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1954 1955 1956 Buick 4bbl Oil Bath Air Filter Replacement with Paper Filter


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I've been dealing with a blow-by effect when accelerating from a stop. The other day I went to check the oil level in the air filter because I put 40W oil in there. Unfortunately the local NAPA or the warehouse are no longer stocking the 50W and 60W Valvoline racing oils, which means I have to pay the $8 for the oil plus another $5 for shipping and then 9.5% tax. To make a long story short, there was evidence of oil around the edges of the air horn and if the oil with dirt is getting past the air cleaner, then it's going into the engine... Given that this has to be checked and cleaned about every 5000 miles (at least that's what I've been told), and paper elements are good for about 20,000 miles, $14.25*4=$56.94. Of course it's all about how often you want to drive your car, and I like to drive mine a lot.

 

Whether you think oil baths work better than paper or not, this is purely informative. The debate goes on. I'm not looking for flak here, I'm just sharing what works. The box claims 99.9% efficiency in cleaning, and it is a huge air filter so I don't think I need to worry about air flow constraints in this application. The filter is #6255 from NAPA. It's off an early 90's Ford pickup, so availability will be around for a while. The filter dimensions are 11.625" OD, 8.375" ID, 5" tall. There is a tiny bead that goes around the top of the filter. Because the top of the filter housing is ribbed, (not pictued) I took some weatherstrip adhesive and built up the bead so it would crush against the top of the housing (snorkel). Pictured is the vacuum gauge at idle with the new air cleaner, steady 17" Hg at 7* BTDC, idle at 550-600RPM.The small drive to school and back, to me, felt more responsive than it had been prior. I think a lot of it had to do with there not being oil sucked into the air horn, but regardless I'm happy with the conversion.

 

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Edited by Beemon (see edit history)
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4 hours ago, buick5563 said:

Does it actually look right with the snorkel on?

 

Forgot to upload these ones! There is about a 16th of an inch gap between the top and bottom. My air cleaner has always gone into the hood insulation, but I can flex the hood above the cleaner when closed and it never touches. 

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Edited by Beemon (see edit history)
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Thanks all!

 

I checked the owners manual for my 2002 Jeep and it states to replace the filter every 60,000 miles. Since they're all made from the same stuff, looks like it will have a long life. Every oil change I'll be checking the quality, but this is also a huge filter. When I did the surface area calculation, it's almost the same as one of those big flat modern ones that go in the plastic box next to the fender wall. 

 

Things I notice: no sucking noises with the paper filter, 4GC bog gone off idle (don't know if that one is me mastering idle screws or not).

 

I'm keeping the oil bath just in case I move to Arizona. 

 

Also I'm renaming the title as this should fit 54 and 55 4bbl housings. Maybe 53?

Edited by Beemon (see edit history)
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What does the underside of your air cleaner look like?   I ask because my non-snorkle housing on my 264 has a cylindrical structure with small holes around the circumference that sits in the oil bath. Air is drawn through the oil into the tiny holes then onto the wire meshing and final to the throat of the carb.   Does your have the same system and this was left on with the paper air filter in place?    

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13 hours ago, avgwarhawk said:

What does the underside of your air cleaner look like?   I ask because my non-snorkle housing on my 264 has a cylindrical structure with small holes around the circumference that sits in the oil bath. Air is drawn through the oil into the tiny holes then onto the wire meshing and final to the throat of the carb.   Does your have the same system and this was left on with the paper air filter in place?    

Snorkel or no snorkel

there should be a lid on the filter element.

Do you have the lid on your element

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No I explained this before. There is a bead across the top of the filter. I built this up with weatherstrip sealer so it would crush bond to the top of the snorkel lid.

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What carburetor do you have on your car? I replaced the original one with a 650 CFM Edelbrock to compensate for the altitude in Colorado.I'm not sure the original housing would fit the new carburetor.

buckeye 2     (1955 )

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…. gee whiz why do I always have to be the poo poo man on myths and fairy tales, maybe it's just because I can't help myself.  Please someone stop me before I derail another myth …. 

 

Oh, Beemon, I enjoy your posts and learned comments as much as anyone hanging around here, and not to rain on anyone's parade, however, what a masterful attempt at installing an otherwise needless downgrade in filter science technology - Namely a paper filter.

 

Ever wonder why the big 600,000 a mile per year big rigs still use oil bath filters or maybe perhaps why earth moving equipment manufactures still follow this same oil filter technology  ? Even diesels induction systems still oil soak filters ….  On our old sluggers, the internal baffling and configuration of that GM stock oil bath air cleaner is specifically designed to maximize the innate superior ability of the surface tension of oil in attracting and capturing a higher amount of particulates including even much much smaller particulates then what a paper filter can catch and hold, even on a good day.  Yes they can claim whatever they want on filter changes with no doubt remarkable change interval lengths, possibly because they really are not catching much of the smaller stuff cause as mentioned it's just going right through … yet enough said.

 

One can still get tractor and implement non detergent and detergent in heavy weights.  If oil is somehow finding it's way into the induction horn, venturi assembly or even the throttle body areas to a very noticeable effect of your carb then there is other problems afoot. There will always be some intake due to intermittent abrupt movement in the oil bath that the baffling cannot deal with but no harm done there.  Yes, another myth is that one somehow can extend there oil drain intervals just by switching to another type or manufacturer of oil.  The caveat here is what is not mentioned is that one has to switch to newer technology to be able to do that and our older maidens of love just are not designed for that kinda neglect and in & out maintenance. :D

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I know full well that filter media can vary as to how effective it is and the smallest particle which can get through it.  That's a given.  I also recall how the 1970s-era ACDelco air filters were "oil dampened", such that after they'd been on the parts shelf, the boxes had oily spots on them.  Obviously, the light oil was to assist in catching some of the particles, too.  Others used a foam "wrap", which was also somewhat oily.  And then there are the beloved K&N oiled-gause air filter elements.

 

To me, just because an OTR truck or a mega-machine dirt mover still might have an oil bath air cleaner does not necessarily make those filter types superior to others, just that when those vehicles are serviced, the oil from the air filter can be combined and legally disposed of with the engine's oil.    That is a PLUS for those enterprises, on both sides.  Being that those engines are diesels, typically, a little extra 'oil" in the cylinder is not a big deal, but on a gas motor, it might be. 

 

I also recall some of our 1950s pickup truck oil bath air cleaners.  There usually was some oil-sand in the bottom of the oil chamber.  Dirty and messy to deal with.  We just used 30W motor oil, as that was what went into the engine.  Seemed to work just fine, back then.

 

The OTR truck air filter elements I've seen were BIG and DRY.  Some with flow director vanes to swirl the air in the filter case, to get the heavier particles to "fall out" before they get to the filter element itself.  Mid-1960s Allis-Chalmers tractors used "the spin" in their air cleaner housings for the same reason.  Get the heavier particles to "fall out" before they could get to the filter element.    There are aslo some industries set up to clean and recycle these dry filters for the fleets, too!

 

I believe that Beemon's experience illustrates something which has become apparent for years, that air flow through a paper element air filter is easier to make happen than air flow through an oil bath air cleaner mechanism.  Not unlike replacing a 1970s GM single snorkel air cleaner with the 14"x3" Corvette/Z-28 open element air cleaner.  Less flow restriction is always better.

 

To me, back then, it just seemed "hit or miss" for the intake air's sudden change of direction (causing many of the dirt particles, which couldn't make the change of direction) to end up in the "oil bath", with the ones who "lived" still having to navigate through the "oily hog's hair" "filter" before it gets anywhere near the carburetor's throttle plates.  For that reason, a dedicated paper filter element just seemed like a better way to do things, on cars and light trucks.

 

Think about it . . . in a carbureted system, the engine's at idle with a reasonably-high manifold vacuum level.  Crack the throttle open and more vacuum is available to PULL air through the carburetor's metering area.  IF the air flow is not responsive, throttle response will deteriorate.  Open things up and engine throttle response is easier to make happen as the air there is is easier to make "flow" on demand.  That, I believe, is what Beemon's experiencing.

 

NTX5467

 

Edited by NTX5467 (see edit history)
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2 hours ago, buick man said:

One can still get tractor and implement non detergent and detergent in heavy weights.  If oil is somehow finding it's way into the induction horn, venturi assembly or even the throttle body areas to a very noticeable effect of your carb then there is other problems afoot. There will always be some intake due to intermittent abrupt movement in the oil bath that the baffling cannot deal with but no harm done there.

 

As I've stated at the head of this thread, the oil bath calls for 50W which is no longer available to me locally. I'm sure I can go to an airport or tractor supply co but they are not reasonably available in my area either. Even with 40W oil, it was being sucked through the filter and into the air horn. Yes, what you say is true that the oil catches and holds small particulates, but if it's going into the engine, then the system is not working. There should never be anything going into the intake other than fresh air, that is the whole point of an air filter. And if it's also a non-restrictive system, then I shouldn't have gained vacuum or a higher idle with a paper filter. But I did. It's not for everyone, like I said there is a huge debate over which is better, etc. This works for me. I like to drive my car a lot. Having to go out of my way to source some expensive 50W oil so the system works properly, not to mention having to soak in kerosene or gasoline at every recharge interval, is not my ideal situation, especially when some of us aren't blessed with shops acquired with years of collection of tools and money. This is the same brand of filter I put in my modern cars and they have just about the same mileage without issue. I appreciate your opinion, I appreciate everyone's opinions dearly, but I didn't ask for any opinions, it was purely an informative post with what works with my current situation.

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I dont know where the large mining machines and road haulage trucks are that still use oil bath air cleaners?

I have (and still do) work on those machines for years and they use 2 filters, an outer filter with swirl vanes to handle the bigger particles

and an inner for the smaller stuff. The inners are changed every second service and are never cleaned (recycled), the outers at least every service and can weigh around 50 kilograms or more (mine machines) depending on how the dust conditions have been.

Being that I am in Australia, snow and ice are not really a big concern here, so perhaps thats why we dont see the oil bath cleaners here. I could see where they would be useful in northern USA or Canada (watching "Ice Road Truckers") as I can imagine a frozen over air cleaner would be a pain to fix. Imagine is the key word there as I have only seen snow once when I was a kid and not really keen on seeing it again (horrible cold stuff)

 

 

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Ben ... no bad - it's all good and fun to kick things around anyways - folks do things outside the box all the time for different reasons convinced through logic, emotion or personal reasoning and it doesn't have to marry with fact, science, faith or ideologies. Today many things that are fact are considered by many as opinion because it fits better and opinion as fact because it fills voids so do your own thing and that's always good n fun to hear & read about … but don't be surprised if or when we get opinions served up as food for thought dishes cared for or not side by side free of charge with the more alluring entrees of inquires  and compliments one gets cause it's all good … 

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I completely understand, it's just that anytime someone posts something that doesn't fit the mold of "keep it original or we'll grill you" more or less, there's always a huge fight over "it worked when new back in the day" vs "how we do things today" and I was just trying to avoid any conflict. Parts, at least for me, are extremely scarce. I have a very poor college student budget where big spending occurs once a year when Uncle Sam decides to repay me in full for paying tuition out of pocket. In many ways this car helps me cope with a very difficult degree and may be one of the only things I enjoy at this point in my life. I have no place to store it and the rainy season just started so I look for ways to enjoy it the best I can. I'm not saying I don't agree with you, because I do - I think the oil bath is the superior method for cleaning air. But the fact of the matter is, most (at least all of the parts stores around here) do not carry 50W oil. The system is very efficient when taken care of properly, but I can't. At least not for the cost to special order 50W racing oils, a bunch of kerosene and a parts washer, not at this time.

 

Same with the electric choke pictured above. People hate it. I personally don't like them either, but my choke stove pipe was severed from the manifold and I couldn't get the other piece out before I had to put the manifold on the car to move it due to some family drama. I had crimped the end of the old line to slip into the other piece stuck in the manifold and it worked for the summer. As it started getting colder it got less and less reliable, and the junction became a very apparent vacuum leak on start up. With the electric choke I eliminated two issues - vacuum leak and a somewhat reliable choke mechanism albeit taking longer. I've read threads about how you can buy kits over the counter, but again no one stocks them anymore so I'm also stuck there. If I go about drilling out the hole in the manifold, I risk enlarging it and then it'll never work properly and I don't have the tools to do that either.

 

Part of the fun of owning an old car is maintaining it, and also finding out what works and what doesn't work. Putting a new brake system on it didn't work without heavy mods. But this does, and I'm happy. If they stock 50W oil again, I will gladly throw the oil bath in there, but I'm not paying $7 plus freight every 5000 miles. Small amount, I know, but that's gas, food, tuition, etc.

 

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No apologies needed!  It's clear that you love your car and everything you're doing is for the right reasons.  As you noted, whatever is done can always be undone later (some easier than others, though)...

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David, I owned and drove "big rigs" for 40 years. The very first one, in 1972 through the last one used paper air filters.  Somewhere, on some forum , on this old computer, I read through a test on filters. IF I remember, paper was/is superior. 

 

  Beemon, I agree with you. I have used a paper filter in mine for years.  Carry on!!!

 

  Ben

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… Good point Ben exactly,  that's because 40 years ago was just yesterday really and they and the trend into using paper filters for many not all on road big rigs was done because they were cheaper and took quickie  maintenance, not because scientifically they were better and most likely because folks eventually bought into changing fact into opinion and then opinion into fact.

 

… Beemon, getting some of the pre filtered surface oil splash sprayed nto your carb is no big deal for the carb or the engine since the filtered out harmful heavy grit solutes will be found at the bottom of the air cleaner canister assembly not on the top of the oil pool bath.

 

So what else can I say to pop myth pimples … and to piss someone else off today ?  :P

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48 minutes ago, buick man said:

So what else can I say to pop myth pimples … and to piss someone else off today ?  :P

 

 Anything, just so it's not political FGS:wacko:  

 Buick engineers supposedly took care of the oil being pulled into the carburetor by this little change 

 

edit) this is for information purposes only, I'm not for against paper or original. If the paper fits properly I'd be a proponent of it. Just another FYI,  the cleaner part of the 54 assembly is shorter than the 53. The air cleaner part was the same height for 54, 55 and 56's but the silencer was made smaller in 55 to accommodate the lower hood profile.

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Thanks for that "factory information", Mr. Earl!

 

ONE thing MUST be remember, what was "low restriction" for 1956 might not be the same for 1963, for example.  Looks like a tighter density in the filter media PLUS less total air flow area, yet it's still "low restriction"?  It kind of sounds like the greater volumetric efficiency is somehow supposed to better tolerate what appears to be a more restrictive filter element?

 

Throughout automotive history, as it has progressed from the early 1900s into the 2000s, there has been a steady progression into "less maintenance" orientations.  No need to go out to oil the rocker arms, before driving on Sunday afternoon (or other times), for example.  Replacing the oil bath air cleaner assembly with an assembly using a paper element fits into that orientation, no matter what.  Easier and quicker to service, plus conserving oil resources at the same time AND keeping that much used oil out of possible environmental "harm" situations.

 

We ALSO know that modern engines (even those from the middle 1950s!) were designed to run on gasoline, not a gas/oil mix.  As engine air flow demands have increased, the velocity/quantity of air being used by the engine has increased under near and WOT situations.  Getting that much air through an oil bath air cleaner might prove problematic, both from the total quantity of air PLUS the air velocity attracting more oil into its faster-moving stream.  NOT good for ultimate engine power OR exhaust emissions!  Just as with mufflers, causing air to make right angle bends is not the way to free-flowing air flow.  The gloriously-illustrated Allis-Chalmers tractor brochures of the middle-1960s showed SWIRL action of air flow from the time the intake air entered the air cleaner ducting, THROUGH the paper air filter, into the combustion chamber, being compressed, and out the exhaust system.  Air/gas going through bends and corners is better than air/gas flow being forced to make right angle turns.

 

We must also understand that most oil bath air filters are two-stage filters.  The heavier particles will crash into the oil itself, not being small enough to make the turn quickly enough, as the air flow direction turns.  The smaller particles will continue more into the oil-wetted "hog's hair" area.  The fact the later Buick filters seemed to have a more tightly-packed second stage could indicate better filtration was needed?

 

We additionally know that, over the years, paper filter media have improved as to how much of which particle size is filtered (in SAE testing procedures).  I suspect the earlier paper filters might have been somewhat inferior in the heavier-duty operational environments, than an oil bath filter (as oil bath filters were optional in the earlier 1960s as "HD"), but I also suspect that like oil filter filter media, air filter media has made advances such that current products might well be the better filter media in our more current times.  Are there any SAE Transactions on this subject?

 

I commend Beemon for his on-going investigative engineering, plus Vicky Blue for the earlier postings of the induction system updates on that particular Buick!  I also understand why those upgrades were made!  I fully understand the orientation of using correct components for the vehicles, but I also understand the sometimes need and desire to use more modern components (for possibly better performance and using something "new" rather than a somewhat worn item made "new" again), even if some tweaking might be in order (as in the carb fuel mixture curve).  We've all got similar or dissimilar orientations in this area, respectfully so.

 

NTX5467

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Beemon - great idea - saved me some time looking for a filter size. II matched it up to a Purolator.  I used a Dremel with a sanding drum on it, opened the lower circumference up a bit by sanding away some of the rubber up to the mesh on the inside, then beveled the lower edge to match the taper of the lower element housing.  I pushed down on the filter and used a flashlight along the lower sealing area (that was just sanded) to ensure the bottom still sealed tight and air couldn't sneak underneath.  1/4 bead of weatherstrip with some contact cement seals the top of the filter to the lid.  Took all of 10 minutes to "modify". The top and bottom of the air cleaner fit together tight as evidenced by covering the silencer inlet tight with your hand, and it chokes out the engine and sucks your hand in.  I might add that my air filter assembly has had the addition of a thin strip of old bicycle inner tube rubber cemented inside the lip of the lid to better seal the top and bottom halves together vs metal to metal gap.  Probably didn't matter much operationally, just made sense for all the air coming through the front silencer vs slipping between the top and bottom pieces.  While I had no complaints on the oil bath, the filter you found has alot of surface area, the path for the incoming air has less disruptions and should last for years for how the car is driven.  Thanks for sharing.

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I did some looking around regarding the oil bath vs. paper filter effectiveness.  What I found, on the oil bath side of things, made sense once considered.

 

The oil bath relies upon the change of direction of the incoming air to cause the larger particles/pieces to fall into the "oil bath" as they can't change direction as quickly as necessary.  (this is the primary "filtering" stage)  The smaller particles then continue "in suspension in the air stream" into the mesh portion of the filter (the second stage) where the air stream is diffused by "the mesh" (either what appears to be small, shaved wood strips or stainless steel), which is also "oil-wetted".  This is where the smaller particles will be trapped in the oil coating of the filter media.

 

Effectiveness?  It appears this can vary with engine rpm and air flow.  The filter will become "better" as air flow velocity is increased, as the faster the air flow moves, the MORE of the smaller particles can't "make the turn" and end up in the oil sump.  At lower air flow velocities, the more important the "mesh" is to be a filter as more of the larger particles can make "the bend" in air flow direction.

 

The "heavy duty" orientation comes from the fact that in very dusty conditions, or in the case of being inundated with volcanic ash, the propensity to clog is greatly reduced.

 

In earlier times, there were fewer hard surface roadways, so dustier road conditions were very possible.  I suspect the components of said "dust" were probably of mid-size and larger particles, which made the oil bath air cleaner a "good filter" for those conditions.  Cornering, acceleration, or braking forces were probably not nearly what more modern cars might achieve, either, so "oil slosh" happened to keep the mesh area "wet" and effective.

 

Paper filters, on the other hand, were not velocity-dependent upon their filtering capabilities.  Same filtering at idle as at 4000+ rpm, or higher.  No worries of the engine ingesting oil mist from the air filter, either.  Plus some other considerations of somewhat flammable liquid being in the engine compartment, other than gasoline.

 

Kind of like being "married or single", each has their plusses and minuses . . . just depends upon what's appropriate for the situation (or in this case, how the vehicle is used/designed).

 

I'm still looking for an SAE paper on the comparison of these two air filter types.

 

NTX5467

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Yes, NTX - I think you've hit the nail(head) with your last post.  I agree with you that poor road conditions and the frequency of service were important considerations.  It would have been unreasonable to replace paper filter elements as often as required (not to mention the expense).  Oil bath simply made practical sense and met the technical performance requirements.

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I have converted my 1956 Buick air cleaner from oil bath to paper filter.  It can be changed back in a few minutes.

You need a conversion ring from the 4 1/8" carb to a 5" ring on the paper element.  And the filter holder itself.

See pictures.

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7 minutes ago, old-tank said:

With no muffler you get that disgusting the roar from the manifold.?

 

"Sound of power", but not like the many Chevy V-8s with the top of the air cleaner inverted (QJect spreadbore 4bbl at WOT).

 

'Er . . . "Sound of Torque"?

 

NTX5467

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On 10/6/2016 at 5:33 PM, Beemon said:

Do you put another lid on top of that filter? It looks too short to seal against the top of the housing.

Recommended you peruse this book. Seems to have credibility and actually shows how he tested air cleaner housings for efficiency. Hope you find it helpful.IMG_20161013_214210.jpg

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On 10/1/2016 at 5:19 AM, Beemon said:

I've been dealing with a blow-by effect when accelerating from a stop. The other day I went to check the oil level in the air filter because I put 40W oil in there. Unfortunately the local NAPA or the warehouse are no longer stocking the 50W and 60W Valvoline racing oils, which means I have to pay the $8 for the oil plus another $5 for shipping and then 9.5% tax. To make a long story short, there was evidence of oil around the edges of the air horn and if the oil with dirt is getting past the air cleaner, then it's going into the engine... Given that this has to be checked and cleaned about every 5000 miles (at least that's what I've been told), and paper elements are good for about 20,000 miles, $14.25*4=$56.94. Of course it's all about how often you want to drive your car, and I like to drive mine a lot.

 

Whether you think oil baths work better than paper or not, this is purely informative. The debate goes on. I'm not looking for flak here, I'm just sharing what works. The box claims 99.9% efficiency in cleaning, and it is a huge air filter so I don't think I need to worry about air flow constraints in this application. The filter is #6255 from NAPA. It's off an early 90's Ford pickup, so availability will be around for a while. The filter dimensions are 11.625" OD, 8.375" ID, 5" tall. There is a tiny bead that goes around the top of the filter. Because the top of the filter housing is ribbed, (not pictued) I took some weatherstrip adhesive and built up the bead so it would crush against the top of the housing (snorkel). Pictured is the vacuum gauge at idle with the new air cleaner, steady 17" Hg at 7* BTDC, idle at 550-600RPM.The small drive to school and back, to me, felt more responsive than it had been prior. I think a lot of it had to do with there not being oil sucked into the air horn, but regardless I'm happy with the conversion.

 

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14469592_10155223265720830_6920154772590

14485100_10155223265580830_3937809198207

14485050_10155223266110830_2568777114274

 

 

Hi Ben

 

Any chance you have a photo of the top of the filter housing off with the paper filter inside.  I need to put a paper filter in my oil bath filter housing and I would like to see how it fits.  On first assessment of my lower housing it appears there is little flat horizontal space for the paper filter to sit on and seal against.

 

Thanks

 

Drew

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