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Captain Obvious

Heater Core Alternative - Escort Core into 260/280

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This past spring the heater core in my 77 was leaking, so I bought a NOS aftermarket heater core off ebay as a replacement. I pressure tested it on the bench before installation and everything looked fine, so I put it in. Unfortunately, joy was short lived and by the end of the summer, the new one that I just put in was leaking. Again.

Direct drop in cores are getting hard to find, and are expensive, so I started messing around with alternatives. I've been reluctant to mention it because the project isn't done and until the T's are dotted and the I's are crossed, there's the chance that something will come up that kills the whole idea.  However, I'm going to jump the gun a little and mention it here just in case other 260/280 owners are getting ready to drop cash on a new heater core.

Heater core for a 91-02 Ford Escort SOHC (not the ZX2). The heater core is aluminum, and the one I got was Spectra Premium P/N 94741.

So with the caveat that there is still the chance that I'll run into an insurmountable detail and this may not really work for some reason, here's a teaser of something I've been working on. The box is done and has been sitting on the bench for a couple of weeks. I'm going to pull my dash this off season to finish the work, but here is where I am right now. And I have no idea if this idea would even work for the 240's, but this is what I've got. Aluminum heater core for a Escort with a layer of foam around the outside for a snug fit:
P1100559_zpsjxyss5aw.jpg

Build a little shelf for the Escort core to sit on. Since the Escort core is a little thinner, it allowed me to move the core up a little so it doesn't interfere with the floor duct control linkages at the bottom of the heater box (like the stock one does). Aluminum angle material screwed into place as a lower support shelf:
P1100550_zpscqpxrmwu.jpg

Escort core in place before putting on the access panel cover. Can't see it in the pic, but it's resting on the new aluminum shelf on the far side:
P1100560_zpsjha0miva.jpg

With access cover in place and tubes poking through new holes I cut in the cover. Tape over the original holes so air doesn't come out where it's not supposed to. There's also another support shelf on the inside of the cover as well and if you look carefully, you can see the heads of the screws that hold the shelf in place:
P1100561_zpsdfxnsci1.jpg

I need to pull the dash to finish the project and figure out how to make the hoses work, but I'm confident I should be able to figure something out.

I'll post more pics of that process when I get the dash pulled.

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Looks promising. :)

I wanted ask you if you've read or seen someone putting a switchable valve in the engine bay that would bypass the core until cold weather? I'm almost positive I read where somebody did that in the past. I'm not using my laptop at the moment or I could search around. Any thoughts or have you heard of this? I'm pretty sure it was a 240 because those allow some hot air releasing in the cabin when you don't need any. Maybe it was an A/C thread?

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4 hours ago, siteunseen said:

I wanted ask you if you've read or seen someone putting a switchable valve in the engine bay that would bypass the core until cold weather? 

Pretty sure that CO moved his coolant flow control valve to the engine bay.  To fix the off-on nature of the system when the capillary-controlled thermostat valve goes bad.  He could probably put together a pretty good system overhaul and improvement procedure.  

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Yeah, the prices on this thing were great. And the workmanship looks pretty good too. One thing to watch for though is there are some of these are brass and some are aluminum like I pictured. The first one I got was the slightly smaller brass version and I sent it back to Rock Auto. They sent a second one and it's the one I wanted. I never completely got to the bottom of what happened though. I'm still not positive it was simply misboxed, or a different manufacturer in the Spectra box. I know many of the manufacturers will second source eachother with the intention that the parts are form / fit / and function interchangeable. They accepted the brass one back without a fuss though, and I got the aluminum one as pictured.

7 hours ago, Mike said:

can you take a photo of the Escort core next to the original core?

By your command. The length and width are very similar to the original. The biggest difference is the thickness. The Escort core is thinner:
P1100541_zpss9hruiab.jpg

P1100544_zpss7esszf3.jpg

P1100545_zpsdlxyibwe.jpg

To be honest, with a layer of 1/2 inch thick foam along the perimeter of the Escort core, I think it fits the heater box better than the original. Of course, my "original" is an aftermarket core that came with the car, but I was not impressed with the fit.

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7 hours ago, Zed Head said:

Pretty sure that CO moved his coolant flow control valve to the engine bay. 

Yup, true that. And because I have already removed that rats nest of short hoses under the dash, making the connections to the Escort core should be pretty easy. I'm not sure how easy it would be if you were trying to make connection to the original water kock valve.

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46 minutes ago, Captain Obvious said:

Yup, true that. And because I have already removed that rats nest of short hoses under the dash, making the connections to the Escort core should be pretty easy. I'm not sure how easy it would be if you were trying to make connection to the original water kock valve.

I recently had to help Jai out with Redwing not having heat.  Turns out that when she had her aftermarket AC installed, the guy who did it put in a petcock valve on the water hose in the engine bay. Is that how you did it CO?

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Here it is - 

Could probably be an Article, just for the explanation and pictures alone.  Not that it isn't a good idea also.

 

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9 hours ago, S30Driver said:

Wow ... $36 shipped from Rock Auto

Autozone has them for $26.00 so it may be cheaper at local part stores.

Edited by rcb280z

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The plan for the bend in the line is to leave the core as is and make the bend with the rubber coolant hose instead of the metal tube coming out of the core.

That's the kind of detail that I won't really be able to finalize until I have the box in the car. I'm pretty sure I can come up with something, especially since I have already relocated my water kock to the engine compartment, but that's exactly why I'm jumping the gun a little with this post. I just figured with the talk about heater cores and someone was getting ready to do theirs, I wanted to get this out there with potentially a better alternative.

underdash1.jpg

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On 12/22/2016 at 9:42 AM, siteunseen said:

Looks promising. :)

I wanted ask you if you've read or seen someone putting a switchable valve in the engine bay that would bypass the core until cold weather? I'm almost positive I read where somebody did that in the past. I'm not using my laptop at the moment or I could search around. Any thoughts or have you heard of this? I'm pretty sure it was a 240 because those allow some hot air releasing in the cabin when you don't need any. Maybe it was an A/C thread?

I'm thinking more simple, something like these.

Image result for 3 way water valve with hose barbs  Image result for 3 way water valve with hose barbs

And put it in an extra hose I'll run.  Something like this.

core valve.png

 

 

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39 minutes ago, siteunseen said:

I'm thinking more simple, something like these.

Image result for 3 way water valve with hose barbs  Image result for 3 way water valve with hose barbs

And put it in an extra hose I'll run.  Something like this.

core valve.png

 

 

seems i read somewhere that by-passing the heater core is not a good thing

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14 minutes ago, sweatybetty said:

seems i read somewhere that by-passing the heater core is not a good thing

People say it creates hot spots on the head not flowing out the back fitting.  I have never had a working heater core in a 240, two I owned were bypassed without problems.  Mine is plugged where that 45 elbow is coming out of the head.

032.jpg

DSC01418.JPG

Edited by siteunseen

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This guy, TimZ, found a rebuild kit for the original capillary control valve.  Interesting reading.  http://forums.hybridz.org/topic/126131-280z-heater-water-valve/

I've found that the heat supply available from the stock core and coolant flow rates is waaaaayyy more than needed.  I have a similar valve to the one CO used and I had to extend the arm on it so that it only opens a small amount.  Even so, I only use about 1/4 of the range of the heat control lever in the dash.

Still waiting for somebody to find a complete assembly that we can transplant over that will do normal things like blow hot air from the dash vents, and fresh air through all of them at the same time.  Those Z designers must have worn heavy coats and sandals all the time, based on their choices.

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Zed, I found the same thing. The heat output from the stock core at full flow is way more than I need as well.

My "solution" was to put a second valve in the engine compartment in the line leading back to the water pump inlet. It's a small brass ball valve from the big home improvement store. I closed it about halfway and then took the handle off. The handle lives in my center console if I need to adjust it again. With that additional (fixed) restriction in series with the temp control valve, I now use about 3/4 of the adjustment range.

In theory, the Escort core will impart a little less heat to the air stream because of the narrower thickness. If I get incredible lucky (doubtful), I might just end up exactly where I want to be!

As for heated air out of the vents, I've given that considerable thought as well because I've got circulation issues in my hands and would love to have warm air to blow on them. I think the easiest way to achieve that would be to stuff a small heater core between the blower motor and the air distribution box. Essentially replace the plastic accordion duct with a heater core instead and then remove the original core completely.

That way, the airstream would be hot by the time it got to the airbox, and the only thing the box would do would be distribute that already heated air.

But... For now, I'd settle for a frikin' heater core, even in the stock location, that doesn't leak.

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Well at $350 from MSA and $200 for an aftermarket one at zcarsource I think retrofitting one from another vehicle seems like the right thing to do. Boy am I glad mine isn't leaking, knock on wood.

What made you decide on the ford escort one CO? I guess you had to research a lot to find one close to the stock one?

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