MAX Update No. 52: Cooling System Bug Report

Reader Contribution by Staff
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Simulations are wonderful, but the proof is in the pudding. MAX’s new body will be much harder to modify than the old body. On the new body, everything forward of the windscreen has to pretty well fit together as a unit, whereas the Escape from Berkeley era body could have its body parts swapped around like LEGOs.

Which means I’m only going to have one shot at getting the radiator intake right, or I’ll either have

A) more air going through it than I need, which means more drag than is necessary, or

B) less air going through it than I need, which means the engine will overheat, which means I’ll be on the side of the road with a hacksaw blade, making crude body modifications and looking like an idiot.

Children watching Rally Green go by will point at MAX and say, “Mom, why does that man’s car have a big hole in the front?” Their mothers will shake their heads sadly and say, “Hush, dear, I’m sure he’s doing the best he can.”

Lucky for me I’m a methodical plodder. I knew back in October that I’d need to answer this question someday, so I put a cardboard air dam across MAX’s nose (see MAX Update No. 35) … but it wasn’t until July that the weather here got hot enough for a worst-case road test. I packed my industrial strength cardboard-cutting scissors so I could make emergency cooling system modifications and headed for the hills.

And here’s the result: 180 miles with outside air temperatures in the high 90s and not a peep of overheating complaint. There’s only 45 square inches of open screen there, and only two-thirds of the air that gets through the screen goes through the radiator, so I’m confident that 30 square inches of intake opening will be sufficient (provided I aim it all at the radiator).

That’s not very big. That’s an intake area about the size of a paperback book. Smaller than I’d have guessed, that’s for sure. This was an important test, and not without its hazards and sacrifices; if you look closely at the cardboard, you’ll see that 137 insects gave their lives for this knowledge.

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