My unrestored 23 tourer participated in a veteran rally recently. Lots of cool old cars attended, had a ride in an '03 Oldsmobile, it was lotsa fun, but my car always overheats. No worries, I had numerous containers of water in the back, and every 5 miles or so would stop and replenish the boiling radiator, which would erupt like a geyser until I quickly replaced the cap, only to replicate the same thing another 5 miles down the road. Knowing of my cars tendency to boil, I fitted a waterpump prior to this meet, to no avail.
Anyway, I have since removed the pump and filled cooling system with a caustic soda mix, and brought up to temp a few times.I notice the engine gets very hot [using my hand as a temp gauge] but the bottom radiator tube and radiator remain much cooler. I'm thinking the tubes in the radiator are pretty well blocked up, preventing a good coolant flow.
I've just read on here a thread about using vinegar on a honeycomb radiator to clear encrustations and will attempt that after the caustic treatment.
I know, fullwell, that getting my radiator recored with a modern efficient core would alleviate my woes, but, heck, half the reason I bought this original model T was because it still had the original radiator. A modern replacement core would just be so wrong.
I do not desire to restore this vehicle. They are only original once.
My question [finally!]; is there any other way to remedy this overheating than the steps I'm taking? Thank you.
A good radiator shop should be able to pull off a tank (top or bottom) and clean out any crap in your tubes. You may find it has been apart before ? They used to just plug off any leaking tubes in days past (and still today) but it gets to a point where a new core is required. Brassworks will make you a new round tube core to keep it looking the same.
Obviously boiling water is getting to the radiator, is your fan slipping too much ? Try fitting an elec fan from a modern car ? Pour lots cold water down the face of your rad before opening the cap !
Brian, it is the bottom tank which needs to come off, a much simpler operation. However, rodding out blocked tubes is fraught with problems. It is very easy to rupture the old copper tubes, and you won't know it's happened until it is all back together and you fill it. Any ruptured tube will then have to be blocked off, so it's bottom tank off again, and the top too this time.
I am sure others will advise that a new radiator is the only real answer for a problem free future.
Allan from down under.
I will commend you for wanting to keep the car as original as you can. Actually, I prefer to say "as original as reasonable".
Original radiators can be a bit of an issue. They can also work just fine. The problem mostly is that after nearly a century, many of them have developed enough corrosion between the tubes and fins that they simply will not transfer heat well enough. A really good cleaning, both internally and externally, may help. However, part of the problem is that along with the corrosion from time and exposure, also caused looseness. I have long wondered whether some sort of heat transferring material could be flowed in that could help the heat transfer. Unfortunately, my family demands the past couple decades have not allowed me time to pursue the idea. There is a liquid used in electronics that works miracles, in electronic circuits. Unfortunately, it is very expensive! Even for the small amounts needed in an electronic circuit, most technicians and engineers won't spend the money for it (we did, because for what it was designed, IT WORKED!). Whether it would do the job for a radiator under the exposed conditions required or not? I do not know.
There should be some good option that could work. If I had the time, it would be worth trying to find.
The other best option, is to get another good looking original radiator, do the general cleaning inside and out, and hope. But you could go through several in that effort, and still be no better off than you are now.
The funny thing about century old radiators is that good looks does not equal cools well. I had a radiator some years ago that never gave me trouble. Barely leaked a few drops. The only time it ever boiled on me was a hot day when I left the car running in my yard for about twenty minutes. But UG-LEY !! Slightly twisted, big dent in the top tank (didn't show with the hood close), a bunch of broken fins on the front, with a fan hit on the back. The worst part was a small area about three inches diameter near the bottom front where all the fins were broken out so that three tubes inside could be soldered shut.
It was on a car I sold, I actually told the buyer that if he chose to replace the radiator for looks reasons, I would like to buy that old one back!
I think I had run that radiator on three different cars, major tours, and probably five or six 200 mile Endurance Runs, with no troubles. I still wish I had kept that radiator, but the car I was selling needed one, it was on it, and I didn't have another usable one handy.
It would be a lot of work, but a radiator could be taken apart, and the tubes and fins soldered together when reassembled.
Just some thoughts from me.
Is your '23 a high or low radiator? (Be nice guys!)
Either way, a good radiator should keep the car cool under most common driving conditions. Just not if you sit in one place too long with the engine running.
Too lean of fuel mixture and/or retarded spark can also cause overheating.
Try running the carb richer. Also, make sure your timer is properly adjusted - i.e. "timing the timer."
Not enough oil in the crankcase can also contribute to overheating.
You may already know all of this, but here it is anyway.
After a while trying to repair an original radiator or finding another good original is like chasing rabbits. You can sometimes get close but not quite. They always seem to run away.
If you want to have a Model T that you can take out to drive and have fun with without any major issues it starts with a good cooling radiator and good tires.
Almost if not all of these 2 things are either new or not original. That means non-original tires and a recored or new radiator.
More advice on cleaning original radiators.
There's always lots of discussion about cleaning the inside of the radiator.
However, you should also clean the outside of the radiator. Sometimes there is a lot of road dirt and other accumulated debris stuck between the tubes and fins.
You can use a garden hose and nozzle and anything that will allow you to physically remove the debris such as a stiff piece of wire or a dull hacksaw blade, etc.
A quick simple test, remove the bottom hose and turn the garden hose on full it should not backup. It should take all the water you can put in it.
Brian, I'm in the camp of "try to save your old radiator" too. :-)
Do the tests/cleans above but I believe you have the right ideas. Caustic, rinse, vinegar and rinse. Keep at it. If you get it cleaned out, you win. :-)
I guess I got lucky 19 years ago with a 40 dollar radiator. It had scale/lime in it and I did the baking soda treatment according to the original '23 A. L. Dyke's encyclopedia I have.
A tea cup full per 2 gallons of water (dissolved), get it hot and run it for 15-20 minutes.
Then flush it out fully.
I did that twice. Works beautifully even with both ears (levers) up for parade duty etc. I do have a crummy low volume pump on it still. I didn't have a water inlet elbow at the time but I had that old pump.
One big note. The engine is wore out completely so that has some bearing on my success.
Keep at it! :-)
The Junktard mechanic says: If cleaning the rad opens up small leaks in the tanks and you do not solder, try acrylic latex caulk or some-such. Works wonders.
The fins attached to the tubes tend to unattach temselves from the tubes. They still look like there attached. If the fins are loose the radiator will. It cool. As small screwdriver will move those tubes. Be carfull not to poke a hole in the tubes. I have 3 round tube radiators in the shed and there all that way.
Buy a new radiator and begin to enjoy your car. This boiling/adding water sequence is going to destroy your block eventually.
Second Jerry's advice. You won't regret it once you can drive your car without constantly worrying about overheating and damaging it. An all original car when it is boiling is no fun. Save your old radiator and hang it on the wall.