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MG MGA - Electric Cooling, conclusion and success!

Results of running with no water pump mounted fan, just a Revotek thermostatically controlled electric fan.

The electric fan was not looking like it could cope with doing all the cooling by itself. As we got into warmer weather, I was seeing higher and higher temperatures on the gauge, between 200-212F at normal road speeds with the fan barely able to get the temperature down to 205F at stationary tickover. I had been running with a brand new radiator from MGOC, but that performed no better than the one I took out, so at Steve Gyles suggestion, I sent my old radiator to Bob West to be re-cored. What a difference! I have my electric fan thermostat set at 212F and it takes about 5 minutes of ticking over with the temperature at what seems to be the normal 190F before it starts to climb towards the fan cut-in point. Once the fan starts, it takes less than 5 minutes for it to drop the temperature down to just under the 190 mark. Whilst the car is moving at anything over 20 MPH, the temperature stays at 190, even at 70+, so under normal conditions, the only time the fan starts is when the car is stationary for more than 5 minutes.
We have just had a week in The Lake District and whilst it wasn't exactly hot, the cooling system worked well on the passes, the highest temperatures we saw whilst climbing the 1-in-4 and 1-in-3 hills was 212, and this would drop rapidly once the crest was found.
So in conclusion, the answer to the question "can an MGA be cooled by just an electric fan?" is yes, it appears to work under normal UK conditions providing you have a 'high efficiency' radiator which Bob west can supply.
P.S. I never dared to calculate my fuel consumption before I removed the mechanical fan, but I know it was somewhere in the mid twenties. The fuel comsumption over the last 1,082 miles (without mechanical fan), which includes driving round The Lake District with its ups and downs, is 31.325 MPG (that's imperial gallons).
Lindsay Sampford

Wow, that sounds good. About 4 years ago just before we travelled to Whistler BC over 6,000 miles I noticed a weep in my original rad ('57 MGA) I got nervous so purchased one of the Moss "Chinese" radiators. I looks great has had no problems at all, and the cooling rate was pretty well identical to the original, just by seat of the pants judgement. We get some extreme heat here and it coped quite well on that trip except on one 20 minute long climb on a day that was 108 F. At any rate I spoke to a friend of mine who has a 100-6 Healey and he had his original rad re-cored with a "double core" and he said the difference was dramatic. I kept the original to maybe recore someday, and I think your experience
has convinced me to have it done. It is not cheap to have it done here, that's why I bought the Chinese rad in the first place.
That rise and fall of the temperature gauge that happens when you go up and down hills and mountains: We like to call that the "Altimeter Effect"



Needless to say I am delighted with your progress. My colleague found similar cooling improvements when he went the 'Bob West' route with a close to original radiator. I know I have ranted and raved over recent years about getting 'standard' layout radiators back into MGAs when owners have overheating problems - after all that is how the cars came out the factory - so it is good to see positive evidence forthcoming.

And no, I am not on commission from Bob, but I listen to his wisdom as I do from Barney.

Steve Gyles

That is great news

What is important is the fact that if a car engine overheats the thermostat when travelling then the cooling system is at fault not the fan

The fan should only be required when traveling very slowly in traffic as you have now noted.

Don't know the spec of my core except to say when building the car I simply had my radiator recored by the local rad specialist after which in the last 8 or 9 years has cooled my car perfectly.

I do now have an electric fan also, but kept my mech fan as well however I have never used my electric fan which is on a seperate switch. I do feel one extremely hot day somewhere in the south of France it will prove more efficient than my mechanical fan when standing in traffic, until that day I guess it will wait in anticipation! :)

I do however like the idea of more MPG at present I get about 35MPG when touring around Britain and Europe so perhaps I could improve on that if I were to remove my fan, I think I may test that maybe next year.

I have a 45dcoe fitted so I am not supposed to get such economy or is it that mine is set up correctly LOL.
Robert (Bob) Midget Turbo

I have always had a standard core in my radiators, no hi-performance stuff for me here. Never ever had overheating problems - in fact I have had more issues with over-cooling.

The chinese things kept springing leaks, so I had my old original re-cored to original specs. Cost only $100 US more than the chinese thing (labour rates are really high here) but the quality is in a different league. I would always go for a recore, but stay away from the high performance cores, just go standard as Steve and I have both had very positive experiences.
dominic clancy


when the fan will be switched on at a lower temp it will have less work and the coolant will stay colder uphill.
Just expierience and logic I think.


Siggi, that's a good comment and would work if there wasn't such a large differential between cut-in and cut-out on the thermostat. The natural running temperature (no fan) on a level road seems to be just short of 190F. If I set the fan to start at 212F, it cuts out just above 190F, so if I set the thermostat any lower I will have a situation where the fan runs all the time. 212F is not hot, after all, the 7lb rad cap is designed to stop the coolant from boiling at anything up to 230F, so if the coolant temperature was never intended to get to 212F there would be no need to pressurise the system. Hot is when the needle climbs beyond the 230 mark!
Lindsay Sampford

What average temperature did your car run at before when it was fitted with the mechanical fan as compared to now with the electric fan only Lindsay?

The difference in temperature is of great interest to me as it will probably make me decide whether or not to go the same route as you and fit an electric fan instead of the mechanical one.

Glad you have finally sorted it

Colyn Firth

Colyn, never below 190 once warmed up, even on a cold day, and usually just short of 212 on a normal summers day. The fins on my first radiator and the one that replaced it, just went straight across horizontally. The fins on the 'Bob West' radiator are in a tight zig-zag pattern top to bottom, the tubes are in-line rather than staggered. Have a look at your core and see if you have the same type. Try taking the fan off, if the temperature stays at about 190F between 30 and 70 MPH with the engine well warmed up, you shoud be able to run with just an electric fan. If it gets hotter don't worry, just head for home, as long as you don't get above 230 (very unlikely unless your ignition is seriously retarded) it'll be just fine.
Lindsay Sampford

I can add an interesting sideline to the MGA cooling issue.

I have the "Car Supplements" of the Consumers' Association magazine "Which?" from 1962. One of the cars tested was an MGA 1600 MkII.

One of their tests was to determine the temperature of the ambient air that would cause the water to boil when the engine was left on tickover. Here are the results (deg F)

Hillman Super Mink 141
Singer Vogue 131
Austin A40 121
Renault Dauphine 113
Triumph Herald S 113
Saab 112
Ford Consul 107
BMC Mini 107
Triumph Herald 1200 104
BMC Mini Cooper 98
Austin A60 98
Morris Minor 97
Ford Anglia 92
Sunbeam Alpine 92
Vauxhall Victor 89
Ford Popular 83
MGA 81
Ford Classic 80
Geoff E

Very interesting Geoff. Was there a narrative regarding that?
N McGurk

Hey Lindsay! Fancy coming all this way and not popping in for a cup of tea and a piece of cake! Whinlatter, Honister and Newlands passes are just on my doorstep!
N McGurk

I drove over Newlands in April last year in the 'B'. I was aiming to go over Honister but took the wrong turning at Buttermere. Doh! My electric fan started up just as I went over the top.

We set off for Scotland tomorrow ... Skye's the limit!
Geoff E

I'm kicking myself Neil! Tuesday (24th) evening was so pleasant we just went out for an aimless drive, we could have easily come to see you! We did Honister and Winlatter on Wednesday so we must have practically been on your doorstep. The MGA charged up the hills no problem.... until we got stuck behind people with twice the horsepower who insisted on doing it at about 10MPH! Takes all the fun out of it.
Sorry we didn't come to see you, would have if we had known where you were but Cumbria covers such places as Whitehaven, Workington and Barrow! Definitely next time.
Lindsay Sampford

More on the "Which?" tests.

They also did a test to find the air temperature in which it would boil "at top speed".

Triumph Herald 1200 149
Sunbeam Alpine 144
MGA 131
Ford Anglia 129
Austin A40 114
BMC Mini 112
Triumph Herald S 110
Ford Consul 108
Austin A60 107
Ford Popular 107
BMC Mini Cooper 103
Morris Minor 96
Saab 92
Vauxhall Victor 83
Renault Dauphine 82
Ford Classic 80
Singer Vogue 80
Hillman Super Minx 77

Was there any narrative given with the temperatures?

Well, the cars named above were tested in 3 batches (MGA in the third batch).

In the first batch, 120F was suggested as "a safe figure".
The second batch, the two highest - about 100F - were mentioned. " ... the others were liable to boil."
The third batch "The Triumph Herald 1200 came out best."
There was a fourth batch - no figures given - "... the cooling systems were satisfactory in our usual tests."
Geoff E

Hi Lindsay,

Goodness forbid that you would have to travel to the likes of Workingtion or Barrow :)

I'm between Lorton and Cockermouth and always have some interesting cars in the workshop!
N McGurk

Probably nothing wrong with Workington or Barrow but they're not exactly at the top of the tourist destination list! I worked with someone who referred to Whithaven as "a dump" and he was born and brought up there! Did the Lortons and Cockermouth (Wordsworths house) too.
Lindsay Sampford

My mum was born at Lowca, just outside Whitehaven. We often travelled to Whitehaven from Lincoln to see my grandparents. When I go to Whitehaven nowadays it's all in colour ... in my memories of it c1960, it was various shades of grey!

I had one ancestor from Wukkiton but half of them were from across the water.

So Neil ... which lot are the JamEaters?
Geoff E

Well that's a West Cumbrian thing Geoff! But I believe it's those Whitehaven lot...
N McGurk

My wife lived in Lowca in the 1950s, as a very young girl she hastens to add, and I have had to rebuke her for not knowing what a jameater was. I had to look it up.
Malcolm Asquith

This thread was discussed between 02/06/2011 and 03/06/2011

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