Radiator Suggestions

Old April 25th, 2019, 11:11 AM
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Radiator Suggestions

After many things have been replaced on my 1972 Cutlass Supreme 5.7L 2bbl 350, my mechanic has advised a new radiator. Unfortunately, we had already flushed the existing radiator and replaced the water pump. After replacing the water pump, the radiator started leaking somewhere in the core near the draincock. I considered having the radiator core replaced but, those shops are few and far between and who knows how much time/money of a difference that would make.

Now that I'm in the market for a decent radiator, I thought I'd reach out for any words of wisdom or otherwise suggestions?

My first thought was to go with something like a Desert Cooler 4 Row radiator... $625 on OPGI
Also considering as Frostbite 4 Row FB134 all aluminum model from Summit Racing... $414
Then, I was thinking of something as inexpensive as a Liland Global aluminum model... $150 on RockAuto
And, I'm guessing there's some other options in between. My preference is quality, my mechanic suggested aluminum.

Last edited by SanTan Devil; April 25th, 2019 at 11:48 AM.
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Old April 25th, 2019, 12:01 PM
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I suggest trying to find a shop that can rebuild your OE radiator. I've never heard of those brands you mentioned but I've read many article about aftermarket Champion radiators that don't fit properly. If you do end up buying a radiator there's something to be said about the parts store replacements with a lifetime warranty. I keep all the receipts of parts I install in my Olds and it's paid off many times.
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Old April 25th, 2019, 12:21 PM
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I've heard good things about these guys
https://www.coldcaseradiators.com/
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Old April 25th, 2019, 12:21 PM
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Thanks, yes, looking at a Champion right now on Jegs... good to know.

As for the OE radiator, the mechanic believes its too far degraded in some places to bother rebuilding. IMO, its not so much that as probably a re-core wouldn't fix all the problems.
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Old April 25th, 2019, 03:26 PM
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The more I read about the Cold Case radiator, the more I'm thinking that's the way to go.

I talked to my local Olds expert and he might sell me an extra OE he has. That could be nice but, the Cold Case is almost half the price and sounds pretty good.
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Old April 25th, 2019, 05:29 PM
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I have the Cold Case in my '72 Cutlass 350. Runs a consistent 190* in FL heat with thermal clutch and 7-blade OEM fan from mid-70's corvette, using a Mr. Gasket hi performance 180* thermostat. Was a drop-in fit.

Also look at https://www.autocityclassic.com/chev...tor-sl-282-at/ - another good drop-in unit that I've had past experience with.

Last edited by 70sgeek; April 25th, 2019 at 05:35 PM.
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Old April 27th, 2019, 10:39 AM
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The Autocity or Cold Case radiators are good choices. I am a fan of large 2 core radiators over 3 or even 4 core radiators. Less restriction for air and coolant flow.
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Old April 27th, 2019, 02:07 PM
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I like anything made in Canada or U.S.A
My preference is the 2 row 1" tube aluminium rad, the best rad on the market IMO.

Eric
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Old April 29th, 2019, 02:03 PM
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Ordered my Cold Case radiator last night, shipped today. Thank you all for the input. I'm looking forward to having my Cutlass run cooler and stop leaking coolant. I also ordered a new overflow tank. Possibly a little zealous doing that but, it will look sharper IMO.
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Old April 29th, 2019, 05:44 PM
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Post some pics when it arrives, I will be buying one down the road.
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Old May 3rd, 2019, 06:56 AM
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Update: my mechanic called me in this morning to show me the issues he's having, which already experienced once with the 1970 Cutlass sitting two bays over.

The problem is that the Cold Case 'drop in' radiator is not exactly lining up with the original radiator (three row) top panel and the fan shroud gets much closer to the moving fan parts. Multiple solutions:
  1. get a OE style brass radiator, return the aluminum model. This is what the owner of the 70 Cutlass coupe did. My mechanic thought the Cold Case would have fit better
  2. Clip the radiator saddles as suggested by Cold Case customer service rep. My mechanic did not want to do this, like adamantly did not want to
  3. buy a 4 row radiator top panel with new saddles. This might be something I do. I'm not certain its the fix though. With my luck, I drop the $160 and then the top panel is too big.
  4. drill another set of holes in the 3 row radiator top panel. I'm going with this option for now. Interestingly enough, the four row radiator top panel has an extra set of holes exactly where my mechanic asked permission to drill new holes to align everything. Note: my car is no beauty queen under the hood and function/an extra set of holes in the panel is not going to bother me much... until it does and I buy the four row top panel.
Second problem is that one of the cooler line inlets (on the passenger side of the radiator) is not aligning with the line that is currently there. We'll need to bend a new line because shifting the existing is putting it right up on the exhaust manifold.

Any input with a similar experience is appreciated.
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Old May 3rd, 2019, 08:20 AM
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That's strange, my '72 ragtop Cold Case was a straight drop-in replacement for my factory rad, with both cooler lines bolting right up and no shroud movement. Are the '70 radiator cores different than '71-72?

I have a 350 motor with air, stock pulleys, stock shroud, OEM 7-blade fan w/clutch - all lined up and spaced out as the factory built them to.

Last edited by 70sgeek; May 3rd, 2019 at 08:24 AM.
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Old May 3rd, 2019, 08:31 AM
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Also odd because my 1972 convertible sounds spec'd exactly like yours.
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Old May 3rd, 2019, 09:01 AM
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Hmmmmm....I bought a Champion last year for my 71 convertible. I had the same concerns about fitment. The one I got was truly plug and play and has worked fantastic........so, score one for cheap Chiniseum.

As always, YMMV.

Cheers,

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Old May 3rd, 2019, 02:01 PM
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How is it not lining up, pictures?
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Old May 4th, 2019, 05:33 AM
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These new rads will be thicker than the 2 or 3 core and trimming the saddles will be necessary and mods will be needed. The lines can be bent a certain amount. I always add a trans cooler so that isn't a huge concern to me.
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Old May 4th, 2019, 06:10 AM
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I stopped by the shop and took a picture this morning. To fix this, it would seem I need to be buy a 4 Core Top Panel. Jegs has one with saddles for $158

The two holes drilled did not look bad at all, its actually this side view that bothers me but, happy it will be functional. The radiator is solidly in there.

For those who believe their Cold Case radiator drops in without re-fitting something, I wonder if you may already have a larger top panel

Last edited by SanTan Devil; May 4th, 2019 at 06:12 AM. Reason: more info
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Old May 4th, 2019, 06:58 AM
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The same thing happens when you go to a 4 core radiator from the narrower ones. You need to replace or bend the saddles to accept the bigger one.
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Old May 4th, 2019, 07:21 AM
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you can snip your current top plate and add the aftermarket 4 row saddles by welding, or just simply bend the 2-3 row saddles you have, same for the bottom, either remove the smaller saddle and weld in the 4 row ones or bend the smaller saddle to accept the new rad. i would add a rubber isolator if there isnt one on top and bottom as i suspect vibration will eventually wear a hole in the al rad.

unlike todays cars, a 40 plus year old car even w drop in replacement parts frequently take some tweaking to 'drop in'

if i can find it i will post a pic of a 2-3 row top plate modified to be similar to the factory 4 row top plate. Its a good mod and many will not recognise it as a modified part.
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Old May 4th, 2019, 07:24 AM
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Old May 4th, 2019, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by RetroRanger View Post
you can snip your current top plate and add the aftermarket 4 row saddles by welding, or just simply bend the 2-3 row saddles you have, same for the bottom, either remove the smaller saddle and weld in the 4 row ones or bend the smaller saddle to accept the new rad. i would add a rubber isolator if there isnt one on top and bottom as i suspect vibration will eventually wear a hole in the al rad.

unlike todays cars, a 40 plus year old car even w drop in replacement parts frequently take some tweaking to 'drop in'

if i can find it i will post a pic of a 2-3 row top plate modified to be similar to the factory 4 row top plate. Its a good mod and many will not recognise it as a modified part.
That's a pretty nice solution. Thanks for posting. I'm going to hopefully figure it out this week.

Separate fix going on which I may have to buy parts for, so might be able to get some shipping efficiency. Or, maybe I go to the Olds shop about 50 miles away but, its a premium price on some things and a 100 mile round trip. Advantage being parts fast and good conversation.
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Old May 4th, 2019, 09:30 PM
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My $.02.....


We did the 4row radiator saddle fix/mod for our 67 Cutlass and we are fitting a re-cored brass/copper 4-row radiator that is from a mid-70's truck I think..... We had used it in my 1980 Delta 88 when we had a 455 in it, and it worked great and always ran on the thermostat temp. We are using two high-flowing electric fans that will have extra clearance to the accessory pulleys and flow enough cfm to keep the engine well-cooled.

My thoughts on aluminum radiators..... after many experiences with the "exact-fit" aluminum radiators (none of which were drop-ins), and mediocre cooling abilities that we saw from them, we decided to stick with the old Brass-Copper radiator designs for our 1967 Cutlass.

Another benefit I can see with the Brass/Copper radiators is that they are easily repairable by a shop or yourself with solder iif you get a rock into the radiator, or spring a leak. There isn't much you can do with the aluminum radiators once they spring a leak. Epoxy is about all you can do, and it is hard to get it to stick and hold once there has been glycol (antifreeze) that contaminates the aluminum. Solder luckily sticks to copper/brass even when it is slightly contaminated.... with enough heat and some flux, you can make it stick well. I have had 3 aluminum radiator leaks that had to be repaired, and one of the three repair points didn't fix correctly and always had a minor leak. We were able to pinch off the tube ends and make it stop leaking for the most part.

Last edited by Battenrunner; May 4th, 2019 at 09:33 PM.
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Old May 7th, 2019, 10:29 AM
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So, I've got the car back from the shop and a few things:
  1. I asked for my old three row brass radiator back. I intend to keep it and maybe have it worst case scenario as garage decor. Best case, see what can be done with it at a radiator shop
  2. the car freaked me out when I could smell coolant and found coolant on the tray below the radiator upon pulling into my garage. I looked and suspect (hope) that the radiator hose was weeping a bit on both sides at the hose clamps. I wrenched them tighter. They weren't loose but, the screws certainly turned once or twice without feeling like I was torquing anything too much. I took another drive and things seem fine upon pulling back in after a 5 mile r/t. Out of precaution- I was super slow over the speed bumps.
  3. the car was not making noises at the radiator (like a water heater boiling) that I previously associated (right or wrong) with an issue with the old radiator
For now, I just want to enjoy the dang car. Still, always something on my mind like a new cowl vent grill or a proper 4 row top panel.
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Old May 7th, 2019, 11:10 AM
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My $.02 on this. I'm fortunate to have an Old School radiator shop pretty close to me. Cap a Radiator in Farmingdale, NY. Over the winter I pulled my existing radiator (that was a stock style replacement but wasn't original to the car) and had it recored. He used a high efficiency US made core with my existing tanks. At the end of last summer my car was warming up in traffic but not quite overheating. The solution was a recore & a new fan clutch. Early returns are positive. I haven't had it out on any hot days but the car struggles to get to 180. The downside it takes time. The core was only coming from NJ but the 1st one came in damaged and had to be reordered. The car was apart for a few weeks by the time I dropped it off & picked it up. If a shop is doing it, their preference will always be to have the replacement on hand rather than sending yours out so they don't have the car sitting there taking up space.
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Old May 7th, 2019, 11:17 AM
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What should I expect a recore to cost? I think my friend said his was $350. Also, do they clean up the tanks and such in the process?
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Old May 7th, 2019, 11:27 AM
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Originally Posted by SanTan Devil View Post
What should I expect a recore to cost? I think my friend said his was $350. Also, do they clean up the tanks and such in the process?
Mine was quite a bit more than that, but that's NY pricing. It would have been $495 with a standard 4 core replacement. I went high efficiency, which was $570. A three core would have been less
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