Video: An Inside Tour of AMSOIL’s Mechanical Testing Laboratory

When it comes to engine oils, many folks are leery of claims made by manufacturers. After all, their job is to sell you something. However, AMSOIL spends a significant amount of money to test and refine their products, so that not only do they deliver exactly what is promised, but also continue to develop products and drive product improvement.

In this video, AMSOIL’s Mark Nyholm, a product development engineer and the Mechanical R&D Manager, takes us for a behind-the-scenes look at what takes place in the company’s mechanical laboratory, or “mech lab” as he calls it. “The lab is a critical piece of our validation process for all of the products we bring to market,” explains Nyholm.

“At AMSOIL, We take it from the chemical level, and break it down, combine those chemicals into really great formulas, and then have to test and validate it.” That’s where the mechanical lab comes into play. You can’t come up with a new formula and put it on the market because it should work on paper.

“We put those formulas to work in actual applications. Whether it’s engines, transmissions, hydrostats, or compressors, that’s what we test here in the lab,” says Nyholm. “That’s what we are talking about when we say we fully engineer our products. Our mechanical lab is a huge asset to AMSOIL. We put those new formulations into real engines, and then beat them up. We put them through really long tests, insane temperatures, and really heavy loads, all in the name of gathering data to see if we’ve achieved our goals.”

AMSOIL’s testing can range from a 1,000-horsepower engine in Cell 1, to a dozen 49cc engines on a 100-hour test in Cell 2, to a turbocharged Razor being run on the limiter in Cell 3.

AMSOIL’s mech lab has three separate dyno cells. The first is a SuperFlow water-brake engine dyno that most of you reading this will be familiar with. In fact, that is where the very first public Mopar Hellephant engine dyno took place. The second cell is configured for endurance testing of small engines for extreme periods of time. The second cell also has a Midwest eddy-current dyno, designed to be extremely versatile and accurate over extended periods of load.

The third cell at AMSOIL consists Of a SuperFlow powersports chassis dyno. “We’ll take data that we’ve collected from field testing on the road, in the woods, or climbing hills, and duplicate those conditions on the dyno. Then, we’ll turn up the knob a little bit to do what we consider ‘severe’ testing,” Nyholm explains. “Rarely do we make decisions around here based on subjectivity. We are in the business of measuring things. That’s how we learn, that’s how we formulate, and that’s how we engineer.”

Between the data generated by the different dyno software, stand-alone data acquisition systems, and high-end laboratory-grade sensors and tools, the mechanical engineering team is able to test and measure all sorts of things you wouldn’t find in a typical dyno cell. “Once we finish the dyno testing, we then tear the engine down, and take physical measurements of everything to compare before and after the testing,” says Nyholm.

By analyzing the data from so many different sources, there are inherent checks and balances to make sure that a bad sensor or misread gauge doesn’t accidentally skew data. In the end, it really means that the lubricant does what the team wants it to do, at the level they want to do it.

In addition to lab-grade sensors and data acquisition in the cells, AMSOIL’s mechanical laboratory also physically measures the components of the engines to determine actual wear. This blueprinting (and reverse blueprinting) can find issues not apparent in testing, or further validate successful testing.

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About the author

Greg Acosta

Greg has spent seventeen years and counting in automotive publishing, with most of his work having a very technical focus. Always interested in how things work, he enjoys sharing his passion for automotive technology with the reader.
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