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Is is safe to run a powerglide withoout a fluid cooler?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Muffler Bearing, Mar 5, 2010.

  1. Muffler Bearing
    Joined: Aug 22, 2006
    Posts: 79

    Muffler Bearing

    The car is a '54 sedan with it's original powerglide powered by the original six.

    Long story short, this is the second heat exchanger to rust out and dump all of my coolant.

    My plan now is to run a radiator type fluid cooler but I would really like to just remove the cooler completely for now so I can drive it for a while until I get a new cooler.

    Is it safe to drive the car without any type of trans fluid cooler? I don't plan on going on any long road trips and I drive it slower than my grandmother, but I would like to be able to go drive somewhere about an hour away and still have a working transmission for the drive home.

    Joined: May 23, 2005
    Posts: 4,407

    Alliance Vendor
    from AUSTIN,TX

    I vote no. at the very least, go down to your local parts house and put an aftermarket one in it. super easy to install, and will keep your transmission alive.
  3. Captain Freedom
    Joined: May 6, 2009
    Posts: 262

    Captain Freedom
    from Upstate SC

    Make one. Get some soft copper tubbing from lowes and bend it into a bunch of "S" shapes and clamp it on infront of the rad. Or just buy one, theyre only lik $25 at the auto store
  4. AJofHollywood
    Joined: Oct 3, 2008
    Posts: 641


    If you said you were just going drive to the grocery store and back, I would think that were fine. But any driving for more the 15 minutes, that fluid may overheat and start breaking down. When it starts smoking, it's time to pull over.
    The others are right, a $25 trans cooler will work fine, even if you tie-strap it to frame it will provide some cooling.

  5. Muffler Bearing
    Joined: Aug 22, 2006
    Posts: 79

    Muffler Bearing

    Great. Thanks for the help guys.

    I went down to the local parts store and they have one for $25 that comes with about 2 feet of line and some straps to attach it to the radiator and some other misc hardware. just need to figure out where and how to attach it and still have it look nice.
  6. when times were lean we always went down to the local radiator shop or hit up the local junkman and grab the lower tank out of a later model radiator with plastic tanks and used the cooler out of that. never had any problems and easy to mount on frame rail.
  7. brad chevy
    Joined: Nov 22, 2009
    Posts: 2,627

    brad chevy

    Dont drive it at all without cooler,hell its only takes about $30 and a hour of your time to fix the thing.and it wouldn"t be a bad idea to install an aluminum radiator the first chance you get.
  8. hotrod40coupe
    Joined: Apr 8, 2007
    Posts: 2,562


    Like everyone has said, don't drive it. Put a cooler on it.
  9. 29nash
    Joined: Nov 6, 2008
    Posts: 4,544

    from colorado

    It will work well back under the car near the transmission.
  10. David Chandler
    Joined: Jan 27, 2007
    Posts: 1,101

    David Chandler

    At one time I worked with a guy who just connected the incoming and out going lines and drove it that way for several years. Everyone including myself thought he was nuts. Likewise he didn't change the engine oil. He swapped filters and added enough to fill it up. I'm glad I didn't end up with his car when he was done with it.
    I had one powerglide in my life and discovered to my horror the fluid had turned black and had metal chips in it. It had well over 200K miles on it though. No cooler other than the oem radiator set up. It still worked well enough not to notice it when I discovered it. And by then the thing was so rotted out I sent it to the junkyard. I could see my feet when I opened the trunk.
  11. RDR
    Joined: May 30, 2009
    Posts: 1,363


    my 34 pickup had the old iron glide & 283...had an aeroquip line out and back in with no cooler...i ran that pickup all over the state of Oregon in the 80s for a few years and raced it at the oldies drags and truck drags for 4 or 5 times...never had a problem....the early automatic cars never used a cooler...heavy cars and towing trailers etc finally caused the overheated automatics to require coolers...
  12. sdluck
    Joined: Sep 19, 2006
    Posts: 2,808


    The cooler is in the rad for at least 2 reason,1. To cool the fluid,2. To help the fluid warm up from the coolant. It is recommend to run the aftermarket cooler after the rad cooler.
  13. Tman
    Joined: Mar 2, 2001
    Posts: 35,132


    Some later powerglides actually had fins on the converter and holes in the housing, air cooled. My tranny guy here said the biggest deal is to get teh fluid OUT of the tranny for a bit. I have looped a 6' stick of 3/8" line out the tranny and never had an issue. Most of the cheapie parts store coolers have about the same if not less cooling area.
  14. draggin'GTO
    Joined: Jul 7, 2003
    Posts: 1,773


    Air-cooled Powerglide from an early six-cylinder Chevy II:

  15. Zookeeper
    Joined: Aug 30, 2006
    Posts: 1,042


    I put over 100,000 miles on the well-used C4 trans in my old Model A pickup with no cooler whatsoever, so I say yes, it's perfectly safe. Your mileage may vary...
    Joined: Jan 13, 2004
    Posts: 2,760


    Ok fellas, lets use some logic here. If your radiator is 180 degrees and the fluid runs thru there how much is it going to cool the fluid?
    For what it's worth I run a aluminum P.G with a 4800 stall convertor round after round at the races without any cooler, It's only been doing that for 4 years. I believe that the radiator cooler is more designed to be a heater for cold weather. If manufacturers wanted to cool the trans why did they put it in an evironment thats 180 degrees? Wouldn't it have been easier and cheaper to run it in front of the radiator? When pickups started offering tow packages did they make the radiator cooler bigger, no they offered external air flow coolers.
    I would bet you can run most automatics on a daily basis for years without a cooler. Just my opinion I could be wrong.
    On a side note ,next time you are driving on the hiway and pull in for gas ,use your heat gun on the inlet and outlet tubing at the radiator trans cooler. I would be surprised if there was 1 degree difference.
  17. squirrel
    Joined: Sep 23, 2004
    Posts: 50,175


    I worked on a truck for a guy years ago, it had a short loop of tubing connecting the cooler line fittings together (th350), it ran that way for years and years....I told him he ought to do something about it, but he never did.

    A cooler in the radiator that keeps the trans fluid temp under 200 degrees does all you need. A liquid to liquid heat exchanger (like OEM internal radiator trans coolers) is very efficient.

    Put a cooler on it, but don't worry about taking a few drives before you get it connected. Try not to get stuck in heavy traffic on a hot day, though.
  18. rottenleonard
    Joined: Nov 7, 2008
    Posts: 1,974


    I've been running a sp400 behind my 401 nailhead for years with the coolerlines just looped back, at first it was just to drive it a little but as things happed it got put on the back burner, now several years later and tons of miles the fluid looks just as pink as when I put it in there. I was talking with the BG guy the outher day he was saying(and I've heard outhers say it) for every 15 degrees over 180 degrees you cut the fluid life in half and the fluid will start to oxidate (turn dark) so I figure at this point and as long as it has lasted I'm just going to change the fluid if and when the fluid gets darker. Ya I know a cooler isn't hard to do but I've got no shortage of things on the to do list that are also getting ignored so I can do what I want to do instead.
  19. AllSteel36
    Joined: Jul 20, 2009
    Posts: 562

    from California

    Without running through the radiator, fluid can exceed 180 (or whatever Stat you have), running through 180 degrees can bring down fluid temps, or maintain fluid at that temp.
  20. Muffler Bearing
    Joined: Aug 22, 2006
    Posts: 79

    Muffler Bearing

    As I said before, I got a small cooler from the local parts store. Last night I figured out a good way to attach it to the front of the radiator. I figure if I'm gonna put it on there, I'm gonna make it work as best I can. Besides, the cooler with flanges to bolt it up to the frame rail was $60 and the one that zips right on to the radiator was $25.

    Thanks for the input on getting an aluminum radiator, but I just got a brand new oem style copper core and it cools this bone stock 235 just fine. If I could get one that cost under $700 and didn't look like it belonged on a race car, maybe, but the copper core works great.
  21. twofosho
    Joined: Nov 10, 2005
    Posts: 1,153


    FWIW; OEM or aftermarket trans coolers, or just looped lines, if you connect in with nipples and hose clamps on the flex line, even multiple clamps, don't be surprised to find leaks at the connections over time.

    I put a B & M plate type transmission cooler in an O/T 5.0 convertible about five years ago. This was one of the ones that came with nipples instead of fittings to connect the lines to. I made sure the hard lines were flared and double clamped and still, if I don't periodically tighten up the clamps, I find ATF blowing back onto the exhaust to the point I have people asking me if my car is on fire right after I've parked it.
  22. Muffler Bearing
    Joined: Aug 22, 2006
    Posts: 79

    Muffler Bearing

    if i understand the shop manual for this trans, maximum fluid pressue is 16-22psi for this part of the system on my trans. high pressure lines with flared fittings will be just fine for me. thanks for the advice though.
  23. 29nash
    Joined: Nov 6, 2008
    Posts: 4,544

    from colorado

    Many, many, OEM used hoses with clamps at the radiator.
  24. ugotpk
    Joined: Nov 3, 2008
    Posts: 503


    My God, Some of you back yard machanics drive me nuts. Yes you want to use a cooler.
    Do you think if the factory could get away with not using one they wouldn't do it. 1 cooler time 5 million cars = 25 million dollars Dah. Why try to second guess the engineers. Unless it's a British it probably works right. Coolers in radiators are in the end of the radiator where the fluid has already been cooled. It is not at engine temp. So COOL IT.
  25. 40StudeDude
    Joined: Sep 19, 2002
    Posts: 9,467


    Go to a local pick-a -part and buy one out of a GM pick-up, about $5-10.00...usually mounted in front of the radiator, complete with lines...

    I've mounted mine under the car, inside the frame rails with homemade louvers to direct the air (running 500" Caddy with a brand new T-400 tranny)...put almost 4,000 miles on it last summer (several long distance trips of 500-600 miles) and never had a problem.

    It's not rocket science the fluid.


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