Cool Suit

Okay, I’m not the first person to every do this.  Most of the prior credit goes to:

I’ve made a few tweaks of my own, though.  Namely, I added bulkhead fittings to the parts list in order to be able to run the plumbing from the trunk to the cockpit without leaving a penetration.  And a second set of quick disconnect fittings so the cooler can be removed without disturbing to fixed plumbing.  Second, I’ve modified the shirt design to be a 4 zone shirt to minimize hot/cold areas around the shirt.  In addition, I’ve mimicked the plumbing pattern of the FAST shirt to maximize the cooling surface area.

Below I’ve include a complete parts list.  It includes enough materials to make the cooler, and plumb it into the car, and create two complete cool shirts.  All plumbing parts (tubing, fittings, etc) are from McMaster Carr (  The cooler and pump are from River Marine (  The only supplies you will need will be for your mounting system…which depends on where you choose to mount the cooler.

Parts List


Purchase Order Date
COOLSUIT 6/17/11 Shipped 2 of 2 shipments by UPS Ground.
1 5012K662 2 Each Acetal Quick-disconnect Coupling, Socket, 1/4 Cplg, For 1/4″ Tube Od, With Valve
2 5384K583 25 Ft. Moisture-resistant Polyethylene Vacuum Tubing, .170″id, 1/4″od, .04″ Wall,translucent White, 25
3 5923K61 2 Each Nsf White Acetal Quick-disconnect Tube Cplg, Plug, 1/4 Coupling, For 1/4″ Tube Od, With Valve
4 5272K231 2 Each Brass Yor-lok Tube Fitting, Thru-wall Coupling For 1/4″ Tube Od
5 5923K31 2 Each Nsf White Acetal Quick-disconnect Tube Cplg, Socket, 1/4 Coupling, For 1/4″tube Od, With Valve
6 5012K692 5 Each Acetal Quick-disconnect Coupling, Plug, 1/4 Cplg, For 1/4″ Tube Od, With Valve
7 5648K693 100 Ft. Choose-A-Color Polyurethane Tubing Transparent Blue, .160″ ID, 1/4″ OD, .045″ Wall Thk
8 2974K283 1 Pack Durable Nylon Single-barbed Tube Fitting, Wye For 3/16″ Tube Id, White
9 4463K132 2 Each Unslit Foam Rubber Pipe Insulation, 1/2″ Thick, 1/2″ Insulation Id, 6′ Length
10 3736K2 2 Each Polyethylene Through-wall Fitting, Female Npt X Female Npt, 3/4″ Pipe Size
11 5047K42 1 Each Moisture-Resistant Acetal Sngl-Barb Fitting 90 Deg Elbow for 3/4″ Tube ID X 3/4″ NPT Male Pipe
12 4880K345 2 Each Std-wall (schedule 40) White Pvc Pipe Fitting, 3/4″npt Male X1/4″npt Female, Threaded Hex Bushi
13 51875K62 2 Each Brass Compression Tube Fitting W/tube Support, Adapter For 1/4″ Tube Od X 1/4″ Npt Male Pipe
14 5233K71 2 Ft. Masterkleer Pvc Tubing, 3/4″ Id, 1″ Od, 1/8″ Wall Thickness
15 5047K86 1 each Moisture-Resistant Acetal Sngl-Barb Fitting 90 Deg Elbow for 3/4″ Tube ID


Variable speed controller:;f=44;t=003316;p=2

We used a wire shelf from the dollar store and cut it to fit.  I mounted the pump directly to the bottom of the cooler and siliconed the screws and it doesn’t leak.



4 – #8 Stainless Steel wood screws

6 – 5/16” Hex head bolts 1” long, nuts and washers to match

3 6” lengths of 2” aluminum angle

Wire ties

GE Silicone II

Teflon Tape



1 3/4” hole saw

1/4” drill bit

1/2” drill bit

Various wrenches (crescent is fine)

Phillips Screw Driver




Mark the locations for the through-wall fittings to penetrate.  Mine are 4cm down from the lower lip of the top, and 4cm from the beginning of the inside flat.  This ensures that the inside flange is completely on the flat of the cooler for a good seal, and that the are far apart that they don’t interfere with each other in the middle.



Next assemble the through wall fittings and associated parts.  Be sure to use teflon tape on all threads to ensure a good seal.  In order to ensure that the teflon tape is applied in the right direction…always hold the tape in your left hand, and the fittinng to be wrapped in your right hand.  Wrap the tape down and towards you and the tape will be “tightened” when you thread the fitting into its mating part.  I assemble parts from the inside out.  So, I insert the the brass compression x 1/4 NPT fitting into the 3/4 x 1/4 NPT adapter. Then I thread this asembly into the through wall fitting.  Finally I inserted the barbed fitting into the inside of the through wall.

NOTE: in the pictures below, I show the straight barbed fitting, but in the final version at the end I switched to a 90* elbow.  The clear PVC tubing kinked too much when I first tried to fit the pump.  So, I switched to the 90* elbow configuration in the final pictures.


You only need one barbed fitting to connect to the pump, the inlet doesn’t need any fitting. In order to fit the assemblies into the cooler the rubber gasket must be removed because it is too thick.  Instead I gooped the inside face of the through-wall fitting with silicon II.  Then I inserted them into their respective holes (barbed outlet towards the hidge side), and threaded on the collar.  I loosly tightened the fitting until I got squeeze out silicon II from around the entire circumference, but not so tight that I squeezed out all of the silicon.  Later once the silicon is dry I will tighten the fitting a touch more to compress the now solid “gasket”.



In order to fit the pump, separate the bottom from the pump body.  I chose to place the pump on the hindge edge of the floor, centered side-to-side.  This will minimize the amount of time that the pump will be starved for water.  Also, place the base so that the retaining tabs are approx 1/4” away from the cooler wall.  Next use the stainless steel screws to fasten the pump base in the cooler.  Then remove the screws.  Use the silicon to fill the screw holes, then coat the bottom of the base, and coat the threads of the screws.  Then put it all back together for real.  Finally feed the wires through a 1/4” hole in the top of the cooler wall.  Squeeze a bunch of silicon into the hole around the wire, and then build it up around the wire on the inside and outside of the cooler to act as a strain relief.


Next, I located the cooler in its final location.  I mounted the cooler with 3 6” sections of 2” aluminum angle, and 2 – 5/16” x 1” bolts.  I had to remove the muffler heat shield in order to drill the required 11/32” holes.  I used blue loctite to hold the nuts.  Later I will hammer the heat shield to leave clearance for the bolts (so it doesn’t buzzzzzzzz)!!!!




The next task was to locate the bulkhead fittings on the rear firewall.  This method is a little more expensive than just pushing the tubing through a crack…but, I didn’t want to leave that large of a gap in my firewall between me and the gas tank.  For less than $10, seems like a no brainer.  These fittings have a long threaded end that comes with a nut on it, and a short threaded end that only has a compression fitting.  First I cut two 5 foot sections of the polyethylene tubing and attached them to the short-end of the bulk-head fittings.

If you haven’t used compression fittings before, its pretty simple.  Remove the outside threaded portion of the fitting, catch the little bits that will fall out (a conical collar, and sometimes a stepped washer).  Slip the threaded fitting onto the end of the tubing, then the conical collar with the narrow end of the collar towards the end of the tubing.  Then insert the tubing assembly into the brass fitting and thread the fitting together until finger tight.  Finally using two wrenches tighten an addition 1/4 – 1/3 turn.

Next drill two holes in the rear firewall just big enough for the fittings…15/32” is enough, 1/2” is ok.  Feed the tubing up the side between the drivers seat-belt tower and the gas tank.  Then insert them into the holes just drilled, and tighten on the retaining nuts.  Cut your remaining tubing in half, and finally, connect these two sections of tubing to the inside compression fittings.


To complete the installation, return to the trunk.  Attach the tubing to the cooler compression fittings.  Stretch the tubing out and decide on a good location for the quick disconnect fittings, then cut the tubing.  Then cut two 3” sections of insulating foam and slip them over the tubing and the outlet brass fittings.  Then fit a zip-tie around the tubing to hold the foam in place.  Cut another length of foam insulation the same length as the tubing and slip it over the exposed tubes.  Then attach on end of the quick disconnect fittings to each tube.  Finally, use zip-ties to secure the foam in place and help constrict air from flowing into or out of the insulation.



Building the shirt

I chose to build my own shirt.  I figure I can build a lot of shirts for very little money…I’m sure to get it perfect long before I spend $275 for a carbon-X FAST shirt.  I’ll perfect it in cotton, then build the final shirt out of my carbon-X under-shirt.  My major deal here is to build a multi-zone shirt rather than the single zone version proposed by Zach.  The trick here is to use Wye fittings to split and rejoin the flow at the shirt inlets and outlets.  Its not that much more trouble or expense.  It just takes a little more planning and fore-thought…and trial and error.

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