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 |   |  December 2013 Tech Q & A
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December 2013 Tech Q & A

Dec 18, 2013

Two-row same as dual core?

Q What are the differences between single-row, two-row and three-row radiators? Does that tell me how thick they are or how wide they are? Does it have anything to do with what core they’ve got because I’ve also heard of single-core and dual-core radiators? Hopefully you guys can help me pick out what’ll work best for my daily driver Miata.
Temecula, CA

A The number of rows inside a radiator determines how much coolant can pass through at any given time and be exposed to airflow, how well it’ll cool and its overall thickness. But more rows doesn’t always mean better cooling. By design, air also has to pass through the radiator for it to work, and each layer of tubes restricts airflow. The marginally added surface area you might get by adding a fourth, fifth or sixth row will almost always result in restricted airflow. All of this is why radiators are generally limited to one, two or three rows. When designed properly, a well-built three-row radiator can hardly be beat. Before you go worrying about how many rows of tubes a radiator has, though, be sure that whatever you’re considering is made properly. A three-row radiator with plastic end tanks will never work as well as an all-aluminum single-row unit. Finally, forget everything you’ve heard about radiator cores. Despite what the internet tells you, whatever radiator you plan on buying is made up of only one core, which is simply the entire assembly that’s sandwiched in between its upper and lower tanks. Multiple rows does not mean you’ve got multiple cores.

RB Swap

Q I’m not sure if I have the right department, but I want to swap another engine into a stock [Nissan] S13—either a [Chevy] LS or [a Nissan] RB26DETT. I’d rather use the RB. The problem for me is that I want a high-quality mount kit, but all I’ve found for the RB is one that looks trashy. On the other hand, Sikky makes an excellent LS swap kit. If only I could find a high-quality kit like that for the RB. Do you know of any company that offers an RB swap kit that doesn’t look like it came from a junkyard?
Drake J.
Berkeley Springs, WV

A There’s no denying the kind of torque an LS engine will give you and what it can do for your manhood, but there’s something intriguing about the RB swap and not straying far from the S13’s Nissan heritage. Aside from fabricating your own brackets and mounts, you might want to check out Syko Peformance ( The Nissan specialist’s mount kit results in a factory-like fit—if Nissan were to have done such a swap—and is made up of CNC-machined aluminum mounts that are filled with high-durometer polyurethane. According to Syko, the kit’s designed to position the engine rearward for optimal weight distribution and low for adequate hood clearance and a retained center of gravity. Best of all, it looks nothing at all like what you’d find in a junkyard. There’s a whole lot more to the RB engine swap than bolting on a few brackets, though, but fortunately Syko knows all of this and can likely point you in the right direction.

Fuse Popping

Q I recently installed a high-flow fan on my turbo Integra but am constantly blowing fuses. I’m tempted to replace the stock fuse with something bigger, but even though I don’t know exactly how fuses work, I somehow think that’s not a good idea. What do you guys think I should do? My other option would be to go back to the stock Integra fan but, when this one works, it does keep my car cooler while idling.
Toledo, OH

A Your instincts are right this time; replacing the cooling fan’s fuse with a larger one is a great way to start a bonfire in your engine bay. Electrical current creates heat; the more you plan on sending through a section of wire, the thicker that wire’s got to be. Whoever designed your Integra’s electrical system knows all of this, which is why they interrupted that little wire that sends current to your cooling fan with that 15-amp fuse. Try pushing more than 15 amps through that wire like your new fan wants to do and there goes your fuse, which is a whole lot less expensive than a new engine bay, but still. You could stick a 20-amp fuse in there, but the wire will likely overheat and, well, there goes that whole bonfire again. What you need is a separate relay that will allow the fan to be triggered by the existing wire and 15-amp circuit but draw the current it needs directly from the battery through a larger-gauge wire. Relays are nothing more than electrical switches that can be controlled by an existing switch, like in your case, your Integra’s fan switch. Once correctly installed, relays allow a small amount of current to trigger a larger one...and keep innocent cooling fans from burning Hondas like yours to the ground.

Stiffer Isn’t Always Better

Q I’ve been autocrossing my Evo VIII and looking into doing more suspension mods. I’m happy with the power and the BC coilovers that I’ve got, but I think switching to slightly stiffer springs might help me. What do you think? I still want to drive my car on the street, but I’m willing to give up some comfort for better handling.
Wendell, FL

A Stiffer springs might be exactly what you need, but you’d better be sure, otherwise you can really muck things up. Besides tires, springs are the most critical components of your suspension. They keep the chassis from bottoming out, they control the tires over bumps and they control body roll while cornering as well as chassis squat when accelerating. They also determine how load is distributed onto the tires and, of course, establish your car’s ride height. Stiffer or higher-rate springs can help reduce side-to-side body roll, better control front-to-rear weight transfer and provide better overall grip. All of this depends on the road surface and what sort of existing suspension modifications you’ve already made. For example, high-rate springs and rough road surfaces generally don’t play well together. And if you’ve got stiffer sway bars, a whole new element is added to the equation. All of this doesn’t just make for an uncomfortable ride; handling and overall control will also suffer since the tire’s contact patch can more easily lose touch with the road. We’ll assume that whatever course you’ve been autocrossing on is smooth and that you haven’t muddled with your sway bars at all, though, which makes the case for stiffer springs a better one. No matter what spring rates you settle on, be sure that the rear remains about 200 kg/mm stiffer than the front in order to retain the Evo’s naturally neutral feel.

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