Back to Basics

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“Gentlemen, this is a football.” —Vince Lombardi

Anyone who seriously played competitive team sports growing up knows the experience teaches many valuable lessons that can be applied to the rest of your life. We look up to sports heroes not simply because they help our favorite teams win, but also because they exemplify character qualities that inspire us to be the best we can be.

Whatever the sport, when one team repeatedly rises above the rest, we call it a dynasty. In the National Football League there have been a number of legendary dynasties. Paul Brown’s Cleveland Browns of the 1950s, Coach Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers of the 1960s and the 1990s Dallas Cowboys are all examples of winning teams that made a mark in the NFL’s history books. But perhaps the greatest of all, according to pundits, was the 1970s Pittsburgh Steelers.

Being a Browns fan, I know how touchy Clevelanders can be about praising our archrival Pittsburgh Steelers. Nevertheless, I will take that risk.

Whether it’s a football team or a company in business, ongoing excellence is no accident. Winners win for a reason. That’s why it’s worthwhile studying the factors that make great teams great.

The Pittsburgh Steelers were dominant for several reasons, but ultimately credit has to go to coach Chuck Noll. First off, he’s the one who picked the players who became the heart of this team; men like Franco Harris, Terry Bradshaw, “Mean” Joe Greene, Lynn Swann, Jack Lambert, Mel Blount and others. Their stingy defense earned the nickname “Steel Curtain” because they were so impenetrable. On offense, Bradshaw’s arm and a pulverizing running game provided the offensive punch that knocked the wind out of some of the best defenses in football.

How did they do it? I read an interview with Franco Harris back then in which he made a comment that has stuck with me my whole life. Harris was Coach Noll’s first-round draft pick in 1972, and Harris delivered the goods, becoming a Hall of Fame running back and an integral contributor to the Steelers’ four Super Bowl wins. Harris said on the first day of practice each year, Coach Noll would show the running backs how to hold the football. In other words, Noll pulled a page from Vince Lombardi’s playbook. It’s all about execution of the basics. Work hard, and don’t make mistakes.

As talented as he was, Franco Harris was also humble enough to remain a student of the game and go through the exercise of learning the fundamentals all over again at the beginning of each training camp.

Motor Oil Basics

There are so many things we take for granted and give very little thought to. Air is one of them. We seldom feel a need to understand what happens when we breathe or how oxygen in the atmosphere ends up in our bloodstream so as to nourish the cells of our bodies. Gravity is something else we give little thought to, even though it has a daily impact on our lives. (Be careful where your toes are when you drop something heavy.)

Something else we usually take for granted is motor oil. We who are in the oil change business know motor oil doesn’t last forever and that it needs to be changed periodically. But how many of your employees know the fundamental functions of a motor oil? What does motor oil really do, anyway? Here are seven tasks motor oils are designed to accomplish. 

1. Minimize Friction and Wear

This is the No. 1 function of a lubricant. Friction is detrimental to engine components and results in wear, so a lubricant must act as a barrier between moving parts.

2. Clean Critical Components

Motor oil contributes to the internal cleanliness of an engine by carrying away contaminants and holding them in suspension, preventing them from adhering to engine components. Base oils possess a varying degree of solvency that assists in maintaining internal cleanliness. Solvency is the ability of a fluid to dissolve a solid, liquid or gas. While the solvency of the oil is important, detergents and dispersants play a key role. Detergents are additives that prevent contaminants from adhering to components, especially hot components such as pistons or piston rings. Dispersants are additives that keep contaminants suspended in the fluid. Dispersants act as a solvent, helping the oil maintain cleanliness and prevent sludge formation.

3. Cool Moving Parts

Reducing friction reduces heat in moving parts, which lowers the overall operating temperature of the equipment. Fuel combustion also generates heat. Engines rely on lubricants to help them run cooler by absorbing heat and moving it to a different location where it can be safely dissipated. The cooler the operating temps, the better your engine can perform.

4. Prevent Contamination by Acting as a Seal

Lubricants act as a dynamic seal in locations such as the piston, piston ring and cylinder contact areas. By acting as a seal, motor oils help minimize combustion byproducts from contaminating the lubrication system.

5. Dampen Shock

In the event of mechanical shock, lubricants help cushion the blow. The lubricant film can absorb and disperse energy spikes over a broader contact area, reducing impact.

6. Prevent Corrosion

Lubricants can reduce or prevent corrosion of internal components by either chemically neutralizing corrosive products or setting up a barrier between the components and the corrosive material. 

7. Transfer Energy 

At times a lubricant is required to act as an energy-transfer medium, such as in the case of hydraulic equipment or valve lifters in an automotive engine.

It’s pretty basic but essential. Not all lubricants are formulated to carry these seven responsibilities equally. The motor oil you recommend will make a difference in the life of your customers’ cars. That is why I always recommend a premium synthetic solution. In a mechanically sound engine, it’s the way to go.

ED NEWMAN is the advertising manager for AMSOIL INC., an independent manufacturer of synthetic lubricants. He’s been writing articles about synthetic oil since 1986. He can be contacted at enewman@amsoil.com. For more information, visit: www.amsoil.com

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