How many rows is best?

Metzger82

Not-quite-so-new-guy
Dec 15, 2021
40
18
NW Ohio
In the quest for performance I've realized that when it comes to cooling and radiators, I know nothing. I'm building a pretty aggressive Olds 350 for my 1982 Cutlass that I'm planning on doing some bracket racing with but I don't know how many rows in an aluminum radiator I should go with. I'm on a budget but I also want to do it right.
 

ck80

Comic Book Super Hero
Feb 18, 2014
3,900
113
The question isn't as much rows as tube size.

Larger diameter tube, with fewer rows of tube in the core have shown in testing that they offer superior cooling than having more rows in the cores for the sake of more rows.

Many people have different opinions the best buy for the buck. Rather than say on a budget, what's your allocated funds towards the radiator? That will lead to more informed input.
 
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scoti

Royal Smart Person
Supporting Member
Sep 5, 2019
1,544
113
Texas
Brass/copper = more rows of smaller cores/tubes stacked in front of each other.
Aluminum = fewer rows of tubes. Some come single row (over the counter parts replacement stuff) & some have more rows (2 or 3 even) w/various size tubes.

Cheap (budget) electric fans work better w/multi-core aluminum units as they seem to be easier to draw the air through. Higher end electric-fan set-ups can work on both but again seem to fair better when used behind aluminum set-ups. Another struggle is finding budget friendly aluminum radiators that last.
 
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Clone TIE Pilot

Comic Book Super Hero
Aug 14, 2011
3,054
113
Galaxy far far away
Besides tube size there are other factors such as materials and construction methods used. While brass and copper tranfers heat better than aluminum the solder does not. Aluminum welds tranfers heat much better than solder. Larger tubes have more surface area to dissipate heat. Larger tubes combined with few rows increases airflow through the radiator.

One HP is equal to 42.44 BTUs per minute and is generally 1/3 of the heat the engine produces from burning fuel. Another 1/3 of the heat goes out as hot exhaust, the last 1/3 goes out as waste heat from the radiator. Burning 900 HP worth of fuel will only get you about 300HP.

If you know the amount of fuel your engine will consume, then you can figure out how many BTUs that will produce and compute the expected waste heat through the radiator. Then choose a radiator by its BTU rating. One pound of gasoline produces 19,000 BTUs per minute. One gallon of gasoline weighs 5.92 pounds, so 5.92 x 19,000 = 112,480 BTUs per minute. So GPM X 112,480 ÷ 1/3 should give you a ballpark figure.

Besides the heat capacity of the radiator, you also need to be concerned with coolant flow and airflow. You want a low air pressure zone behind the radiator.
 
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jlat

Greasemonkey
Jan 25, 2013
215
28
hello people: What rad. do you have now? IMO a good rebuild or do they call it recore? would work. Get one of additives for x-tra cooling and you should be good. A good working w/pump is a must also.
IBBY
 
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jlat

Greasemonkey
Jan 25, 2013
215
28
Besides tube size there are other factors such as materials and construction methods used. While brass and copper tranfers heat better than aluminum the solder does not. Aluminum welds tranfers heat much better than solder. Larger tubes have more surface area to dissipate heat. Larger tubes combined with few rows increases airflow through the radiator.

One HP is equal to 42.44 BTUs per minute and is generally 1/3 of the heat the engine produces from burning fuel. Another 1/3 of the heat goes out as hot exhaust, the last 1/3 goes out as waste heat from the radiator. Burning 900 HP worth of fuel will only get you about 300HP.

If you know the amount of fuel your engine will consume, then you can figure out how many BTUs that will produce and compute the expected waste heat through the radiator. Then choose a radiator by its BTU rating. One pound of gasoline produces 19,000 BTUs per minute. One gallon of gasoline weighs 5.92 pounds, so 5.92 x 19,000 = 112,480 BTUs per minute. So GPM X 112,480 ÷ 1/3 should give you a ballpark figure.

Besides the heat capacity of the radiator, you also need to be concerned with coolant flow and airflow. You want a low air pressure zone behind the radiator.
I see your a CB superhero. Not to many of them around.
IBBY
 
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64nailhead

Goat Herder
Supporting Member
Dec 1, 2014
4,471
113
Upstate NY
In the quest for performance I've realized that when it comes to cooling and radiators, I know nothing. I'm building a pretty aggressive Olds 350 for my 1982 Cutlass that I'm planning on doing some bracket racing with but I don't know how many rows in an aluminum radiator I should go with. I'm on a budget but I also want to do it right.
Two rows of 1" or 1.25" wide tubes will get it done easily.

Champion CC162 is a direct bolt in with a trans cooler. A little cheaper is an AllStar performance single pass. The AllStar will require some minor mounting mods, but other than that it will fit easily.

Don't overthink this. I ran a stock rad for a MC SS for over a year at well over 700hp. It would get hot, 230-235, at the end of the 1/4 mile but worked fine on the street.
 
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Ugly1

Master Mechanic
Oct 26, 2021
351
43
NH
Easiest way to look up information on this ( Clone Tie pilot shows the number cruncher way, VERY cool!) is looking up through a radiator manufacturer/ seller like Specta Radiator site. Maine Radiator has a site. If your car came with HD cooling as with A/C it will show you the 3 row equivalent in aluminum. Any 26” wide core. To up grade from there is adding additional thickness to core and tanks so you may have to do mods to brackets and rubber mounts. Flow also is a factor.
Copper and brass you need a hi density fin count 24/26 fins per inch I think. Aluminum will transfer heat faster but whether you want plastic tanks or not is up to you. Stronger is a welded tank. You can call these places listed above or Jegs/Summit and they have ways to calculate it best for racing
 

-dw-

Greasemonkey
Mar 15, 2021
122
43
Central MN
Yrs ago I went with cheap single row 28in wide (cut the core supports next to the frame) alum, plastic tank. Its not over kill for my 455 but it does cool just fine.
 
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