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1961 chrysler overheating problem

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Put your hand on different parts of the radiator core to see if it is hot all over, or in spots. With car running and at operating temperature (thermostat open), take off the radiator cap and verify that the coolant is flowing in the radiator.  When you say you have "checked the radiator" what does that mean? How long since you had the radiator flushed, rodded out or recored?

Pete Phillips

Leonard, TX.

1929 Chrysler business coupe

1955 Chrysler 300 (project)

1963 Chrysler New Yorker

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12 hours ago, RickBrinker said:

The radiator is hot all over no cold spots

I don't think a hand is good enough for this. Can you tell the difference between 50 oC and 85 oC with your hand? You will get a much better answer with an IR thermometer.


Another test might be to get it hot, shut down then wet the radiator all over with a hand spray bottle. Watch where it dries last. That area might have reduced water flow and is not as hot as elsewhere.


I "checked the radiator" in mine too. I even took it out and back flushed it with bursts of 100 psi air in the water. It still had a triangular area in the bottom that was blocked and needed rodding.

Edited by Spinneyhill (see edit history)
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I had a radiator flushed by a radiator shop, overheated first long trip, btw it had been pulled and sent out to them, came back painted. Different radiator shop found the bottom tank was a solid chunk of dirt with a narrow passage to the lower hose. 

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I had an odd overheating problem on a 51 DeSoto. It was ok at idle and low speed, water pump rad etc seemed ok. But when I took off the rad the top tank was full of brown paper material like brown paper shop towels shredded up. Evidently someone left the rad cap off and mice built nests in the top tank. I flushed it out after turning it upside down, got a wad of wet towels the size of a football. After cleaning it worked fine.


My guess is that the paper floated enough to let the coolant flow at low speeds but when the water flow really got going the paper was forced down and plugged the tubes. I agree this is not much of a theory but am sticking to it lol.


The strange thing was, there was no sign of any debris when I looked in the filler hole.  I looked several times to see that water was flowing. Then a few bits floated by.  The bulk of the stuff only came out when I took the rad off turned it upside down and flushed water through.

Edited by Rusty_OToole (see edit history)
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I've been driving a '61 Chrysler for 31 years. Fought overheating for almost 18. Did all the things you did. The only thing to have temporary effect is I would get the radiator rodded out and it would be okay for a couple years. Then do it again. The problem wasn't solved until the engine was rebuilt. The block was not just hot-tanked but had a shot-peening type process done to it so it came back looking like a fresh casting. Point being, the water passages in the block were just caked with hard deposits and the water wasn't flowing enough, plus what deposits did come off then eventually plugged the radiator. This is something a garden-hose flush just wasn't able to take care of. Had the radiator recored at the same time. Now it almost wont get up to temperature in the winter. IR thermometer shows 180* anywhere you point it. Sometimes the needle will creep up a tiny bit if I get stuck in traffic in 95*+. Have a friend with a '61 Chrysler who had a very similar experience. Good luck!

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