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Tubular Transferral

Fabricating Stainless Steel Coolant Transfer Tubes

Randy Fish Mar 18, 2005

If you're like me, when you hoof it around a car show, you're usually looking for the details--things that make a car stand out among the rest. It might be some meticulous panel alignment (where the gaps are just right), a tastefully done taillight swap, or a trick set of fasteners under the hood. Details definitely separate the cars that judges look at quickly--from those that become scrutinized (and ultimately chosen for awards).

Whether you're building a car from the ground up, or just adding some spicy new accessories under the hood, your choices are limited when it comes to radiator hoses. Sure, there are a few kits on the market that help add some flash. You can also purchase those cool looking blue hoses, if, that is, they're available for your particular application. Here's another idea. How about custom-made, polished stainless steel transfer tubes? You can purchase the raw materials (stainless steel U-bends) for about $50 each to fabricate upper and lower tubes. If, in fact, your existing hoses aren't unusually long, that's about the same price as one of those aftermarket shiny hose kits (one meaning upper, or lower). We'll show you how.


Start by eyeballing your general shape and mark the U-bend accordingly.

Make your first cut, using a chop saw, a band saw, or a hacksaw.

Then, eyeball your work, to make sure no adjustments (to the cut) are necessary

Please note: We've duct-taped our first piece in place. And always remember, clearance is important.

Continue by mocking up your next piece of the puzzle, followed by the third (in this case). By making a diagonal line on each piece (as shown), you'll have a handy reference point right where the weld should be made.

Using stainless steel welding rod, TIG-weld your pieces in the desired shape, starting with a random tack pattern.

Using stainless steel welding rod, TIG-weld your pieces in the desired shape, starting with a random tack pattern.

If everything lines up according to your mock-up, fill in each tack-weld with a nice bead.

One of our finished welds is shown here, followed by grinding and smoothing, and finally, polishing.

The main goal is to lay down uniform beads, so that no seams will show after polishing. If you do end up with some gaps (or craters in the seams), go back and fill them in after your initial grinding process.

Finally, if you don't have access to an internal bead roller, lay a uniform bead of weld all around each the end of the tube, to act as a stop (or shoulder) for your clamps to butt up against (just like those on your radiator inlet/outlet or thermostat housing).

The final steps call for two small sections of straight radiator hose. These are necessary, as they allow your transfer tubes to flex when the engine torques, and/or absorb the normal bumps and dips from daily driving. We used thin, stainless steel clamps to finish things off. A pair of custom, polished stainless transfer tubes are sure to dress up your engine compartment, as well as make those show judges smile.


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