PART 2: THE NEW RADIATOR
Well let's just say I was a little disappointed when the thermostat made no difference, and I didn't see anything obvious wrong with the water pump (other than not knowing if it's TRULY a high-volume pump or not).
The massive oversized radiator I've been running is a 3-row all-aluminum Griffin Performance Radiator (used in Nascar racing) and it didn't seem likely to me that it could be bad. None the less.. it came from my 502 supercharged van (did an unbelievable job at cooling)... but is now about 25 years old! Regardless of size.. IF it has deteriorated internally or had become corroded or tubes clogged and blocked, it surely would perform poorly... possibly my case.
Unfortunately, I'm not going to know if the new high-volume pump fixed my problem, or the new performance radiator, since I decided to replace both. Essentially now, the entire cooling system has been replaced with everything NEW... BIGGER AND BETTER!
Here's a photo of the old massive Griffin radiator just before I pulled it...
I have been SO thrilled with the "Northern" custom over-sized race radiator that I put in my 2000 AWD.. that I bought another SAME identical model for this van. They are BOTH now running the same identical performance radiator, and BOTH running the SAME identical shrouded Flex-a-Lite electric fans. When things work this great.. you stick with them!
Here is the link to my 2000 AWD installation:
It arrived extremely well packed and in perfect condition!
The following I'll repeat (from my 2000 AWD installation post):
THE NEW RADIATOR:
It's a "Northern Race Pro" #209615 31x19 high-performance "universal fit" radiator
(pictured with 8 plate internal cooler)
This is the same radiator re-branded for Summit-Racing, but I got a better price direct on Ebay for only $195 (incl free shipping). Like the Griffin Radiator in my 92.. this radiator is typically used in racing... and is extremely efficient at cooling under extreme conditions. Northern Radiator is a huge suppler of automotive, high-performance, hot-rod and specialty, diesel, agricultural, industrial, bus & large truck, ATV, air-boat and specialty products (as well as coolers, condensers, evaporators and so many other aluminum products)... and has a great reputation. This is one of their top models in their high-performance automotive racing series.
The 2 1/4" thick core uses 2 rows of wide 1" tubes.. considered a very efficient design
It comes with a nice machined billet aluminum SAE compliant filler neck.
This model also internally incorporates a massive "8 plate super flow" oil cooler..
also somewhat overkill for my "street" needs (see above photo or click link):
This Race-Pro radiator is also designed to work with a cap pressures up to 28lb
I opted to use a slightly higher than stock pressure performance 20lb cap.
Here's a nice photo of the new radiator (obviously before installation)...
(I think my picture looks better than theirs.. lol)
I should note again that this is a "non-stock" universal fit performance radiator.
I do not recommend this for most people, since installation requires some modification and fabrication to make it fit. Not only that, but none of the stock hoses or lines fit either (even though that is fairly easily addressed). But it's NOT a direct fit. There are similar models (in other brands) made to fit the Astro perfectly. I just needed this to fit with a V8 as well, requiring fabrication and full relocation!
So here is my work area, and my "calm but anxious patient"... :mrgreen:
Below is another overhead shot of the old Griffin Radiator (just before I pulled it)
(Note it is somewhat tucked under the cross support.. engine and fan overlap and practically touch)
(click this or any photo to zoom)
This new radiator is just a tiny bit larger, taller and wider than the Griffin (less than an inch or so), and required making a little more room for it to fit. It needed to sit a little lower
to be able to access and remove the cap (an important big deal). I almost went with an elaborate "expansion tank" system, until I realized I could re-position and lower this radiator enough to make it fit. Again it was just an inch or so (a bunch of work) ... but well worth the trouble.
Not cutting metal... just "re-shaping" it...
(a little hard to swing a sledge-hammer in some spots)
This was some of the bracket system (1 of 2 stout aluminum brackets) I devised for the previous radiator, mounted to the lower radiator support. Very sturdy.. radiator just lifts off these supports. (underside view). The new lowered brackets are similar...
The upper cross-support had to be re-tweaked to fit and hold the radiator...
(just bending what had been previous cut to perfectly fit and hold new radiator)
Here's the new radiator being fitted (in and out dozens of times)...
(note nice rubber edge fitted on entire length of upper cross-support to hold radiator in place)
Bottom brackets are also fitted with nice rubber edges.. radiator literally just sits firmly in place.
It has been fitted in (even "more forward" than before).. almost completely under
the upper cross-support. Here's an overhead photo (minus fan) with the new over-sized radiator completely mounted in place! Radiator is SO well tucked, it is almost invisible!
I now have a little more clearance (in front of the V8) than I had before.. plenty of room for electric fan!
Not a lot... but just a little more than enough!
This near-completed photo, you can see where it sits (essentially under the upper cross support)
(photo includes A/C condenser and external trans cooler)
I was unable to find a 1 3/4" > 1 3/4" lower hose that fit right (stock radiator side is normally 1 1/2").
This flex hose looked like a good contender, but kinked with the tight bend, so I was unable to use it...
The "stock lower hose" (shortened a little) worked (with Griffin radiator).. so it was re-used...
Note lower hose...
Even though the hose end is 1 1/2".. it can be stretched over a 1 3/4" outlet.
Stock lower-hose shape fit perfect!
I replaced the upper hose with "stock" new... trimmed 2" off each end to fit!
(remember V8 sits closer to radiator than V6 did)
The 1 1/4 hose had to be stretched over both 1 1/2 water-neck AND 1 1/2 radiator inlet.
(the hose MUST make a very tight 90 angle to clear the A/C compressor and serpentine belt)
As I mentioned... this radiator also includes a nice performance internal trans cooler (unlike previous radiator).
This required me to do a little hose re-routing to both coolers.
Trans > Radiator cooler > External cooler > Trans
Seen in this photo.. radiator, A/C condenser, external trans cooler, PS cooler (tucked low right)
Also note position of radiator literally against the front edge of the upper support.
It can NOT move ANY further forward.
Here are the oversized cooler 3/4 NPT fittings to barb 3/8 hose (sold separately)...
Another overhead shot (different angle.. mounted and almost completed)...
Final finished photo (not the best photo) ... but job completed (with hoses and fan installed)
(note edge of different carb in this final photo... that will be my next post.. lol)
This radiator runs a very solid 178-180 in my AWD (any outdoor summer temp)... never budges
I haven't had a chance to take my 92 out on the highway yet.. I've currently got no place to go.
I'm also in the process of doing some other little upgrades (newly rebuilt Holley carb) and some minimal maintenance (rerouting vacuum lines, PCV, timing mods). I'm also installing new spark plugs, since they were new when I installed the engine originally back in 2014. I'm pretty much done.
Tinkering around the garage and driveway... taking advantage of my free weekends!
PS: Again, here is the link for the custom installation (with all the cutting) back in 2016..
(same as posted at top of page)