Project Civic EF Racecar: Part 4 – Improving Cooling Efficiency with Earl's Performance
It's been a while since Project Civic EF Racecar has had an update outside of the MotoIQ Pacific Tuner Car Championship race coverage articles. So, here we'll take a closer look at the oil cooler upgrade thanks to Earl's Performance. The oil cooler setup which came with Project EF worked fine, however it had some room to improve in regards to overall performance with the core, and durability with the lines. With the heat and abuse a wheel-to-wheel race car can put into the engine oil during 30 minute sprint races, having a cooler configuration with high levels of effectiveness is critical. Also essential, is having lines sized correctly for proper flow and oil pressure.
The original cooler setup on Project EF had high pressure rubber press fit/clamped lines with AN fittings at the ends. This is a great solution to be cost effective since it's significantly cheaper- yet it still has the benefit of AN fittings. The down side is the durability of the lines themselves can be compromised by contact with other objects in the bay, heat, and internal pressure.
The cooler core itself despite being a size that was more than adequate for the engine displacement, was blocked partially by the bumper because of the wide and short grill opening and the square cooler. This was a similar issue with Project 370Z's oil cooler in the past. Another compromise was the thickness of the core's fin design. This is great for resisting damage from debris, which would be a higher concern for off-road style vehicles where such a core is commonly used, but does not exchange heat as effectively than if the core's fins were thinner.
The solution for Project EF's oil cooling came in the form of this setup from Earl's Performance. The core dimensions are more rectangular, which will match the grill opening's shape, making for maximum exposure to air flow, as well as thinner, more efficient fins. Matched up with fresh -10AN stainless braided oil lines and fittings, Project EF's oil should be well taken care of.
Sorting out the placement and fitment for the core and lines wasn't too difficult with the radiator out of the way. What took more time was getting the fittings clocked in the correct manner so that the rigidity of the lines was not putting any awkward tension on the fittings. Also, getting the lines to arc properly from the core to the sandwich adapter on the back of the block proved to be time consuming as well. This task took some trial and error but was well worth the time invested. Once I finished getting the lines and fittings at the ideal angles, small notches were made in the chassis for the bottom tabs to slide into, similar to how a radiator's bottom tabs would slide into the support beam. Simple bracketry was made for the upper tabs to attach to the back side of the bumper beam.
The fins for the core fit perfectly to the grill opening. As you can see from the lighting behind the core, the thinner fins will be cooled more effectively for better temperature reduction of the oil. The trade off compared to the thicker fins from the old core is resistance to damage from debris, but the old core's design was more suited for off-road applications rather than road racing. The Earl's core isn't the thinnest finned cooler I've seen on the market, so this should be a good compromise between efficiency and durability.