Radiator & Support Thoughts F Body Camaros
I'm in the process of replacing my leaky old radiator and during this process I found out that replacing a radiator is not a simple thing to do especially if you don't know what all may have happened to the vehicle.
Initially, I was sold an American Eagle radiator that was guaranteed to fit but the filler neck and cap seemed to be too high to close the hood and the mechanic had sent me some pictures showing a huge gap between the radiator and the support and for some reason he couldn't make the existing shroud work at all. In the picture, it appears the radiator was too low for the shroud but the shroud hangs from a support off the radiator support and only clips to the radiator on the bottom. The fan hasn't moved any and yet the mechanic showed me that the blades were going to hit the shroud. Unfortunately, because we decided to backpedal and try to fix the leak in the old radiator I didn't write down notes on what were causing the problems. Usually, the Service Writer or I remember the details but not this time.
I had talked to a guy about recoring the radiator and it was pretty much an $800 job if I took out the radiator and put it back in myself otherwise it was going to be another $100 and that seems to be the standard price from what I have read and seen for a 4 core brass & copper. The price would be slightly less like $600 if it didn't require a recoring but being a 50-year-old radiator what are the chances? And still there's the extra $100 so it's not like a huge savings.
After 4 tries of soldering leaks, the radiator has yet sprung another and I called the shop and asked if they wanted to take another stab at saving it or was it time to cut bait since they were doing this at their expense? I want to get past it because I am tired of having to worry about driving somewhere and ending up having to replace it under bad circumstances since that's always the most expensive repair and so I decided to go back to the drawing board and see what we would have to modify on that American Eagle radiator to get it to fit properly. I called the Service Writer at home and talked through the whole mess yet again trying to make sure that my thinking was clear before making another purchase and ending up with another ill-fitting radiator.
Today I went back to the photos that the mechanic had sent me when they first installed the American Eagle trying to figure out what exactly how to fix the problems. I have also created a technical drawing of the existing radiator measuring everything I could think to measure that would potentially cause the problems that we flushed out. So there were 3 fixes. The first was to not have any holes drilled in the bracket so that they could be drilled by the mechanic during the install that should resolve any height problems with filler neck preventing the hood from closing. The second fix would be to have the bracket bend moved to allow no more than a 1/2" of spacing between the front of the radiator and the radiator support leaving us in a situation that wouldn't be any different than I was currently in and finally both those fixes should resolve any issues with the shroud as well assuming that the clips are located at the right place to hold the shroud at the bottom basically I have to verify the dimensions of those tabs on the new radiator.
Then today as I was trying to put my final thoughts together on all this I got to thinking about how I had measured my radiator by using the top as a reference but how does that compare to another radiator that may have a shorter cover over the core? That's would throw off all the measurements because it would make the mounting holes higher in the brackets than they should be lowering the new radiator at least on paper. Then I got to thinking what would you normally use as a reference point? Should I measure everything from the edge of the core? BTW it's a 23 x 17 core. That could be difficult measuring with the tanks on the ends of the old radiator which have the bump out on the inner sides to rest against the radiator support. Actually, the entire measuring of the existing radiator was difficult because it is a bumpy, knobby thing.
Then I got thinking about the radiator support wondering if there should be a BB vs a SB version. From everything I've read, there was only ever one radiator support regardless of the engine size or radiator core size and that struck me as odd because you had two typical core sizes (although I see all kinds of core size measurements for First Gens) but most people seem to reference either the 23 x 17 for 396bb and the Z and 22 x 16 for pretty much everything else. Of course I have a 454bb which very few places take into consideration in their drop down car selections other than Summit which has a engine swap section but it doesn't always work and this was one of those times. Which got me back to thinking about the radiator support. I was curious how a one-sized opening in a radiator support worked for 2 different sized radiators. When I took a look at what was going on by peeking between the radiator and the support I was able to see that the passenger side tank inner bump out rested exactly on the edge of the opening of the radiator support which kind of has the sheet metal bent back on itself 3 times for strength and to protect the sharp edge around the opening. On the driver's side what I saw was that my radiator is too big for the opening so that extra inch from 22 to 23 goes past the radiator support opening and the extra inch in height goes below the opening in the support. Well, that's curious.
Isn't that strange? They went to all this extra work to add in a bigger radiator with 2 extra cores for a total of 4 and added an inch to each side that would have minimum airflow. Why did they bother? Why not just leave it at adding the 2 extra cores and forget the extra inch in each direction? I can't imagine that inch does anything as far as helping cool the engine.
If you'd like to comment on the reference point for measuring or the odd single radiator support and the 2 different radiator sizes or anything feel free.