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54 Buick super 322 overheating


54 bent
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First, thank you for letting me join the forum. Having an overheating problem. Too many variables to just start replacing everything so I thought I would check and see if there is usually a common cause. First thing I did was flush the system, then bought a 160° thermostat. Note: There wasn’t an existing thermostat in the system. Still overheating after 20 minute drive. Water pump Sounds good, no bearing noise. Not sure what to do next because the water pump could still be bad or the radiator fins could be stopped up. Would like to get some thoughts from the forum before I start randomly replacing things one by one. Thank you.

my history: pops and I worked on many old cars of his for many years. Mostly old Packard‘s, he had a 37, 39, and a 40 Packard. He had this Buick in storage and to be honest I have not worked on any Buicks, this was his favorite car. He passed recently, quite suddenly actually and I purchased it from my siblings and have started to do work on her. Sadly most of my dad‘s contacts for this car have either passed or have retired and it’s unnerving to find new people that you know nothing about to work on this car. Dyna flow transmission has been completely rebuilt, as has the carburetor, she runs great, but this heating issue is something I have to address

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I posted same, already in the Technical section you posted in 1st

 

 

I would use a infrared temperature heat gun ( can get one fairly inexpensive  today) and when engine is up to operating temperature check sections of the radiator core and that will tell you if you have restriction/blockage in the radiator core, causing your condition.

 

 

Bob

Edited by NailheadBob
update (see edit history)
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Sorry  to hear about your pop.  Concerning the overheating, radiator clogged or water jacket in the block/heads full of scale.  For me, I would suspect the radiator needs work or replacement.  Share a picture of the 54 if you can.         

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5 hours ago, avgwarhawk said:

Sorry  to hear about your pop.  Concerning the overheating, radiator clogged or water jacket in the block/heads full of scale.  For me, I would suspect the radiator needs work or replacement.  Share a picture of the 54 if you can.         

Chris if you go above to: "Technical" 54 Bent posted picture 

 

Edited by NailheadBob (see edit history)
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Welcome to the forum.  May I ask you to tell us more about your overheat symptoms?  Is the radiator over flowing? Has it been filled above the radiator fill line? Is this when the car is being driven? Can it sit and idle for 20 minutes without overheating?

Have you checked the timing?  Are you relying on the factory temp guage or do you have something else for checking the actual temp?

Have you flushed the external side of the radiator core? Do you have the fan shroud in place?

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There should also be a large spring inside the lower hose to prevent it from collapsing due to water pump suction.  Excessive pressure drop across the radiator (inlet to outlet) due to a partially plugged core will increase the likelihood of lower hose collapse.  Once it's 'sucked-in, the only way to restore the hose is to shut off the engine.

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8 hours ago, Mudbone said:

Be sure the core has the correct amount of rows for your model. I learned the hard way..........

 

And don't trust an infrared thermometer until you check it with boiling water. How do I know this..........

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Thank you for all the responses. Very helpful and insightful. I was guessing the radiator might be plugged as well but I thought it worth asking. However, Mud bone mentioned something that makes me wonder, how many rows should I have for a radiator for 322? For Ben and John, I drove it yesterday for about 20 minutes on the highway before it started overheating, I did let it idol for about 15 minutes before I got on the highway. I do have a shroud, and I’ve never heard of flushing the outside of a radiator but I guess it’s just like an AC system on my house, it looks clear but could be plugged. I only have the original temperature gauge, I’ve never had this issue with other cars I’ve worked on, is there a gauge that you would suggest to test the temperature? Also didn’t see any leaks anywhere however when it overheated overflow pushed out fluid. It’s looking like I need a new radiator. I’m trying to keep this as close to original as possible so maybe a recommendation, should I get a stock radiator or some thing more? I want it to be right either way. Radiator fluid is filled up to the line. Timing is perfect.
Thanks for all your responses, I love to use forums, because my dad always said “ask someone who owns one“.

Here are a few photos of my lady in waiting so to speak 😂 and the 37 Packard that pops and I put together. One thing I do know is they don’t make them like they used to!! Real character and craftsmanship has lost its way in modern cars….

15CB1759-39EB-4383-9718-918D5E500109.jpeg

43B60A57-E05A-4C82-8CB6-A62D550B01EC.jpeg

12161EFD-B58E-40E3-BD82-83864BDEE9F6.jpeg

050E82DD-B492-4D88-BFD2-33F126CDF319.jpeg

Edited by 54 bent (see edit history)
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Two gorgeous cars. As for the radiator core density I always recommend going to the maximum tank width. On my 56 Super that was 3 rows. 

As for the factory guage I understand that the 54/55 will be pegged at 200° (I think thats right) which is borderline normal. I do not know is there is a recommendation for another guage as any one you feel comfortable with should be ok. But you may be able to use an infared thermometer to verify surface temps when cool and warmed and thought to be overheating.  That may show the extent of the problem if indeed there is a problem. 

 

You might want to drain some coolant from the radiator and look inside the top tank to see if there is debris blocking the core tubes. If you find any then the recommendation would be for a filter of some sort to.prevent debris from blocking a new or repaired radiator.

 

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Not, of course, the same car, but similar enough-

my '54 Cadillac with 331 cu in engine, had heating issues.

In addition to all of the normal things, I had a 4-row radiator core adapted to my original top and bottom tanks,

and the issue is resolved, even in extreme New Orleans heat, idling, and with aftermarket A/C running.

Edited by Marty Roth
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  • 2 weeks later...
22 hours ago, Beemon said:

What happened? 

One bid had a new rad core so I didn't even think it could be the radiator that was causing my overheating. Then after doing everything else I compaired it to my other stock radiator and found this one only had two rows! My stock one has three. I put that one in and she runs cool just like it should.

Edited by Mudbone (see edit history)
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^———-  Also check the spacing between the rows across width of radiator.  Similar problem here.  Had correct 3 rows but the rows were spaced  9/16 apart leading to running hot.   Replaced with 3/8 spaced rows and so far so good.  This was replacement for a replacement, stock core was long gone.

Edited by KAD36 (see edit history)
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