How do I clean out the radiator now?!!

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2005: How do I clean out the radiator now?!!
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Brad 1924 T Coupe on Monday, November 27, 2006 - 08:59 pm:

Folks,

I took the radiator to the recommended radiator shop for a clean out. They won't touch it. They said the style is too old (honeycomb) and that they can't help. I don't believe it's in that bad of condition that it can't be restored. I read a post some time back that described using a substance like Liquid Plummer, but I can't find that post anymore. Now what do I do?

Radiator

Radiator Close


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By jack daron on Monday, November 27, 2006 - 09:35 pm:

I use tidy bowl or any suitable toilet cleaner. put the whole jug in and fill radiator with water,let set for 30-40 min. and then drain and flush. You assume it will not eat any holes through the core. (you are at your own risk) It will eat away any old lime deposits inside the core.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Schubert on Monday, November 27, 2006 - 10:37 pm:

I have used vineger with some limited success. It is much less aggresive than toilet cleaner so less risk to eating through. I would start by taking a bright light and looking down the filler and up the bottom outlet with a mirror if you can. If the core is badly plugged I don't hold out much hope. I would put the vineger in for a day. Lay the radiator on the floor, buy a plumbing expandable rubber test plug from Home Depot for the filler neck or O ring the cap and that might work to. Fill it up with a couple of gallons of vineger and walk away for the day. Do it somewhere that if it starts to leak it is not a disaster. You have nothing to lose I guess, what you have is worse than useless, you could wreck your engine boiling it dry!!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tim on Monday, November 27, 2006 - 10:44 pm:

If your trying to get out lime and other water deposits, why not try CLR?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Norman T. Kling on Monday, November 27, 2006 - 10:47 pm:

Turn the radiator upside down and connect the hose to the bottom with a water tight plug and turn up pressure to back flush. Most deposits go in from the top side. This is especially true if you are using a water pump. This might work. If it doesn't, you might have it "boiled out". Find a radiator shop which "boils out radiators". The problem with the honey comb radiator is that it cannot be rodded. If boiling out doesn't work the best thing to do is to spend some of that after tax money and buy a new radiator.
Norm


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By J. Iversen on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 01:17 am:

Brad, Don't forget to take care of the biggest poluter of radiators--the typical rusty T waterjacket. I use a 3 inch dia., 10 foot stand pipe attached to the upper motor outlet. My high pressure, gravity water injected at the inlet fills the stand pipe in 14 seconds which, in turn flushes in the opposite direction in half that time. This back and forth, flushing action still produces rust flakes after countless cycles, and clearly evident in a washtub catch container. After a couple of hours of this activity, one finally has to throw in the towel, at signs of diminishing returns, even though the outflowing of debris seems endless. Perhaps this technique could also produce favorable results with radiators.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James R. Patrick on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 09:12 am:

If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Please do not experiment with home remedies. You could easily eat through the metal with acid based products and destroy your radiator. A radiator shop is the way to go with a full submerged flush. They may not want to do a pressure test as they may not have the correct size fittings or are just plain scared they may blow it up, but a flush is all you really want in order to clean it out. A radiator shop is there to make money. It may be that they have never seen such an old radiator and are afraid they may mess it up and don't want the liability. I would go back to them and explain that a Model T radiator is basically the same as a modern radiator and there is really no reason for them to refuse, then ask them again to submerge it in their tank to flush it and forgo the pressure test, telling them you will pay them what they would charge for a modern radiator flush, plus sign a waiver releasing them of all liability. If, after this, they still refused, I would take my business to other radiator shops until I found one who had the confidence and competence to help. I have never been refused by a radiator shop and am surprised you were. Good luck, Jim


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Joseph Wayne Rudzik on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 12:17 pm:

My radiator shop told me to use vineager from the grocery store, run the car, let it set a few minutes, drain, then flush with clean water.
It worked for me and cleaned the "gunk" from the radiator and left it shiney new.
I also smelled garden salad fresh for a few days.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jim Cook on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 12:31 pm:

For everyone,

If you want to check the radiator for leaks after it has been cleaned, use a bicycle inner tube.

1. Solder the radiator overflow shut at the bottom.

2. Plug the neck with an expanding stopper or a very good rubber seal and cap.

3. Cut a bicycle inner tube in half opposite the stem.

4. Put one end of the inner tube on the inlet and the other on the outlet.

5. Tape the tube to the inlet and outlet with stretched electrical tape.

6. Add air to the inner tube until the tube just starts to bulge.

7. Listen for leaks with your ear.

or

8. Feel for leaks with your face or hand.

9. For hard to find leaks, submerge the entire radiator and inner tube in a tank of water and look for bubbles.

10. Remember when you're done to unsolder the overflow.

This is the method that we use on all brass, nickle, and german silver radiators that come through the shop. A good radiator will keep the tube inflated overnight. The use of the inner tube ensures that you don't blow up the radiator.

BTW, I'm still a big supporter of CLR. It attacks all of the things that clog up a radiator EXCEPT "stop leak" products. Do not ever add one of these products to a honeycomb radiator. Its deadly.

Tour America,
JC :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Schubert on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 12:48 pm:

James
Have you ever taken a HONEYCOMB radiator to a rad shop? Brads experience is typical. Here is why. Cleaning a honeycomb radiator is a real crap shoot. They not only lime up but the also just plug up with non disolveable and non flushable crud. IF they tank your rad and it doesn't work and it now LEAKS lots of consumers are going to raise bloody hell. They don't need that kind of agravation!!! There are not that many good radiator shops left what with environmental rules etc. There are easier jobs for them to take on where they know they wan't have any combacks.
The Vineger solution as Joseph and I have used is probably the only safe soltion for the home handy man. You need to be cautious of the other more agressive cleaners as they could eat through the copper, brass,& solder etc. The on the car method works and it also cleans the block. You may not want to remove that layer of rust from your 90 or 100 year old block's water jackets. The rust that is in there is relatively stable. If you remove it it has to reform removing a little more of your blocks cast iron!! I have worked on 3 or 4 1910 era non-fords with honeycomb type cores. Sometimes cleaning works, sometimes not.
If you have a particularily valuable and rare car AND you really want to retain the cellular type core Replicore in New Zealand makes really nice cores. They are not cheap although they are the least expensive I have found. I have now used 3 of them.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Robert Fultz on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 01:13 pm:

I don't know about a radiator,but I clean my commode tank and bowel with a Polident denture cleanser. Just put one tablet in the tank to disolve and a little brushing. It takes all the stain and build up away.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James R. Patrick on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 01:55 pm:

Hi Les.

No, I never have dealt with a honeycomb radiator, so I have to yield to your expertise on this one. I have only taken in 1926 Model T radiators, as that is the year I most love (I have a Coupe and a Fordor), and is the most like modern day radiators. Perhaps that is why I have never been turned away. I agree with your reasoning and all you said.

Speaking of the thick, relatively stable, rust lining the water jacket in the head and block. I agree it should not be cleaned off, as it does provide a sort of buffer between the water and cast iron surface, but I have always wondered if there is anything that could be done to stabilize this rust further, so it does not sluff off in big ans small chunks. Keeping this in mind, would it be a good idea to consider flushing the jacket with Ospho (see: www.ospho.com/directions.htm)? That is the Phosphoric acid based solution that arrests the progression of rust, as it converts it to a hard, black, inert substance that now protects the metal underneath. Ospho might keep the rust from sluffing off in big flat pieces as it normally does as the rust progresses. Jim


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Seth Harbuck on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 02:28 pm:

Jim,

I probably mentioned this before, so please ignore it if I have. It is only my opinion.

If Ospho converts the rust to something that protects the iron underneath, it also creates an interface between two dissimilar materials and will reduce heat transfer to some degree.

In the interest of optimum heat transfer I think it best to have it clean and do what you can to prevent future corrosion.

At minimum, 50% antifreeze solution in any water. Better, 50% antifreeze in distilled water. Even better (?) 50% antifreeze/distilled water + Prestone Anti-Rust (soluble oil). Best (?) - even better + sacrificial anode.

For all four - flush and refill annually.

Seth


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By James R. Patrick on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 02:46 pm:

Thanks Seth. When I look down at my block into the water jacket, at the border between the rust and the cast iron surface underneath, it becomes alarmingly apparent at just how thin the walls of my block and cylinders truly are. I'm with Les, in that, this relatively stable layer of rust should remain. If I were to remove all of that thick rust, at least in my block, I'm afraid I might be sacrificing structural integrity for efficient heat transfer. Since that rust was once a part of the block in the form of cast iron, I don't think it should be considered a barrier to efficient heat transfer. Instead, it stands to reason that, if we could preserve that rust and, somehow, re-convert it back to the more stable molecular structure it once was, wouldn't that add a degree of strength, stability and integrity to the block? In removing the thick layer of protective rust, it seems that you are weaking the walls of the block and cylinders to an alarming degree and risk a blowthrough from the tremendous pressure inside the cylinders at the point of ignition. This is all hypothetical. That is why I'm brainstorming in the presence of minds and experience, greater than my own. Thanks again. Jim


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Seth Harbuck on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 03:54 pm:

Jim,

I can assure you that the rust (iron oxide) is a heat transfer barrier. Rather than "convert" the rust that's there, and never know what might be happening underneath that coating!, I think it would be better to wash out any loose rust - it isn't doing anything for "integrity", and minimize if not eliminate the formation of more.

I stopped at #3 above - I have the Prestone Anti-Rust but no sacrificial anode (or aluminum head - the ultimate sacrificial anode!).

As far as tremendous gas pressure inside the cylinders? Breathe easy! Peak gas pressure in a stock T engine is probably some 250 psi, occuring somewhere around 20 ATDC - the piston is down about 1/4" so the top ring is maybe 5/8" down. This peak of 250 psi is only exposed to the top 5/8" of bore. This pressure drops quickly as piston accelerates to its maximum speed at about 75 ATDC - not half way down the bore, and it might be half that or 125 psi.

I would imagine that all the blocks are thinnest at the bottom of the jacket where the rust settles. I believe this is lower than 2" down the bore.

I would also bet that if the jacket rusted through, this low in the bore, that the block could be cleaned well, and metal-prepped with phosphoric acid to brighten the rust-thru spot.
Then the rust-thru could be filled with Devcon steel, block bored to next oversize and it would work just fine.

And I would do this repair to the block in my Speedster (low value, block makes no difference) before I would replace the block.

Don't worry about holes! What holes can't be patched up in an engine that makes 20 horses out of 2.9 liters and weighs hundreds of pounds?

If you really sweat that block corrosion, just get you an easily-replaced aluminum head - you can forget block corrosion with it on there!

Don't worry, be happy! :-)

Seth


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bob Sacchi on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 06:43 pm:

To those that use vinegar, do you use it straight, or do you cut it with water? Do you fill the entire cooling system? Also, what kind of vinegar works the best (please don't say balsamic! $$$)? I assume apple cider vinegar?

It seems harmless to at least try first with vinegar, and then proceed from there if results are not satisfactory.

Thanks, Bob


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Seth Harbuck on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 06:58 pm:

Bob,

Distilled white vinegar 5% acidity. Three gallons of it.

Save the red balsamic vinegar for marinating fresh pork. :-)

Seth


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Schubert on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 09:26 pm:

Bob
As Seth says; ordinary white vinegar, cheapest you can buy new (Wallmart?). And save it in the jugs and tag it. It will still be effective if you need to use it again on another rad.
I recommend sticking a garden hose in the bottom connection and back flush it first with it standing upside down and kind of gauge the flow through it by eyeball.
Then lay it down with the neck sealed off and vinegar it for a day. Then flush it again and gauge the flow. See if it flows better. look inside it. See how clean it looks. If it is still kind of scaled up you might try another day. Or put it on the car and try it. What the heck it is only a 15 minute job to put it on. If it is better try climbing a hill with the spark retarded to kind of see how much better. Better to determine some operating parameters on a test than on a tour.
Seth
I agree with cleaning out the loose rust especially at rebuild time. The rusty coating in the water jackets I will leave alone!!
I also use antifreeze. It was -30 here this morning!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Brad 1924 T Coupe on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 10:24 pm:

Folks,

Here's an update with more information.

I concur that another radiator shop "might" give it a try, but I agree with the post that the radiator business is booming, and they would probably rather take the easy money makers vice the peculiar jobs. Therefore, I will give some home remedies a try first.

I definately like the idea of beginning with a reverse flush using the garden hose. I will do this first. By the way, I know some channels are clogged, while others are not. For example, right after I drained and removed the radiator, I turned it upside down, and you could hear dry particles floating from one end to the other. Again when I turned it right side up. Certainly not to be expected from a still wet radiator.

I will start with the vinegar solution first. Perhaps a couple of times as suggested. Then, I will move to something more radical like CLR depending on the vinegar results. I will proceed with caution, however.

I too had concerns about the water channels in the block as noted by a earlier post. So, I came up with yet another one of my "brilliant" ideas! That was, to cycle a cleaning solution through the block to clean out the rust. See the picture below. I riged up a method using a yard fountain water pump to cycle Prestone Super Radiator Cleaner. I thought for sure this would make an impact. I let it run for several hours. Sadly, I don't think it made a hill-of-beans difference. Obviously I was unable to follow the direction to the letter since the radiator was already off, etc. I'll admit though, the pump idea worked like a champ in itself! So far that's been the biggest satisfaction factor in this radiator project.

Water Channel Cleaning

Below are a couple of shots of the outlet connection from the head. The rust is not fluffy and loose. Some of it I believe to be the roughness of the water channel mold itself. I would have to do some heavy wire brushing and/or grindng wheel on the drill to remove rusty portions. What are your suggestions in this instance considering all the earlier posts on thermal conductivity?

Outlet 1

Outlet 2

The below shot is the inlet connection to the block. The picture is not the greatest, but it's not loaded with rust. Just a rusty discoloration.

inlet

Below is a picture of the radiator inlet side. The build-up is typical as far as I can see inside.

Radiator inlet Again

Below is the radiator outlet side. Focus on the round dental mirror (as recommended by an earlier post). It appears clear. This is typical as far as I can see inside with the mirror.
Radiator Outler Again

Finally, and for your entertainment pleasure, I will not be reinstalling this "thing"!!!

Water Pump


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Les Schubert on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 11:10 pm:

Brad
Looks to me like you are on the right track. You can see the problem deposits in the radiator so you will have a way of gauging the difference that happens (or not)! I wish you all the best luck.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By J. Iversen on Tuesday, November 28, 2006 - 11:19 pm:

Brad, May I forward your excellent pictures to the throat specialist who recently performed my endoscopy. Apparently, he could use some coaching in obtaining photo clarity.
Wish we all could peer down our jacket outlets and find the condition your enjoying...


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By donwinter on Sunday, December 10, 2006 - 04:31 pm:

Brad, How come you are not going to reinstall the water pump? Don Winter


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Norton on Monday, December 11, 2006 - 02:11 am:

Related thread is Keep or Remove Water Pump???


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Noel Denis Chicoine, MD on Monday, December 11, 2006 - 08:13 pm:

I wonder what my partner will say when he finds me in the back procedure room peering into my T head vitals or engine block with our sigmoidoscope? I guess I'd better do that work on the weekends he's out of town! :-)
Noel


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Norman T. Kling on Monday, December 11, 2006 - 08:50 pm:

You will probably find the T vitals to be cleaner than what the sigmoidoscope was originally designed to view!!!!!!!!!
Norm


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