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63 Galaxie with 390 overheats at idle

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Lo-fi, Jun 13, 2012.

  1. Lo-fi
    Joined: May 7, 2010
    Posts: 81


    I know this subject has been covered extensively on numerous forums, and I have read until my eyes bled on the subject. Here is my story: My non A/C 63 Galaxie with a recently rebuilt 390 FE engine (from a 66 Galaxie) runs fine and at around 190 degrees while cruising down the road. But as soon as I hit stopped traffic or just let the car idle without moving for a few minutes, the temp gauge starts to creep up. It's gotten as high as 220. As soon as I start driving again, it falls back down to under 200. Now from what I have read, this can be a number of things, including:

    • Bad water pump
    • Bad thermostat
    • Bad fan clutch (but mine doesn't have a clutch, it is a direct drive fan)
    • Wrong fan (it is from what I can tell the original 6 blade fan)
    • No fan shroud
    • Bad radiator (radiator was restored at a prof. shop when engine was rebuilt)

    The thing that I read that makes the most sense is that since the temp. is fine while cruising, it simply just isn't getting enough air flow across the radiator while idling. The number one remedy for this that I read is to get a fan shroud. Like I said above, it doesn't have a fan shroud, but it didn't come with one because it is a non-A/C car. And in 63, non-A/C Galaxies didn't have a fan shroud. So my question is, why would I now need a fan shroud, when it never needed one before? The car has operated for almost 50 years without one. I'm really trying to avoid putting an electric fan on it as a bandaid, and get this thing back to how it would have run originally, with the technology it came with from the factory. Any thoughts or has anyone had a similar experience?
  2. Kory_kcp
    Joined: Jun 12, 2012
    Posts: 18


    I can't explain why you need one now and haven't needed one in the past, but we just had a similar issues with our 66 mustang 289 non a/c. The temp would creep up at idle but not when driving. We put a fan shroud on last week and not the temp gauge doesn't move.
  3. Rickybop
    Joined: May 23, 2008
    Posts: 6,981

    from Michigan

    Shouldn't really need a shroud if all things are as they always were. Are the cooling fins clean? debris between them, hindering air-flow. And double check coolant flow anyway...with the engine running and the rad cap off, you should see a torrent of water flowing by when you view down the neck. If not, take the radiator off and back-flush it real good.

    Since the engine-swap, is the fan the same exact distance from radiator as it was before the new engine was installed?
  4. Slick Willy
    Joined: Aug 3, 2008
    Posts: 3,012

    Slick Willy

    I wouldnt be suprised if youve got an air bubble.

  5. keyster
    Joined: Dec 27, 2011
    Posts: 26


    A dumb question.
    Is the fan on backwards?
    They will still move air the same direction, but very poorly.
    If the blade is cupped, the cup side should be in the direction of rotation.

    Joined: Apr 6, 2008
    Posts: 830


    X2 on adding a shroud, clutch fan and gap between fan and radiator.
    Test or replace the thermostat (I assume you are running one) I recommend a 180. Just because the t-stat is new, doesn't mean its good.
  7. A 160* stat should be good. Also check the bypass hose between the water pump and intake manifold, make sure it's not collapsed or kinked. A shroud will help, but I'm one of those who had a slew of FE Fords that never got too hot, except for one '64 with a 352. That one liked to run in the summer with no t-stat and it went back in for the winter.

    How new is the rebuild? That may be putting the temp over the edge for a while until it fully breaks in.

  8. forty1fordpickup
    Joined: Aug 20, 2008
    Posts: 295


    Have you checked the timing? Some engines are sensitive to initial timing. Also make sure the advance systems are working freely.
  9. tommy
    Joined: Mar 3, 2001
    Posts: 14,757

    Member Emeritus

    It's pretty obvious to me that you have an air movement problem at idle to me. Assuming that the vacuum advance is hooked up to manifold vacuum. You need to move more air at idle through your radiator than you are currently moving. Is the fan large enough? is it close enough to the core. etc. etc. If the vacuum advance is hooked up the a modern replacement carb, make sure that it is on the manifold vacuum port or it will heat up at idle because the timing is retarded from what it is supposed to be at idle.
  10. You say you had the radiator restored. To me restored would mean a new core. If they just boiled it out and cleaned it you could have some clogged tubes that are limiting the radiators efficiency. I had similar problems with an FE in a '56 Ford. Did all of the normal things, including having the radiator done( It was supposed to have been "rodded out", but I don't believe the guy actually did it). Nothing worked until I installed a new radiator, then the problem was solved.
  11. Slick Willy
    Joined: Aug 3, 2008
    Posts: 3,012

    Slick Willy

    X2 on what Slick Willy said...
  12. stealthcruiser
    Joined: Dec 24, 2002
    Posts: 3,748


    New water pump, or the one on hand before the rebuild?

    If the old one, I would be suspect of a corroded / disappearing pump impeller.
  13. Refurbished radiators are often a compromise. If the car is going to be around for a long time, swap in a new one. Also a new water pump while its apart.

  14. Fighter-of-Wars
    Joined: Nov 3, 2008
    Posts: 294


    After you check this stuff, check to see if your running to lean a mixture, had a truck that would overheat at idle but cool down when driving, did the whole cooling system fix and no change, fixed the lean mixture problem, no overheat since.
  15. Ray C's son
    Joined: Dec 27, 2009
    Posts: 410

    Ray C's son

    X3 (or is that 2?) on what Slick Willy said.

    Did it overheat before the rebuild? The head gaskets are directional on an FE, if I remember correctly, openings toward the back (firewall) on both sides.

    But, I'd double check the simple stuff first.

    Good luck,
  16. Lo-fi
    Joined: May 7, 2010
    Posts: 81


    I'm not sure if it overheated before the rebuild. Basically, as soon as I bought the car, I drove it only a few miles before I dropped it off to have the engine rebuilt. And those few miles were never in stopped traffic or very far from my house. I know that the radiator was re-cored at a reputable local radiator shop during the rebuild. And the water pump was replaced when the engine was rebuilt. I'm just not totally sure what temperature t-stat was put back in it. I think I'm going to replace that myself just so I will know. I need to check the timing and see if the carb is running lean. Thanks for all of the ideas. The car is in the paint shop right now, but Ill begin checking all of this stuff when I get it back. Hopefully next week. If it were an air bubble, how would I fix that? Drain it and refill?
  17. Slick Willy
    Joined: Aug 3, 2008
    Posts: 3,012

    Slick Willy

    Okay there are a few ways of bleeding the system. First off if there are any points higher than the radiator cap then it makes it tougher.

    What Ive done before is:
    fill it up, start the the level gets sucked down keep filling as necessary (have a couple extra gallons of A/F ready to go)...also turn heat on full blast (OR DEFROST OR A/C to HIGH)
    It will burp a little once or twice...keep it full.
    The t-stat will open and the level goes down more...fill it up.
    Eventually when things get nice and warm It will burp ALOT and it will make a mess.
    Stuff the radiator cap on all the way.
    Clean up and hose off the area.
    Shut off the heat (A/C)
    Test drive and check for temp fluctuations.
    If it persists,shut it down let the engine cool and do the process again.
    Sometimes a stubborn bubble can become a complete assache.

    If I left anything out guys give me hell, Im running on coffee today.
  18. Mjrdude
    Joined: Feb 17, 2012
    Posts: 19


    If you had it rebuilt at a reputable shop, take it back to them with the complaint.
    Lots of things mentioned here above will cause overheating.
    How far was the block bored during the rebuild?
  19. d2_willys
    Joined: Sep 8, 2007
    Posts: 4,149

    from Kansas

    Normally when the radiator is somehow not flowing correctly, the engine temp will climb at high speeds since coolant cannot flow fast enough. The fact that the engine was rebuilt doesn't always guarantee proper operating temps. My question is: do you have an oil pressure gauge, and if so what is the idle oil pressure? If you do not have an oil pressure gauge, then find a gauge and hook it up. Reasoning behind this is that I had a properly rebuilt V6 that would run hot on summer days at idle. Oil pressure was below 10 psi and the engine would get hot fast, get going down the road and engine cooled right down.

    Another thing to check is the ignition timing at idle.
  20. Ricci32
    Joined: Jul 30, 2010
    Posts: 416


    fan on backwards
  21. Make sure a smaller hose is at the top and a bigger one at the bottom.

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