Installing ford contour fans

smart cooling upgrades

     As many Foxbody owners know, the factory cooling system is barely up to the job for a stock trim 302. When you start making performance modifications, it only gets worse. It is the snowball effect we are all familiar with…

 “I Want more power… Now that water temp gauge is way higher than I want it to be… Time for more upgrades”

  "With more horsepower, comes more heat. Its physics, we can’t escape it."  

    When I first installed the Vortech S-Trim on my original 302, I knew it would want to run hot. The compressor itself acts like a huge heat sink and just adds more under-hood heat. So with that I knew an electric fan would make all the difference. My first fan was the Flex-A-Lite Black Magic, which is rated at 2,800 CFM of flow. Which I knew was much better than the factory clutch fan so I went with it. I had it on the car for years, and it served me well. But when it came time for a engine upgrade, that was when I noticed the fan wasn’t working as well. Switching from a 302, to a 331, added some more power, as well as more heat. The Black Magic fan just couldn’t handle it anymore, when moving slowly in traffic. Highway driving it was just fine, but as soon as I’d stop for a light (or on the strip waiting for the green to drop), the water temp would slowly rise. The heat just wasn’t getting pushed out fast enough. 

    With that I started researching other options that had more airflow. There are plenty of fan options out there, with much higher CFM ratings, but having a Vortech S-Trim made this complicated. With the extended crank pulley to allow for the blower belt, I only had roughly 4” of clearance between the radiator, and the crank pulley. That 4” dimension seemed to be the hardest part of the fan search.     

    The most common high CFM application fan, was the Lincoln MK8. It flows in the neighborhood of 4500-5000CFM, however it has a 5” overall thickness. It would have sat right on top of the crank pulley, so that wouldn’t have worked. All other aftermarket fans had similar dimensions. Until…. I ran across a thread of some who had used a dual fan from a late 90’s Ford Contour (Mercury Mystique).  This got my attention because the advertised flow rating is around 3500 CFM, but better yet, the overall thickness is only 3.5”. After a lot of dimension checking, I knew it would be a perfect fit between the radiator and the crank pulley. I also noted the overall width fit right between the tanks of my radiator, giving me the most coverage of the core, for the most cooling possible. 

OK, on to the install.… 

    For sourcing the fan, I went to Bryan Bayer (Instagram: @bbayerdesign) for one of his kits. Bryan does a top notch job tracing down a fan and completely refurbishing/rebuilding it, and making it look factory fresh. Including doing some pre-wiring of the fans to a nice shroud mounting terminal block, for easy connections. Bryan also tests each fan to make sure they are fully operational prior to sending them. Would definitely give him the nod again if I ever needed another fan. 

    Other than the main items, I purchased a piece of aluminum angle, and some 1/8” steel plate from my local home center to use for mounting brackets, and the appropriate stainless hardware for securing everything. 

 

    The first step was to measure for the top mounting bracket using the Aluminum angle. Once I had the measurement, I cut the angle to length. Using some extra hands to hold up the fan, and bracket, I marked for the mounting holes. 2 for mounting the bracket to the radiator, and 2 for mounting the fan to the bracket. Once they were marked I drilled fan and the radiator and secured the bracket and fan using the stainless hardware. 

 

    Now for the lower mounting bracket, I used the steel plate to make small “L” brackets that grabbed the bottom of the fan, and extended down to the lower lip of the radiator. Once I had the dimensions, I marked the hole locations and drilled as I did for the upper brackets. Note, I’ve also installed a Oil cooler using the same brackets, that will be plumbed at a later date.

 

    With a fan like this, you’ll need a fan controller. Keep in mine the max amps of these fans are about 20 each, 40 amps total. So the controller you choose, will have to be able to handle that amp draw on start up. I went with the Derale 16795 PWM controller. It has some great features, fully adjustable temperature control, manual override for A/C, 65 amp capacity, and slow start for the fans to have less of a draw on the rest of the electrical system.

    Quick coat of black paint on the lower steel brackets, and all set. These 3 brackets made the fans very secure against the radiator, and I still had roughly 1/2” of clearance between the fans, and the crank pulley. 

 

Next up was wiring….

   The kit from Derale comes VERY complete. All wires, connectors, and even small zip ties are included. Following their instructions along the way, I made all necessary connections. 

    Overall, this fan install was fairly simple. Just take your time with fabricating the brackets, and keep in mind that the fan can’t get too close to the radiator during operation (make sure there is plenty of operating clearance between the fan and radiator). Once its all wired up, confirm operation with a quick test drive making sure the fans come on at the set temperature. 

    Also, not shown here, you will need to fabricate a mount for a new coolant expansion tank .The factory tank will no longer mount the way it used to, so some modifications will be needed to make it work.  

Any questions feel free to contact me! Adam@ajsracing.net