by Aviator 902S

Required Parts & Tools

  • an under-rad cooler
  • sufficient-length hoses
  • a short length of heater hose
  • a couple of hose clamps
  • a 2″ or 3″ length of copper pipe (very inexpensive at hardware store) to splice the coolant hoses together once the beehive is scrapped
  • A pedestal to mount the oil cooler where the beehive used to be. The stock “pedestal” is more accurately described as a “plate” that simply slips on over the threaded protrusion that the oil filter threads onto, providing a leak-proof base for the filter.
  • 10mm open ended wrench
  • 12mm open ended wrench
  • 22mm open ended wrench
  • 23mm open ended wrench
  • 26mm open ended wrench
  • New oil, oil filter (preferrably not Fram or Motomaster) and coolant
  • at least 4 spare copper or aluminum crush washers that fit under each of the fittings. DO NOT re-use the old crush washers. If you do, you’ll find that it will take extra torque on the fittings to make them tight enough that they won’t leak, and this extra torque has the damnest habit of cracking oil cooler inlet housings and aluminum front covers. A specialty welding shop can re-weld cracked oil coolers for about $60, but cracked front covers are a major and time-consuming repair that can have expensive consequences if anything is allowed to slip out of alignment.

I did this swap in my ’85 last year, albiet with an ’82 “short” rad which mounts the cooler UNDER the rad. The SE system is slightly different in that it uses the same “tall” rad that you already have and mounts the cooler in front of it, but otherwise the procedure is the same. I’m going to try to explain this in a step-by-step format:

If your radiator is in good shape you can re-use it, but you’ll need the SE oil cooler hoses— they’re longer than the hoses on an ’82 or earlier cooler. If the hoses you use came from an ’82 or earlier model they’ll be too short to reach between the engine and the cooler. This is because with your current rad it will be necessary to mount the cooler in front of the rad rather than under it, and this means the extra 4″ or so of hose will be necessary.

So let’s begin tearing out the old system. I’ll assume you’ve already drained the oil.

  1. remove the lower rad hose to drain coolant from the rad. Then remove the coolant drain plug on the engine. It is a 12mm or 14mm bolt that threads into the lowest portion of the cast iron intermediate housing on the drivers’ side, just below the dipstick and just above the oil pan.
  2. Remove the metal oil tube that runs from the bee hive down to the bottom of the front cover on the drivers’ side. This is where you’ll need those large open end wrenches.
  3. Remove the oil filter so that you’ll have more room to work.
  4. Disconnect the coolant hoses from the bee hive.
  5. Now comes the fun part; there are three 10mm or 12mm nuts holding the bee hive on to it’s mount and they’re a bitch and a half to access. The only way is by feel and from up top using a 10mm or 12mm open end or 12-point box end wrench with a short handle, ie: no longer than four inches or so. You’ll only have about 10 to 15 degrees of swing angle with the wrench so prepare for some skinned knuckles and to turn the air blue with profanities, but if you persist you’ll eventually get the little prick to come off. Once you’ve done this it’s a simple matter of removing the remaining (and now accessible) nuts holding the rest of the mount on and then discarding it. Congratulations. You’ve just finished the most difficult part of this task and you’ll never have to deal with that ugly beehive again. Clutch slave cylinder swaps will now be much easier too.
  6. Remove the plug from the bottom of the rear cast iron end housing on the drivers’ side. It’s a 23mm bolt that threads into the housing just above the oil pan. This is where the longer of the two oil cooler hoses will thread into.
  7. Put the front of the car on jack stands and then crawl under and remove the metal skid plate that’s under the radiator. This will provide access to the front of the rad so that you can mount the oil cooler. This skid plate is held on by several 10mm bolts.
  8. Now you can mount the oil cooler. Locate the mounting brackets (or bolt holes, I’m not sure which on the SE system) and attach the oil cooler to them.
  9. Thread the shorter of the two oil cooler hoses into the attach point on the front cover where the metal oil tube used to go. The other end of the same hose should be threaded into the upper fitting on the oil cooler. Be sure to install NEW crush washers on these fittings before installing. Tighten the fittings using a back-up wrench to hold the inner nut on each fitting while you tighten the outer nuts about 1/4 to 1/3 of a turn past finger tight. Do not over-tighten, but make sure they’re tight enough that they won’t leak. (I don’t have an exact torque value for you, but if you’ve used new crush washers they won’t require more than 1/4 to 1/3 of a turn to properly seal).
  10. Now thread the longer of the two hoses from the bottom fitting of the cooler into the hole left by the plug you removed from the rear cast iron end housing. Follow same procedures as for the shorter hose.
  11. Check the o-rings on the bottom of the pedestal (plate) to confirm they’re not damaged or brittle, then slip this pedestal into position over the threaded stud where the oil filter threads on. Then install the oil filter.
  12. re-install the coolant drain plug in the engine block and re-connect the lower rad hose.
  13. Splice the two ends of the coolant hoses that used to go into the beehive together using the short piece of copper pipe and hose clamps.
  14. Re- fill the oil and coolant, mixing the new coolant 50:50 with water.
  15. Start the car and let it run until it warms up, checking for oil leaks at the fittings. If any leaks are found, snug up the fittings as necessary to seal them. Then re-install the skid plate.

Congratulations, you are now finished.