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Technical Cheap-Ass Radiators - yes or no

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by cederholm, Nov 16, 2023.

  1. ClarkH
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 1,409


    I generally feel that way too. Spend a little extra. But in this case, it's not a little extra. It's five times as much. FIVE TIMES!

    That price gap was enough for me to order one recently for my truck. If it works out, I saved a thousand bucks. If it doesn't work out, I'll sell it off a swap meet and take a small loss.
  2. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 3,967


    If I'm going to buy a radiator, its going to be an aluminum one, these days. I've seen the modern brass/copper radiators, those tanks are really thin these days.
    If I'm going to buy an aluminum radiator, its going to be a Champion radiator. I've had good luck with them. Most of those dirt cheap "other brand" aluminum radiators have epoxy seams and core to tank joints, there is no place on a radiator where epoxy is good.
  3. I dunno.
    I’ve bought a lot of cheap or no name crap.
    The vast majority has panned out.
    I don’t get disappointed over cheap stuff, just the expensive stuff that doesn’t work out.
  4. To be completely fair, we may be lumping all aluminum radiators together. I'm sure there are some, like any other product, that are better than others. I guess what I'm saying is, if you are going to buy and use one do as much research as possible and purchase the best one you can find. This holds true for anything that we buy for our cars, especially expensive stuff, and what isn't expensive nowadays.
    CSPIDY, Just Gary, warbird1 and 4 others like this.
  5. I say yes. Third one on 3 different cars, welded top tanks, sprayed them black, run the green goop in there, no problems.
    2OLD2FAST and alanp561 like this.
  6. I guess if I was driving thru Death Valley regularly and for some reason I had apprehension, I might just buy 2 cheap radiators and keep one for a spare.
  7. poco
    Joined: Feb 9, 2009
    Posts: 1,197

    from oklahoma

    I have a champion alum radiator, it is very well bult,will buy another one if i need i need one.
    jimmy six and AccurateMike like this.
  8. Joe H
    Joined: Feb 10, 2008
    Posts: 1,500

    Joe H

    You can buy 5 of them and still be money ahead!
    I paid good money for an Afco brand aluminum for my '37 Chevy, it held up well for four years, then started seeping coolant at the glue joints. It's still seeps three years later. Theres no good fix for it, and no warranty either.
    Just do you homework and know what you are getting. High price is not always high quality.
    AccurateMike likes this.
  9. flynbrian48
    Joined: Mar 10, 2008
    Posts: 8,182


    I run them in everything, no issues. I used a 2" shorter '32 in my Model A with a '32 grill shell. The brackets to fit the grill shell were wonky, but easy to make work. I have an aluminum '34 Ford radiator in my Diamond T pickup, great because of the extended upper tank, and '48 Chevy Suburban aluminum radiator in our '52 DeSoto with a 354 Hemi, which came with a beautiful aluminum shroud and huge cooling fan. I put a '68 Mustang 390 aluminum radiator in my son's '65 Ranch Wagon with a 352. 05A1A6C4-A25B-47CB-B148-C3E3EAD9C34F.jpeg 092D5110-591B-49A9-8C42-6B61C9D2A4C8.jpeg I like them, in all our cars they cool great, and if you paint them black they look correct.
    Jacksmith, Tim, Just Gary and 5 others like this.
  10. trevorsworth
    Joined: Aug 3, 2020
    Posts: 1,425


    I have bought a couple cheap-ass ebay aluminum radiators. Both all welded construction. One broke when the engine fan kissed it but can't blame the rad for that, it seemed to be working fine and fit where it was supposed to go. If it had lived long enough to get painted you wouldn't really have known it was there unless you were looking. The aluminum rad on my other car works just as well as the original brass radiator it replaced.

    If I had disposable income I'd buy Brassworks. But if I had disposable income I'd be playing with better junk too. Cheap-ass aluminum works fine for me.
  11. blue 49
    Joined: Dec 24, 2006
    Posts: 1,802

    blue 49
    from Iowa

    I've never been a fan of aluminum radiators. When I built my '36, I set it up for an early Mustang parts store replacement and it worked fine for my 327 and the current 305. When I got the Henry J, I set it up for the same radiator with my 327 and it ran warmer but not terrible (220*in traffic on a HOT day). One hot day this past summer, traffic was backed up to get into a popular cruise spot and it went up to about 240*. I started looking around for something different and settled on an aluminum one with 2 rows of 1" tubes and stamped tanks for early Mustang from Engineered Cooling Products. 1st thing I noticed was that it took about a half gallon more coolant to refill the system after the change. The tanks are a little bigger and maybe the tubes have more volume than the 3 rows of standard tubes on the old one. The good thing is it now stays under 200* even on hot days and normally runs right on 180*.

    alanp561, Tim, seb fontana and 3 others like this.
  12. Koz
    Joined: May 5, 2008
    Posts: 2,693


    I've used many from Zero Cool, (out of Florida I believe), with great results. They are fully welded with decent Tig work and when painted black don't look too bad at all. I know they are offshore but my clients don't mind for a $150.00 radiator.

    I've never had one fail yet after many years and miles of service and do what they are supposed to do. I'd love to have a really good four core copper on my roadster but it may have to wait a bit....
  13. The 3 and 4 row thinking doesn’t work the same with aluminum.
  14. seb fontana
    Joined: Sep 1, 2005
    Posts: 8,392

    seb fontana
    from ct

    Explain some?
  15. I’ve had pretty good luck with the less expensive aluminum radiators. Paint them black and cruise on down the highway. Your results may vary.
    2OLD2FAST and alanp561 like this.
  16. 05snopro440
    Joined: Mar 15, 2011
    Posts: 1,346


    Read the highlighted section of my quoted post below from earlier in this thread. Champion radiators for an A use thinner cores and therefore are 2, 3, or 4 core, but most aluminum radiator use at least 1" thick cores.

  17. Dont know the science.
    The rad manufacturer I know uses a HD aluminum core. His words were that aluminum has different rules than copper. The flues are larger than their copper cores. The radiator they built for me has 2 large tubes. Probably 1 1/8 inch. The 2 row aluminum core is wider than the 3 row copper it replaced. Holds a lot of coolant.
    Cools better than the copper one. The copper rad was in good shape but did an engine swap
  18. Joe H
    Joined: Feb 10, 2008
    Posts: 1,500

    Joe H

    A aluminum radiator will be more efficient than a copper/brass one due to the solder required to hold the brass fins to the core tubes. Aluminum ones also have more airflow through the cores along with bigger tubes and more capacity. My '37 holds about a gallon more coolant due to the aluminum radiator and longer lower hose over the stock components I replaced.
  19. Our local radiatoroligist said the same thing about the solder.
  20. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 8,677

    from Oregon

    I've found some inexpensive, (not dirt cheap) radiators are pretty good quality. I stick with name brands, but I have a Griffin in my '37 Austin gasser for over 13 years now, and a Champion in my '39 Chev gasser for a little over 2 years. Both are great radiators, and economically priced.
    Some dirt cheap radiators have their cores epoxied in, and I wont buy a radiator that's done that way. So there's inexpensive, and then there's dirt cheap. Just need to make sure they're built right, with welded cores, not epoxied, and from a name brand maker.
  21. GuyW
    Joined: Feb 23, 2007
    Posts: 647


    I replaced the radiators in 2 of my off-topic Ford trucks, both aluminum ones bought from a low-end cheapo parts chain. The gasser has 90k trouble free miles now (for $100 radiator purchase price), and the diesel truck is fine as well.
    anthony myrick and firstinsteele like this.
  22. topher5150
    Joined: Feb 10, 2017
    Posts: 3,301


    I think you guys sold me on a Champ radiator.
    flatout51 and 2OLD2FAST like this.
  23. BamaMav
    Joined: Jun 19, 2011
    Posts: 6,637

    from Berry, AL

    Another satisfied Champion customer. I’m using one made for a late 5.0 swap into a early Mustang, same size, reversed inlet and outlet. Cools my 5.0 good, but was better before I put the AC condenser in front of it. Upped the temp about 10* on the electric gauge but I’m not satisfied the gauge is reading right. I’ve got to get another mechanical gauge to test it by, my other mechanical one bit the dust.
    alanp561 and topher5150 like this.
  24. 2OLD2FAST
    Joined: Feb 3, 2010
    Posts: 5,092

    from illinois

    Cores ( tubes&headers)are furnace brazed or epoxied ,the header is then normally welded to the tank . tubes ( flues) can be repaired by brazing , epoxy or a product like muggy weld . A "seeping" leak can be controlled with top quality air activated sealer . Adapting / learning to use new products is more productive than bitching about what's NLA .
    firstinsteele and Algoma56 like this.
  25. 1971BB427
    Joined: Mar 6, 2010
    Posts: 8,677

    from Oregon

    Almost every failure I've read about on newer inexpensive aluminum radiators was where the cores were epoxied in and the epoxy failed. I don't care if this is the latest technology or not. I'm not going to buy one and learn how to use this new product. Not when I can pay a small amount more and not have epoxy glued in cores.
  26. YEP. What he said.
    Thank you, SIR.

    alanp561 likes this.
  27. Beanscoot
    Joined: May 14, 2008
    Posts: 3,018


    When it comes to ass radiators, I vote yes for the cheap ones.
  28. Mo rust
    Joined: Mar 11, 2012
    Posts: 823

    Mo rust

    I've got one cheap aluminum radiator in my blown big block chevy powered 31 roadster and it's worked great for 25 years and 45,000 miles. I've used several more of them on my other cars and have yet to have a problem. I do paint them all satin black and all my builds are 32's or 30/31 Model A's with 32 shells so I don't have to be as concerned with accuracy of grill mounting points or the tanks show along the top or bottom since it's covered by the grill insert.
    GuyW and alanp561 like this.
  29. 1955 F-100 guy
    Joined: Jul 15, 2010
    Posts: 495

    1955 F-100 guy
    from NE Pa

    Always use Champion or Radiators 4 less- 3 row--with Ford 302 or 351 W engines off Ebay

    Use their shroud --electric fan and overflow tube-- NEVER no problems runs cool with AC on--

    Attached Files:

    jimmy six likes this.
  30. jimmy six
    Joined: Mar 21, 2006
    Posts: 14,666

    jimmy six

    We’ve been using an aluminum double pass double 1” row cross flow radiator for 5 years in our race car and a bad night wreck took it out. My son bought a replacement 2” single row double pass that was technically the same but couldn’t get thru a heat race. I quickly bought the correct one.
    As stated not all aluminum radiators are the same…
    lothiandon1940 likes this.

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