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GoWesty vs. Van Cafe AT Cooler (vs. leave it)
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Mmartinphd
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 6:32 pm    Post subject: GoWesty vs. Van Cafe AT Cooler (vs. leave it) Reply with quote

Pretty sure I have a stock AT Cooler on my 87 Westy. I've been doing a lot of reading on the transaxle cooler (or AT cooler, or whatever you want to call it). I've come up with three plans of action based on all the searching.

1) Leave it alone. Pros: no work or money. Cons: "Oh my God, your ATF could mix with coolant and everything will go to hell" (according to the GoWesty article)

2) GoWesty ATF Cooler. Pros: Lots of folks have done it and it appears to be reliable. Cons: Work and still uses coolant

3) Heatsink Cooler from Van Cafe (made by Foreign Auto Supply). Pros: No coolant to leaks, it's a heat sink. Also, appears to fit in space for stock cooler. Cons: New and I can't find any reviews on The Samba.

Advice? Thanks.
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Luckyphil
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PostPosted: Mon Apr 09, 2012 8:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have a Gowesty ATF cooler fitted to my 1989 Caravelle (Vanagon). I fitted it after reading the Gowesty article. It works great and has the additional benefit of NOT useing coolant and a secondary benefit of not useing coolant is tha engine should run a little cooler. I went further though and also fitted the Gowesty billet aluminum thermostat housing and also replaced the engine oil cooler and hoses and also fitted a stainless steel cooling tower to replace the stock plastic one. Also replaced a bunch of associated hoses at the same time. Hopefully now the cooling system should be bullet proof.
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Milfordite
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 6:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I installed the Go Westy unit instead of the Van Cafe or Small Car cooler mainly because of the thermostat. I'm in Ohio, and I wanted a thermostatically controlled cooler because of the cold weather. If you live in a warmer climate, I like the looks of the Van Cafe unit, very simple and no hoses to leak.
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AtlasShrugged
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I used the Smallcar.com cooler kit. Simple and no engine coolant. No thermostat. You could fit one in the lines as an aftermarket part.

In Georgia it won't matter. Even in winter the ATF runs about 170* on a long ride. Measured with an infrared temp sensor.

Summer it will go to 180/190*..well within reasonable operating range.

In a very cold climate, you could block off the cooler with a piece of cardboard, till spring.

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Zero419
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I went with Small car.
working good so far.
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Mmartinphd
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

thanks. Still thinking about it.
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ursaworks
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 5:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

gw at cooler here, does NOT use coolant, liked the thermostat and the narrow profile under the van. really easy to install.
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sbclayton
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PostPosted: Tue Apr 10, 2012 9:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you run on snow, use the GW unit - the small size won't get snagged by snow lumps or if you bust through a drift. The SmallCar unit - and my homegrown unit - would act like a snow shovel and probably get knocked off. I was *going* to use the GW cooler, but cost prohibited; I'm sure it works very well, but I have a system I made myself, which is very useful in the unlikely event I'd need to service it (as I designed it pretty beefy). Thanks to all who provided input!

I built a homemade cooler very much like SmallCar's but with upgraded components: http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=460532
The MagneFine filter keeps everything squeaky clean - even the fine "sludge" buildup has disappeared. I just need to service the filter annually and all is well.

So the cooler is working wonderfully well. I bought an 8" fan with a 150 button thermostat, but even with 94 air temps recently I haven't needed it and haven't mounted it.
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xoo00oox
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 4:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

...Am I the only one that thinks the stock trans cooler is great? I have had hundreds of these vans in and out out of this shop and never seen a bad one. I believe that it's possible for them to go bad but the chances are very slim. The stock cooler has the advantage of getting the trans fluid warmed up to temp as well. The automatics in these vans quite often outlast the manuals before needing a rebuild, 200k in not uncommon.


Andrew-
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AtlasShrugged
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 5:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The transmission to engine coolant heat exchanger (cooler) is one of those things that on many vanagons often never seems to give a problem. But...

I bought my 91 from a shop in Texas. The owner was German and took the vanagon back to Germany for about three years. A very fastidious owner that took every maintenance seriously and did all the preemptive service.

Sadly, the automatic transmission heat exchanger (cooler) did fail on his. By the time the owner knew he had a problem, the transmission and coolant system were a mess. Estimate for repairs were very high and he elected to bail out.

I made the repairs myself and did not install a new OEM cooler. Once you see the problems it causes..you will not too.

The air cooled type 3 with an automatic transmission did not use any "cooler" and that automatic transmission did not have a longevity problem or overheating issue. I think the engineers at VW used the WBX cooling system as an opportunity to quickly warm the transmission. I don't think there was a "problem" to be solved. Just an engineering opportunity.

By changing out the cooler for a simple ATF to air from the complicated engine coolant to AFT OEM cooler you remove some expensive hoses (use the manual transmission hoses) and delete an expensive failure point.



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And once you have plumbed an air to ATF cooler you can use an inline ATF filter too. As was wisely suggested a Magnafine filter is a very good investment. They can be easily changed and filter the AFT to a very small 3 micron. They also can be disassembled to inspect the filter and magnet for debris or service issues. Much better than dropping the automatic pan and changing out the antique coffee filter every 30k miles.

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If you want to retain the original ATF heat exchanger..I have one. You are welcome to have it for the cost of shipping. No guarantee though.
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Mmartinphd
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 7:05 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I get the GW cooler now. No coolant. Was wrong before.

I'm trying to decide if it's worth the effort to replace if nothing is currently wrong. On the one hand, seems like good preventative maintenance. On the other, might be a waste of time and money when I could be working on other things.

As with everyone, I have a long list and trying to prioritize Very Happy . Trying to figure out if I should do this before our first long trip in June.

Thanks for the input, all! Good to see some saying this might not be such a high priority in case I don't get to it. Won't make the cooler last any longer, but I might not be so worried driving down the road.
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dubbified
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 10:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ursaworks wrote:
gw at cooler here, does NOT use coolant, liked the thermostat and the narrow profile under the van. really easy to install.


I love mine, went in easy. It is a superior answer to the OE cooler.

I would like to see the Spec fluid requirements however, IF someone is going to install this, can you please track how much more fluid you took to fill?

I've also noticed lower engine operating temps (per idiot guage on dash)

Going to a actual temp guage on dash to measure all fluid temps, psi and volt.


Last edited by dubbified on Wed Apr 11, 2012 1:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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eeebee Premium Member
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Mine went at 230,000 miles and it was a big mess. It is worth avoiding.
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dubbified
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 2:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That inline filter idea is the biz.

I'm curious if there may be any issue with flow restriction, or other concerns as to installation.

Looks like WIX makes a similar item, 58964, 12$ on amazon,

http://www.amazon.com/Wix-58964-In-Line-Transmissi...amp;sr=1-5

Pressure, is anyone tracking PSI on these?

http://www.amazon.com/Wix-58964-In-Line-Transmissi...amp;sr=1-5

I'm thinking about a trans temp guage.

http://www.amazon.com/80212-Transmission-Temperatu...mp;sr=1-13
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mad.macs
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PostPosted: Wed Apr 11, 2012 6:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I was at FAS this weekend. Their AT cooler may be the next upgrade I do after I recover from my Flexplate repair.
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AtlasShrugged
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 5:39 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

dubbified wrote:
That inline filter idea is the biz.

I'm curious if there may be any issue with flow restriction, or other concerns as to installation.

Looks like WIX makes a similar item, 58964, 12$ on amazon,

http://www.amazon.com/Wix-58964-In-Line-Transmissi...amp;sr=1-5

Pressure, is anyone tracking PSI on these?

http://www.amazon.com/Wix-58964-In-Line-Transmissi...amp;sr=1-5

I'm thinking about a trans temp guage.

http://www.amazon.com/80212-Transmission-Temperatu...mp;sr=1-13


Any filter is better than nothing. I like the Magnefine as it has a magnet on the flow input side and is easily disassembled. It was used by Ford for years on all factory re-manufactured automatic transmissions. Flow rates are fine. About 4gpm.


Link
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 6:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Two easy solutions, you can just replace to OEM oil to water cooler every 100-150K miles or if you live in an area that doesn't get blistering hot for long and DON'T tow a trailer you can run without a cooler. I never got around to installing a cooler after I did my Suby swap years ago, because I wanted something that the snow and ice wouldn't destroy. I worried for a while that I needed to figure out somehow to do a nice clean install, but after enough years the priority of doing anything has gone down.
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AtlasShrugged
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 7:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wildthings wrote:
Two easy solutions, you can just replace to OEM oil to water cooler every 100-150K miles or if you live in an area that doesn't get blistering hot for long and DON'T tow a trailer you can run without a cooler. I never got around to installing a cooler after I did my Suby swap years ago, because I wanted something that the snow and ice wouldn't destroy. I worried for a while that I needed to figure out somehow to do a nice clean install, but after enough years the priority of doing anything has gone down.


One solution to avoid ice and snow in the remote cooler would be to mount it above the transmission. Put it forward so the air flow through the bell-housing and torque converter (the vanes on the TC are a fan) encourage enough air flow to keep the ATF cool. It is a difficult fit and not easy to do..but can be done.

Porsche model air cooled 911s have an oil cooler in the very vulnerable right front wheel well. A vented plate covers the cooler to prevent stone and snow problems. The same solution might work if the transmission cooler is mounted under the chassis.. as most are.

Ice and snow may not be an issue too. The cooler is hot and may melt the snow faster than it can accumulate...depends on how high the snow is.
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Wildthings
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 11:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

AtlasShrugged wrote:


One solution to avoid ice and snow in the remote cooler would be to mount it above the transmission.


I have certainly thought about that location, but would want to add a thermostatically activated fan. It might not clog up with ice and snow if mounted underneath, but it will still be vulnerable to getting whacked with chunks of nasty frozen stuff as one drives about, so I don't want to go that way.

I have never actually tried to read the temperature of the transmission with an IR gun, but should.
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James 93SLC
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PostPosted: Thu Apr 12, 2012 12:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

This will be my transmission cooler when I'm done with my VR6 engine swap. I like the idea of this style being more durable hanging under the van. This is also a dual pass design, meaning the trans fluid flows all the way to the end before traveling back out the outlet. Having the fittings at one end should make for a clean install. Best part is that it was only $50 off Ebay. Fittings and hoses should keep this at the $100 mark.

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[/quote]

Here is the thermostat control I bought from Summit Racing. I also bought the adapters and AN hose fittings to plumb it all in with 3/8" transmission hose. The 180 deg thermo brings my trans cooler kit up to the $100 mark so far. Fittings and hoses should add another $50 at most.

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