Radiator hot on top, cold at the bottom

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Model T Ford Forum: Forum 2017: Radiator hot on top, cold at the bottom
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Alex Dragone on Friday, June 23, 2017 - 09:32 pm:

My radiator is cold at the bottom and hot at the top. The temperature is even across the radiator and when I had the radiator off with a hose running through it, the water flowed through the radiator with no problem. The engine in the car is rebuilt but was done some time ago so it was sitting around. Is it possible that the block is restricted? If the water flows through the radiator off the car than it should be fine correct? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thanks!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Mark Gregush Portland Oregon on Friday, June 23, 2017 - 09:39 pm:

Hot water rises, so hot at top and as it cool gets more dense and drops to the bottom.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Spencer Vibert - Granby ,CT on Friday, June 23, 2017 - 09:40 pm:

Alex as long as its not boiling over you are fine and in a perfect world the radiator should be cold at the bottom because heat rises think of a t coolant system like a cycle. Cold at bottom then it heats up towards the top then cools and drops back to the lowest point


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Alex Dragone on Friday, June 23, 2017 - 10:20 pm:

This is great news. Than my radiator is cooling properly. I only had it running for about 5 - 10 min And noticed it gradually got colder towards the bottom of the radiator and was worried something was restricted


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Alex Dragone on Friday, June 23, 2017 - 10:33 pm:

Are you guys sure though? The radiator was stone cold at the bottom and getting very hot at the top


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Alan George Long on Friday, June 23, 2017 - 10:41 pm:

I think it could be partially blocked. Get it cleaned out and be confident it won't let you down on a long run


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dallas landers on Friday, June 23, 2017 - 10:45 pm:

Take it out and drive it. If it boils water out and steam you will know you have a problem. The water from the motor goes in the top and as it cools in the radiator it is forced back in the bottom of the motor. 5 minutes probably did not get engine up to operating temp. I just changed oil tonight in mine and ran it at idle for about 5 minutes and the oil was still cold when I drained it. I hope you are worried about nothing.

Drive safe and often


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Dan B on Friday, June 23, 2017 - 10:45 pm:

Alex - This is physics, not a matter of speculation or opinion.

Your radiator is operating normally as you describe it.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By dale w on Friday, June 23, 2017 - 11:22 pm:

add a water pump............


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rob Patterson. Australia. on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 01:54 am:

DON'T add a water pump.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Martin Vowell, Sylmar, CA on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 03:23 am:

As far as I understand the workings of the radiator, hot water from the engine, goes into the top of the radiator. And cool water gets slurped up by the engine from the bottom of the radiator, this process is called "thermosyphon" which is exactly how the Model T radiator works.

The only time you need (maybe) a water pump is if your radiator is so plugged up that water doesn't flow as it should...although I think everybody here would suggest getting your radiator re-cored rather than use a bloody water pump...adding a water pump to an already working cooling system would be useless and just add one more place for the system to leak from. :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 05:25 am:

Five to ten minutes is not enough time to evaluate a radiator. (Unless there is a serious problem?)
Years ago, I got a model T together and running. At first, the cooling system worked fine. After a couple weeks, it got bad fast. It began going to a full boil after only a few miles. Then it only took once around the block. A few days later, I could let it sit fully cold over night. Start the engine the next day, and within two minutes it would reach a full boil.
The cause of the problem, turned out to be very simple. The engine's head. Running almost clear across number three combustion dome, was a crack. Most of it probably had been there for years. Rust sealed part of it, and after I got it running the crack opened up and expanded. Every time number three cylinder fired, the crack was pushed open by the expanding forces inside, and blew 2000 degree flame directly into the water above the crack. A water super heater of sorts.

All that to say that there are many things that can affect the cooling system. If a radiator is working properly, you should be able to feel the temperature difference between the top and the bottom of the core, or tanks. But it should take more than five or ten minutes for everything to reach normal operating temperatures. If the temperature at the bottom was the same as it is at the top, it would mean that the radiator didn't cool the water at all. Now, THAT would mean a radiator problem.

It should be mentioned that a blockage in the block or hoses is possible. But not likely at this point. Mud-dauber or mouse nests inside blocks and heads, dirt left behind because radiators were filled with pond water, many things can result in lack of circulation, or reduced heat transfer.
I once had a radiator hose that looked perfect on the outside. But I was having some over-heating issues with the car. I checked a few things, and came to the conclusion that something was restricting the flow. Turned out, that the car had been sitting for quite a few years (I did know that), and that perfect looking radiator hose probably had been left dry (radiator drained for storage). The inside of the hose had rotted, and pealed off creating a golf-ball size wad of rubber and cotton fiber. It was enough to nearly block the water flow going into the engine.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Martin Vowell, Sylmar, CA on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 06:14 am:

I had a similar problem once...my car had been stored for 25 years, it ran really hot, decided to flush the radiator and the block separately...the radiator was fine, the block not so fine...only a trickle came out the bottom. So I took off the steel slurp up tube and found it was about half plugged with rust (the tube was really rusted) and other debris (somebody must've used pond water)...anyhow, I pitched that pipe, got new rubber hoses just in case and bought one of those brass slurp up tubes, never had a problem since. :-)


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry Davis Houston TX on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 08:26 am:

I love my water pump.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By paul griesse--Granville,Ohio on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 08:43 am:

Maybe a thermostat before the rad inlet? Remove it if you`ve got one...Paul


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By George John Drobnock on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 08:58 am:

Add a Water Pump....its time to up date that there motor....As for the thermostat, the same can be achieved by experimenting with a flow aperture to impede the water flow and get better cooling.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Alex Dragone on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 09:13 am:

Thanks for all the opinions. I've had many model Ts, and trust me I would never use a water pump. I flushed the radiator and it was fine before I put it on the car and it flowed fine, but I never flushed the block because it was never run since it was rebuilt. But yes it was only about 5 or 10 min but top of the radiator got very hot and the bottom was very cold. The radiator is an original Livingston radiator with a square Mercedes style core


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Norman T. Kling on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 09:19 am:

Here we go again! Don't do anything to your car until you find out if it is really overheating. Do not overfill the radiator. leave the water about half way up the top tank, but be sure it is water you see when you look down there and not just a wet baffle. Jiggle the car a bit and see the water swishing. Then drive the car around and see if steam comes out. As long as there is water in the system it won't get over 212 degrees which won't hurt the engine. But if the water boils out or steams out, that is when the system will overheat. Anyway, drive it around and if it doesn't steam and boil, it is working as it should. On a hot day it is normal to gurgle for a few seconds after you turn off the engine.
Norm


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By John Codman on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 11:17 am:

When I bought it, my T would overheat in 15 minutes whether it was idling or being driven. I thoroughly inspected the cooling system, then replaced the radiator with a Berg's flat-tube unit. Now you cannot make the car overheat. No water pump is necessary if the cooling system is in good shape and the engine is in a reasonable state of tuning (read mixture and timing set correctly). If you live in Death Valley or Phoenix, perhaps a water pump would do some good, but the last thing I want to do is to take my non-air conditioned T for a ride in 116 degree weather (the temperature in Phoenix yesterday).


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Erik Johnson on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 12:39 pm:

He's running an oversize, aftermarket radiator, which he should have stated in the original post.

Don't those Livingson radiators hold twice as much coolant and have nearly twice the amount of cooling fin surface area as a stock Ford radiator?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Alex Dragone on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 02:23 pm:

Yea I apologize, it's an original Livingston radiator. Do you think that could make it colder at the bottom because it's a larger core?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chadwick Azevedo on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 02:23 pm:

Bump to get rid of the spam


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Alex Dragone on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 05:01 pm:

Bump because I someone suggested lyrica for the radiator but now my temperatures off


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rich Bingham on Saturday, June 24, 2017 - 06:09 pm:

Alex, can you post a picture of the Livingston radiator for them of us'uns who ain't never seed one ?

If it doubles coolant capacity, I'd guess five minutes isn't enough time to get the engine warm unless it's uncommonly hot where you are.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Sunday, June 25, 2017 - 12:10 am:

No apologies needed about the Livingston. Most of the basics work the same. I, too, would however, like to see pictures of your radiator.
The ways they are different than the model T style tube and fin, is how they plug up and fail to transfer heat. Cellular style radiators (includes several core styles including square cells, true honeycomb which is a specific design, things that look honeycomb but actually are not (often referred to as "honeycomb type"), a chevron style, and a tear-drop style among others), when they are new, offer better and more direct heat transfer to the outside air. The cells (most designs) have much more surface area directly to the outside air. The PROBLEM with cellular radiators, is that the inside of the water area is such a convoluted shape with few if any straight paths, many many sharp corners, and etc, that dirt and hard water deposits can build up, blocking needed water flows, and insulating the heat transferring surfaces. That convoluted shape then hits you with the other side of a double whammy. Once plugged (or insulated), they are extremely difficult to clean out. Mild cleaning chemicals may help, and sometimes are enough. But the "tubes" cannot be rodded out effectively. It is not uncommon to find cellular radiators in beautiful looking condition, that have to be re-cored to make them work again.
Usually, but not always, if the water flows really quickly through a cellular radiator? It likely will function okay.

Tube and fin radiators have nice straight (mostly smooth) insides of the tubes. The ratio of water volume to surface area is generally not as good as a cellular core. Flat tube radiators help solve that problem, that is why they work better.
The big problem with tube and fin is that the tubes are only about (varies a lot with specific dimensions) twenty to thirty percent of the heat transfer radiating surface area. The fins are roughly seventy to eighty percent of the radiating surface area. As the radiators age from new, the contact between the tubes and the fins slowly fails. The hot water mostly just runs through the tubes not radiating enough heat energy to adequately keep the engine cool. Restoring that connection is something that has not been explored enough. It clearly is not an easy task. But I "feel" that there must be a fairly simple "fix". There are a couple things I would like to try, but I have not had the time/ability/opportunity to try them out.

I think a couple people are trying to "poke the bear" with water pump comments. Thermo-siphon takes a few minutes to get up to a temperature where the flow really gets going. A water pump without a thermostat in line begins circulating water/coolant immediately when the engine is started. That is part of the problem with water pumps on Ts. Under some conditions, the water gets cooled too early and prevents the engine from reaching an optimal running temperature. One of the amazing truths about pumpless thermo-siphon, is that it generally does a great job of self-regulating its own temperature very near an optimal engine running temperature. No thermostat needed.
A thermostat added along with the water pump does help with the running too cold problem, but also the added restriction can add troubles by slowing down the maximum flow.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Alex Dragone on Sunday, June 25, 2017 - 07:17 pm:

I will post pics of the radiator this week so you guys can see what it looks like. It even has the original Livingston radiator cap still on it


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Jerry VanOoteghem - SE Michigan on Monday, June 26, 2017 - 10:58 am:

Alex,

Don't overthink this. Just drive the car and see if it overheats or not. If it does, then find out why. Right now, you don't even know of you have a problem.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Alex Dragone on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - 10:46 pm:

Here are a couple of photos of the Livingston on my 1911 Torpedo. I got the car from a gentleman in west Warwick RI who purchased the car from its original owner in 1945 when he was about 15 years old at the time. I have the bill of sale from 1945 showing he paid $40.00 and I got the documentation from the Henry ford showing it was sold new in providence. Really neat car and he He got the car with the Livingston on it. It even still has its original Livingston radiator cap on it!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Rich Bingham on Tuesday, June 27, 2017 - 11:41 pm:

Alex, that's a treat to see. Thanks for posting the pictures.
Any headway on how the radiator is performing ?


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Randy Brown - Austin, Texas on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 07:46 am:

Alex, that is a fantastic find! When you have time, please post some more pictures of the details such as the brass badge on the front and what it looks like under the hood.

I can already see several features that are different from the later reproductions. And the radiator cap is a jewel!

RB


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Wayne Sheldon, Grass Valley, CA on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 06:13 pm:

I saw one like that years ago. With that incredible cap, just like that one. When you mentioned having the original cap, I wondered. WOW!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Duey_C on Wednesday, June 28, 2017 - 07:58 pm:

Oh my. :-)
That is absolutely beautiful!
Yes, please keep us updated.


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