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ralphmyles

1937 Lincoln K Overheating

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The car starts up fine and runs like a swiss watch for about 5 minutes but boils over within minutes of this and cannot be driven. The water pump has been rebuilt and the overheating problem seemed to start after the generator was rebuilt, which involved the removal of the water pump. Am I missing something? From what I can tell, and have been told, the car does not have a true thermostat, instead shudders in front of the radiator. There is no steam in the exhaust, and the motor seems to run fine. I would appreciate any help!

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I have seen overheating issues caused by the timing being retarded too much,  but not as quickly as what you are seeing.

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Are there any other symptoms? I'm having trouble understanding how the engine can possibly generate so much heat to cause that volume of water to boil that quickly. Is it truly overheating with steam coming out of the radiator and pegging the gauge? If so, something is truly amiss and there are likely combustion gasses running into the coolant either through a head gasket failure or a cracked block. That's really the only thing that could get it that hot that quickly. Alternatively, perhaps the block and/or radiator are significantly plugged and there isn't a large enough volume of coolant in the system and that's how it is able to heat up so quickly.

 

Just by simple physics, the engine would have to be a lot hotter than any safe operating temperature in order to raise several gallons of water to steam in five minutes. A gallon of water on your stove with fire under it (@ 500 degrees or so) will take 10-15 minutes to boil. Your Lincoln holds 3-5 gallons of water and even at its hottest, won't be 500 degrees in the water jackets. If it's boiling over that quickly, there's something VERY wrong inside and it's probably hot enough to cook the oil as well. I wouldn't run it if it's truly making steam that fast.

 

Can you confirm that it is indeed overheating or merely puking coolant (which is commonly mistaken for overheating)? If it's just puking coolant, that's kind of normal, especially if it's over-filled. Most cars of this vintage like the top of the radiator to be vacant, so only fill it to the top of the core, leaving the upper tank empty. That leaves room for expansion. If you're topping it up to the cap every time, it can easily lose 1/2 gallon due to expansion each time it warms up. Let it puke and leave it alone--it should find its own level at that point and it will be OK from there on out.

 

Also, what does the gauge say? Do you have one of those infrared thermometers that can read the temperature of an object? If not, get one. They're not expensive and it will help you troubleshoot where the heat might be. It should be hottest at the upper hose coming out of the block and coolest at the lower hose, and you should probably see a difference of 20-30 degrees if your radiator is healthy. That will at least help you narrow things down as to what is malfunctioning and whether it is internal or radiator-related.

 

Please confirm that it's actually overheating and not just spilling excess coolant. Then let us know temperatures at various points of the cooling system and we should be able to do a little more diagnosing.

 

Keep us posted!

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7 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

Are there any other symptoms? I'm having trouble understanding how the engine can possibly generate so much heat to cause that volume of water to boil that quickly. Is it truly overheating with steam coming out of the radiator and pegging the gauge? If so, something is truly amiss and there are likely combustion gasses running into the coolant either through a head gasket failure or a cracked block. That's really the only thing that could get it that hot that quickly. Alternatively, perhaps the block and/or radiator are significantly plugged and there isn't a large enough volume of coolant in the system and that's how it is able to heat up so quickly.

  

Just by simple physics, the engine would have to be a lot hotter than any safe operating temperature in order to raise several gallons of water to steam in five minutes. A gallon of water on your stove with fire under it (@ 500 degrees or so) will take 10-15 minutes to boil. Your Lincoln holds 3-5 gallons of water and even at its hottest, won't be 500 degrees in the water jackets. If it's boiling over that quickly, there's something VERY wrong inside and it's probably hot enough to cook the oil as well. I wouldn't run it if it's truly making steam that fast.

  

Can you confirm that it is indeed overheating or merely puking coolant (which is commonly mistaken for overheating)? If it's just puking coolant, that's kind of normal, especially if it's over-filled. Most cars of this vintage like the top of the radiator to be vacant, so only fill it to the top of the core, leaving the upper tank empty. That leaves room for expansion. If you're topping it up to the cap every time, it can easily lose 1/2 gallon due to expansion each time it warms up. Let it puke and leave it alone--it should find its own level at that point and it will be OK from there on out.

  

 Also, what does the gauge say? Do you have one of those infrared thermometers that can read the temperature of an object? If not, get one. They're not expensive and it will help you troubleshoot where the heat might be. It should be hottest at the upper hose coming out of the block and coolest at the lower hose, and you should probably see a difference of 20-30 degrees if your radiator is healthy. That will at least help you narrow things down as to what is malfunctioning and whether it is internal or radiator-related.

  

Please confirm that it's actually overheating and not just spilling excess coolant. Then let us know temperatures at various points of the cooling system and we should be able to do a little more diagnosing.

  

Keep us posted!

Thank you very much for the detailed response, I am away from home at the moment and can follow up on specifics this weekend. But here is the full chain of events: the car needed a generator repair, so we removed it along with the water pump as they are tethered via rag joint, after re-installing the two components we filled it with coolant and tested it to make sure it was charging. Later that day we took the car for a quick test drive, initially it seemed fine but after about 10 minutes the temperature gauge was pinned at the limit, and it started blowing coolant out of the radiator cap, the hood latches were even hotter than hell. After this we drained the coolant and let the car idle while filling the coolant slightly above the core and within 5 minutes it boiled over like a Yellowstone Fumarole. Unless of course this is the puking which you described as we did not drive the car following this. Should the car be running when it is filled? Am I supposed to prime it in some way? Sorry if these are stupid questions as I am used to working on simple inline 6s and 8s which are hard to break, and not these multi-cylinder beasts. 

 

28 minutes ago, Matt Harwood said:

only

 

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I'd also make sure the radiator is working properly.  Not a big deal to take it to a radiator shop and have it checked for flow and leaks.  Then the water pump might have issues.  Any thermostats would also need to be removed as they can clog the system if they're sticking.  My 41 V12 has the baffles  behind the water pumps which helps divert the coolant towards the rear of the engine.  That was a design issue with the V12s, and the baffles do help.  Hope you find the problem and get it fixed before you damage the engine or head gaskets.  

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First, whenever adding coolant to a hot engine, MAKE SURE IT'S RUNNING! Don't add cold coolant to a hot engine that isn't running, the thermal shock of the cold coolant and hot metal will crack the block. If you're adding coolant to a hot engine, leave it idling and trickle coolant in slowly so that there's no blast of cold coolant hitting anything hot.

 

Secondly, let's figure out what's going on. From what I gather, it was fine before you removed the water pump and then it definitely overheated. My first guess is that there's air in the system and it isn't full. It can sometimes be challenging to fill these all the way, but usually by starting it and letting it idle and then slowly filling it works to get most of the air out. I don't know if these cars use thermostats or some kind of restrictor as Ray500 mentions, but that can be a spot where an air pocket can block flow. So that would be my first guess. Do you have any idea how much coolant you poured back in? Check your manual for its capacity and compare that to how much you added. I bet it holds 5 gallons, so if you removed the water pump and drained much of the system (probably not the block) you should have needed 3-4 gallons to fill it back up. If you did less than that, then perhaps it's under-filled.

 

My second guess would be that something isn't right with the water pump. Again, I'm not familiar enough with these cars to know details, but I would double check to make sure that the common shaft that turns both it and the generator is actually turning the water pump. I'm guessing the shaft is visible so that should be easy to check. Also check to be sure that the impeller inside the water pump is actually attached to the shaft. I've had this happen on two separate cars where the water pump looked good and the shaft turned just fine, but the impeller was not affixed to the shaft and was not turning so it did nothing. That's worth checking if all else comes up good.

 

If it has radiator shutters, make sure they're open. I don't know when Lincoln switched to a thermostat, but it was around this time. But if it still uses the thermostatically-controlled shutters, make sure they're working or at least that they're all the way open. It can sometimes be hard to see them behind a grille.

 

The only other thing I can think of is to do a test to see if there are combustion gasses present in the coolant. There are kits that will inhale fumes from the radiator neck and a liquid will turn color if there are exhaust gasses present. That would indicate a blown head gasket. A pressure test might help, although this probably isn't a pressurized system so don't go crazy with the pressure--just enough to determine if anything is seeping out where it shouldn't.

 

When you get back, give it a few more checks and we'll keep trying. Good luck!

 

 

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On 6/12/2018 at 10:15 AM, Matt Harwood said:

First, whenever adding coolant to a hot engine, MAKE SURE IT'S RUNNING! Don't add cold coolant to a hot engine that isn't running, the thermal shock of the cold coolant and hot metal will crack the block. If you're adding coolant to a hot engine, leave it idling and trickle coolant in slowly so that there's no blast of cold coolant hitting anything hot.

  

Secondly, let's figure out what's going on. From what I gather, it was fine before you removed the water pump and then it definitely overheated. My first guess is that there's air in the system and it isn't full. It can sometimes be challenging to fill these all the way, but usually by starting it and letting it idle and then slowly filling it works to get most of the air out. I don't know if these cars use thermostats or some kind of restrictor as Ray500 mentions, but that can be a spot where an air pocket can block flow. So that would be my first guess. Do you have any idea how much coolant you poured back in? Check your manual for its capacity and compare that to how much you added. I bet it holds 5 gallons, so if you removed the water pump and drained much of the system (probably not the block) you should have needed 3-4 gallons to fill it back up. If you did less than that, then perhaps it's under-filled.

  

My second guess would be that something isn't right with the water pump. Again, I'm not familiar enough with these cars to know details, but I would double check to make sure that the common shaft that turns both it and the generator is actually turning the water pump. I'm guessing the shaft is visible so that should be easy to check. Also check to be sure that the impeller inside the water pump is actually attached to the shaft. I've had this happen on two separate cars where the water pump looked good and the shaft turned just fine, but the impeller was not affixed to the shaft and was not turning so it did nothing. That's worth checking if all else comes up good.

  

If it has radiator shutters, make sure they're open. I don't know when Lincoln switched to a thermostat, but it was around this time. But if it still uses the thermostatically-controlled shutters, make sure they're working or at least that they're all the way open. It can sometimes be hard to see them behind a grille.

 

The only other thing I can think of is to do a test to see if there are combustion gasses present in the coolant. There are kits that will inhale fumes from the radiator neck and a liquid will turn color if there are exhaust gasses present. That would indicate a blown head gasket. A pressure test might help, although this probably isn't a pressurized system so don't go crazy with the pressure--just enough to determine if anything is seeping out where it shouldn't.

 

When you get back, give it a few more checks and we'll keep trying. Good luck!

 

 

Thanks a bunch for all the details Matt... I'll follow up on some data when I get back home. My gut is telling me that, as you said, the system is not full (32 quarts). If I remember correctly the car took ~28 quarts.

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Look closely at water  pump---you describe no circulation--wrong impellor, loose impellor, belt loose...I once fixed a Dodge Bros. car,

guy pumped unit with grease till it was full, (not bearing or packing, but pump chamber)  ---pull stat, run with out while checking stat--hot water opens.....

How did it perform before the pump rebuild?

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On 6/18/2018 at 8:32 PM, ralphmyles said:

Just got the car running cool, I guess it was puking coolant as you said Matt. Thanks for all the help everyone!

 

Hi Ralph,

 

Can you tell me more about your symptoms and how you filled it? I just bought a '35 Lincoln K and I am experiencing some overheating problems now. It starts and runs great, but like your car, it starts to spit coolant out from under the cap in pretty short order and gets VERY hot. When I filled it, it took about 6.5 gallons (out of 8!) and I'm thinking that I might be low on coolant. However, it did puke some out the overflow. What did you do to fill yours completely?

 

Any insights to share from your experience?

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I don't know if this will help, but I'll tell you my experience with my Pierce Arrow.

 

First, it started to start puking out coolant from the overflow after I was going down the road at speed and let off the accelerator.  I really don't want to start the whole discussion of water velocity and time spent in the radiator and all that, all I know is that the water was being pumped to the top of the radiator so hard that, when the rpms suddenly went down, the water pump was not taking away from the bottom of the radiator, and a lot of water was lost out the overflow and cap.  I took a freeze plug (casting plug) the inside diameter of the top radiator hose, drilled a 5/8" hole in it, and inserted same.  Problem went away 100% and the car cools fine.

 

The next cooling problem I had was foaming.  I was on a tour in North Carolina, and could not stop the foaming.  A friend on the tour took one look and said oh, you need water pump grease, you're sucking air by the shaft on the water pump.  Correct water pump grease installed, problem went away.

 

Just some thoughts....

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If the problem is resolved that's good. Sometimes the boiling can stop but the engine may run hot. The first question, did you make any gaskets?

 

There is a kind of well known Terraplane 8 convertible coupe out there that came to me with similar symptoms. After an engine rebuild it overheated violently, then calmed down but always ran hotter than it should. Those cars have a sheetmetal water distribution plate over the water jacket. The owner bought a new one thinking there was a hole or bypass internally. I took the plate off the engine and all this gasket material was hanging in the water jacket. It looked like my left ventricle before the heat attack. The shop had fabricated a gasket covering the full opening rather than the perimeter and blocked off the distribution tube flow. The first boil over blew through the gasket material but created a restriction. I made a correct perimeter gasket and the cars runs at the right temperature.

IF you made a water pump gasket or outlet housing gasket an opening may have been covered just by accident. I don't mind taking things apart and verifying any suspicion. I wake up at 3AM with enough stuff on my mind without wondering if I made a gasket wrong.

Bernie

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On 7/11/2018 at 3:13 PM, Matt Harwood said:

 

Hi Ralph,

 

Can you tell me more about your symptoms and how you filled it? I just bought a '35 Lincoln K and I am experiencing some overheating problems now. It starts and runs great, but like your car, it starts to spit coolant out from under the cap in pretty short order and gets VERY hot. When I filled it, it took about 6.5 gallons (out of 8!) and I'm thinking that I might be low on coolant. However, it did puke some out the overflow. What did you do to fill yours completely?

 

Any insights to share from your experience?

Matt- 

My Lincoln also did not fill to full capacity, I had just assumed there was some residual coolant in the block. However that puking happened when I filled mine up a few times but eventually went away. I assumed the system was just naturally purging air out. It should be noted that my car later vapor locked but due to an exhaust leak in the heat exchanger gaskets. I was advised by a mechanic at the Canton Car Museum to tap and plug both to avoid any problems. I assume this exhaust leak was also contributing to the heat problem and was difficult to notice because it was not very loud. I would make sure your car does not have this leak and even block the heat exchanger with a 1/2 NPT plug down the road to prevent any problems... 

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