How To Install a Tri-Flow Radiator
The new Eastwood Maxx-Power Tri-Flow aluminum radiators have been proven to keep a car 24 degrees cooler than a regular OEM brass and copper radiator. Their 3 pass design cools better than typical single pass aluminum radiators too. Getting this added cooling is easy though, thanks to their well thought out design features and easy installation.
Maxx-Power Tri-Flow radiators come in 3 sizes, one of which will fit most American cars. Sturdy 11 inch by 2 inch mounting tabs TIG welded to the side tanks allow you to drill mounting holes to match your existing radiator support, or anywhere you prefer. Aluminum shrouds are specially made to mount an electric fan to each one, for a clean, simple all in one cooling system. A universal add on automatic transmission cooler is also offered, which works better than the old OEM internal cooler, for longer transmission life.
Here’s how to find the right Tri-Flow Maxx-Power radiator:
If the car has been running, be careful taking measurements as parts may be hot, and remember even once the engine is off the radiator can boil over and spray hot coolant.
Measure the existing radiator from edge to edge on the outside of the tanks. This one is about 29 inches.
Then measure the overall height of the core, this one is 19 inches. You also want to take into consideration the size of the opening where air gets to the core. The tanks are typically about the same size, but the core and tank dimensions are on the Eastwood site, if you click the “Download Full Specs” button.
Amazingly enough, just 3 sizes are enough to supply the majority of American cars from the 50s through the 80s. Eastwood item #20152 is almost an exact match size wise for this Firebird.
While ordering you should also consider getting the matching shroud and electric fan at the same time, though these radiators can be made to work with the factory fan and shroud as well.
Besides a cooling system that isn’t cutting it, the 2 biggest causes of an engine running hot are too lean a fuel mixture, and retarded ignition timing. If those 2 things are not right the biggest radiator in the world is just a temporary fix to hide the problem. Make sure the mechanical and vacuum advance are functioning properly at the distributor. Make sure the engine doesn’t have an air leak from a disconnected vacuum line, or a leaking gasket. Look at the spark plugs for a lean mixture indicated by a light colored electrode.
For the sake of safety, you should be absolutely sure the engine and coolant is cold before you start messing with the cooling system. This is the sort of job that is best done in the morning, after the car has sat overnight.
Start by draining the coolant into a bucket, and disconnecting the hoses. Use a clean bucket because there is no reason not to reuse the coolant if it is clean.
Make things easier for yourself by removing anything that may get in the way: The battery, any core support braces, filler panels, the fan and the fan shroud. Disconnect and plug the line from the automatic transmission cooler, if you have one.
Now you can just unbolt the 4 to 6 bolts and remove the radiator. Sometime there is nothing more than 2 clips holding the top of it. Every car is different, but it’s pretty obvious how it comes out.
Test fit the new radiator and mark off anywhere that the mounting tabs will interfere with other parts or bumps in the radiator support.
An easy trick to cut out rectangular shapes is to drill holes in the corners first with a bit about the size of your jigsaw blade. Then you just cut straight lines, and turn at the holes. Now you should be able to get the new radiator in close enough to mark off where your mounting bolt holes should be. You can also just put 4 new holes in the mounting tab and radiator support if you have to.
To make drilling the holes in the right spot easier, start with a small hole, then make it bigger.
If you need to drill new holes in the radiator support sticking a strip of masking tape on it first will make it much easier to mark where to drill. You can use the hole you already drilled in the radiator mounting tabs as a template.
Installing the electric fan to the shroud is so simple it really doesn’t need explaining. The holes are already there, and the hardware is included.
Place the radiator in the bottom groove of the shroud, then just pop the top groove over the top of the radiator, and it clips into place. A line of RTV sealer along the top and bottom groove will keep it even tighter, and quiet any metal on metal rattles.
Put another line of RTV along the sides as well by gently prying it away from the tank.
Use a dab of thread lock to keep them from loosening up, and snug it all back in.
Now you can bolt the radiator/shroud/fan unit into the car, and start reassembling anything else you took apart. Of course if you didn’t have an electric fan before you will need to wire it up, and likely with a temperature switch and relay.
Don’t forget to fill the car full of coolant!
After swapping out the old single pass aluminum radiator, and mechanical fan for the Maxx-Power Tri-Pass set up and electric fan the car hit the streets and was cruising at 25 degrees cooler than before. Instead of a temp gauge in the 230 degree danger zone, it was now safely in the 210 to 215 range.
The specially designed, divided tanks send the coolant through the core 3 times before it goes back into the motor to pick up more heat. It is no wonder that it cools so much better than old style one pass systems.