September 1st, 2010

Installing a B&B Serpentine Belt System and a U.S. Radiator Aluminum Radiator

Text and Photos by Matt Emery

It’s been said that it’s better to look good than to feel good, but what if you want to have both? That analogy especially works with how your engine looks. Everyone wants to have their mill looking good, but it has to work well, too. And as if that weren’t enough, nobody wants to spend all weekend bolting on new parts when they could be out cruisin’. That’s why for our first installment of “Weekend Update,” we are featuring the installation of a B&B Street Rods serpentine belt system and an aluminum radiator from U.S. Radiator.

We wanted to showcase easy-to-install items that have a big impact, and there may be no better place to start than with the engine. The highly polished B&B Street Rods serpentine belt system is a thing of beauty. It’s fully CAD designed and CAD machined, and is very easy to install. If you have the mechanical ability to bolt on a water pump, then you can install this unit. The system incorporates an A/C pump, one-wire alternator, power steering pump, water pump and belt tensioner into a package that’s a snap to install. Though it appears to be one piece, the A/C pump and alternator are housed in the main frame, while the water pump, P/S pump and tensioner are separate. That makes it easy for those not intending to use the P/S pump, as was the case with this engine. The design keeps everything close together and tidy, and thanks to the polished finish, it looks great, too. And the best part is that Ken Biggs builds every one of them in the USA.

The other piece of this puzzle is the U.S. Radiator Desert Cooler Correct Fit aluminum radiator  (P/N AL010790). We’ve known USR owner Don Armstrong for a long time, and we know that he builds a quality product, every one of which is built in the USA using die stamps and tools. This unit features a highly polished finish, a polished aluminum shroud and an electric SPAL fan, and since it is a direct replacement for the stock unit, it drops right into place and bolts in using the stock holes and hardware.

While these are installs that you at home can easily do in a few hours, it’s a little tough for us to shoot the story and do the install all at the same time. That’s why we went to The 401K Club in Anaheim, California, to photograph as they did the work. Being a full-service hot rod shop, 401K was able to quickly install the units onto the engine, with only a few hiccups caused by unforeseen circumstances such as needing to replace the fixed water neck with a pivoting unit.

Adding these types of parts to your ride is what this pastime is all about. We love to work on our own cars, and we love to have them looking good and running well. But we don’t want to kill ourselves doing it, so anytime we can add style and substance in only a few hours, we’re there. We have a few more “Weekend Updates” in the pipeline, so stay tuned.


B&B Street Rods

Dept. DRV

1640 W. Acoma Blvd., Ste A-106

Lake Havasu, AZ 86403



U.S. Radiator

Dept. DRV

4423 District Blvd.

Vernon, CA 90058



The 401K Club

Dept. DRV

4392 East La Palma Avenue

Anaheim, CA 92807



1A-B We defy anyone to claim that their B&B Street Rods serpentine belt system was damaged in shipping. The units are mounted to a piece of 3/4 plywood and protected with another piece wood, as well. We used the upper piece as a prep table during the install. One nice thing is that the unit appears virtually as it will when on the engine, so it's like a living install diagram.

2A-B Obviously, this small-block Chevy needed some help. It had a nice set of Dart valve covers, Endurashine Edelbrock carb and polished Weiand intake, but the stock water pump, fan and shroud looked like—well, let's just say bad (this is a family mag, you know).

3 The first step is to drain the fluid from the radiator. Once drained, the old radiator is unbolted and removed.

4 Everything is removed from the front of the engine.

5 In order to gain a proper seal on the new water pump it's important to remove all traces of the old gaskets from around the water ports. After being scrapped, they will be wiped down with solvent to remove any debris.

6 Posts are place in the upper holes of the water pump ports and will act as supports for the main housing during installation. They only need to be "finger tight" since they will be removed shortly.

7 Sealant is applied to the gaskets and to the ports, then allowed to get tacky before being slipped over the posts.

8 The lower pulley and the tensioner are installed. Note that the tensioner bolts securely to the block. A few drops of thread-locking material on the bolts couldn't hurt, either.

9 For those using the power steering pump, it also bolts to the block. In this case it won't be used (not yet anyway, but hopefully soon). Running without it requires the use of a shorter serpetine belt.

10 Installing the stout main unit takes a strong back, but that's what the posts are for. Simply slide the unit onto the posts, and they hold the unit in place while the water pump is prepped.

11 Sealant is applied to the water pump and allowed to get tacky. Be sure to circle the bolt holes with sealant as well as the main port to prevent possible leakage.

12 The water pump is slid over the posts and the lower bolts are installed. The posts are removed with a flat blade screwdriver and the upper bolts are installed. Simplicity itself.

13 With the hardware tightened, the serpetine belt is installed.

14A-B U.S. Radiator makes an aluminum (and in this case, polished) replacement radiator for the Chevy, which they call their "Correct Fit" units. They come with an aluminum shroud and a 1,300-cfm, 16-inch SPAL Thinline electric fan. The radiators also have a built-in transmission cooler, though for high performance vehicles (and thus an engine that could potentially generate higher temperatures), USR reccomends running a separate tranny cooler.

15 Because the radiator is a stock replacement unit, it bolts quickly back into the stock holes. Note that U.S. Radiator offers two styles of SPAL electric fans for this radiator: a high cfm unit that is 4 inches deep, and the other is 2 inches deep. In this case, the 2-inch unit was used to provide enough clearance between its back and the water pump.

16 Because the car has a Painless Wiring system, an off-the- shelf Painless fan relay and thermostat unit (P/N 30103) is wired. The relay and associated pieces are installed beneath the battery tray to keep it out of sight. It starts up at 185 F and shuts down at 170 F. One thing to note, the thermostat screws into the intake manifold, because of this it was in the way of the fixed water neck on the engine, so a swivel neck was used instead. It only took a few degrees of turn to get the clearance needed, and we could still use the stock bend upper hose. The lower hose bolted on with no problems.

17 In about four hours this drab Chevy engine has been transformed into a bright, attractive vehicle that not only looks great, but now cools great, too.

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