A big part of building modified cars is swapping around parts from other years, models, and even makes. When you get pretty far into heavily modifying a vehicle, you will definitely come to a point where you will need to learn how to weld, especially TIG weld. This past weekend I tackled a mini-project I’ve been putting off for sometime.
In stock guise this engine used an oil cooler that ran hot coolant through it to “cool” the oil. Sure your coolant may stay a few degrees cooler than your oil..but not enough to significantly cool things down. In the end it leaves more failure points for coolant hose leaks, and doesn’t help cool things down much.
I decided to use a “sandwich” oil cooler with external oil radiator. I used the “sandwich” cooler portion from an 80’s turbo Volvo. These came stock on just about every turbo Volvo in the 80’s-90’s and are plentiful in the junkyard. You can then mix and match an external oil radiator of your choice to gain oil capacity and cooling capabilities. I chose an OE oil radiator and hoses from a European Mk1 Golf GTI. It required little modification to fit in the grill of my 76 VW Rabbit project. As an added bonus, the fittings on the hoses that came with this oil radiator were a direct fit to the Volvo sandwich piece.
Because the sandwich cooler is much thinner than the factory cooler, I needed to chop and shorten the VW cooler cap shaft by about 1.5″ (are you confused yet?!). I started by marking and chopping the section out I didn’t need.
Once the pieces were cut, I made sure they were flat by grinding the cut ends with my Eastwood Eastwood Bench Grinder and beveled the edges to be joined. By beveling the edges I can make a weld joint that is flush with the surface of the joint without having to grind any of the weld away. I chose to use some thin .030 steel filler rod to make tight, small weld puddles; again to reduce the need to grind.
After hitting the cooler parts with Aluma Blast Paint, I reinstalled it all on the engine and now have a factory looking external oil cooler conversion!