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The History of the Jackmaster Oil Filter.
Jackmaster Bypass Oil Filters have been around for a long time. The first bypass filter I made was in 1955. In those days I didn't sell any; I simply fitted my filters to vehicles used by people I was associated with, such as friends and family. My own vehicle could not be fitted as it was an old 1937 model, Standard 10, coupe convertible I bought for ten pounds. That particular car had no full flow filter and was not equipped with an engine oil pump, hence could not run a bypass filter. Instead, I built a good little setup with an oil pump to supply the filter. That way I made all the clean oil I ever needed from used engine oil. Here is the story of how it all began.
In 1955 I began training as a Marine Engineer. At that time I met a German engineer a good many years my senior, who had been the Chief Engineer on a German U-boat during WW2. He told me some amazing stories about those dangerous and exciting times. Whether they were just stories or real or exaggerated events I never knew, but one of those stories was to change my life.
At the time of Germany's surrender the Chief's submarine was at sea. The Captain called his crew together to make a life changing decision. He asked the crew if they would like to try their chances and head for South America. Some crew members decided that they had reasons to stay in Europe, but those who wanted to escape to a better life had a difficult job ahead of them. They had to run the gauntlet of two very capable Navies, the U.S. Navy and the British Navy. To achieve this most daring feat the Chief Engineer had to conserve every bit of fuel and oil they had on board. The Sub also had to be rigged with an intake and exhaust snorkeling system that would allow the ship to run underwater for much of the time, using diesel power. The electric motors, for sub-surface running, were not suitable for travelling long distances due to the limitations of battery capacity. The Chief calculated that they had just about enough fuel on board to make the incredible voyage if they ran on one engine. They could only run on the surface at night so all daylight running had to be sub-surface. The Captain figured that they could take their chances staying out of the main shipping lanes and if they did run too low on fuel maybe they would be lucky enough to deviate and find a friendly ship which might assist them, particularly if they were close to their destination.
Apart from his amazing rigging of the sub for running the diesels underwater the Chief came up with a remarkable device that he had first seen used, years before, in Germany. It was a way of forcing contaminated oil through a roll of tissue paper in a cylinder. The result was that the oil became quite clean after one single pass. More importantly, this process removed all traces of water from oil or diesel. He made a number of these filters for use on the voyage and he was convinced that they contributed greatly to the success of crossing the Atlantic under such adverse conditions, by allowing the use of oil and diesel that had become contaminated with seawater. They were even able to burn lubricating oil in the engines, that had been scavenged from the bilges. At the end of this amazing, ocean-spanning saga they arrived in Latin America with barely enough fuel left to dock.
Now, ten years later, I had the great fortune to be thrown together with this interesting man and we began to experiment and build different versions of this neat little filter. The first one was made by using an old cylinder liner from a GM GrayMarine, two stroke diesel we were reconditioning at the time. This was a pretty big diesel and the liners were quite large. We fitted it with two rolls, capped the ends and pumped oil from each end into the centre, where it exited as clean oil. After that we began to refine our designs and before long we had a whole family of different filters, each of which had its own special attributes.
As time went by I learnt a great deal from my old friend and mentor, until our lives took us in different directions. He left to work on the construction of an oil refinery in the Middle East, leaving me to continue on my way to become a Ship's Engineer. I never heard from him again but I will never forget him. He was placed in my path by fate and made an indelible impression on my life. On completion of my training I followed my dream further, as I had always had a love for the sea and ships. I'm sure this came from my boyhood, living on the the beach at the entrance to a major sea port and watching the ships coming and going. I went on to a life that that gave me many stories of my own to tell.
After some sea-time I settled in Melbourne, Australia and quickly set up a small factory to manufacture garage jacks and hoists. The name I chose for this business was Jackmaster. It was short and sweet and to the point. This business became successful and the Jackmaster Garage Jack was possibly the last Garage Jack locally made in Australia. During all of this I continued to make small numbers of different designs of the bypass filter. Sales were always small compared to other products I was making. The filters always took a back seat to the bread and butter products that kept the business alive, but I always felt that the time would arrive when people would realise the value of this amazing filter. From what I had heard from my friend, the Chief, it had been around since at least the early twentieth century and still most people had never heard of it. He told me that because earlier engines had no oil pumps or filters the oil had to be changed regularly. This created a situation where used oil reclamation flourished and some enterprising people had come up with the idea to recycle oil by using this method. In those days the oil industry was the new gold rush. Oil was expensive in Germany and not always available because of the economic woes in that country. What better way to get in on the money if you didn't own an oil well.
Jackmaster was going along nicely but then the business terrain began to change shape. Asia was beginning to price local manufacturers out of business; competition was not an option. Quite by chance I was introduced to a new industry and I slid neatly into another product, Auto Airconditioning, which had just begun. Once again fate had beckoned and offered me the chance to take on a pioneering role in a new field. I retained the name - Jackmaster - and followed this new venture with a lot of success until it too fell victim to Asian Manufacturing.
When this happened I left for the United States where I set up business in Dallas and Houston, in the airconditioning field again. These two cities, especially Dallas, were the centre of Auto Airconditioning for the entire world. If you were in that business you needed to be in Dallas, Texas. America was a different animal. It posessed the muscle to resist the onslaught of cheap, foreign manufacturing and I was in awe of business and social life in that vibrant and exciting economy. I retained and used the name, Jackmaster, in the U.S. and, as always, continued my interest in the bypass filter. I soon found that the American motorist was even less interested in bypass filtration. Theirs was a throw-away society. Automobiles, together with the oil to run them, were incredibly cheap. The one consolation was that there were more customers to sell to. Never-the-less, fate had smiled on me once again and I count myself as extremely lucky to have been able to experience a tiny slice of the American Dream before the Golden Era evaporated, taking with it the ostentatious limousines and the aire of excitement that could be felt everywhere you went. I doubt it will ever again be repeated on this planet.
In the late 1990's I experienced a number of personal situations which caused me to make a decision to return to Australia and taste the pleasures of retirement that I had heard so much about. I felt that I had seen enough of the world and performed as many miracles as I needed. However, I was wrong; I had enjoyed not more than a year or two of the good life when I realised that I was missing my real life. With all the talk of the Greenhouse Effect and Global Warming and Peak Oil I found myself thinking that maybe the time had arrived at last for the Bypass Filter. All those years of extolling the virtues of this device and still I felt its true worth had not yet been revealed. I had to give it another go. I had to do it, even if just for the memory of my old mate, the chief, who had always told me it would have its day. I made a decision to give the filter my undivided attention. No more " On the back burner", I wouldn't do anything else; this time I would concentrate on the filter alone.
Without delay I started to research what was currently available and what I could do to bring bypass filtration to the world; my last great crusade. I could see there was a very small number of bypass filters on the market. Some of them were very good units but none of them was cheap enough to attract anyone except those who already knew the value of bypass filtration. If this filtration system was to be marketed to a wide audience, it had to be done on the basis of price. From my experience in business I knew that I could say as much as I wanted about saving oil, saving your engine, saving the ecology or saving the world from Greenhouse destruction; none of that would have the same effect as making this thing to sell at a low price. I put off any thoughts of making money in the short term. The cost had to be kept at an absolute minimum. I set about immediately looking at all the designs that I had used over the years and what could be made at the cheapest price and suit vehicles currently available.
My years of involvement in production engineering and my contacts were now my greatest assets. It was going to be a mix of the cost of raw materials, production methods and inter-related economies. This process took a lot longer than I intended and involved travelling overseas on more than one occasion. I first selected the best design to suit the market I would aim at. Then I decided to have the high pressure diecastings made in an aircraft factory in China. The machining of the castings would be done in Australia. I needed to have total control over that process. Sources had to found for high quality hose fittings and hose. Problems of special fittings to suit different applications needed to be solved. The result of all this intense research was a unit that met all the necessary criteria. It was low cost, easy to fit, easy to use and was of a high quality. The sealing system would last for a very long time without problems. It was small enough to fit most applications but big enough to do the job. The design allowed for the use of commonly available toilet rolls if the customer wanted to use them. I would not try to capture a market for elements by making it a special size. It was important to let the customer know that there would never be a problem getting elements. The final design actually allows for the use of elements from some other filter makers and even off the supermarket shelf.
This filter is now in the market place and I am getting the feeling that it may be the right time at last. I have never seen bypass filtration attract the attention that it is currently enjoying in this country. It is a big job and it continues to be challenging. The next size filter for trucks is now being processed. It has been selected from a number of designs that have emerged over the years and will be a mixture of the best ideas.
To be continued as I find the time to add more of this wonderful story.