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1946 Ford Super Deluxe - high temp


Nicole F
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Hi again! As I’m getting to know this old girl, I really appreciate the help from this forum - thank you!!! It’s car show season here and all the classic car mechanics are booked until the end of summer :(

 

Now that we seem to have the battery issue managed… It’s (finally!) a beautiful sunny day here in Portland so I took her out for a spin in the countryside. I noticed after about 10 min of driving, the temp gauge was pretty much pegged to hot the whole time - it was only a 30 min drive. How would I know if it is a gauge issue or the car is actually too hot and in danger of overheating? PS - The car passed a complete inspection before it was shipped to us. 
 

Thank you!!
 

 

D27D0585-8554-44B5-BF06-F5AAAC061DF4.jpeg

Edited by Nicole F (see edit history)
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  • Nicole F changed the title to 1946 Ford Super Deluxe - high temp

Did any fluid boil out of the radiator when you stopped driving?  If yes, then it may be running hot, if not it might be the gauge.  A common occurrence with overheating is the radiator fluid continues to overheat when stopped and the gurgling sounds it makes is quite obvious.  No sounds might indicate a gauge issue.  Check to see if the upper radiator hoses are hot to the touch, if not a thermostat might be sticking.

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6 minutes ago, TerryB said:

Did any fluid boil out of the radiator when you stopped driving?  If yes, then it may be running hot, if not it might be the gauge.  A common occurrence with overheating is the radiator fluid continues to overheat when stopped and the gurgling sounds it makes is quite obvious.  No sounds might indicate a gauge issue.  Check to see if the upper radiator hoses are hot to the touch, if not a thermostat might be sticking.

Thank you! It wasn’t making any sounds and nothing overflowed from the radiator. I did check the radiator prior to driving her and it was full to the top. I’ll be sure to check the hoses next time we get here out (tomorrow). Hoping it’s just the gauge. Everything is original so that’s definitely a possibility!

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19 minutes ago, Grimy said:

I believe there are TWO temperature sending units, one in each head.  One or both is far more likely to fail than the gauge itself.

Thanks! How would I know if one of them is failing?

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6 minutes ago, Larry Schramm said:

Awesome! Will add that to the Amazon basket with the battery tester.

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On 5/21/2022 at 3:56 PM, Nicole F said:

Hi again! As I’m getting to know this old girl, I really appreciate the help from this forum - thank you!!! It’s car show season here and all the classic car mechanics are booked until the end of summer :(

 

Now that we seem to have the battery issue managed… It’s (finally!) a beautiful sunny day here in Portland so I took her out for a spin in the countryside. I noticed after about 10 min of driving, the temp gauge was pretty much pegged to hot the whole time - it was only a 30 min drive. How would I know if it is a gauge issue or the car is actually too hot and in danger of overheating? PS - The car passed a complete inspection before it was shipped to us. 
 

Thank you!!
 

 

D27D0585-8554-44B5-BF06-F5AAAC061DF4.jpeg

UPDATE

 

so we took her out and she was fine for a bit but then hit hot while idling in the driveway. The hoses were hot -  170 (right fasting car) and 140 left. And the radiator was 195,  also there was a bit (not a lot) of steam coming out of this part (pictured) - I have video of it but apparently I can’t post it here. Also, when we moved the car there was leakage (see pic) on the ground - it wasn’t leaking anything before yesterday. 
 

Thanks for your help!!

38AA767E-0E9E-4B87-BBA6-5DDEF668E77D.jpeg

DF0F2F87-67EA-4DEE-98BF-07E353E7A06C.jpeg

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Having recently gone through a similar issue with my '38 Buick Century I'll recommend that you take a hard look at your radiator.  Mine was jammed full of 80 years worth of rusty sludge and required a re-core.  Also, if your radiator is partially plugged, the higher than normal pressure drop between the input and output can cause the lower (suction) hose to collapse which will stop or severely restrict flow.  There should be a spring inside the lower hose to prevent collapse.

 

Have your radiator flow tested to make sure it isn't plugged.  ;)

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Not a flathead Ford owner, but the "steam" coming out of that black thing might be crankcase fumes escaping through the crankcase vent. Typical of an older pre-PCV engine with some miles on it. There is also a road draft tube exiting under the engine that may also be emitting smoke, especially at idle. Used to be a common sight in the 60s to see cars emitting smoke while stopped at traffic lights.

 

Radiators back then did not have a plastic overflow container like modern vehicles, so the expansion room for warm coolant (as coolant warms it expands) is in the top tank of the radiator. Look at the top tank of the radiator for a FILL LINE. If none, leave an inch or two of air between the coolant and the radiator cap area (others with more late 40s Ford knowledge may chime in).

 

170 °F is warm operating temperature. It is a non-pressurized cooling system (I'm guessing), so operation above 220 or so is what's to be avoided. Water boils at 212 °F, but coolant (50/50 antifreeze/water mix) won't boil until much hotter, 223 °F at 0 psig pressure.

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That black cap is the crankcase breather cap and should contain copper wool.  I recommend removing and cleaning the mesh by soaking in solvent and shaking out well.  Depending on how crudded up it is, it may take a couple of "rinse, repeat."

 

I also note the block-off plate where the mechanical fuel pump should be, which indicates that the car already has an electric fuel pump.

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11 hours ago, Frank DuVal said:

Not a flathead Ford owner, but the "steam" coming out of that black thing might be crankcase fumes escaping through the crankcase vent. Typical of an older pre-PCV engine with some miles on it. There is also a road draft tube exiting under the engine that may also be emitting smoke, especially at idle. Used to be a common sight in the 60s to see cars emitting smoke while stopped at traffic lights.

 

Radiators back then did not have a plastic overflow container like modern vehicles, so the expansion room for warm coolant (as coolant warms it expands) is in the top tank of the radiator. Look at the top tank of the radiator for a FILL LINE. If none, leave an inch or two of air between the coolant and the radiator cap area (others with more late 40s Ford knowledge may chime in).

 

170 °F is warm operating temperature. It is a non-pressurized cooling system (I'm guessing), so operation above 220 or so is what's to be avoided. Water boils at 212 °F, but coolant (50/50 antifreeze/water mix) won't boil until much hotter, 223 °F at 0 psig pressure.

Hmmmm… so maybe it’s not overheating? Guess I need to test again after another drive. Great info! Thanks!

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11 hours ago, Grimy said:

That black cap is the crankcase breather cap and should contain copper wool.  I recommend removing and cleaning the mesh by soaking in solvent and shaking out well.  Depending on how crudded up it is, it may take a couple of "rinse, repeat."

 

I also note the block-off plate where the mechanical fuel pump should be, which indicates that the car already has an electric fuel pump.

Will take a look at that cap - thanks!
 

Interesting! So another modification I wasn’t aware of. I will ask the mechanic (on July 5th) to let me know if any other “upgrades” to the engine. Thank you!! 

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Hi. I don't know how this would work if flatheads in fact have the two sending units as Grimy said above (I'm not a flathead guy) but one of the biggest favors I've done myself and my old cars is putting decent quality aftermarket mechanical temperature gauges on them. I literally went for years thinking my '54 Ford Y block ran hot until I replaced the original gauge with a decent quality mechanical gauge, and I found it actually ran COOL. They aren't hard to install, but like I said I don't know how that works on a flathead. The temp gun that others mentioned is also a great idea. 

 

Mechanical gauges aren't electrically actuated but work kind of like an old school thermometer that senses temperature. They come with a sending unit that should replace the original electrical sending unit, (if that's what you currently have.) One of the great things about mechanical gauges is that you can test them prior to installation by putting the sending unit in a pan of water on the stove that's coming to a boil, as water boils at 212 (as mentioned by someone else. )  When the water starts boiling, the  gauge should read 212. If it's off a few degrees, you make a mental not of that whenever you read your gauge...Slightly inconvenient but all the mystery is gone when you pretest the unit in boiling water.

 

You said: "The hoses were hot -  170 (right fasting car) and 140 left. And the radiator was 195,  also there was a bit (not a lot) of steam coming out of this part (pictured)"

 

That doesn't sound like overheating to me, but it depends on whether the engine was at standard operating temp or not. If you were at stand op temp, then your high temp gauge readings show you how incorrect original/electric/whatever gauge was. I PERSONALLY don't trust my original temp gauges farther than I can throw them.  What's happening to you has happened to me several times on several different cars. The originality oriented folks will chime in to the contrary, but that's my perspective.

 

Also, you may or may not know that engine temp is higher on old cars when idling in place than when they're running down the highway, but that 's usually how it works. It's kind of counterintuitive. Air through the radiator at speed cools the temp down considerably. And as others have said, the "steam" coming out of that part is actually blow by and engine fumes which is typical (in small amounts) for old engines.  Good luck!

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5 minutes ago, JamesR said:

Hi. I don't know how this would work if flatheads in fact have the two sending units as Grimy said above (I'm not a flathead guy) but one of the biggest favors I've done myself and my old cars is putting decent quality aftermarket mechanical temperature gauges on them. I literally went for years thinking my '54 Ford Y block ran hot until I replaced the original gauge with a decent quality mechanical gauge, and I found it actually ran COOL. They aren't hard to install, but like I said I don't know how that works on a flathead. The temp gun that others mentioned is also a great idea. 

 

Mechanical gauges aren't electrically actuated but work kind of like an old school thermometer that senses temperature. They come with a sending unit that should replace the original electrical sending unit, (if that's what you currently have.) One of the great things about mechanical gauges is that you can test them prior to installation by putting the sending unit in a pan of water on the stove that's coming to a boil, as water boils at 212 (as mentioned by someone else. )  When the water starts boiling, the  gauge should read 212. If it's off a few degrees, you make a mental not of that whenever you read your gauge...Slightly inconvenient but all the mystery is gone when you pretest the unit in boiling water.

 

You said: "The hoses were hot -  170 (right fasting car) and 140 left. And the radiator was 195,  also there was a bit (not a lot) of steam coming out of this part (pictured)"

 

That doesn't sound like overheating to me, but it depends on whether the engine was at standard operating temp or not. If you were at stand op temp, then your high temp gauge readings show you how incorrect original/electric/whatever gauge was. I PERSONALLY don't trust my original temp gauges farther than I can throw them.  What's happening to you has happened to me several times on several different cars. The originality oriented folks will chime in to the contrary, but that's my perspective.

 

Also, you may or may not know that engine temp is higher on old cars when idling in place than when they're running down the highway, but that 's usually how it works. It's kind of counterintuitive. Air through the radiator at speed cools the temp down considerably. And as others have said, the "steam" coming out of that part is actually blow by and engine fumes which is typical (in small amounts) for old engines.  Good luck!

Thank you James!! This is good info - the issue is I just don’t know what’s normal for these cars/engines so I appreciate the perspective very much. My biggest fear is getting stranded somewhere. 

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One other advantage to the mechanical gauge: You can see what the temp does after the car is shut off. On the standard old Ford, the original gauge goes to zero when the car is turned off. What's actually happening with the engines of most old cars, however, is the temp keeps rising, often 10 -20 degrees (due car not moving and water pumps not circulating.) The mechanical gauge allows you to see this easily.

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3 hours ago, nickelroadster said:

You guys are trying to do a good job educating this lady.  I hope she appreciates that.

I think she's a quick learner and will soon be a 40s Ford expert, willing to share her knowledge as we've done.

 

We need to find her some PNW old car company. In meantime, ride around with the car top down and the radio on!

 

And she has my permission to slap the first nincompoop coot who tells her she has no business with a car like that! Happened to me in 1984 at age 27 and I haven't had any use for that ornery old cuss since. Don't care if he was the local "old car guru"- he was a jerk. Grade A Prime jerk.😠

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Nicole, this may not mean much to you but the other folks might benefit. 

 

The Ford V-8 operates unlike any other engine. It functions as TWO separate cooling systems that use a single radiator.

 

The coolant on the left does not touch or interact with the coolant on the right.  Two lower hoses, two upper hoses, two water pumps, that run their liquid through a common radiator.

 

The two temp senders are different also. 

The driver’s side sender has a variable resistor that reacts to the water temp and moves the needle between hot and cold based on the conditions.

 

The passenger side sender is just a single bimetallic spring that does nothing until it senses a very hot situation. Then the metal moves and grounds the wire, sending the dash needle to a fully pegged totally hot reading.

 

On a Ford V-8 with complaints of inaccurate gauge readings. First you ensure that the correct sending units are installed. Then begin troubleshooting the cooling system.

 

Because there are effectively two cooling systems, it is possible to have a situation where one side becomes hot much faster than the other (blown head gasket on passenger side?) and the warning would be delayed. Remember the Ford V-8 has "water cooled exhaust ports". . . . 

 

As for installing an aftermarket under dash gauge. There are two places in the cylinder head to attach the sender. Which side would you use?  Ideally the best location is in the top radiator tank but there is no convenient place to put one. Every answer is a compromise. Modern wireless systems are interesting, but I have never used one. 

 

As for a quality temperature analysis for diagnostic purposes? I am not a fan of the infrared thermometers for water temp. I prefer one that sticks into the water and then there is no mistake exactly what you are sampling.

 

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6 hours ago, rocketraider said:

I think she's a quick learner and will soon be a 40s Ford expert, willing to share her knowledge as we've done.

 

We need to find her some PNW old car company. In meantime, ride around with the car top down and the radio on!

 

And she has my permission to slap the first nincompoop coot who tells her she has no business with a car like that! Happened to me in 1984 at age 27 and I haven't had any use for that ornery old cuss since. Don't care if he was the local "old car guru"- he was a jerk. Grade A Prime jerk.😠

Thanks so much for the support and encouragement! Unfortunately I doubt I will ever be able to devote enough time to this (or any hobby!) to be an expert, but I do really love learning about this stuff. I have a full time, very stressful job in finance that requires that I travel quite a bit. Also have a family and several animals that deserve my attention. And I’m in graduate law school right now. But I hope to at least gain enough knowledge to give Patty Lou (named after my grandmother’s childhood nickname) the garage/home she deserves 😊 And I feel like I really came to the right place - you guys have been SO helpful!! 

Edited by Nicole F (see edit history)
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Off topic Nicole,

Tomorrow (Wednesday) is the opening day of the Beaches Cruise at PIR, (Early this years because there is an Xfinity race there next week and the cruise is cancelled).

I think the gates open at three, but that varies. Take the Victory Blvd exit and find your way to the race track gate.

Isn't very expensive, five bucks I think. Passengers are more after the first two.

I suspect that you will see at least 500 cars there. Maybe more.

I think I will be driving this if it will start.

001.JPG

 

There is usually live music and food venders.

Edited by JACK M (see edit history)
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