We all know that lubricity and the ability not to break down under high temperatures are keys to good motor oil and provide a longer life for the engine, but frankly we’ve always been confused by all of the competing claims of companies hawking their products. What is the difference between synthetic oil and regular oil? How do you tell the difference between super oil and snake oil? To cut through the hype and promotional flak we searched out a marine professional who knew something about the subject. We found Pat Studdert, a 30-year veteran and president of Buffalo Marine Services. Here is what he had to say…
Buffalo Marine Service President, Pat Studdert,
Over 12 years ago Buffalo Marine sought to attain operational improvements of our tugs and we looked into all of the various factors impacting big issues like downtime along with matters such as fuel efficiency. One of the matters on our list of issues to address was engine lubricants. Based on the experiences reported by Eddie Howard with Field Services Equipment Company, and his recommendation, Buffalo Marine elected to upgrade its engine oils to Royal Purple’s high-film-strength, long-life lubricants.
Buffalo Marine Service in Houston, Texas has a fleet of 15 tugs that operate 24/7 which can’t spare downtime for costly engine repairs or even oil changes. What oil do they use?
A Six-Month Trial
As part of this change, used-oil analysis was begun on all engines to enable Buffalo Marine to collect enough data so that we could make an informed choice about safe oil-change intervals with the new oil. The first observation after changing to Royal Purple’s motor oil was that engine operating temperatures dropped 5 degrees F. An additional benefit was that fuel efficiency increased by 3-5 percent.
Ultimately, it was determined that oil and filter change intervals could safely be extended from the existing 300 hours to an oil change every six months, regardless of the number of hours of operation.
Change Oil Once in 6 Months
For some barges, this could be as long as 1,000 hours between oil changes. An exception would be made if the oil ever appeared to be dirty on the dip stick, in which case only the oil filter would be changed. Subsequent to changing the oil filter, the oil would again look clean on the dip stick. The use of used oil analysis was suspended immediately after establishing the six-month oil-drain intervals, which have been ongoing for the past 12 years.
More Years Between MOH
The most significant benefit achieved by changing the oil to Royal Purple was that engine repair costs dropped by twenty five percent (25%). In-frame repairs (replacing all pistons, valves and heads) on our engines were common. In-frame repairs after changing to Royal Purple were virtually eliminated. Also where the service life of a diesel engine used to be about three years, diesel engines of all types are now able to run five to seven years before replacement. These gains have significantly reduced costs and downtime and increased equipment availability.
Other Royal Purple Products
Based on these experiences, Buffalo Marine Service has upgraded to Royal Purple lubricants in many other applications with excellent results. Maxfilm aerosol is used on all hinges, controls, winch systems, etc., which has provided excellent lubrication and eliminated rust, which is a common problem in coastal environments. Purple Ice additive in the engine radiators has provided additional engine temperature reductions. Ultra-Performance Grease is used for all grease points. Every upgrade has resulted in improved equipment reliability.
Buffalo Marine Service believes being an industry leader requires innovation and that innovation is necessary to meet the challenges of a highly competitive and ever changing world. Some innovation can be complex and capital intensive. Others can be as simple as purchasing and using innovative products in place of products you already use. These are the easy ones to implement. But it first requires accepting that meaningful choices exist and often looking past the higher initial purchase price in favor of the higher overall value the product brings to the table. This was certainly the case for Buffalo Marine Service when it elected to embrace a change in lubricants.
For information about Royal Purple engine oil…