Received my new Brassworks radiator for the 1915 touring and installed it yesterday. Mostly good .... a little bad, and some as yet unknown.
The Good: I have seldom seen anything so well packed. Its difficult to imagine how any delivery service could damage the radiator with driving over it in their truck. The radiator itself is beautiful and the workmanship seems excellent. No leaks - first time since I've owned Liz!
The Bad: Since it was ordered specifically for a 1915, I would have thought it would have come predrilled for the choke rod. I had to drill the choke rod hole myself. Not a real big deal and fortunately it came out perfect.
The Unknown: Had a devil of a time fitting the radiator to the mounts. The mounting holes in the frame were about 3/8" wider than the holes in the frame. I've often suspected that my frame in the front right had been dinged in the past as the rivets had been replaced with bolts. A little adjustment lined things up though. I still had to bend the radiator "ears" slightly where they fit over the sides of the frame. I used pliers well wrapped in cloth. Worked well but I suspect that even if the frame had been perfect, I would still have had to bend them slightly.
As for cooling I took Liz out for a ride and at the point where the old radiator topped out the Motometer, the red line is now at the bottom of the circle and seemed to stabilize there. It was probably in the high 80's so I'm counting that as a success!
I'd be interested in hearing if anyone else had mounting problems with a new Brassworks.
The wider front bolts appear to be a common problem for all the new radiators.
It is not that the radiator specs are off, the frame gets spread from accidents or hard bumps.
An earlier MTFCA Forum, maybe 8 years ago, showed a way to correct the problem.
Brassworks and others will tell you your front cross member has been flattened over the years. I am not so sure. My 12 has a good cross member dimensionally and I still had to cut the skirts off the radiator where they fold over the outside of the frame. They were supposed to have fixed this problem years ago.
I also bought a Brassworks radiator for my 1909 and had the same problem the frame was too wide. I found that after 104 years the front cross member had sagged about 3/16 total. After the straightening the radiator fits perfect important because it has no steel plate in it for support like the later cars. I have had no water in it yet so I won't know if it will cool plus it's a round tube, maybe in the next two weeks I'll have this answered.
Bud, you're probably right about your bolted frame being off. The radiator mounting holes should measure exactly 21.5" apart on center. You probably remember when I riveted in a new cross member. It was a lot of work, but not particularly difficult.
I bought a radiator from Bergs for my '14 and it fit perfectly
My bolts holes measure 21.5" on center and the radiator didn't fit.
Richard, is that the correct nut, washer, etc. to attach the rad to the frame?
Well its nice to know others have had the same problem!
When I get back from vacation I will do a careful measurement on the new radiator mounting holes and post.
Thanks for the comments.
Years ago i got a new brass works for the not correct 15 roadster.Same exact problem so i made a pair of offset double studs and that problem was solved.Of course the neck leaked at the top of the tank from the start and a couple of years ago the neck split from the top down!IF i ever buy another it will come from Bergs!I gave that car to my oldest Grandson and we ran it today!Bud.
Chris I really don't know the answer to your question. I have seen that style on an original iron era car I owned years ago, but it was not brass.
I have a brand new, but decades old Brassworks radiator for my '16. long since lost the box, and a friend bought it for me, so no receipt either. In spite of the fact that it still has the red plastic "bungs" closing off the outlets, they will not repair my split neck (three splits!) for less than some hundreds of dollars.
Granted, a guarantee should be for only so long, but gee--it's never been used!
I'm thinking of putting JB weld on the inside to seal the cracks. This is the type of neck that is soldered AND riveted on, so repairs are tricky.
I once sent a 15-year-old '15 radiator back to Brassworks for repair, since it had a leak where one side panel meets the top tank. It cost me $800 + shipping to get it back. Since then, I've been a happy Berg's customer several times over.
Here's some pics of my radiator:
First the neck:
and the radiator whole:
David, I think you could solder those cracks. Use some heat putty around the bottom by the rivets and heat the neck only hot enough to fill the cracks. You should be able to do it without disturbing the solder around the base of the neck. You can buff out the heat coloration and file and buff out the excess solder. You can't fill the cracks with JB Weld, thin applications don't work. If you applied a goop of it on the inside, I don't know if it wouldn't separate from the metal over time.
You shouldn't have to solder those cracks! If it has never been installed or used then to me it is a manufacture defect. I look at the photos and it looks like it has never been used. The manufacture should stand behind what they make and it shouldn't matter how long you've had it.
That's what I thought to, but with no proof of purchase, they claim I can only have it repaired ad my cost (similar to Mike's experience).
And, yes, it IS a manufacturing mistake; the necks were not stress relieved after forming.
This is not the only time somebody has complained about brass works radiators, which is why the coupe and fordor's radiators came from Bergs.
Should I try to build up some solder on the inside? I do have some large irons. The only other way I can think of to do the job is a new neck (put in the stove at 450 degrees for an hour and slowly cooled off first!) and take the top apart--and I don't want to do that!!! I've done a lot of soldering, but doubt I could to the tank justice.
David, if you could figure out a way to re rivet a new neck, I think you could replace it fairly easily. Removing the old one wouldn't be much of a problem I don't think. Remove the old rivets, maybe cut off the heads and drill out the remainder, and then just melt the solder and take it off. As for replacing the rivets, I was thinking make a clamp that would fit down into the neck that would hold the rivet head, and the outside would screw down on the other end. Think a modified type of C clamp. I don't know if there is enough room in the neck to do that, but it's worth some thought. Just an idea. Dave
Just for the record, Berg's no longer makes brass radiators. I called him (recently) to ask if he could make one for me and he made it very plain he was no longer interested in making brass radiators.
Well, that's a shame. As long as there's "only one game in town", I doubt that Brassworks' quality and/or service will improve.
I agree Mike, as I have an original radiator to compare to, and the Brassworks radiator (at least the one I have) is not the same shape where the hood lands on it. I don't know if they have improved or not--another area is that the Ford radiator has reinforcing rivets on the tank sides, and the Brassworks relies on the solder only. Knowing how Ford watched every penny, I suspect those rivets are an important measure--maybe not as important with the good roads we now have.
I have heard nothing but praise for Berg's quality, product and customer service.
So what about soldering on the inside? Dave's idea might work, if I could get "dead soft" rivets. Hmmm. And have to make the tool too.
That is shabby treatment to refuse to correct a manufacturing defect on an unused product even with no proof of purchase. I wonder how much they "saved" vs the negative PR from just this one thread.
Anyway, if I was repairing that split neck I would neither replace nor solder. I have successfully ó every time ó repaired water jacket cracks with Right Stuff sealant and brass shim stock.
1. Clean up the inside of the neck with steel wool.
2. Cut a, say, 0.005" brass shim stock patch to fit and clean the mounting side with steel wool.
3. Glue the patch in place with Right Stuff.
4. Enjoy leak-free motoring and your new brass radiator.
Following photos are of a similar repair to the water jacket on my 1912 KisselKar engine. The heat and service conditions here are much harsher than a filler neck, and this repair has been trouble free now for 14 months and 2,000 miles.
The crack had previously been Vee-d out, end-pinned, and filled with a metalized epoxy:
Crack has been cleaned out and filled with Right Stuff:
Brass patch cut and shaped to size, ready to install:
Patch glued in place, Right stuff was smeared around the edges to blend the surfaces and later painted semi-gloss black.
Whatever repair you do to the neck, I would be afraid it's just gonna crack again somewhere else. Unless it is stress relieved, what's gonna stop it? Soldering might introduce enough heat to stress relieve it, but I don't know.
Brassworks is absolutely right not to fix your radiator without a proper receipt. They have every right to refuse you.
This incident reminds me of something that happened to me. I was in a delicatessen, getting a big load of food for a party and was just about to hand over the cash for my $90 order when my young daughter tugged on my sleeve, looked up and said, "Daddy, can I have a meatball?"
So I smiled and said to the proprietor, "... And would you please add a meatball to my order?"
The proprietor replied, "We only sell them by the pound."
"But I only need one for my daughter."
"We only sell them by the pound."
That business owner had every right to refuse me. But had it been my store and were I serving a regular customer who had just made a $90 order, I'd have stuck a plastic fork in a frikkin' meatball, smiled and handed it to the kid and said something like, "Here ya go, sweetie. No charge." A little gesture like that costs next to nothing and buys a customer's good will. Well, because of their petty attitude, I never returned to that deli and I suppose other folks in the neighborhood felt the same way because within a few months, they went out of business.
On the other end of town, there's a family-run diner where I've been going for thirty years. Every few months, the owner, who calls me by name, strolls over, tops off my lunch with a giant hunk of steaming apple pie and says something like, "Just came out of the ovenóon the house!"
On the wall behind his cashier is a sign that reads, "Nobody ever won an argument with a customer!"
Is it any wonder he has a thriving business?
Brassworks probably gets more business from the close-knit Model T Ford community than anywhere else. And when they exercise their right to refuse an accommodation, the resulting bad press on the forum puts them in a position where they derive considerable benefit from the fact that Berg's Radiator, which has a reputation for exceptionally high quality and accommodating the living daylights out of their customers, hasn't decided to manufacture brass radiators.
James Golden, is this the old chassis repair thread you are referring to? Jim Patrick
Well Bob I respectfully disagree...Brassworks is wrong for not helping David and turning off many other customers who read this post, I have owned businesses and have repaired work that I know was not mine at no cost just to keep the customer happy. The results were many, many more customers then I could have gained by advertising in the news papers and TV. As you know "The word of mouth" advertising can make or break a business. Brassworks knows the radiator is theirs and so do we. I am currently in the market for a radiator and now I will re-think from whom I will buy it.
That is almost exactly what Bob said. While they may not have a legal obligation, they are suffering a significant loss of good faith by refusing to do the right thing. Personally, I hope that Brassworks loses customers to Bergs for black car radiators and that more folks consider getting original brass radiators restored rather than buying new ones from a firm that doesn't respect it's customers.
Like so many businesses, the change of ownership has often caused significant changes in perception by the buying public. Brassworks is not the company your dad dealt with and it is not the company I hope will be the only source of brass radiators. I have a couple of brass T's and hope that my need for a brass radiators is complete and I won't have to deal with the present owner again. A lot of what has been said happened to me including my perception of not getting the original radiator returned and being over charged for the work that I had to have fixed again by a local craftsman. I think the company has changed ownership twice and may have been three times.
I might add, that I have two other model Ts and plans for two more, and I WILL be in the radiator market. One guess where I'll go. . .
Actually, I wouldn't even mind if Brassworks told me that due to the length of time & lack of purchase proof, I would have to pay, say $100 to do this service job, but no, as I recall it was more like what Mike paid for his repair--and it would come with NO warranty.
BTW, I have had my own business in the past, and I have fixed stuff for free 'just because' I was already working on it (in this case, a piano) and I have redone work that I was certain wasn't the way I left it. Customer relations & word of mouth is critical to many small businesses.
I have now at least 4 possible ways to fix this myself. Now which one to pick. . Oh, Hal, if I solder it, you can be certain I will attempt to stress relieve the neck!
I wouldn't hesitate to buy a new black era radiator from Berg's. I would have been inclined to buy one of their brass radiators too, but I was dissuaded by photos of one here on the forum. I expect it was a very good radiator, but I didn't care for the way the tank was built, which was different from the original. My tank was OK, so I chose instead to have my original radiator recored. This not only saved me a few Benjamins, but it also kept the original look. I would suggest that if your tank is good or fixable, you consider a recore for the sake of economy and original appearance.
I had a Brassworks radiator over 20 years old, still in the box, that I put on my 15 last summer. In a few months it developed a small leak at the bottom of the top tank. Brassworks told me it happens a lot--"....not their fault, it's the customer's for leaving it lying around so long. During the building process, there's acid from the process left inside that over time, if not put into use, can create thin spots that leak when finally put into use." I don't know if I believe that, but I figured I could pay for a lot of repairs locally for just what the shipping to CA and back would have been. I didn't even believe the part about it being a widespread problem--I couldn't imagine anyone else having a radiator around for years before using it.
That sounds like it would score pretty high on the bogusmeter.
Steve nailed it.
I've done lots of soldering over the years and never EVER was a job that required acid flux finished until it was flushed with clean water.
I can't fathom a radiator builder not thoroughly flushing a newly built radiator much less not testing it.
Well Mike, here's another guy who has a '15/16 radiator that has been laying around for YEARS and still hasn't Installed it. The '16 is farther back on the "to do list again! (House, '25, the '26 tudor, the DB '16. --oh and job search).
I bought a BW radiator several years ago for my 11 touring. When I went to install it, the top hose fitting was about 5/16" off to the left. No amount of jiggling with the mounting holes or hood would allow me to line up the hose, and the hood fit. I called BW and they told me all radiators are made to Ford specs, etc etc etc. I finally made a hose outlet for the top of the cylinder head that was offset the proper amount and installed it. I also bought a brass radiator that we put on a friends car with about the same experience, you have to work to make them fit. Both work fine but I will think long and hard before buying another brass radiator from them.
Regarding the "widespread problem" encountered by Mike Black: A couple of years ago, I bought a NOS brass radiator at Chickasha which had been made in (apparently) the 1960's. I forget the name of the maker, but I'm told he was the predecessor to Brassworks. I put it on my Coupelet chassis a year or more ago. The chassis has been driven several times, and it sits in my shop full of coolant. The radiator sat new in the box for about 50 years, and it hasn't leaked yet.
I bought a brass radiator in the late 1970's made by Fred Stiver. Don't know if he is still around or not. Great radiator.
That name rings a bell; I think that's the guy who built mine.
Fred Stiver's radiators were a work of art! I wish I could find one.
Yes, they are nice. And much more like the original ones than Brassworks' version. When I found this one at Chickasha a while back, I thought it was a NOS Ford one. When I posted some pics of it here on the Forum, some other folks recognized it as one of Stivers'. Keep looking, Wayne, maybe another one will turn up.
Have not been able to get to my computer since this thread started but thought I should add my experiences so of you can check out your BW radiators in case the same problems are there.
I have two BW radiators on cars. The first one is on the Town Car. I have had this car for nearly 50 years. It was originally restored as a square tank 1911 Roadster but after two children I changed it into a Town Car. The original radiator was reconditioned at the time for the car. In 2008 after the 100th Anniversary Tour in Echuca (Australia) I decided the old girl deserved a present. Although it worked OK the radiator top tank had distorted a bit and had a few small dents and just looked tired. So I purchased a new BW one for it from the Australian agent. At that time our dollar had crashed and to import one was going to cost even more.
SO I take it out of its package an upon looking at it notice there is no reinforcing brace under the radiator from the bottom tank to the mounting bracket.
This is how it should be.
I made stainless steel ones and fixed them in place with silicon.
When I put it on and connected up the hoses and filled it with water. It leaked in the center where the top water connection joins the tank. There was no solder for over 1/2" I phone the distributor (he is 500 miles away) he offers to pay for a repair. As its easy to get to I fix it myself, no problem after that but how hard would it have been for it to be free of those problems???
Case 2. My 1915 Kamper has a 18 year old BW radiator on it which I bought and shipped back as luggage. The customs officer quizzed me as to what was in the box as I used it as my second suitcase. When I told her it was a radiator she says " Why did you bring that back we have radiators here" This radiator was built by previous BW owners.
On our second leg driving across the USA we were in Seattle and I noticed one of the side panels had broken away from the top tank and the other one was heading that way. The radiator was not leaking so I applied some silicone ( handy stuff that) between the core and the inside of the panel away from the join which kept it from shaking around and getting worse.
As we were heading south back to Los Angeles the plan was to see if BW could join it back together. When we got close I rang them and made an appointment to have it repaired.
Have to say the service was good, they happily launched into the repair and reconnected both side panels after removing then, cleaning up the joins and reassembling. On the side panels there is a brass strip which goes up each side of the panel at the edge of the core. Once the panels were in place they had to solder them back on.
From their factory back to Los Angeles is only a few hundred miles which we drove and after a few hundred more around LA I placed the Kamper in a container for its trip back to Australia.
Once home the Kamper only did a few miles until the following Easter when we went on a trip out west of about 500 miles. On the way home about 150 miles out the car was parked in a little town where we were having morning tea with friends when a local pointed out to me there was something hanging down under the car. It was one of the side strips, it had completely come off and had luckily fallen down and was hanging down from the front of the engine pan. When I took it out and checked the other side it too had come loose at the bottom so I had to duct tape it to the side panel to prevent it also coming off. Not good but either one in becoming loose could have got caught up in the fan and messed up the radiator a whole lot more. You can see not only is there a smiggen of solder used it didn't exactly get adhesion real well either, there is only about a 1/16" actual solder that adhered to the side panel. Here are the two ends of the strip
A few extra seconds of heat and solder and it could never let go. The amount of extra cost involved in labour and materials need to do it right must surely out weigh any gain to the maker of this product by not doing it. To me it just doesn't make sense to cheapen the construction so much it risks being a failure. I would happily pay the extra few dollars to have the product beefed up to a better standard
Peter (and All)
Notice that missing brace is considered so important that Ford riveted it to the cross piece it is significant because it is taking the entire weight of the filled radiator, bumping along the highway too, so the actual load is greater at times. The BW design places all that weight on the cross piece and its connection to the core and the brass finishing piece to the top tank.
Without going out to my shed, looking at the photo here of mine, I believe mine also does not have those pieces--THANK YOU for pointing this out!! Something else I need to fix before installing it!
Your photos of the solder job also shows me how little they understand of the stresses put on our Brass Radiators when we actually DRIVE our cars! What, they're not trailer queen show cars????
What were you guys thinking--DRIVING your Ts??
This is not somewhat identical to the problems we have with many modern toy trains--made to look pretty, but don't try to actually run them on a layout! (Besides which, the makers don't provide spare parts for them either--things don't wear out sitting on a shelf!)
I checked out my Brass Works radiator for my 1909 today and it has the side braces like in the picture above. The only difference is that it has three rivets on each side where it is riveted to the lower tank as well as being soldered.
I'm on a cross country roadtrip right now so I can't check ....but I THINK my 15 Brassworks radiator (that started this thread) does not have the reinforcing braces for the bottom.
I think David's right about them being necessary to support the lower tank. With out them the lower tank's weight (and the weight of the water in it) must be supported by the flat radiator tubes alone - doesn't seem well designed!
Also on the BW radiators the flat bar across the radiator which also acts as the mounting bracket is "brass" originally they were steel which would have been stronger.
My 14 BW radiator developed a leak in the lower tank yesterday. Last night I got the radiator off the car and the front engine mount was rubbing the bottom tank and caused a crack.There are no bottom tank to cross bracket supports on this year old radiator. The old original that I have has the brackets and no recess in the lower tank. The distance from the support bar (that is through the radiator) to the bottom of the tank is 3 inches on both measured in the center. However the original sits the thickness of the extra brace above the frame. Guess I will go over and see Lee at the BW and see if they have the extra brace pieces.
Evan, if you don't already have them, make sure that you put the correct leather pads under the radiator. They are about 3/16" thick. Many repop pieces aren't thick enough. The correct ones will raise the radiator enough from the engine mount to prevent the problem you describe. John Regan at Fun Projects makes the correct thick ones; you can get them directly from him or from Lang's; Lang's part # is 3928BQ, current price $7.25/pr.
R.V. , thanks. I have leather pads that are 1/4 thick. The rub crack occurred just to the front of the recess in the bottom tank and was only touching the very front edge of the pan snout. It is interesting that the original does not have a recess in the bottom tank.
Evan stopped by today and informed me of this thread and the extensive conversation on lower support brackets. I appreciate him contacting us directly to help better the product.
The brass radiators produced today do not have a support bracket from tank to the bar. Original radiators have been collected over the years and only found 2 in 5 have the bracket. I expect the original decision to not have the bracket was one of authenticity as the cost is incidental. It is not a visible part and it is a simple change to add the bracket. Based on this posting support brackets will be added. Anyone desiring a pair of brackets for an existing radiator can purchase them separately. Additionally, anyone not wanting the bracket need only ask when ordering for the bracket to not be included. I would appreciate any further information as to when and why Fordís design changed.
It is correct that the bar running through a core in an original polished brass radiator was made of steel. The Brassworks however uses a brass bar. Using brass adds cost but the solder adhesion is far better when joining brass to brass and, when painted black, the brass cannot be distinguished from steel. I cannot recall a bar failure of either steel or brass in a Brassworks or Ford radiator. A brass bar will continue to be used for production. Anyone wanting a steel bar in a brass era radiator can order it as such.
There will be no change to the barís center to center mounting dimension. If you require a variance from Fordís specification due to frame drift we can accommodate you but please request this when ordering.
Choke holes in the trim are addressed on our website;: In December of 1910 Ford Model Ts used a priming rods routed between the fins of the radiator. In January of 1911, Ford drilled a choke rod hole in the lower part of the front trim. The Brassworks does not drill this hole as not every customer is certain of the production month and year. The location of the hole is noted below for reference. (picture on website). We have elected not to drill choke holes.
We do embossed a relief in the lower tank for added clearance of the crank. This is not present on Fordís radiator but as it is not visible and prevents interference we have included this feature in the die stamping.
Any other comments, observations or suggestions please email directly. We review everything we hear and make a change if it is appropriate. It is always beneficial for people to visit and see the production of a Model T radiator and guests are welcomed. Please call in advance.
Well Lee beat me to the punch! I stopped in and Lee was very interested in the situation with my radiator and offered to fix it on the spot!
We both went back into the original radiator archive and looked at 5 original 13-14 era radiators. There were, as Lee stated, 2 with the lower tank to crossbar side supports, and the other 3 did not have the bracket and there was no sign of them ever having the bracket. (evidenced by no solder or rivet holes).
Thank you BW for continuing to provide these radiators and service!
I checked 2 original brass rads that I have in the shop. One has the bracket and the other doesn't. There's no sign that it ever had the brackets on it.
I for one am really happy to be able to get a replacement radiator for my T from Brassworks. A few years ago Lee gave me a tour through his shop and I was amazed at the amount of equipment he has and needs to produce these rads. His investment is very sizable. Can't imagine the cost to rebuild the beat up old rads that I have to make them look and function like new. Don't know who would even do it.