Friday, June 1, 2007

Objective Light Weight Radiator Install

Details: At over 50,000 miles the Elise started show some wear. One of the major maintenance items that needed attention was the radiator. The plastic end caps started to leak and with a track day right around the corner, we needed a fix. It seemed silly to replace the radiator with another stock one that was bound to fail after another 50,000 miles. Instead we opted for a fully aluminum radiator made by Flex Co. Ltd. in Japan. Not only did we prevent future problems from occurring, but the new radiator weights just over a pound less then stock! It’s not much, but we will take every little bit we can get. The radiator worked so well that we now offer it to U.S. Lotus owners.

Finding the right radiator was the easy part. I must say that removing the front clam for the first time was a bit intimidating. After digging up all the information we could on this project, it was time to step up to the challenge.

Half way through the job we realized that we could shave some weight by removing the ac condenser and some of the lines. Since the electric fans mount to the condenser, we had to create some custom rails to mount the fans directly off the radiator.

Roughly 10 hours later, the car was back together and the new radiator was ready to be tested at the track. There’s no doubt that removing the clam was a lot of work for the average do-it-yourselfer, but it was one of the most important stepping stones in this project. It gave us the confidence and desire to continue with the project, plus we earned over 5lbs. in additional weight savings.

Notes: When it came time to fill the cooling system back up with coolant, we ran into a couple snags. After putting in less then a gallon of coolant, the system appeared to be full. This couldn’t be as we had drained it from the radiator, but after trying to run the car to the point where the thermostat would kick on, the reservoir remained full. We also got worried when the electric fans wouldn’t kick on after the engine reached the 210 degrees or so where they were supposed to. That is when we realized the importance of the mystery box on the passenger side fender lining. Even after fixing the fans, we still couldn’t get the system to take an adequate amount of fluid. It turns out an air bubble was preventing the lines to fill and we had to burp the system. That was an interesting hour or so to say the least, but at the end of the day we could look back and laugh at it.

Radiator Weight Savings: 1.1 lbs.

AC Removal Stage 1: 4 lbs. (condensor, front lines, bracketry and hardware)

Next week we are going to install a quick release steering wheel hub from Works Bell, and a steering wheel that was inspired by one of the greatest cars of all time; the McLaren F1 LM. We are also going to look at how our efforts have paid off so far.

1 comment:

Slag said...

Looking good! The steering wheel will be sweet.