Engine Block Heater

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2015: Engine Block Heater
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Schmidt ..... Seattle on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 10:47 am:

Anyone ever used an engine block heater for easier starting in cold weather.
Here are some varieties :

https://www.google.com/search?q=engine+block+heater&ie=UTF-8&oe=UTF-8&hl=en&clie nt=safari

Any other ideas?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Erik Johnson on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 11:10 am:

I can't see it ever getting cold enough in Seattle to justify the need for a block heater, especially if your car is well maintained, has a good battery and you are using the right motor oil.

I live in Minneapolis.

Frost plug heaters were always considered the most efficient and the best way to go (like the Zerostart on your Google search page). For the average person, installation requires a professional mechanic. Years ago, you could order a car with factory installed frost plug block heater.

Tank heaters installed on the heater hose are probably the next best as far as effectiveness and they can easily be installed by the backyard mechanic.

Personally, when I was younger I installed lower radiator hose heaters on two 1973 Pontiac LeMans that I owned and used as regular transportation in the 1980s but had only outdoor parking. I only used them when the overnight temperature was predicted to be sub zero. I found it was best to plug them in when the engine was still warm when I came home from work in the evening. In my opinion, lower radiator hose heaters are not as efficient as a frost plug heater or tank heater, but they are extremely easy to install.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Jelf, Parkerfield KS on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 11:46 am:

In the old days some folks would drain the fluids when they got home and take the oil and coolant indoors overnight to keep them warm, then pour them back in when they were ready to start in the morning. Another approach was to use a chick incubator to keep the engine warm.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Richard Erfert on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 11:55 am:

I use a 40W light bulb in a drop light under the hood at night and it keeps the radiator from freezing, used to do that on my engines in Milwaukee many years ago too. Hard to find a 40W incandescent today but so far it has worked. The garage isn't insulated and in Flagstaff it was +9 last night. Waiting for the sun to shine.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Tom Miller, Mostly in Dearborn on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 12:42 pm:

Ford and the other manufacturers still offer optional electric heaters factory installed in a core plug opening.

My van had one and I understand they're standard for some regional builds.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Dimock, Newfields NH, USA on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 12:42 pm:

Heating the block might help to atomize the gasoline but I don't know if it will have a big affect on the oil in the transmission.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Dimock, Newfields NH, USA on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 12:45 pm:

I see that you are looking for suggestions.
How about wrapping the transmission with heat tape like they use on the pipes of mobile homes?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David M. Coleman - Grand Marais, MN on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 12:48 pm:

Not sure that I should admit this. But a Coleman camp stove burning under the pan, also did wonders .....


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Roger Karlsson, southern Sweden on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 01:00 pm:

VW beetles without fluid coolant were sometimes accessorized with an electric oil heater in the bottom of the sump. Never tried it when I drove vintage VW's in wintertime 1986-94, but it may have reduced wear from cold starts, though just slightly?

Cylinder wear is always the most when the cylinders are cool and the acid vapor from the combustion can condensate on the cylinder walls. That's another research finding from Harry Ricardo in England during the 30's.
Taxicabs and long distance trucks are rarely allowed to cool down - thus their engines lasts many more miles than engines that are often started from cold and rarely gets up to full operating temperature.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Erik Johnson on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 01:05 pm:

In Minneapolis, the coldest it ever gets is -20 F overnight. But that is not very often.

More common is when we have one to two week stretches where it gets to 10 below at night and hovers around zero for the high during the day.

Even so, I have a well maintained 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix and see no need for a block heater. Electronic ignition and fuel ignition make a huge difference compared to the carbureted engines with distributor and point ignitions of years ago. The use of 5W30 makes a huge difference compared to running 10W30 years ago. Also, even though I have an unheated, detached garage, it is typically warmer inside than the outside , even at night. The concrete slab acts as a heat sink/radiator and the garage an envelope, so there is a difference in temperature.

Finally, when it gets especially cold, I don't drive my car unless I absolutely have to. No need to run around when it's 15 below when there are plenty of things to do at home.

When I was in college with my first '73 Pontiac and no place to plug it in when it got below zero, I just let it sit, sometimes up to a week at a time. I used to see a lot of my fellow students going out of the dorm to the parking lot, starting their car, letting it run and doing the same thing over and over every few hours. All that does is use gas and run down the battery.

If I lived north of St. Cloud, MN, then I would consider installing a block heater.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Strange - Hillsboro, MO on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 01:05 pm:

My cars are stored in a heated garage, that does the trick. :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bailey Rettig on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 01:40 pm:

"Any other ideas?" Move to SoCal.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Charlie B actually in Toms River N.J. on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 01:48 pm:

Minot AFB. Battery warmer electric dipstick and water heater.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bailey Rettig on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 01:50 pm:

"Any other ideas?" Move to SoCal.
Bailey in SoCal


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Pat Kelly Montana on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 02:55 pm:

I've used all the heater types but the dipstick one. The best for me is the frost plug heaters. If you go that way, get the one that uses a pipe thread insert and element. Much easier when you have to replace the element. The tank type works good also. I'm using one of each now on my two tractors. I also use them on my pick ups. I run them on timers that give them about three hours to heat up so they are ready at feeding time and snow blowing. I use 1000 watt elements but you could get by with something like 600 watt. The silicon pad might work good in your area also. I never had good luck with the magnetic units. PK


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Freighter Jim on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 03:04 pm:

I have seen magnetic external 120 VAC heaters in farm supply stores next to the dipstick heaters.


Freighter Jim


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Steve Schmidt ..... Seattle on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 04:29 pm:

Thanks for your advice. I used the silicon pad on my airplane and that worked great.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stan Howe Helena, Montana on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 05:52 pm:

Easiest and best is the magnetic heater that just sticks on the pan. Put it on the side of the pan back below the starter and if you really want to do it up right put another on on the back slope of the pan. They work great and are easy.

I just bought a bunch of Kats engine heaters at an auction for cheap because they don't get used much anymore. I wanted on for my diesel tractor and got about 35 of them for what I would have paid for the one I wanted that was in the pile had I bought it at the parts store.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stan Howe Helena, Montana on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 05:54 pm:

Should have said easiest and best for T's. For engines that can be fitted with them, I still like the water heater type. One of those and one of the magnetic ones on the pan will start just about anything.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Erik Johnson on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 06:35 pm:

It never occurred to me that he was talking about Model Ts.

I presumed he was referring to modern cars.

Whoops……..


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Michael Garrison - Rice Minnesota on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 06:49 pm:

Hot clinkers out of the bottom of the furnace under the oil pan and a horse blanket over the motor. Don't forget to let the water down in the well tonight, it's snowing now and we'll have a hard freeze when it stops. Oh, and before I forget, rub the horses down when you put them in the barn. We don't need them gettin sick. Throw a little extra hay down for them and give them each an extra half scoop of oats in their bag. And now that I'm on the subject, use the grass hay for bedding for the cows. We pay too much for the alfalfa to be runnin' it down the gutter. When you come in bring an arm load of kindling with you from the shed. Now hurry out, you've got homework that's got to be done for tomorrow. "Sis, come help me with these dishes! We need this separator clean before they bring the milk in."


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Michael Garrison - Rice Minnesota on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 07:04 pm:

Filters for the cream separator, bag balm, linament, rubber boots, scoop shovels and pitch forks. Saving the twine off the bales. Squirtin' the cats while milking the cow. Chewing her cud. Dehorning, slop, calving time, pullet eggs, sickle mowers, dump rakes, oat shocks, hay stacks. Pulling two 14's in 2nd gear.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Adam Doleshal on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 07:10 pm:

I keep my TT outside in the winter and with the Warford in neutral it has no problem starting at temps down to 0 F.

Three year old 6v battery, starter rebuilt about 10 years ago, and everything else in proper working condition...


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Fred Schrope - Upland, IN on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 08:47 pm:

I have a rather unique block heater on my 1969 White Freightliner. It's a 1600cc Pinto engine that sits above the transmission. It will always start as it has three Group 31 batteries with big cables. The hot water is plumbed into the block of the Cummins Diesel and out the water manifold on the heads. In about 20 minutes, it will heat the diesel up to about 120 degrees even in the coldest weather.

In all honesty, this wasn't my idea. It came from a 'tater hauler in the Red River Valley of Minnesota/North Dakota.

It would be a little impractical for a Model T though.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chad Marchees _____Tax Capital, NY on Monday, November 30, 2015 - 08:54 pm:

I just installed one of these on the T doodlebug:

http://www.napaonline.com/Catalog/CatalogItemDetail.aspx/Engine-Heater-Lower-Rad iator-Hose-KAT/_/R-KAT14700_0511073444

I put it in the lower hose, I had to shorten the lower water tube obviously to add it in. I have not had the chance to try it yet, but I have it in another more modern carbureted vehicle that is cantankerous to start when it is cold out and it works great. The down side is they draw ALOT of electricity and it obviously takes a while to get warm--as would anything. It will take almost 3 hours from a dead cold, but I can get a big iron 454 Chevy warm to the touch like it has been sitting out in the sun. I obviously expect better results on a smaller T engine with smaller water passages.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Aaron Griffey, Hayward Ca. on Tuesday, December 01, 2015 - 12:10 am:

When I lived in St.Paul in a trailer court I had an MG 1100.
It held 2.75 quarts of coolant, motor, radiator and heater.
One winter I had a tank heater on it with the little impeller inside. It was in one of the heater hoses.
My wife would plug in the extension cord that went from the car into the kitchen when she got up.
By the time we were ready to go to work the coolant was hot enough to get heat out of the heater without starting the engine.
I worked six years in an auto shop there. I have seen heated plates that go under the battery, heated battery fill caps that extend down into the battery water, dipstick heaters and headbolt heaters. They always said you needed a head bolt heater on each side if you had a V8. Very few did. One was enough.
Core plug heaters were new then, but the tank type with the impeller in them were the ones that seemed to heat everything up the best. You had to remember to leave the heater temp control on HOT so the water could circulate through the system.
The ones without the impeller worked well in some cases, but in most cases they would not work well enough to cause the water to circulate (thermosyphen).
There was also a unit that would start the car every forty minutes or so. If it didn't start it would stop, try three more times and shut itself off.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Aaron Griffey, Hayward Ca. on Tuesday, December 01, 2015 - 12:15 am:

There was a factory with a large employee parking lot in Bayport, Minnesota, I think ANDERSON WINDOW WALLS, where when you went to work you would plug your headbolt heater in at a post like a parking meter.
They said an hour before everyone got off work the security guard would throw the switch so everybodys' engine would be warm when they got off work.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Stan Howe Helena, Montana on Tuesday, December 01, 2015 - 12:24 am:

Aaron, I'll bet you needed every bit of that heater. They were built for England where a 25 degree day is frigid, not St Paul where nobody even wears a jacket until it gets down to zero.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By kep on Tuesday, December 01, 2015 - 12:34 am:

Never seen purpose made block heaters in my country.
Have used an electric blanket designed for rich peoples beds wrapped around an engine to help it start in the morning though.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Freighter Jim on Tuesday, December 01, 2015 - 01:06 am:

I do believe if you cut off a portion of a rich persons' bed to fit the top of the engine - they probably would not miss it.


Freighter JIm


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Freighter Jim on Tuesday, December 01, 2015 - 01:16 am:

On a serious note:

I am going to order a 600 watt radiator hose heater for my 7.3 PSD engine:

@ http://www.napaonline.com/Catalog/CatalogItemDetail.aspx/Engine-Heater-Lower-Rad iator-Hose-KAT/_/R-KAT16800_0511046467


Freighter Jim


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