Monday, January 20, 2014

Radiator test fit

After bad news from the radiator shop about my two original Studebaker V8 radiators (they were beyond repair) I was left with another decision: I could have a custom radiator built to the original size which would be very expensive, I could try to find another 60 year old radiator and hope that it would be in good enough shape to re-core, or I could adapt a generic radiator to fit.

Since one of our local Studebaker Drivers Club members went the expensive custom radiator route and it still didn't quite fit, and since my car isn't going to be an original restoration (we're well beyond that,) and since I'm beginning to doubt my luck at finding an old rebuildable radiator, I decided to go the "adapt a generic one to fit" route.

Several Studebaker restomod and hot rod builders have found the low profile 16" x 26" GM-style aluminum radiator from Northern to be a close fit. And at under $200 shipped, it seems like a potential bargain. So I ordered one and it arrived this weekend.

The radiator is slightly wider and thicker, and a little shorter, than the original radiator; it is also a cross flow design which is more efficient. So some adapting is required to fit the frame. A cut-off wheel on my grinder made quick work of removing 3/8th-inch from the inside edge of the frame:

This cleaned up nicely with a file and a couple of passes with the flap wheel on the grinder.
Then I installed the radiator frame, using the same amount of spacers (7 washers) that I found in place when I disassembled the car, and slide the new radiator into place.

Starting to look more car-like everyday.
My main concern, clearance of the bell-crank arm (a part of the steering system) was unfounded--it is close (less than 1/2-inch I'd say) but it does clear throughout a complete lock-to-lock. This said, it is tight enough that I will probably go with an electric fan in front of the radiator instead of trying to build a shroud that would fit the new radiator and still have enough clearance for the steering.

That doesn't mean that there aren't any problems: one concern is the lower water outlet of the radiator. It seems to be pointing straight at the cross-member and I'm not sure I can get a hose to make that big of a turn without cutting off the water flow.  I may need to have that cut and welded back on at a different angle; even with that added expense, I'm still dollars ahead of a custom replacement.

It might work...going to be close!

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