JRHaelig

Looks Like It's Radiator Time - '39 Special

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Last year I wrapped up putt-putting around the neighborhood on bad tires without any engine difficulty.

This year I get the new tires on and got ready to expand my range when up pops an overheating problem.

 

Using a laser thermometer I found that the thermostat housing and top radiator tank were hitting 212+ degrees while the lower portion of the radiator core and lower hose were holding at room temperature. 

The overflow tube hisses steam in a full on boil, not just expansion puking.

 

I installed a new zero pressure radiator cap

I removed the thermostat.

I  ran cycles of CLR & dishwasher detergent.

I pulled the rear water drain and poked a wire around to get some gook and sand out.

I found that the pressure relief valve below the thermostat was missing so I installed a restrictor plate with a 5/16 hole.

 

I'm thinking that over the winter, the sediment that I had kicked up settled in the radiator tubes, so I'm preparing to pull the radiator for service.  No leaks, so I'm hoping a rodding will cure my ills.

 

I'm going for the removal from the top maneuver, which should be the easy part.  Finding a New Jersey radiator guy who will rod it out will be the hard part!

 

I'd open it myself and have a pro seal it back, but I'm not sure my MAPP torch brings enough muscle to melt things open.

Edited by JRHaelig (see edit history)

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Unless you can find a shop that's intimately familiar with old copper and brass radiators, you might be better off with either a new core or a reproduction radiator, depending on how authentic you need it to look. The last radiator shop in my area that I could trust with vintage radiators closed two years ago. I haven't found another one that isn't just a remove and replace shop. Others on this board have had mixed success with rodding out an old core. While it will clear the tubes for a period of time, it doesn't really remove the gunk that's still in there. The rodding out only pokes holes in it where the tubes are. Eventually, it will migrate and block the tubes again. Since it's a major hassle to take it apart, now is the time to do something permanent, which would be a new core (if they can get one that flows well enough) or a reproduction radiator that looks fairly authentic but probably not 100%. The old "as long as you're in there" theory. Do it right while it's apart now. It's worth thinking about, anyway.

 

Good luck, I know this can be frustrating.

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To carry the above post a little farther, if you can get to them, remove your freeze plugs and see if there is rust and debris behind them that will just clog up the radiator again later on. This is what I found when one freeze plug was removed from my 1950 Special's 248 engine last week.

Pete Phillips, BCA #7338

Leonard, Texas

50 Special freeze plug.jpg

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This is just me dreaming out loud but here it is. In my machine shop I have a big ultrasonic cleaning tank it will even take paint off of a part . I have never seen one big enough for a radiator core  but I just know it would work !!  Now hear is the dream part we could get some of us together and buy one to share . Me and my sons have 26 car just us to fix up think of the savings in the long run . my son just had one rodded  out and I fill like they  did a pore  job and pore is not strong enough but I don't cuss.  --kyle    count me in if you fill like it 

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A radiator in an ultrasonic cleaning tank may also shake loose any solder. Not something I would try.

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37 minutes ago, 1939_Buick said:

Not something I would try.

well the flip side is throw it in the garbage and order a new one . not much to lose if you ask me .

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Never tried this but I’ve heard of people using ammonia,letting it soak for a few days then clear water flush. I might try that on a “test”vehicle around here just to see what happens.

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