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Clean Air Is Critical to Make Reliable Power

Breathe Easy

Harry WagnerPhotographer, Writer

Getting air into your engine seems simple enough, but there’s a delicate balance between airflow and filtration. You could just let unfiltered air into your engine like a top fuel dragster—if you don’t mind tearing down your engine after every mile like a top fuel dragster. At the other end of the spectrum you could design some complex, Rube Goldberg contraption that would filter out all particulates but choke your engine in the process. We had been running a simple oiled cotton filter on the top of the 460 engine in our 1977 Ford F-150, but when we saw dust and silt in the throttle body after a recent trip to the desert we knew that we needed better filtration.

Chris Sparks at Rock Hound Off Road suggested we look into the cannister-style filters used on tractors and other heavy equipment. A look through the Donaldson catalog revealed that we had an overwhelming number of options, with prices ranging from a few hundred dollars to several thousand. We were discouraged, but Sparks wasn’t. He simply sourced a common Donaldson filter (PN B085011) and built a custom housing for it.

The cavernous engine bay of our old truck made it easy to plumb the cannister to the MSD throttle body fuel injection on top of the engine using off-the-shelf parts from Summit Racing Equipment that cost us under $250. With all the parts we needed in hand, it took Sparks and Alex Anderson less than a day to fabricate the cannister and plumb the intake, providing us with plenty of clean air no matter what conditions our do-it-all truck finds itself in.