Synthetic Oil and Overdrive Transmissions

Hi Doug,

I have a question for you. 

I have been trying to find out if it is okay to use synthetic oil in the early Borg Warner T series 3 sp with od transmissions. I work on Hudsons, which use the R10 OD unit, then later the BW T86 and Studebakers which used the BW with OD transmissions.

Years ago I was told you could not use synthetic oil in them as it was “too slick” for the OD to work correctly. Now I understand that the oil needs to be compatible with brass parts that are in the transmissions and the Redline brand that I use is compatible
with “yellow metal” in transmissions and rear ends.

What is your thoughts on using synthetic oil in these units?

Thanks so much for your time!

Wellborn, FL

Hello Kerry,

I don't have experience with the Redline Brand, but I do have experience with the Royal Purple. I know that you should not use the Royal Purple with yellow metal. It will turn your oil to a metallic yellow. In my case, it was dissolving the syncro rings. 

In my "stand alone" Borg Warner OD unit. I do use the Royal Purple for the reason, I believe it will withstand greater temperature than conventional gear oil will. The OD unit generates a tremendous amount of heat because of the large numbers of moving parts in a small space.

In standard application, whereas it is attached to the back of the transmission, it can dissipate the heat more efficiently. 

If your Redline Brand is compatible with yellow metal, I would say it is probably going to be a good thing to run, if you are pushing your transmission with more power than it was originally designed for, however if you are using it in standard application, conventional oil is probably adequate.

If you have a leak, it is generally more of a leak with synthetic. 

Hope this helps,

Vintage Art Deco DeVilbiss Air Compressor

This vintage Art Deco DeVilbiss Air Compressor, I believe, was made somewhere around 1936.

It is a portable, but it isn't something you'd want to carry around much. Although the outer housing is made of aluminum, and it only measures 18 inches long, 14 inches tall, and 9 inches deep, it is quite heavy. In fact setting it on the bathroom scale, it weighed in at 80 pounds. It actually has a 1/2 horsepower electric motor in the bottom center that has a shaft out both ends to drive each of the two compressor motors.

This was my prize purchase at the swap meet in Bremerton WA this last weekend.

Ask Doug Nite Owl Tail Light Lens

February 13, 2014


I have a 1935 Dodge Coupe with a Nite Owl tail lens for one side only. I would like to find another one for the other side.
I see you have used these lenses on a project. Would you happen to know where I could find another one?
These lenses have the two screw mount holes directly across from each other, the same as 1933 - 36 Ford Cars have.

Best Regards

Tony Waters


The Nite Owls are really cool aren't they?

A friend has collected a couple of them, but as you probably know, they are extremely hard to find, and I am pretty sure he would not even consider parting with them.

You know the saying, looking for a needle in a hay stack?

Thanks for the inquiry though, and good luck with the hunt.