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2 ROW - v - 3 ROW RADS


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Not vehicle specific.


I would be interested to know what people think / experienced by having their car rad upgraded from 2 row to 3 row.


I'm not talking about aluminium rads or rad upgrades; just the standard rad being upgraded to have 3 rows.


Does the extra coolant capacity (probably about 1 pint in most cases) actually make that much difference or is it a case that an electric fan (where fitted to the rad) has to run longer to cool the extra coolant rather than on / off more often to deal with 2 rows.


And of course does the cost of such, warrant such an upgrade ??


Be interested to hear your views / experience on this.


Thank you.





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I "think" there is a bit of the law of diminishing returns. By the time the air has got to the third row is has warmed up, but it must still help. I reckon the pattern of the cores is important too. Does a disruptive pattern work better?


If a rad is being recored, I would pay the extra for a bigger core. If my rad was OK, it would stay unless there was a problem. However, most issues are down to blockages in the cores, so a std recore should be adequate, but we all like a little extra reassurance.

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I had both my Triumph rads recored to three row a few years back; the company used a modern design of core which they told me was more efficient. I hadn't had any cooling problems before that, but decided it could only help guard against overheating and with a good working thermostat there'd be no danger of overcooling. I don't know if Triumph used two row rads as that was the only thing available, or because it was cheap, but it was only core damage that prompted me to change. A good well-flushed original radiator would probably be efficient enough, but I just took the personal choice of going for the uprated core when I had the opportunity. I don't think the extra coolant capacity makes much difference but the increased area for air flow cooling can only help. 

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Been thinking about this. The extra core is useful even if a 2 core is adequate. 

Eventually some of the core tubes will get blocked, even with correct antifreeze the engines have spend many years living a miserable life, so bits of crud will eventually break loose. 

On a 2 core read, if you lose a few tubes cooling may become marginal, but with a 3 core you have so much more spare capacity. So will make for a longer-lived rad (hopefully!!)


However, I still cannot believe how cheap some modern car rads are. Yes, ali and plastic, but they do last perfectly well and cool efficiently. A shame there is not enough demand to get a batch made, but the numbers would be just too high to take the risk. 

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It was pretty common practice to add a row of tubes for export vehicles to warmer climates

so that supports it should be better at cooling but then the stats was often lower to 78c than

the general 82 or 88c for UK


back to chicken and egg, rad or stat



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As a result of my little overheating incident at Triumph fest 2014 I decided to have the radiator on my GT6 Mk3 re-cored with a modern high density core. I'm guessing this has three rows.


The man who did the work said that the old core was in surprisingly good condition when he removed it.


I can't quote specific temperatures but I can report that before the re-core the needle on the temperature guage would be at the half way mark in normal use (which is where I expected it to be).


Now it tends to sit at about the one quarter mark. So it certainly seems to be cooling more than before........

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Hello Dave.


Thanks for that info. I would be interested to know if the modern HD core your chap fitted was indeed 3x row. 1/2 gauge to 1/4 gauge approx is a significant difference.


Best wishes.



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Hi Richard,


We're already close to the limit of my technical knowledge on this one I'm afraid!


I've managed to find a couple of 'before and after' photo's which I think illustrate more tubes and closer packed on the re-core.


Whether it's two rows or three I'm not sure. Unfortunately the car is away being fettled ready for the summer at the moment so I can't go and look at it.


A1 Radiators in Banbury did the work. It's a one man band operation, old school. The man there is very helpful and I'm sure would be happy answer your questions.....







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  • 2 weeks later...

It's all good getting more heat out of the radiator as long as it can get out of the engine bay.

Note how the factory fitted cooling vents on the side of its factory cars to allow the heat out.

The aerodynamics of old cars tends to produce a high pressure area under the front of the cars that produces a dead air zone in the engine bay. A chin spoiler improves things significantly.

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