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Run Cooler: Radiator Tech You Can Use

Chris Paulson AETC 01

Chris Paulson is the head of C&R Racing. C&R does many things, but they are famous for their radiators. Paulson presented at the AETC conference and while his topics hit on everything from sports cars and Indy Cars, we pulled out the information applicable to dirt track racers.

 

Water Flow

“The old days of trying to slow down the flow of water through the engine and radiator are over. We like to see a high water flow rate,” Paulson says. A high flow rate has several advantages. Higher flow rates actually raises the water pressure in the cylinder head to make it more able to push through hot spots and even break up steam pockets. Higher flow rates also increases water “turbulation” which is a fancy word forthe water tumbling as it moves instead of simply flowing smoothly. More turbulation means more of the water comes into contact with the water jacket surfaces. Smoothly flowing water means only the water closest to the water jacket surface gets heated while the water in the center of the water jacket cavity stays cooler.

 

Fans

Paulson recommends using an electric fan whenever possible. An electric fan not only eliminates parasitic losses from the engine and they are also becoming much more efficient. New technology means electric fans powered by brushless motors are becoming more and more common. The brushless technology means more power available to spin the fan as well as greater service life. Electric fans are also controllable with electronics, so for example, if you are trying to bring your engine oil up to temperature you can leave your fan off to speed up the process and reduce the time until you have proper oil flow throughout the engine.

 

Anti-Freeze Vs Water

Chris Paulson AETC 04“It is a mis-conception that anti-freeze will pull heat out of a system better than water,” Paulson says. “That is not true. Anti-freeze does have its benefits, but there is nothing–at least nothing that is legal to us–that will pull heat better than pure water.”

Paulson recommends anti-freeze only when you are storing the race car or are racing in below freezing conditions. And when it comes to water, he definitely recommends distilled water over water out of your garden hose. That’s because tap water often contains a lot of minerals that can build up and reduce the efficiency of the cooling system. If you are often pulling the hoses and dumping the coolant (either when pulling the engine or for maintenance) it may not be possible to by and use distilled water every time. If that’s the case, Paulson does recommend an additive such as Driven Racing Oil’s Coolant System Protector which can help control mineral buildup. Just don’t expect any radiator additive–no matter what the advertising tells you–to lower your coolant temperature.

 

Prooper ducting, or air box, design is important for helping the radiator do its job. Having the opening be smaller than the area at the radiator as you see here creates a low pressure zone as the air moves through the duct, helping pull more air into the opening.

Prooper ducting, or air box, design is important for helping the radiator do its job. Having the opening be smaller than the area at the radiator as you see here creates a low pressure zone as the air moves through the duct, helping pull more air into the opening.

Paulson's tips specifically for dirt track radiators.

Paulson’s tips specifically for dirt track radiators.


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