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Rough running engine- paper air filter

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I have a 2006 CTSW.  A few months ago, I noticed when reducing power from cruise RPM (over 5200) to between 4300 and 5200, I immediately get a slight roughness in the engine.  If I apply carb heat, which bypasses the air filter, it immediately smooths out.  Below 4200 RPMs or above 5200 RPMs, it runs fine.  I have checked the carb bowls & made sure the cross tube equalization lines are hooked up properly.  Nothing changed so I can't figure out why this is occurring.  If I apply carb heat in the 4200-5200 RPM range, there is no problem.  I checked the air filter, which isn't dirty and appears not to be restricted, however it is the original style paper element.  I removed it and ordered a K & N 33-2092 replacement filter.  Could it be the paper filter getting old, or any ideas?  I thought about changing the mixture on the middle jet, but I haven't changed a thing and it ran fine before.  Thanks in advance.

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I'd wait until you try the other filter. Not likely it, but you never know. The carbs should be checked for sync, the carb floats weighed. Both of these are cheap quick and easy. Check the carb sync up to 3300-3500 rpm.

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Thanks Roger. Will do. I acquired a Carbmate a few weeks ago and tried it.  It was very cold and my helper wasn't the best.  I found they were off but I'm sure I can do a better job now that it's warm.  I know it he Carbmate isn't everyone's favorite but it was the simplest route at the time. My K & N filter comes in Thursday so I'll give that a try first.

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I will never use a paper filter. People lost their lives (in other aircraft) from paper filters coming apart and clogging the manifold. The paper air filters rapidly deteriorate in high moisture and wet environments.

NTSB on the issue:

https://www.ntsb.gov/safety/safety-recs/recletters/A83_67_69.pdf

It was such a serious issue that the FAA created AD 84-26-02.

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I removed the old paper air filter, along with the three wire ties & gave them the permanent heave-hoe.  I was glad to read in another thread that the wire ties are no longer needed (will make servicing the air filter so much easier).  I installed the K&N filter and walla, the engine runs perfect at every power setting!  That settled months of aggravation, chasing the gremlin.  A big thanks to Roger & Corey for their valuable input.

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