Wiz Oil Filter Cutter
All too often boat owners keep tabs on the condition of their engines by simply running them: If they start and run smoothly enough, all must be well. But there are several more specific maintenance procedures worth considering that can help head off trouble before it gets serious. One is oil analysis, in which a used-oil sample is mailed off for spectroscopic examination; this is best done as an ongoing program that provides you with baseline information and warns of any sudden changes in the makeup of your oil.
A second, complementary procedure, which you can perform yourself, is inspection of the contents of the oil filter itself. While the oil analysis looks for micro-contamination, it’s possible for macro-contamination to exist either along with or without micro-contamination. Excessive carbon from blow-by can show here as carbon granules, which means potentially big trouble is not far off. Poor assembly practices show up as silicone gasket pieces which can block oil holes. Metals show up in several distinguishable forms which are easily visible to the naked eye.
One reason oil filter inspection is not done as often as it should is because it’s a nasty, messy job. Hacksaws and chisels are both messy and also tend to contaminate the filter element.
Until the last few years there was only one specialty tool (designed for aviation use) available for this job which made the process quick and easy. Unfortunately, it was also very expensive. Many airplane owners are as thrifty as boat owners, so fortunately several lower-cost tools have come on the market. These tools are designed to open the outer shell of spin-on filters, making the inner pleated element easily removable for inspection. One such cutter tool is the Filter Wiz, which also happened to receive a “Gear of the Year” award by Aviation Consumer magazine. (In the interests of full disclosure, we should note that the inventor, Kim Santerre, also is a contributor to PS).
Basically, the Wiz is a simple purpose-built pipe cutter, with a bushing to hold the filter in place (the filter should be placed in a vise) and the cutting wheel positioned to slice through the outer layer of the filter at just the right point—above the thick steel base but where the skin won’t buckle either. The tool is made of 1/8" steel plate.
Filter Wiz is available only from the maker for $49.95 postpaid, satisfaction guaranteed, but no credit cards. The package includes written inspection information, as well as a 20-minute instructional video. This is primarily an aviation oriented product, but will cut open any spin-on oil filter with a 3/4x16 thread, 13/16x16 thread, or 18mm thread, male or female. There are several other filter cutters available, primarily through aviation shops, such as Aircraft Tool & Supply, and costing between $50 and $100 or more, but this is the least expensive we’ve found.
Contact- Filter Wiz, 8127 Counselor Rd,, Manassas, VA 20112; 703/791-2921; email Ksanterre@aol.com.)