An after shot of how the Flex-a-lite radiator and fan combo will look after the installati
On one of our recent projects we pulled that proverbial thread-the one that unravels the whole blanket, or, in this case, our whole project. In the words of Ricky Ricardo, "Let us splain." You may remember our 2007 Full Size Muscle supplement back in our January '07 newsstand issues. In that big car special we replaced the tired old 327 with a 350 in this '68 Bel Air wagon.
The problem we encountered after the swap was bracket alignment. We used a roller rocker combo that required taller valve covers. The taller valve covers required us to adjust the alternator position and bracket, and that's where the problem came in. We bent the OEM bracket and moved the alternator further up (to clear the valve covers) and once the engine started, the alternator and bracket shivered and shook like a Pentecostal snake charmer. Furthermore, when the engine rpm went up, the shaking got worse and we were in danger of throwing a belt.
Here is that alternator and butchered bracket which caused all the problems. It's time to
That's OK because we had Zoops to save the day. Most folks are familiar with Zoops serpentine belt systems, but did you know about their correct align brackets? The correct align brackets are adjustable brackets which allow the user to move the pulley back and forth for better belt alignment-so whether you have a Rat or a Mouse under the hood, Zoops has a bracket and pulley that will fit. Since we had to realign the alternator pulley, one thing led to another ... then comes the power steering pump pulley and, well, we kept on pulling that thread. Installing the new brackets was a little more time consuming than we had anticipated. Actually, it was cutting the hose and installing the fittings that took most of our time.
Climatologists have been sounding dire warnings of the coming summer months. They claim the western states are in for the hottest summer on record. Since we have pulled all the old pulleys and brackets off we decided we had better replace the OEM cooling system and tackle two installs with one wrench. Without a doubt, most reading this magazine have experienced some overheating problems in their vehicles at one time or another. Chevy enthusiasts have been known to increase the horsepower in their automobiles. These extra ponies can tax even the best stock cooling system, let alone one that's four decades old. Updating an engine while leaving the 39-year-old cooling system may not be the best idea, especially when pulling a grade in a large vehicle such as this wagon. Higher revving while pulling a load or even sitting in traffic on hot days can lead to vapor lock, boiling over radiators, and other engine difficulties. Been there, done that, and don't want to do it again! This is why we went to Flex-a-lite for help in the cooling department. Let's dive under the hood and spin some wrenches.
Once the alternator is out of the way, it's time to remove the old steering pump and reservoir. The bracket on this pump sits on the motor mount. So unbolting the motor mount and lifting the left side of the engine an inch or so with a jack is required.
Here's the correct align bracket and GM Type II remote power steering pulley that we ordered from Zoops (bracket part # 8070 and pump # 6175).
This particular bracket is for use with the GM Type II pump only.
The Zoops bracket installs against the block and is adjustable both forward and backward as indicated by the arrows. The adjusting bar installs on the lowest bolt of the water pump and then attaches to the steering pump (which is not installed yet). The bracket set comes with all the hardware needed.
After the power steering bracket is installed, the alternator bracket and adjusting bar are up next (part # 8104).
Just like the power steering bracket, the alternator bracket is adjustable both forward and backward. And, if you notice, it also clears the valve covers.
We had to swap out the single groove pulley on the alternator with a double. Fortunately, we had some OEM pulleys lying around the shop.
This is how the Type II power steering pump will sit in the bracket and how the alternator will sit. None of the bolts at this point have been tightened. Pulleys still have to be pressed on, hoses need to be attached and brackets have to be aligned.
One specialty tool you will absolutely need is this installer tool. There is no other way to get the new Zoops pulley (part #8017) onto the GM pump.
Don't even think of using a hammer or press, the backside of the pump will blow out and be ruined. This is one tool we didn't have at the shop, so we had to hunt one down.
With the power steering pump and pulley installed, we need to find a place to mount the remote reservoir.
We mistakenly mounted the remote reservoir on the inner fender, but soon realized that the hoses coming out of the bottom of the reservoir would need to make a 90-degree bend. Simply put, we didn't have enough space, so we had to make a mounting bracket and attach it to the core support. More on that in a few captions.
One thing I didn't realize was that when switching over from the old power steering pump to the new one, we needed all new hoses and fittings. Luckily, Zoops is a local Southern California company and a quick trip to their shop was made to pick up this power steering hose kit (part # 9560). If, perchance, you don't live nearby, make certain you order the correct kit for your application. The kit comes with 9 feet of braided hose, which is more than enough and also comes with 12 AN fittings.
Another must-have tool-an AN wrench. We didn't have any at the shop so we went to a local company, Bonaco Inc., which specializes in hoses, braided hoses and AN fittings of every shape and size. The company loaned us this nifty adjustable wrench specifically for use with AN fittings. The tech gurus at Bonaco also gave us pointers on how to properly attach AN fittings and hoses.
After the measurements were made, it was time to cut the hose down to size. When you cut through braided steel lines, wrap some electrical tape around the hose where you plan to cut. The tape will keep the braided steel from unraveling and will keep burrs to a minimum.
When attaching the hose to the fitting, use a vice with aluminum caps, and don't squeeze the vice too tightly and crush the AN fitting. Also be sure that the ends of the braided hose are completely tucked in and that no frayed or burred steel is hanging out. Once the hose is in, twist it into the fitting in a clockwise direction. Keep twisting the hose into place until it reaches the threads.
Before attaching the male end of the fitting into the female, stretch the hose out a bit. That way it will seal and not back itself out of the fitting.
Lightly oil the male fitting and start threading it into place. The way a braided line works is that the tapered male fitting stretches/expands the end of the hose as it gets threaded on.
Using the AN wrench, continue threading the tapered male end into the female. The threads continually pull the tapered fitting into the hose while sealing the hose to the fitting.
This photo shows where we had to relocate the remote reservoir and the braided hose. Continue cutting and fitting until all the power steering hoses are in place and tighten all the AN fittings down.
When all hoses are cut to fit and pulleys are in place, this is how the brackets should appear. At this point we still haven't torqued all the bolts and brackets into place. Take time to make sure all the pulleys are lined up, and then use a marker to make a tick mark on either side of the sliding bracket for an alignment/reference point. Unless you have monkey paws, you can't tighten the adjustable brackets after they've been aligned. We have ogre-sized hands, and removed each bracket from the block and tightened the bolts on the alignment brackets (hence the tick marks on either side of the sliding bracket). The fun part comes in determining what size belts to use. Depending on where you set the alternator and power steering pump, it's a trial and error process. Save the receipts for the all varied size belts you buy, that way you can return the ones you don't use.
With the brackets out of the way, we then moved onto installing the new radiator and fan from Flex-a-lite. The particular model we used was p.n. 51160. This crossflow, two-core aluminum radiator measures 2211/42x1811/42x7 and comes with Flex-a-lite's own patented electric fan. You can buy the fan and radiator separately, but we choose to use both. This fan, which should move up to 3000 cubic feet of air per minute, will undoubtedly keep this engine running cool-which translates into better performance and mileage.
There she sits, the 39-year-old cooling system. It probably did a splendid job once upon a time. But now we have a larger cube engine running more horsepower, so cooling demands have increased, especially when temps hit the triple digits.
With the radiator out of the way, we still want to keep the original radiator bracket support in place. This used to house the A/C condenser, but that had been removed long before we purchased the wagon.
The unique part of Flex-a-lite radiators is the mounting brackets. You have almost limitless possibilities as far as elevation and how far back or forward it fits. We slid the bolts into place on both sides then used clamps to hold the radiator in place while we leveled it and set it in its prime position. The hoses were even trimmed and fit into place. The only thing we had to do was run to a nearby auto parts house to get a new thermostat housing where the inlet pointed to the driver side of the vehicle rather than straight forward. The same hose should work fine after a quick nip and tuck.
After we were satisfied with the radiator position, Harrison Ortis removed the radiator while it was still C-clamped to the support bracket and drilled holes for the bolts. All the brackets and bolts come in the box with the radiator- we put them to good use.
Now that the radiator had been bolted to the support, Harrison simply dropped it into place and bolted it back down. Now it's time to wire the electric fan.
All the wires, fuses and crimped ends are supplied with the fan. You should be well-stocked with what comes from the box.
Before wiring the thermometer/sensor, (which is already attached to the electronic control on the fan) it should be carefully slipped into place between the rows.
And lastly: The wiring and bench testing of the radiator. The wiring instructions are simple and easy to follow. The negative gets grounded. The positive gets wired to the battery, and another is wired to the ignition source. Flex-a-lite also offers an optional manual switch, which you can mount in the cab. We didn't opt for this, so we were done with the wiring. If you notice in the photo, there's a dial on top of the fan's electronic box. We boiled a cup of water and used a thermometer to measure the temp of the water. We then stuck the thermal probe into the heated water, then turned the dial left or right until the fan kicked on. Let's say the water temp in our cup read 190 degrees Fahrenheit. We turned the dial until the fan came on and made a mark on the dial. We knew this was 190 degrees F and that the fan would kick on every time the temp reached 190. Our only complaint about the fan setup is that there are no numbers on the dial. You have to set them yourself and measure when the fan kicks on and at what temperature, then make a mark for future reference. All in all, this radiator went rather quickly and we had no problems other than getting a new thermostat housing.
We didn't order our trans cooler from Flex-a-lite; we already had one from Gear Star Performance Transmission, which also supplied us with our transmission. All we had to do was extend the lines with these supplied hoses and mount the trans cooler in front of the radiator.
Bonaco Inc. (Hose and Fittings)
Zoops Products, Inc.
Gear Star Performance Transmission