Filter Supplies Blog
July 2, 2019

Aftermarket Filters have been in Western Australia for a lifetime

Aftermarket filters are equal, and in most cases, identical, to the original equipment manufacturer filter.

There was a time when the only filters you could buy were supplied by the Original Equipment Manufacturer or “OEM”. They were designed and made for the equipment manufacturer with no other option to replace them with an aftermarket brand. People trusted that, because it was supplied by the machinery maker, it must be the right component.

However, just like in other industries and with other machinery components (think printer ink refills and coffee pods) aftermarket producers came into the market offering filters designed for the various machinery.

Over the years, the market has got more sophisticated, filter technology has become highly advanced and now there are many specialist filter manufacturers. You can now buy a diverse range of high-quality aftermarket filters. 

Take for example Donaldson Filters, a high-quality aftermarket filter manufacturer, which is generally regarded as the inventor of the modern air filter. Donaldson filters started filter production in 1915.

Filter Supplies has had a long association with Donaldson. Initial success for Donaldson in Australia came through aftermarket installation of air filtration to machinery operating on the Snowy Mountains Scheme and Main Roads Vehicles building the roads that opened up the north of Western Australia. Predominantly supplied by a certain H.A. Ash.

Here’s more about the history and long association of Filter Supplies with Donaldson Filters in Western Australia.

Donaldson Filters in Western Australia – The Filter Supplies history, by Jeff Ash

It has been said that you’ll never get fired as a supply officer if you buy Donaldson Filters. Donaldson’s reputation for quality over the decades is well known.

What isn’t as well known is the history that Hugh Ash and Filter Supplies have with Donaldson in Western Australia. It’s a story of quality products, superior knowledge and attention to detail that was the cornerstone of the Filter Supplies business, and remains to this day.

The 1950s

Our story, or rather Hugh Ash, our founder’s story starts in the late 1950s in Perth. Having started his working career as a typewriter mechanic in the CBD Hugh soon moved onto Coventry Motors – the largest Automotive parts supplier in the state at the time. In the late 1950s, very few cars or machinery came with the dry type air filters that we now regard as standard. If they came with anything at all it was a European oil bath type system, or a Vokes style felt pre-cleaner. Perfect for country England… not at all suitable for the fine dust that exists in the north and east of our state.

At that time Donaldson was the most advanced filtration company in the world. The intense military buildup of the 50s brought many opportunities for Donaldson within the military space. Donaldson filters were created for and installed on, such diverse equipment as the Boeing B52 Bombers, M48 & M60 Tanks and M109 Howitzers.

At the time Donaldson Filters were imported into Australia by a company called C.L.A.E. Marine Engines. A company that made their own range of small 2 cylinder marine engines in addition to converting Holden 6 cylinder motors for marine use. 

C.L.A.E. was looking for an agent to represent Donaldson Filters in Western Australia. After interviewing numerous Holden dealers they spoke to Hugh at Coventry’s and ascertained that he was the man for the job.

Getting the filters into the field

At that time in Western Australia, the North West of the state was being opened up for mining and exploration. The Main Roads Department ran all its own machines and made what was generally accepted as some as the best roads in the world. Given the machinery being used was either British or American the air filters were nowhere near sturdy enough to deal with the dust-up north.

Hugh approached Bluey Thompson the head engineer at Plant Engineers in East Perth, which maintained all the Main Roads machinery, with the concept of retrofitting the then state of the art Donaldson Donaclone assemblies into the entire fleet. Bluey said that Hugh should put his filters where his mouth was’ and run a trial on the Perkins & Cat motors that comprised the majority of their fleet. The trial went flawlessly and the entire fleet had them installed, all supplied by Hugh Ash.

The 1960s to Present Day

In the mid-‘60s Donaldson started supplying the Australian market through its own subsidiary. Since our inception Filter Supplies has dealt directly with Donaldson Filters. From the late ‘80s till the early ‘90s Filter Supplies was the largest independent Donaldson distributor in Australia. We would land a 40-foot container a week, shipped directly from the Donaldson factory in Wyong NSW.

My own earliest Donaldson memory is unloading those 40-foot containers, by hand, in the middle of summer. We carried so much Donaldson stock in those days that the high usage elements were stacked 10 metres high, 10 metres wide and 20 metres long.

Today there still isn’t a company in Australia that has more Donaldson history, or ingrained Donaldson knowledge than Filter Supplies.

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