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How much clearance between fan and radiator is enough... considering flex, random encounters with large puddles etc ?

 
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I have a 258 and a 4 core radiator from Auto Zone.
There is about 1 1/2" between the fan and rad. I've never had any problems.
Now I'm still running the stock fan with no fan clutch. A clutch will close the distance by about 1/2 to 3/4"

If you forsee going through any substaintial water, an electric fan is the way to go. I'm going with one anyway because of how much power the stock fan robs from the engine.

'79 CJ-5
 
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