Slow Car Fast
March 7, 2010 - Since the exhaust was off the menu for the day, I turned my attention to the radiator.
It really is a monster. I chopped out more of the sheetmetal in the nose and tested to see how high I could put the rad with the hood closed. Had I specified the rad without a filler cap, it would have been a bit higher. Naturally the rad is just wide enough to cause interference with the structure of the hood.
Still, it's not quite as bad as this picture makes it look - which is pretty bad. At this height, the bottom of the radiator is approximately an inch below the front bodywork and about the same distance above the steering crossmember behind it - these are eyeball measurements, I haven't confirmed the exact dimensions. It has 6" of ground clearance. If I decide to install the MG Special Tuning airdam I picked up last spring, the radiator tucks in nicely behind. So we'll call that good then.
Due to the size of the engine and my decision to use (very slim) electric fans behind it, I have the radiator sitting quite far forward. If I were to put the fans in front of the radiator, I could move the whole thing back and gain myself some more clearance. This would make the fans less effective, but it's worth considering. After all, I think I have a slightly over-specified cooling system at the moment...
entry 304 - tags: radiator, cooling
March 7, 2010 - The structure at the front of the car is now finished.
Not fully welded - that'll happen when the engine is out - but complete. I'm really happy with this. The end result looks pretty obvious, but it took me a while to come up with it as I kept thinking "no, that's too complicated" and taking another look. This is simple, fairly light and should be decently strong. Might make a good sway bar mounting point in the future as well!
I was originally thinking of leaving the ends of the rail open (as can currently be seen on the cross bar) but realized that closing it off wouldn't just look better, it would also add some strength. So I closed 'em.
One detail you can't see on that cross bar is a couple of holes with nuts welded in the backside. Those will be alternate bumper mounting holes, since the originals are now trapped inside the cross bar.
It's quite easy to picture the location of the radiator in this shot, as it's actually in place.
entry 306 - tags: frame, radiator
May 23, 2010 - I spent part of the day running around looking for a way to connect a new line to the fitting on the MG gas tank.
Naturally, it's some oddball size that was probably created by the Romans and not used anywhere outside MG since 1982. But I think I've got that figured out. The fuel pump is mounted and I'm waiting for a couple of 45 degree fittings to arrive so I have everything I need. It actually won't take long to plumb things together once I have them, I think anchoring the main feed line will take longer than anything else.
I also started mounting the radiator - I'm trying to get most of the metalwork out of the way before I clean up and start running fuel lines and wires. There were a few false starts here as I tried to figure out a good, clean way to mount it. I've got some brackets welded in now that will do the job, but they're not as clever as I'd like and I'm probably going to add a cross bar under the rad to act as some impact protection. The hood closes and there's 6" of clearance under the rad - I consider that a victory!
entry 333 - tags: cooling, radiator, fuel
May 25, 2010 - I once wrote a short article for Grassroots Motorsports on "how to finish a project".
One of the tips - from the Locost community - is to spend 15 minutes a day in the garage. Even if it's just to pick up a few tools, it keeps the project active and who knows, you just might do something.
Well, I took my own advice last night. I was tired and didn't feel like working on the car, but I found myself in the garage looking at it. I spent some time looking at my radiator mount and came up with a better idea. Out came the steel and I fired up the chop saw and welder - and before I knew it I had a new crossmember/support for the radiator designed and built. It looks better, it's stronger, it'll protect the radiator, it gives me a place to mount some air ducting and it still has 5" of clearance under the bottom of the brace. More importantly, when I was done, I didn't feel as tired and I'd accomplished something!
Although I wasn't quite accomplished enough to take pictures. Those will follow.
entry 334 - tags: radiator, motivation
May 27, 2010 - The radiator is mounted!
This is not a great picture of it, but you can see the new crossmember that runs underneath the rad. I spent a surprising amount of time on this, but the end result is solid, has 5" of ground clearance, supports and protects the radiator and allows for a simple drop-in installation.
It does drop down below the standard nose. Painted black, that might not show. The Special Tuning front air dam I picked up last year (!) is almost exactly the same depth, which will not only hide the rad but will also help me manage some good airflow. We'll see how it looks when painted.
entry 335 - tags: radiator, air dam, cooling
May 27, 2010 - Here's the upper mounting for the radiator.
The bottom of the end tanks sit on rubber pads, providing most of the support. These rubber bushings keep everything in place up top. Simple and easy to install. The radiator is well secured as well. It's also sitting a bit lower than it has to, but a bit more hood clearance doesn't hurt.
entry 336 - tags: radiator
June 1, 2010 - I decided to get the coolant lines finished so I could call the cooling system done.
Well, done except for an overflow tank and the heater, but I can cope without those for a bit. And I found a problem.
The radiator I have came with what I thought were the perfect inlet and outlet sizes. Big ones - 1.5" at the top and 1.75" at the bottom - but for some reason I thought that was exactly what I need. Oops. The Camaro radiator has 1.375" inlet and outlet. So I not only had to deal with a radiator sitting quite close to the engine, but also a size change in my hoses.
This is the resulting lower one. The Camaro part (top piece) was actually the perfect size but of course it wouldn't fit the radiator. I found a short 90 degree bit that did the job. The join is in a bit of an awkward place, but a curved piece of pipe took care of that. Voila. Sorted.
entry 338 - tags: radiator, hoses, cooling
June 1, 2010 - The upper hose was more of a challenge.
The lack of space between the radiator and the engine was a problem here, and I also had to find room to alter the size of the hose. So I decided to turn the fitting by 90 degrees and change the size at the same time. This will end up with a 1.375" fitting running parallel to the top of the radiator, allowing me to simply cut down the factory upper radiator hose. I'm hoping one of my coworkers - a TIG magician - can stick all these pieces together for me. I can do it, but it'll look pretty ugly.
entry 339 - tags: cooling, radiator
June 6, 2010 - Tyler at Flyin' Miata stuck all the bits of my upper hose fitting together for me.
Nice work! I have welded aluminum in the past, but I prefer to save my stumbling around for less critical applications. Having the fitting (I think it's actually an outlet on an LS engine) turned 90 degrees like this makes things so much easier.
entry 340 - tags: cooling, radiator
June 6, 2010 - The final result.
The upper radiator hose from the Camaro was trimmed down and fits perfectly. A hole was drilled and tapped in the top of the radiator (through a boss Tyler welded in there for this purpose) and a fitting for the steam line was threaded in. And that's the radiator modifications done. I haven't done anything with the heater hookup yet, but that's a fairly quick job.
entry 341 - tags: radiator, cooling
June 6, 2010 - The fans will be mounted to the radiator something like this.
Obviously, I've just laid the fan shroud from a different car on to the radiator, but the theory is there. I'll make a similar shroud that covers the whole radiator, and the fans will be these two in approximately the same place. I think it should cool well.
entry 342 - tags: radiator, fans, cooling, shroud
August 31, 2010 - The current state of the engine bay.
The radiator is in and fully hooked up - it took me a while to remember how I'd intended that lower hose to work! Power steering is all plumbed in other than the one missing 90 degree fitting. You can see the heater hoses looping around the left side of the picture. I'll anchor them down shortly to give a nice clean install. You can also see the refreshed hood latch and the relocated VIN tag at the bottom of the picture.
Okay, that's enough playing around with the big, fun, rewarding stuff. Time to work on the wiring.
entry 384 - tags: radiator, heater
November 7, 2010 - Without any grille on the front or any lower bodywork, you can really see how ridiculously oversize the radiator is!
It'll all be covered once the MG Special Tuning front air dam is installed, and the chrome on the bumper and grille will finish off the car well. I may fog the radiator with black paint to make it a bit more subtle.
It doesn't look much like an MG here, but it does still somehow manage to look British.
entry 432 - tags: first drive, radiator, body
November 8, 2010 - I posted about the first drive on a few forums, and the responses have been interesting.
A few people who didn't understand that it was a first drive of an unfinished car and who had comments on the cut fenders. Not everyone can look at a project in process and see the final result! A few votes for the factory Sebring fender flares, but they just don't suit the style of the body to my eyes. Maybe if I'd grown up watching MGs duke it out on the race circuit. I personally think the stock Pininfarina body is beautiful, and the Sebring flares just look like slapped-on blobs. It's going to be a challenge to fit the Rabbit flares gracefully (and symmetrically!) but their overall shape complements the car to me.
One of the most common comments was about how low the radiator sits. Granted, when the car is viewed from the front with no bodywork it's an imposing piece! But it's still 5" off the ground, which is about the same as the oil pan on a Miata. Also, as you can see in the picture, it's not unprotected. That bar underneath is 1"x2" with a fairly hefty wall thickness, supported by an extension of the frame rails. I could probably use it to jack up the car.
But it does have me thinking. Flyin' Miata recently came out with a much smaller radiator for the V8 Miatas. It's got all the correct fittings on it and there's even a high-quality shroud and fan kit available that I could just drop in. I'd have to buy new fans for this one anyhow. I might grab the dimensions and see what making the change would imply. I would like to have the option to run the stock nose instead of the Special Tuning airdam. Hmm.
entry 433 - tags: radiator, first drive, protection
November 10, 2010 - I've been thinking about the radiator.
My current one is huge - 20" high and 26" wide. It was the smallest one AFCO had that would work for me without going to a miniature Scirocco setup. I managed to squeeze it into the car, obviously, and it does still have 5" of ground clearance. But it came at a cost. The air intake is up against the top of the radiator and I'm having trouble figuring out how to mount a fan shroud that will sit far enough away from the core to be useful. Since it sits so low, I'll have to run the Special Tuning air dam instead of the original MG nose. That's probably a good thing for high-speed stability, but I'd prefer to have the choice.
Meanwhile, Flyin' Miata just came out with a radiator intended for Miatas with LS3 engines. It has the correct fittings on the correct sides of the rad. It's 25" wide by 15.5" high. The core design is more efficient than my current radiator so it will cool better, and there's a bolt-on fan kit available. I'll be able to mount it so that the bottom of the radiator is higher, the top of the radiator is lower and I might even gain a bit of room for an overflow tank.
It'll add to the cost - I need to buy fans anyhow, but I already have a radiator of course - and I'm going to tweak a couple of fittings on it, but I think the end result will work better.
entry 439 - tags: radiator
November 10, 2010 - There's a new master cylinder on the way here.
I probably could fix the existing seats, especially if I had access to a lathe. But a new master is the safest way to go. Sigh.
The brake lines are bent and my new caliper brackets arrived today, so the brake system will be complete as soon as the master arrives. One more item off the list. Now all I have to do is figure out how to make the emergency brake work!
I also ran into a little problem with the PCV system. A 90 degree elbow rotted away on me. I'll see if I can pick up a generic replacement at the auto parts store.
The current giant rad may have a new home already in a Subaru-engined VW camper. Excellent. I'm looking forward to the new one, I'll be able to drop the top of the rad down by 1" and lift the bottom by 2.5". Better fitment all around.
entry 440 - tags: radiator, brakes