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Contour Electric Fan Install

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Greyhounds_AMX View Drop Down
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    Posted: Jun/23/2019 at 9:45am

This fan conversion concept has been around for years, on HybridZ, NastyZ28.com, the rangerstation, etc. Here’s some links for additional reading:

http://nastyz28.com/threads/budget-dual-fan-controller-setup-taurus-fan-setup.200028/

https://therangerstation.com/tech_library/volvo_electric_fan.shtml

Frank just added some info on using the Contour fan on the AMC forum now as well.

http://theamcforum.com/forum/ford-contour-fans_topic100292.html

A lot of people have used the two-speed Taurus or Mk VIII single fans over the years I know, but the Contour fan is apparently more efficient, and draws less electrical load. The Contour/Mystique/Cougar dual fan shroud is a very good fit for the stock AMC radiator. Here’s the Contour dual fan unit we’re talking about, in salvage yard patina:

 

And the dimensions:


And for reference, here’s how it looks against an early AMX radiator and an aftermarket AMX radiator:





And here’s what you can expect for clearance on a 68 AMX with long water pump and aftermarket radiator. There’s just barely enough room to slip the PS belt through there.



Although we call this a Contour fan, I have found may more of them in the little 2000-ish Cougars, like this one:


The really nice thing about this setup is that it uses OEM equipment so we get high reliability and easy availability, and allows sourcing parts from salvage yards. The basic components are:

1) Ford Contour dual fan assembly

These were OEM on V6 Contour/Mystique and 1998-2002 Cougar, and include two fans with Bosch motors and a resistor, all mounted in a shroud. Both fans run at the same time, with a low speed through the resistor and a high speed bypassing it.

2) Volvo dual fan control relay

These are on 90's era Volvo vehicles, and integrate two relays into a single package. You turn on each relay by grounding the respective yellow wire from the center connector.

If you buy a fan assembly at a salvage yard you'll get the three connectors with it and most of the wire harness that you need. It takes a fair bit of work to clean and paint one though, so there might be value in buying a new Dorman fan assembly if you are short on time and want it to look purdy. I don't know if the aftermarket versions use Bosch motors though.

3) BMW dual temp switch

BMW used a temp switch that had two separate internal switching points, and as the temp is reached the respective switch is connected to ground. The standard switch uses 195F/210F switch points, but they also offer a 180F/195F version.

If your thermostat is a 195F like mine you'd want the 195F switch, or else the fans will run all the time when you are going down the highway, which isn't efficient.

Early versions of this setup used a BMW switch with three separate 90 degree wire connectors, but I'm using a Z3 switch and with it a nice weather pack style connector that has all three contacts built into it - BWM offers it as a repair item.

4) Short Stop 40A auto reset circuit breaker

If a fan sticks or something fries a motor this will disconnect the circuit.

 

The wiring is pretty simple, especially if you grabbed the harness from a salvage yard. Here’s a diagram:


 

Here’s the fan wiring, with the main runs set up the way Ford ran it to each of the fans:


 

And here’s a close up of the relay and breaker mounted and wired up:


 

Some things to note:

Using just these basic components will leave the fans running when the car is turned off, until the temp at the sensor drops far enough.

Volvo runs positive directly to the relay via a fusible link - it's "Hot at all times" per the Volvo wiring diagrams. So to arrange for the fans to shut off when the car is off they use a relay in the ground path between the temp switch and ground. That does add an additional possible failure point though and a bunch of additional connections to make. I ran the ground wire from the switch to the interior of the car and grounded it there. That way if I don't like the fan running when the car is off I can add a relay later to  interrupt that ground path based on the keyed positive. That relay would be a critical component though - if it fails there would be no fan operation. So the best setup is no relay at all, and the second best would be to use a very good relay (like a real Bosch, not some cheap no name).

One of the more challenging parts of the install is figuring out where to put the temp sensor. It needs to be installed in the hot coolant exiting the block, as that's the best indicator of engine temperature. AMC did offer a water neck with a boss included for the TCS vacuum valve, so that seems to be the simplest way to do it. On the factory water neck with low, horizontal mounted TCS valve though there's not enough space for the new sensor and an adapter bushing as it would run into an intake runner.

I considered using a new replacement water neck, as some of them come with the port boss cast in but not yet machined. The one I got from Four Seasons was really poor quality though. The mounting ears were sloped and would need to be spot faced parallel to the gasket surface, and the blank boss surface I planned to drill and tap for the sensor was far from flat or level. Plus the overall casting quality was pretty low.

I found that the water neck from an '86 Wagoneer had a vertical connection for the TCS valve. I made a threaded bushing from a 3/8" NPT brass allen plug, drilled and tapped to M14x1.5. I found it works best to get a 3/8 NPT ID fitting of some sort to use as a holder for the allen plug, and split that fitting in half down the middle to allow removal of the plug after drilling and tapping it. One nice thing was that the drill size for M14 is essentially 1/2", so no need to buy any funky metric drill bits.




 

I used a new BMW temp switch for a 1998 Z3 and a new BMW connector kit for it. The connector is a weatherpack sort of thing, with small open barrel connectors that you have to crimp on to the wires. Don't forget to slide on the rubber seals before crimping. My crimper would just barely make the crimp on such a small connector, so I crimped them and then followed up by soldering them. Also note that if your wires are kind of big or have thick insulation it will be really hard to get them and the weatherpack seals stuffed into the plastic connector.


 

If you are using the same BMW switch as I am, you will need to ground connection 1, connection 3 is low speed, and connection 2 is high speed.


 

There is an older BMW dual temp switch that is also popular for this swap, and you can find details on that at nastyz28.com. Another alternative dual temp switch is used on Volkswagen and Audi cars, but looks to be a much larger diameter. You can find details on that at therangerstation.com.

So here's the overall parts list and pricing, assuming you buy a new fan:

Dual Fan with Shroud, Depo brand, 330-55008-000, 1995-99 Contour/Mystique, $97, Amazon Prime

Radiator Fan Motor Harness (3 reqd), Standard Motor Products, S827, 1995-99 Contour/Mystique, $9 x 3, Amazon Prime

Volvo Dual Relay w/ Connectors, Volvo, , 92-97 Volvo 740/850/940/960, $30, Salvage yard / Ebay

Short Stop circuit breaker w/Boot, Bussman, 40A, $15, Ebay

Temperature Switch (91/99 deg C), Facet, 7.5684, 1997-2002 BMW Z3, $28, Ebay

BMW Wiring Harness Connector, BMW, 61132359998, 1997-2002 BMW Z3, $22, Ebay

10 AWG Marine Grade Wire, Ancor, 8 ft 10 AWG, 10 AWG Marine Grade, $12, Ebay

Nylon Push Mount Zip Ties, Sydien, Fir Tree Push Mount Zip Ties, $12, Amazon Prime

Wire Loom 3/8" Black, Nippon America, LM-BK, 20' Black 3/8" Wire Loom, $12, Amazon Prime

     Total: $255

  

Now if you want to do it really cheap and have a nearby U-Pull-It junkyard or something similar:

Dual Fan with Shroud, 1995-99 Contour/Mystique, $30

Radiator Fan Motor Harness included with fan, $0

Volvo Dual Relay w/ Connectors, $10

Short Stop circuit breaker w/Boot, Bussman, 40A, $15, Ebay

Temperature Switch (91/99 deg C), 1997-2002 $10

Wiring Harness Connector included with switch, $0

10 AWG Wire, 8 ft $10 hardware store

Re-use original zip ties and wire loom, $0

     Total: $75

 

If you don't want to buy a junkyard fan it still might be worth considering pulling the fan wiring harness from a Contour/Mystique/Cougar at a yard. That'll get you 3 plugs and all the wire you'll need, already hooked up. There’s some additional small gauge wiring in there that you might even be able to use for the relay trigger wires.

Also you might look at the Volvo relay, BMW temp switch, and temp switch plug and say "That's $80! I could get a temp controller for that!". And you could. But this is OEM stuff, proven for millions of miles in every kind of service a vehicle could be put through. This stuff if as reliable as it gets. If you look around the internet and you will find an infinite number of horror stories about aftermarket fan controllers failing. That's why I didn't consider an electric fan conversion until I saw this concept.

Now granted some of those were probably due to bad connections, too much fan load, etc., but still, this is too critical to chance on low quality aftermarket items.

Also keep in mind that the Contour fan is a two speed arrangement, and that’s helps reduce the starting load. To start the fans turning from a dead stop takes a lot of current, and with this setup there’s a resistor in the path that reduces that current. If you need the higher speed it doesn’t have to jump from 0 rpm to full speed ever, so it doesn’t ever draw that super high load on the relays, wiring, alternator, etc.

But to run that you'd either need a dual speed controller or two conventional controllers.

More details to come...

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote billd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun/23/2019 at 9:55am
Wow that really is a near-perfect fit. Nice to see no real physical mods needed - almost all electric, sensors, etc.

Do you have the stats on the draw or load - or maybe I missed it in the text?
Do you have start-up draw vs. low speed draw vs. high speed draw, all running max?


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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pdok Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun/23/2019 at 10:29am
Superb writeup! Thanks for taking the time to document and photo so thoroughly.

One question, have you checked that your fans kick on at the rated temps? I'm just wondering if the temp sensor is long enough to be immersed in coolant. It seems to be about the same length as the threads of the bushing, and I'm wondering how much direct contact it has with coolant and if that matters.

I completely agree on use of OEM grade parts, but I've been poor enough to have to depend on the cheapo parts too. There's no guarantees with any of them, but I'd rather have the junkyard pull than the unknown off brand, and that includes relays of course.

Worth nothing (even though this is in the V8 section), that those of us 4.0 MPFI swappers who kept the PDC can pretty easily tap the factory relay/wiring with the appropriate mods to your wiring diagram... Might even be able to figure out what the computer fan control wire would do in this case...hmm got me wondering now.

I think this thread deserves to move outside the strict V8 section, or maybe sticky alongside the old contour fan thread... Excellent resource
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Greyhounds_AMX Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun/23/2019 at 10:59am
I don't have any info on the current draw of the fan motors unfortunately, and don't have a meter with the capability to test it. I might be able to measure the voltage drop across the low speed resistor and use that to calculate the current flow for the steady state low speed operation.
The folks at nastyZ28 have been doing this setup with a 30 amp Short Stop breaker with no problems, but I felt that a 40 amp seemed like a better idea.
A more scientific approach to the circuit protection wouldn't hurt at all though.

I haven't tested to see if the fan turns on at the exact temps, but I expect it'll be close enough. All of this is encased in brass which conducts heat pretty well.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote billd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun/23/2019 at 11:07am
Pdok - I made it a sticky but waffled about where it should be. I wonder if it needs to be in the electric section with a LINK from the V8 section and 6 section as well as the 4.0 areas. It's an excellent write-up (but then I expect nothing less from the source that posted it)

I agree with the sensor depth - that's something I also questioned - and I have a direct example of why. I added a "computer" to my Comanche with 4.0 years ago. It was one of those time and temperature and oil pressure and engine temperature and cabin temp and it did everything but track altitude (unless it did and I missed that being in Iowa)
Anyway, I had to add a spot for the engine temp sensor - and the setup I used kept that fancy time/temp/direction/markets today thing from sensing the engine temp correctly It actually often read hotter than the factory setup. 
Maybe a non-issue here - proof is in the working of it. 

My issue with the 40 amp is that you want as small a breaker as possible to protect the wiring and system. Is it possible that it could draw too much, have a real issue and not trip a larger breaker? My theory is "as small as practical" for protection. Not scientific, I know......

So where's the best place? Obviously this could be used on non-V8 situations. Would be fun for my SX4 even just for kicks. Mine runs COLD right now but hey..... I have the PDC and PCM and all of that with extra relays in the PDC. 

Edited by billd - Jun/23/2019 at 11:09am
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote BU1 Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun/23/2019 at 11:27am
Originally posted by Greyhounds_AMX Greyhounds_AMX wrote:

The folks at nastyZ28 have been doing this setup with a 30 amp Short Stop breaker with no problems, but I felt that a 40 amp seemed like a better idea.
 
 Not the correct approach with the 40a breaker. If there should be a short somewhere, the wiring will have to take the current until the 40a trips. In this case bigger is not better. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Greyhounds_AMX Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun/23/2019 at 11:54am
Originally posted by BU1 BU1 wrote:

 
 Not the correct approach with the 40a breaker. If there should be a short somewhere, the wiring will have to take the current until the 40a trips. In this case bigger is not better. 

I'm not sure that the 40A breaker is big enough really. I dug up the (supposed) factory wiring diagram for the Contour/Mystique/Cougar and it looks like it had a 60A fuse in the supply to the fans, and that is separate from the power supplied to trigger the relay coils (which is really low, relatively). Here's that wiring diagram:





Edited by Greyhounds_AMX - Jun/23/2019 at 12:02pm
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Pdok Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun/23/2019 at 12:12pm
I'd be very interested to hear some comparisons to cars that have a factory shroud already w/the engine driven fan.  What's the payback for all this work if you swap? I get it if you don't have a shroud and you're losing all that flow around the sides.  That's one doubt that's really held me back from this swap, as I don't know if the benefits will justify the effort.  Still, it's on my to-do list at some point.

Also, would like to hear thoughts on this dual fan vs a push/pull dual fan arrangement w/ one in front of the AC condenser and a larger diameter behind the radiator.

OT, I realize, but regarding fan control through the PDC and PCM, the 1995 XJ FSM has this to say about how it is triggered:

XJ models equipped with a 4.0L 6-cylinder engine may also have an auxiliary electrical cooling fan. This is with models that have air conditioning and/or heavy duty cooling. The fan is controlled by the cooling fan relay, which is located in the power distribution center (PDC). 

For the location of relay within the PDC (Fig. 41), refer to the label on PDC cover. When coolant temperature is above 88°C (190°F), the powertrain control module (PCM) provides a ground path for the fan relay. This ground is provided through pin/connector #31 of the PCM 60-way connector. Battery voltage is then applied to the fan through the relay. When coolant temperature is below 88°C (190°F), the PCM opens the ground path to the relay. This will prevent the cooling fan from being energized.

Whenever the air conditioning is operated, the PCM engages the auxiliary cooling fan. It provides a ground path to the cooling fan relay. This ground is provided through pin/connector #31 of the PCM 60-way connector.

This undoubtedly requires the stock temp sensor, and there's no provision for a two-speed fan or for independent dual fan control with a dual temp switch. That said, however, you could still use one of the other PDC relays to trigger a second fan, assuming you use the dual-range sensor mentioned above. Leave the factory PCM connected to the 195 side, I'd say.  I'm not savvy enough to know if the XJ temp sensor sends a temp signal or just on/off at 190.  Guessing it's just sending on/off and the PCM does its grounding.  Interesting to note that the A/C signal will also trigger the PCM, which would be helpful functionality to retain. I've got those wires tagged, but haven't gotten around to chasing this topic yet. Elec fan is on my future list.

The Electrical section is the only one that seems to match. Maybe Tech Articles, but there's too much discussion for it to be completely one-topic.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote billd Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun/23/2019 at 12:27pm
Pdok the biggest thing I'd see would be perhaps MPG - on the highway you aren't spinning a fan. Perhaps low-RPM spin up to higher RPM because you transfer the load to the alternator. 
You can't say it takes less HP because fans take HP regardless - although these should be more efficient.
Otherwise if you take a fan and spin it with the engine it's going to take xx HP - spin the same fan electrically and it will still take xx HP - now though you are driving it electrically. 
So IF all things were even - a wash. But consider highway driving when you don't need to spin a mechanical fan - or for racing you can turn them off, etc.
CAFE numbers made a difference - being able to turn them off now and then ups your corporate CAFE numbers - like using thinner oil and other stuff. 

For most folks not sure it's any advantage - but for pure performance and trying to squeeze more MPG out or IN TOWN driving where you can't spin a mechanical fan, yeah, superior cooling (but idling now with high current fans will require a high idle-output alternator)

Can't diss 'em - just have to suspect they aren't for everyone - DEPENDING. I bet sitting in LA traffic, NYC waiting at rush, you'd be thrilled to have fans running cooling things. Do much highway driving, I can see there. 
Just my logic applied. 
I have zero reason at all to do it in my case - but one of these days, could be just something to do for kicks. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote Ollie Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: Jun/23/2019 at 12:47pm
I am not thrilled by the temp sensor location. The water at that location is the temperature of the thermostat and/or the water coming out of the block. The water at this point has done its cooling job.

To turn the fans on I would think you need the thermostat in the water coming into the block. That is to say the the lower radiator hose. 

If the radiator is cooling the water as it should you need no fans. If the water after passing thru the radiator exceeds 180 or 195, your choice, now we need to turn on the fans.

Just me. That set-up in The Rambler works great for me. Fan runs very little. No AC tho. 

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