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TKART magazine Expert Advice | Radiator maintenance
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Max Bernardi
17 February 2017

Never underestimate the importance of the cooling system, because keeping the engine at the proper operating temperature is a key aspect for maximum performance with the selected carburetion. Even more so, because a malfunction caused by a lack of maintenance of the components of the system (the water pump, thermostatic valve, hoses, the radiator itself and its supports) would be unforgivable. Marco Malverti, the owner of New-Line, a leading manufacturer of racing kart radiators, provides a detailed explanation of the methods and care required to lengthen the life of a radiator.

1 Let’s start with a fairly common problem: limescale. Can it affect a radiator’s cooling capacity?

Limescale creates a film between metal and water, thereby decreasing the heat exchange between the two elements. This happens both in the reservoirs placed above and below the radiator, as well as in the radiator core which, consequently, loses much of its cooling capacity. You can use distilled water, which is devoid of mineral residues, to maintain the radiator as effective as possible, although you need to remember it always needs to be removed at the end of the day. You can also rinse the system using anti-scale products: just let the kart idle when it is on the trolley to allow the product to flow through the system for about ten minutes. After which, empty it all out. Remember that the only fluid allowed on the tract is water, since any spills would make the track slippery and, consequently, dangerous for the driver and other drivers.

A comparison between a new radiator and one that has been used for a long time
The section of a new radiator, to the left, compared to the section of an old radiator
A comparison of the cap area on a new and an old radiator with a large deposit of limescale
What a new radiator core, left, looks like compared to a used radiator core full of debris

2 Do bent “fins” have a significant effect on the performance of a radiator? Can they be sorted out?

The answer to both questions is “yes”. Bent fins undoubtedly decrease the passage of air and, therefore, penalise cooling capacity. At New Line, we have developed a treatment to stiffen the radiator core so that the fins can withstand most of the knocks taken on the track. Nevertheless, should a larger piece of debris bend the radiator core, pliers can be used to straighten the fins and, subsequently, a radiator comb to bring them back to the original position.

3 How often should the radiator core be cleaned?

It is important to do so regularly during a day at the track, even following each session, because often at first glance you can fail to notice rubber chips, small stones and other dirt that sticks between the “fins” of the radiator core. Karts with a front braking system also have the problem of dirt from the brake pads: this is also unnoticeable at first glance, but creates a layer that, unless cleaned, decreases the radiator’s performance. The quickest way to eliminate these elements is to use compressed air on the entire surface of the radiator core. A traditional brake cleaner can be used to clean the outside more thoroughly.

This is how to straighten and space damaged fins properly
Damaged radiator core
Bent fins

4 Are there other parts of the radiator that we need to keep an eye on?

The grommets connecting the brackets to the radiator body should be checked often: indeed, over time sudden temperature changes make them dry out and lose elasticity. Furthermore, they may be inadvertently damaged or torn when getting out of the kart or load it into the van.
An eye should also be kept on the cap. It may appear an unimportant, but the vent hole can become clogged by limescale, thereby stopping the valve from working properly. This inconvenience can be avoided by simply spraying WD40 directly into the hole.

5 Can a punctured radiator be fixed?

It’s possible. However, it is not a simple task that you can do at home: New Line offers a repair service for its products broken by knocks taken on the track, welding and closing the damaged area. Sometimes we receive radiators from customers who have already tried to fix them with two-component products or various types of silicones: these attempts merely create even more damage, because they fail to solve the problem and, worse still, prevent an effective weld from being made on the material that has been dirtied by the various adhesives.

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