Radiator Replacement - Part Two
As previously stated, yesterday's decent weather allowed me to finish the slapped-on-with-no-prep painting and get the new-to-me radiator installed. I was ready for a long, hot afternoon and lots of struggling and/or swearing, but I was pleasantly surprised to find out that the entire swap took no more than 57 minutes from start to finish. I thought about doing some more fin-straightening on the back but I decided that it really wasn't a huge deal; basic high-heat flat black was more than adequate for the task at hand.
Pictured: Although, come to think of it, some silver metallic flake under black clearcoat would go nicely with the factory Moab wheels.
Normally I would be a lot more particular about the painting and finishing of a part, but this is literally a temporary installation; there's no sense spending extra time and money on something that's just going to be pulled back out later on when the engine swap takes place. Even so, a modicum of prevention and care is warranted: since this is a radiator from a relatively unknown source a thorough flushing-out of the core makes more than a little sense.
Pictured: It's almost entirely unlike a model of the Trevi Fountain.
Even though the water is clear in that picture there was quite a bit of discolored, old coolant and a slight bit of particulate that came out when we first started flushing it. In order to remove anything that was remaining we laid the radiator out flat, filled it halfway up, and gave it a rather violent agitation; when that procedure yielded comparatively little in the way of further debris and contaminants I just let water run through it for a few minutes and then set it up to drain and dry thoroughly. While it was drying we drained Greta's coolant into a clean bucket and started removing the broken stock unit...and the most difficult part of the entire removal process was removing the two lower bolts on the f***** fan shroud.
Pictured: Seriously, you can't f****** see these bolts...especially on the other side.
I'm not even kidding about that, by the way...the bottom two bolts pretty much have to be interacted-with on a touch basis; you can't see them unless you're either resting your head on top of the battery or cramming it underneath the driver's-side grill brace...which lets you know exactly
where the camera was located when I took the above picture. These bolts are only slightly less infuriating to remove
than the bottom two passenger-side radiator mounting bolts are to install
...but I'm getting ahead of myself, there. Once you get these out the fan shroud can be pushed back towards the engine and the radiator hoses can be pulled off...and this is a good time to inspect your hoses and replace them, if need be.
Pictured: The lower hose was fine, actually. Dirty as f***, but fine
In case you're wondering, removing the fan shroud and disconnecting both hoses took all of ten minutes...and at least five of those minutes were spent trying to find a pair of pliers and the air ratchet. We wanted the air ratchet not so much for the speed with which it can remove a bolt, but because it makes the removal of hard-to-reach bolts a lot simpler; one only need focus on keeping the tool in contact with the fastener, which is infinitely easier than doing the same thing and
providing the motive force needed to remove the bolt in question.
Pictured: The bolts on the top aren't hard to reach at all...
Pictured: ...but when you get to the lower ones it's a different story entirely.
You'll notice the distinct lack of any sort of tool in the second picture; that's because there is NO F****** ROOM to get a camera, a ratchet and your hands all in that area at once; there were two of us working on it and we still
couldn't manage it. If you're ever doing this particular repair, this point is the one at which you are most likely to get frustrated and it is exactly the kind of scenario in which an air ratchet starts to be really useful; I actually worked at the lower bolts with a hand ratchet for a bit just to see how much effort it would take to remove them...and my conclusion is that it's certainly doable, but very time-consuming and not much fun. I know I've said it before but it bears saying again: if you're going to do much work on your rig, a decent compressor and some air tools are a priceless investment. I could have spent thirty or forty minutes on the two lower bolts if I didn't have the air ratchet...but since we did
have it the thirty minute mark found Greta without a radiator in residence at all.
Pictured: Damn, that steering looks tiny...
This is an ideal point in the process for any other repair or replacement to be done; since both hoses and the fan and everything else in the area looked fine we simply cleaned the accumulated leaves and debris out of the rubber liner that protects the bottom of the radiator and proceeded to drop in the almost-dry replacement unit. It helps to loosely install the two top bolts once the new radiator is resting in place, as these will hold the radiator upright until the other four much-harder-to-reach bolts are started. Speaking of those: remember how I said that installing the lower bolts on the passenger side of the radiator was a bit of a headache? I seriously wasn't kidding about that; you can't start them by hand because there's no room to get your hand around the rear flange of the radiator and the A/C lines, so you have to use a socket and extension to delicately and carefully thread the bolts through
the holes in the rear flange and into the clips that secure the bolts to the grill...without being able to see what you're doing. Once the bolts are started you're home-free...but the actual act of starting them is a b****.
Pictured: Starting to look better...
Once we had the new radiator firmly attached we slid the shroud back into place and reinstalled it. In most cases the reinstallation of the radiator shroud won't be much of a concern because it can't really get out of place, but checking the shroud-to-fan clearance is suggested in my FSM so I checked it; I found that I had about a half-inch of clearance at the top, and slightly more at the bottom. I did my best to get a picture of the fan clearance from the only angle at which is was visible, and while doing so I accidentally managed to get a better picture of that pain-in-the-a**-to-remove lower shroud bolt.
Pictured: That little bastard is STILL hard to see.
At this point there were really only three things left to do; reattach the radiator hoses and fill the system with coolant, check for function and leaks, and get her cleaned up. Since the coolant was relatively new - less than a year old, actually - we reused it and I topped it off with about half a gallon of distilled water; I'll have to check for a proper mixture before cold weather hits, but it'll work just fine for now. So, after getting both hoses attached and filling/burping the system, I pulled Greta out into the driveway and gave her a much-needed cleaning while the engine got up to operating temperature.
Pictured: Upper hose attached, cooling system filled...
Pictured: Engine bay washed down while running and heating up...
Pictured: Chillin'. Literally.
I checked the clock when I closed the radiator cap and pulled her into the driveway and we were three minutes shy of an hour since having started. Needless to say, this is BY FAR the easiest radiator I've ever changed; there are only two fastener sizes - 10mm and 11mm - and only one ratchet and a short extension were needed. A pair of pliers handled the hose clamps. Overall, I'd say that this is a one-banana job due to the straightforward nature of the repair and the fact that all of the required tools can be carried in something akin to the TJ Toolkit. Yes, the air ratchet made it MUCH easier, but if you had to do this repair on your own and using parts that you'd scrounged from a vehicle in the Wasteland, you'd hardly break a sweat. That's a win, in my book.
I put about thirty hard miles on Greta today in an attempt to overheat her...and I'm proud to say that I failed; she ran pleasantly cool the entire time. All the same, I think I'll still install the louver panel. Stay tuned.