I've finally started wrenching on my T and figured the rad was as good a place to start as any. It seems pretty solid, most of it holds cold water but the overflow pipe has come loose from the tank. The plan is to take it to a local rad shop and see what they have to say as new radiators for a T are available but expensive. This actually brings me to my first question, is there anything special I should have them do or watch for when they do what they do? I was going to look into it getting thoroughly flushed (and de-scaled or whatever if that's a thing they do... I'm just an amateur at all this) and of course getting the overflow and any iffy looking seams re-soldered.
While it's out, I'm wondering if there's anything I can do to clean out the water jackets. I've already run water through until it came out clear but looking down into the block the jackets look to have some kind of caked on reddish brown stuff. Is there anything I can do to remove this without having to tear down the whole engine? Do I even need to do anything about this crud? I have no problem pulling the head for this, I just figured if I had to do it with the engine together I'd do it with my old head gasket installed.
Last, I plan on sandblasting and repainting my coolant inlet, outlet, and lower pipe (the one between the two hose sections). Am I better off painting the insides of these parts or leaving them bare?
Thanks in advance for any input you guys have on this.
If an original, it was never made to hold pressure as a modern system does. Make sure the shop does not pressure test it like they do a modern radiator as it can cause damage. Most good old radiator shops can tank dip and boil out the crud from inside, as well as fix most leaks, and the overflow tube. Have them give a quote first so you don't end up wishing you had just purchased a new one.
I'll throw a question back at you. What year T? If thorough cleaning doesn't make your system cool properly, it makes a difference what year you're dealing with. For a black era T, a radiator that doesn't do the job is best replaced with a new one. With a brass radiator you have a choice. You can buy a new one, or if the tanks are good enough you can have it recored. A new core lets you keep the original look (the new ones aren't exactly the same) and costs a couple of bills less than a new radiator.
Gotta go now. If you don't get all the cleaning suggestions you need, I'll add some later.
Ah yes, the quote won't be skipped but I figure a flush and a couple solder joints can't come close to the cost of a new rad (I hope). What I have (a 26, BTW) only leaks from the hole around the overflow pipe, at least when filled with ambient temperature water. It hasn't yet run while in my care so I have no idea if water at operating temp will find other places to leak from, or even if I should worry about that sort of thing.
If, and again a big if, an original round tube core, you may find the fins have detached from the tubes. It won't conduct heat of very well if that has happened. It may be necessary to just replace the radiator.
I can get some pics but the rad is all flat tubes and there's two rows of them.
A question, how many rows of tubes.?? 3 4 or 5. A used three tube radiator will probably never cool the car. I use a full can of crystal Draino mixed with hot water to clean out the block and radiator if it has any grease in it, useally caused by running a water pump. I then use CLR (calcium lime rust remover) found at Wal Mart. to remove the rust. You can do the cleaning before you remove the radiator. Just be carefull about splashing it around. The Draino ad says "will not hurt your pipes" I have never had any problem with either chemical. Then take a piece of speedometer cable about 2 foot long and "fray" one end of it. Insert the good end into a variable speed drill and then insert the frayed end into the block or head. Let it "thrash" around and work it into all the little corners you can. You will be supprised what comes out. Its best to have the head off as you will have more holes to insert it thru. I also have a 2 foot long piece of stainless car antenna. It has about 2 inches on the small end bent to aprox a 45 degree angle. Use it the same way as the speedo cable.
You must have been typing while I was. Im not sure if a 2 row flat tube is as good as say a 4 tube, or 3 tube or ??? maybe someone will know. I know on a 3 row round tube there is still room on the bottom tank for 2 more rows. If you look at the bottom tank from the inside and see room for more core, then you may not have enough core. pics would help ...
You might ask shops in your area if they have anyone who works on antique auto radiators. There may be an old timer around.
Model T radiators have a flat mounting plate that runs across from side to side about three inches up from the bottom and is used to mount the radiator to the frame. A modern radiator shop will not put that mounting plate in your core and so judging will be an issue.
A core can be cleaned on the inside and the paint removed from the outside. The brass would then have to be pickled and the core dipped in a vat of solder to fasten the fins to the core or each fin soldered to each tube one at a time.
No modern shop has that equipment as they simply remove and replace.
Bite the bullet and buy a new one.
One thing at a time. Don't let these guys get you worrying about everything, all at once. Get your radiator soldered, which should be cheap, and just try it out. Take it from there.
I agree with Jerry, Get it soldered for any of the leaks, and clean everything as well as you can. I have used plenty of old radiators with good results. It does not hurt to try it.
Tim, I bought a '26 Sedan a couple years ago that had a small radiator leak. It kept losing water through the overflow tube but I ran it like that. After close inspection yesterday I found the overflow tube broken inside the tank. Today I took a mapp gas torch and melted the solder that held the overflow tube to the frame of the radiator. Then I applied heat to the overflow where it enters the tank. With very little pressure on the tube it came loose and was very simple to pull from the tank. Then I took a piece of copper tubing, bent it to match the old tube. After taking a wire brush to the solder joints I applied paste flux and soldered the new tube in place. I put the radiator back on the car and started it and let the car run. The radiator held tight and has no leaks at all. The whole job including taking the radiator out of the car, repairing and putting the old radiator back in, took about 45 minutes and only cost me a few cents worth flux,solder and my time cleaning the solder joints. All in all it was a simple job and I'm very pleased with the success.
If you take it to a modern radiator shop and tell them what you want done AND tell them its for a Model T ( or any antique prewar car ) it scares them for some reason.
There are getting to be less and less radiator shops that can actually fix the old stuff.
I took mine to a few shops in town that have a good reputation and they wouldn't touch it.
I finally fixed the upper tank leak myself and it turned out pretty nice. The so called professional shops turned out to be not so good.
I cleaned the joint, used common lead roll solder and acid. Fired up my 12.00 propane torch and did the job just as good and probably better than the so-called professional folks.
John, I agree with you. I used MAPP gas instead of propane but same process. The trick is to make sure everything is very clean. I like to use paste flux. And I'll use 60/40 or 50/50 solder. It's also a good idea to know how to control the application of the heat. I don't think I'd ever try to record a radiator but I'm not to afraid of simple fixes.
Here in St Cloud, we had a really good radiator shop. The guy that ran it was named Mike. About 10 years ago he moved out of here and went somewhere North. Since then, of the three or four radiator shops in town I wouldn't hire any of them. Their work is crap, they're very expensive and, because they're all pretentious jerks, they treat people like they have no idea what they want.
So around here if you can't fix it yourself, you pretty much screwed.
There's always a lot of talk regarding flushing the inside of a radiator but I've found that many old radiators have a lot of dirt caked between the fins and tubes.
Blasting the outside with water may not be enough. You may need to use a stiff wire and/or a strip of metal (such as a hacksaw blade) to remove all the dirt stuck between the fins and tubes.
I have had several 2 row radiators. They were sold by Montgomery Wards and maybe others. The telltale sign is the stamped L-shaped bracket that connects the radiator rod to the top of the upper tank. I have one on my 26 roadster and it cools well, even when I am pushing the car to its limit.