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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Part 1
Several years ago, I installed a 31" wide universal fit aluminum radiator (2 rows of 1” Dia Tubes) that I purchased from Summit Racing. The Summit universal fit radiator was very economical and worked great in keeping my small block 400 cool… even while driving on the hottest summer days. But… I was kinda in a rush to get this radiator installed and I never liked how the final installation looked. The radiator sat too high within the front core support and the cut-up radiator cover and home-made upper radiator attachment brackets didn’t help this situation. The radiator I installed was Summit Part number SUM-380331.
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/sum-380331/overview/

My goal was to reduce the overall height of this radiator by about 1” and install a new upper radiator cover that would have the appearance of a factory installation.

I started by removing all of the existing upper radiator brackets and cover to expose the “U” channel structure at the top of the radiator. The “U” channel structure was ¾” deep to the top surface of the radiator. My plan was to remove ½” from the top (arrows)… and ½” from the bottom of the “U” channels.


The “U” channel structure was easy to cut with a hacksaw. I turned the blade 90° within the hacksaw and used a ¼” thick piece if steel bar (arrow) as a spacer between the top of the radiator and the hacksaw blade. By using the steel bar as a spacer, I was able to get a nice clean cut and evenly remove the ½” of unneeded material.


Below is a photo of the top of the radiator with the ½” of “U” channel structure removed from both front and back.


By cutting the top “U” channel with the radiator still installed in the car, I was able to fit the top radiator cover to confirm how much “U” channel structure would need to be removed from the bottom. I measured 5/8” gap between the front of the radiator cover and the top of the core support (Circle).

This confirmed that I would only need to remove ½” of “U” channel structure from the bottom of the radiator to achieve a tight fit of the radiator cover when bolted to the upper core support.

At the same time, I also determined how much of the upper radiator cover would need to be removed so that it would be positioned within the center of the radiator (arrow).

The Red Solid Line represents the material first removed from the radiator cover with a hacksaw and the Red Dashed Line represents the material that was removed with a file for a custom fit to the radiator filler neck.
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Part 2
I then removed the radiator and cut off ½” of the bottom “U” structure in the same fashion that used to cut the top.


While I had the radiator removed, I noticed some fluid on the front my clutch fan… so I replaced the leaking clutch fan with a heady duty Hayden unit – Part #2747 purchased from Summit Racing.
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/hda-2747

UPDATE NOTE: Since installing the new Heavy Duty 2747 clutch fan, I have not noticed any additional fan noise over the Hayden 2705 standard clutch fan that was previously installed.

I also decided to install a new Mr. Gasket 180° thermostat (part #4364 ) and a new Allstar Performance aluminum water neck with “O” ring (part #ALL30173). Both of these items were purchased from Summit Racing.
Thermostat - https://www.summitracing.com/parts/mrg-4364/overview/
Water Neck - https://www.summitracing.com/parts/aaf-all30173/overview/

Before installing the water neck, I always clean the upper contact surface on the intake manifold that the water neck will attach to. It is also a good idea to confirm if the bolt holes for the water neck are “Blind” (do not go into the water jacket) or drilled into the water jacket. If the holes go into the water jacket, be sure to use some thread sealant on both water neck bolts. If the bolt holes are blind, it is a good idea to check that the bolts will install far enough into the threaded holes (arrows) to confirm a good seal on the water neck to prevent leaks. If the bolts bottoms out before reaching the desired installation depth, use some shorter bolts to install the water neck.


Before installing a water neck that uses an “O” ring, I like to apply a VERY THIN layer of RTV silicon sealant to the top of the “O” ring that will sit in the water neck. This will seal any irregularities that may exist within the water neck’s “O” ring grove. After I install the “O” ring into the water neck and press firmly into place, I apply a little bit of 100% silicon to the bottom of the “O” ring. This helps the water neck swivel easier. DOT NOT use any petroleum-based grease on the “O” ring… as this may degrade the rubber “O” ring.
UPDATE NOTE: I have since driven my car on a couple of long trips on some very hot 95° days… and I can report that the Allstar Performance Aluminum water neck has no leaks. My engine temps stay a rock-steady 175°-180° while driving (both highway cruising and stop & go traffic).

After I cut of the “U” channel structure from the bottom of the radiator, I went to reinstall the radiator and noticed the bottom of the radiator side tank where touching the bottom of the radiator core support… and the radiator was not resting on the lower radiator pads.
I used pliers to bend down a portion of the lower support and used a hammer to flatten out what I was unable to get to with the pliers. To help with the flattening of the lower radiator core support, I place a piece of 2x4 directly under the area I was hitting with the hammer (arrow).


I then reinstalled the radiator and the overall fit was good. Below is a photo of the Nova’s original radiator cover on top of the 31” wide radiator. While I could have used this cover to secure the radiator in place, it was not wide enough to cover the top core width of this radiator and did not meet my original goal to achieve the look of a factory appearance installation.


The early model Chevelle radiator cover looked much better. I also selected a black cover because I thought a 30” wide chrome cover would be a little too much “bling” for me.
Chevelle radiator cover was also purchased from Summit Racing / Part #SUM-G3921B
https://www.summitracing.com/parts/sum-g3921b
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Discussion Starter #3
Part 3
All that’s left to do is install the shroud onto the upper cover. This led to my next issue… the top of the fan was now too close to the inside of the radiator shroud.


I also noticed that the upper sections on the radiator shroud that attached to the back of the radiator cover were about ½” lower than the top of the radiator cover (no photo).

My Nova’s radiator shroud is installed by inserting clips (that are attached to the bottom of the shroud) onto the bottom rail of the lower radiator support. I guess all that hammering to flatten the sides of the lower support to clear the side radiator tanks may have also lowered the bottom support.

My solution was to make a couple of ½” radiator shroud risers out of some scrap aluminum I already had.

In the photos above, note how the aluminum risers (arrows) lift the radiator shroud to the desired height.

With the radiator shroud now situated correctly and installed onto the top radiator cover, I positioned the radiator cover on the upper core support so that the fan was located ½ in… and ½ out from the inside of the shroud and drilled four new radiator cover bolt holes into the upper core support.


Below are a couple photos of the final installation.




When I originally installed this wider universal fit radiator, I had to move the battery tray over towards the passenger’s side fender (until the battery was next to the headlight prongs) and then had to “massage” the passenger’s inner fender skirt with a hammer to gain some clearance from the newly positioned battery. I also had to cut the opening within the radiator core support wider to accommodate the larger radiator.

I am very happy with the final installation results :yes: But… if I had to do this all over again from the start (having to buy a new radiator), I would have just spent the extra money and purchased a Cold Case big block radiator that was specifically made for my Nova. From what I have read, they seem like an excellent radiator.
 

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RifRaf ....

Very Good write-up and description of your progress ......
with all the "Tags To Summit for reference" for the parts you used.

nice job --- and, great pictures of a radiator install .

I do have a question ....... can you discuss your "new hood-latch"
unit that we see .. ?

Thanks for your time & pictures ........ jim
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Discussion Starter #6
RifRaf .... I do have a question ....... can you discuss your "new hood-latch" unit that we see .. ?
I think you are referring to this contraption that is mounted on the front of my radiator core support (circle).

It is my Low Tech/Low Budget Hood Lock :D
My hood is held closed by two hood pins in the front... but I wanted something that would keep the hood secure if the hood pins were pulled by someone other then me. It's really more of a deterrent. If someone really wanted to open the hood bad enough, I'm sure they could.

Attached to the underside/front of my fiberglass hood's inner structure is an eye bolt.

When the hood is shut, the opening in the eye bolt is directly in line with the sliding bolt (arrow in 1st photo). I had to drill/file another opening within the underside of the hood structure (arrow in above photo) so that I could install another washer and nut to keep the eye bolt in place.

All of this is controlled by a manual choke cable... that I ran into the car's interior and attached the push/pull lever to the underside of the dash.

Very basic... but it works as intended.
 

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good idea .... I've been thinking about making / installing some-kind - of inside hood latch. Not a bad idea & simple .

Thank you for your in-put ...... jim
 

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Mike - 74 Nova Baltimore, MD
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Discussion Starter #8
I'm glad this information was helpful!
 

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Thanks , Mike ......

I see you over @ ROTM ........ (hint - hint - hint - ........ oh - yeah ).
 
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