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The DJ-3A “Wire Gauze” or “Dry Air” Filter

• CATEGORIES: Builds, Features • TAGS: This site contains affiliate links for which I may be compensated.

A pretty correct looking dry air or wire gauze filter from a 1954 Kaiser Darrin. Not the diagonal wire mesh on the exterior and the two prominent lips on the lid. The rubber piece on the top is unique to the Darrins. The DJ-3A did not use the rubber top piece.

UPDATE: This modification of the Oil Bath system into a dry air system by installing an air filter inside the oil bath canister might interest some readers:

On DJ-3As, the stock air filter is a  “Wire Gauze” or “Dry Air” filter type. The oil bath filter commonly seen on earlier L-134 engines was an upgrade option on the DJ-3As. When I looked to see whether my firewall had the holes necessary to mount the oil bath filter, I found the firewall had not been drilled. So, Rusty must have been equipped with a dry air filter.

As far as we know, Willys Motors only installed the dry air filter on the DJ-3As. This same filter appeared chromed on some 1953 & 1954 Corvettes and some 1954 161 Darrins (perhaps other years, too). It’s likely that if someone has one of these lying around, they probably don’t know what it is. If you happen to have one, I’d be interested in it.

Below is one example of a filter about to be restored with a modern mesh in the middle. Charles explained how the NOS filter material can be reproduced: “A NOS corvette, Darrin, or DJ filter core is rare and expensive. Once in a couple of blue moons they show up on eBay. However, they can be made easily . The inner and outer ring are made of extremely thin expanded metal. Make the inner ring, wrap around some air filter grade copper mesh wrap (eBay) and then wrap the outer ring and secure. Unfortunately, the copper would deteriorate over the years and has been talked about badly. Even though they were called dry air filters they were supposed to be kept oiled.”

According to Bill Brown, there’s a K&N filter that can be used. He couldn’t remember the part number, but the “OD of it is 6 3/8″; the ID is 5 1/4″; and the height is 1 1/2”. This is a filter with an accordion fold all the way around with a molded “rubber” top an bottom. Molded into both the top and bottom are a pair of K & N marks the Identification AO62B4 and the words Oil Type.”


This photo shows some of the parts to build a custom dry air filter. The bottom is original. The mesh left and right should be criss cross in diamond shapes rather than circles. The air filter at the bottom is meant to replace the shredded copper originally between the circular mesh. The felt circle helps seal the top lid to the tops of the mesh. The item on the lower right compresses the felt onto the mesh.

Here are examples of the filter installed. The diameter of the top lid is about 6 3/4 inches:


This rebuilt unit has the incorrect mesh and an aftermarket filter.


This one could be original. I can’t tell what kind of mesh surrounds the shredded interior.



This one could be original.

Dinesh shared pics of his disassembled filter. Note that his lid has a larger concave area for the nut and doesn’t have the diagonal mesh. It is possible over the years that Willys changed mesh.

  1. Prior to disassembly:


3. This is the top:


3. Top and screens removed. Inside was original some kind of copper mesh. Circular screens sit inside and outside of the mesh.

4. Here’s the inner screen sitting on the bottom:

5. Just the screens:dry-air-filter-mesh

CORVETTE DUAL POT DRY FILTERS: Allan correctly pointed out that it was the 1953/54 Corvettes that had a similar air filter. While $$$$$$ expensive, they can be found on eBay. Here are two pics to illustrate his point:


This is missing the mesh and has later air filters installed.


STUDEBAKER & PACKARD PERFORMANCE DRY FILTERS: Continuing my search, I found this performance air filter from Studebaker/Packard. It sold on eBay for $349. I’m unsure of the diameter:






There seems to be a non-copper shredded metal inside. The outside mesh is circular rather than angular.

Text from the eBay Ad: Listed is an NOS VINTAGE ORIGINAL AC Chevy Studebaker Packard Superior Performance Air Cleaner. Part Number 684031. Labeled: AC Spark Plug – Flint Michigan. Item Comes With Original Packaging. Has surface rust in some areas (as pictured.) Sold as is and exactly as seen in the photos.

Fitment For The Following Years: 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 And Should Fit The Following Applications: Carter W1, WE, Rochester B, BC, Rayfield, Tilloston And Many Others. NOTE: THIS IS NOT AN OIL BATH AIR CLEANER. THERE IS NO PLACE TO PUT ANY OIL. THIS IS A DRY AIR CLEANER AND SILENCER. NOTE: THE INSIDE DIAMETER IS APPROXIMATELY 2 1/4″

1954 Kaiser Darrin (and other years?): The Kaiser Darrin’s appear to have had the same dry air filter as the DJ-3As. All three below have the diagonal mesh on the exterior. The Kaiser Darrin should also have a rubber piece on top. The hood of the car compressess against the rubber to hold down he air cleaner.  Here are a few photos:

1954-kaiser-darrin-dry-air-filter 1954-kaiser-darrin-dry-air-filter2 1954-kaiser-darrin-dry-air-filter3

CHEV TRUCKS: Some late 1940s chevy trucks have similar looking lids on larger air cleaners, but they are likely larger than 7″ in diameter.

Ford V8 Truck mid-1930s: Some Ford trucks have a lid close to the Darin/DJ/Corvette lid.


10 Comments on “The DJ-3A “Wire Gauze” or “Dry Air” Filter

  1. Craig/Vermont

    Over the years, I’ve had a number of cj2a/cj3a jeeps with this type of dry filter… I thought they might be aftermarket (learn something every day)…I’ll keep my eyes open for you.

  2. David Eilers Post author

    Well that’s interesting. Maybe they were available a little more widely or earlier than thought? Barry just noticed one on the Jeepster from Niles I listed today.

  3. Craig/Vermont

    The ones I remember had brackets for the oil bath air cleaners, so probably were changed later on…

  4. slowfun

    Sounds like guys are on the right track. When Corvettes had the 235 cu. in 6cyl engines in 1953 and 1954, they used this dry type air cleaner on the triple sidedraft Carter carbs. I do actually have one of the original Corvette aluminum manifolds with the three carbs……but no air cleaners. The type air cleaner you are looking for also looks very similiar to the dry mesh filter commonly used on 1949 era Chevrolet 216 cu. in 6cyl. engines in pickups. They are obviously more common than the Corvette, but may be a very close match to what you need. I may be able to find on Saturday.
    Allan J. Knepper
    Pewaukee Wi.

  5. David Eilers Post author

    Craig: I figured that was the case, that they were changed later on, but I doubt there were enough DJs produced with dry air cleaners that you would run across multiples. That’s why I was wondering if they were used on a few other vehicles OR were available through dealers as an aftermarket option?

    Allan: I was just browsing eBay and found similar examples of chef truck filters with lids that appear nearly the same. This one also looks the same from the top and has similar mesh.

    Here’s one example that includes a measurement, but isn’t quite identical:

  6. David Eilers Post author

    I added a couple photos of the Corvette air cleaners. They look mighty close, but have some dimples at the edges.

  7. Colin Peabody

    The Corvette air cleaners had chrome lids but o think they were the same. The 53 Corvettes used a bullet type on eavh carb, , but the 54-55 used 2 of the type we are discussing here. The length of the air horn from the base of the filter to the to of the carb might be critical on the Chevy:Studebaker units for hood clearance on a DJ3A or even a CJ3a .

  8. Charles Tate

    DJ lids also had divots exactly like the corvette ones. They just don’t always show up in non close up or wrong camera angle pictures..

    According to my research and experience anything else but DJ OR early corvette…. even if it looks the same profile… can not made to work without altering the air horn to set lower and having full expectation that the diameter of both the bottom piece and the top will be too wide.

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