Yesterday we took our 1914 T for a nice ride down the coast. During the ride the engine started making a horrible shrieking squeal. We believe we traced this to water dripping from a leak where the support rod screws into the back of the radiator. This leak was known but small until recently. I believe the fix is to clean the brass and solder it. Perhaps reinforcing the joint with a large brass washer. What are the right types of flux & solder? Will a propane or Mapp gas torch be enough heat. Is acetylene too hot?
Here are some photos of the problem.
If it were mine, I would pull the radiator, clean the area really well and put a healthy bead of JB Weld around the support rod fitting. Once dried, I'd mask off the core a repaint the upper tank in a satin or flat black. But I'm not convinced that leak would make the squeal you're describing.
Yes, acetylene is too hot. You don't want to burn a hole in your tank. I'll leave it for somebody with more soldering experience to tell you about that.
Craig - go with the cold well solution and see what happens. No permanent damage will occur to your upper tank. If you warm up JB Weld a bit after mixing, your can get a pretty smooth flow around that fitting.
Ooops - cold weld
If it were mine I'd pull the radiator, use 50/50 solid core solder and soldering flux (oh crap, you're in califunny), well anyway, use whatever kind of crap solder they force on you, and what they might let you use for flux, and a MAPP gas torch. It's easier to control your heat with MAPP gas. The goal is to be able to control the heat and therefore control your solder "puddle". To much heat will eliminate what solder is holding and all hell will break loose. Not enough heat and you'll end up with a cold solder joint that won't hold. So bounce the heat on and off the material and apply the solder right at melting temp, which is quickly achieved with MAPP gas. It's most important that you clean the surface while it's cold. Then heat it just enough to melt the solder where you'll be doing the repair and brush that area thoroughly. Apply flux and hit it quickly with the torch. Once the flux has spread because of the heat, stick the end of your solder down on the repair and hold the tip of the flame to the solder just long enough to melt the end of the solder. When the solder drops off it will spread to where the area has flux and will stick tight. You want to be quick when applying the torch and get on and off the solder joint quickly in order to keep it from gettin so hot the solder runs off. You'll develop a feel for it pretty quick. A properly done solder joint is shiny. If it's dull, the solder was applied to cold. You shouldn't need another washer. All it will do is complicate things by adding surface.
JB Weld will get you home and could last for years. Proper soldering will last much longer.
Thanks guys - I just got the radiator out of the car this evening. I'll clean up the area around the leak and get a better idea of the damaged section. I'll also have easy access to look at the fan pulley for possible damage to the bearing and shaft. If I decide to do the solder fix, I think I'll do some test soldering on some brass stock of similar gauge to get a feel for the process. I don't want to wreck this otherwise very nice Brassworks radiator.
Sounds like a plan Craig. Especially the test soldering. When it come to soldering, cleanliness is... Well it's darn important. Is there a chance leaking water is causing the fan belt to slip and squeal?
Yes, Mike G. The dripping water was hitting the fan belt and perhaps a bit behind it on the pulley shaft. I think the sound was the belt slipping and then gradually catching as it threw off the water and finally got a grip.
Well I hope everything works out for you.
Clean, clean, clean, jewelers torch works best but map should be plenty hot, even a big old copper iron will work. Flux can be made in a small quantity by feeding pure zinc scrap(old zinc canning lids are ideal) to muriatic acid till it will not take any more, you wont need much. Do this in a small stoneware crock. I assume everyone knows to wear goggles and gloves. KGB
Remove the Radiator and clean the area with steel wool or fine sand paper.
What works best for me is a propane torch. You can get one at most hardware stores. They usually come with 1 bottle of gas which just hot enough for most radiator work. Remember to heat the area slowly. In that way you can control the heat.
That's a pretty easy fix with a propane torch in the location that it is. It will make a nice smooth repair. Also works great for installing a radiator neck.
Use a liquid flux with lead/tin solder or you can spend a little money and get solder with a small amount of silver in it.
Take your time and if your unsure about it use a thin piece of sheet metal or an old radiator to get the feel of it first.
Looks like a real candidate for cleaning and prepping using sand/media blast. That will be the only way to get to bare metal easily. There seems like something really corrosive going on. Then solder using acid core wire solder. I always use oxy-acetylene with a very small localized, controllable flame on radiators. A big fat flame propane torch just makes a mess.
See my profile...that's how I made that radiator.
That's a very Humble guy inspecting that cool radiator! Nice job
I don't know about brass works radiators but vintage T radiators use a low melting point solder like 50 50 that might be hard to find. Currently waiting for a call back from Superior flux for the right tining flux for babbitt line boring. It tins at 400 and Babbitt flows closer to 800 degrees. Steve's is a good suggestion.
Just a thought, and some here may tell me I'm "all Wet" (PUN intended). Lay the radiator on its face, and fill it with water. this will keep the core cold and other parts of the radiator cold--this is just insurance to prevent any other soldered areas from getting too hot. The tank is taller than the core, so the area you are soldering will be above the water, and can be made hot enough to solder. Thinking about this, you might have to have the cap on and fill from the bottom hose fitting.
ANY big flame or little flame torch will make a mess if you don't know how to use it.
I wouldn't recommend advising using a Oxy-Acetelyene to repair a radiator to an inexperienced person. That's a sure way to make a big mess with a big hole to go along with it.
Starting out with low heat is always best if your soldering thin metal.
Technique and preparation is the key and after a little practice you can learn to solder with any type of heat source including propane.
John Kuehn, your right on the money. The keys are cleanliness and heat control! I think if he does some practice first he'll be okay. I just wonder what he'll be able to buy for solder and flux in California. I'm able to get 50/50 and 60/40 solid core and good paste or liquid flux at any of the stain glass places in the area. I usually use a 50 - 100 watt soldering iron for lead windows. I've also done radiator repair with a 200 water iron. But I prefer a MAPP gas torch when it comes to thin metal. Acid core solder works okay and I sure don't have anything against it but I've been using paste flux for years. It's kind of like flux core welding wire. It's okay for getting by but mig welding is much better done with a gas shield. Just my $0.07 worth.
Craig all of this above is why I suggested a cold weld if you are going to DIY and are relatively inexperienced with repairing radiators (and I count myself in that category).
Clean the area well, lay in a bead of JB Weld, let it cure and then paint the upper tank. Non-pressurized system, so it will hold. No chance of melting the upper tank....etc.
Rick at the NAPA Machine & Radiator shop in Fallbrook does good work and is reasonable. He has done good work for me and others that I have sent to him. I also live in Fallbrook.....you are not far away. I am a member of the Hidden Valley Model T club located in the North S.D. County.
Will be at the Big 3 swap meet this weekend.
I wanted to follow up on my experience doing a solder fix to a crack in my radiator. I believe that the key to a good experience is the correct materials. I contacted Brassworks where I purchased my radiator several years ago (note: the crack was ENTIRELY MY FAULT, NOT a MANUFACTURING ISSUE - I overtightened the radiator support rod several years ago and the radiator cracked at the solder joint to the threaded fitting. You can look at my earlier photos to see what the problem was. It was a teeny tiny leak for a long time and then it GOT BIG. So it needed to be fixed. Lee at Brassworks sent me a length of 40/60 solder, because you simply cannot get the stuff in a regular hardware store in California. I was also told that the flux was Johnson's liquid flux. Lee was great he didn't have to send me anything, but he did. Thank you Lee @ Brassworks.
Here's the list of materials and the technique.
1. 40/60 solder. 40% tin, 60% lead - not Kosher in California.
2. Johnson's Soldering Fluid
3. plain old propane torch
4. bead blast the area to be soldered- clean, clean, clean.
I am sure for many of you guys this is a really simple no brainer repair. But hey, I'm only 61 and I'm still learning.
I've attached a photo showing the solder job I did. Not pretty, not elegant. But it held up great today. We took our 1914 Touring out on a 50 mile journey up and down the coast and around town here in Carlsbad and the job did what it was supposed to do. It kept the water INSIDE the radiator. NO LEAKS.
The 40/60 solder really melts and flows nicely, not like the weird lead free stuff you get here in California which clumps and gets granular and then doesn't stick. The torch doesn't need to get the brass or fitting super hot, just warm it up, spread on the liquid flux with a little brush and then touch the solder to the joint. It melted easily and flowed or wicked into the joint instantly. I kept adding solder because I'd prefer NOT doing this again. The theory if a little is good, a lot may be better.
We shall see.
Looks great, good job!
Mike, sounds like you had more than a little experience soldering?
That looks like a very nice job to me and you have the satisfaction of fixing it yourself. I always try to repair something myself first then if I'm not successful I find someone who can help.
Just remember that the side of the radiator that has the support rod bracket on that you just soldered faces the firewall when you put it back in the car (just trying to be helpful)
Oh yea one more thing...the radiator cap faces up!
My guess it was the belt that was slipping and squealing.
The belt on my old work horse Ford Explorer squeals all the time, new belt old belt it doesn't matter. I've sprayed it with belt dressing to stop the squeal but after a few days it comes back. I've given up, at least when I hear the noise I know the engine is running.
I would put seals all around it anf left it
But then doing it right may be best in the long run