3 Row vs. 4 row radiator SBC

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Jun 2, 2009
I've been researching some online about 3 vs 4 row rads. As usual, opinions are all over the place on if replacing a 3 row with a 4 row is effective or not.
Some background- I run an SBC 400 with a champion 3 row aluminum rad and a shroud. 195 thermostat. It has never overheated (boiled over). The old stock gauge would show somewhere around 200-210 temps when running for awhile. I installed a Dakota Digital gauge and sensor set and now it runs 220 consistently. Never hotter. Sensor is in the block near the plugs and near the manifold.
I was looking at the champion 4 row- same size as the 3, so should fit with no issues. Anyone have any experience to know if going to a 4 row could help it run a little cooler? I'd love for it to run closer to 200 than 220.
A 4 core rad has more cooling capacity than a 3 core rad, so it should run cooler. The bigger difference would be your thermostat. A lower temp Thermostat should bring down the operating temp.

If it NEVER gets above 220, I wouldn't be that worried about it. With a 13 lb cap, and 50/50 antifreeze, you should be good till 230 deg.

What fan are you running?
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I've never heard anyone advise to run without a thermostat. Quite the opposite.
I had heating issues in my 4.2L [!!] V8 until we pulled the 195* thermostat and replaced with an 180* one with matching cap. Now it's a gem. It runs an equivalent capacity radiator [2F is 4.2L, my V8 is 4.2L], new water pump, new fan clutch, fan half in and half out of shroud, radiator and engine flushed, new hoses, accurate engine timing and the engine is at least 2" from the firewall. Now no issues!
This article will not give you an exact answer to your questions but it will give you the knowledge to make a better informed decision on which way to go.

It's more than just the number of rows you need to consider. When I had my radiator re-cored I was given the option of HD 3 row or a 4 row. I was advised that if I was planning on adding AC the 4 row would be better. I didn't have a heating issue with my mildly built 350 so I went with the HD 3 row. As pointed out in the article a 4 row can reduce flow velocity which can lead to higher heats. I also upgraded the water pump to a high flow.

Good luck on your search.
That article is a bit involved. The relevant bit you pointed out, though; As you add rows, you eventually kill air flow. So more rows does not necessarily = better cooling.

I like Champion radiators; I run one in my '67 Mustang with good results.

And like was stated above, a properly functioning thermostate, and a properly dimensioned shroud with the blades 1/3d to 1/2 into it will do a lot to aid cooling.

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