Tanud Kriwei cribs
Chances are that, at some point in your life, you will have encountered a vehicle overheating. How often you come across such a problem is another issue altogether. If you’re the type to just buy a car and drive it, all is probably well; if you own an older classic, its cooling system may not have been developed with modern traffic issues in mind; and if you prefer to pull your motors out and hot them up — no pun intended — then you’ve probably dealt with about as many cooling problems as engines.
The problems arise because internal combustion generates heat, and engines built for performance will, by default, generate more heat. The heat is a by-product of the combustion events that keep the motor running and the friction between moving parts that results when a typical automotive engine is operating — often at many thousands of revolutions per minute.
To dissipate the heat generated, most engines are water cooled. The casting process for engine blocks, heads, and intake manifolds will almost always incorporate water channels to allow coolant to circulate through the areas most exposed to extreme temperatures, to dissipate any heat that is generated. The coolant mixture is commonly an ethylene glycol–based solution that expands as it heats up, increasing pressure, which, in turn, lifts its boiling point to beyond that of plain water. Even so, the coolant itself still needs to be cooled continually in order to dissipate heat properly.
This is where the radiator is comes in. The water pump pushes coolant through the water channels, and the heated mixture eventually circulates through the radiator, which is positioned for maximum exposure to ‘cold’ air. The flow of cold air through the radiator reduces the temperature of the coolant by dissipating the heat to the atmosphere, and the coolant is then recirculated through the system to absorb more heat.
While the entire cooling system represents the effectiveness of a fundamentally basic concept, there is quite an art to how the radiator core — where the magic happens — actually works and is assembled. We were lucky enough to visit Auckland-based Adrad National Radiators to observe first-hand how it all happens, and here’s what we found out.
The general automotive radiator ‘CT’ core contains a large number of finned, narrow coolant channels, giving a high surface-areato-volume ratio. The resulting convection effect allows rapid heat dissipation. However, there is a process involved in turning a stack of raw materials into a radiator core, and, looking at the materials involved — rolls of copper, lengths of brass tubing coated in solder, and brass sheets — it can be tricky to see how it all goes together.