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Old 05-17-2008, 07:43 PM
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what is the difference between a aluminum rad and brass/copper rad?

what is the difference between a aluminum rad and brass/copper one? They are both new rads

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Old 05-17-2008, 09:15 PM
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You'll probably get as many different answers on this question as you would if you had asked the difference between a Ford and a Chevy.

I like copper/brass. Always have, always will. Never had a failure. No need to change.
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Old 05-17-2008, 09:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by techinspector1
I like copper/brass. Always have, always will. Never had a failure. No need to change.
As a fellow curmudgeon ...
I agree.

A lot of us more " experienced " rodders have used the copper/brass for years. They are easier to repair ... if you have a problem and I believe they are a sturdier type of radiator.
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Old 05-17-2008, 09:34 PM
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Although copper/brass is clearly the better conductor of heat, the aluminum radiators can exchange more heat because they can be constructed from a much thinner wall tube than the brass, and still withstand the pressure.. Also, the cooling fins on an AL radiator are brazed to the tubes, which transfers the heat better than the lead solder that is used in brass radiators.


I never believed that something that was a worse conductor of heat could cool better, until I changed out a couple of brass radiators for AL ones and saw the difference in cooling myself.


We got 20 degrees less operationg temp on a blown 351 windsor in a 34 coupe, after we went from a Brassworks 4row to a Griffin 2 row.....with no other changes.


They also weigh considerably less.

There are drawbacks though, you must run antifreeze, and some guys run sacrificial anodes to keep corrosion down.

Also, I have heard from the circle track guys that if you blow a head gasket and overheat one really bad, the radiator won't cool so well anymore. I do not know how true that is.

There is opinion # 3


Hope this helps,

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Old 05-17-2008, 10:10 PM
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I will take this a step further and say that I think you can install a radiator that is too thick in an attempt to cool your beast. In most situations, a two core will do a fine job. If you're really going to labor the motor, you might go with a three core, but that's as thick as it will ever need to be. By the time the air gets through the third core, it has already absorbed all the heat it's going to and the fourth core will just become a hindrance to air flow. Plus the fourth core adds additional weight and cost that is not necessary in my opinion.

This question about cooling comes up frequently, so I wrote this article for the wiki. You will see from reading it that I am also not impressed with electric fans. Again, engine driven fans have always worked for me and I intend to continue using them. Someone added a nice addendum to it about serpentine cores and tube size. But anyway, if you follow the suggestions given in the article, you will never have a cooling problem.
http://www.crankshaftcoalition.com/w...cooling_system
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Old 05-18-2008, 07:23 AM
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I have a super good friend (friend since grade school) hes been in the radiator business since the 70s, and owned his own business since 1984, he does a lot of business, in everything from heater core sales to repairing and re-coring everything from semis and farm equipment / tractors, and cars PUs. he says he can get a copper brass / radiator with mechanical fans and original shrouds to out cool alum for less money. or if it's a custom setup a copper/brass radiator with a good shroud and a good mechanical fan. he uses electric fans also. he sold his brother a alum rad with 2 electric fans and a nice built alum shroud, it's in a BBC 73 Z28 RS Camaro that cools great and is a nice setup, but wasn't cheap. his brother wanted alum. but as said a good copper/brass 3 row will cool most vehicles or a good 4 row will cool if its not covered or has a restricted air flow, but with good open air flow a 4 row is unbeatable. but he said now he can get a new copper/brass core that has the tubes 3/8" apart instead of 1/2" and it ends up like a 5 or 5 1/2 row core, that will fit in the 4 core tanks. and he said for $400 or so this bigger copper/brass core with tubes on 3/8" centers will cool a BBC vetts, and P/Us that have had cooling problems since they were new. but this cured it. alum is ok and has its place but sometimes can't be fixed when damaged like copper/brass. I'm personally sold on copper/brass and the price is always right where I go

(short story) my son in law has a 72 chevelle with a high compression BBC 496 and 400th with a alum radiator and electric fan that does not cool worth a darn. he went back with the original mechanical fan and original shroud with a copper/bras 4row radiator. and it runs 195 with a 195 degree stat. hes 23yrs old and thought the alum rad was the cats meow. but now knows the factory cooling system still works best.
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Old 05-18-2008, 04:59 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadian78
what is the difference between a aluminum rad and brass/copper one? They are both new rads
Weight is probably the biggest factor with aluminum being considerably lighter.

That said, I'm a lot less than impressed with aluminum's life expectancy, repairability, or cooling capability. Then there's the issue of cost, aluminum being more expensive especially when you look at furnace brazed units.

But then I'm not impressed with plastic engine covers and serpentine belts either. When I build them, that stuff dissappears into the recycle bin.

Bogie
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Old 05-18-2008, 05:15 PM
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I find that younger people tend to embrace new ideas and new technology quicker than us older folks. I think that is a GOOD thing too ...

I believe that the aluminum radiators are a prime example of this. Most of the older experienced rodders want the brass/copper and some of the younger crowd want the lighter, shiny aluminum.

My 1940 Ford coupe with a SBC used a stock 40 Ford split core brass/copper radiator. The radiator was 65 years old when I sold the 40 coupe. It worked great ( and 40's have a reputation for being difficult to cool ). The Walker brass/copper radiator in my 32 Ford roadster is 20 years old.

I do not see aluminum radiators lasting 50 to 60 years ...
I have never owned a aluminum radiator in a vehicle that did not have one originally installed from the factory ... but ... I have seen a lot of 5 to 8 year old aluminum radiators in the newer cars ... need replacing.
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Old 05-18-2008, 06:52 PM
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cooling

Deuce, the old flat heads had 2 water pumps also, and would still get hot. I think flow is the key here. If it goes through to fast, it want get cooled, and if it goes to slow, the engine gets hot from the backup of water not flowing.
I had a 40 chevy 2 dr. sedan with a 355. When I build it, it cooled great. After painting and interior, she started running warmer. I considered alum, ( expensive in 1990. A friend 's uncle had a rad. shop and assured me he could build me a rad. of copper for $120.00 and gar. it would cool my car great. He pull it on a flow bench and show me it would flow almost twice the water chevy recommended.
Long store shortened, it still ran warm. I call him and he said my belt was weak, or my pump weak or bad. I ask my friend at the parts store if I did put a new pump on it when I build it, and said you over kill most everything. Gave a new pump and said change it a see what happens. Ran cool as a cuke. By the way, pull on the belt and see if its rubbery, it is change it. I not crazy about serpentine either, but I live with them on my 99 blazer v6 and 98 explorer v8, just change them once a year for security and safety, PLUS keeping someone a job.
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Old 05-19-2008, 11:42 AM
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Here is a radiator Mfr link - testing and results for the two types...

Cooling Sytstem Testing: Aluminum Vs. Copper and Brass Radiators
Quote:
Our test of similar core designs proves conclusively that aluminum radiators offer no real temperature drop advantage over copper and brass. On the other hand, aluminum radiators weigh about 2/3rds as much as copper and brass units and if your racing, that 9 to 12 pound difference could be real important.
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Old 05-21-2008, 07:59 PM
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Not to mention you can fix a hole in a brass radiator on the side of the road with a propane torch and some solder.
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Old 04-17-2010, 08:15 AM
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Quote:
We've learned, for example, that core design has more bearing on temperature drop than material (copper- brass verses aluminum). We've also learned that 2 rows of 1-1/4" aluminum tubes had only a 3-degree advantage over 4-rows of 1/2" brass tubes at 65 m.p.h and a 2-degree disadvantage at idle. Given the added core thickness of the aluminum radiator we had expected a greater temperature drop...but, it wasn't there."
The tests conducted only show temperature as specific factors.

If for instance these figures showed the air pressure drop characteristics, a simple tweak on the brass radiators, say increase fin densities or even take out the 4th row and raise fin densities, and you would have the brass radiators gaining lost ground and then some.

But there are a lot of things to look at here, fin geometries, louver angles, tube profiles, before any real conclusion can be reached.

Newer aluminum radiators with newer fin and tube designs will outperform older larger copper-brass radiators. Newer copper-brass radiators, however, remain untouchable in raw performance terms.

Note, however, that use of radiators should be application specific. If for instance at maximum speed and free flow both rads work fine, then no problem.

But what if you're say driving a touring car, dicing your way to the front, with your engine maxed out and given you're behind the lead car your radiator isn't getting as much airflow through it?

You are going at maximum speed, at maximum throttle, but your airflow is nowhere near ideal.

Your car's radiator should be able to chuck out as much heat given the limited airflow.

More often than not, in these situations, copper and brass radiators will perform better because of their thinner fins in a higher density packaging.
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Old 04-17-2010, 09:06 AM
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It's all mostly been said in this post. I would have an aluminum radbulit for a car that I was building. There is an obvious weight diff. in favor of aluminum but I like the idea of a really custom shape that utilizes every inch of possible induction area. I put a LT1 in a 47 Merc and the radiator was a serious challenge. It looked like a thing designed on a etch a sketch but we got it done without heating problems. In a pinch a well placed oil cooler will offer a lot of relief in a small chassis. Oh yes, a two row gets the best results for heat transfer from all that I have read.
Bill
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Old 04-17-2010, 09:29 AM
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The aluminization of the radiator industry have more to do with costs than anything else. Aluminum is cheaper by a factor of 2.5 than copper even if it takes more energy to process it.

On a mass production scale, aluminum should be cheaper.

On the other hand, it is possible to design a single row copper radiator with the same performance as a 2 row aluminum unit.

This somewhat mitigates the weight advantage of aluminum but there are other issues that can be more compelling against it for this application.

The primary concern with aluminum radiators especially when paired with an iron block engine, is galvanic corrosion. Improvement in aluminum alloys have made this problem less obvious but say if your ride isn't grounded properly this reaction can be accelerated.
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Old 04-17-2010, 01:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Canadian78
what is the difference between a aluminum rad and brass/copper one? They are both new rads
One and most will say weight but radiators a subtly different so we have to assume of equal capability in that statement.

I can can give you some daily observation as I just changed out the radiator in my 350 powered S15 with no other changes so it's a back to back comparison as it can be.

The original conversion used a 3 row 19x31 brass and copper unit which started leaking where the tubes and tanks are soldered together after 120,000 miles. The replacement is 19x31 Summit with 2 rows of 1-1/4 tubes and is of welded and brazed construction. I run 100% green Prestone, no water, no water wetter.

Both radiators show nearly identical temperatures from start up to shut down over the same highway course in the same time frames for these events.

I say "nearly identical", the aluminum radiator drops temperatures a little faster on long coasting downgrades but settles at the same temp as the brass copper radiator. The thermostat used is 180 degree unit. Coasting down hill at 70 mph the temp is 190 for both radiators like I said the aluminum just gets there sooner when there's no real power demand. Typical average operating temp is 192 to 195 over what around here would be average up and down country side. It climbs to 197 on long steep grades or when I'm pushing top speed at WOT.

So between these aluminum and copper brass units the cooling range the thermostat holds at different power settings basically hasn't changed only the speed of the change within that 190 to 197 band has with the extreme ranges and the average temp in the same place.

Bogie
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