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clogged radiator cheap fix?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Jake H., Jan 7, 2004.

  1. Jake H.
    Joined: Sep 16, 2003
    Posts: 478

    Jake H.
    Member

    After replacing and/or inspecting every part of the cooling system on my '60 tbird except the radiator, I've determined that Murphy strikes again. The radiator must be clogged. With a new 160 degree therm. in, the car overheats within 15 min. of idling. When I touch the fins after this, the whole area is hot except for one spot on the lower left side. That spot is totally cold. Any shadetree fixes out there? I flushed the system already. A reman. radiator runs 300 bucks and I'm trying to avoid the expense right now.
     
  2. Judd
    Joined: Feb 26, 2003
    Posts: 1,775

    Judd
    Member

    Hammy
    Don't waste your time and money on a cooling system cleaning at the chain oil change places, I've been there and done that it doen't do s&*t. A radiator shop should be able to remove the tanks and rod out the tubes.
    Judd
     
  3. DrJ
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 9,401

    DrJ
    Member

    Take it to a small radiator shop. You know, the kind where you can actually see the boil out tanks and the actually talented brown guy back in the shop fixing tanks and blocking off leaking tubes...
    Impress on the writeup guy that you want a rod out but if push comes to shove you don't want the core destroyed trying to get that last tube clear.
    Impress on him that you will just have to walk if he tells you the core got destroyed trying to get it all clear and that you won't be able to pay him a nickle because you'll be spending the $40 a rod out should cost on a junk yard radiator instead of picking up yours.
    If he doesn't understand and keeps muttering it may need a recore, take it somewhere else before he even touches it.
    Like someone else said, having the quickie and lube flush it is gonna run a big hunk of that much anyway.
     
  4. yorgatron
    Joined: Jan 25, 2002
    Posts: 4,229

    yorgatron
    Member

    throw a gallon of vinegar in there,run it for 3 days,flush it.it works-george
     
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  5. k-member
    Joined: May 25, 2002
    Posts: 2,117

    k-member
    Member

    Also those prestone flusk kits don't realy work that good. My radiator buddys tell me to remove the thermostat and back flush the system with steaming hot water and high presure air in the reverse direction of the natural flow. I don't know of to many rad shops that do it that way anymore. Harrys radiator in Moses Lake still will do it that way but thats a 3 hour drive from Seattle. I went through the same thing in my Falcon, so I pulled the rad, and flushed it from the bottom up after I overheated it. You can make a good flusher with a couple of ball valves and a water hose and compressed air, or try the quarter car wash high presure wand and try to back flush the rad that way. Now my Falcon cools great..good luck
     
  6. Petejoe
    Joined: Nov 27, 2002
    Posts: 6,939

    Petejoe
    Member

    I agree rodding that radiator out is the best way to go. But if you want to try throwing around some money for a possible cheap fix, try CLR. Pour the stuff in full strength and run it for a while like that. Its corrosive so not too long.,
     
  7. yorgatron
    Joined: Jan 25, 2002
    Posts: 4,229

    yorgatron
    Member

    i'd like to try that CLR trick one of these days,but it kind of scares me how fast that stuff works.vinegar is only 5% acidity so it works good on radiators that aren't all that fucked up.
     
  8. cadlights
    Joined: Jun 12, 2003
    Posts: 865

    cadlights
    Member
    from Hooper, Ut

    Vinegar,,, Works good in the coffee maker also.
     
  9. safariknut
    Joined: Nov 25, 2001
    Posts: 5,088

    safariknut
    Member

    I related this sory once but it's worth repeating:
    On our way back from Massachusetts a year ago my 55 Safari was overheating something horrible.I had flushed the cooling system prior to leaving and must have dislodged something that plugged the radiator.
    Stopped at my aunt's house in Jamestown NY and yanked the radiator to have it cleaned out.Radiator shops in NY no longer clean radiators chemically thanks to the EPA.
    My solution(as the radiator was out already and I was still 300 miles from home)was to get 2 gallons of Liquid-Plumr from the hardware store,tape up all the openings(except the filler cap)with DUCT TAPE and fill the radiator with the Liquid-Plumr.Capped it off and let it set for about 2 hours rotating it 90 degrees every 15 minutes or so to let the stuff get in everywhere.Back flushed it a few times until it was running clear and re-installed it.This car is a pain to bleed the cooling system because of the under seat heater so most of my antifreeze got blown out.Filled it up with straight water and drove home.Actually I drove it for almost another whole year before it started acting up again.Finally replaced the radiator.$300 but worth it;guy recored my old one using my tanks and side brackets because of a special fitting on the lower tank.Real copper core too.
    Just an emergency solution that worked great for me.
     
  10. Jake H.
    Joined: Sep 16, 2003
    Posts: 478

    Jake H.
    Member

    Thanks for the tips. I've heard of the ol' vinegar trick before and I think I'll try that first. Seems a lot of guys have had luck with that. If that doesn't work, then I'll try the rod out option. There is a radiator shop right here in west seattle that looks to be an old-school type of shop. I've been putting off asking around there just 'cause I guess I'm just a stubborn diy'er. Either that or too cheap.
     
  11. Jimv
    Joined: Dec 5, 2001
    Posts: 2,911

    Jimv
    Member

    One thing is that usually when a rad is clogged it overheats when driving, especially on the highway, not at idle or that fast!!
    But if you want to flush it, pull it out keep the cap on it,turn it upside down & stick a hose in the bottom radaitor hose & flush it that way, you be amazed at all the shit that comes out the bottom( top rad hose)
    JimV
     
  12. Jake H.
    Joined: Sep 16, 2003
    Posts: 478

    Jake H.
    Member

    Yeah, Jimv, I might have misinformed about exactly when it overheats, in fact, I drove it tonight with the heater on and it was fine, didn't overheat, but stayed too hot for a 160 thermostat in winter. It overheats in the summer whether you're driving or idling. Puked and stalled pulling into the Hotrod-arama from vaporlock it was so hot. Still haven't quite lived that one down. Anyhow, the radiator might be hard to backflush outside of the car because it only has an inlet and outlet. The cap actually goes on the expansion tank, housing the thermostat as well, bolted to the intake. Funky FE Ford setup in a car with no hood clearance.
     
  13. danielle98chevy
    Joined: Jun 21, 2010
    Posts: 2

    danielle98chevy
    Member
    from Texas

    does that vinegar trick really work, my 98 lumina is clogged and i dont want my stepdad to have to buy a new radiator...
     
  14. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 4,581

    Rickybop
    Member
    from Michigan

    Vinegar, CLR, The Works toilet-bowel cleaner...they all work well as an at-home radiator cleaner. Rodding out a radiator can turn out to be a "destructive" proposition, and should be attempted only as a last resort. BTW...if you want to prove to yourself that the radiator is really plugged, do a home flow-test...fill the radiator, then allow to drain out the bottom hose...it should empty very quickly.
     
  15. rustyford40
    Joined: Nov 20, 2007
    Posts: 2,170

    rustyford40
    Member
    from Mass Bay

    First try a garden hose. seal it in with a rag turn it on full blast. then reverse it with the hose in the lower opening. You will know if it's working by what comes out.
     
  16. danielle98chevy
    Joined: Jun 21, 2010
    Posts: 2

    danielle98chevy
    Member
    from Texas

    well i told my mom about the vinegar thing and she said that whatever is in the radiator has turned into sludge or something like that... would it still work?
     
  17. Engine Pro 5X
    Joined: Feb 13, 2008
    Posts: 4,186

    Engine Pro 5X
    Member

    Vinegar And Water ??? Does your radiator Smell Like FISH ??? >>>>.
     
  18. CONNMAN
    Joined: Jul 19, 2006
    Posts: 1,297

    CONNMAN
    Member
    from Lampe,Mo.

    WELL,,,you can buy a NEW warenteed radiator for about $100-$120 bucks ,,from ,,
    www.radiator.com why mess with wives tales fixes ??? fix it once AND go cruzin' ,,
     
  19. CONNMAN
    Joined: Jul 19, 2006
    Posts: 1,297

    CONNMAN
    Member
    from Lampe,Mo.

    OH ! and free shipping to your FRONT DOOR ,,In One Day !!!i've bought a dozen or so radiators from em over the last 10-12 years ,and they're great ,,yes ,,they're not made in the USA ,,
     
  20. Road Runner
    Joined: Feb 7, 2007
    Posts: 1,052

    Road Runner
    Member

    Professional cooling system de-scaling is done with Sulphamic acid for hard water, lime and antifreeze build up. Oxalic acid is used to remove rust.
    Sulphamic acid crystals are available at the hardware store in form of 'grout and tile cleaner'.
    Oxalic acid crystals are available in form of 'wood bleach'.
    Containers say what acid is used and its pure acid cystals with no other additives.
    Available in 16oz. containers, which gives the right mixing ratio with water for the typical car cooling system with 3-4 gallons capacity.

    Properly diluted, both acids are just as mild and safe as vinegar (acetic acid) and citric acid, but are more effective and cost is the same.
    These treatments are safe to use with copper/brass radiators.
    It is supposed to be safe with aluminum radiators as well, but I would do some tests first to determine how much reaction time is actually safe.

    Oxalic acid used to be sold as a heavy duty 2-part cooling system cleaner over the counter until a few years ago. Recommendation said to do this annually...

    For best results it's essential to keep temperature at engine operating temp and to keep the flow going.
    Instructions are to drain and flush first, then fill with the diluted acid mix and run the engine at fast idle for 3 hours.
    Do one acid treatment at a time, starting with the sulphamic acid, then drain and flush, followed by oxalic acid, then drain and flush.
    The final step is to neutralize any remaining acid with a mix of washing soda and water and run the engine again for a while, then drain and flush and finally fill with coolant, but using distilled water instead of tap water, this time.

    These methods really work exceptionally well.
    I did both, back to back, on my old engine that had serious scale and rust build up.
    Before the treatments and despite a new 3 core radiator, coolant temps easily climbed above 180 during the hot summer months with harder use.
    After the treatments, the same engine now needs the thermostat to even get up to 180 degrees, even in the summer.

    Very cool ...
     
    Last edited: Jun 21, 2010
  21. rustyford40
    Joined: Nov 20, 2007
    Posts: 2,170

    rustyford40
    Member
    from Mass Bay

    Should a boy be asking his mom about vinegar and water?
     
  22. metalshapes
    Joined: Nov 18, 2002
    Posts: 10,395

    metalshapes
    Tech Editor

    I had a almost new 4 row radiator clog up after I had the engine tanked.

    I guess that dislodged the crap in the engine...

    Took it to a radiator shop and they soaked it, and when that didnt fix it they took a header tank off to see if it could be rodded out.

    At that point they decided it couldnt be rodded out, and gave it back to me.

    So I tried it myself...

    Took the other header tank off as well.
    Ground a dull point on a dipstick off a truck, and carefully worked that through the tubes.

    Only went through the side of 3 of them, and I soldered them shut at the top & bottom.

    Soldered the tanks back on, and after that I used that radiator for many years...
     
  23. cheveey57
    Joined: Mar 11, 2010
    Posts: 678

    cheveey57
    Member


    Can't I just use one of the wife's Douches???? :eek:
     
  24. Winged Avenger II
    Joined: Oct 9, 2008
    Posts: 1,324

    Winged Avenger II
    Member
    from Wisconsin

    i messed around forever with an f-upped radiator. finally broke down and took it to a well known, old time shop, they acid washed it, fixed her up, tested the pressure for leaks, runs fine and cost me 120 bucks. lot cheaper then a new one.
     
  25. garcoal
    Joined: Nov 15, 2006
    Posts: 277

    garcoal
    Member

    have a fe powered tbird also. first fab a overflow tank for your car. run a hose down and back up into a tank . you wont loose as much antifreeze, and you wont suck in air to bubble the fluid the block. check other things is your water pump working check for fluid flow , also put a higher temp thermostat in. it will slow the flow of fluid thru the radiator and give it a chance to exchange heat. it will only get so hot any way dont worry about a higher temp stat. also dont spend endless time and money on a junk radiator. some times its just time to buy a new one. then that problem will be solved . i had my surge tank fixed a buch of times finally gave up and bought a new one. no problems with it since.
     
  26. pdq67
    Joined: Feb 12, 2007
    Posts: 628

    pdq67
    Member

    What about a CHEAP Summit house brand generic aluminum rad from Northern Aluminum Rads, (if that's where they still source them)??

    The one in my '67 Camaro w/ my 496 is a CHEAP "wide" 2-core, 4-core copper eq. generic jobber and only cost back then like less than two "C"-Notes me figuring out how to "hang" it.

    Not stock, but the price is right by me....

    pdq67
     
  27. pishta
    Joined: Mar 25, 2007
    Posts: 25

    pishta
    Member
    from Tustin, CA

    Whats more embarrassing than your ride overheating at the car cruise? Having it piss all over the car in front of you in line to get into the car show. Mine popped a leak right out the front after about 5 minutes of setting after I got off a 70 mile freeway drive. It shot out the front grill all over the trunk and rear bumper of a really nice 69 Super Bee. Ouch! I was furiously wiping his car down with a towel while he was laughing the whole time. Could have been worse I suppose, he could have been mad!
     

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