in Motor Sport Magazine about Castrol R...

https://www.motorspo...00/55/castrol-r

Edited by Paulleek, 31 October 2019 - 07:06.


#15 Bikr7549

Bikr7549
  • Member

  • 109 posts
  • Joined: May 16

Posted 31 October 2019 - 15:09

Interesting article, thanks!



#16 stuartbrs

stuartbrs
  • Member

  • 778 posts
  • Joined: September 02

Posted 04 November 2019 - 10:52

I used to put an oil cap full of Castrol R in the fuel tank of my Mini from time to time... just for the lovely smell. 



#17 Kelpiecross

Kelpiecross
  • Member

  • 1,464 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 06 November 2019 - 10:35

An article in Motor Sport Magazine about Castrol R...

https://www.motorspo...00/55/castrol-r

 

 I actually thought the article was slightly confusing.  In one place it said (or implied)  that Castrol  R was mineral oil with 0.7% castor oil in it  and in another  implies that R20 was also a mixture of mineral oil and castor oil.  Back in the good old days, I  (and everybody I knew) used castor from the chemist (or wherever)  in the various engines - so it was castor we used, not a mixture with mineral oil.  



#18 taflach

taflach
  • New Member

  • 13 posts
  • Joined: October 19

Posted 07 November 2019 - 06:14

 I actually thought the article was slightly confusing.  In one place it said (or implied)  that Castrol  R was mineral oil with 0.7% castor oil in it  and in another  implies that R20 was also a mixture of mineral oil and castor oil.  Back in the good old days, I  (and everybody I knew) used castor from the chemist (or wherever)  in the various engines - so it was castor we used, not a mixture with mineral oil.  

 

I had the same difficulty. I also thought it that it said that Castrol R had 0.7% castor oil. I searched everywhere to find out exactly what was added to castor oil to make Castrol R but it is probably a secret like the recipe for Coca-Cola!

 

That is cool that you used castor oil direct from the chemist. Did you taste it to make sure it was fresh?



#19 blueprint2002

blueprint2002
  • Member

  • 36 posts
  • Joined: May 19

Posted 09 November 2019 - 00:38

I write a blog on Formula One history and I'm currently researching the Maserati 250F. During its first race at the 1954 Argentine Grand Prix, they were having difficulties with the oil overheating and frothing due to the hot weather and the placement of the oil reservoir in the engine bay. I found an interview with their chief engineer in Motor Sport Magazine about how they used castor oil to try to remedy this. He said he needed 30 litres that he obtained from going around all the local pharmacies and buying half litre bottles.

Now, the fuel makeup of the Maserati 250F is listed as having 1% castor oil...my first assumption is that the collected castor oil was added to the fuel to improve lubrication in the engine.

Another thought is that they added it to the oil...though castor oil and mineral oil don't mix particularly well - a bit like trying to combine oil and water...one hydrophobic and one hydrophillic. It might take more than just stirring them together and hoping for the best.

I did find that Castrol-R is oil with 0.7% castor oil. Interestingly Mercedes Benz used this oil in the W196 at the 1954 French Grand Prix.

Or, did they replace all of the oil with castor oil...the 30 litres would be about right for this, but it doesn't seem like it would necessarily work as a straightforward swap...

Is this much simpler than it looks? It might just be that I don't know enough about oils and engines, though I know a lot more now than when I started to try to find the answer to this question! I have three different books about the Maserati 250F and none of them go into any details about this...though maybe they are all assuming basic engine knowledge which I don't have!

Thanks for any information anyone might havesmile.gif

Jennie Mowbray

https://taflach.wordpress.com/

Happened to come across a page and a half about the use of castor oil in aircraft engines, in the January 7 1939 issue of "Automotive Industries" magazine. You will find it in the "100 Year Library" on their website.

Not everyone today remembers that combat aircraft used piston engines in those days, up to about 1950, and that they were far in advance of automobile engines of the same general type, so whatever applied to the former was also true of the latter, a few years down the line.



Advertisement

#20 Kelpiecross

Kelpiecross
  • Member

  • 1,464 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted 11 November 2019 - 02:46

I had the same difficulty. I also thought it that it said that Castrol R had 0.7% castor oil. I searched everywhere to find out exactly what was added to castor oil to make Castrol R but it is probably a secret like the recipe for Coca-Cola!

 

That is cool that you used castor oil direct from the chemist. Did you taste it to make sure it was fresh?

 

 I rang Mr. Castrol's   Technical Helpline  and asked about Castrol R -  apparently the only all-castor product now is  Castrol M.   Castrol R30 and R40  are mixtures of synthetic oil and  castor  (but as you suspected  are a secret recipe) 

http://www.tds.bp.co...2_Castrol_M.pdf

 

 All the R products are for two-strokes  - not to be used as a crankcase oil.  



#21 taflach

taflach
  • New Member

  • 13 posts
  • Joined: October 19

Posted Yesterday, 01:44

 I rang Mr. Castrol's   Technical Helpline  and asked about Castrol R -  apparently the only all-castor product now is  Castrol M.   Castrol R30 and R40  are mixtures of synthetic oil and  castor  (but as you suspected  are a secret recipe) 

http://www.tds.bp.co...2_Castrol_M.pdf

 

 All the R products are for two-strokes  - not to be used as a crankcase oil.  

 

Thanks...that is great!

 

I've also found a site about the different grades of castor oil:

 

http://www.aurarefoi..._refoils_india/

 

It looks like medicinal castor oil is cold-pressed, but industrial castor oil is steam pressed - giving a higher output, but which then requires further processing afterwards.

 

This is an interesting article from Penrite oils on the history of castor oil:

 

https://www.penriteo...-Castor-Oil/394



#22 Charlieman

Charlieman
  • Member

  • 1,740 posts
  • Joined: October 09

Posted Yesterday, 13:41

I don't get it. The smoke point of castor oil is relatively low -- it would get sticky on piston rings. Synthetic oils tolerate much higher temperatures, permitting their use as a crankcase and upper cylinder lubricant. What is the particular function of castor oil?



#23 BRG

BRG
  • Member

  • 17,059 posts
  • Joined: September 99

Posted Yesterday, 20:03

 What is the particular function of castor oil?

It relieves constipation.

 

Which was actually an issue when used in racing engines if yiu breathed in the fumes.



#24 Kelpiecross

Kelpiecross
  • Member

  • 1,464 posts
  • Joined: October 10

Posted Today, 12:27

It relieves constipation.

 

Which was actually an issue when used in racing engines if yiu breathed in the fumes.

 

  WW1 fighter pilots were in a state of pretty much continuous   diarrhoea  from being soaked in castor oil from the total-loss  oil  systems of the rotary engines  .