Someone was telling me about Chevrolet actually recommending that new 1955 Chevy owners run this abrasive cleaner through their engines back in 1955. Anybody ever hear of this? They said it was done to Seat the rings or decrease oil consumption. Fish tail? Rocketman

A retired automobile machinist friend has told that story for 40 years. He worked for the local Chevy dealer in the 50s.

Hasn’t Scratched, Yet!

That was their motto. I used to use it for cleaning photographic ferrotype plates (recommended) and it really shined them to a mirror finish! I had to make a lather with it on a sponge first, as I am sure the bar would have scratched the crap out of it!

This is a new one on me, but I’d be interested in hearing more about it. Automotive history is repleat with cool information.

I wonder if it ungumped oil rings too. Might be an interesting experiment to do in an aluminum pie pan. Anybody got any gumped up oil ring hanging around?

Be careful What You Wish For

Maybe this was during the era of “straight” motor oil and this was cutting edge technology and the beginnings of “detergent” or ash-dispersent oils.

I have heard people say not to run anything different through an engine that has been run on “straight” motor oil, for fear of loosening up all the crud and causing the engine to become an oil burner, etc.

I knew a kid that put an oil cleaner treatment (rhymes with Whiz-Clone, I believe) into a perfectly good sixties Chevy Nova to do it a favor, like buying it a treat, and that shortly resulted in a short block!

Back in 1955 there was only one BonAmi. It came in a yellow package. About ten years ago they came out with a second version in the Gold can. That stuff in the gold can is the same stuff most all makes use. I would suggest using the stuff in the gold cans would be a very very bad idea. I am not so hot about using the stuff in the yellow cans either, especially in today’s cars and oils, they are totally different than they were in 1955.

There is absolutely no way I would ever add a household detergent cleanser to the oil in a modern car, especially an abrasive one!

While the history of the post is intreiguing (sp?), it belongs to history and should remain there.

Oh, for the days before full-flow oil filters…plug one right up today, don’t you think?

I remember hearing about mechanics adding bon-ami through the throat of the carburetor after doing a ring job to seat the rings. I don’t know if this was a recommendation for Chevrolet back in 1955, but I do remember that the early 1955 Chevrolet V-8 engines did have problems with the rings seating. This may have been the reason for the bon-ami treatment, if, in fact, it is true.

In any event, I don’t think it was added to the crankcase, but just allowed to be sucked into the engine through the carburetor.


My grandfather and uncle both had their 50’s Chevy’s Bon-Ami’ed to improve compression and reduce oil consumption. The engines from GM of this era weren’t exactly precision pieces. And when the rings didn’t seat, dump some Bon-Ami down the carb!


Probably got some of that there diatomaceous earth in it. Spelling optional. It’s the stuff in toothpaste and some polishing stuff. It could be what’s in Sea-Foam too, but I don’t know. It probably did something good.

I too remember hearing similar Bon-Ami stories from the old timers back when I was a young gas-pump jockey.

I just did a google search for “bon-ami cylinder wall” and came up with lots of hits discussing this old tradition.

I remember reading an automotive advice column in Popular Mechanics, Mechanix Illustrated or some automotive magazine where the correspondent had put new rings in an engine, but hadn’t broken the glaze off the cylinder walls. He was advised to try the Bon-Ami treatment to see if this would help, but it was suggested that he would probably have to tear the engine down again and do the job right.

I also remember that the V-8 engine that appeared in the Buick Super and Roadmaster models in 1953 had a problem with rings that took a long time to seat. As I remember, these Buick owners were told to just be pacient. I had a 1954 Buick in the early 1960’s that I bought from my Dad. This car had 150,000 miles when I sold it and had never had the head or pan off the engine. It was still running three years later. I don’t ever remember adding oil to the engine between changes. Before buying the Buick, I had a 1955 Pontiac. This was the first year of the Pontiac V-8. GM, in its wisdom, made an oil filter an option. I bought mine used and it did not have the oil filter option. Even though the engine had been overhauled before I bought the car, I had a constant problem of sludge plugging up the passages to the rocker arms and then they would chirp. It seems that the conventional wisdom of the time was that when GM introduced a new engine, wait a year until all the bugs are out.