Engine & Motor Oil History
In the 1860’s, Dr. John Ellis was practicing medicine in Binghamton, New York and studying the potential healing qualities of crude oil. Through his research he was unable to find any medical value of the substance. What he did find was that oil had great lubricating properties, even at high temperatures. The current use of vegetable oils and animal fats as lubricants in steam engines were inefficient and could gum up under heat.
Intrigued by the possibilities, Ellis left his medical practice to focus on the development of an all-petroleum lubricant for steam engines. He met with great success! In 1866, with the launch of Binghamton Cylinder Oil, he established the Continuous Oil Refining Company. Two years later Ellis would partner with his son-in-law and rename the Cylinder Oil to Valvoline. By the 1890’s Valvoline was not only used in Henry Ford’s Model-T, but it was the recommended oil. During that period Valvoline was associated with winning race cars.
Closer to Home
During the same time period John Ellis was developing his lubricating oil, Colorado was launching its first oil company. North of Canon City, Colorado, an area called “Oil Spring” was known to have crude oil seeping from the ground. Alexander Cassidy purchased the claim and established Colorado Oil Company. Primarily active from 1860-1881, pits and shallow wells produced only one to three barrels of oil per day.
Convinced the area was rich in oil, Cassidy continued to prospect around the area for several years. In January 1881, a test well southeast of Canon City finally struck oil. Tapping into a significant source of oil, the Florence Oil Field would become the first big oil operation in Colorado. Before long it was producing more than 3,000 barrels a day through the 1890’s.
Through the search for oil in the late 1800’s and early research to develop reliable lubricants, today we have high quality motor oils that protect our vehicles and keep them running smoothly. Today’s modern engines are hard on oil. Even with our advanced technology, oils break down through time and use. Synthetic motor oil meets the demands of today’s cars and trucks – we’ll talk about that in another article. Regardless of the type of oil used in your vehicle, any oil that has lost its viscosity can damage an engine, so changing a vehicle’s oil regularly is important.
Mark your calendar and plan a trip to Golden Triangle Auto Care every three months to let the experts change the oil and filters in your vehicle. If you’re a regular customer of their Downtown Denver auto repair shop, they’ll send you a reminder when it’s time to bring your car in for this critical, regular maintenance. They’ll even send you an oil change coupon to help save you a few bucks!