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mpneroz

What size radiator for 1966 Wildcat w/401

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Buying a new radiator shortly for my 1966 Wildcat coupe.  Ton of choices out there, standard or aluminum, number of rows etc.  Car is a 1966 running with a 65 401 engine and a TH 400 automatic.  The car is an original AC car but I don't really plan on restoring the AC system, not saying I never would but I am leaning on eliminating it to cut all that weight anyway.  The  radiator currently in the car is not correct, seems to be a bit small but the car does not run hot using it.  It needs replacement though, buildup inside etc.  Need to know what the original size radiator was when it was built back in 66?  I am thinking about 28" length seems about right? Number of rows don't know? 

 

Is it worth a switch to an aluminum unit?  Or should I go the conventional route?  Not many good radiator shops around any more, seems to be a lost art to get one rebuilt.  Lots available on the internet, Ebay etc but I want to make the best choice.  Thought maybe someone out there making the same choice had good results with a particular brand or style radiator.  Never had any experienced with an aluminum radiator in one of my old cars  but I would not dismiss the thought of buying one.  Thoughts anyone?

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Best to be rebuilt, and go 4 row.  A/C or not, 4 row provides max cooling.  How bout a picture of your radiator? What makes you think it's not original?  It should be a cross flow , not top down radiator.  Probably 3 row now. 

 

I bought a new radiator for my 78 wagon.  3 units later I finally got one that the side tanks are not leaking.  Then it has an extra port out.  Not sure for what but it came with a cap to block it off.  On my 4th cap now, and this one is showing the telltale cracks that lead to prior replacements.  Wish I had just had my original recored on this one too.  It's not cheap for a recore, but if your time is worth anything, it's cheaper than all the time I spent getting this one settled.

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Here's my experience with radiators.  A recored radiator is only as good as TWO things.  One is the person doing the work.  The other is the quality of the solder being used--KEY item!

 

There used to be many radiator shops, even in smaller towns.  Some did "good work" and others seemed to do better, but the "better" people usually found some other more profitable line of work. The BEST shops were in larger towns and did lots of radiators.  Most did very durable work at reasonable prices.

 

When we'd get radiators redone locally, they'd usually last about 2-3 years before the seams would start leaking.  That just seemed to be reasonable, back then.  As the number of radiator shops in town dwindled, then I took them to a shop in Fort Worth we'd done business with at the dealership.  They did great work and used better solder.  About 3-4 years, usually.

 

When I got a radiator that I wanted to upgrade, I went straight to Modine for that.  We had a source that could get them, as many auto supplies carried them by that time.  Complete OEM-spec durability and longevity (better than the radiator shops by a good bit, for not much more money).

 

In the 1980s, I needed another radiator for my '77 Camaro.  The Modine I'd put in it was a 3-row as the factory a/c "HD" radiator was a 2-row.  It worked well and looked better than the OEM radiator, but it got clogged and I didn't want a recore job.  ACDelco had come our with their "upgrade" radiators about that time.  "Upgrade" as they were the OEM-style composite tank/hi-efficiency aluminum core radiator.  When I pulled the Modine out, it was HEAVY from the bottom 1/3 being "deposit-laden".   The replacement ACDelco was very well priced and weighed about 1/2 the weight.  The trans cooler was 12" rather than the stock 10", so some minor reforming of the trans cooler lines made that work.  It was a 75 degree spring day when I did the swap and it took a full 45 minutes for the engine to get to temperature for the 180 degree thermostat to open!

 

This style radiator has NO solder in it.  The high-efficiency aluminum core seals against a gasket (ala HD truck format) and the ends crimp to the tank.  It works.

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Ethylene glycol and solder are NOT good friends.  When the additives in the coolant deplete, some of them are there to keep the solder and ethylene glycol "friendly", then the solder at the joints begins to degrade.  Leaks result.  This can also relate to the alkalinity/acid balance in the coolant, too.  The "ph" level.

 

As for a replacement, www.RadiatorExpress.com has listings for 2-core, 3-core, and 4-core copper/brass radiators.  A 3-core full aluminum  OEM-style model.  A 3-core composite/aluminum (PAL) radiator that is very reasonably priced, compared to the others.  Size specs are listed for each one.    Check it out!  Not an endorsement of that vendor, just that they have the listings and specs I couldn't find via Modine's website.

 

If you're worried about weight AND cost, the PAL 3-row unit should work well, from my past experiences with the PAL radiators on my Camaro.  We first saw that style of radiator on some 1980s VW cars.  Many drag racers started using the Rabbit radiators to cool their 454 Chevy race engines.  Looked impossible, given their small size, but the greater efficiency of the core made it work great.

 

The whole idea behind the "more cores" situation is greater surface area in the fins for heat dissipation.  The fin count on the aluminum core PAL radiator is greater than any copper/brass radiator I've seen.  They must work much better from what I've seen.

 

These are my experiences.  Others might have different experiences, which I respect.

 

NTX5467

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There were some very good radiator shops in my area when I was younger.  Those guys were really good.  They closed, stopped rebuilding for the most part or just became a place to go to get a new radiator installed.  When you look on line, the curse is " also fits whatever model" and they seem to be one size fits all and that is really true.  Prices seem to vary widely.    

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9 hours ago, NTX5467 said:

The fin count on the aluminum core PAL radiator is greater than any copper/brass radiator I've seen.

 

That is at least partially due to the fact that thermal conductivity of copper is higher than aluminum.  My opinion is that the aluminum radiators are generally sized to provide equivalent thermal capacity.  Aluminum is also cheaper and lighter, which are other attributes which can factor into the final decision.

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Until those first VW Rabbitt radiators showed up on the local drag cars, we laughed at their smaller size, compared to the normal copper/brass radiators that had been being used before that.  More brackets to mount them were needed and they were installed.  To the amazement of many, they worked better than the OEM-Camaro-sized radiators.  Once proven, more got them with similar success. 

 

One other thing I noticed on my '77 Camaro ACDelco "upgrade" radiator was that it didn't hole quite 2 gallons of coolant, whereas even the original 2-core did, and the 3-dore Modine certainly did.  But with even the 3-core Modine, it never took as long for the thermostat to open as it did with the PAL radiator.  The tanks got warm, but not hot until the thermostat finally did open, as I was also watching the temp gauge in the instrument cluster.  I took that to mean "more efficiency" and it stayed cooler in the hot summer months.  Those are just my observations and experiences.  I was skeptical, at first, too, but not any more.

 

As for the "one size fits all" orientation . . . when our cars were designed "new", there was intense interest in the $$$$ it took to get them to the end of the assembly line, with each particular equipment grouping.  Once past that, the aftermarket generally consolidates applications when possible, especially as the vehicles get older.  Whether radiators, water pumps, fan clutches, suspension springs, or whatever.  Many have more fittings than the parts being replaced, as in radiator tanks, sometimes.  Fewer items cover more bases.  The other thing is that each GM carline (or others, too) might have had something unique in production, but a small addition or change can make it also fit many other brand vehicles.  Cross flow radiators might be one such item, too.

 

KEY thing about any radiator is to make sure the rubber mounting "saddles" are of the correct size for the tank width.  And the mounting plate for these rubber saddles has the holes in the correct place.  And, of course, that the radiator will physically fit the vehicle and nothing hits it that shouldn't.

 

One other thing about "rows".  I have a '80 Chrysler Newport.  The upper radiator tank started to perforate.  Being a factory 2-row, I thought I needed something "better".  I went to the local salvage yard where I'd seen some '79 Plymouth Gran Fury police cars.  I found one with a good radiator.  I noticed that it was a 2-row radiator, too, BUT the rows were of WIDER width than mine (which were of "normal" width).  It also had a larger trans cooler in it, too.  I took it to the good radiator shop and they cleaned it up and such.  It worked well, but I'd not seen any rows of wider dimensions than what was considered "normal", back then.  In some respects, those 2 rows were as wide a 2.5 normal rows, by observation, but not 3 rows' total width.

 

NTX5467

 

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I have a fresh never used re-cored Rad from a 66 Riv with A/C. It is 29" center to center of the tank flanges. The tank with cap is 3.5" wide and opposite end is 2-7/8" wide. Height is approximately 18".

I am not sure if Wildcat is the same. On the Riv A/C rads had a 90 degree elbow at the top inlet vs non A/C having a straight inlet.

Rad was recored at a local shop thats been in business over 50 years. Have been using them for several years with no rejects.

Original Harrison tanks re-cored with a Made in USA copper core. PM me if you are interested or need more info.

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