Spitfire & GT6 Forum

Oil Cooler Concerns - Install Or Leave Out

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mclennk Kirk M
Saint John, Canada   CAN
Hey guys,

I'm doing a frame up on a 1973 GT6 & when I ordered my parts I got a little trigger happy & ordered an oil cooler kit (16 fin oil cooler, lines & spin on oil filter conversion kit). However, now that I see some thoughts on them, I'm a little concerned about installing it, which include:

1.)Will the extra oil & circulation tax my oil pump excessively? Or will my oil pressure be enough because my stock pump won't move the oil with enough force?
2.)I don't plan on racing, so on back-road driving, will my oil not reach ideal operating temperature because the cooler, will essentially, keep my oil too cool?
3.)If I decide against the oil cooler kit, can I just plug the cooling hose holes on my oil filter conversion kit, or will this cause a problem with oil circulation? If I can just block off these holes I might, but obviously don't want to do this if it will cause any issues.

Anyway, some thought on the issue would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!


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1968triumphgt6 Avatar
1968triumphgt6 Louis Boudreault
Montreal, Canada   CAN
1968 Triumph GT6 "Charlize"

If your not planning on doing any racing with that car, I say leave the oil cooler out smiling smiley

rhodyspit75 Avatar
rhodyspit75 Ernie Connor
Cumberland, RI, USA   USA
You will find a lot of different opinions on questions 1 and 2. I like mine. However until you are 100% certain of how your kit works DO NOT plug the holes. You may be able to connect them together but if you just plug them you could end up with no circulation.

1975 Triumph Spitfire

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mclennk Kirk M
Saint John, Canada   CAN
Yeah, I figured plugging the holes might cause no oil circulation. It just kills me to buy another "non-oil cooler" spin-on conversion kit, but better than killing my enginedrinking smiley

Thoughts, anybody else?

Herald948 Avatar
Herald948 Andrew Mace
East Nassau, upstate NY, USA   USA
Unless you plan to race extensively or spend most of your driving time in desert traffic jams, return or sell the oil cooler complete and (if you must) get a spin-on oil filter adapter without oil cooler connections. Hopefully whoever sold you the cooler will take it back?

claytoncnc Avatar
claytoncnc Gold Member Marcus Clayton
Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Australia   AUS
You are right.

A good way to wear your engine out is by running oil too cool.
Modern oils are very different (and much better) to the oil available when these cars were new.
Oil coolers used to be quite necessary on a lot of cars, to keep the available oils in their operating temperature of around 90 deg.

Oil can absorb quite a lot of combustion by products, especially water. This can often be seen as yellowy mayonnaise type of stuff when you look in the oil filler area, and it does not lubricate that well, so it is very beneficial to run the oil at about 100deg C, so that this water, absorbed during the warm up and idling period can boil off.

We design our industrial engines to run at a constant 105 deg C for this reason, and the oil change periods are quite extended. These motors, when used on a water pump, are doing the equivalent work of driving a car at about 125mph, 24/7 for 9 months of the year, and in ambient temperatures of up to 50deg. These units do use an oil cooler, but it is thermostatically controlled.

In short, I would not and do not use an oil cooler on my Spit, and I have had good success with using a 10/40 diesel oil, which has a lot of zinc additive.
For racing, an oil cooler would probably be necessary, preferably with a thermostat, if oil temp started to reach > 105 deg C.

If plumbing the oil or cooling systems, avoid the dreaded right angle bend, and banjo type fittings. These restrict flow far more than you would imagine, and will lead to severe cavitation in a cooling system, and oil flow restriction which is hard to pick up, as oil pressure is usually OK.

Use straight fittings, or <45 deg to plumb these systems.

spitlist Avatar
spitlist Joe Curry
Sahuarita, Sahuarita, AZ, USA   USA
I originally installed one on my Mk1 Spit knowing at the time that I would be moving to Arizona. After getting here, I finally took it off because I did find that it was necessary. I did install a pusher electric fan on the front of the radiator and wired it to a manual switch. I only use it if I am stuck in traffic on only the hottest of days.


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71MKIV Avatar
71MKIV Steven Spangler
Lancaster, PA, USA   USA
I have one on my MKIV with a thermostat. Dunno if it's really necessary. I just figured the thermostat would open if it got hot.

If you just want to run the spin on converter you need to connect the innie and outee ports of the adapter so the oil can flow. That's what the thermostat does if it's closed.

Spit1 Mike G
NZ, Waitakere, New Zealand   NZL
I was going to stick a cooler in my Spit. Changed my mind because as I don't race her, I thought that it could just end up being another source of problems.

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mclennk Kirk M
Saint John, Canada   CAN
Thanks for your thoughts guys, I've decided to just install a regular spin on filter adapter & forget the oil cooler altogether.


Rmvr53 Avatar
Rmvr53 Bill Fleming
Parker, CO, USA   USA
We had a cooler on our 64 Vintage racing Spit up till last year. Had a leak in one of the hoses so took the system out of the loop that day at the track. We have never put it back in the loop. No real discernible change in engine temps


1ststig Avatar
1ststig Don Chisholm
High River, AB, Canada   CAN

At the risk of going slightly off topic,I have a '76 Spit that runs far too hot.

I fitted an Oil cooler below the radiator, removed aftermarket badges from the grill (installed by the previous owner)
mounted the coolant overflow container behind the radiator, all 'supposedly' cooled by a Kenlowe fan. I checked the thermostat, but still read 80% of range on the temp gauge - yes I have had it checked - and replaced. I still have too high a temperature when driving.

My driving is summer only due to local conditions but consists of highway and fast 'Rocky mountain Foothills roads', driving time (one way) a continuous 90 min. at an average of 95 kph.

ANY suggestion as to how I can cure the problem would be appreciated.


britsnspits Avatar
britsnspits Michael Stoliker
Bethlehem, PA, USA   USA
1976 Triumph Spitfire 1500 "The Phoenix"
1978 Triumph Spitfire 1500 "Lucky"
Have you ever boiled out the radiator or flushed the block?

claytoncnc Avatar
claytoncnc Gold Member Marcus Clayton
Melbourne, Ivanhoe, Australia   AUS

Electric gauges and sensors are but an indicator, and variations in feed voltage, sensor condition and wiring can give misleading readings
Are you sure that the car is overheating? Does it chuck water when you stop, lose water, bubble and steam, and drop oil pressure?

If it does any or all of these things, then the problem is one or more of:
Lack of heat transfer from engine to coolant
Lack of coolant flow through engine and radiator
Lack of heat transfer from Radiator to atmosphere

The Spitfire cooling system is quite adequate if in good condition.

My suggestion would be to check the actual engine temperature first. A capillary type gauge is good, but an infra red device (now available quite cheaply) can be used to check and diagnose the problem.
My car runs very happily at about 90 deg, rising to about 95 on a prolonged climb at close to full throttle (usually chasing another sports car) on my capillary gauge.

It is common for the engines to scale up in the water ways. The Head is very important, as this is where the majority of flow occurs, especially in the waterway above the ports. These need to be cleaned out with Evaporust, CLR or something, the block welch plugs removed, and new ones installed after clean out.
Iron oxide is a very effective insulator.

The water pump as standard is quite a good item. If the impeller is made of tin, throw it away, and get one with a cast impeller. The tin ones make milkshakes, they do not circulate coolant.

The radiator should be checked, preferably by a competent radiator place (they are getting hard to find). A Copper Brass radiator is a fine durable piece, compared to aluminium and if it is clear of obstruction, it is able to cope with plenty more heat than your engine can produce.

Do these things, replace the hoses and use coolant, and concentrate on enjoying the car, not stressing about the temperature gauge.

My suspicion is that your sender/gauge is not accurate, as 90min of relatively quick driving would lead to all sorts of puking and burned oil smells if the engine was getting too hot.

geeteesix Avatar
geeteesix martin diederen
kerkrade, limburg, Netherlands   NLD
In my opinion an oilcooler kit included with thermostat well fitted does not change any thing of the system because it does nothing when not to hot, it only bring you bennefits when the oiltemperature is rising too hot which you only can see with an oiltemperature instrument at your dash, most of the cars don´t have it. On my triumph TR2 I (I own since 1975) damaged the bigendbearings every 18000miles with modern oils, after fitted the oilcoolerkit with thermostat the bigend´s lasted 100000 miles without visible wearing!This triumph tr2 never run at a high water temperature! So all my cars MG-TC and GT6 are provided with oilcooler kits already for 18 years and many miles without any problems at all.

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