It’s the little things…

Posted: March 11, 2011 in Antique trucks, Hot Rod, Tin Can Tourists, Vintage trucks

I keep telling myself that when all the little tasks are finished, the truck will be done.  The hard part is that to finish even one, half a dozen other unseen, and unknown, tasks crop up in the meantime.  Take plumbing the trans cooler, for instance.

The other day, I bought a transmission cooler, intending to use it as an engine oil cooler, like I’d done on the ’51 wagon.  The LS engines from pickups (like I’m using) have engine oil coolers, and I wanted to keep this.   Along with that, I thought I’d plumb the transmission cooler, in what is now the bottom tank, in the radiator.  In order to do either of those jobs, the radiator had to be mounted back in the grill shell.  No problem, right?  I’d had it in there before, all had to do was remove the grill shell and put the radiator in. 

Wrong.  When I’d made the mounts for the (huge) front sway bar, the radiator was out.  Consequently, the sway bar and the bottom tank of the radiator, installed, occupied the exact same space.  This was not good.  I spent all afternoon yesterday trying to figure out how to re-configure the sway bar mount to move it forward enough to get the radiator between it and the front crossmember. 

In addition to that, it turned out that with the engine in and bolted down, the fan clutch hit the radiator fins.  Also not good.  There’s no room for the radiator to go forward, as it mounts to the edge of the grill shell, right behind the grill.  What to do?

The answer turned out to be simple, once I stopped worrying about the huge clutched fan.  With it removed, there is plenty of room for a slim electric fan to mount to the inside of the radiator.  That let me push the radiator back half an inch, and drop it down an inch,  then move the sway bar move forward an inch by extending the bracket it bolts to on the frame.  The radiator had to come down an inch, because as it was, the lower hose outlet was right smack in front of the tie rod, with no room to get the hose on. 

So, three unknown problems fixed in one fell swoop.  I made new mounts for the radiator to put it in it’s new location.  There’s a quarter inch of clearance between the bottom tank and the sway bar, which should be plenty of room, even if the bar twists while driving.  The trans cooler the black thing seen here, is now connected to the engine oil cooler lines,  it looks like it’ll work fine.

I got the trans cooler lines run, using some 5/16″ brake line tubing, without making any wrong bends!  First time for that, usually I ruin at least one piece of tubing by making the last bend 180 degrees the wrong way, but not this time.   I have line clamps to secure these to the frame, so that can get done tomorrow.  This shot is looking up at the bottom of the radiator from below, where you can also see the lower hose and tie rod.  The lower hose has to run to the right side of the engine, I’ll make a copper tube using some 1 1/4 copper, and a couple of elbows soldered together.  The copper looks good polished, I can make it fit the convoluted route neatly, much better than trying to splice rubber hose together and cross over.  Trust me, it’ll work. 

The one last unforseen problem is that what is now the upper radiator tank (it’s a cross-flow from the ’93 van I parted out when I started this project) is too small for a proper expansion tank, and the filler is now on the bottom of the radiator.    This I’ll deal with by using a separate expansion/fill tank from another ’00 thru ’06 Chevy pickup, which I can mount in the engine compartment somewhere along the right side, up high.  It’s getting pretty full in there, but I think it’ll all fit.  The air cleaner, the cone-shaped thing pointing straight up just behind the radiator, doesn’t have to be where it is, a tubing kit from Pepboys or AutoZone will let me relocate that, and the expansion tank can set right over the engine just behind the radiator. 

There’s still room for a fan in there between the front pulley and radiator, it’ll cover about the bottom 2/3 of the radiator, and if I need it, a smaller pusher fan could mount behind the grill, above the oil cooler,  for the top portion.  I don’t think it’ll be needed, but there is room.

So, doing that one small thing ended up taking the better part of two days, but half-dozen other things that had to be done got finished up as well.  I’m close to being able to try to start it, I have to get some exhaust pipe on with the 02 sensors, but that shouldn’t be too tough to do.  Right…

That’s all for now, not much will happen for a while I work the weekend,  then just one day off, and it’s off to LAS VEGAS, BABY!!!

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