Behind the scenes of a car radiator repair and manufacturing company
Car radiator repair and manufacturing – the magic behind the radiator in your engine
No one can deny the importance of a vehicle’s cooling system. However, a radiator is often one of those things that tend to be taken for granted – until it fails. Understanding how a car radiator repair company builds a radiator can be handy when it comes to troubleshooting issues with the cooling system.
The internal combustion engine generates heat – a lot of heat – which has to be dissipated if the engine itself is to have any chance of surviving for a reasonable length of time. Most engines are water-cooled, which is why, when the engine itself is built, the blocks, heads and intake manifolds are cast so they include channels for coolant to circulate through them. However, the coolant itself also needs to be cooled so that when it circulates back into the engine it is capable of picking up the heat again. It is at this point, that the radiator takes centre stage.
How a radiator cools is actually not a complicated process. In simple terms, tubes through which coolant circulates provide the primary source for heat release. The tubes, combined with radiator ‘fins’, provide a broad surface area to facilitate rapid heat dissipation.
The radiator itself is positioned for maximum exposure to cooler air. As air moves through the radiator, and across and through the fins and tubes, heat is carried away. If everything works properly, the temperature of the coolant is maintained at the right operational level and the coolant is ready to be re-circulated back through the engine again to pick up more heat, and so the process repeats.
While overall a really simple concept and process, there is quite an art to how the radiator core, which is where the real science happens, actually works to enable it to do its engine-saving job. Let’s take a look at the build process to help us understand how the radiator functions.
Pieces of the puzzle
The basic parts that go into making up a radiator are brass tubes through which the coolant is pumped, ‘fins’ in an accordion-like zigzag shape, header plates, and tanks for holding the coolant.
To make the fins, a machine stamps a spool of copper to achieve the characteristic accordion-like, zigzag shape and punches holes in them (if the specification calls for them to be ‘louvred’). The lengths are then compressed into an appropriate fins-per-centimetre measurement for the specific specification of the radiator being built.
Building the core
To build the radiator core, alternating layers of fins and tubes are stacked one on top of the other in a process known as ‘core stacking’. How many layers will depend on the dimensions and specifications of the radiator being built?
Once the core has been stacked and soldered or brazed together, the header plates are positioned to hold the tubes and fins securely in place. The header plates also provide a mounting point for the tanks that will hold the correct volume of coolant for the specific engine for which the radiator has been designed.
Want to know more?
For a detailed, step-by-step description of a radiator build, check out this fascinating article written by Connal Grace, following a behind-the-scenes visit to Auckland-based ADRAD National Radiators’ radiator manufacturing plant, the biggest such facility in New Zealand.
More history at New Zealand’s vintage car radiator repair and manufacturing company
Fifteen years ago, when ADRAD purchased National Radiators, that company had already been in business for 82 years, which meant thatADRAD also inherited machinery and tooling from the early years in the history of the motor vehicle.
As a result, ADRAD now has the tooling available to also be able to repair and even produce genuine vintage radiator cores, making it one of the few companies in New Zealand to be able to do so.
Even MOTAT, Auckland’s Museum of Transport and Technology, and New Zealand’s largest transport, technology and social history museum, call onADRAD for help with repairing and restoring the radiators of its museum pieces.
Who are you going to call? 0800radiators of course!
Our experienced onsite radiator specialists can custom build a radiator for all of your cooling requirements – from the family sedan to a treasured vintage Sportster, and everything and anything in between. No matter how specialised your radiator request, if we can’t supply it from stock, we’ll be able to custom make to your specifications.
So, don’t procrastinate – call your local 0800 Radiator specialist today and talk to them about your radiator requirements.