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Thread: Radiator Leak & Repair

  1. #1
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    Radiator Leak & Repair

    Hello,

    I have a couple of small leaks with my '58 TR3A radiator. These leaks are where the radiator "neck" connects to the top tank. My question is on best method to fix. I was planning to solder by using a propane torch with 50/50 solder. I have owned and worked on TR's for over 20 years doing my own work always. This will be my first time fixing a leaking radiator. My concern, based on what I have read, is that using a propane torch method will dissipate heat into other areas. My concern is that too much heat might actually heat up existing soldered areas and create new leaks. From my understanding the radiator core and top tank are soldered together and this area could be impacted with excess heat dissipating. Please share your own experiences and recommendations. Also, any recommendations on the type of solder to use is also appreciated.

    The other option is to use a local radiator repair shop which is about an hour a way. I am hoping DIY is possible and will same me time and money.

    Thanks,
    Steve

    TR3A - 1958 - British Racing Green
    TR4 - 1962 CT16758LO - Red, Wire Wheels, and Surrey Top - Owned for 25 years and restored.

  2. #2
    Yoda Geo Hahn's Avatar
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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    I had a crack along the bottom joint where the neck connected to the top tank. Not a gusher, just a seeping leak.

    I drained enough coolant to get it below the level of that crack, cleaned the outside of the crack, ran the engine with the rad cap off until it was hot, installed rad cap and smeared a bead of epoxy along that crack - then let it all set-up and cool-down.

    My plan, my hope, my dream was that the cooling engine would pull some epoxy into the crack as it cooled down giving a better seal. No way to prove it did that but I was leak free for many years before I got the radiator recored (mainly to make me feel better about all the work I had to do just to replace a timing chain tensioner).

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    Great Pumpkin TR3driver's Avatar
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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    Where do you actually live? Google says there is a radiator shop 15 min from downtown Los Gatos?

    Anyway, given what a hassle it is to R&R the radiator (and my experiences with trying to do it myself), I would make the trek and have the pros do it. In addition, I will always be having them add reinforcement to that joint:


    One big problem with using solder is that the surface has to not only have all paint removed, but the surface layer of oxide as well. That means the joint has to come apart. The shop will have a big tank of acid they can just dunk the entire radiator into.
    Randall
    56 TR3 TS13571L once and future daily driver
    71 Stag LE1473L waiting engine rebuild
    71 Stag LE2013LBW waiting gearbox rebuild

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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    Thanks Geo for the suggestion. This might make sense to use epoxy. Like your leak, this is seeping.
    Steve

    TR3A - 1958 - British Racing Green
    TR4 - 1962 CT16758LO - Red, Wire Wheels, and Surrey Top - Owned for 25 years and restored.

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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    Thanks Randall,

    Thanks for the note regarding a local radiator shop. There is one much closer than what I have used previously located in San Jose and with good ratings.
    Steve

    TR3A - 1958 - British Racing Green
    TR4 - 1962 CT16758LO - Red, Wire Wheels, and Surrey Top - Owned for 25 years and restored.

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    Yoda CJD's Avatar
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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    I have soldered the radiator in place, and it is very doable. Your concerns about overheating and rolling solder off other areas is...well...something TO be concerned about. If you are good at soldering, it’s not an issue. If you are “iffy” about soldering, then doing it in situ is not the best option.

    Epoxy is a temporary solution. If the neck is stressed enough to crack in the first place (and it is), then epoxy will only last for a limited time.
    John

    1955 TR2

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    Obi Wan
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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    I worked in a sheet metal shop for years in the late 70s and early 80s before all the pre-painted metal was on the market. WE soldered everything, except SS. And yeh that area is difficult. That neck is too long and probably needed a brace from day one. Geo always has smart ideas and that one is at least worth a try, but it is glue. The problem with soldering is that everything thing needs to be clean, clean, and more clean without stuff that melts and runs into the area also. To be done correctly the neck needs to be removed and cleaned and even tinned; then inserted back in the tank then soldered with 60/40 or 50/50 solder-- not the lead free stuff--- you have go to the electrical place at HD or a welding supply store and spend the 20 bucks for the correct stuff 60/40 or 50/50 to do it correct. And yes the heat with melt other places, so be careful, but you can do it move fast.

    Having said that- what the heck; if the radiator is out go for it. Get in there and clean the very best you can with an air die grinder and those fiber wheels wire wheels and lacquer thinner and the kitchen sink. Really, if you have shop sink, hot soapy water is good stuff and then blow dry. Oh yeh hand clean it with hot wet toiles too ovary chance you can and then blow dry and repeat.

    Get a tip that is very small; they sell them at HD. I have heard of taking a small piece of tin and put that on the tip to block off some of the flame because those torches are too hot. You have to move in out quickly. When soldering in the shop we used big soldering irons heated from a propane torch set up hooked up in tray with shelves to regulate the heat on the irons. The solder with follow or flow with heat, so just kiss it here and there and it will fill in. if you are holding the torch very long in one spot something is wrong. Probably dirty and too hot and nothing moves.

    Good luck, we all have to pay for that education—come help me with the bodywork and I will prove it.

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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    I would take to a rad shop and have them do a the repair, clean and test.

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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    Have an update on the radiator. I did take it to the local radiator repair business. The owner was great to talk to. Looks like the leaks are also in the core so will have to be replaced. So having the expert doing the repair is the way to go for this one. I do not have enough experience with doing this type of repair works. Thanks for all the helpful advice.
    Steve

    TR3A - 1958 - British Racing Green
    TR4 - 1962 CT16758LO - Red, Wire Wheels, and Surrey Top - Owned for 25 years and restored.

  10. #10
    Jedi Knight
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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    Will you keep the starting handle hole in the new core?

    David

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    Great Pumpkin TR3driver's Avatar
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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidApp View Post
    Will you keep the starting handle hole in the new core?
    Good question! My shop said the hole reduces cooling capacity by about 10% (it totally blocks the tubes above and below it), so I opted to delete it. Probably not necessary in combination with the electric fan, but it's better to have too much than too little.

    The irony is that I drove for decades with the hole there and no crank to use in it; Now I have the crank (actually 3 of them) and no hole to put it in!
    Randall
    56 TR3 TS13571L once and future daily driver
    71 Stag LE1473L waiting engine rebuild
    71 Stag LE2013LBW waiting gearbox rebuild

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    Yoda Geo Hahn's Avatar
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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    I, on the other hand, kept the hole when I had the radiator re-cored a couple of years ago. I enjoy doing the occasional crank start at car shows. Kids like it but even most adults have only heard of such a thing or maybe have just seen it in a movie.

    The hole reduces capacity but I drive in all the heat that Tucson has to offer (and that can be a lot) w/o any issues.

    Unfortunately we (Tucson) lost my go-to radiator shop - I really enjoy visiting these old specialty shops:



    It was a one-man operation that was around for decades, Bob literally had a lifetime of experience. When I walked in he looked at what I was carrying and said 'Ah, a TR3'. I knew I was in the right place.


  13. #13
    Yoda CJD's Avatar
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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    Sad really. Plastic radiators slowly killed the local radiator shops across the country. But, that's progress...we don't see any wood wheel shops either...or Radio Shacks!?!
    John

    1955 TR2

  14. #14
    Obi Wan
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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    Cool shop Geo we still have one left in Tacoma. The owner is good guy in his mid-sixties and we have become kinda friends over the years. He had some old Ferrari stuff he was doing for some software guy, I guess one of Billy Gates guys last time we talked. Plus we have that car museum and many old car guys to keep him going. But he says the big trucks keep him the busiest. Anyways, he was telling me that stuff for a quick gas tank repair that you put on the outside of the tank is great stuff. He has actually put it on and drove the trucks to a place where he can get at the radiator or have the radiator brought to the shop. Sounds like something to have for a LBC

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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    Steve, just a thought...have you considered having the rad shop install provision for a thermo fan switch [you may decide to fit one in the future]

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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    Geo, great photo's. I should take a few of the local radiator shop in town that Randall was so kind of suggesting. Very similar to your experience. Thanks for sharing.
    Steve

    TR3A - 1958 - British Racing Green
    TR4 - 1962 CT16758LO - Red, Wire Wheels, and Surrey Top - Owned for 25 years and restored.

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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    Decided to do a bit more work on the front engine compartment with the valence and radiator out. The previous owner had brush painted the engine, suspension and frame w/o removing rust. It is a California car so rust was not crazy but still a pain in the B&*% removing with Naval Jelly. Here is a picture as it sits currently... almost ready to be painted.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Steve

    TR3A - 1958 - British Racing Green
    TR4 - 1962 CT16758LO - Red, Wire Wheels, and Surrey Top - Owned for 25 years and restored.

  18. #18
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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    I was over at my dad's looking at old photo's. Here is a picture of our "family" 1964 TR4. Picture taken around 1971. My dad decided it was best to sell the car a few years later.......before I passed by drivers exam. I recall it had about 60K miles on the it when sold.....bummer but life goes on.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Steve

    TR3A - 1958 - British Racing Green
    TR4 - 1962 CT16758LO - Red, Wire Wheels, and Surrey Top - Owned for 25 years and restored.

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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    Great how to do info "sp53" Thanks for sharing.
    Steve

    TR3A - 1958 - British Racing Green
    TR4 - 1962 CT16758LO - Red, Wire Wheels, and Surrey Top - Owned for 25 years and restored.

  20. #20
    Jedi Knight
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    Re: Radiator Leak & Repair

    There is more than one radiator shop in/around Houston. Each time I take my radiator in, the owner looks at me and the radiator and says "Oh- the MG guy is back". I'm not sure if he's trying to irritate me or not, but he always laughs after I correct him.
    I have the hole and really enjoy hand cranking the car. I have not had an issue with the radiator boiling but fuel boiling is another story.
    59 TR3A "Butter"

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