First Oil Change - Regular versus Synthetic

Michael TMichael T Posts: 1,639Member ✭✭✭✭
Fellow Boaters, your opinions on this would be greatly appreciated. I agree completely that fully synthetic oil will best protect an engine. I know that all oil (to meet epa specs.) has some synthetic in it. So it seems to me there are three basic classifications of oil "regular" mineral (with some added synthetic), semi synthetic and fully synthetic. I plan to eventually run fully synthetic in my twin 350 Mags. I have just finished putting 20 hours on them - breaking them in strictly by Mercruisers book. In the owners manual Mercruiser recommends a "first" oil and filter change at 20 hours. In the owners manual section on recommended oils Mercury`s number one choice is 20W-40 FULLY synthetic. Soooooo here's my question. I always thought that you should put at least 50 hours on an engine (to allow the oil control rings to seat properly and the bearings to seat properly). I have asked four techs I trust and got different answers some with conditions. I telephoned Mercury HQ and they said I was to follow the manual for warranty reasons.  The tech at Merc HQ said the fully synthetic oil was required to avoid phosphorus that will kill the catalytic converters and void the warranty. When I told the Merc HQ tech that I live in Canada and that my new 2013 Mercs were shipped here  (the last year we can get non-catalysed)  as non-catalysed he said to use fully synthetic anyway. Opinions appreciated.
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Comments

  • nhsdnhsd Posts: 69Member ✭✭
    You just bought a new boat expensive enough that it has twin 350's, don't cheap out on the oil. Follow the specs and use the full synth oil. Just my opinion and spending your money, not mine... $-)

    Dave

    2002 Captiva 212, 5.0 220 hp, Alpha 1, 1.62 gears

    Moon Township, PA - boating in the Ohio River

  • Michael TMichael T Posts: 1,639Member ✭✭✭✭
    nhsd - Appreciate your opinion very much, thanks for taking the time!
  • BabyboomerBabyboomer Louisville KyPosts: 859Member, Moderator ✭✭✭✭
    edited May 2013
    If you don't go by the book and something happens that book will hit you in the ars!
    I don't have a c converter and have used Mercury Synthetic Blend for years and am very happy with it.
    Post edited by Babyboomer on
    image
    Slip 391 Sunset Marina Byrdstown Tn
  • Michael TMichael T Posts: 1,639Member ✭✭✭✭
    Well BB I've been hit on the **** a number of times before and it smarted - so your advice, as usual,  is most appreciated!
  • AlswaggAlswagg Posts: 378Member ✭✭✭
    We use full synthetic and have been for many years.  Actually we don't even have standard oil in the shop.  Good luck  Al
  • Michael TMichael T Posts: 1,639Member ✭✭✭✭
    Thanks everyone, that pretty much does it - full synthetic it is!
  • Dream_InnDream_Inn Annapolis, MDPosts: 1,085Member, Moderator ✭✭✭✭

    Yep, once Al commented I was right there as well! ;)

    Funny oil story...I was so used to buying regular for my 310, when I bought the 400 last year, I put like 5 quarts in and then looked at the manual figuring out how much the thing holds (dumb move, I know - should've read first).  Well, I had to remove that oil and put in the synthetic and it took like 8 quarts each engine!

    Dream 'Inn III -- 2008 400 Express

  • NotamemberNotamember Posts: 1,153Member ✭✭✭✭
    Dream_Inn said:

    Yep, once Al commented I was right there as well! ;)

    Funny oil story...I was so used to buying regular for my 310, when I bought the 400 last year, I put like 5 quarts in and then looked at the manual figuring out how much the thing holds (dumb move, I know - should've read first).  Well, I had to remove that oil and put in the synthetic and it took like 8 quarts each engine!

    Just be happy those aren't oil burners.. that would have been about 15 quarts each instead of eight each!! :-)

    Have you guys ever heard of "cajun crust"? ... It's the only drawback to using syn that I've encountered... If you've ever pulled an intake manifold off of a wedge engine that has ran primarily syn oil, you've seen it... It is a hard straight black crust that loves to coat lifter retainers (spiders), and any other non moving parts.. syn clings to surfaces much better than dyno oil, and when oil stops flowing, and rests on those hot parts, it bakes on tougher than blueing on a firearm.. it's generally not a problem, but it can theoretically create tolerance issues for tightly mapped engines.... The tighter the tolerances, the worse the impact (which is to say the better the build the tighter the tolerances).. but even so, the detergent and suspension properties of synthetic over dyno can't be denied, and the cajun crust thing can be greatly reduced by simply allowing the engine to cool down before killing it... Or, maybe even better, installing an electric aux pump to allow oil flow through the engines under its own power instead of the mechanical pump the engine relies on for a good ten minutes after killing a warm engine...

    Don't get me wrong, it would take like thousands of hours for that crust to form, but these things aren't nearly as easy to build as a car engine, and getting to those mechanical pumps, bearing caps, things like that, are mucho harder..
  • Black_DiamondBlack_Diamond Holland, MichiganPosts: 2,185Member ✭✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2013
    I deal with high end / high power gearbox manufactures and gas turbine people. All will tell you synthetics far out perform regular mineral based oil stocks. We are talking equipment that can run 24/7/365 and costs hundreds of thousands of dollars running multithousand HP. Look up the temperature capability for both. Not even close for the same VI index.

    Prelubers are used on expensive diesels, but they do nothing to cool oil unless you have some externally powered oil cooler.
    Post edited by Black_Diamond on

    2003 342FV "Black Diamond", PC BYC, Holland, MI
  • NotamemberNotamember Posts: 1,153Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2013
    Like I said, the only negative is that cajun crust stuff..

    the circulator isn't so much for cooling as it is to keep the suspended ash from cooking on hard parts after the engine stops circulating of its own volition.... Call it a rinse, if you would..

    Speaking from a builders perspective, though, one thing to concern about is an abrupt shift from dyno to syn.. it's rec'd, and understandably so that a person should change to syn, then change again in a few hundred miles or a few hours operation.. the thing that happens is that the better detergents and the suspending properties of syn loosen sediment dyno has left behind, which like to head directly to the little trashcans of the block (the hydraulic lifters).. oops.. a collapsed lifter can easily happen when debris block the port/passage..

    Many of the better builders I know rec you either always run dyno and stick with it, or do the same with syn.. syn being the better choice... From my own experiences though, I've learned that either is great, so long as it is replaced at the proper interval... The enemy of modern oil isn't that it loses its lubrication properties but that it suspends all the crap it possibly can, and debris don't lubricate..
    Post edited by Notamember on
  • Capt_SteveCapt_Steve Posts: 282Member admin
    This is INCREDIBLE information...thanks guys!
  • Michael TMichael T Posts: 1,639Member ✭✭✭✭
    The best engine builder that I knowy gave me his number one pearl of wisdom. Warm your boat engine up for five minutes and cool it down (water circulating) for five minutes - if you do this with a quality oil it will last a very long time - particularly with synthetic oil. Synthetic oil has long chain polymers that respond to heat. They form as the engine heats up to protect it. When your cool the engine down you significantly retard the formation of deposits in the engine. There is no non synthetic oil that can come anywhere near the lubrication specs of synthetic oil, particularly if the engine suffers a sudden temperature spike - like from a faulty fuel pump that leans the engine out at big rpms. As for engine building, the race engines we built were far "looser" that regular automotive engines or they would have blown up.
  • NotamemberNotamember Posts: 1,153Member ✭✭✭✭
    The 'looser' specs are a bit of a misnomer.. they are channeled. The channels allow critters such as cranks to float on bearings instead of come into actual contact.. here is more engineering in that, though, than simply leaving them loose.. they have to be capable of loading and exchanging the oil.. we're talking about a pretty dang small 'gap', though.. and we're talking about a design that will charge/load the 'gap' almost within a revolution or two.. which is why it's a pretty decent notion to allow an engine to idle to temp than it is to turn the key and break plane as soon as you can, just because you can..

    Damage and wear happens to engines when they start, if all other systems are working properly and healthy..

    But back to oil..

    Everyone I know swears on Amsoil.. they love it because of the long intervals they can get between changes, and its proven lasting qualities.. problem: lasting lubrication properties isn't the issue with modern oil, dyno or synthetic.. suspended ash is the problem, which places the blame of failure on filtration, or lack of maintenance/replacement... For the point of engine ownership, the most important thing you can do is swap oil on a rigid schedule.. I HIGHLY recommend Blackstone laboratories for oil analysis at least every other oil change.. there is no better way to know what your engine is experiencing for the $25 it takes to get that analysis.. google those fellas.. I use them religiously for all my more expensive toys..
  • NotamemberNotamember Posts: 1,153Member ✭✭✭✭
    I attached an oil report from Blackstone-labs to give you folks an idea of what to expect if you ever choose to go that route..

    there is, in my opinion, no better way to manage an expensive engine... Again, marine engines are hard to get to when it comes to doing simple things to them we take for granted with a stand mounted engine, or one in a vehicle.. You can't just drop the pan and get a peek at the bearing caps, or pull the screen on the pumps pick-up tube, ect... Unless you pull the engine.. If you go that far, you likely already have issues... If you used a lab report on the oil- you maybe could have headed it off at the pass, so to speak...

    If you write Blackstone an email requesting a sample kit, they will send you one for free... all you do is fill it according to the instructions and send it back w/ a $25 check, or you can pre-pay w/ a cc... the $$$$ it can save you in the long run can't be ignored. 
  • markbellinomarkbellino Oakville, OntarioPosts: 770Member ✭✭✭

    I'm confused. Mercruiser specs SAE 25W-40 oil in the manual, black bottle. This is not a fully synthetic oil, or so I've been told. I think it is straight grade oil.

    The Mercruiser 20W-40 oil is fully synthetic, comes in a red bottle. Haven't seen this readily available.

    Are you guys really using the 20W-40?

    Mark Bellino

    Boat Name: King Kong

    "Its all a-bout a-boat."

  • BabyboomerBabyboomer Louisville KyPosts: 859Member, Moderator ✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2013
    The Red Bottle I use is Synthetic Blend both bottles are redish in color looks purple here but it's more red watch your labels pictures of both below.
    imageimage
    Post edited by Babyboomer on
    image
    Slip 391 Sunset Marina Byrdstown Tn
  • seguirseguir Toronto Ontario CanadaPosts: 123Member ✭✭✭
    Fully synthetic wasn't available at our marina.....they are recommending the blended Merc SAE 25W-40.  Which is next in line in the manual.   Your thoughts?
  • TikiHut2TikiHut2 Sarasota, FlPosts: 1,289Member ✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2013
    Drew, Awesome info. Thanks for adding your engine experience to the forum and welcome aboard. I'm due for an oil change in my boat so I'll send in a sample to see what they have to say. 

    As for changing from traditional to synth, I recently switched oil types in my 100k mi SUV from Castrol oil to Mobile one synth after lifter noise prompted me to drop the oil pan and see what was in there. Even with 5k mi oil changes It was so full of sludge that the oil pickup was almost completely clogged causing low oil pressure to the knocking  lifters. I cleaned the pan and swapped to syn (lifters stopped rattling instantly)  and re-checked it after 200mi and just like you mentioned it had quickly dislodged a substantial amount of internal crap. Just re-changed it with a new filter and will watch it closely. Yikes.

    And for everyone else, I'd also wonder about intervals between oil changes for the boat. My '04 350 merc had just been serviced when we bought her last May and now has about 45hrs on the last oil change. It would seem a bit premature but maybe it should be a seasonal change instead of dependent on minimal hours of use (within reason of course)? Any insight?
    Mike
    Post edited by TikiHut2 on
    2004 FV270, 300hp 5.7 350mag MPI Merc 305hrs, 2:20 Bravo3 OD w.22p props, 12v Lenco tabs, Kohler 5kw genset, A/C, etc.etc...
    Regular weekender, Trailer stored indoors, M/V TikiHut, Sarasota, Fl
  • NotamemberNotamember Posts: 1,153Member ✭✭✭✭
    thanks, Mike... I think I'll like it here to be sure!!

    Seguir: for what it's worth, in my humble opinion, you can simply use what you have available that is within specs- 5w isn't that big a difference, especially when jumping the gap between full syn and a blend.. the absolute key to it all is monitoring it, and then replacing it when it's past it's prime..
  • Dream_InnDream_Inn Annapolis, MDPosts: 1,085Member, Moderator ✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2013

    What about this stuff?

    image

     

    Post edited by Dream_Inn on

    Dream 'Inn III -- 2008 400 Express

  • BabyboomerBabyboomer Louisville KyPosts: 859Member, Moderator ✭✭✭✭
    Same stuff I see that black bottle a lot where they sell & service outboards
    image
    Slip 391 Sunset Marina Byrdstown Tn
  • TikiHut2TikiHut2 Sarasota, FlPosts: 1,289Member ✭✭✭✭
    Great detailed info in a timely post since I'm also due for an oil change.
     
    So MichaelT, as you started the post by saying you intend to use "fully" synthetic 20-40wt oil, have you found it somewhere that we might shop? Aside from the one pic that Boomer posted of a red bottle above showing "fully synth" oil everything else clearly says blended. He has a great point to carefully read the label so you're not paying premium dollar for a blended grade.

    And to follow that, while I appreciate the loyalty to Merc brand names, has anyone seen a more readily available and compatible "fully synthetic" oil that'd spec to the same wt and quality? 
    2004 FV270, 300hp 5.7 350mag MPI Merc 305hrs, 2:20 Bravo3 OD w.22p props, 12v Lenco tabs, Kohler 5kw genset, A/C, etc.etc...
    Regular weekender, Trailer stored indoors, M/V TikiHut, Sarasota, Fl
  • Michael TMichael T Posts: 1,639Member ✭✭✭✭

    Hey Mark, In the 2013 Mercury owner's manual it is specified in several places - but on page 65 in Section 4 on Specifications - that Mercury Marine's choices are numbered as follows (one being best):

    The print of first choice is in taller and bolder lettering

    1. Mercury Fully Synthetic Mercruiser Engine Oil 20W-40 NMMA FC-W Rated

    2. Mercruiser/Quicksilver 25W-40 Synthetic Blend NMMA FC-W rated 4 cycle Mercruiser oil

    3. Mercury/Quicksilver 25W-40 NMMA FC-W rated 4 cycle Merc ruiser oil

    4. Other recognized brands of NMMA FC-W rated oil.

    The factory tech highly recommended the fully synthetic oil . Hope this helps. MT

     

  • markbellinomarkbellino Oakville, OntarioPosts: 770Member ✭✭✭
    I assume for my 20 hour service I should stick with the normal 25w-40 to help break in the engine? When should I change to fully synthetic?

    Mark Bellino

    Boat Name: King Kong

    "Its all a-bout a-boat."

  • AlswaggAlswagg Posts: 378Member ✭✭✭
    Change your oil at least yearly, or if you are using all year long twice a year.  If you are running at sustainded high rpm's change every 25 hrs or every season which ever comes first.  Indmar, the leader  in wake board boat engines.  Has since changeed the oil change interval to every 25 hrs.  Extream loads are now being put on the engines.  Remember to change and flush your drive lube at the same time as the engine oil.  I have one customer we service, which is a 4.3 lt V6 it now has over 4,300 hrs.  We have been servicing since it was new.  Yes, only synthetic oil has been used since brand new.  This motor is in one of the pier company's barges.  How long do you think it will last????Al 
  • Michael TMichael T Posts: 1,639Member ✭✭✭✭
    Mark, if you're at 20 hours, I'd change to Mercruiser Full synthetic now. MT
  • markbellinomarkbellino Oakville, OntarioPosts: 770Member ✭✭✭
    OK thanks MT. I'm at about 18 hours. So by next week I'm doing the 20h service. Will go with fully syntehtic unless someone thinks it wont help the rings to get seated properly.

    Mark Bellino

    Boat Name: King Kong

    "Its all a-bout a-boat."

  • Michael TMichael T Posts: 1,639Member ✭✭✭✭
    Hey Mark, for what it might be worth I asked a five star rated mercury certified tech that exact question with a little aditional information from my past helping to build engines experience. He replied that all oils have a little synthetic in them anyway and that if the engine had been broken-in properly as defined by keeping it out of  sustained idling (for at least the first 10 hours) and running it through the different rpm bands with a "couple of shots up to and down from WOT and that was not enough then there was nothing more you could have done and you had a lemon. Because - if you followed the proper break in for 20 hours the engine was well broken in. In fact, he said it was probably well broken in at 10 hours. This guy has been at it for oiver 35 years. I followed what I just said to you with my 2011 Mag 350 B3 and pulles slalom skieers and tiubers with it . Never burned any oil between changes. Used Merc 20w-40 FULL synthetic right from the 20 hour break in.  In my new Ec 310 we just passed the 20 hour mark and put FULLY synthetic in the twin 350 Mags B3. Trust me I do not want nto hurt those boys - way too many $$$$$ there! They will thrive on the Full synthetic - yours will too! Don't worry. P.S. Yous have mentioned you trust your dealer - what are his techs telling you? MT
  • mvnmvn Uxbridge, OntarioPosts: 440Member, Moderator ✭✭✭✭
    edited June 2013
    Well,  thanks to all of you I just realized I've been using regular Dino oil for the last 2 years.   I guess when I'm paying 12 bucks a litre,  I assumed it was synthetic!   What a dummy! 

    Off to the store now........ 

    Mark

    Post edited by mvn on
    Good,  fast,  cheap.... pick two. 
  • NotamemberNotamember Posts: 1,153Member ✭✭✭✭
    there isnt anything wrong with modern ancient lizard oil... :-) 

    its just not as good as synthetic... it is still a lot better than it was even ten years ago... so long as you changed it regularly, your engine is still happy.. 
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