How did engines clean oil before oil filters?

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Sep 4, 2015
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There is a german Oldtimer magazine, in almost every issue is a in-depth story about a particiluar engine. Engine is dissasembled, pictured and explained in detail.

Almost all italian motorcycles of the 50s to the 70s have a sort of centrifugal system in the crankshaft. The end of the oil bores wich lubicates the bearings is closed with a screw. In this blind hole debris collects. When you overhaul the engine, you should remove the Screw and clean the hole thoroughly.

I dont know if the engineers created this blind hole deliberately or if it was done because they could not machine the cranksahft otherwise back then. Today this blind holes simply dont exist anyomere or they are closed with a unremovable plug.
 
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Oil filters were optional on some US light-truck engines into the early 1960s. IIRC the original 1955 small-block Chevrolet V-8 did not have an oil filter as standard, but that was rectified later.

The 1,000–mile oil-change interval on engines without filters was common in the 1930s. Keep in mind most cars were not driven long distances or at high speeds then, so that OCI was not much of a problem for most owners. Even in the 1930s a 20–mile trip was a big deal in rural areas because most secondary roads were unpaved.
 
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Our '54 Chevy (listed below) had the optional oil filter, connected through hoses. At every change, roughly a cup of old oil had to be suctioned out of the filter housing. The gasket for the cover was flat, not an O-ring, and functioned reliably every time, assuming reasonable care installing it.
Well, it was a bypass filter, so, by design, only a fraction of pump output passed through the filter.

Late in the car's life a then-new hose to the oil filter blew up. That was reasonably exciting---and messy.
Thanks for the correction. Yes a square cut seal. No o-ring. Source of leaks for years.
 
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My Honda Dream 305 used a chain driven centrifugal filter. It spun about 3 times crank speed and oil flowed through the spinning drum. Deposits from the oil would be throw to the outer area of the drum. Was pretty easy to clean. Never had much in mine because I changed oil often since the clutch plates would to stick together when the oil aged..
 
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Thanks for the correction. Yes a square cut seal. No o-ring. Source of leaks for years.


I may have been wrong on the type of gasket. It’s been a long time. The idea was to seat it on the lip of the canister and then screw the canister onto the mount. It never was easy.
 
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I may have been wrong on the type of gasket. It’s been a long time. The idea was to seat it on the lip of the canister and then screw the canister onto the mount. It never was easy.
They weren’t fun. I used chassis grease to hold the seal in the groove of the oil filter mount while attaching the canister.
 
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I may have been wrong on the type of gasket. It’s been a long time. The idea was to seat it on the lip of the canister and then screw the canister onto the mount. It never was easy.
The way I recall it, you inserted the gasket into its slot in the lid of the filter housing, then placed the lid on the housing and tightened it down. Easy! They never leaked for us. Incidentally, after use, those flat gaskets made good frisbees---long before commercial frisbees were invented.

I think there were hints a while back in BitOG that GM may have used two different filter housings on those engines, which might explain the discrepancy in recollected reliability of the gaskets.
 
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The way I recall it, you inserted the gasket into its slot in the lid of the filter housing, then placed the lid on the housing and tightened it down.


That’s the way I remember it.
 
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It’s not the same as what’s described here but Mack/Volvo have been using a centrifugal cartridge filter on their engines for years and Paccar does too. My EM7 Mack engine has 2 spin on filters and a centrifugal cartridge. It’s amazing how long the oil “looks” clean after a PM. I believe it’s one reason why Mack engines are so robust. Everything else falls apart on a Paccar it seems like but rarely do you see a lubrication problem.
Buses here still use oil centrifuges, which explains why they’re changing oil on those things every 5-7K per UOAs. However, Cummins wants their Fleetgard “Venturi” stacked-disk filters used, the older Detroit 6V-92TA and S50s that ruled the streets had dual oil filters.
 
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Anyone remember the old oil bath air cleaners on the old Briggs & Stratton engines?
On my 54 Ford V8 too. Found a air filter that used a replaceable element that fit the Holly. That unit was made by one of the leaders in the oil filter business, but I can't remember who, could have been Purolator.
 
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I believe the original Bardahl product was an engine flush that you added to engines using non-detergent oils just prior to changing the oil. It was marketed more as an engine flush and was supposed to clean the engine and keep the dirt in suspension for draining.

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