Oil Cooler Installation

©By: By: Armando Picciotto
email: "Armando Picciotto" <apicciotto@wccusd.k12.ca.us>

Originally written: Circa 1995

Last update: June 16, 2009

Is there a better way to spend your Fourth of July weekend other than installing an oil cooler in your Morgan? Don't answer that. Anyway, if you want to know about the trials and tribulations of fitting one to a +4 read on…

Oil cooler ad UPS delivered my oil cooler kit from Moss ($229.00 total) on Thursday, so why not use the three day weekend to put it on? The kit consists of a 13-row cooler (13"X4"), two stainless steel hoses with brass fittings (with rubber hoses, it costs $10.00 less), an adapter that fits between the engine and the oil filter head, bolt extensions so you can use your existing oil filter head bolts, plates with holes to mount the cooler, and bolts to mount the cooler to the plates. No gaskets are included, so make sure you order at least two of them (one between the adapter and the engine and one between the adapter and the oil filter head). They are only 75 cents each, so you may want to order more in case you need them in the future (like when you want to take the thing off). No instructions are included.

Adapter installed I first removed the oil filter and the three bolts and a nut holding the filter head to the engine. The nut screws into a bolt that is itself screwed into the engine (what do you call a bolt with no head with different threads at each end?). It holds the line to the oil pressure gauge, so handle with care. I had to remove this two-sided bolt with lock pliers, grabbing it in the center where there is no thread. A slight rap on the filter head unstuck the head from the engine. After removing the old gasket from the head (I had to do some careful scraping to get it off) and removing grime that was previously inaccessible, I held one of the new gaskets against the engine opening and screwed the four bolt extenders in (don't reverse this process since the gasket holes are too small to slide through the bolt extenders). The adapter has two brass fittings (one for each hose) at a slight angle so when the hoses are attached they will move away from the engine block. It slides easily into the bolt extenders. I placed the three original bolts back into the filter head and slid the other gasket into place. I then placed the filter head assembly against the adapter and hand tightened the three bolts. The two-threaded gizmo went on last, followed by the oil pressure line and the nut holding it in place. After properly tightening the three bolts and nut, everything seemed to be going just fine, until…

I guess the kit is really designed for a TR3, not a Morgan. When you try to install the hoses to the fittings on the adapter, the engine mount bracket is in the way of the top hose! Not by much, but in the way nevertheless. In the Moss catalog, the nice glossy picture shows the hose having two fittings, a right angle one and 45 degree one. Well, you don't get a 45 degree one. You get a right angle and a straight through one. After considering all my options (calling Moss, getting 45 degree adapter fittings, etc…), I decided it would be nice to keep a straight through shot out of the adapter to avoid kinking the hose, and I could do this by filing off about 1/4" off the offending engine mount. I figured 1/4" out of a corner of the mount would not cause the engine to fall off. I did just that and the hose now clears the mount with about 1/8" to spare. Don't tighten the hoses into the adapter until you install them in the cooler to avoid twisting the hose.

Oil cooler inplace Next came mounting the cooler itself. Since by now it was dark, I decided to call it quits until the next day. But first, I spray painted the cooler with a couple of coats of high heat black paint so it wouldn't look too obtrusive. The spray paint did not clog any of the air passages and the cooler looked pretty nice black rather than silver. The next morning I installed the cooler about 4" behind the grill with its base at the level of the shelf behind the grill. This position placed it about 4" in front the radiator. The top edge of the cooler itself is higher than the base of the radiator by less than two inches, so I figured there wouldn't be too much obstruction to the air flow into the radiator. I used the mounting plates to attach the cooler to the side shrouds (after bending them and cutting them to size), and painted everything black. The hoses were too long, but you can't cut them because the fittings are an integral part of them. I hung one of the hoses from the bottom right radiator bracket and attached it to the left cooler inlet. I did the Oil mounting same with the other hose, hanging it from the bottom left radiator bracket and attaching it to the right cooler inlet. The lengths of the hoses is perfect for crossing them like this, and everything looks nice and neat, with plenty of clearance between the hoses and all the rods and whatevers of the car's front end. I also figured that the longer stainless hoses would also serve as a radiator of heat, increasing cooling capacity (yeah, I know, I always look at the bright side). I then remembered to tighten the hoses at the adapter end and inserted a new oil filter. Now to test it all.

I ran the engine for a few minutes with no oil leaks showing up. The oil cooler heated up gradually, so oil was certainly flowing into it. I also watched how the engine moved with respect to the engine mount and the hose close to it to make sure there was no chance of a collision. The engine twist seemed to move the hose parallel to the offending mount and the clearance did not decrease, so I think I'm safe there, but I'll keep my eye on it. The road test was a success. The engine does run cooler as measured by my fairly accurate temp gauge hidden behind the dash, but a thorough test of it will have to wait until Mog West later this month, when about 50 to 70 Morgans meet in central California for their yearly Oil mounting ritual. It's over a 500 mile round trip, parts of it through the hot interior valleys. The cooler should show it's worth at high speeds with lots of air blowing through it. By the way, you can barely see it behind the grille, so overall, I'm quite pleased with it. If you are thinking of installing a cooler yourself, take a close look at the fittings that come with the hoses. You may be able to avoid my problems.

Armando Picciotto '63 +4

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