In a race application, I would want the cooler separate from the radiator. Some- times the radiator does all it can do to cool the engine without the tranny (cooler) putting more heat into it. Although in the past I've mounted the cooler in the driver's compartment, I don't like to do this. I learned this lesson with a friend's car. The metal cooler lines came up through a hole in the floorboard. As the engine moved around while racing, one line rubbed the edge of the hole enough to wear a hole in the fluid line. At first, we thought it was funny when he rubbed the wall getting the car stopped on the front straight. Ever seen how slick the inside of a Stock car can get when eight hot quarts of transmission fluid are applied in a random manner?
Consider the firewall mount. When mounted flush against a surface, air cannot flow through the cooler, thus there is no cooling. In front of the radiator is not a bad place to put a cooler. If engine cooling is marginal, the cooler should be mounted to one side so it doesn't block airflow to the radiator. Just make sure it has its own access to air.
I have mounted coolers on the floor of the trunk over an opening. With some sheetmetal directing undercar air into the cooler, this works fine. When doing this, there must be an opening in the rear of the trunk lid area to let the air out. The rear vertical area of the trunk lid is best for this air exhaust opening because this is a low pressure area. Rear mounting also moves a slight amount of weight to the rear, but for the most part it is a safe place to put it.
Now, let's examine a tranny popping out of gear. When a manual transmission pops out of gear, it is usually because some bearings inside are worn, allowing the gear teeth to kick away from each other. When an automatic pops out of gear, there is nothing wrong with the tranny if it works when it is put back in gear. When the auto tranny pops out of gear, usually there is a linkage problem.
A Street Stock car seldom has a stiff chassis. The shifter is often firmly attached to the floor. The motor uses stock-type rubber mounts (sometimes with 20 years of abuse) that have considerable flex. Then a solid rod is attached between the shifter and the tranny. When the chassis and engine locations are flexed, the problem becomes apparent.
An OE cable system can work well. Otherwise, I like a rod attached to the tranny shifter, coming through the floor and located by a loop attached to a secure mount. The rear of the tranny would be best. A 90-degree bend on the end of the rod forms the handle. It can be a little awkward to feel the detents in the tranny with this mechanism, but the rod is free to move with chassis/engine flex without pulling the tranny out of gear.
Q: I would like to say how much I appreciate seeing an article about a Honda race project. I'm 20 years old, I pay for a race car out of my pocket, and I've found it affordable to race a Honda. I've raced for two years at Orange Show Speedway and this is the first article I've seen about building a unibody race car. Do you have any setup information for an asphalt-track Honda? I hope you are not catching too much flak about building a Honda.Thomas GibbonsVia e-mail
Sleepy: I haven't had to dodge any flak on the Honda so far. In fact, the response has been quite favorable. Building a unibody car takes a different mindset than building a car with a chassis to attach everything to. I think a properly designed unibody race car would be one in which all the sheetmetal could be removed and the car would still run around the track. I suppose this could never be achieved, but the closer you get, the better. Any- where anything is attached to sheetmetal, it must be done with a plate that spreads the load. Unibody cars are surprisingly flexible. If you haven't noticed, they are all spot-welded together with the spots an inch or two apart.