Friday, April 8, 2011

Radiator support framework and Coolant lines

The radiator support framework and the coolant lines are finally finished! 

Here's the story: I purchased a custom aluminum radiator from Wizard Cooling in New York. The radiator is 17.5 x 28.1 x 1.25... almost twice the volumn of the original Subaru radiator and nice fit both width wise and depth wise for teh belly of teh bus.  I also purchased two 14" low profile Spal pusher fans, plus relays and wiring kit. Wizard made fan mounting tabs as well as rail mounting sides.
Since I have no welding or fabrication tools (not to mention skills!) I ponied up to have the fab work done professionally.  Great thanks go out to Dan Coy of Coys Customs  in Longmont, CO for doing such quality work in a short time!  Dan built the radiator support framework and protection concepts as well as rebuilt the rear crossmember (it was bent and mangled already) to allow easy fitting of coolant hose.  He then proceeded to custom build the Stainless Steel coolant pipes between the engine and the radiator.  I'll let the pictures tell the story and then provide some details below.

As you can see, a lot of work into this fabrication, but the final result looks clean and easy.  Dan ended up removing the original rear cross member because it was pretty beat up to begin with with and I wanted to route the the hoses through that spot to ensure a nice, high radiator placement.  You can see how the new rear support bar had holes drilled through it to allow all the original lies and hoses to still pass through while also creating perfectly place large holes to route the hoses through.

The radiator has a 1/2" slope from rear to front.  I have a drain cock in the front of the radiator on the lower end  to make draining easier.  The radiator itself is mounted to a steel frame, which is then mounted to the VW side frame rails.  A thin wire mesh small enough to keep most gravel out was adhered onto the inside of a piece of sheet metal with round holes cut in it to allow airflow to pass from the top of the radiator through the bottom and out.  The sheet metal was then welded to the bottom of the steel frame.  Smaller holes were drilled out along the front edge and rear edge for further airflow.

Custom 1 1/2" stainless steel lines were fabricated to fill as much linear space between the radiator inlet/outlet and the engine.  Rubber coolant line was used for the rest of the length that wouldn't allow of hard line.

The pressure tank was mounted on the firewall and is a general tank from JEGs or Summit or someplace similar  It is connected to the outlet side of the engine system via a hose barb.  The bottom of the pressure tank is routed to the inlet bard on the Tom Shiels temperature sending unit adapter.  I will plumb the heater lines to the lower original temp sending inlet.  The pressure tank also routes to the overflow tank.  Both Pressure tank and overflow tank are accessible for filling via the engine lid in the rear of the compartment.

Last big item to complete is the wiring and then a bunch of smaller things like vacuum hoses and fresh air intake set up.


  1. Hi Dan

    Thanks for an excellent Blog, I've just started an EJ20 conversion on our 67 split and was wondering what radiator your using?


  2. Hi Phil,

    I had a custom aluminum radiator built by Wizard Cooling and had the input and output mounted horizontally and facing rearward. Nice fit and configuration but kinda expensive. I posted some of the details on The Samba; here's the thread link:

    Hope this helps and let me know how the conversion on your splitty goes!


  3. Hi Dan,

    Thanks for the info, I was working on a similar setup when I came across your blog and thought it might be an off the shelf rad and would save me some money, no such luck. I will have to go down the custom manufacture route.

    When I get time i'm going to setup a blog for my conversion, I will send you a link

    Thanks again


  4. Dan,
    I do belong to the Samba as well and I am in the process of acquiring a newer Westy than yours 87-91 and doing the 2.5 Subaru conversion. I am also looking at the automatic transmission as well. I hope you know of the blog on Samba regarding the ring and pinion ratios that a couple of people are working on:
    Very interesting and on that note, my question. What are your rpms at 70 mph for your auto and does yours have the 4:09 ration final drive?
    I am trying to figure out if I "need" the new ring and pinion or just put the engine in and drive it! :) Seeing as I do not do a ton of highway driving I may just stay with what comes in the Westy. Your thoughts and help is appreciated in advance. Thank you for putting this online for all of us who are thinking of something similar. CJ

  5. CJ,

    Sorry, just now seeing your comment! Re the auto. Yes, it is the stock aircooled 4.09:1 final. My current rpms at 70 MPH are around 3700 rpms. Higher then I like but sustainable as is. I rarely drive faster then 65 MPH anyway, but I would like to get the rmps around 3000 at 70 MPH.

    I am familiar with the r&p being developed in England and tested there and in California. I am watching the thread carefully and weighing my options. For now though, I plan to drive the stock auto until it tells me it is time to replace it (hopefully before getting stranded!).

    I believe there are a lot of people running vanagons with stock autos that are doing just fine. The newer vanagon autos are externally aircooled and I have to believe that saves on wear and tear via heat...Not sure if yours is internal or exrernally cooled...

    Hope this helps.

  6. Would fipping the coolant manifold have put the radiator hose in a better position?