Last week I swapped new radiator into my friend Simon’s 91 syncro westy. What forced this swap was the failure of the threaded insert where the fan thermoswitch goes. We were trying to install a new switch (old switch was not working properly) and the insert just gave up the ghost.
So Simon left the van at my house and came back a few days later with a new rad and I had the pleasure of doing the install. A bit of background on this van’s radiator, about a year and a half ago we did the thermoswitch replacement, the story is told here. I think I should have nagged Simon a bit more to get a new rad back then, that eroded switch could not have been a good sign.
Removing the rad is a pretty straightforward, if messy, job.
– drop spare and remove clamshell
– clamp off coolant lines
– disconnect wires to rad fan
– remove upper and lower grills
– disconnect thermoswitch (obviously I did not need to do that!)
– remove the (probably rotten) cardboard wind deflectors from around the rad
– I found that removing the passenger side “L” bracket ( 2 X 13mm bolts) first allows you to get access to the spring clamps on the coolant lines, leave the driver’s side bracket untouched for time being to hold the rad in place. Passenger side bracket removed:
Note: see the rubber washer on the plastic”tit” between the coolant hoses? There is a tit on each corner of the rad, the upper ones fit into holes in the van body, the lower ones into holes in the “L” brackets. Don’t lose the rubber washers. Well, go ahead, lose them. Garden hose washers would probably make an ok substitute.
Driver’s side bracket still in place (pic taken before I removed the lower cardboard wind deflector):
– cut or undo any cable ties holding up the coolant hoses or the fan wiring so that the radiator will not hang up when it comes down.
– remove the driver’s side “L” bracket. Careful, the rad will drop down.
– drag the bugger out from under the van and swap the fan and shroud ( 10 mm self tapping screws) over to the new radiator.
Installation is harder than removal as you have to fight gravity and get those upper tits into the holes while lying on your back below the van. A helper at this point would be, well, helpful. Don’t forget that the driver’s side “L” bracket interferes with the spring clamps on the coolant hoses, and don’t forget to push up on the “L” brackets as you tighten the bolts to make sure the rad is seated tightly.
Now the fun part, Sawz-All plus Simon meets the old rad. He cut it in half then cut the plastic end caps off. We found the remains of the threaded insert and a whole lot of gunk at the bottom of the rad. Remember it is a 2-pass rad, hot comes in and directed by end cap up to upper half of rad, then it goes across from passenger to driver’s side and down the other end cap, then back across lower half. The junk was found in the lower, passenger side, ie just before the exit and just below where the thermoswitch (rad fan) is installed.
Note: I drained all the coolant and flushed the system on this van, then recharged with fresh coolant. I found bleeding the Vanagon and Subie EJ25 combo to be much more of a chore than stock or my old inline four in my ’82 westy.