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Event Coverage Just The Facts... Overheating SBCs

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Crazy Steve, Aug 19, 2020.

  1. One of the clubs I belong to sponsored a cruise this last weekend (8/16/2020) to escape the heat expected at home (100+ degrees). So a cruise out to the SWW ocean coast was planned, with expected temps there predicted to being in the mid 60s. The weather man was wrong, it was the mid 70s but still, much cooler. Us 'wetsiders' just aren't acclimated for heat much above about 80... LOL. And very few own cars equipped with AC. But it seems lots of other people had the same idea... we hit a 5+ miles bumper-to-bumper back-up getting into/through Aberdeen Washington with temps in the 90 degree range. This is where it gets interesting...

    So as our long line of 'special interest' cars was creeping though this, cars start disappearing. I personally saw a few turn around and head back, and by the time we reached our destination in Ocean Shores the car count was down to 9 when we started with 17. One car went out with ignition issues, all the rest reported overheating. So we start looking at the 'survivors' and realize that with one exception (a original-owner '68 383/4-speed Roadrunner, running hot), all the 'drop-outs' were SBC-powered. The cars that made it without overheating were 4 Fords (one Y-block and three SBF), a Packard, a Olds, and 1 mopar. Two SBCs made it, but both of those also had overheating issues and had to top off their coolant. One (a '28 Essex) opened half his hood during the traffic jam to reduce temps, as he said he wouldn't have made it either without doing this.

    So all this begs the question; are SBCs more prone to overheating? One of the Ford owners claimed that his '51 F1 had a SBC in it when he got it and he chased overheating issues for several years until he swapped it for a SBF, no more issues.

    Thoughts?
     
  2. No defenders of SBCs? Or 'me too' replies?
     
  3. I doubt the problem is engine design. It has more to do with cooling system/air flow design on owner modified cars.
    I suspect a well maintained GM designed factory car with sbc would have had no problem with overheating.

    Phil
     
    nunattax, jim snow, Dino 64 and 6 others like this.
  4. Most of mine overheated.
     

  5. 2OLD2FAST
    Joined: Feb 3, 2010
    Posts: 2,728

    2OLD2FAST
    Member
    from illinois

    Since the early 60's my family , friends and customers have owned just about every make. of car there is , out of all those cars , I don't recall any one in particular having a propensity to overheat. The ones that did had a diagnosable, fixable , mechanical issue . I've never found or witnessed overheating as being brand specific .
     
    jim snow, 31hotrodguy and 1934coupe like this.
  6. tractorguy
    Joined: Jan 5, 2008
    Posts: 660

    tractorguy
    Member

    Going way back.......during and out of high school and before several stints in college......I worked at the local Chevrolet dealer in the 1960's-1970's. During that time I also built a total of seven dirt track stock cars. I have also towed with and abused many smallblock Chevrolet vehicles. Smallblock Chevrolets simply do not have ANY inherent cooling issues........they are very easy to modify properly and race without cooling issues (even with dirt track mud on the homemade radiator shaker screen). If truly this many vehicles failed, I would look at all sorts of stuff before the original design of the engine and original cooling system components........period
     
  7. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 13,774

    DDDenny
    Member
    from oregon

    Edit
    ^^^I obviously type too slow^^^
    Steve, in my fifty years of messing with sbc's I've never really had much problem other than the regular radiator, water pump and thermostat related issues.
    To me this is sort of a hypothetical sounding thread and I know you are hip to this fact but a lot of people need to hear it if they haven't and it's just a little wisdom I've read many times over the years, mostly in hot rod type rags.
    Not a true quote but........many times we focus on getting cool air INTO the engine compartment but not near as much effort is put in getting the hot air OUT.
    Every car is built differently both as an oem and the way each hot rodder mods his car so it is hard to make a blanket statement type fix but usually it involves some creative form of directing hot air out of the engine compartment and under the car.
     
  8. It just struck us as more than coincidence. The two SBCs that made it both had all the cooling system enhancements possible in their engine compartments (closed system, shrouds, aggressive flex fan or electric fan) as did at least one of the drop-outs. I'm going to guess that at least a couple of the other ones did too as they looked like very well built cars.
     
  9. I have heard that most SBC's tend to run cool.
     
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  10. Corn Fed
    Joined: May 16, 2002
    Posts: 2,802

    Corn Fed
    Member

    Did you happen to take note of the manual vs automatic transmission car dropout ratio? I’ve had way better luck keeping my manual trans cars cool than those with autos … and it didn’t matter if they were Ford or Chevy.
     
  11. I'm not going to disagree with you. The two that just made it (the Essex and a model A roadster PU) both had very full engine compartments, headers, no AC and full hoods. Losing the hood sides would probably cure the problem. But one was a '48 Ford sedan, no shroud but a flex fan. Same set-up I had on my SBF-powered avatar which liked to run hotter than I preferred in slow traffic but never overheated. I switched to a clutch fan (to reduce noise) and a shroud with the result being that the car has never gone above 200 degrees since.
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2020
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  12. I'm pretty sure they were all automatics with the exception of the Roadrunner. And I'll agree with the manual vs automatic thing...
     
    31hotrodguy likes this.
  13. yeah never had an issue with a small block overheating because of the engine. My 33 runs hot due to it being 60 over as well as having a full hood with practically blank side so heat has a hard time getting out. Taboo will heat up in slow stop and go, but the ebay radiator and lack of shroud really hurts it. Our 55 Chevy will not top 190 in traffic. My o/t 68 Chevy's dont overheat either normally, one has a stock clutch fan and the clutch went out, but it will not over heat otherwise.
     
    31hotrodguy likes this.
  14. Also Aberdeen is always a mess, does not matter when you go. My car club does a weekend in Ocean Shores every year and I go through there and there is never a time you can roll through town at any kind of speed other than 1-2 mph it seems.
     
  15. Bob Lowry
    Joined: Jan 19, 2020
    Posts: 221

    Bob Lowry

    I had nothing by sbc since 1965, from 265" 's to 406". Had street rods, Malibu's, Camaro's, Nova's, etc.
    I all of those applications, I never had an overheating issue that was motor-design related. This includes
    two blown 350" sbc.
     
    tractorguy likes this.
  16. I guess we've been lucky. We generally do a couple of club-only cruises down that way during the year and this is the first time we've gotten caught like that. I personally avoid the big car shows/cruises because you're right, traffic will suck. Same goes for Long Beach...

    I think there was some hope that this covid thing would keep people away, not so...
     
  17. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 4,224

    Budget36
    Member

    I think it's with how the vehicles were built and maintained.

    I/e I'd be will to bet if the over heaters had a like-kind engine build from Ford/Mopar, etc, same issues would have occurred.

    In you own words you folks aren't used to the heat, guessing the vehicles weren't either.
     
  18. Budget36
    Joined: Nov 29, 2014
    Posts: 4,224

    Budget36
    Member

    That's probably what the rest of the crowd was thinking about you folks as well;)
     
    Crazy Steve likes this.
  19. Sounds like it’s just a crazy coincidence. There are a bunch of other variables to consider before singling out the engine manufacturer. Age, condition of coolant, plumbing, fan placement, size of radiator, A/C or no A/C etc. Someone doing an experiment would need all those things equal in a non-stock application.
    I type slow, just put a 2x behind Bufget36’s first post
     
  20. BigDogSS
    Joined: Jan 8, 2009
    Posts: 860

    BigDogSS
    Member
    from SoCal

    First off, what does "overheating" really mean? I know most hot rodders deem 200 degrees taboo. I, too am guilty. Did these cars inch up over 200, or did they truly "overheat"?
     
    tractorguy likes this.
  21. A lot of the problems come from restricted airflow OUT of the engine bay. It's all good to stuff a lot of cooler air in, but without airflow, that heat transfer doesn't happen, so "thar she blows!". Most engine bays on A's etc, have a motor now which is twice the size than the original, so the hot goodness can't flow through easily. My SBC in a hot rod - constant overheating, SBC's in a regular sedan - never overheated. Many I know here won't go on a stop- start slow cruise in Summer (me too), because there is a good chance of overheating.
     
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  22. 6sally6
    Joined: Feb 16, 2014
    Posts: 1,261

    6sally6
    Member

    Does the fact that 'Shivel-lay' need to run higher oil pressure have anything to do with the "running hot issue"?

    I refer you guys to the Chuck Berry tune "Maybelline" and ....."nothing-can't-stop-my-V 8-Ford.......The rain doing his Ford some good!! (does that mean Chuck was in Washington when he wrote that song ("rain")?! Jus axe'n!:D
    6sally6
     
  23. Jeff J
    Joined: Mar 15, 2007
    Posts: 950

    Jeff J
    Member

    So made 10 trips coast to coast in different roadsters and never had overheating issues ! Other problems as dropping a distributor, fuel pump, transmission mounts just to say a few .The 32 roadster I have now has made 2 trips from North Carolina to fathers day run in Pomona California Not this year ! And we hit some really hot days 120 plus degree days and normally runs right about 165 went up to 180 in the desert in Arizona This one I Have has a aluminum radiator in it and electric fan puller on this one ! (Cooling Components ) Others I have built and drove have had Copper radiators and Aluminum ones. Air flow is the key and timing ! Oh yah the 32 roadster I have that I'm driving has a 383 Stroker Chevrolet Engine and like I said runs cold . photos 1276.JPG
     
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  24. Well, I'll throw one more bit of info out here... When Chevy came out with the LT small blocks, one of the revisions was reverse coolant flow to address, you guessed it, overheating....
     
    ccain likes this.
  25. gsnort
    Joined: Feb 5, 2008
    Posts: 218

    gsnort
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    My '57 GMC with a 292 inline six never goes over 180 while it's moving. However, once in Pigeon Forge, I was in a lonnnnnnnnnnnnnnnng line, not moving at all, and I let the engine idle. Oops, thar she blew!
     
  26. I suppose to really get a 'feel' for this you'd have to poll owners with 'other' motor swaps to see if their experiences are more-or-less the same.
     
  27. BigDogSS
    Joined: Jan 8, 2009
    Posts: 860

    BigDogSS
    Member
    from SoCal

    Hmmm....not true about the LT engines. They wanted to have more uniform cooling in the heads for higher compression ratio. The Gen II small blocks came out nearly 40 years after the introduction of the original small block in 1955. And the trucks and vans DID NOT receive the Gen II small blocks at all, using regular-flow Gen I small block Vortecs up until 1999 in trucks and later in vans.
     
  28. henry29
    Joined: Sep 5, 2007
    Posts: 2,835

    henry29
    Member

    SBC's Don't run hot. I've had a dozen in different hot rods in the last 25 years living in So. IN where we see upper 90's through the summers.
     
    tractorguy likes this.
  29. DDDenny
    Joined: Feb 6, 2015
    Posts: 13,774

    DDDenny
    Member
    from oregon

    Steve, I have a 96 Impala SS (LT-1) and haven't had cooling problems with it.
    Hoping this doesn't muddy up your thread.
     
    tractorguy and OLSKOOL57 like this.
  30. BigDogSS
    Joined: Jan 8, 2009
    Posts: 860

    BigDogSS
    Member
    from SoCal

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