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Oil Filters

A review of correspondence from Roadholder and NOC-L

There are a number of alternatives for the genuine oil filter fitted to later Commandos

An oil filter can be added as an after-market part to pre-1972 Commandos

Can an external oil filter be fitted to earlier Commandos?

I have a 1972 Commando and would like to add an oil filter; I have the head to mount the filter on. I have a nifty Hosafros adapter, so I can use Fram. I have two shop manuals, and tech. notes from NOC and INOA. I have the infamous parts manual that shows the filter on the wrong hose, but I don't have the other mounting hardware.

How do you mount one of these things anyhow? It appears to mount on the left Isolastic bracket. Were there holes drilled in the bracket? I assume the hookup involves hooking the return line from the engine to the 'in' fitting on the filter head, and the line to the tank to the 'out' line on the head.

Eric Lamberts ( on NOC-L 21st. Apr 1997

Fitting an external oil filter to earlier Commandos

On my 1972 Commando, I mounted the filter head between the plates of the engine rear cradle, bolted to the right-side plate through two holes drilled one above the other. The feed and return stubs point vertically upwards and the filter spins on from the rear. The inlet to the filter head connects to the scavenge line from the oil pump and the outlet connects to the return to the tank. Although these kits were sold with a big hose clip and a thin triangular plate which you trapped with the clip around the filter to stop it loosening, I dumped all that stuff and the filter has never come loose. Just tighten it as you would for your car.

Joe Schofield ( on NOC-L 22nd. Apr 1997

Fitting an external oil filter to earlier Commandos

In order to use common automotive filters, buy a helicoil for a ½" reach 14mm spark plug, break the installation tang off the helicoil and screw it onto the threaded stub that the oil filter normally screws onto. While at the parts store pick up a filter for a 231cubic inch GM car. Now, screw the filter onto the helicoil, fill the bike with oil and ride! When you change the filter, the helicoil will stay in the stub, so just change the filter as usual.

Dave Hatch ( on NOC-L 22nd. Apr 1997

Using alternative filters

I have been using substitute filters of the same size for a while now on my 1973 850 without any trouble. We are using Fram filters up here which are adapted to the stock filter plate in front of the rearwheel by means of a " helicoil ". The small Simca/Citroen filters are hard to come by in North America. An autopsy comparing the original (blue) Norton filter and a Fram type didn't reveal any internal differences to me.

Klaus Kaak ( on NOC-L 23rd. Apr 1997

Adaptors for external oil filters - a source

Jim Noll at The British Bike Connection (BBC) in Rochester, NY has just contracted to have some adapters made up. He can be reached at 716-288 4546 (USA). The filters you can use with the adapters can be found at any auto parts store for about 1/3 the typical price of the Norton item.

Pete Serrino ( on NOC-L 24th. Apr 1997

Oil filter elements - an alternative

Champion (the spark plug people) sell a filter (# H101) that will work on a Commando. The box says 'Made in the E.E.C.', but on the filter itself it says 'Made in Italy'.

Stan Smith ( on NOC-L 25th.. Apr 1997

Oil filter elements - a list of alternative types

Perhaps I could add a little to the discussion on oil filters for Commandos. The only time mine had a genuine Norton one was when I bought the bike new. When I found out that a Simca filter would fit, I bought equivalents in car accessory shops. Over the years I have collected part numbers for the same filter. The ones I have are:

Crosland 631 or 673 Mann W7 12/70 Jones Filtration 264
Fram PH 2839 Simca 29932 M Unipart GFE 212
AC 5 W    

These are all the same fitment - thread and size, identical to the 'original' Norton.

Paul Whitehead ( on NOC-L 25th. Apr 1997

Oil filter elements - some more alternative types

In the US you can add these filters to the list of equivalents:-

NAPA 1352, made by Crosland (orange in colour) CarQuest 85352 (white in colour)

They don't normally stock these, but can get them in a day.

Cliff Lines ( on NOC-L 27th. Apr 1997

Oil filter elements - thoughts on the use of alternative types

It was I who wrote in about using the helicoil and the General Motors oil filter. Well actually I use the same filter as the 231 cubic inch GM V6, also the S-10 pickup with 2.8 litre engine. As for the flow characteristics, I haven't thought too much about it because in this case the filter is filtering oil on the return side of the system. In my opinion, if the filter allows the oil to return to the tank and still filters it, that's about all a Norton owner can ask. If you feel unsure about the use of a non-standard filter I wouldn't use it. It's not worth the worry for a difference of about $8. Of course the quality and flow characteristics of some of the so called 'Norton' filters that I have bought for my bike could be called into question. Some of them have looked pretty crude, and there is no brand name on the box in some cases.

Dave Hatch ( on NOC-L 28th. Apr 1997

Oil filters - particle size considerations

This is a subject of some interest to me; my '69 Trident has 2 mesh filters, a disposable paper filter and relatively cheap engine bits whilst the '74 Ducati has a plastic mesh and arm, leg and sell-your-soul bit prices. Royce Creasey (of foot-first fame) wrote an article in the Spring '85 issue of Classic Mechanics on fitting a Norton-type filter to a Ducati 450. The main points are: The particles causing the most damage are those in the 15-30 micron (0.004in.-0.011in.) range. Wire mesh filters are unlikely to catch these sizes. They are especially poor at catching the long, thin slivers due to their very small cross-sectional area, which happen to be just the thing to bugger gear type oil pumps and jam non-return valves.

The Norton filter element (Crosland 673) is also used in various Citroen cars, where its common to run at oil pressures of 80-100 p.s.i., and where oil changes may only happen once every decade or so. This filter produces a back pressure of 0.6 p.s.i. at a flow of 60 gallons/hour. Even at 250 gallons/hour, the back pressure is a measly 6.8 p.s.i. Should the filter clog up, there is a blow-off valve set to open at 13-18 p.s.i. This type of paper filter will stop all particles down to 12 microns, and a diminishing proportion down to 5 microns. They are very good at catching the long thin ones mentioned above.

The article also has a photo of a gear shaft lifted from the Ducati and a cam spindle from Royce's Velo. The Ducati bit has covered a claimed 8600 miles, the oil having been 'filtered' through Ducati's joke. The Velo spindle has run 60,000 miles on his bike, having been fitted as used off another. The Velo. spindle is worn out, but the surface is visibly better then the Ducati item, i.e. filtered oil = much lower wear rates.

So, personally, I have a high regard for Royce Creasey (anybody know where he is nowadays?) and have some difficulty in visualising a mesh filter going down to 5 microns, let alone one which you can wash out in solvent. How do you know when it's clean? - 5 microns is a bit small to see!

Steve Borland ( on NOC-L 29th. Apr 1997

Oil filter elements - no problems with one alternative type

The filter I use with the standard Norton fitting is a Champion (yes the spark plug ones) part #101. A sub-logo Cooper appears on the box, and Made in Italy on the body. The autos listed as being suitable include Peugeot, Talbot, Citroen, and Matra and the newest model years are 1987. I wouldn't guess what this means in terms of future production.

I cannot fault quality as I have never had a problem other than overtightening (once is enough) I live in Canada and purchase through Walridge Motors; availability of filters never seems to be a problem.

David Ritchie ( on NOC-L 30th. Apr 1997

Oil filter elements - no problems with another alternative type

For 5 years now I can report no problems using the PH 3614 Fram filter available at any street corner in North America for $2.50, which can be fitted with the aforementioned [½" 14mm] helicoil. Oilflow is normal, and the pressure is there within seconds of startup ( so says the gauge )......

Klaus Kaak ( on NOC-L 30th. Apr 1997

Oil filter system - reconnecting correctly

"When I plumbed my oil system a week ago, I forgot about the parts book for the 1972 Commando having an incorrect diagram. As shown in that parts book, I currently have the left engine oil pipe (return?) connected to the right hose of the oil filter unit. The left side hose runs back to the return on the tank. Is this correct?"

The oil filter is directional. The oil filter base is marker in and out, out goes to the tank. I knew a fellow a few years ago who put his oil filter and his cooler on the feel side, blew the engine up in just a few miles.

John Ebert ( on NOC-L 20th. Aug 1997

Oil filter elements - some alternative types have caused problems


Defective oil filters have, twice in my experience seriously impaired oil return. With the oil in the motor instead of the tank, I had leaks from everywhere, stupendous leaks, as well as rough running. In consequence, I am no longer using the British distributed, French made, 'Genuine Norton' oil filters.

Ben English ( on NOC-L 25th. Aug 1997

Oil filter elements - more alternative type recommendations

Walridge Motors recently sent me a Champion H101 filter for my Commando. Among the applications listed for this filter is the Citroen 2CV. Others include various models by Matra, Peugeot and Talbot.

Fred Mohlmann ( on NOC-L 7th. Sep 1997

Oil filter elements - more alternative type recommendations

The previous owner of my Norton Commando, Mk III left a list of oil filter replacements in the shop manual:-

Norton 063371 Fram PH2864 GUD Z102
Crosland 673 Parflux LS 131 Mann W712/9
AC X4 Purolator FC601 or PC203 Beck-Arnley 041-1241
AC SW9 (50% longer than X4)    

This list was probably compiled from about '75 to '80. Perhaps Paul Whitehead's list is more up to date.

Mike Washburn ( on NOC-L 7th. Sep 1997

Oil filter adapter

Matt Rambo and Doug McCadam, at Colorado Norton Works have fabricated an adapter that threads onto the oil filter plate. They are selling them for $19.95. Telephone (303) 646-0484.

Darrell Walker ( on NOC-L 4th. May 1998

Harley oil filter

The following oil filters designed for older Harley Davidsons work with my 1974 Commando 850; I assume they will work with other models as well.

  • Genuine Harley Davidson part #63810-80A - suggested retail price $6.95
  • Screaming Eagle (aftermarket approved by HD) part #63801-80T - suggested retail price $5.95

Richard Denison ( on NOC-L 4th. May 1998

More alternative oil filters

I have used the following filters in the UK:-

  • Champion H101
  • Wipac CA101
  • Delco X5
  • TJ FB2094

Fair Spares [Norvil Motorcycle Co.] supply Purolator L17601.

Treve Whitford ( on NOC-L 11th. Mar 1999



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