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Sunday, November 05, 2006


More things to fix on the Dart

I've been pretty busy recently, between work and trying to get the Nissan's axle swapped in. I've finished repairing the brakes on the Nissan's replacement axle and got the bolts that hold it in place turning freely, so I should be able to swap that axle in once I get a good block of time to do it. I will be very relieved when that's done. Working on a car you don't need to drive is a hobby, but fixing a car you need to use is an obligation. And obligations aren't nearly as enjoyable as hobbies.

After taking the Dart out road tuning recently, I noticed a puddle forming under the front end. The puddle was beige and frothy, like it was leaking the foam off a mug of Guinness. As the color didn't quite match any fluid that is supposed to be in the car, and I know I didn't fill any of the reservoirs under the hood with Irish stout, I found that a bit worrisome.

The nature of the problem became clear when I popped the hood: What I was seeing was rusty coolant leaking from a pinhole leak in the radiator neck. The radiator is one I had pulled from a junkyard Aspen years ago and it had given me problems in the past, which I had patched with JB-Kwik epoxy. While it did cross my mind to try more epoxy or maybe a little silicone sealant (I didn't consider Alumiseal or Bars Leak type things to be an option; in my experience those can let go after a couple years), I've decided that I will fix it right.

So my plan is first to give the cooling system a good flush to remove any rust and other crud. Then I'm yanking the junkyard radiator and dropping in an aftermarket aluminum radiator. I was at Summit Racing's McDonough store for a car show yesterday (pictures will be up very soon), so while I was there, I stopped in and bought a Griffin circle track radiator. Since the Dart has an automatic, I also bought an external transmission cooler. Unfortunately, they didn't have the brackets I need to install the radiator on hand, so I'll have to wait for those to arrive.

And when I put the radiator in, I'm also planning to put in an intercooler. As soon as I get that done, I'll be off to dyno test it and get everything dialed in. Stay tuned.


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