Anybody bought a Brassworks radiator?? What do you think?
Thanks for the input!!
Ted - I have 3 Brassworks and 1 Bergs, They are all very good. I have had no problems with any of them. I run the flat tube radiators.
My 16 coupelet has a new Brassworks radiator and no complaints from her so far.
I have one, it had a pin hole leak from the solder joint on the upper neck after a few miles on the road. I pulled it down and soldered it shut and have been running it ever since, 2008. Could have been California no/low lead solder I have heard or just a guy having a bad day. Haven't bought another one, just run Berg's, have 4 on the road, no problems.
I have bought 4. All have given good service. One I bought in 1985 has started to seep around the bottom inlet solder. I'm not sure the Ford ones lasted any longer than that.
I bought a round tube for my 27 but have not installed it yet on the ongoing ground up restoration. It looks beautiful except for the peeling nickel plating on the filler neck. I inquired about the peeling and Brassworks informed me that they would send me a new filler neck which I received and it it is beautiful. Now I need to have it soldered onto the radiator. I have some doubts...
Could someone tell me how high the filler neck protrudes above the radiator shell? The original radiator was 1 3/8" above the shell. It looks to be crimped to the upper tank so I would assume it is the original neck. The new is 1 3/4" high over the shell. If it needs to be adjusted for height now would be the time to correct it.
I'm glad everyone has had good success with Brass Works. Here is my experience. Bought a new never used radiator at Hershey. It was used for several years as a display. Used it for about a year, developed leaks and called Brass Works to see if they could fix it. (My thinking was that if they made it they could fix it without making it look like a big solder mess). Sent it to them but didn't ask for an estimate. They called back and said it would be several weeks. I said ok. Got the message from them that it was ready and the bill would be approximately $800.00. I fainted and the reason was that it was an early model and difficult to fix without replacing the sides and some of the tank. Later models could be fixed easier. I told them if they had told me I would have bought a new one. Got it back and the neck leaked after the first tour. Sent it back per their instructions and it was returned shortly after. Next tour, it leaked again!! Had a friend fix it and found that the three rivets were not peened over and only the solder was holding the neck. My opinion is that they have had several owners and each one did the work they knew how but would not agree to fix the prior owners situation. If I need another radiator,(a good possibility as I have 3 T's), I'll go to someone else. Sorry to spoil the case but I only know what happened to me. Dick C.
I have two of the flat tube high radiators with no problems. however there is one thing to be careful about. There is a baffle about the level of the Ford emblem. When you add coolant, be sure it is actually above the baffle by rocking the car and watching the coolant move. I had the car overheat because the coolant was low due to a hose leak. I thought I had filled the coolant, but unfortunately in the dimly lit garage, the wet baffle looked like it was the coolant level, but it was actually about a gallon low. This is not a problem with the radiator, just the owner of the car!
I have a high radiator on my touring from Brassworks and I have had to get it repaired twice. Both times the radiator shop said it was bad solders were the tubes meet the top tank. I bought this radiator in 08 and it has worked good except the two problems as reported.
I have only ever bought one Brassworks radiator, in 1989. Got to meet the owner and had a shop tour. Excellent 1915 round tube item with special earlier front panel without made in USA. [It was for a Canadian car]
However, a business which has seen so many changes of ownership does raise concerns with me. These concerns were heightened when an Australian distributor gave up on them due to a very poor response to servicing faults. The new distributor is experiencing similar problems. I am looking at a Bergs radiator for my roadster. I just wish they were made the same way the originals were.
For what it's worth.
Allan from down under.
The best thing I ever did to my touring was buy a new one from Brassworks about 6 or 7 years ago.
It still looks and works great, no complaints!
I have bought four Brassworks radiators. One failed after 6 months but they would not warranty repairs.
Buy a Berg's I have had two Brass Works come apart at the seams.
I bought one a year ago. It looks like a masterpiece. No problems yet.
bought a new Brass Works for my 15 Brass Roadster...be careful not to polish right thru the plating
I wish Bergs had followed through with producing brass radiators. They seem to produce products that they are proud of, will stand behind and offer real costumer service. IMHO Brassworks needs some serious competition. Maybe then they would actually start to care about the folks that buy from them and stand behind their product. YMMV!
Somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but for brass era radiators I believe Brassworks is the only game in town. For 1917 and later, I go to Berg's.
"...be careful not to polish right thru the plating..."
"One failed after 6 months but they would not warranty repairs."
" Got it back and the neck leaked after the first tour. Sent it back per their instructions and it was returned shortly after. Next tour, it leaked again!! Had a friend fix it and found that the three rivets were not peened over and only the solder was holding the neck."
"...I have had two Brass Works come apart at the seams."
I had my 1915 radiator recored so I could keep the original tank. Apparently that was a good choice.
Add me to that unhappy list, bought a flat tube one and shipped it home when visiting USA. It is on my 1915 Kamper. It worked well and after the 2008 Australian tour to Echuca I brought a second one for the 1911 Town Car.
When I put it on and added water it leaked immediately. The Australian distributor offered to repair it but as he was 500 miles away I did it myself. There was no solder for 2" in a spot where the top hose outlet was fixed to the top tank.
Kamper went to USA in 2008 and radiator worked well across to Richmond IN mid summer. On the return trip in 2011 the side panels came loose at the top tank by the time we got to Seattle WA.
As we were driving south along the west coast I made arrangements to call into Brassworks on the way to LA.
They repaired the loose panels and the Kamper was shipped back to Australia.
One its first trip out west from home the side panels inner angles which are soldered at the edge of the core came loose.
They are about 12" long and 1/2" right angle pieces and they had been reattached with a minute speck of solder at each end. Luckily I was parked at a shop and a person spotted one side which had dropped off and was stuck in the side and hadn't fallen off as the chassis was under it. The other side was only holding by one solder speck on one end. I removed the loose piece and used good old duct tape to hold the other one in place till I got home. When I got home I sweated the whole side against the side panel, not hard to do just needs a bit more solder.
I was happy with the service I got at Brassworks but for a few cents worth of solder I became an unhappy Kamper (eh camper)
I know that keeping down costs has to be done but I would happily pay more if that bit extra care was taken to make a top class product. Nothing worse than having a good product fail because the quality it marginal.
From my experience and others above it seems that a leak test is either not done or is a poor one.
I sent a 15 radiator to them to repair due to the neck coming loose. I got it back having paid for the repair and two way shipping. In just a few more months it came loose again. They did warrant their work, but it still cost me two way shipping. The following year it again came off. On inspection, I found that the rivets were just soldered in, not "riveted." I called them up and was told that to form the rivets properly would require taking the top tank apart, an $800 repair (plus shipping). I ordered some threaded rivets from their neighbors at Restoration Supply and did the repair myself. Looks good and five years later is still holding well. To be completely honest, the motor meter with the big wings is probably too heavy for the soldered on necks, but my properly "riveted" neck is hiding just fine with the motor meter.
Bought a black low radiator from them about three years ago. Good so far.
I have one Brassworks and three Berg's. Getting ready to buy my fourth Berg's. Enough said.
I had what I thought was a bad core on a Greg Goviea radiator. So I took it to the Brass Works to get fixed. Turns out it wasn't the core at all. The radiator inlet was leaking. He didn't even check it! So it cost me over $1000 for a job that shouldn't have been over $100. Another thing I don't like is he doesn't make the brass radiator like Ford did. If you look at where the upper tank joins the side panels, it is not done correctly. In addition, I brought up copies of a Ford Radiator Book, so they could see how Ford installed the three rivets on each side. I doubt if he did that either. Greg told me he gave the new owner all the tooling he made for the radiators, and he threw it all away, because he didn't understand what it was all for. Yes, I have the radiator on the car, and it works, but I'm not happy. I wish Greg would start making radiators again, but he won't do it.
Dale Peterson--I had the same experience (see above comments) and spoke about this several months ago. I too used a wings motor meter and felt that the weight and the air caused vibrations and loosened the solder joint. I also believe that the thickness and maybe hardness(temper) of the brass is less than original. I mentioned this and was abruptly told that I was "absolutely" wrong by our learned friends on the forum. Maybe?? I now use a dog bone and have not had a problem once the rivets were peened and new solder.
I have yet to replace the filler neck (defective nickel plating) on my new Brassworks high radiator. Before doing so I have been looking into how the merely soldered connection might be improved. I haven't come up with a solution yet. Maybe some threaded rivets like Dale Peterson put on his brass radiator. Here regular screws could even be used since they don't show.
The original 3 row radiator on my 27 has a crimped on filler neck.
The top of the filler neck measures 2" above the upper tank.
In contrast the filler neck is 2 3/8" high on the Brassworks radiator.
I'm wondering if the factory radiator neck is lower than the new one. Measured from the inside at the bottom of the filler neck the original is 2 1/8" and the new filler neck still measures 2 3/8" which means that the upper tank on the old radiator is crushed down about 1/8". The new neck measures a 1/4" higher than the original.
Inside the filler necks, the opening on the factory radiator is as wide as the filler neck. The Brassworks radiator has a smaller opening, the filler neck is soldered on and three tabs are soldered onto the bottom of the neck. I was told this was in case the overflow pipe were to ever get plugged up and the pressure were to break the soldered connection of the filler neck, it would not be blown up into the air.
If anyone wants to have a conversation about how Ford's radiators were constructed in their specific production year, improvements that have been made (or should be made) to Ford's design, materials used etc. please call us directly. I can best speak to production process(es) from ~2007. Our phone number is 805.239.2501.
If you want to know why we do what we do or why we don't always do what you think we should do you should call too.
Brassworks...What is your name in case someone wants to call? You say, "I can best speak to the processes..." but who are you?
Sorry. It's Lee
I have installed two 13/14 brassworks radiators with no problems. I recently bought a new round tube for my 14 roadster.
I have been a customer for years. Bought some of Greg Govia's first Model T radiators as well as had custom, non-Ford, brass radiators made by both the current and past Brassworks owners. I have always been extremely pleased with their products. Some of the radiators I have of theirs are probably 30 or more years old now and are still running strong. The hobby is lucky to have suppliers like Brassworks keeping these cars alive.
good, I was wondering if anybody had something good to say! The brassworks has likely built thousands of radiators to keep our cars running. Also if it were an easy and inexpensive thing to produce, everyone would. I try to keep in mind when dealing with 100 year old HOBBY cars that some of these things people try to build are in fact very complex. Thank you to all efforts from all involved in our hobby. Im not looking to stir people up, just something ti consider
I've owned four black era Brassworks radiators. Two have given flawless service. The other two required minor repairs after bracket solder joints failed during the first year of service. But, they've performed great in every other respect.
I also own one '14 brass radiator. It's a money pit. It began leaking where the top meets the side panel about 30 days after I bought it. I shipped it back to California at my expense and they kind of fixed it under warranty. It began leaking at the same spot, the following summer. By then, the warranty was expired, so I had it fixed at a local radiator shop. The next summer, the other side started leaking in the same area. Then the solder joint at the outlet started to leak. Finally, the inlet joint came loose. This piece of crap seems to spring a new leak every year.
Presently, I'm restoring a '15 Runabout. I'm reluctant to buy another Brassworks radiator after my experience with the one on my '14. But, they're the only game in town if you want a shiney new radiator on a '15 or earlier Model T.
If you're building a trailer queen, that will never be toured - then buy the Brassworks unit.
But if you're going to drive and tour it regularly, then stick with an original Ford unit and fix it up. I have two brass era Fords and do my best to run on a budget. That's why I run used original radiators and have a back-up unit for each car sitting on the shelf, ready to go.
I've always caught grief on this forum, or in the Model T community every time I mention my "used radiator" philosophy. I constantly get hammered about tubes with seams, and loose fins prevent cooling.. and on, and on, and on. But here's the thing... I don't have any of the problems mentioned above. The original Ford unit is far more dependable than it's given credit for. I run them hard on 100 degree days, climbing the West Virginia mountains - in low gear. Sure, they may start to boil a little as I reach the crest, but then they cool right back down the second I head down the back side. Have we not read the stories back in the day? Have we not seen the photo's? They boil over and you keep going. But again, that is rare.
I service each radiator myself. First thing I do when I find one is pull the back of the tank off and rod out the tubes. I do this with a coat hanger wire that I've straightened, leaving the coil end intact as a drill bit. Put it in a hand drill and it chews through a clogged tube nicely. You can open all but the last 5 rows on each side. You just solder the back cover back on and you're in business. Yeah, I've caught grief on this forum for that too... but again, I'm not leaking and in 10 years, have only had to pull one radiator for a side panel that came loose.
So Ted, Find yourself an original radiator that appears to be pretty good and get a good local guy to crack it open and clean it up for you.
Another good way to clean the tubes is an old speedometer cable. Taking off the back panel and soldering it back on is not that hard. To remove, melt the seam solder with a torch while blow out the solder with compressed air. To replace, clean, clean, clean and clean again and resolder.
In deciding what to do with my 1915 radiator, I considered two things. First was original appearance. While the hundred-year-old tank had a few dings, it looked pretty good overall. Having seen the new radiators and and seeing that they're made differently than the originals, I wanted to keep the original look. The other factor was cost. Having the original radiator recored was less costly than buying a new one. It wasn't cheap, but it saved me a few Benjamins. If I ever had to make the choice again, I'd do the same.
I also replaced the front panel in my original 13 as the Ford script was cracked. It was a little more intense, but the same principle used. The front panel I used was from an original tank. When I got done it matched the original radiator perfect. You can't even notice that I replaced it. It has the same patina.
Installed a Brassworks rad on my 27 T 2 years ago. Great fit and performance. No problems so far.
I have had 3 brassworks brass radiators over the years on different cars, two round tube and one flat tube. No issues to report.
I'm with James Lyons. My daughter has an original radiator on her '14 T Touring. The car is toured heavily. No problems except the cast iron inlet is getting thin. I've repaired it a few times by brazing. Cools fine.
We like using original parts on our cars. If there is something wrong, we repair them or look for another original part. Our cars are not trailer queens. We're not experiencing the problems with repo parts like folks mention here on the forum. We just stand to the side, wait for folks to toss off their original parts (because they think they need new one or new ones are "better") and we buy the remains. I'm not interested in buying "used" repo parts...just original "Ford".
An old-timer told me one time that the Early Ford V-8 (in the 1932 time frame) became popular because Ford offered "rebuilt engines". You simply brought your Ford in, and the Ford garage "exchanged" the worn out engine with a rebuilt one. My friend said that was the period of time when we went from having people with the knowledge to "repair" cars to a time where they simply became "parts exchangers".
What I would look for in an original radiator is... Are the fins loose on the tubes? Are the tubes swollen and cracked (from freezing)? Is there evidence of cracking? I'd say pretty much all brass will crack over time. Is there too much solder/repairs/damage to make the radiator look good? Are the threads on the neck good? If it is a later radiator, the neck can be salvaged from another radiator.
We have two originals and one repo on our cars. (I could not find an original radiator at the time I needed one.) There is NO difference in the cooling. Cooling problems COULD be a radiator issue, but it can also be other things like timing, tight engine, driving it too hard, etc.
Henry didn't become successful by building an inferior car!
I was co-founder of Brassworks along with my cousin Greg Gouveia. I stayed long enough to get most of the tooling established and then Greg took over and I went on to other things. And yes there is a lot to building these from scratch. The Brassworks has changed hands a few times and I have used radiators from all the various owners and never had a problem with them. I'm talking over 50 brass radiators thru the years. Most flat tube and the occasional round tube for the show pony. Put a flat tube on a car, drove it across the country with no problem. In fact, took the fan off and let the radiator do it's job and the car ran 10 degrees cooler. Yes, I am a dealer for Brassworks. But I am also a user many times over and stand by their product.
Here's one that looks like a winner:
I have never purchased a Brassworks radiator. I have purchased three of Bergs radiators. One was for my Model A, no issues, cooling was excellent. One for my 14, it cools excellent but that is all I can say for it. I have had many issues starting from the way it was built, to parts coming unsoldered. The third one was for the 24 I am working on now. I have had some minor fit issues with it. The big issue that has me upset is the inlet on the top radiator tank. First, it is not long enough, so Bergs included the black radiator hose that is on it (see pictures). The second and most important is the casting itself is undersized. The hose they included is to big for the inlet. If you were into using the original type hose clamp, forget it, you could not use it on this. I used a modern clamp and I have it tightened down to right on the verge of stripping it, and it still leaks. I will have to make an adapter to go on the inlet, so the hose will fit.
Not to happy for the price I paid for the radiator. I bought the Model A radiator and the 24 radiator at the same time.
Attached is a picture of my original 25, you can see the difference. I never have my cars judged, so the fact that it is not exact doesn't bother me, but the fact that the hose doesn't fit, sure does.
Lee from Brassworks just contacted me.
The radiator that I had the problem with was bought in 2004, prior to Lee buying the company. The most recent three radiators (one last year) all have been fine.
Thanks to Lee for reaching out.