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Radiator Information For 1964 Skylark


Machine Gun
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I plan to add A/C to my '64 Skylark with the 300 cid engine and automatic transmission. It does not have factory air. The car is equipped with a 2-row radiator that I will change out to accommodate the new A/C system. I want to stay with an original type radiator, i.e. a 23" wide copper unit, but with additional cooling rows that was probably supplied from the factory for A/C equipped cars.

 

Does anyone here know how many rows might have been used on a factory heavy-duty radiator for this application? My parts catalog indicates the proper radiator for an A/C-equipped car is p/n 3000123, but the catalog doesn't have any more information on it. Nothing came up on a web search, either. US Radiator is one vendor who can supply an OEM-type radiator, and they offer 3- and 4-row units. I don't want to spend the extra money on a 4-row if it's not needed.

Edited by Machine Gun (see edit history)
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  • Machine Gun changed the title to Radiator Information For 1964 Skylark

Usually 3-row is the HD cooling option; I didn't realize 4-row was an option.  The other thing to consider is the fan.  If you currently have the simple 4-blade, non-clutch fan without shroud it can still get hot idling in traffic whichever radiator you have.  The 4-blade fan will likely not move enough air with the thicker core and condenser mounted out front.  Best case would be to locate a factory clutch fan and shroud from an A/C equipped donor car.  That could also include the radiator, which might only require clean-out.  I hate to see electric fans on classic cars, but that would also be an option.  The shop doing the VA installation should be able to tell you how they typically address the fan issue.

Edited by EmTee (see edit history)
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The 4-row is an option from US Radiator, not sure if Buick ever offered that on a car like mine. I'm pretty confident that if Buick used a 3-row on their A/C-equipped cars, it'll do the job for me. I'll take your advice and ask the A/C guys again tomorrow. I did ask about cooling when I first spoke to them, and the guy said that I'd probably be OK with the stock radiator, which didn't instill any confidence in me. That's why I decided on my own to upgrade the radiator.

 

BTW, my car has a 4-blade, non-clutch fan with a shroud. I'm with you on electric fans. I see no need to go that route if I use a properly-sized radiator.

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In a re core situation the maximum number of core rows will be dictated by the width of your tanks.  And for my peace of mind I would go with the maximum you can get in every case. Since you have the top to bottom flow that may be 3 rows. By '67 the radiators were cross flow and could probably fit 4 rows.  I went 4 rows in my '69 GS w/factory A/C and have never regretted it.  

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1 hour ago, JohnD1956 said:

In a re core situation the maximum number of core rows will be dictated by the width of your tanks.  And for my peace of mind I would go with the maximum you can get in every case. Since you have the top to bottom flow that may be 3 rows. By '67 the radiators were cross flow and could probably fit 4 rows.  I went 4 rows in my '69 GS w/factory A/C and have never regretted it.  

Good points. My tanks will easily accommodate three rows, but I"m not sure about a fourth. The A/C shop I'm going to tomorrow also does radiator builds, so I'll check into what they can provide in the way of a re-core. 

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It's good that the car already has a fan shroud.  You can try using your existing fan with the new radiator and see how it goes.  If you find that you need more low-speed air flow, you can always upgrade to a clutch fan.  Finding the right shroud, however, would have been a PITA I suspect...

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10 hours ago, EmTee said:

Finding the right shroud, however, would have been a PITA I suspect...

There is truth in what you say. Just for yuks I searched for shrouds and found nothing for my '64. You can find most anything for later Skylarks, but the '64 and earlier present problems when trying to source certain things.

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9 hours ago, Ben Bruce aka First Born said:

Confused! How does adding a fan clutch increase air flow?

The clutch fan has more blades and increases flow when it is engaged by the clutch.  The clutch allows the fan to essentially 'freewheel' when it's not needed (i.e., when the car is moving forward at sufficient speed).  In that way it reduces noise and load on the engine & water pump bearings.

Edited by EmTee (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, EmTee said:

The clutch fan has more blades and increases flow when it is engaged by the clutch.  The clutch allows the fan to essentially 'freewheel' when it's not needed (i.e., when the car is moving forward at sufficient speed).  In that way it reduces noise and load on the engine & water pump bearings.

 

 Okay.  So you are saying use the fan that would have been installed on  a fan clutch as it would have more blades? 

 

  Ben

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Basically, yes.  Usually the A/C cars have 5 or 7 blade fans and they generally have more pitch to the blades than the run-of-the-mill 4-blade fans used on non-A/C cars.  The standard fan is a compromise between idle/low-speed and highway operation.  The design of the fans used on A/C cars is biased more toward idle/low speed (e.g., 'stop-and-go' traffic).  As such, they pull more air at the expense of horsepower and noise.  The clutch is used to offset those characteristics by only engaging the fan when it's needed, usually via a bi-metallic thermostat that engages the clutch when it senses high temperature of the air coming through the radiator.

 

I have a 'flex-o-lite' fan on my '56 Chevy that is made with fiberglass blades that change pitch with engine speed.  They have maximum pitch at low RPM and pull lots of air.  At highway speeds (or as engine RPM increases) the blades flatten out, reducing drag and noise, since the car is likely moving at speed.  I haven't seen any of those fiberglass fans in decades -- the ones I see today use metal blades.  That would be an alternative to an OEM clutch fan, however, I've heard stories of the metal flex fans coming apart due to blade failure (fatigue).

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Well, the A/C project for the Skylark is off the table. There will be too much fabrication and rearrangement under the hood to accommodate the compressor. The tech went over what he would have had to do. Custom brackets, pulley replacements, etc. etc. all add up to what could be considerable extra expense. Nah, after nearly seven years of driving the car without A/C we will continue to do without. My wife is OK with it. I will change out the radiator though.

 

The stock radiator has two rows of tubes, and I ordered one that has three. The temperature runs about 180 degrees in cool weather as it should with a 180 degree thermostat, and has climbed up to more than 210 degrees in mid-Summer traffic. Sure, that's not overheated but it makes me uncomfortable. The new radiator will take about five weeks to get here. The top tank will be about 3/4 in. wider than the stock radiator, so I'll have to modify the top mounting bracket. I'll deal with it when it gets here. 

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2 hours ago, Machine Gun said:

Well, the A/C project for the Skylark is off the table. There will be too much fabrication and rearrangement under the hood to accommodate the compressor. The tech went over what he would have had to do. Custom brackets, pulley replacements, etc. etc. all add up to what could be considerable extra expense. Nah, after nearly seven years of driving the car without A/C we will continue to do without. My wife is OK with it. I will change out the radiator though.

If you want A/C do some of the search and research yourself.  Factory brackets can usually be modified to fit the aftermarket sanden style compressor and most of Buick second generation V-8 and V-6 have similar brackets.  Brackets from a junked car may have pulleys that will work.  Or be creative like if you need a 2-row pulley on the water pump install two single row with a 5/8 inch spacer.

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11 hours ago, old-tank said:

If you want A/C do some of the search and research yourself.  Factory brackets can usually be modified to fit the aftermarket sanden style compressor and most of Buick second generation V-8 and V-6 have similar brackets.  Brackets from a junked car may have pulleys that will work.  Or be creative like if you need a 2-row pulley on the water pump install two single row with a 5/8 inch spacer.

Good suggestion, I'll do the research. Hopefully someone on the forums will have a car like mine with factory A/C that would be willing to snap a few photos of the compressor installation, and even more hopefully I will be able to find a factory bracket. That will likely be a slow process, but I can be patient. No A/C this year, for sure. I will open up my factory service manual later to see if the A/C system is pictured there. The Parts and Illustrations Catalog I have is no help...it shows drawings of many '64 models, but not the Skylark.

 

BTW, do you know (or anyone else here) why the A/C-equipped models had a different fuel tank with a return line?

Edited by Machine Gun (see edit history)
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1 hour ago, Machine Gun said:

BTW, do you know (or anyone else here) why the A/C-equipped models had a different fuel tank with a return line?

That was done to combat vapor lock due to higher underhood temperatures on an A/C-equipped car.  The excess fuel was returned to the tank to cool it down, rather than holding it up in the hot steel fuel (pressure) line waiting to be burned.  You'll probably be OK without it.  If vapor lock does become an issue (with or without A/C) you can always install an electric fuel pump back by the fuel tank.  Some electric pumps allow the mechanical pump to 'pull-through' and can be energized only when needed (i.e., first-start priming or when vapor lock is encountered).

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@Bill Stoneberg  The factory service manual shows the compressor mounted to a bracket that supported both the alternator and compressor, probably the same arrangement as your Riviera. The service manual has nice illustrations that show the brackets, adapter plate for the compressor, and the pulleys with belt routing diagrams. There will of course be some mods to adapt the Sanden compressor and to ensure that it lines up with the pulleys, but having the factory brackets would be a good start when I take up the project again. My first priority will be to see if I can find a factory bracket. I'm wishing myself good luck with that!

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