Transmission Cooler Line Resto
Virtually any steel fluid line is now available to restore your car
Automatic transmission cooler lines will probably never make the top of the list when planning a restoration. They're just there—virtually hidden from view—and they don't attract any attention unless they leak. However, there are a couple of scenarios that will focus your attention on finding or making suitable replacements. Scenario #1: You go to remove the radiator and the first thing that happens is you round off the cooler line nuts (even with a line wrench) when you try to loosen them, leaving you with an ugly solution—Vise-Grips. Or, scenario #2: The last hack artist who did an engine rebuild on your car couldn't remember where the cooler lines were routed and just re-bent them to fit into a new location.
Our '69 Buick GS restoration project's trans cooler lines seriously suffered from scenarios #1 and #2 and a even few we won't even mention. Every time we jacked the car up, a couple of rusty pretzels were staring us in the face. The solution is easy. There are a few companies making pre-bent and flared replacement hard lines. Classic Tube is one of the largest and has a great reputation for supplying accurate, high-quality replacement steel lines for fuel, brake, and vacuum systems, plus transmission cooler lines.
What's important in selecting any steel tubing "hard" lines for your restoration is to make sure the replacements match the originals. Classic Tube uses state-of-the-art computer-programmable tube benders to assure that all bends are to factory specifications. They also use only OEM-style fittings gravel guard and spring wrap to duplicate original equipment lines. And what's really important if you are purchasing brake lines is that Classic Tube meets DOT and SAE standards for replacement steel tube and ISO/QS-9000 for its stainless steel lines.
Classic Tube offers exact replacement trans cooler lines or, if you prefer, the same lines made out of aircraft quality seamless, 304 stainless steel that resist rust and are much stronger. The difference in price for our car was approximately $45 for OE steel and $80 for stainless steel—quite a bargain considering the effort and materials that go into the construction. We selected Classic's stainless steel trans cooler lines and were pleased with the high luster on the tubing and the excellent fit.
Follow along with our step-by-step installation. The job takes less than an afternoon and just a few common hand tools. Always use line wrenches when removing or installing steel lines. If you don't have any, now's the perfect time to make the investment. After you see the results, installing new trans cooler lines may be one of the first things you do to restore your favorite ride.
Classic Tube, www.classictube.com
The trans cooler lines on this '69 Buick GS 400 were rusted, incorrectly routed and had been re-bent many times. The fittings were also rounded off from removing and tightening without a line wrench.
We ordered stainless steel replacement lines from Classic Tube. They are "computer-bent" for extreme accuracy. OE quality plain steel lines are also available from Classic for $45, almost half the price of stainless steel.
The first step is to remove the bottom line from the transmission, lower it and drain as much trans fluid as possible into a container. Plan on approximately a quart of fluid. Use a line wrench or take the chance of rounding off the hex on the fitting.
After removing both lines from the transmission, remove them from the radiator tank. Our fittings were already rounded off so after trying this wrench, we resorted to a set of Vise-Grips to loosen the lines.
This job can become messy, so put down something to protect your garage floor or driveway such as a piece of cardboard. To speed the operation, we cut the original trans cooler lines into two pieces for easier removal.
Check a service manual for your vehicle to confirm the correct routing of the new lines. Our originals were in the wrong place and we tried to route the new Classic Tube lines the same way. They didn't fit. Install the top line first?it's the toughest to get into position.
One feature we really liked on the new Classic Tube stainless lines was the elongated fittings on the trans end. It made getting a wrench on them much easier.
It didn't take much money or much work, but the finished result of neatly bent and polished stainless tubing brought our Buick GS one step closer to perfection. (It's got a long way to go from here!)
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