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Which radiator to buy?

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by 59IMPALER, Aug 29, 2011.

  1. The 53's original radiator has passed away. It is NOT repairable. I really want the stock looking brass and copper look, but my research has found that only Desert Cooler and Walker makes a stock looking unit. I've heard nothing but bad things about Desert Coolers, mainly, they run hot. Anybody with a Desert Cooler story? Walker makes a stock looking unit, but it's $665 plus shipping!!! I've bought nice cars for less than that! The desert cooler is $440 plus shipping, a good deal if it gets the job done. I don't want a modern, square tank, aluminum radiator under my hood. Any input would help. I would like to drive the car in two weeks.
    Last edited: Aug 30, 2011
  2. Stu D Baker
    Joined: Mar 4, 2005
    Posts: 2,659

    Stu D Baker
    from Illinois

    Maybe the reason the Walker costs more, is better quality? I've used Walker radiators for the past 20 years and never had a radiator problem. Stu
  3. WTF? Nobody has ever had to buy a new radiator before? C'mon, guys, I need some input. Good luck or bad luck with certain brands? Best prices? I don't HAVE $800 for a new Walker. That's more than my '53 cost (to buy, that is) Anybody using the $350 3-core from National Chevy? Anybody got a good used one?
  4. Ned Ludd
    Joined: May 15, 2009
    Posts: 4,250

    Ned Ludd

    What's wrong with the radiator, the core or the tanks? We've got companies here that'll put one's old tanks on a new core. I had that done on the Morris. They couldn't fix the swollen top tank from a PO running too severe a radiator cap, though. But my tank that looks like it was panel-beaten with brass knuckles from the inside came back with nice black paint ...

    If your tanks are too far gone you might look for a better '53/'54 radiator and still go that way.

  5. Deuce Roadster
    Joined: Sep 8, 2002
    Posts: 9,519

    Deuce Roadster
    Member Emeritus


    Most folks I know just save up and buy the Walker. :D

    I believe you get what you pay for. I have the " Z " series Walker radiator in both my 32 Fords. I have known a few folks who cut the price and bought a cheap eBay radiator ( or the famous Mustang radiator ) and then overheated their engine and ruined it. :eek:

    Then they need a NEW RADIATOR and a NEW ENGINE :rolleyes:
    How much $$$ did they save then ???

    You might could use a radiator out of a later model Chevrolet ... and buy one at AutoZone, Advance ect.
    Years ago I put a 1955 Chevrolet radiator in a40 Ford ( with a SBC ). Worked good and did not look bad ... after I detailed it, made the installation clean and neat ... added black paint.

  6. cartcoupe36
    Joined: Mar 16, 2009
    Posts: 39

    from Acworth GA

    it's alum. but you can paint it black, wizard cooling. does a great job cooling my 36
  7. krooser
    Joined: Jul 25, 2004
    Posts: 4,583


    Any good radiator shop can recore your stock radiator... my shop didn't want to repair my f100 rad because of it's condition... but they had a good used one in stock that they rodded out and cleaned... $250.00 out the door!

    I much prefer the stock radiators....
  8. aaggie
    Joined: Nov 21, 2009
    Posts: 2,531


    There are many radiator shops that will replace your core and recondition it for less than the cost of buying new. New will almost guarantee you problem free driving for a long time.
  9. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,260


    Walkers are pricey but do the job, they are a bolt in fit and they last. I recently sold a car with one in it for ten years and still going strong. When it comes to brakes, steering and cooling, buy the best. You won't be sorry.
  10. That's more like it! Thanks, guys. The bottom tank is so rotted out, they can't solder on it. If I had a used one to recore, my shop said it's cheaper to buy new. I like the aluminum, painted black idea, they make a lot of round top aluminum radiators. What rattle can will stick to aluminum and not reduce it's cooling capability?
  11. RatRoy
    Joined: Jul 9, 2008
    Posts: 372


    The results that come with a "good" new radiator are worth the price. After having heating problems with my 40 Chevy for years I replaced it with a new AFCO alum radiator and solved all the heating problems. Wait until you can afford the best and it will be worth it. :)
  12. brad chevy
    Joined: Nov 22, 2009
    Posts: 2,627

    brad chevy

    Are you building the car or is a your shop doing the work ? Most shops have their own good sources for radiators and don"t hesitate when it comes to buying cheap junk or useing quality parts . Walker radiators are more expensive but you get the dependability of a good product. The last swapmeet I went to had a guy selling brand new aluminum radiators for $175 Took about a minute to see why. When it comes to your cooling system do it right to begin with and you won"t be redoing it later.
  13. 48 Chubby
    Joined: Apr 29, 2008
    Posts: 1,014

    48 Chubby
    Member Emeritus

    My first question would have been asked at the radiator shop when they told me it would be cheaper to replace than recore.
    "How much?"
    Most radiator shops have sources for replacement units on back into the 40's. For a standard replacement on a 6 cyl 53 Chevy you don't need a Walker or a high dollar race unit. Any thing more than a standard replacement is like hunting mice with a 30-06.
  14. I think you need to find a new radiator shop, cost more to re-core? No way!! The bottom tank is easy to replace, just cut down another tank it doesn't need to be an original. It wont be seen and not many people would realise its a more modern tank and not stock.
    Any good radiator shop should be able to build a new one.
    If you do decide to buy a new unit definitely go with the Walker, not only do they have better cooling property's they are also repairable. Aluminium radiators are not so any damage and thats the end of it and you will need to fork out for another one.

  15. krooser
    Joined: Jul 25, 2004
    Posts: 4,583


    It's cheaper to buy new if you want a thin Chinese radiator that MAY leak in just a few months.... when yours was new it had real copper in it. The stuff that comes from overseas is so contaminated with other metals and outright crap that the word 'copper' is stretching it.

    A good rebuilt stock radiator is hard to beat unless you have big HP...
  16. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,955

    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    There's a local street rod shop here that makes radiators to your specs. You choose the core, straight or staggered, how many, bungs for temp senders, trans cooler or not, etc.
    CARS in Forked River, NJ. Custom Auto Radiator Service. Been using them for years, and always satisfied!
  17. banginona40
    Joined: Mar 5, 2007
    Posts: 759


    I am using a U.S. Radiator in my '40 pickup, not a Desert Cooler. and one from (CARS) Custom Auto Radiator Service in my coupe. Both were custom made to my specs. and have served me well.
    $850 $550 respectively Ouch !!!
  18. I guess this radiator is going into the "53 Chevy. My son has a '54 chevy and last fall we were looking for a replacement radiator for it at a swap meet. Well we found one that looks good for sometning like $20 and bought it, then on the way out we saw another one that was taged as a '55 Chevy. It looked the same execpt for the mounting. If I remember right the '53/'54 mounting bolts go forward through the core support, the '55 bolts go in at 90 degrees to that. The thing is if you were to shop for a '55 6 cyl radiator that may open up more options.
  19. pasadenahotrod
    Joined: Feb 13, 2007
    Posts: 11,776

    from Texas

    I believe you might be able to use/modify a new 55-57 Chevy radiator in your 54. I know I have a radiator in my son's 57 which has a 54 top tank at least, or it is a rebuilt 54?
  20. spoons
    Joined: Jan 1, 2004
    Posts: 1,738

    from ohio

    It amazes me that guys on here buy all kinds of silly, useless crap and won't step up to the plate and buy good stuff....
    Personally, I'd buy a Walker. I've had one for 11 years now, been modified twice (From a chevy config to a Hemi Comfig). and never a cooling problem. Yeah expensive, but quality and reliability has no price tag...
  21. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,260


  22. stuart in mn
    Joined: Nov 22, 2007
    Posts: 1,955

    stuart in mn

    I have a US Radiator triple flow in my car, it works great.
    olscrounger likes this.
  23. farmer12
    Joined: Aug 28, 2006
    Posts: 7,717


    I bought a Walker radiator, perfect fit and have heard nothing bad about them. Only that they are a little pricey.....
  24. nexxussian
    Joined: Mar 14, 2007
    Posts: 3,240


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