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Rust protection for our old cooling systems


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I finally got around to starting the engine in my 31 Buick 8-66S today.  Before I started it I removed the radiator cap to top up the radiator as I was concerned it was getting just low enough to possibly uncover the bellows housing of the thermostat.  The bottom side of the cap had white oxide over red rust on it which I found odd.  This system  consists of a copper brass honeycomb radiator core and the water passages of an iron block and head straight 8.  When I got the car in 2018 it was full of straight distilled water of unknown age.  I drained it, flushed it with a couple rounds of tap water, then filled it with green O'Reilly anti-freeze for older cars and fresh distilled water mixed close to 50/50.  Does anyone have any recommendations for a good rust inhibitor to stop the corrosion?  Is there any known incidence of electrolysis being a problem in these cars?  I leave the battery connected and on a battery tender.

 

Thanks.

 

Dave

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I have used a product called  'Thermocure'.    Amazon has at $15.99 a bottle.    (You might try Walmart for better pricing ).   I find Amazon to have higher pricing (IMHO).    I had a '1937'  40 series that I bought that had cooling issues.    I bought two bottles and needed both.     My first flush gave me blackish  coolant  flush  when I used it.    BTW,  this uses plain water when mixed with the 'Thermocure'.    Then I used it a second time and it still came out very dark - denoting the chemicals in thermocure were doing its job of de solving iron oxide / rust ,   but better in color.    So I bought a third bottle and cycled it through the engine.   This time the flushing water came out fairly clean.    I put 'green'  anti-freeze with  distilled water.    That stopped the heating issues I had.    IMHO,  this product works but a bit expensive ..      Then again,  it worked for me.   

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I find that our old Buicks ALL have cooling issues.    I live in the deep south (Florida) and we need  (at minimum) 'pusher' fans in front of our radiators.     Normal running is not a problem but when you stop,  our systems don't seem to handle it.    Our big cast iron blocks are slow to catch up.     Our modern aluminum cooling systems "with" shrouds controlling air flow thru our radiators makes a difference.   I am working around a custom shroud for my '35' Buick.     It already has a pusher fan in addition to the normal fan.     I've been down this road - down here - and trying to drive in our 'NORMAL' traffic with way to many stop lights to  allow us to keep our Buicks cool enough.    Just some thoughts IMHO....

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Thermo-Cure is a rust remover, not a coolant or coolant additive. It's not permanent and doesn't offer any advantages after the cooling system is clean. But if you're not starting with a clean cooling system, it's a good idea. If your cooling system can't keep up, it's dirty, so a good clean up is smart. Additional fans or other modifications should not be necessary on a healthy cooling system.

 

Once it's clean and if you don't live somewhere that you have to worry about freezing, use purified water (not distilled) and No-Rosion. Water is best for cooling and the No-Rosion works as advertised if used in the proportions they recommend. We recently drained the cooling system on a car that had been laid up for about four years but the late owner was a dedicated user of No-Rosion. Inside of the radiator was spotless, no issues when we refilled the system, car ran cool. I'm a believer and used it with a 70/30 water/anti-freeze mix in my '41 Buick. It has to be replenished every 3-5 years, but you should be flushing your cooling system that often anyway. 

 

Don't use water without an additive like this. Don't use tap water. And while distilled water is OK, the guys at No-Rosion told me that distilled water is so pure that it tends to pull ions from vulnerable parts of your cooling system in an attempt to balance itself. Not sure whether that's true, but purified water is no more difficult to find nor any more expensive. I bought it for $0.89/gallon at my local grocery store.

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Different engine and radiator but I have always used 50/50 tap water and ethylene glycol antifreeze and always changed it every 2 or 3 years (approx 20-30,000 miles).  Never have had a problem with cooling or rust as long as I have driven the car (59 years as a daily driver).  Three times I have overhauled the engine and always changed all the core plugs at every overhaul, that is why I know there is no rust in the block.

I don't think straight eight Buicks overheated when they were new but they had a reputation of overheating in Winnipeg in the 50's, 60's and 70's.  Simple solution in the Dealership where I worked was to remove the core plugs every time and rod out all the crud in the water passages.  Worked every time.

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We have had our 1916 D-45 Buick in our family since 1963.  My Dad never ran anti-freeze in the cooling system.  He always ran distilled water along with a product called Rust-Master.  This was a cooling system rust inhibitor, anti-foamant, and water pump lubricant.

When I took the radiator to the shop to have it flushed, the guy told me that it was one of the cleanest radiators that he had seen in a very long time.  I am going to have to respectfully disagree with Matt about using water in a cooling system.  We had the cylinder block thermally cleaned on this engine before the rebuild, so we feel like we are starting with as clean as possible cooling system.  I am going to run the Original Formula 50/50 Pre-Mix Zerex in this system for several reasons.  It has anti-foamant additives, additives to help the water pump operation, and at the same time, it will allow the engine to run a few degrees cooler.  I do not know what more a person could ask for going this route.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

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We are in completely agreement, Terry. I probably should have said "water is the most effective heat transfer medium" rather than simply saying water is "best." A water/anti-freeze mix is typically the best all-around choice for protection, lubrication, and to prevent corrosion. If your car runs hot and you live in a warm climate, you may see a bit of an improvement by running straight water, at the expense of freeze protection. I went with 70/30 to improve thermal transfer while still protecting the cooling system down to +7 degrees. I still used No-Rosion, however. I'm sold on its benefits and it sounds like it's the same type of product as Rust-Master. 

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I have a 1913 Studebaker 25 that has also been in the family since the early 60s. We have always run plain water and drained it when not in use. That is such a pain because you have to drain it every time or risk forgetting about it and breaking the block when winter comes. I tried a 50-50 mixture using green antifreze several years ago. It is an open (non-pressurized) system with an overflow tube that connects to the radiator neck and vents at the bottom of the core. The coolant foamed horribly and pushed out of the overflow, getting all over the paint, which it discolored, and the windshield, making it very difficult to see. Breathing ethylene glycol is extremely unpleasant by the way.

 

The spots in the paint eventually disappeared, and I never made any attempt to solve the problem, I just put water back in. Since then, the water pump packing has been replaced and I will try again at some point, but I would be quite gun-shy about trying it on a fresh restoration, or anything with nice paint. At the very least maybe plumb the overflow into a big plastic bottle so it cant splatter until you figure out whether there is a problem or not.

 

Edited by Bloo (see edit history)
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Regarding electrolysis, you can take a voltmeter and put one probe on the radiator, and stick the other probe in the coolant and measure the voltage. With fresh coolant there shouldn't be any.

 

Don't use any tap water unless you are sure, beyond all doubt, that it is OK. Someone I know when through one radiator core and about 12 heater cores (one a year) because he stubbornly clung to the idea of using tap water. For many years it was OK here, and then suddenly it wasn't. You could measure the voltage with the multimeter. It was fine until he put more tap water in....

 

Electrolysis is one problem, but tap water can also contain minerals that will plug up your radiator core. Purified water is cheap at the grocery store, usually less than a buck a gallon. Buying 50/50 premixed antifreeze is another option, but typically isn't a good deal cost-wise.

 

 

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So this engine in my car had been completely disassembled and restored/overhauled before I got it.  I have an original temp gauge on the car that was repaired, recharged and calibrated by Bob's Speedometer and the highest water temp I have seen running the car in hot weather in the garage for 1/2 hour at a time is 170 so it ain't running hot.  It doesn't foam or leak.  The only concern I had was when I removed the radiator cap to top up the radiator, after it sat since last November, I was greeted with white corrosion and red rust on the steel clinch ring on the bottom of the radiator cap.  I will conduct a coolant to ground voltage drop test tomorrow, that's a good tip I hadn't thought of. 

 

The main thing I would like to know is how to prevent rust in the system assuming no electrolysis is present.  I'm running 50/50 green ethylene glycol and distilled water, not tap water.  What can I add to that mixture to prevent rust and maybe lubricate the water pump is my question.  

 

Thanks in advance...

Dave 

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I want to add one more thought to this discussion and then I will shut up.  By running the 'original formula' Zerex anti-freeze solution in my engine I will be avoiding other serious problems.  The OAT formulated anti-freezes will attack white metals like brass, copper, aluminum, and solder.  I won't start that discussion here because it has been talked to pieces in other threads.  The water in our part of the country is not fit for human consumption let alone put it in an automobile engine.  I have been running the Zerex 50/50 original anti-freeze in our 1920 ever since I have owned it and not once have we ever had any problem whatsoever.  This all comes down to what the individual person feels comfortable doing.  I like to think that I have the science on my side about the anti-freeze and it has been working OK for me all this time, so, with that said, I'm just gonna drive on with what works for me.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

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The additives in the antifreeze alone should be enough to prevent corrosion. Change every 2 years because the additives get used up. let the water pump packing weep a little so the shaft gets lubricated.

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8 hours ago, Str8-8-Dave said:

The main thing I would like to know is how to prevent rust in the system assuming no electrolysis is present.  I'm running 50/50 green ethylene glycol and distilled water, not tap water.  What can I add to that mixture to prevent rust and maybe lubricate the water pump is my question.

 

I'm with Matt 100% here.  I've been running 50/50 antifreeze/water and I add the  No-Rosion  at one ounce per quart.  (about 13  ounces in my '37 Buick).  

I run the same mix in my old Fords as well.  I do change my radiator fluids every 2-3 years.

 

797025148_IMG_03942.thumb.jpg.2846c9532b35cd421657a771957d405b.jpg

 

1089403269_IMG_03962.thumb.jpg.6d0d4d7376d61f8504f88466292242d4.jpg

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Ok- No-Rosion it is.  I will also look into the Zerex 50/50, I'm aware of and respect the OAT discussion.  Good tips and spot on for my question.  Thanks to all contributors.

 

Dave

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13 hours ago, Bloo said:

The coolant foamed horribly and pushed out of the overflow, getting all over the paint, which it discolored, and the windshield, making it very difficult to see. Breathing ethylene glycol is extremely unpleasant by the way.

 

The spots in the paint eventually disappeared, and I never made any attempt to solve the problem, I just put water back in.

 

 

 

I also have horrible foaming with antifreeze, and have to use plain water, which still foams a little. Denatured alcohol is a very strong anti-foam agent and stops the foaming completely so I add a gallon of that, which also works as an antifreeze if winter comes too soon.

 

For winter storage I put regular antifreeze in.

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12 hours ago, Morgan Wright said:

 

 

I also have horrible foaming with antifreeze, and have to use plain water, which still foams a little. Denatured alcohol is a very strong anti-foam agent and stops the foaming completely so I add a gallon of that, which also works as an antifreeze if winter comes too soon.

 

For winter storage I put regular antifreeze in.

 

If your car foams with regular antifreeze, then you have other problems with your car. 

 

Might be the inlet side of water pump is sucking air past the packing.  Alcohol is addressing the symptom and not the cause. 

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What?  No Marvel Mystery Oil?

 

Name brand coolant non OAT (green/yellow) $8/gallon on sale.  Takes two gallons to make 4.  That’s $16.  Change it every 2 years.  Done. 
 

The additives aren’t hurting anything, but your wallet. 

Edited by Brian_Heil (see edit history)
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  • 1 month later...

Looking into Evans waterless antifreeze. They make many different products, but none contain water so there is no rust or corrosion.

 

Somebody said Evans was just 100% pure ethylene glycol, but that can't be true because 100% antifreeze doesn't have a low freezing point like 50-50 does. Just look at this chart, the freezing point is lowest at around 65% antifreeze when it hits -52F, and then is rises again to around +10 at 100%. We get -25F around here which is way colder than that:

.

 

freezept-2.gif

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If freeze is not an issue, water with cutting oil from a machine shop is great. No rust, lubricates the pump, and can be drained into a storm drain. Doesn’t take much oil for the system. Also, it doesn’t foam. If on tour and your foaming and pushing water out the overflow it will get you to the end of the tour. Is what ai am using in the White right now.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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I wound up buying 2 gallons of Zerex Green Original Formula concentrate, meaning I will add 2 gallons of distilled water to make up the just under 4 gallon refill.  I'm gonna remove the old coolant and run the car with petcock open and garden hose nozzle adjusted to keep the radiator full to flush out any crud, the fill er up with the Zerex. 

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Dave,

WHY would you want to dilute the Zerex 50/50 mix with water?  I do not know what part of the country you live in, but if you are in a colder climate, the 50/50 mix right out of the jug is good for 31 or 32 degrees below zero.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

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Terry, he said he used concentrate, which happens to be the only way I can buy the only green stuff around here.

Not that I would again even after a new water pump shaft just because of the bad memories of all that FOAM.
I’d never seen foam like that in my life....

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56 minutes ago, Ben P. said:

Terry, he said he used concentrate, which happens to be the only way I can buy the only green stuff around here.

Not that I would again even after a new water pump shaft just because of the bad memories of all that FOAM.
I’d never seen foam like that in my life....

 

Yeah I get the foam too. The water pump in these cars is a milkshake machine combined with a egg whipper Mixmaster. Good for making whipped cream

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Foam is usually caused by the water pump sucking air past the packing. Multiple causes......but a good rebuild usually fixes it. Water with cutting oil won’t foam. Just remember the freeze danger.

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4 hours ago, Terry Wiegand said:

Dave,

WHY would you want to dilute the Zerex 50/50 mix with water?  I do not know what part of the country you live in, but if you are in a colder climate, the 50/50 mix right out of the jug is good for 31 or 32 degrees below zero.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

Terry- you can buy 50/50 OR you can buy what I bought which is PURE STRAIGHT ZEREX ETHYLENE GLYCOL, NOT 50/50.  In this case 50/50 is achieved by mixing equal parts CONCENTRATE with water and erring on the safe side I'm using distilled water.  It's alot cheaper to buy the concentrate and mix it yourself.  The 50/50 stuff is priced nearly as much as the straight stuff. 

Edited by Str8-8-Dave (see edit history)
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3 hours ago, edinmass said:

Foam is usually caused by the water pump sucking air past the packing. Multiple causes......but a good rebuild usually fixes it. Water with cutting oil won’t foam. Just remember the freeze danger.

 

My packing doesn't leak, I got new packing in nice and tight. I think if I was sucking air I'd be dripping water. I cured the foam problem by using pure water and a good amount of denatured alcohol. The alcohol breaks up the foam. This car was designed to run on water and alcohol. But I'm tired of paying 15 dollars a gallon for the stuff in the summer when it evaporates all the time. I'm gonna try Evans and see if it foams.

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A packing will leak only when running.....(it’s a suction action of the pump pulling in air.) it’s very common. Evans is a small molecule and will seep past gaskets, and if there is ANY water in the system......even two ounces, it will lose 80 percent of its efficiency. Cutting oil will stop thr foaming, and not evaporate, and will cost less than a dollar.

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I wound up getting a half gallon of Evans NPG waterless to test out. I put some in a plastic water bottle and put the cap on, when you shake it there is NO foam whatsoever. With regular antifreeze it foams like soapy water.

 

The NPG formula is for race cars, it has no ethylene glycol which is banned in race tracks. I'm guessing it's propylene glycol based but have no Idea. Propylene glycol is non-toxic, in fact they use it in hand cream and toothpaste and many other pharmaceuticals. The EG based Evans has no tolerance for water, they even make you purge your system to scavenge all the water out of it, but the PG based formula does NOT require you to purge the system, and it allows 5% water, and I'm guessing that if you run your car with this formula and 5% water from not purging the system, the heat from your engine will drive the water component out of it anyway after awhile, because the boiling point of the Evans is way higher that that of water.

 

The guy who runs the shop where I bought this says he recently bought a 1933 Ford pickup with a V-8. He says it foams like crazy and he can't keep the coolant in because it all foams out the top. But when I did the foaming experiment with him in his shop, with the plastic water bottle, he saw that it doesn't foam at all. He ordered 4 gallons for me and 4 more for himself, for the Ford!!

evans.jpg

evans2.jpg

Edited by Morgan Wright (see edit history)
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I remember my Grand Dad telling me that back in the day when T Model Fords were all that everybody had, folks ran Kerosene in the cooling systems as the coolant.  This was of course before permanent type anti-freeze had come along.  Looking back at that now and remembering him telling about that, there is one thought that comes to mind very quickly - a person sure wouldn't have to worry about any rust in the water jacket.

 

Terry Wiegand

South Hutchinson, Kansas

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Assume the cutting fluid being mentioned is the water soluble type. 
 

What is it’s boiling point of the solution and at what mixture percentages?

 

Does the water just boil off at 212F?

 

Does the cutting fluid boil off at a lower temperature?

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On 9/10/2020 at 5:49 AM, Morgan Wright said:

I wound up getting a half gallon of Evans NPG waterless to test out. I put some in a plastic water bottle and put the cap on, when you shake it there is NO foam whatsoever. With regular antifreeze it foams like soapy water.

 

The NPG formula is for race cars, it has no ethylene glycol which is banned in race tracks. I'm guessing it's propylene glycol based but have no Idea. Propylene glycol is non-toxic, in fact they use it in hand cream and toothpaste and many other pharmaceuticals. The EG based Evans has no tolerance for water, they even make you purge your system to scavenge all the water out of it, but the PG based formula does NOT require you to purge the system, and it allows 5% water, and I'm guessing that if you run your car with this formula and 5% water from not purging the system, the heat from your engine will drive the water component out of it anyway after awhile, because the boiling point of the Evans is way higher that that of water.

 

The guy who runs the shop where I bought this says he recently bought a 1933 Ford pickup with a V-8. He says it foams like crazy and he can't keep the coolant in because it all foams out the top. But when I did the foaming experiment with him in his shop, with the plastic water bottle, he saw that it doesn't foam at all. He ordered 4 gallons for me and 4 more for himself, for the Ford!!

evans.jpg

evans2.jpg

 

I always wondered with that stuff if it lets the engine run too hot because of the higher boiling point, I guess it doesn't? 

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Just because it doesn’t boil doesn’t mean you car isn’t running too hot. Also, it’s thermal properties transfer heat less efficiently So your car will run hotter no mater what. Also, the effectiveness of it falls off a cliff with just a little bit of water......yes, it allows 5 percent.......but at one percent you are already way down the slope of effectiveness. It’s a solution....literally looking for a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s expensive, and difficult to work with. A properly restored and serviced car doesn’t need it.

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36 minutes ago, edinmass said:

Just because it doesn’t boil doesn’t mean you car isn’t running too hot. Also, it’s thermal properties transfer heat less efficiently So your car will run hotter no mater what. Also, the effectiveness of it falls off a cliff with just a little bit of water......yes, it allows 5 percent.......but at one percent you are already way down the slope of effectiveness. It’s a solution....literally looking for a problem that doesn’t exist. It’s expensive, and difficult to work with. A properly restored and serviced car doesn’t need it.

 

That was pretty much what I suspected with it, haven't had any issues with temps in the cad so kinda put it in the not worth it basket. I just use penrites rust inhibitor in mine because ti sits for a while

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The molecules are also smaller.......so it leaks much easier than water or antifreeze. Early cars with water jackets seem to seep all the time unless you goop the gaskets and bolts......which turns into a big mess.

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5 hours ago, edinmass said:

The molecules are also smaller.......so it leaks much easier than water or antifreeze. Early cars with water jackets seem to seep all the time unless you goop the gaskets and bolts......which turns into a big mess.

 

You really need to back up your information a little better. The molecules are not smaller, water is a tiny molecule, only H2O which is an oxygen with 2 hydrogens on it, much smaller than any of the glycols. But mainly, the size of the molecules has absolutely NOTHING to do with leaking through gaskets. What makes something leak through gaskets or not is the viscosity.

As for your point that Evans loses effectiveness when a little water gets in, you must back that up with some sort of evidence, like a chart or something. Effectiveness of a liquid coolant dropping off a cliff because of 1% water? You mean the specific heat goes down when you mix a little water in? Why? You really need to stop saying that unless you have evidence. I don't buy it at all, not one bit, and without evidence it sounds like fake news. I'm not saying it's wrong, just gotta show me. Both my grandmothers and my father's side as well are from Missouri. Show me.

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I put Evans Coolant in my '29 Cadillac and it works just fine. They do warn you against having water in there and mixing it but aren't real specific about the reasons other than you may lose the guaranteed protection it offers. I basically removed the lower radiator hose on my car in November, installed a hose blowing through the lower water pump inlet and driven by a small fan, and let it run that way all winter. Air blew through the cooling passages for a few months and the cooling system was bone dry by March. Filled it up with Evans. Car runs about 10 degrees warmer on the gauge, but going from 155 to 165 operating temps doesn't worry me. Is it better? Meh. It may pull more heat out on an engine that runs hotter than mine, closer to boiling like a modern engine set to run at 210 or so. Remember that it was initially designed for heavy trucks so they could run their cooling fans less often, thereby improving fuel economy--hundreds of thousands of trucks travelling millions of miles, and, well, a lot of pennies can add up. 

 

I do like that I don't ever have to change it or worry about it ever again. I like that it doesn't foam. I like that it doesn't freeze. I like that it doesn't rust anything or react where aluminum and iron interact. I like that it won't hurt the bearings if it gets into the crankcase. It doesn't seem any more prone to leaking, and my water pump still weeps periodically as it should. And it's a stupid thing, but I like that it's non-toxic so it won't kill anything that might drink some of it, like my stupid dogs.

 

It is slightly more viscous than regular coolant or coolant/water mixtures, so there might be a loss of efficiency there with the water pump, I don't know. It does feel weird on your hands.

 

I don't like that it can't be mixed with anything else, so I need to carry a gallon of it with me wherever I go. Not a big deal, but if I need more than a gallon like if a hose lets go on the road, I'm going to lose a few hundred bucks' worth of coolant that can't be saved or replaced. 

 

I'm satisfied with it, but it's not a miracle cure or any better than anything else that smart hobbyists will use. It isn't the difference between safe and sorry on a marginal cooling system. Water still cools better and a water/anti-freeze mix is second best and Evans is least effective. If you live where it doesn't ever freeze, then it's not going to be especially useful. If your car runs really hot and near the edge, it might help since it doesn't boil and therefore probably is able to stay in contact with hot metal without steam pockets and therefore it will eventually pull more heat out of a hot engine if your radiator can keep up. But that's at the extreme top of the scale.

 

I used it in the 1929 Cadillac as an experiment, but I don't think I'll use it again. One, none of my cars is a chronic over-heater. Two, I don't like the fact that it can't be mixed. And most importantly, they just raised the price by A LOT, like from $30/gallon to $48/gallon. $500 worth of coolant in, say, my Lincoln which uses 8 gallons, is just insane. No way. They've probably killed their access to the old car market just because of price. Semi truck fleets, fine, but a hobbyist isn't going to pony up that kind of cash no matter what the advantages may be (and as I said, they're pretty slight). 

 

Hope this helps.

 

 

Edited by Matt Harwood (see edit history)
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Morgan.....show you.......can’t. I can say that on a Type 57SC Bugatti it leaked past the gaskets like a sieve.....and regular antifreeze didn’t. Also, they use to admit to the water contamination issue.........and while I didn’t bother to copy it, or look it up today.......the information is accurate......just like I said it doesn’t transfer heat as efficiently.........which Matt confirmed. Why make your car run hotter for no reason, and add to vapor lock and hot soak issues. It’s expensive, difficult to deal with, and solves no problems.........I service and maintain some of the best cars on the planet. We don’t use it, and neither do most of the major collectors. Leno uses it......and I would bet money he is a paid endorsement and get the stuff for free. Unlike most people, we drive our big pre war stuff. Also run our cars on some of the tracks...........and no one is using it at the sanctioned events. Need to top off your coolant? If you don’t have an 80 dollar bottle with you......your going to trash the stuff in your system if you have to add anything else. Water with cutting oil works fine if there is no freeze danger. And it will cost you about 30 cents to dill a system. Compare that to 500 bucks. Look at Leno’s video he did on it ten years ago........he admits it leaks out just about everywhere. I’m not into using sealers on pre war engines either......use that stuff......and you will. That enough proof for you? Best, Ed.

 

PS- go to their site.....they admit to higher temperatures, and require coolant change if you add water. Why do you think Matt blew air through his system like he did......he read the same literature I did.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
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Found this.........they talk about the water issue....among other things......like it going after solder........which is all you see in pre war cars.

C64D291B-456A-44E0-BAC9-1AE893650A62.png

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