March 8th, 2004 : Walker Z-Cool Radiator
With the old 2-cell radiator that was in the truck, it was pretty easy to see the engine overheating even without the AC on if it was a hot day and I was sitting in traffic, so I knew I needed to get a new radiator in there before the Summer months this year. I also had a side-mounted transmission cooler that I didn't like ... it was positioned wrong, and it was sitting right next to one of my exhaust pipes, so it wasn't doing very much at all and the new radiator would replace that by having the trans cooler in the bottom of the radiator, where it belongs.
Further, I knew this would be a good time to get rid of the gear drive ... I guess you either love them things, or hate 'em -- and I hate 'em! The whining drives me nuts and I want to hear my engine and pipes. Also, if something's making noise and needs attention, you'll never know it if there's a gear drive because you'll never hear it -- not good.
So I took the truck to Jim Naugle of Jim's Classic Restorations in Monroe, New Jersey - 732-521-9383. We put a Walker Z-Cool 5-cell copper radiator in, installed a new water pump and removed the gear drive, replacing it with a Summit double-roller timing chain. I decided to go with a copper radiator, rather than aluminum because, even though it's heavier and costs a bit more, if it ever develops a leak, I can simply solder and patch it.
You can see by the picture below, how the original fan was sitting too low to do anything worthwhile, so I had Jim remove it altogether ... we installed a 16-inch electric fan ... new fan belts and hoses, too, of course.
I also ordered a relay and temperature sensor for the electric fan so that it would turn itself on at 190 degrees; off at 170 degrees ... then we wired it to my ignition, so when I turned the engine off the fan wouldn't continue running.
Note: If you look at the Electric Fan Circuit Breaker in the picture above, you'll see a rather whimpy red 14-gauge wire that's going back to the battery. I was having a problem after this installation ... my voltage gauge was dipping way down into the low end whenever the fan would kick on and it was bothering me big time; it should not act that way, so I knew something wasn't wired right ... also, a 14-gauge wire just doesn't cut it for a battery feed. Alas, the old adage comes to mind -- "If you want something done right, do it yourself" ... professional mechanics are just doing a job and looking to move on, so they often neglect details.
Anyway, after three days of trying this and that, and getting nowhere, I wound up making a serious study of all the wires. Everything looked okay, except for that whimpy 14-gauge battery feed wire and that got me staring at the circuit breaker. I decided to bypass the circuit breaker, just on a whim, so I disconnected the battery, removed the circuit breaker, made a quick (temporary) connection from the relay to a fat honkin' 8-gauge wire, and took a ride. Bingo! Everything was working perfectly! When the fan kicked in, the voltage gauge dropped to 13.5 for a half second and went right back up to 14+ ... so I kept driving, went to my local auto parts store, bought an in-line 30 amp fuse (easy to replace if it ever blows), went back home and installed it between the relay and my honkin' 8-gauge battery feed (note: the in-line fuse was not a good idea -- see below).
The 30 amp in-line fuse turned out to be a mistake. After a few days, the fuse blew ... I knew that meant something wasn't right, so I started reading all the info I could find at MadElectrical.com -- Mark Hamilton offers some of the best info you'll ever get about electrical matters! If you scroll down to ELECTRIC RADIATOR FAN SYSTEMS on this page at his site, you'll see that an in-line fuse is a mistake ... electric radiator fans draw a lot of juice and when they turn on, they may kick a full 60 amps. That kind of activity will eventually fry an in-line fuse, and even a 30 amp circuit breaker, over time.
I decided to go with an 18-gauge fusible link as Mark suggests at his site (a six-inch piece of wire that is four gauges smaller than the wire it is protecting will serve). NOTE: Install fusible links away from any gas lines or anything that may burn, and insulate them with a piece of split-loom to further keep their sparks or flames - if they ever do fry - contained ... and never install them in the interior of your vehicle.
At first, I was aprehensive about using fusible links. What if it blew while I was on the road? I'd have to do some repair work right there on the spot! Well, once I talked to Mark about this, his explanation set my mind at ease and convinced me that a fusible link is the very best way to go:
"If a fusible link fails, it means there is a very, very serious problem (like a frayed wire shorting out against the frame) that needs your immediate attention. A circuit breaker can mask this problem and eventually you could wind up with a car in flames! Fusible links can do the best job and they can last for years on end; if a fusible link ever fries, the first thing you do is discover what caused it!"I've also installed two relays to handle my 16-inch electric fan, as is advised at Mad Electrical ... you can check out my installation Here.
Now I'm ready for the Summer months ... AC full blast ... sitting in traffic ... this baby will never overheat!