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MG MGA - Air cleaner elements

How much oil do you need to put on the stock air cleaner elements? Are you supposed to emerse them in oil or just spray them with WD 40. I'm presently using the K&N filters but I think they make more intake hiss noise, which is quite noticeable in a coupe.



60 Coupe
Andy Preston

There seem to be two sorts of 'original type' elements around. The first has the steel mesh bound with felt at the edges only. The second type has the felt completely covering the mesh area so that incoming air has to pass through the felt. These latter are frequently seen for sale on Ebay.

I'm sure that the first type would have been the true factory issue and engine oil or thicker would have been used to make the steel mesh 'sticky' to pick up dust particles,flies,etc. WD40 would be no good as its viscosity is too low and it would quickly drain away into the felt.

I think if I had the second type, which is probably an after market design, I wouldn't bother oiling them; in fact I think oil on the felt might give too much resistance to air flow.....................Mike
m.j. moore

Mike, I have the later after market type which is the outside felt covering the mesh. I must admit it did seem strange to dunk it in oil, although I did dust it with WD 40 about 6 months ago befoe I fitted the K&N ones.

Andy Preston

Haynes says they should be immersed in oil and then allowed to drain off. I assume it is referring to the wire mesh type (with felt at edges) which is what I have, but they have always been completely dry.
I guess that means they may not be filtering sufficiently. Will oiling them lean up the carbs a little?
Graham M V

Whoops, when I said leaner, I meant to say richer (its late!)
Graham M V

I've just sprayed my new (reproduction) felt filters with K&N aerosol 'filter oil'. I had a bit of a shock when it turned my white felt a red colour. I assume the colour/dye is placed in it so that you can see where and how much you have sprayed it. I would have preferred to keep the white appearance, but perhaps it will darken as it gets dirty.
s e Rimmer

The original MGA air cleaner filter was the wire mesh type and should be immersed in engine oil to pick up as much dust as possible. Clean by washing the element in petrol and re-oil. The later felt type must be dry and get regularly replaced - has to be the best filter for protection. K&N filters have big holes which need the special red stuff, but don't catch much dust and dirt to protect our precious engines.
Pete Tipping

Given the choice of protecting "our precious engines" or having them run properly I know which I prefer!
Lindsay Sampford

I have the wire mesh type and from what I can see, it looks like they have never had oil on them. Is there likely to be much harm if I dont immerse them in oil? I only do maybe 3000 miles a year maximum.
Graham M V

Graham, Did you buy your wire mesh type filters recently? I've been looking for a supplier of this earlier type for a while with no luck.

There's a bit more to the design of these early filters than meets the eye because rather than having a single layer of steel mesh there are, in fact, three layers. There are two layers of steel and sandwiched between them is a layer of fabric mesh.

Maybe the fabric is there to retain the oil and to help in keeping the steel coated. Or perhaps it is the oily fabric which is doing all of the work in picking up foreign particles and the steel mesh is simply there to act as a mechanical support?

Anyway it is interesting to note that BMC withdrew their instruction to clean the filter every 3000 miles in petrol (Service Memorandum 335 - 1960) and instead advised that the filter be changed every 6000 miles. I wouldn't mind betting this was the result of a fire accident and subsequent bad publicity or even a law suit................... Mike

m.j. moore

That CSM was referring to the felt type oil filter element, not the air cleaner.
Barney Gaylord

They were on the car when I got it. I have looked through the old bills and there was a bill for filters from Moss in 1990. It could well be the same ones as the car has only done 10k miles since then but they dont seem to have the fabric layer you mentioned.
I am worried to dip them in oil as the mixture nut is only 4 flats from the top, and as I mentioned above, I assume the oil will mean I will need to lean it up even further.
Graham M V

The "holes" in the metal mesh are so large a film of oil isn't going to make any noticeable difference to the mixture, but some dust and muck should be stuck in the oily mesh instead of passing through and grinding up pistons!
Pete Tipping

Thanks Pete. I imagined that I would need to do so. From reading the threads, I think that it would be sensible to fit some K&N filters and so will probably do so when I get round to it.
Graham M V

This thread was discussed between 24/03/2010 and 31/03/2010

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