O.k. need some advice here. I took my finished (almost) 1914 T out for a spin just now, and when I got back home I noticed the rad was steaming and puffing like a locomotive! The overflow tube looked like the Marlboro man and there was seepage at the top of the tank (not from the filler neck, but at the seam). The radiator is either an older reproduction or an original, but it does have round tubes. Before installing it, I took it to a local radiator shop and they checked it out and said it had no leaks (which is true) so I figured it was good to go. Do the older style round tubes overheat that easily? It is a pretty nice day here in Michigan, with a good breeze blowing and temps only in the high 70's, and I only went a few miles down the road. I have a 50/50 mix of coolant just a smidge above the tube tops. Is this rad worth re-fixing or is it always going to overheat so easily? I can't even imagine going on any kind of tour the way it is now. HELP!
There's a chance you have become a victim of "Thermo-barf," _My car does the same thing when I over-fill the radiator.
Apparently, the thermo-siphon system blows any excess coolant overboard, so as of recent years, I've just filled it to the top and let the car decide how much coolant it wanted to keep. _Guess it's just another one of those instances where Mr. Ford knew what he was doing.
I hope, in your case, this is all that's going on.
Bill,What little i know is if your engine is a fresh rebuilt until it loosens up you night overheat? Do you have your engine pans installed? I have removed the sheiled on the bottum side of the dash and i have a wind tunnel that really helps but the floor matt often rises!! Will running it a little richer help?? Bud in central Mich.
Yes, the engine is a fresh rebuild and yes, I did install the engine pans. I also think I may have added too much coolant and mixed it too rich. I know I said it was 50/50 but now that I think about it it may be more like 70/30. I've read that if you have too rich a mix it can lead to overheating as the coolant is thicker than water. I'm going to drain the coolant (after it cools) and refill using a much weaker mix and only fill to the very edge of the round tubes. I really hope this is the cause, as I've checked the price of a brand new brass radiator and MAN, are the COSTLY!
I feel your pain I had to shell out for a new brass radiator a year ago.
50/50 mix is best for protection and boiling.
It should be filled to about the level of the word FORD on the top tank. Over the tubes but not all the way to the top. When you add coolant, stop with the top tank half filled. Remember that coolant expands with heat and whatever goes above the overflow will come out.
Also the round tubes tend to run hotter than the flat tubes and on old radiator can be clean and leak free, but it will not conduct heat between the tubes and the fins because of corrosion.
It might not be boiling! after you stop the engine, the coolant will continue to thermocycle until it cools for the first few minutes. You will hear gurgling, but if the fluid level is right it won't run over.
Anyway, drive slower and for shorter distances for a thousand miles or so to break in. If it still overheats, you might want to invest in a recore or a new radiator.
I think any gain from boilling with anti freeze is only in a pressurized system?? Bud.
I've done the 50/50 mix in the new rad I put on my 1916 a few years ago and I've never, ever had a problem with overheating - even when standing still in a parade line!
Did the shop clean the tubes on the inside? Usually they don't.
I have found that ordinary vinegar works very well. Lay the radiator flat on its front after you have sealed the cap to the filler neck (RTV or a Oring or some combination works)
Then pour in enough vinegar to fill all the tubes and leave it for a day or so. Pour the vinegar into a plastic pail of suitable size and look at it and what has come loose. Give the radiator a good wash out with fresh water and try it now. I've been amazed at the improvement
Bill... IF the problem persists, you may have some clogged tubes. I took mine to a shop and they tanked it to clean it out. When I put it back in, it still ran hot. So, deciding that nothing is right unless I do it myself, I pulled the rear tank cover off. Sure enough... I had 30 clogged tubes!
I took a wire coat-hanger and straightened it out, leaving the cork-screw end where I unraveled it as the drill bit end. I then chucked it up in my drill and opened up each tube. It worked like a charm. The coat hanger is flexible enough that you don't have to have a straight approach to the tubes. The only tubes I couldn't get in were the 5 at each end. In any event, I did this job 8 years ago and it's still cooling fine no matter how hot it is. The test came in 2011 when I ran it 100 miles in 107 degrees! It would boil a little when I climbed the mountains but that was all.
What kind of vinegar, Les; apple cider or white?
James J. you're a braver man than I am. Either that or you guys have different coat hangers to ours. Ours are at least harder than ordinary wire and would put a heavy load on the tubes trying to flex it down like that.
A go a safer route and take the bottom tank of to rod out the tubes. Much easier to do this and much easier on the tubes. Even then you have to be careful. Its better to leave a tube blocked if it is hard rather than force a way through. I did that once, split the tube and then had to take the top tank apart to block that tube at each end.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
Fresh tight engines run hot especially with a marginal radiator. Give it a chance to loosen up and be sure to run as far advanced as you can as running the timing retarded will add to the problem. The radiator will seek its own level so barfing a bit of coolant is not the worst thing although I usually run without anti-freeze for a while after a fresh rebuild because it reeks havoc on the brass and paint when you overheat.
Allan... Removing the back cover of the top tank is much safer for a novice, or folks like us who don't work at radiator shops. It's farther away from the tubes so there is less chance of heating the solder that seal the tubes than if you try heating the lower tank.
The coat hanger wire was very flexible as you can see in the photo and the cork-screw end did a great job churning it's way through the gunk in the tubes. Slow and stead is the rule and I had no trouble at all.
This is what I would do with what you have and some distilled water.
Just a "smidge above the tube tops" may be some of your problem. Too low and there is no circulation = boil. You can see right away that won't work in a convection system and that car will boil like a steam locomotive and aggravate that seam in the top of the radiator front. Been there, done that!
What is a smidge?
To me that smidge is 2-1/2 inches above the tubes which is 4 inches below the rim of the radiator neck. I just measured the coolant level in the flat tube on my '14 and it does not boil. I do use the 50/50 but it's cooler with water.
Drain out the coolant and replace it with distilled water. I say that because the leak will get all over everything and is harder to clean up. Fill it to the level above.
If that don't get your problem, I would find out where "not too lean is" on that Holley. That can help cool your engine too as others have said.
I would be tempted to run that radiator with a little JB on that seam before I plunked down for a new one or tried to fix it. I've done that too and it's time to drive it!
Ken in Texas
A fresh engine will run warm, I like to run straight water and let it boil over, Fill it till it says Ford on the radiator and see what that does? get about 150 miles on it and they tend to run cooler after that. The goorgling that happens in the radiator is common on and older one, some times that helps clean them out.
A piece of modern speedometer cable can do a nice job of zig-zagging into radiator tubes and cleaning them out. Do be careful to not let the end inside the tube unravel while being spun inside a tube by a drill. Can you say "Chinese finger trap"? Direction of the drill can be critical.
Great advice, guys - thanks! I think I will try the JB on the seam first, then drain and try the vinegar treatment to get some of the tubes cleaned out, then do the distilled water treatment filled to the recommended level. All makes sense to me!
Sounds good. I use plain water in a new rebuild, then drive until it loosens up and all eventual leaks and problems are fixed. Then it's time for antifreeze/ distilled water mix - just don't forget to put it in before winter
James - are there any tricks to solder the cast iron inlets and outlets to the brass in the radiator, compared to brass to brass soldering? (looks like you were so close to the cast iron inlet when removing the rear tank cover so it may have loosened up a little in the rear?)
If you're able to fix the tank leak but still have a heating problem, a recore may be the way to go.
Roger, the key to soldering the cast iron outlets on the radiator is the tinning beforehand. The castings must be squeaky clean first. Then the tinning has the best chance. I tin the brass tank as well and then the SOLDer will wick in easily.
Hope this helps.
Allan from down under.
My '13 roadster has an original '15 radiator on it. Believe it or not, it never leaks or boils. I'm pretty lucky. I don't like anti-freeze because if it gets onto the brass, it stains it, and is almost impossible to polish off.
Update on the overheating brass radiator; I put a little JB Weld on the seam and did the white vinegar treatment. I filled it up with three gallons of white vinegar and let it set for two days. I ran it often, letting her get good and hot. Today, I drained the radiator and flushed it with a box of baking soda in three gallons of water to neutralize the acid from the vinegar. I then flushed it three more times. I ran it the same distance that I did when she overheated three days ago, and so far not a sign of any leakage or overheating! My question is; should the water I'm draining now be fairly clear? So far, every time I've drained it the water looks like dark tea. Should I continue filling/running/draining until the water clears up?
Yes, darkened coloring means rusty water is still in there in tight areas- if I were you I'd keep washing water through it.
Tea is much better than milk
(milky colored coolant is when compression is leaking into the water through a leaking head gasket)
Sounds like the water passages in the block were not cleaned and you're getting some rust - thus the tea color.
I'd flush it a few more times and then fill with the 50-50. You'll probably still have some discoloration - but a "weaker tea" color. The antifreeze will prevent any further corrosion in the water jacket.
I would spend a couple of weeks driving the car around with some sustained 25 to 30 mph speeds before I put the anti-freeze back in it. You want to be sure you haven't opened up another leak somewhere.
Larry is absolutely right. Those anti-freeze spots are much harder to get off the brass than plain water spots.
Ken in Texas
Are you flushing the head and block with compressed air, or just water? If only water, add the air as shown in the videos.
Thanks for all the advice, fellas! I flushed the radiator at least a dozen or so times, and the water finally started coming out nearly clear. I was only using water, Steve, since I don't own a large compressor. I added three gallons of distilled water and will run her for a while to see what happens. So far, not a trace of any kind of leak!
Great job Bill! It appears you are on the right track. I agree that a lot of the discoloration is coming from the block. Stay away from anti-freeze. I use a little water soluble oil in my radiator, and it keeps stuff pretty clean.
Well it is good to hear that the vinegar worked for you as it has worked for me. I would keep flushing/ changing water until it stays clear.
Best of luck
My 1914 kept overheating. still does a little but it calmed down a lot when I started running a richer mix of gas in the carburetor. I have an older brass radiator, just had new intake and outlet connections put on and the radiator rodded out. Don't underestimate the problem of running the carb too lean.
About 10-15% of gas so I've been told is actually is consumed in cooling the engine and running to lean takes away from that process, it may be an old wives tale but I can tell you that reducing the the amount of gas going into the intake will make the exhaust manifold almost translucent ... ok I took some poetic license on that one, but in the evening in a dark area without ambient light you can lean your fuel to the engine and see how much difference it makes in the color of the the exhaust manifold. Not a good idea but 30 years ago my ignorance gave me the opportunity to see this first hand.
I wonder how much effect on cooling atomization of fuel has on it. An NH is not much better then a hit and miss engine its interesting it works as well as it appears it does but I would guess a lot of fuel goes un burned out the exhaust over heating it.
Ford used different ways to improve atomization but modern carbs are much better at that issue. A Mikuni carb has seven over lapping methods designed for atomization at different throttle openings and engine speeds. All are adjustable but it would take a bit of trial and error to get it right. The right one would be an easy swap.
Whatever the case, my radiator is no longer overheating, and I'm thrilled! I took her for quite a spin yesterday for a gas fill up, and when I got home all I heard was bubbling and a small amount of water from the overflow tube but no leaks and no overheating. I would highly recommend the vinegar treatment for anyone having similar problems.
I will try that first Bill! A few dollars in vinegar would be worth the effort. Thanks Less!
Distilled water by itself will cause intense, rapid corrosion. It is OK to use distilled water with a reasonable amount of anti freeze. Distilled water should never be used alone in an automotive cooling system, as it increases the speed and severity of rust.
Is there a friendlier solution to running distilled water and rusting up your engine versus stained brass from antifreeze?
There is not any mixture of coolant (none, 100% water, 100% ethylene glycol) that I am aware of that will not tarnish polished brass. Best bet - don't pour coolant on your polished brass. Then you won't have any issue.
As Royce pointed out, distilled water is highly corrosive. When sea water is passed through a desalination plant, various salts are added back into the water to reduce corrosion in the distribution pipework.
Allan from down under.