Growing up in the 1950s, I was one of those guys who learned to dance, but only the parentally approved waltz and foxtrot. That was at Ina Mae Wongers Dance School. Of course, back then dancing wasnt an activity that interested most 12-year-old boys.
Theres one form of dancing that intrigues me. Its called clogging, and thanks to the internet, I was able to find out about it. According to Jeff Driggs, an expert on clogging, it is a truly American dance form that began in the Appalachian Mountains. As the Irish, Scottish, English and Dutch-Germans settled in the Appalachians in the mid-1700s, the folk dances of each area began to combine in an impromptu foot-tapping style, the beginning of clog dancing as we know it today. Accompanied by rousing fiddle and bluegrass music, clogging was a means of personal expression in a land of newfound freedoms.
Now I suspect that one or two of you have been looking at this and wondering if Ive gone off the rails somewhere. That may be true, but I do have a point to make that is relevant to the business. There is a dance going on between the American Petroleum Institute and ASTM International to try to figure out how to keep older API categories current. It involves finding substitute tests or setting new test limits to verify performance against prior category limits. This effort is being spearheaded by the API Category Life Oversight Group, or CLOG. The goal of coming up with equivalent (not identical) limits is at the heart of the CLOG process. In addition, there is a strong need to avoid penalizing technology that passes current categories.
APIs CLOG has a full dance card these days, and it threatens to get even more crowded. Thats because the industry has hit a convergence point on the Sequence III wear and oil thickening test and the Sequence VI fuel economy test, among others. The table on Page 6 shows the tests and categories that are under discussion.
In the case of the Sequence III, the IIIG version of the test is becoming unavailable. The Sequence IIIG first appeared as an engine test in the API SM category back in 2004. Parts used in the test were expected to run out at the end of the first quarter this year, and its replacement, the Sequence IIIH, is not fully in the system as of yet.
CLOG and APIs Lubricants Group have been working for more than 12 months on establishing equivalency between the Sequence IIIH and Sequence IIIG for current and older active categories. This effort has reached a point where additional data on the Sequence IIIH is needed.
Recently, there were efforts to set the Sequence IIIH limits for API SN and ILSAC GF-5 engine oils, specifically, that viscosity increase be capped at 150 percent and that weighted piston deposits achieve a minimum rating of 4.0 with no stuck rings. Ballots on these limits failed and did not gain consensus at the last API Lubricants Group Standards Meeting, with the issue being the weighted piston deposits.
A Sequence IIIH deposit rating of 3.7 equates to a Sequence IIIG rating of 4.0, which could be perceived as a performance improvement. The ASTM statisticians review of the limited data available best supported a 3.7 deposit limit. That means that those who want the Sequence IIIH limit to be set at 4.0 should be bringing forward statistical data analysis supporting their position.
There are some examples that suggest the weighted piston deposit equivalency for current technologies is more severe than the reference oils suggest. In order to determine equivalency, there needs to be some consideration of current relevant oils and not just reference oils from obsolete categories.
A piston deposit requirement of 3.7 for the IIIH for ILSAC GF-5 oils will minimize the impact on currently licensed GF-5 technology. In fact, data shared with ILSAC clearly supports that a Sequence IIIH deposit limit of 3.7 equates to the current Sequence IIIG limits in ILSAC GF-5.
At any rate, the API CLOG group met in May to try to decide which weighted piston deposit number they will accept. That will be done by looking at all the data that can be found comparing Sequence IIIG and Sequence IIIH test results on the same oils, whether reference oils or commercially available ones. Everyone in the industry is hoping that this piece of the CLOG dance will be resolved soon.
Well, thats one down, but were still not done (to steal the line from a TV huckster). The Sequence VID is, or I should say was, the fuel economy test for ILSAC GF-5 and API Category SN-Resource Conserving. Sadly, we ran out of engines to run the Sequence VID at the end of 2016. As Im writing this column, we are in a provisional licensing phase for these two categories. It basically means that until the test or a suitable alternative can be run, API will allow a candidate oil to be sold as meeting all requirements, even though it has not passed the fuel economy test. As soon as the test or a suitable alternate is in place, licensees have six months to run it and report the passing results to API.
Originally, everyone thought that ILSAC GF-6 would be in place by now and the new tests supporting it would be running. The problem is that, with two completely new tests for chain wear and low speed pre-ignition and four other tests undergoing significant upgrades, APIs Auto/Oil Advisory Panel has not been able to get it to the finish line yet. In fact, it looks almost certain that mid-year 2019 will be the first-license date.
Part of the problem was the simultaneous development and introduction of API CK-4/FA-4. The strain on oil, additive and testing company resources for two major category developments just couldnt be overcome. The heavy-duty engine oil program seemed to present an easier path and was chosen by the industry to go first.
Getting back to the Sequence VID situation, its successor test, the Sequence VIE, has been developed and is available to measure engine oils contribution to fuel economy. Its a different animal, so the test results and limits cant be transfered directly to API SN and ILSAC GF-5 oils.
CLOG has come up with one approach, which is to take known API SN and ILSAC GF-5 oils and run them according to the Sequence VIE procedure to see what results they give. If these results look as though they are falling in line with the Sequence VID results, it may be possible to assign passing limits to both oils using the Sequence VIE test procedure. I know that everyone is hoping to get this done so we wont face a two-test, double-provisional licensing situation with both the Sequence III and the Sequence VI.
Dancing is really difficult when you have a partner who doesnt have the moves, and that describes the Sequence IVB valvetrain wear test, which is supposed to replace the Sequence IVA. Its a different engine and a different procedure, but other than that, no problem. Actually, the Sequence IVB, which is run using a Toyota engine, is still working on a test procedure to align it with Sequence IVA, which uses a Nissan engine.
Theres an awful lot of work going on here as well, but at least it isnt a CLOG problem-yet. When the Sequence IVB is in place, a set of test criteria will need to be developed to allow for a readback to Sequence IVA and allow earlier categories to remain active.
I dont know about you, but Id be at my wits end trying to keep all of these balls in the air. Thats not dancing, thats juggling; and as bad a dancer as I am, Im a worse juggler!
Industry consultant Steve Swedberg has over 40 years experience in lubricants, most notably with Pennzoil and Chevron Oronite. He is a longtime member of the American Chemical Society and SAE International, where he was chairman of Technical Committee 1 on automotive engine oils. He can be reached at email@example.com.