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Thread: Radiator Spring Cleaning

  1. #1
    The Other Red ZAchterbahn's Avatar
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    Exclamation Radiator Spring Cleaning

    I remember having read somewhere about the importance of keeping and eye on the Z8's radiator. The coolant temperature gauge may not react fast enough and fail to provide timely warnings in the event of elevated operating temperatures.

    So this past Sunday I decided to remove the front grill parts and inspect what is going on behind the scenes. The photos below demonstrate what I found - hard to believe. In all I removed about 2 quarts of debris firmly compacted between the big plastic housing around the fan and the radiator.

    Mostly dry leaves, half a pack of cigarette buds, a KFC ketchup wrapper, the bottom of a white styrofoam cup, a piece of building insulation the size of an iPhone - the last one being firmly stuck to the uncovered part of the radiator!

    There are 8 flaps of varying sizes placed in the plastic housing around the fan. I suppose the intent is for them to open at certain speeds to allow more airflow to the radiator. In my case only the flaps on the top opened freely. The four in the lower portion of the housing were stuck shut due to all the debris that had accumulated behind them. 4 out of 8 adds up to 50%.

    The car is new to me and while mechanically sound and well serviced according to Classic BMW in Plano it is obvious that its previous owner did not care too much about cleanliness in detail. My first act after the acquisition was the removal of both seats and anything I was able to unscrew inside the passenger compartment for a thorough cleaning. In comparison to what I found stuck inside the radiator housing the condition of the cabin was benign.

    That said, the car's exterior was well maintained, no door dings, hardly a stone chip, nicely waxed paint, excellent wind shield glass.

    Fact is, neither the servicing BMW dealer, nor a hired exterior cosmetics crew will dig in deep enough to do the cleaning and maintenance where it is needed most.

    So grab your screw drivers, vacuums and air compressors to free your radiators and let them breath again. It may become a matter of engine life or death.

    Happy Motoring,


    Christian

    Your BMW Z8 Club, e.V. Chairman Public Relations
     
    ZAchterbahn
    2001 Z8

  2. #2
    DSC Off StuM's Avatar
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    Dang!

    Thanks Christian, Great pix. I need to look more closely at my Z8. Looks like the darn things can be real vacuum cleaners for road trash and leaves!
    Stu
    StuM
    2013 M3 Lime Rock Edition coupe (sold)
    2011 Audi R8 V10 Spyder (sold)
    2011 6.2L Raptor
    2002 BMW Z8 (sold)
    1967 Corvette 427 roadster
    2013 Maser MC convt
    2014 BMW i8 (pending)

  3. #3
    Administrator thegunguy's Avatar
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    Thanks for the reminder. I remember J?rgen publishing this several years back. Definitely something that you don't want to overlook.
    thegunguy

  4. #4
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    Great thread guys, thanks. I need to do my clean out!

  5. #5
    Team Z8 jawz's Avatar
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    Christian - I've been testing a solution to minimize this "debris collector" for over a year now.

    To make a long story short, I've prototyped a screen guard to fit the upper and lower grills of the Z8. The screen fits behind the grill bars and can be installed and removed very quickly without being a permanent change so it won't affect the originality of the car. The screen is made from readily available material with pretty common hand tools. To see how the grill looks, you can go to the top of this website and select "Community", then "Photos and Albums" from drop down menu, then "Jawz's Album" - at least I think everyone can access those albums.(?) These screens can be painted flat black, chromed, or body color as you wish. In my case (black car w/chrome wheels) I wanted to brighten the front of the grill area in a subtle way, so I chromed my screens. This may not be for everyone, but I liked the "lift" these screens provided. If you paint them flat black, they will probably essentially disappear and look very stock. To be completely honest, I haven't completed a radiator clean out like Christian shows above since I installed these screens, but once you see the way they fit, I'm confident it reduced (possibly eliminated?) the debris collection in the radiator area.

    I've had this installed on my car for over a year now because I wanted to make sure there were no deleterious affects like overheating, rattles, etc., before posting this on the Board. Being in the Phoenix area where temps frequently reach 115 degrees F in the summer, one of my main concerns was the screen reducing the airflow through the radiators enough to result in overheating. I'm happy to report that I've seen no tendency to overheat, no rattles or anything.

    I wanted to have my results validated so I contacted ///Blitz to see if he might be interested in trying it on his car. I sent the prototype screen patterns to him and provided all the technical details needed to duplicate these screens for his car. It looks to me like he did a great job of building a set of screens for his car and sent them off to be painted flat black. I don't know if he has been able to install his yet, but I hope he can weigh in here to tell what his experience has been.

    If anyone is interested in more details, PM me and I can provide more details without cluttering up this posting. If you can't access the album referred to earlier in this thread, I can post other pictures here if necessary.

    Andrew - I've tried to post photos, but they always post upside down in the preview. How do I fix that?

  6. #6
    Wow, I have no idea why they'd post upside down, never seen that before?
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  7. #7
    The Other Red ZAchterbahn's Avatar
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    Terry,

    Sounds like an interesting improvement. Can you email a few photos to me?

    The bad thing is that unless one gets on his belly to eyeball the radiator or one puts the car on a lift, everything looks nice and clean. The area visible behind the fan did not look bad at first sight. Only opening the flaps revealed the problem, aside from the congested area to the right of the fan housing, which is not covered but ended up with a piece of insulation stuck in the plastic frame packing leaves behind and above it.

    Just looking at a clean portion of the radiator through the front grill does not necessarily reveal the whole picture. I am ready to try your screen guard or add some other type of wire mesh behind the grills. Maybe not the Mercedes kind for fear of Dieter our Club tech wizard, but something along the line of Bentley which is more sporting than a Rolls-Royce grill from the BMW parts bin.
    ZAchterbahn
    2001 Z8

  8. #8
    Team Z8 jawz's Avatar
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    Andrew - I'll post one here to see what happens. I click on "manage attachements", then "Browse" on "upload files from your computer", select the pic, the "Upload". Once it's all done, the pic shows up on the "Attach Files" section and here's what I get...

    I even tried to save my pic upside down and uploaded that one but miraculously, the pic still came up upside down. Christians pics seem to have posted OK, so ???
     

  9. #9
    I just dragged your pic onto my desktop and opened it in Photoshop, and it is upside-down! What program are you using? What is really strange is your image has been stripped of all it's Metadata, so I can't even see at what point in it's life it got flipped, or what camera or program you're using.

    Anyhow, I just did a 180? rotation, and here it is straight off my desktop...

    and by the way, I want a grill set like that!!
     
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  10. #10
    I didn't know about the flaps near the radiator! I'll take a peek under the flaps next time I pull the car out of the garage and retrieve any debris with a pick-up tool. I like the look of the metal screen behind the grill. I remember another member had performed a similar modification.
    My Best,

    Ed

    2002 Z8 Jet Black//Sport Red
    2012 SLS AMG Obsidian Black/Classic Red

  11. #11
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    That mesh seems a little tight. Won't it restrict air flow?

  12. #12
    Team Z8 jawz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Norcal View Post
    That mesh seems a little tight. Won't it restrict air flow?
    That's one of the reasons I waited so long to post this. I drove the car locally and on some long trips to So. Cal and northern Nevada during last summer and didn't see any indication of overheating. And you know, to go anywhere from Phoenix takes a good day's drive before you get out of the heat.
    I think the chrome in this picture may make it look tighter than it really is.

  13. #13
    Team Z8 jawz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macfly View Post
    I just dragged your pic onto my desktop and opened it in Photoshop, and it is upside-down! What program are you using? What is really strange is your image has been stripped of all it's Metadata, so I can't even see at what point in it's life it got flipped, or what camera or program you're using.

    Anyhow, I just did a 180? rotation, and here it is straight off my desktop...

    and by the way, I want a grill set like that!!
    Thanks Andrew. That looks a LOT better. It was an iPhone picture that I moved to the computer. The only thing I might have done to it was crop it to eliminate some of the background and I don't remember what I used to do that...maybe iPhoto? Nothing special...

  14. #14
    Team Z8 jawz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by macfly View Post
    I just dragged your pic onto my desktop and opened it in Photoshop, and it is upside-down! What program are you using? What is really strange is your image has been stripped of all it's Metadata, so I can't even see at what point in it's life it got flipped, or what camera or program you're using.

    Anyhow, I just did a 180? rotation, and here it is straight off my desktop...

    and by the way, I want a grill set like that!!
    Andrew, we can fix you up with one pretty easily. I'm not sure how close you are to Carlos, but if you get a chance to see him, he may have his installed by now. OR you can possibly see it before installation.

  15. #15
    I'll be seeing Carlos for our 'Old Friends' get together in Carmel in May, so I'm sure I'll see it then, but I'd love one, its a great idea!
    Andrew Macpherson

    Expert Z8 Inspections, with full support for both Z8 sale and purchases.

  16. #16
    Sport Button On otomo's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting this, Christian. When I received my car I knew there were some leaves in there and made a mental note to do this, then forgot until you posted. I opened up the front grill and radiator, went a little further than just checking into the flaps and did the cleaning today, and am very lucky I did with the amount of debris I found in there:

    Here's what we first found, just opening the grill, the cursory pull out of the leaves in front:

    And then dug a little deeper:



    Yikes! 10 years worth of debris in their from styrofoam to leaves to cigarette butts. Thanks freeway. It's all clean now, and the AC is running much stronger than it was an hour ago.

  17. #17
    Z8 Ate My Homework! Norcal's Avatar
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    I cleaned out the front lower flaps etc today... Not much at all, but I haven't checked behind the fan yet.

  18. #18
    The Other Red ZAchterbahn's Avatar
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    Glad to see some hands on action and bonding with our awesome machines going on here! Love otomo's approach tackling the situation from the top while I was crawling in from underneath. Darwin at his best! I need to remember this for next time.
    ZAchterbahn
    2001 Z8

  19. #19
    Dumb question, but does anyone know how to remove the four plastic screws that retain the black plastic panel that must be removed to clean behind the radiator? They don't just screw out, and I don't want to mess them up.......

  20. #20
    Quote Originally Posted by jawz View Post
    Christian - I've been testing a solution to minimize this "debris collector" for over a year now. I wanted to have my results validated so I contacted ///Blitz to see if he might be interested in trying it on his car.
    Terry, apologies I've been derelict in my duties. I've had the screens back from the powder coater for about six months, but have not driven the Z8 out in the open roads and I've been putting one of my other cars back together (which has been a real challenge), so I've not installed them yet. The Z8 is on jack stands as we speak (or type) for the biennial change of all fluids in preparation for our 'spring fling' drive and I will be installing the screens. I'll test them thoroughly on that drive and Mcfly and Norcal will be able to see them perform. I'll report back to you and everyone else after the drive.
    C.A. Cardenas (AKA Dan)2003 (last one?) Z8 - Hellrot / Sport Rot Original Owner - Munich Tourist Delivery-- Others --1988 M6 - 32K mi. - Original Owner1989 DINAN 750iL - 73K mi. - Original Owner1998 M3 - 63K mi. - Original Owner2015 X5 (F15) Diesel - Daily Driver2008 Porsche Turbo Cab - 9K mi. (Mezger motor/6-sp. manual)

  21. #21
    Team Z8 jawz's Avatar
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    No problem Carlos. I hope you can get them installed and tested and am anxious to see what you think. I think this is one way others may capture some peace of mind by keeping various and sundry things out of the radiator rather than having to disassemble everything for cleaning. I think you'll like them, but let me know how it goes.
    Thanks,
    Terry
    ALPINA #480/555
    62502
    Jet Black/Crema-Black

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by jawz View Post
    I think this is one way others may capture some peace of mind by keeping various and sundry things out of the radiator rather than having to disassemble everything for cleaning.
    I just found out yesterday that it goes much further than we knew. While replacing the radiator (see my other post about the plastic radiators) I found an incredible amount of road garbage between the radiator and the condenser. Those folks just cleaning at the bottom (front of condenser) like the Club suggested are in for a very rude awakening. And my car only has 12K miles and has a Concours clean engine bay, imagine those with 20K, 30K...
    C.A. Cardenas (AKA Dan)2003 (last one?) Z8 - Hellrot / Sport Rot Original Owner - Munich Tourist Delivery-- Others --1988 M6 - 32K mi. - Original Owner1989 DINAN 750iL - 73K mi. - Original Owner1998 M3 - 63K mi. - Original Owner2015 X5 (F15) Diesel - Daily Driver2008 Porsche Turbo Cab - 9K mi. (Mezger motor/6-sp. manual)