System Mods – No One Can Eat (do) Just One

Once you start, can’t stop – Owen Stevens

While I was performing my mod to my old water block – How to Give a Waterblock a Brain Transplant – I got caught up in a modding frenzy and modded my system with a new radiator as well.

Here is my new copper radiator – it’s out of an older Ford Escort – only cost $18 US for a new one!


Originally I cut the tubes down and soldered on some ½” copper pipe. (I’ll have more soldering info in a future article. O)


This new rad plumbed into my set up like this.


A zoom in on the rad and its connections. I didn’t like the way I had ‘hung’ the pump off the rad with tubing and hose clamps, so I went looking for a better alternative.


I found these threaded solder on fittings at Home Depot. I also found the female version, but I can’t seem to lay hands on the photo – sorry. I bet I could use these in my system for a sturdier pump mounting. I mount the pump this way so that the pump heat is removed by the rad and the highest flow resistance is encountered first in my system. I am also trying to reduce flow resistance by using the shortest length of tubing and the largest diameter tubing as possible.


Safety First! Here’s a shot the safety equipment I use.



And the torch.


And the solder and flux, whew!


I prepped the copper pipe coming out of the rad with steel wool and applied flux.


Next I heated up the assembly:


Once hot enough, the solder melted into the joint. Sorry it’s blurry – I had to hold the solder, camera, and the torch, and I don’t have three hands :


I attached the other ‘male’ fitting in the same way. Yeah, I know they look a bit dirty, but that’s what the torch does.


Here you can see why I did this. Now my pump ‘threads’ right into my rad via a nice sturdy connection! Of course that’s only one mod.

The next thing I wanted was a better fan connection to my rad.



I use these four fans to make an equivalent 160mm x160mm fan for cooling my rad. I just used zip ties to tie the four together via the fan mounting holes.

They are four Panaflo FBA08A12L1A 80mm fans rated at 24 cfm at 21 dBA each.


To isolate the fans’ vibrations from the rad, I use these rubber grommets that I purchased from Home Depot. Radio Shack has some vinyl ones, but I prefer rubber to vinyl for vibration dampening.


I attach the fan by a rather simple method using plastic zip ties. I run the zip tie through the radiator, the grommet and the fan. A great part about zip ties is that the fan is only hanging from the rad, not firmly fastened with hardware, which would transfer more vibrations.


Here’s a close up of how the fan ‘sits’ on the grommet. I actually ended up using two grommets per corner to get the fan further away from the rad.

On Rad

Here are the fans fully attached to my rad. Just enough clearance for the pump – perfect!


Now I use my fans in a ‘pull’ arrangement, so air is drawn through the rad by the fans. To make this work correctly, I need to ‘duct’ the fans to the rad. My solution is to use metal ‘duct’ tape. This tape is 2 inches wide and strong and stiff enough to make a good seal. It is also easy to work with and will last a long time. You may have seen this tape used in household heating and cooling systems – it is the ‘real’ duct tape.

Now how to mount this setup in my case?



I already had a large hole in the front of my case. I simply had to nibble a little bit more out above the old hole and the new rad fit! Well, I did also remove all of the 3.5-inch bays to get more ‘elbow room’.


Here is how well it fits. Nice! It’s hard to see from this pic, but the rad is resting on a piece of foam for more vibration dampening. I could probably put the 3.5-inch bay back in and I may later, but for now I have everything in my 5.25 inch bays just fine. Did I mention I have a 12 bay tower case with six 5.25-inch bays?


I hate it when the dust and cat hair clog my rad, so I put a filter on the front of the rad. Yes, that lovely green color is from grocery store bought Scotch Brite pads. They filter well, are cheap and can clean dirty dishes! You can also see a few zip ties I used to hold the rad securely in the case, for when I lug it back down to my basement ‘computer room’.


And a parting shot of the whole system as it is today. I like the nice clean look it has. This new rad is great! It’s all copper, huge and my CPU is now only 4C above ambient under load no matter what I throw at it. I think that I have sized it over capacity for my XP1600+ because I only get a 1C rise from idle to load, and not always that.


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