Maintaining your hot rod's cooling system is critical, but understanding how to achieve this goal is oftentimes elusive. There's a staggering amount of poor information and lack of knowledge that's spread around. (Oftentimes the Internet is as large a source of misinformation as it is of good information.) There isn't another aspect of building a car, other than possibly the electrics, that's as misunderstood as your car's cooling system. What is in front of you over the next few pages is a listing of products that will help you learn what and how to keep your hot rods cool—and you while you are at it.
The "given" in any cooling system is to start with a radiator designed for your application. There are plenty of great examples in both copper/brass and aluminum but remember each has specific care practices to follow. Before you fork over upwards of $800 for a really good radiator with electric fan and shroud, note there are critical factors to first decide. These would include engine (size and horsepower level), engine compartment (airflow), and accessories (A/C, electric fan, automatic trans, and so on). And it should be noted that not all cooling is the responsibility of the radiator, although it is numero uno, but there are transmission and oil coolers, coolants and additives, electric fan controllers, and water pumps.
Earlier we mentioned electric fans and shrouds. Regardless if you use a mechanical (block driven) fan or an electric fan, a proper shroud is your engine's best friend when it comes to assisting in cooling. A good shroud should be designed and fitted to your radiator and engine compartment needs, as well as fan placement (electric attached to the front or back of the radiator) or a block driven the shroud is critical. A well-designed shroud and matched to a properly placed fan will assist in directing the air through the radiator and over the engine and out of the engine compartment (often referred to as heat mapping).
Cooling is critical and there are a number of factors to factor in but it can be done; just do your homework, and a great place to start is to look over the following Cooling Buyer's Guide.
High-performance engines require coolant to transfer as much heat as possible. As cylinder head temperatures increase, so does the likelihood of detonation and power loss unless ignition timing is retarded. Under extreme conditions, this can also result in overheating and engine damage.
Hy-Per Lube Super Coolant reduces the surface tension of coolant, allowing it to more deeply penetrate metal surfaces at critical heat transfer areas inside the engine and radiator. This results in more heat being transferred away from cylinder heads and a reduction in engine operating temperatures.
Importantly, cooler cylinder head temperatures also allow the engine ECU to safely advance ignition timing, which results in more horsepower. Street applications running a 50/50 mix run 6-8 degrees F cooler, and racing applications running straight water coolant run up to 20 degrees F cooler. Actual cylinder head temperatures can be reduced by up to 50 degrees F.
Hy-Per Lube Super Coolant provides complete protection from rust, corrosion, and electrolysis. This is particularly important in straight water applications where there is no corrosion protection being provided by the corrosion inhibitors in antifreeze. Hy-Per Lube Super Coolant is formulated specifically to protect aluminum systems and is compatible with all types of antifreeze.
Available at: Advance Auto Parts, AutoZone, Canadian Tire, O'Reilly Auto Parts, and Walmart.
Flex-a-lite introduces a new line of fluid Cooler Guards for transmission and engine oil coolers. An aluminum guard provides protection against fin damage from rocks and debris. They are designed and built in the United States. Gator Clip mounts allow for complete airflow through and around the cooler fins.
Translife coolers from Flex-a-lite have long been trusted to protect automatic transmissions, power steering, and other vital components from damage caused by fluids overheating, and now Flex-a-lite has developed a line of Cooler Guards to protect the oil coolers from rocks and other debris.
Flex-a-lite Cooler Guards are made in the United States, formed and punched from 1/8-inch aluminum. They securely mount on Translife coolers using Flex-a-lite Gator Clips. The design provides complete airflow, but protects the cooler from larger items that could potentially damage it. The guard also adds a cool performance appearance to the oil cooler. They can be painted black to hide the cooler from being seen through the grille, or use a custom paint for that matching look.
Coolers come with either 3/8-inch barbed or -6 AN fittings, and they are available with a new "J"-style return line.
Derale Performance introduces their new PWM Electric Fan Controller (PN 16795). Utilizing cutting-edge technology, this new controller employs pulse width modulation that constantly monitors and adjusts electric fan speed to maintain constant coolant temperature that can be preset to meet changing needs and environmental conditions. This powerful fan-controlled thermostat can control multiple electric fans and offers up to 70-amp capacity to handle the toughest conditions and most powerful cooling fans available. With built-in current overload, short-circuit and overheating protection, Derale has effectively introduced original equipment reliability and function to the specialty aftermarket. With the ability to adjust fan speed from 0-100 percent as needed, this PWM Electric Fan Controller uses variable frequency, duty-cycle modulation, and active fly back snubbing for highly efficient operation. Each unit uses active input voltage regulation to achieve low EMI output.
Old Air Products
Old Air Products specializes in cooling system performance. They manufacture the Hurricane Series A/C, heat, and defrost systems that offer a variety of options to fit virtually any vehicle. Along with the A/C systems, they offer a complete line of electric fans, fan shrouds, and aluminum radiators to maximize the cooling capacity for your antique, classic, or custom vehicle.
Old Air offers a full line of replacement parts and N.O.S., NORS parts for factory A/C and heater systems, including heater valves, blower switches, resistors, relays, receiver/dryers, cables, update kits for STV and POA valves, A/C hose assemblies, vacuum valves, and electrical switches.
New electric cooling fan from Delta PAG uses cutting-edge brushless motor technology, making it the most technologically advanced fan on the market. Their patented technology increases reliability (lasts 10 times longer), reduces amp draw by 30 percent, eliminates power spikes, and produces over 2,800 cfm of air, while keeping it only 2.70 inches thin. With Delta PAG's digital temp/speed controller you can program on/off temp and adjust airflow to fit your application. One digital temp/speed controller can operate two fans simultaneously, allowing for true staggered-on operation. Simple, three-wire connections (Batt +, Batt -, and 12V switched) make it the easiest fan to install, no more relays or temp switches. Kits start at $329 and include everything you need.
Zirgo Cooling Products
Finding the right fan for your ride now just became easy with Zirgo's Online Cooling Calculator. You can choose by vehicle or custom specification to find the right fan every time. Each fan is presented with all the performance and size details.