V6 (left) and V8 (right) oil pickup tubes
Photo 1: V6 (left) and V8 (right) oil pickup tubes

Buick/Olds/Rover Oil Pan Options

This article appeared in The British V8 Newsletter - Volume XIV, Issue 1 - January 2006

by: Greg Myer

Many of us are aware that the B.O.P.R aluminum block V8 can use some help in the lubrication department. It's not that the factory arrangement is bad, it's just that we often want to do more with our cars than the factory ever intended. High RPM's, hard cornering forces, high compression, and higher temperatures are commonplace in British V8 conversions. Hey! That's why we do the swap in the first place.

There are high-volume oil pumps available and it's a good idea to use one. Getting more oil to the pump is next. Drilling out the oil galley from the pickup tube to the front cover is an accepted practice. You will need a 12 inch long 1/2 inch drill bit to do this. The hole from there to the pickup needs enlarging, as it is also 7/16 of an inch. Many of us use the Buick V6 pickup tube, as the stock V8 tube is 1/2 inch I.D. and the V6 unit is 19/32 I.D. These are available from several sources. I know D&D has them, for one. In the photo below you can see these 2 pickups, the V6 unit is bolted to the block and the stock V8 one is leaning against it. They are the same length when bolted in. The only difference is the diameter.

Why is all of this important? Go get a good milkshake, and I'll explain. I hope you got a "milkshake straw" with that. A standard straw is thinner and it's very difficult to suck your thick milkshake through it. Has anyone ever determined the viscosity of their milkshake? Me neither, but you can see the analogy. Opening the oil passages up allows the oil pump to do its job with less effort, less stress on the distributor gear, etc. After that we just don't want to run out of milkshake.....I hate that slurping sound. Oh, and we don't want to suck the oil pan dry either....it'll create an even worse sound.

How 'bout the pan? All of these mods work with the stock pan and it fits in the MGB just fine. Want more capacity? Hang a dual remote filter setup on the inner fender. That will add 1 quart. Any time we have more oil in the system, it has more time to cool off before being pumped under pressure again. Another option with the pan is to deepen it. This adds capacity, but don't forget that the pickup tube needs to be lengthened too! Maybe run the oil 1 quart low on the dipstick. The oil will be farther from the spinning crankshaft (less windage effects) and we'll still have the same oil capacity as before the mod.

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Another alternative is to fabricate a "racy" pan. I've always liked the idea of a wide, baffled, gated pan. I've run deep sump pans on the street. I had a drag race type on my Malibu years ago. It held 7 quarts without even being up to the 'add' line on the dipstick. One day I bottomed it out. The drain plug was on the left and hung down ever so slightly. It spun out on contact and I lost all my "Racing Oil" in a matter of seconds. The "idiot" light came on (be careful with what you're thinking) and I saw it and shut off the motor. I changed back to the stock pan the same day. (Side note: I had installed a 'T' on the oil pressure sending unit so I had both a gauge and an idiot light - I still do this as you can't watch the gauge all the time.)

Speedway Motors Oil Pan Kit (oil-pan not included, of course)
Photo 2: Speedway Motors Oil Pan Kit (oil-pan not included, of course)

Anyhow, a wide, gated pan solves many of the areas of concern. It holds more oil, keeps it cooler, controls where it sloshes, keeps more of it around the pickup, and shouldn't contact the pavement. I found an oil pan kit through Speedway Motors. (See picture.) It's about $15.00, which I think is a steal! It's made for a Chevy small block pan, and so requires a bit of fabrication to work on the Buick. It's a 'claimer' pan kit. Meaning it's for circle track. DON'T STOP READING NOW! The circle track boys may not turn right as often as we do, but they have developed some great parts over the years that can be very useful to us sporty car types ("Circle Track & Racing Technology" magazine has some of the best engine build articles anywhere).

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Stock (left) vs. Modified Pan (right) - Thin Metal Requires Delicate Welding
Photo 3: Stock (left) vs. Modified Pan (right) - Thin Metal Requires Delicate Welding

I had a dented pan from a Buick, so I did some calculating. With a block and pan in my MGBGT that was up on jack stands already, I could easily see that I had plenty of clearance (I have fender-well exit headers - block hugger types may not work with this pan). The biggest change I made was to move the sump to the left, as it's designed to extend under the starter only. I had to fabricate a roof section where the sump hung out to the left, and shorten the roof on the right. I needed to move the pickup, even though the pan remained about the same depth. I moved it back in the pan so it would clear the baffle.

With one side of the new sump left open, pickup position can be visibly optimized
Photo 4: With one side of the new sump left open, pickup position can be visibly optimized

The instructions suggest angling the pickup so that it's not parallel with the floor of the pan, in case it gets hit and shoved up. That way the pickup won't be blocked. So I did that too. I tack welded the bottom on the pan, but left the side off so I could see where the pickup needed to be positioned. Measuring twice before welding is a good idea.

Modified Ford Oil Pickup
Photo 5: Modified Ford Oil Pickup

I then cut an old Ford pickup that I had laying around, to use as the 'race' pickup. It also has a larger opening and 19/32 tube. I positioned it exactly where it needed to be with 2x4's and some clay. The clay allows the thickness to be changed to whatever is needed easily and the unit can be angled too. I then cut the tubing several times until I had it where I wanted it (Hint: Start by cutting the tubing too long and work shorter until you hit your target).

Finished Pan Mounted on Bare Block (notice new position of oil drain plug at right)
Photo 6: Finished Pan Mounted on Bare Block (notice new position of oil drain plug at right)

The stock pan holds 4 quarts. The Buick dipstick says so. It's also marked ADD 1 and ADD 2 - That's a scary thought. With the new pan bolted to the block on the engine stand, 4 quarts came up to the ADD 2 line. 5 quarts to the ADD 1 line and 6 quarts made it FULL. Running 5 quarts may be a good option here as it adds oil capacity and keeps it farther from the crank. I still need a windage tray and maybe a scraper, but until then I'll still have plenty of oil and ground clearance.

Finished Pan and Block Mounted in Car - Plenty of Room!
Photo 7: Finished Pan and Block Mounted in Car - Plenty of Room!

The photos tell the story. In one of them I have a wrench sticking through the trap door to make it more visible. In others the warping is evident, but that was straightened out before final welding. The pickup is about 3/8 inch off the floor of the pan. There is room all around the pan when it's in the car. The price is right and it's a good upgrade. If you don't weld, take it some where and have it done. I'm not aware of a similar pan available at any price for this motor - so, build your own!

Wrenches are Used to Show the Reader the Baffles and Trap Doors
Photo 8: Wrenches are Used to Show the Reader the Baffles and Trap Doors

Disclaimer: This page was researched and written by Greg Myer. Views expressed are those of the author, and are provided without warrantee or guarantee. Apply at your own risk.

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