Sunbeam Alpine V6 Restomod: Adjustments to the Cooling System

In preparing for the removal of the engine, I began disassembling the cooling system. The one thing that always bothered me with this conversion was how the radiator tied into the engine. The common way the radiator is piped is to relocate the bottom outlet to the other side of the radiator in order to tie into the water inlet. The engine water inlet is on the driver’s side of the engine. The problem is the outlet of the radiator and the water inlet of the engine have to be perfectly aligned for the hose to fit well. Even if you get the inlet and outlet to line up, there is a certain amount of tomfoolery required to get the hose in place and seal up properly. A Sunbeam Alpine forum user came up with a novel solution, keep the stock orientation of the Sunbeam Alpine radiator and run a radiator hose along the front of the car under the radiator. This modification makes removing the radiator a simple process and does not require 4 hands to install the radiator into the system. This is kind of confusing but I’ll explain.

Location of the Water Inlet for the 2.8L V6
How the inlet hose ties into the radiator
Bottom of the radiator tying into the inlet hose

In the pictures below, you can see how the engine inlet and the radiator tie into each other. From the radiator outlet to the engine inlet, there is about 4″ of radiator hose. Removing/installing this hose is more than difficult. To make matters worse, the radiator fan must be installed ahead of time, and installing the radiator while trying to install the hose and not damage the radiator fins is an exercise in futility. So after you have finished, you have bent fins, bloody knuckles, and a hose that potentially won’t seal. I think you get the picture. There had to be a better way. 

The Sunbeam Alpine modified radiator with the bottom outlet rotated 90 degrees
Installed and trimmed Gates P/N:22080

The first order of business was to have the radiator modified back to the original configuration of the radiator inlet on the top left and the outlet on the bottom right. The only change from the original configuration was the rotation of the outlet 90 degrees toward the driver’s side. This setup would allow for the cross-flow of the radiator and utilize the recommended Gates P/N: 22080 hose which would tie the radiator outlet to the engine inlet. The picture on the right shows the trimmed hose prior to installation. This setup allows for flexibility in the radiator installation and the hose can even be installed after the radiator is installed.

Close up of the Installed Hose on the Radiator Outlet
Close up of the installed hose on the Engine Inlet

After trimming the hose and installing the hose, the final fit-up was quite easy. This is a simple solution to a complicated problem. This solution solved the problem of having to fight the installation of the radiator and all it cost was a radiator show to relocate a couple of inlets and outlets on the radiator and $20 for Gates radiator hose. The one issue I would still need to address was how the hose was going to be secured under the radiator. After some thought, I decided a couple of p-clamps secured with rivet nuts would secure the hose in place and prevent the hose from coming in contact with the mechanical fan. There was a perfect piece of sheet metal above the hose and below the radiator where the p-clamps could be secured to. The secondary advantage of the hose is that it does block airflow under the radiator. However, this only solved the problem at the bottom of the radiator. 

Original water outlet orientation
Modified Water outlet orientation

The secondary issue was the water outlet at the top of the engine. The coolant outlet of the engine faces toward the passenger side of the engine as shown in the upper left photo above. The water outlet needs to move to the drive side in order to mate up with the radiator. The forum member solved this issue by cutting off the neck and rewelding it to the other side of the engine. This relocated the hose and allowed for the whole system to work properly. I purchased the modified neck and it fits perfectly on the engine. However, the final fit-up would have to wait until the engine is back in the car and married to the transmission. Once that happens, the modified cooling system will be checked for any issues. Motor on.