Keep Your Cool!
Get Ready For Hot Summer Cruisin'!
By Chuck Hanson
Hot weather and "hot" engines are a combination that can take the fun out of most any cruise, whether you're
hitting the local Biffy Burger or hitting the highway on a cross-country excursion.
But a little preparation can have a huge effect when it comes to keeping your
cool along the way.
You don't need an advanced degree in thermal dynamics to understand that the more power you make, the greater the need to exchange the heat generated by the internal combustion process. But antiquated cooling systems can only do their job for so long before they need attention.and
quite often, updating.
Obviously, you'll want to check over the basic components of your cooling system. Are the hoses in good condition? If they feel spongy or swell under pressure, replacements are in order. Check the lower hose to make sure the spring inside is doing its job. If the lower hose is collapsing while the engine is running, it's
restricting the flow of coolant back into the engine and overheating is the inevitable
The radiator cap is another often-overlooked component that has a profound impact
on the cooling system's operation. Don't be fooled by one that "looks like it's OK," because besides keeping the coolant inside the radiator, the pressure rating of the cap also raises the boiling point of the coolant. Same goes for the thermostat. It may look just fine, but the only way to know if it's working properly is to test it in water that's been heated to the thermostat's opening point. As inexpensive as they are, you may want to consider changing the thermostat each spring as part of the normal "service" you give your Chevelle before cruisin' season
Finally, make sure there is sufficient airflow through your radiator to promote
the efficient exchange of heat generated by your engine. If you have a clutch
fan setup, make sure it's functioning properly. Give it a spin while the engine is not running and if it freewheels, chances are you need a new fan clutch. And while you're checking out the fan, give the shroud a once over as well , making sure it seals well to the radiator, there are no cracks or broken places, and that the fan rotates freely in the opening with about a half-inch clearance all around. You say your Chevelle doesn't
have a shroud? Or that it has the original metal-style? Either way, find a good
replacement that fits your application and allows the fan to draw sufficient
air through the radiator; often a shroud from a similar year and model with air
conditioning will adapt quite easily.
Okay, so we've made sure that all the mechanical aspects of your cooling system are up to snuff. But you're
still having problems. What now?
Well, it could be that your radiator is the actual culprit. Let's face it, 40
year-old technology and hardware simply may not be up to the task of keeping
a modern, high-horse engine at its proper operating temperature. Sure, big-blocks
may have been bolted between the fenders of our Chevelles when they were new.
But bigger big-blocks, higher compression, more carburetion, a hotter spark,
and a propensity to use the extra power whenever the notion strikes your fancy,
all conspire to generate more heat than your antiquated cooling system can cope
That's the situation we were faced with when we made the call to Alumitech for one of their direct, drop-in, replacement aluminum radiators. Owner Don Kyte has over a decade of experience building aluminum coolers, so he knows what he's talking about. "Our
aluminum radiators will not only save weight on the front end, but their high-efficiency
tube and fin design offers a substantial improvement in cooling capabilities
That's a fact, but one of the features we liked best was the way it bolted up using the original mounting hardware and shroud. "We spend a lot of time researching radiator dimensions," he continued. "So our customers can have a true drop-in replacement with the benefit of improved cooling." Another "cool" thing we like is that an aluminum radiator also increases the wow factor every time you raise the hood. Shoot, that's
gotta be worth something, too.
Of course, there's still one very important element of the cooling system, and
the water pump. New impeller designs have increased the pumping capacity, while
the housings themselves have been reworked on many designs to enhance flow and
reduce the chance for cavitation. The Weiand aluminum pump we chose employs both
methods to ensure an adequate and steady flow of coolant through the system.
And again, we lose weight while increasing the under hood appeal.
Now that we've identified our plan of attack, it's time to spin some wrenches!
The step-by-step process is illustrated by the photos on the right side of this
Tanks A Lot!
As evidenced by these photos, the differences between the original Harrison radiator
tanks and those on the Alumitech reproduction are substantial. Nevertheless,
fitting the Alumitech in place of the original was a true drop-in. If original
appearance is a major concern, you may want to retain your original and simply
have it reworked with a new, high-efficiency core for improved cooling. But if
keeping your cool is more important than esthetics, you can camouflage the lightweight
with a coat of special radiator paint, like the kind sold by Eastwood Company.
Getting a "Pump" on the Competition
From the outside, the high performance, aluminum water pump
from Weiand looks just like the original cast iron lump bolted to the front of
the motor. Shoot, you could probably even paint it orange, and nobody would be
the wiser. On the inside, however, the stamped-steel, high-volume impeller is
light years ahead of the original cast iron impeller in both form and function.
This is especially crucial to maintaining proper coolant flow at low speeds like
those encountered at cruises or in heavy traffic.
4323 Old Mill Dr.
Pinckney, MI 48169
PO Box 10360
Bowling Green, KY 42101