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Technical Gazpacho in the radiator : 1964 FE 390!

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by ThisOneGoesTo11, Jun 9, 2021.

  1. Hello,

    1964 Parklane, FE 390 SuperMarauder engine, Merc-o-matic trans....bought it a while back. In the rain, always a good idea, got home: nothing in the radiator. Car ran great . After market aluminum Edlebrock intake on there. Next day, blowing white smoke out the drivers side exhaust (straight duals).

    Yes - got ripped off. Because I'm so smart.

    Swapped out the intake gasket, changed oil, and antifreeze (green stuff) seemed to cure the white smoke problem, changed oil with 10W-30 last fall. Springtime, changed oil saw creamy light brown milkshake, put in Rotella 15W-40 and some Lucas oil treatment. No smoke on start up or extended idle.

    When I checked the oil, nice/clean --but checking the antifreeze ---tomato sauce! and felt greasy. See pix. --

    Bad radiator? Bad everything? Looks like original radiator with trans cooler lines, note dipsticks in pic, trans and oil look OK. Thanks for commenting....

    loudbang likes this.
  2. Doublepumper
    Joined: Jun 26, 2016
    Posts: 1,141

    from WA-OR, USA

    Yum! Looks like automatic transmission fluid from here.
    Truckdoctor Andy likes this.
  3. $ shipping EBAY
    Hollywood-East likes this.
  4. I like the misspelling of efficient...

  5. Marty Vanin
    Joined: Feb 22, 2017
    Posts: 74

    Marty Vanin

    Hard to tell from the pic, if the trans dip stick is rusty or the level is way over full,flush the trans and the cooling system including the block and heater core. Replace the rad or you can flush the rad,plug the fittings and add an external cooler.
  6. You could also just run a separate trans cooler...
    You would need to flush the radiator, and seal the transmission tubes.
    I don't know if I would trust a $135 Chinese radiator...
    VANDENPLAS and Joe Travers like this.
  7. Truck64
    Joined: Oct 18, 2015
    Posts: 5,316

    from Ioway

    Looks like a feller could make a damn fine Bloody Mary out of that.

    Sorry to hear your troubles. You'll get it straightened out.
    BJR, VANDENPLAS, bobss396 and 2 others like this.
  8. Joe Travers
    Joined: Mar 21, 2021
    Posts: 638

    Joe Travers
    from Louisiana

    Drain the radiator and run water in it for awhile until you run it through a few heat cycles. Keep an eye on the temp gauge. My '63 1/2 Comet has a stock radiator and it spewed a little gunk after the thermostat finally opened and released old messy coolant that had been sitting in the engine for a while. Everything cleared up in a couple weeks. Holding pressure and doing fine for the last year. Ninety-two down here today and I was wringing her out. Never got over 180F.

    loudbang likes this.
  9. TCTND
    Joined: Dec 27, 2019
    Posts: 301


    Red/rusty colored coolant is the classic sign of exhaust gas in the cooling system. Take the cap off and look for bubbles while running or do a sniffer test if available. Could be a blown head gasket or crack.
    Truck64 and loudbang like this.
  10. gene-koning
    Joined: Oct 28, 2016
    Posts: 2,831


    I agree with TCTND.
    Rusty looking coolant could also mean a motor that is very rusty inside the cooling system. I'd start with doing some testing to be sure there isn't a crack or blown head gasket.

    It could just need a good cooling system flush, but test the pressure first to be sure there isn't a mechanical problem.

    There is not a very high chance of the red in the coolant being transmission fluid, generally the fluid in trans cooler isn't under much pressure, there would be a much higher chance that coolant would be in the transmission before the trans fluid getting into the cooling system. Water or antifreeze in the trans fluid can kill a transmission in a matter of hours. Gene
    anthony myrick and loudbang like this.
  11. Let your sample sit for a few days and see how it separates. That will help determine what it is. Don't start ripping it apart until you know what is happening, then have a game plan to follow.
    blowby, VANDENPLAS, F-ONE and 4 others like this.
  12. Yup, confidence is not high. I got a Champion for my car on eBay, radiators4less was the vendor. Just make sure the mounting is the same, check the dimensions carefully.
  13. Joe Travers
    Joined: Mar 21, 2021
    Posts: 638

    Joe Travers
    from Louisiana

    Exactly, no need to overreact and throw $$ @ it yet. I would run clear water in it and drive it a few times, getting it up to operating temp and see if it clears up first. OP says it runs great.........

  14. "changed oil saw creamy light brown milkshake"

    Hoping for the best and like was suggested run some water instead of the anti-freeze - with no-water in the radiator you found first - I wonder if it was run hot and has a bad head gasket ? - which might have gave the white exhaust smoke.
    Joe Travers and F-ONE like this.
  15. anthony myrick
    Joined: Sep 4, 2009
    Posts: 10,048

    anthony myrick

    I’d remove the stat and flush it t.
    Check for bubbles, check oil and trans fluids
    Leak down and compression check
    Joe Travers, F-ONE and VANDENPLAS like this.
  16. F-ONE
    Joined: Mar 27, 2008
    Posts: 3,092

    from Alabama

    Lets look at the clues....
    Radiator empty....Because compression gasses blew the water out under load. (driving home)
    White smoke out the drivers side....water in combustion chamber....steam
    Milkshake oil...water in the oil
    Idles fine, no smoke....It's not under load and it's not hot enough
    Red water...combustion gasses in the cooling system
    It sure sounds like a crack or blown head gasket to me.

    Do a compression check.
    I would re torque the drivers side head. If this cures the are the luckiest guy that has ever walked.
    A quick and dirty test is to leave the radiator cap of, run the engine for a bit and then rev it. If it blows water out the top like Mt. St. Helens or Moby you know.
    Likely there nothing wrong with the radiator. Then again, it could have been over-pressurized.
  17. I’ve had a rusty goopy looking crap come out of a few rads over the years, usually from a car that sat a while with no coolant. Take out the T/Stat and run a flush through the system
    With straight water , might need to do this a few times. To get all the shmeng out.

    white milky oil, has the car been driven ? Or just idled and short trips ?

    does it even have a t stat ?

    could be a cacked out trans cooler disconnect it and cap the lines, add an aux cooler.

    go to your local Napa or what ever has a “ loan a tool” get a leak down tester and coolant sniffer, before you go taking anything apart find out for sure.

    Good luck, keep us posted
  18. Mr48chev
    Joined: Dec 28, 2007
    Posts: 30,844


    First thing I have to ask is how long did that gunboat sit before you bought it? Sounds like a Typical old neglected car that hasn't had a radiator flush or any other care for years because it still ran good enough to get to the store and back.
    I'd first do as Anthony suggested and get me a can of good radiator flush, then pop the thermostat out and probably flush the engine out with a garden hose before putting the radiator flush in and running it the prescribed time before draining it. I don't like running straight water in anything but this time I's fill it to the right level with straight water and drive it and see how it does. Works ok, doesn't overheat, doesn't get something in the cooling system that doesn't belong there, head on put fresh antifreeze in it and keep on keeping on. If you have milk shakes in the oil pan or cooling system or trans , then you have to figure what is going on. Ran when parked doesn't mean that it ran good or ran right though.
  19. drtrcrV-8
    Joined: Jan 6, 2013
    Posts: 1,553


    Had an OT car that had the heat exchanger in the radiator develop a slow leak & mix ATF into the cooling system(& coolant into the transmission). There was no warning (temp gauge) that this was happening. Eventually the leak totally ruptured & fully pressurized the radiator with ATF, which resulted in a rather spectacular radiator explosion. I got lucky : replaced the radiator & flushed the motor & transmission several times, then drove the car regularly for several more years. If my radiator had this color in it, I'd want to check where it was coming from!! I TOTALLY second Mr48chev's advice
  20. petew
    Joined: Jul 21, 2010
    Posts: 221

    from Mebane, NC

    You mentioned an intake manifold swap in the past. I have found with the FE’s Don’t run the cork china rail gaskets on the block but use a bead of silicone gasket maker instead.
    The reason is that these motors are old and since surfaces have been milled the cork gaskets will make the intake stand off and not seal properly to the heads resulting in oil being sucked into the bottom of intake ports.
    As for your case I agree it looks like atf in your Bloody Mary mix !
  21. Update: days later the pink coolant muck has NOT separated into ATF and antifreeze. I mixed some fresh ATF and AF in a separate jar and shook them well. Less than an hour later , they separated into two phases. See pic. And I noticed a small amount of rusty sludge at the bottom of the first jar. So tomorrow, pressure test and Sunday, drain/fill with clear water and give it a good run up the road, see if I get smoke. Then a compression test. THANKS for all the tips! Stay tuned

    VANDENPLAS and stillrunners like this.
  22. Wow, it's hard to believe something would stay in suspension that long. Set it aside and see how long it takes to separate (just for grins). After your pressure test, drain and flush, if it looks like you have no cross contamination, dump as mush vinegar in it that it hold, and heat cycle it and let it soak for a day or two. That will clean out rust without being too aggressive. Rinse and repeat. Neutralize with a strong baking soda circulation and flush.
    Good luck!
  23. Update:
    Static test: screwed on fitting and Mityvac hand pump, inflated to 13 psig....held the pressure cold. No gurgling or leaks I could see. Held pressure for 10-15 mins.
    Dynamic Test #1 : started engine, watched for rapid pressure rise or the sound of bubbling, nothing.
    Dynamic test # 2 : pumped up to 13 psig, started engine warmed up to operating temp, watched for unsteady needle or pressure change (up or down). Nothing.
    Dynamic test #3 : warm engine, released pressure on gauge, watched it slowly build back up to normal pressure.

    Maybe its a very slight head gasket or block leak? Maybe I'll take it for a good run around the block too, see if I'm getting any smoke under a load.
  24. Update, drained the radiator, and the drained fluid was beautiful clear Absinthe, then at the very end, pink greasy stuff, and not much at all. Verdict: Transmission fluid getting into the coolant. This surprises me since I would think the trans cooler line is not under a bunch of pressure, but maybe...during start up, when the cooling system has bled down to zero...and the transmission pump kicks on...there is briefly a scenario where the TF > higher pressure than the coooling system, thus the entry of pink into green. I have a new radiator, I'll be plugging that in. 30 mile drive yesterday, the car ran like a champ, 91 F no overheating, no smoke out the back...etc...

    Ignore the few black flecks in the liquid, didn't wipe the top underside edge of the drain pan clean enough.

    upload_2021-7-16_11-26-7.png upload_2021-7-16_11-26-7.jpeg

    upload_2021-7-16_11-26-39.png upload_2021-7-16_11-26-39.jpeg
    Truck64 likes this.
  25. Final update. I got an aluminum radiator for a 1964 Galaxie 390 Automatic, $135, fits great. Has Merc o matic trans cooler fittings. Just like the OEM, which was probably the original to the car.

    Installed, filled with water, then overheated! OK that does it. This car has had strange intermittent warm running since I got it. Solved that...the thermostat 63 mm diameter, not 54 mm (sorry Adv. Auto don't care what your computer says...) would open at the correct temp in a saucepan of boiling water on the stove. BUT the entire assembly would pull out of the bracket not slide downwards along the shaft , like it was supposed to. Seized on the shaft. That thermostat is partially open. Below. But probably not enough. And if it can't move sideways it sticks shut. Hard to see this in bubbling water all you can see is the thermostat is opening, from looking at it from the spring end.

    Moved the assembly to the side to show you what was not sliding right. maybe in the car it pulls straight down.

    I got a thermostat 180F for a 1971 plymouth fury with 383, exact same size as this OEM one. Works great, drove the car around and never overheated. In case anyone has a weird internmittent overheating problem.


    kidcampbell71 likes this.
  26. y'sguy
    Joined: Feb 25, 2008
    Posts: 505

    from Tulsa, OK

    WOW, great catch on the tstat. Pitiful that we have to put up with all these inferior parts. Have heard lots of stories lately of brand new bad fuel pumps for the 55-57 tbird. All have had the small check valves in them, just loose rattling around. And often the upper seal leaks oil from the crankcase. I had to open up the last one I bought and stake the valve in it. Built or made out of tolerance? Same with a simple tstat.
  27. y'sguy
    Joined: Feb 25, 2008
    Posts: 505

    from Tulsa, OK

    Also I might add I seem to see a lot guys on here refilling the radiator to flush it. this is better than not. BUT, I prefer to backflush with one of those Prestone or PEAK kits. They are cheap and easy. The first time I tried one I got a tremendous amount of crud out of the engine.
    '28phonebooth likes this.

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