Tradition in Excellence since 1869...

Call us on +44 (0) 1743 232 200


Morris Lubricants has solution for Merlin aircraft engine challenge

Morris Lubricants, one of Europe's leading oil blenders and marketers, is experienced at finding solutions to all sorts of oil-related challenges presented by customers.


The Shrewsbury-based company recently made a name for itself by supplying its Golden Film SAE 50 Classic Motor Oil for a Bristol Hercules engine that has been restored for static display by enthusiasts Patrick Smart and Peter Irving in Thirsk, Yorkshire.


Word has quickly spread and now Peter Grieve, owner of Flight Engineering in Leeds - -  has now turned to the company for the same oil for his Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engine and he’s delighted with the result.


Concerned about the dwindling viscosity of the previous oil he had been using in the engine, he has found that Golden Film SAE 50 is the closest to what was originally specified for use in the engine.

“I am really happy with the performance of the oil,” said Peter. “There has been a 20 per cent improvement in oil pressure, giving an additional 10 psi when the engine is at operating temperature. It has made a massive difference.

“I have enough running time on it now to have ascertained that the viscosity has been predictable. My main criticism of the old oil from another supplier was that it tailed off with running hours very quickly.

“Golden Film is available in different grades and is well suited to these vintage aero and military engines in non-flight applications.”

He is so satisfied with the oil that he is promoting Morris Lubricants on the trailer that transports the engine to events across the UK and Europe. Watch the engine running at

Golden Film SAE 50 is a specialist range of high quality, low detergent/dispersant monograde lubricants, for engines. The oils are suitable for use in naturally aspirated four stroke petrol and diesel engines and classic gearbox designs.

The oil is supplied to Peter by Steve Brownless, Morris Lubricants’ area sales manager for Yorkshire and the East Midlands. “There is always a deep satisfaction in being able to support high precision heritage ventures of this kind that create so much interest in this sector,” said Steve.


Peter’s Rolls-Royce Merlin XX was one of two engines that originally powered a Beaufighter IIF used by the Fighter Interception Unit (FIU) at Ford, West Sussex for night-fighting techniques. Tragically, the plane crashed into a canal in Chichester on September 3, 1941 with the loss of the three crew.


It had been testing a new airborne interception radar when, upon approaching Ford, the pilot could not get one undercarriage to lock down and took the aircraft back up to 10,000 feet to try to shake it down.


Flight Officer D. M. Lake lost control of the aircraft at about 8,000 feet and it crashed four miles from the airfield. The FIU was manned by skilled, experienced pilots who were needed for night-fighter operations. Peter dedicated the restoration to the lost crew.


The wreck, which was embedded 20 feet into the ground, was excavated in 1978 and Peter acquired the two engines in 1994, beginning a slow restoration with help from Robin Byers in Carlisle. Originally, he had no intention of running it, but he found that the engine had been preserved encased in clay.


The engine has attended air shows and vintage rallies since 2000, running more than 1,500 times. Peter has turned his hobby of restoring vintage engines into a business and he’s currently working on the fuselage of a Messerschmitt Bf 109, a German Second World War fighter for a static display, having recently lent his expertise to Army tank engines.


The Rolls-Royce Merlin XX engine was found in everything from Spitfire and Hurricane interceptor fighters to Lancaster heavy bombers.


During the war, Rolls-Royce could not cope with demand for Merlin engines so Ford Car Company was sub-contracted to build them and the U.S. Packard Corporation also built them under licence.


The classic Merlin design originates from the Kestrel, a 21.25 litre V12 designed in 1925. This was developed through various stages, including the famous R-type Schneider Trophy racing engine, also used by Sir Malcolm Campbell in successful land and water speed record attempts.


The PV12, later called Merlin, was designed in 1932, but did not go into full production until August 1937, as the 1030hp Merlin II for the Spitfire I and Hurricane I.


The Merlin XX differed mainly in having a two-speed supercharger with improved aerodynamics and 100 octane fuel. It did not, however, have the separate cylinder head of all subsequent Merlins and this kept the power down to 1280hp, albeit with a good high-altitude performance.


More News

Ask the Expert
Make an Enquiry