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DIY radiator repair?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by flypa38, Oct 3, 2012.

  1. flypa38
    Joined: May 3, 2005
    Posts: 530


    Any of you had any luck with real radiator repairs at home? I'm not asking about leak stop products here..... I've soldered small leaks in tanks before with success and repaired overflow tubes, but have any of you ever attempted a re-core or other major repair at home? How about dis-assembly enough to get to the core tubes?
    Secondly any tips for repairing a small dent on my radiator top tank? Cant get to the inside of it......

  2. R Pope
    Joined: Jan 23, 2006
    Posts: 3,309

    R Pope

    I have both shortened and narrowed rads, but never again since I discovered a rad shop!
    Try soldering a nail to the bottom of the dent and pulling it out.
  3. lostn51
    Joined: Jan 24, 2008
    Posts: 1,667


    I tried repairing mine once and failed miserably. Its sometimes a lot cheaper (and less stress) if you can find a radiator shop to fix it for you. They can tear it down rod it out and put it back together again in less time than it takes for us to find the crap to do the job with. And where else can you get a paint job that never dries..........

  4. I have popped the tank tops off to rod the core out, I have never replaced a core that I can think of right off the top of my head. I pretty much always solder up any leaks that I get at home. I must say though I have made some worse before they got better a time or two.

    A quick easy way to get a dent out of the top is to drill a little hole in it and stick a sheet metal screw in it then pull the dent with a slide hammer. Then a little spot of solder will repair the hole.

  5. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 8,790


    All the local radiator shops have quit doing car radiators. They WILL do them but insist on $400! I spent hours on google trying to find the info to repair a radiator and got stupid websites. One said, find out where the leak is then install a new radiator. Someone please post tip size, gas pressure, brand of flux and solder.
  6. I tried to pull a dent with a nail tacked to the top tank of a 40 ford,,thought I would save a few bucks,,ended up taking it to the radiator shop and paying more than the original quote for repair.

    I will come clean and tell you guys I was too embarrassed to take it back to the original shop that quoted me the price. :eek: HRP
  7. I took a radiator core to a shop recently and they said they would have to re-core it. . . for $400! So I bought another one for half that price -used. But it works well =)
  8. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?

    I built Radiators for a couple of years here in Phoenix in '82 and '83. Most that try it at home run short of very specialized tallent real quick. It is super easy to make a good header leak just soldering a tank back on. Do yourself a favor, take it to a shop and have it done. I just had one rodded at a local shop a week ago and it cost 90.00 to do.That was at Performance radiator here in Phoenix.
  9. Well... since Earl Scheib closed, nowhere, I guess. Except maybe at the shops that do driveshaft rebuilding! :rolleyes:
  10. mustang6147
    Joined: Feb 26, 2010
    Posts: 1,847

    from Kent, Ohio

    I repaired mine between rounds at the drag strip, only because it was the final round late in the year. I replaced it Monday morning....

    I know enough to leave it to the pro's and and not plug my cooling system with additives...
  11. I tried on my daily driver Buick in '78. I making the guy at the radiator shop richer.
  12. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 8,790


    there has to be someone on the HAMB who knows how to solder a radiator
  13. well i was a broke stock car racer with a lot of leaks and no money so i soldered

    use acid core, tin and brush just like fluxing for leading, use pressure tester and fill with water cap and test
    try to find the old acid core solder
    use a propane torch or use a leading flame on torch for soldering

    i got a tank on my farm tractor to do soon
  14. HemiRambler
    Joined: Aug 26, 2005
    Posts: 4,208


    I switched the lower tube on one. Removed the tank. Removed the tube. Spun a brass "freeze plug" to solder in old opening. Cut undersized hole on opposite side. Hammered the lip to duplicate the factory edge. Soldered tube in - inside and outside - they angle cut them so you can also solder it to the bottom center of the tank - at least on this one they did. The hardest part of it all was putting the tank back on - that could drive a fella crazy - might have been better off with multiple torches ??
  15. I re-soldered the upper mount that came off on a used 34 radiator. It also had a seam that ruptured on the upper tank and I fixed that. I didn't use solder per se. I reattached it with body lead using the same technique as you do when leading a fender. I used the acid,tinning compound,wax, paddle,etc. Its seems to be holding good. It also passed a pressure test.
  16. gearhead1952
    Joined: Dec 17, 2006
    Posts: 306

    from Arvada, CO

    I spent $300 having the radiator recored in my f1. The guy did a sloppy job. I don't recommend Arvada Radiator on sheridan. Left bits of solder inside, bent fins on the new core and there was a leak where the lower core met the tank. I used a mapp gas torch and plumbing flux and solder to close it just because that is what I had. Has held up fine for at least two years now. They use solder that melts at different temps in order to put them back together so go easy with the torch as you can melt out a lot of solder quickly.
  17. I use ruby red flux and whatever solder that I have lieing around. I like rosin core solder but I have even used acid core solder or solder with no core.

    If you use an aceteline torch use about a number 3 tip and don't make your cone real tight. I normally use a propane torech unless I am going to use silfoss. I very seldome use silfoss, soft solder works just fine and you don't have to get it as hot.
  18. jazz1
    Joined: Apr 30, 2011
    Posts: 1,516


    So often a rad in need of repair is due for recore or replacement,,,Had enough of removing a rad to repair leak only to get another leak a week down the road. I had a rad shop recore the rad in my '41 IHC. $500 but I now have a better rad than what is currently available on the market for my truck
  19. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,617

    Rusty O'Toole

    I know but I can't teach you in 2 minutes. You have to learn to solder. The metal has to be clean and bright, you have to tin it. Then put the parts together as tight as possible, get the right amount of heat and flow the solder in. Getting the heat just right is more important than the solder. And it has to be clean and tinned or it won't take the way it should.

    It takes quite a bit of practice to be any good. Once you have the knack you can flow the solder like water and fix a leak in minutes.
  20. 52pickup
    Joined: Aug 11, 2004
    Posts: 833

    from Tucson, Az

    I've done a few. A couple 50's jag radiators, one or two from 30's chevys, and some quick repairs on others. Only trouble I've really had is, on the ones with the cast hose necks, getting the hose neck to make a good joint with the tank.
  21. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 8,790


    Thank you. Is your ruby red liquid or paste?
  22. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 8,790


    I know how to solder. I have also spent many hours watching experts and may have learned something there. Notice that my previous post asks for type of flux, solder and acetylene tip size.
  23. Bad Eye Bill
    Joined: Sep 1, 2010
    Posts: 841

    Bad Eye Bill
    from NB Canada

    Horsehair brush for the flux.
  24. Rex_A_Lott
    Joined: Feb 5, 2007
    Posts: 1,080


    I have fixed them successfully...and I have also F'ed them up so bad nobody else could fix them either.
    Use the smallest tip you have, dont pull the flame down all the way till the cones meet, leave it soft, with just a little feather on the end.
    Muriatic acid is good for cleaning.
    I use 50/50 tin/lead acid core solder. I dont like the 95/5 for this work.
    If its rolling up in balls, you might try some paste silver solder flux if you have any.
    Good Luck!
  25. need louvers ?
    Joined: Nov 20, 2008
    Posts: 12,906

    need louvers ?

    Tell ya what, if you really want to do this grab your self an old Falcon or Mustang radiator and practice taking the top tank off and putting it back on. The upper tank is part of the top header on those radiators, and when I started that is what they put me on to learn the skills. With the top seem being so far away from the header itself it makes it easy to keep the heat away from the header as the solder is melted out. The Biggest problem guys get them selves into trying to do this stuff is heating the tank too much to remove and melting the solder holding the tubes into the header. if you can get this down and pass a pressure test, then your on your way. I seriously doubt I could do it correctly these days the first time out of the box after nearly thirty years away.
  26. 343WINDOW
    Joined: Oct 2, 2011
    Posts: 43


    I worked in a rad shop many years ago. Rad repair can be tricky even for the experienced. It has a lot to do with the condition of the core...if you put heat to rotted header you'll just cause more leaks. We used to pinch off the tubes that were too bad to fix and then solder up the header, but every tube you remove just gives you less cooling. I definitely would not recommend using acetylene until you have been repairing rads full time for about 5 years...a propane torch is all you need, it may take a bit longer but way safer. Lets say we are fixing a leaky seam, the secret is getting it clean so the solder will stick...heat the problem area just enough for the old solder to start to flow then hit it with compressed air(pointed away from solder in the face sucks) then put the heat back on just a bit. Now dip you solder brush in muriatic acid and brush the area...repeat till clean...little more heat then flux. When re soldering up the hole, heat the hole a little bit...(if you go to much you'll just be knocking out more old solder and making more work for yourself. If you watch a rad guy you'll see how he puts heat down and then just keeps brushing the torch over the area to maintain than perfect temp) and then put more heat to the spot on the tank just above the hole. Remove heat and touch solder to that area and it should just flow into the hole, which should be slightly cooler and stop...use your brush with some water and cool the hot spot first then the solder and you should be done. This takes a lot of practice so if you have an old rad kickin around you might want put a torch to it and see what happens.
  27. manyolcars
    Joined: Mar 30, 2001
    Posts: 8,790


  28. Rusty O'Toole
    Joined: Sep 17, 2006
    Posts: 9,617

    Rusty O'Toole

    60/40 tin/lead solder. Acid flux. Wire brush, wet rag. Sandpaper.

    I can't believe there are any rads left worth fixing, they went to aluminum rads so long ago. All the rad shops around here closed up years ago. This strikes me as a skill not worth learning because it will never be needed again. Like most of the things I know.
  29. Our local specialist is very busy. Last week I was in and saw him working on a 1930 Rolls Royce.....wait for it.....$2500 dollar recore....
  30. Paste.

    Warm it first to chase the moisture out, then brush the flux on, the solder will follow the flux so where ever there is flux you will get solder. Also if you ad solder behind your flame the folder will flow toward the flame.

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