Why By-pass Filters?
Taking Your Fleet The Extra Mile
by Don S. Culpepper, V. P. Engineering
(Note! The following was written for inclusion in GCF's
Brochure for state Department of Transportations. Also, at the time, CG4
was the highest rating of oil for diesel engines.)
For several years now there has been an industry wide push for extended oil
drains on fleet equipment. This industry demand for extended oil drain intervals
is an effort to reduce downtime, reduce waste oil generation and the on-going
search to cut maintenance cost. Extended oil drain intervals can offer huge
benefits for DOT fleets, providing the extended oil drain program is structured
to ensure engine life is not compromised.
Currently, the most preferred means to extend oil drain intervals has been an
effort by the oil manufactures to develop new oils, with improved additives
packages, to extend oil drain intervals. Within most any magazine to do with
fleet maintenance you will find several advertisements boasting about their
"NEW" oils. They all have claims of achieving extending oil drain
intervals, some up to 40,000 miles. However, simply selecting a new type of oil
and taking the "Pour in & Go " approach is not the single answer
to extended oil drain intervals.
This article will explore a time proven program that has proven to drastically extend
lube oil drain intervals. This program also has proven to
extend the life of the equipment, reduce downtime, reduce maintenance man-hours,
cut waste oil generation up to 70% and is highly cost effective with a payback
of usually less than one year. This article will also cover the problems and
hurdles encountered when exploring extended oil drain programs. There are
problems such as soot control and other contaminants within the oil that must
dealt with to achieve greatly extended oil drain intervals.
This program does not rely on new technology, rather it utilizes standard
technology that has proven itself for over twenty (20) years. For the most part,
this program utilizes Ultra Fine (UF) by-pass lube oil filters and a
comprehensive monitoring program to track wear and oil condition to detect
potential problems within the equipment during extended oil drain intervals.
Some of the users of this program include: Offshore operations of Shell Oil
& Chevron USA, Scott Paper Co., North Carolina DOT, US Air Force, US Army,
US Navy, US Marine Corps and many other prominent Companies. The following
paragraphs are a brief outline of the GCF program.
P/PM Program Outline
1. Standard Petroleum Lube Oils:
Utilize Standard API CG rated petroleum based lube oils in lieu of more
expensive or full synthetic oils. There is no need for synthetics to achieve
extended oil drains, when using UF by-pass filters. However, other benefits,
such as low pour points for cold weather applications, should be looked at by
2 Add UF By-Pass Lube Oil Filters to remove
solid and moisture contaminations from the lube oil. These filters will keep the
equipment running on clean oil 100% of the time, thereby reducing wear and
eliminating the need for routine oil drains.
3. Utilize The GFC Portable Oil Quality Analyzer
at all maintenance locations. This simple portable oil analyzer will allow
maintenance personnel to analyze the quality and condition of the lube oils and
equipment condition in their own shops. By doing so, they can began to detect
potential problems before unnecessary downtime would occur.
4. Use Complete Laboratory Oil Analysis. If
you are already utilizing complete oil analysis, continue to do so to monitor
wear rates and compile information on your equipment for use in long term trend
analysis. However, by using the GFC Model 126 Portable Oil Quality Analyzer,
this portable analysis will enable you to extend the sample interval for
complete laboratory oil analysis.
The majority of DOT fleets in the U.S. currently operate their equipment with
standard factory filtration and manage them with a standard factory recommended
P/M (Preventive Maintenance) Program. The standard filtration equipment referred
to here generally refers to factory full flow filters only and in very few
cases, factory full flow filters coupled with the use of marginal by-pass type
filtration. The standard factory recommended P/M Program, that is normally
followed by the maintenance industry is to follow the manufacture's recommended routine oil and filter drain intervals and in some
cases utilizing complete laboratory used oil analysis as a P/M tool. This type
of P/M Program is sufficient, providing that fleet managers will be satisfied
with "Normal" equipment life expectancy and current expenditures.
However, experience has shown us that most highly successful fleets do not
become successful by doing what is "Normal."
A Lube Oil Maintenance Program, such as the GCF P/M Program, will take fleets
far above and beyond a standard program. This type of P/M Program will move a
fleet's Preventive Maintenance Program to one closer to a Predictive Maintenance
Program. The utilization of UF by-pass filters within this program is a key
factor. The by-pass filter performs the job of removing solid and moisture
contamination to prevent additive depletion of the oil and dramatically reduces
the amount of wear within the engine. Beyond the single goal of simply extending
lube oil drains, this program reaches several other goals as well. The goals and
benefits of this program are as follows: (1) Greatly extend and/or Eliminate oil
drains. (2) Reduce wear within the equipment thereby extending the life of the
equipment. (3) Reduce downtime to the equipment. (4) Reduce maintenance
man-hours. (5) Reduce waste oil generation. (6) More cost effective than current
lube maintenance programs and delivers a fast return on investment. The
information on the following pages will fully explain the components of this
program and how these components extend the oil drain intervals and achieve the
goals listed above . These areas are as follows.
lube oil and its job function.
filters, the key to wear reduction.
Laboratory and Long term equipment trending.
Selecting the Proper
Filtration to Achieve Your Goal:
The most integral portion of this program is the use of the
By-Pass filter. There are many different types and brands of after market
filters and centrifugal equipment on the market today that boast claims of
greatly extending or eliminating routine oil drains. Many of these claims are
true, however, in many cases the truth has been stretched by methods of
marketing, claims based on “in-house testing” and testimony from isolated
customer bases. Also, many of these filters and centrifuges fall short of
dealing with and controlling the amounts and types of contamination that need to
be removed in order to achieve our goal of extending and/or eliminating routine
oil drains. In order to select the “Right” filter for the job, your choice
should meet the following criteria and offer the following benefits:
1. Choose filtration that has the ability to control 1-
5 micron sized particles and control them within the quantity that the engine or
equipment is generating. Be sure to ask to see several particle
counts taken on engines or equipment similar to yours showing ISO cleanness
levels. These ISO levels show particle counts within the 5 – 50 micron range
for engines oil and 2 – 50 micron range for hydraulic applications. Don’t be
taken by what is said in the brochure, statements like “Capable of removing
down to 1 micron particles” or “Can remove particles as small as 1/10th
micron in size.” This type of marketing is common. In other words, for these
companies to legally be able to advertise with such statements, all they have to
do is to show that their filter or centrifuge has removed a few of this size
particle. Sure these filters or centrifuges can remove “down to” and “as
small as”, but can they control them in quantity? Get the particle counts!
There are several depth-type by-pass filters on the market that have the
capability of controlling these 1 – 5 micron sized particles. There are at
least two brands of inexpensive centrifuges on the market that claim to be able
to remove extremely small solids, however, I feel that they are overstated, ask
for the particles counts.
2. Choose filtration that has the ability to remove
moisture from the lube and keep the lubricant chemically dry at all times.
This is most critical. If you will remember, in order to control oxidation,
nitration, acid formation, viscosity increases, and the other problems linked to
moisture contamination, one must choose a filter that has the capability of
removing moisture. Most all depth-type-by-pass filters with an absorbent filter
media such as cellulose (paper) or cotton fibers have this capability. However,
the low cost centrifuges that I mentioned above, do not have this capability.
Only more expensive ($12,000.00 & up) centrifuges that are motor driven,
equipped with water ejection ports and separator plates have this capability.
These types are mainly used on extremely large engines such as found on ships.
3. Choose filtration that has been proven within your
field and that can be confirmed by several users and legitimate field test
results. If at all possible, choose filtration that has been
documented on your type of equipment and your type of operating conditions. Ask
for field test results on equipment similar to your own, if the filter
manufacturer can not produce this type of information, I would suggest that you
4. Choose filtration that is backed by a company that
can offer a proven P/M Program to coexist with their product and our existing
P/M Program. There are a lot of companies out there that specialize
in selling filters, however, there are few filter companies that sell filters
and specialize in Predictive preventative maintenance. Find the company that
offers proven suggestions that will make their product work with your P/M
Program and to help move your program up to a higher level of equipment
monitoring and to help move your program up to a higher level of
equipment monitoring. Also, select a company that has an unprecedented number of
satisfied users and be sure to ask for a user list and call these users for
filtration that is the most cost effective.
Last but not least and should be the most important, choose the
filtration that is the most cost effective.
There are filter manufacturers that guarantee to double your oil change
or to greatly extend your oil change interval.
Look for a filter that will offer to eliminate routine oil changes all
together and run the maximum of hours between filter changes.
Gulf Coast Filters utilizes a massive element for holding huge amounts of
contamination allowing you Longer filter change intervals.
The use of UF By-Pass filters and a comprehensive oil and
equipment monitoring program has proven to greatly extend and/or eliminate
routine oil drains. The benefits available to DOT fleets are significant, in
that one can cut maintenance costs, extend the life of their equipment, reduce
equipment downtime and reduce waste oil generation.
There is an unprecedented number of satisfied users of UF By-Bypass filters and
this type of P/M Program.
SAE Papers: 912344, 810499, 852126, 881827, 881825
April 1998 Issue: “Fleet Equipment”
May 1998 Issue: “Lubes-n-Greases”
Analysts Services Laboratories
Shell Oil Test 1989
Chevron Test 1991