The driving season is coming. Car clubs across the country are sending out invitations and registration forms to their members, and events long in the planning stage are popping up on calendars from Bangor to San Diego. I just received my second email about California Healey Week, (May 19-23, Temecula, CA). A looming event date is often the catalyst for a flurry of activity in the garage, as we attend to the list we made last fall. We really intended to get this done over the winter, but, well, time just slips away and here it is April already.
Getting a car ready for the season can involve many things, but for Austin-Healey owners, the issue is often heat, or too much of it, both for the engine and the driver. There is a long list of things we could talk about, but I will focus on one: fans for the Big Healey, the Handsome Brute.
Healeys generally don’t overheat when they keep moving. Make them stand still in bumper-to-bumper traffic on a warm day, and things get hot, real hot. Assuming the car is in good mechanical condition, in tune and the cooling system is in good order, overheating while standing still is usually a sign that more air is needed moving through the radiator. The original four-bladed fan just doesn’t cut it.
Look under the hood of a dozen cars at a show and you’ll find eight different fans. For years the best you could do was a six-bladed metal Flex-Fan. The big Flex-Fan moves lots of air, but it’s not particularly quiet. Moss still sells it, but many owners prefer something more original.
With that in mind, Moss reintroduced the Tropical Fan for the Big Healey. Originally offered as a hot climate option by the factory, the Tropical Fan was a symmetrical six-bladed steel fan. The Moss reproduction was well received, but one failed in use, losing a fan blade. Moss suspended sales immediately, and had a metallurgical consultant analyze the failure to determine the cause. The report concluded that the design (rather than the steel) was inherently flawed. The curved fan blades riveted to the flat hub introduced stresses that caused the hubs to fail.
Based on that report, Moss ordered a recall. We contacted everyone who purchased a Tropical Fan and offered them a refund or a replacement fan, plus a credit to offset the cost of having the fan removed. We immediately began looking for a replacement.
The obvious choice was the Texas Kooler, a large, off-white, plastic six-bladed fan. The original Texas Kooler was discovered by the Healey enthusiasts in the North Texas Austin Healey Club (NTAHC). These people know about overheating Healeys. The NTAHC bought the fans from a manufacturer in Fort Worth, and sold them through the club website.
The Texas Kooler was one of my first parts purchases after I bought my Healey. When I contacted the club to see if Moss could buy the fan in quantity to replace the Tropical Fan, I learned that the Texas Kooler was gone. The plant had closed and the tooling destroyed.
Moss decided to try and bring the Texas Kooler back. We worked closely with the club, which provided product information and instructions. Moss bought the rights to the name, and we put everyone in the club on our Rebuild Program for a year as a way of saying thanks.
I donated the Texas Kooler fan on my car as a model and Moss had the fan reproduced in yellow. The pre-production samples were sent to Jerry Wall, first club president, and a number of club members examined them. With their blessing, Moss went ahead with production. The fans arrived at Moss in Goleta after Christmas 2008.
The bottom line: the Texas Kooler works. The asymmetrical design makes it more efficient at moving air while keeping the noise down. That fan has made all the difference in my 1967 Austin-Healey 3000 Mk III (BJ8).
This story is about more than just a fan. The British car world is made up of like-minded enthusiasts. Some of us happen to work for companies that make, buy and sell parts that support the hobby we share. When we get together to make something happen, we all benefit. That’s just the way it’s supposed to be.
Now if the weather would just settle down, we could get back to driving our cars, which is what owning a British sports car is all about.
There are good articles on overheating, including the causes and possible cures, available if you search on this site.
Lucky 13 for the TR6
The red 14.5-inch diameter fan was introduced on U.S. spec cars with the 1972 model year. All CF (w/carbs) and CR (petrol injection) cars were equipped with this fan from 1973 on. According to British car writer, Bill Piggott, the original fans were mostly red in color, although there are a few original examples of both yellow and black 13-bladed fans. These haven’t been available for years, and because the design is so complicated, reproducing them was going to be a challenge.
With multiple original samples in hand, Collin Dunner (Moss Engineer in Product Development) was able to create detailed engineering drawings. Using Solidworks, a model was developed and sent out for bid. We are pleased to be able to offer an excellent reproduction of the long-obsolete 312301 fan for the TR6.
The holes for the mounting bolts have steel sleeves, as did the originals. These fans came in a little darker than we had hoped, but there seems to have been variation in the colors in the original fans too.
If your fan is anything like the chewed-up original samples we have, or if your original fan was replaced (as many have been), you can return it to original condition and move enough air to keep your Triumph TR6 cool with this fan.
By Michael Grant, Moss Technical Services.