Tip Of The Month

What to do with broken air cleaner stack?

By Dan Brotzman
10/1/1999

What to do with an air cleaner stack that is dented, bent over or broken? Those innocent looking pieces of steel tube look so simple, just standing up there, easy to get at to work on, you don't have to remove anything to see them and they are just made of simple steel tubing. Well, they may look simple, which they are and are definitely accessible, but they will provide you with quite a challenge if you need to remove a dent or straighten up a bent stack.

The first thing you will probably notice is that the steel is tougher than you would think, not like today's tin work. Second, there is no way to get at the inside of the air stack tube to push or pound any dents out. Third, if it is bent back or forward, how do you straighten it without causing more dents? Now that darn thing doesn't look so simple anymore. They can be fixed, but not real easily.

The easiest route to take is to purchase a good one from a salvage yard or remove one from a good parts tractor. The air stack itself is common among many tractor years and models, but the bracket or base it is welded to changed with variations of a single model such as early and late styled "As." The parts book lists the air stack as a separate service item meaning it is field serviceable.

To remove an air stack, use a small four inch cut off wheel on a die grinder. This can be purchased at most industrial supply outlets or a good hardware store. (Isn't this great? Another excuse to buy more tools!) Carefully cut the weld away where the air stack and bracket meet. Is it wise to make this cut shallow and square with the base. Keeping the cut square with the base will help keep the assembly process easier. Once you have successfully made a "square" cut around the air stack, you can remove it from the base. The bracket extends up inside the air stack an inch or two so make your cut just deep enough to remove the air stack.

With the air stack removed, you can repair small dents below the intake grille, but an inner deflector inside the air stack will prevent you from reaching dents near the top of the air stack. The inner shield is not easily removable without doing some serious metal surgery, so your best bet is to find a good stack to weld back on. When welding on a new stack, a wire feed welder is the welder of choice, but a good person on a stick welder can get the job done. The weld will be below the hood line but visible to nosy people. Before starting the welding process, I like to fasten the bracket to the radiator and install the muffler, then set the air stack on the bracket to make sure the inlet grill faces the right direction and the air stack sits parallel with the muffler. With the air stack positioned correctly, tack weld the air stack to the bracket in at least three places. (Obviously the hood is off.) Now you can remove the bracket with the air stack tack welded and finish welding completely around the air stack at your welding table.

You are now ready to do the paint preparation work and finish your project. It is amazing how much a dented air stack or bent air stack can detract from an otherwise perfect restoration. This process can easily be done in about an hour after the hood is removed and is well worth the time! While the hood is off, double check that you have the correct style, height and color of muffler. Good luck and happy restoring!