The 996 is a great long dis­tance car, but there’s not much point in go­ing the dis­tance and swel­ter­ing with it. Time to re­place the air-con rads and re­gas the sys­tem. Oh, and re­place the cool­ing rads, too, with up­rated, hand-crafted CSF ra­di­a­tors

911 Porsche World - - Practical Porsche -

Now that the 944 has gone to a new home, I've got more time and less in the way of dis­trac­tion for my 996, which I've now had for over two years. I must ad­mit I was quite sur­prised by that, but at the same time slightly ashamed to note from the odome­ter that I've barely put much more than 4000miles on it since col­lect­ing it from Ed­in­burgh in June 2015.

Not that I've been ne­glect­ing it, mind. It has gen­er­ally wanted for noth­ing, de­spite de­mand­ing a lot. There is no such thing as a cheap Porsche. Well, that's not quite true. Yes, you can buy a Porsche at a very tempt­ing price, but don't ex­pect that state of af­fairs to last. Age and com­plex­ity will creep up and bite you in the wal­let.

With its full ser­vice his­tory prior to my own­er­ship, and two years of main­te­nance un­der my belt, it's easy now to get a pic­ture of what it takes to keep a mod­ern, wa­ter­cooled Porsche on the road. Largely it's all about the con­sum­ables. Ex­clud­ing oil changes and tyres, by con­sum­ables I mean brakes, sus­pen­sion com­po­nents and air­con, and blimey these cars don't half get through that stuff. Prior in­voices are all for the above. In its 82,000-miles and 19-years on the road it's been through three sets of cof­fin arms, numer­ous sus­pen­sion bushes and con­trol arms, bump stops, top mounts, brake discs x 3 sets and three lots of air­con con­densers. None of this stuff is hugely ex­pen­sive in iso­la­tion, but if it all re­quires do­ing at the same time then it does mount up. Oh, and it's had a clutch, too, but then you'd prob­a­bly ex­pect that.

Is it nor­mal for sus­pen­sion com­po­nents to wear out so fre­quently? Well, I don't know re­ally, but I guess it's down to the com­plex­ity of the 996 set up, with its myr­iad of con­trol arms etc, plus those cof­fin arms, which are renowned for wear­ing out pretty rapidly. At least mine have now been re­placed with Rpm/eibach ad­justable jobs, which also fea­ture bushes that can be re­placed, with­out hav­ing to bin the whole arm. The pay-off, of course, is a car that han­dles and stops, which, when all is well and op­ti­mised, the 996 does ex­tremely well.

In the two years that I've had my 996 I've done the vast ma­jor­ity of the above, bar the air-con con­densers. The air-con has never worked and RPM iden­ti­fied the prob­lem when they in­spected the car just after I

bought it. No sur­prises re­ally, they had rot­ted out, thanks to their vul­ner­a­ble po­si­tion at the front of the car where they col­lect crud and leaves. It was some­thing I could live with, while at­tend­ing to other more im­por­tant stuff.

Even­tu­ally, though, the air-con is­sue worked its way to the top of the to-do list and I booked the 996 into lo­cal spe­cial­ists, Michael Clev­er­ley, at Clev­er­ley Re­paired Cars. Michael's stock in trade is gen­er­ally clas­sic cars and the boom­ing MX-5 mar­ket, but he's more than up to the job of look­ing after lo­cal Porsches too. Give him a try if you hap­pen to be in the ra­dius of Strad­broke in Suf­folk.

To make life easy, I sourced the air-con con­densers. Nat­u­rally I tapped into the af­ter­mar­ket, did a bit of re­search, and hit upon Bud­get Ra­di­a­tors on ebay. At £96 for the pair and backed up by over 32,000 pos­i­tive feed­back com­ments, it was some­thing of a no-brainer. The con­densers ar­rived the fol­low­ing day com­plete with Orings for fit­ting. Qual­ity? Well, they looked just fine to me, but the proof is al­ways in the fit­ting with these things.

With the front apron off all be­came clear, and it wasn't just the air-con con­densers that were look­ing sorry for them­selves. Pre­dictably the cool­ing ra­di­a­tors, that sit be­hind the con­densers ei­ther side, were look­ing rather worse for wear and start­ing to weep slightly, too. I had a lit­tle cry at the thought and cost of re­place­ment! I had been kind of ex­pect­ing this. There was no ev­i­dence that they'd ever been re­placed, so it was no great sur­prise. Like the air-con con­densers, they're prone to cor­ro­sion from the ingress of crud and leaves, which turns the del­i­cate alu­minium cool­ing fins to dust. As you can see from the pics, that's ex­actly what had oc­curred.

So an­other call to Bud­get Ra­di­a­tors? No, not this time. Fine as I'm sure they would be as an OE re­place­ment, I knew when the time came to re­plac­ing the cool­ing rads that I would be look­ing to im­prove on OE. In the ad­mit­tedly some­what in­ex­act sci­ence of 996/M96 en­gine woes, there are plau­si­ble the­o­ries sur­round­ing the cool­ing sys­tem. I've al­ready had a low-temp ther­mo­stat fit­ted and su­per-duper Mo­bil coolant. Some up­rated ra­di­a­tors, then, seemed like a good plan and I knew ex­actly where to go for them: CSF Ra­di­a­tors in Amer­ica.

Our man in the US, Matt Stone, dropped in on CSF about 18-months ago and filed a fas­ci­nat­ing story look­ing into CSF'S hand­made alu­minium ra­di­a­tors and the tech­nol­ogy be­hind them. I knew that when the time came, I would be spec­c­ing these for my 996. They are a work of hand-crafted art. Each one hand-pol­ished, it's a shame that they have to be hid­den away.

Crit­i­cal to the CSF ra­di­a­tor over the

stan­dard item, is an im­proved – 33% larger – core and what CSF calls 'B-tube' tech­nol­ogy. Un­like a reg­u­lar oval shape 'O' type ra­di­a­tor tube, CSF uses a spe­cially engi­neered tube in the shape of a 'B’. The de­sign in­creases the heat trans­fer sur­face area of the tube by ap­prox­i­mately 15% over reg­u­lar tubes, of­fer­ing the ef­fi­ciency of two smaller tubes vs one larger tube within the same space cri­te­ria.

Ef­fi­ciency and heat sta­bil­ity is ex­actly what I was after, as well as a higher qual­ity item, and that's cer­tainly what the CSF ra­di­a­tor of­fers. Fit­ting is straight­for­ward, with all the same fix­tures and fit­tings as the stan­dard ra­di­a­tor. All that re­mains now is to fi­nally fillup with Evans Water­less Coolant at some point, with its higher boil­ing temp and low pres­sure for­mu­la­tion for the ul­ti­mate cool­ing sys­tem. You see, you air-cooled own­ers don't have to worry about this sort of stuff! Oh, and if you fancy fit­ting some CSF rads to your wa­ter-cooled Porsche then not only do they cater for the 996, but most other mod­ern Porsches in­clud­ing Boxster, Cay­man, plus Turbo and GT mod­els. UK dis­trib­u­tor is De­sign 911 and price for the 996 rads is £480 per side.

Fit­ting went smoothly as ex­pected, like­wise with the air-con con­densers. Michael then re-gassed the sys­tem and amaz­ingly it all kicked back into life, with no other parts (dri­ers, com­pres­sors etc) re­quired. And boy, is the air-con icy cold now. A great re­sult.

And the cool­ing sys­tem? Well, that's a slightly trick­ier thing to an­a­lyse, ob­vi­ously, but there is no doubt that it runs cooler on the gauge and is quicker to re­turn to nor­mal temp after run­ning in traf­fic, whereas be­fore it would take some time for the wa­ter temp to fall. There is also a cer­tain peace of mind that comes with know­ing that your cool­ing sys­tem is work­ing at its best.

Any­thing else be­fore I sign off? Oh, yes! While scrib­bling this a UPS van ar­rived and de­liv­ered a big box from Oh­lins con­tain­ing a full 996 coilover kit and I couldn't be more ex­cited. Reg­u­lar read­ers will know that I've twisted my­self up in knots over my 996's sus­pen­sion, re­ject­ing Porsche's MO30 kit and then moan­ing that my Bil­stein/eibach set-up was too stiff for my tastes. I've re­cently driven a cou­ple of 996s on Oh­lins (in­clud­ing Richard Beau­mont's amaz­ing 996 CLR, as fea­tured in the Aug 2017 is­sue), and have been very im­pressed. I will be get­ting the kit fit­ted and set-up for the next is­sue and if I'm still in any way dis­sat­is­fied, then feel free to drop round and run me over with my own car. I would un­der­stand! PW

Left: On the ramp at Clev­er­ley Re­paired Cars. Be­low: CSF ra­di­a­tor is a work of alu­minium art. More ef­fi­cient, too, with greater cool­ing ca­pac­ity over stan­dard

Above left: Hang­ing out with this month’s cover car, Brian Gunn’s sim­i­lar vin­tage 996 C2. Above: Close up of the air-con con­denser, which is clearly past its best

Be­low left: Not a pretty pic­ture. Bot­tom of cool­ing ra­di­a­tor go­ing nicely rot­ten thanks to vul­ner­a­ble lo­ca­tion. Be­low: With front apron off, there’s plenty of room to work on the rads

Above: Not my ra­di­a­tor, but an ex­cel­lent il­lus­tra­tion of the hand-crafted na­ture of CSF ra­di­a­tors

Left: New CSF ra­di­a­tor in situ. Fit­ting is straight­for­ward, be­ing a di­rect re­place­ment and us­ing stan­dard fix­ings. Oh­lins coilover kit. More on that in the next is­sue

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