Reciprocating Engine Lubrication Systems – Oil Filters

in Lubrication and Cooling Systems

The oil filter used on an aircraft engine is usually one of four types: screen, Cuno, canister, or spin-on. A screen-type filter with its double-walled construction provides a large filtering area in a compact unit. [Figure 6-6] As oil passes through the fine-mesh screen, dirt, sediment, and other foreign matter are removed and settle to the bottom of the housing. At regular intervals, the cover is removed and the screen and housing cleaned with a solvent. Oil screen filters are used mostly as suction filters on the inlet of the oil pump.

Figure 6-6. Engine oil pump and associated units.

Figure 6-6. Engine oil pump and associated units. [Click image to enlarge]

The Cuno oil filter has a cartridge made of disks and spacers. A cleaner blade fits between each pair of disks. The cleaner blades are stationary, but the disks rotate when the shaft is turned. Oil from the pump enters the cartridge well that surrounds the cartridge and passes through the spaces between the closely spaced disks of the cartridge, then through the hollow center, and on to the engine. Any foreign particles in the oil are deposited on the outer surface of the cartridge. When the cartridge is rotated, the cleaner blades comb the foreign matter from the disks. The cartridge of the manually operated Cuno filter is turned by an external handle. Automatic Cuno filters have a hydraulic motor built into the filter head. This motor, operated by engine oil pressure, rotates the cartridge whenever the engine is running. There is a manual turning nut on the automatic Cuno filter for rotating the cartridge manually during inspections. This filter is not often used on modern aircraft.

Figure 6-7. Housing filter element type oil filter.

Figure 6-7. Housing filter element type oil filter.

A canister housing filter has a replaceable filter element that is replaced with rest of the components other than seals and gaskets being reused. [Figure 6-7] The filter element is designed with a corrugated, strong steel center tube supporting each convoluted pleat of the filter media, resulting in a higher collapse pressure rating. The filter provides excellent filtration, because the oil flows through many layers of locked-in-fibers.

Figure 6-8. Full flow spin-on filter.

Figure 6-8. Full flow spin-on filter.

Full flow spin-on filters are the most widely used oil filters for reciprocating engines. [Figure 6-8] Full flow means that all the oil is normally passed through the filter. In a full flow system, the filter is positioned between the oil pump and the engine bearings, which filters the oil of any contaminants before they pass through the engine bearing surfaces. The filter also contains an antidrain back valve and a pressure relief valve, all sealed in a disposable housing. The relief valve is used in case the filter becomes clogged. It would open to allow the oil to bypass, preventing the engine components from oil starvation. A cutaway of the micronic filter element shows the resin-impregnated cellulosic full-pleat media that is used to trap harmful particles, keeping them from entering the engine. [Figure 6-9]

Figure 6-9. Cutaway view of a filter.

Figure 6-9. Cutaway view of a filter.

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