Richard Holdener
January 17, 2007

Step By Step

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0702_mmfp_01z Mustang_cooling_system Radiator
With our hot Kenne Bell-supercharged Two-Valve motor in full effect in Project RSC, it was time to take a hard look at the cooling system. The first cooling system upgrade planned was to replace the stock radiator with this impressive Direct Fit Fluidyne radiator (PN FHP20-96MU) for the '96 4.6L Two-Valve Mustang.
0702_mmfp_02z Mustang_cooling_system Radaiator
The Direct Fit Fluidyne radiator promised and delivered two things: improved cooling and a true bolt-in installation thanks to the mounting brackets for the stock cooling fan.
0702_mmfp_03z Mustang_cooling_system Mounting_brackets
The Fluidyne radiator featured mounting brackets to drop right into the factory rubber receivers. Also note the Fluidyne was equipped with a side-mounted petcock to facilitate easy drainage. The build quality of the aluminum radiator was impressive.
0702_mmfp_04z Mustang_cooling_system Water_pump
The second cooling-system upgrade involved the installation of a Meziere electric water pump, complete with idler pulley for use with the stock serpentine accessory beltdrive.

When We last left Project RSC, we had just installed a 1.7L Kenne Bell supercharger on the modified 4.6L 2V motor. Truth be told, this radiator and Meziere electric water-pump install actually took place prior to the blower install, but scheduling priorities dictated that we run the blower story first. While big-boost power numbers are a lot sexier than a cooling system upgrade, the new radiator and electric water pump may well keep that blower motor alive and kicking on the street.

With any increase in power comes increased heat that must be dissipated through the cooling system. In our case, the increased power was not the only reason for the cooling-system upgrade. With more than 200,000 miles logged on the Two-Valve Mustang, the factory radiator had seen more that its fair share of mileage. Since purchased from the original owner, we had to add water to the cooling system on a regular basis. Not much mind you, but it was annoying to have the coolant level light come on every so often to remind us something was amiss. Knowing our new motor was not consuming any water, we knew there must be a leak somewhere in the system.

It was only during the cooling-system upgrade that we discovered the culprit was the factory radiator. No big holes mind you, just a minor trickle that probably only manifested itself under pressure (when the system was at operating temperature). This explains why we never discovered any puddles of water (even small ones) under the car. The water just seemed to vanish. During the various stages of modifi-cation, we replaced just about every hose and clamp on the cooling system. We checked the intake gaskets for signs of a leak, but never found a drop. We even went to the trouble of performing a leakdown and compression test on the new motor, thinking a head gasket might be bad. The Coast High Performance motor ran even and strong, so the missing coolant remained a mystery until we decided to install the new Fluidyne radiator and Meziere electric water pump. It was during the coolant system upgrade that we found evidence of the leaks in the side of the factory radiator. Either the sealing gasket or the plastic (end tank) itself had eroded enough to allow the smallest amount of coolant to escape, and probably only under pressure (when driving).

Having more than doubled the factory power output of the non-PI Two-Valve motor, we decided the hot motor deserved something more than a stock radiator rebuild or replacement. What this 400-plus-horsepower supercharged street motor needed was a suitable cooling system. While we were looking to improve the cooling capacity, we didn't want to have to redesign the factory system. Basically, we were looking to maximize cooling while minimizing installation headaches.

As luck would have it, Fluidyne had exactly what we were looking for with its Direct Fit performance radiator. The Direct Fit promised significant improvements in cooling capacity yet bolted directly in place of the stock radiator. "Bolts in minutes with simple hand tools"-yeah, we've heard that one before. What usually happens when we install performance products is that the minutes turn to hours and the simple hand tools apparently include a plasma cuter and TIG welder. Beware of the phrase "some assembly required."