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TR2/3/3A Smiths Heater Checkout


Senior Member
Country flag

I want to put the Smiths heater back in my TR-3a. It was not hooked up to the cooling system when I got the car. The motor ran 10 years ago. Knowing the car's history, the heater has not been really used in 28 years.

Any suggestions for checking or preventive maintenance? I am thinking of oiling the motor bearings and a pressure test. I run a 7 pound radiator cap, I assume it will handle that. Any good way to check the flow?

Thanks, Roy


Great Pumpkin - R.I.P
I wouldn't put any work into the motor until you're sure you've got a good core. I'd say chances are very good that there is something wrong with it. Last time I messed with one, I just took it to the local radiator shop and let them tell me it was junk. They only charged $10 or so (probably $20 today) and I didn't have to get wet or worry about nasty chemicals on my skin, etc.


Country flag
Good heaters are getting hard to find, so be careful with yours. My experience has been will the ones I have found is that they are still solid. I actually bought one at a junkyard last year for cheap; the guy through it in with some fenders. I have had them tested at radiator shops and they destroyed it by using too much pressure (these cars only had 4lbs) and not having the heater core in a cage or clamped together. The reason for clamping is the heater expands like an accordion when not clamped.

To check them I first just fill it with water and see if it leaks out with gravity, and if not then maybe take it to shop, but make sure the heater is clamped, so it will not come apart.

I just do a gravity test and then flush the heater out over the sink. Then I just hook the heater up to car with long hoses to see if it leaks. If no leaks, I paint it with a light coat and then put it in the car. The last one I put in has been there for at least 5 years.


Great Pumpkin
Eventually you might consider an "upgrade" kit:


This seems to get positive reviews from folks who use it.

Also, here at BCF we used to have a Wiki article on rebuilding the original heater, by member Angelfj:


But the forum seems to have lost the link. Maybe you could PM him for the original article.

I never found the heater in my TR3 to provide much help - except on warm summer days.

Tom M.


Jedi Knight
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I'll add to the caution about took much pressure going through an unclamped core. Takes very little water pressure to expand the core. I was testing mine and got just a little impatient and turned up the water flow just a little and I had an accordion instantly. Cheers, Mike


Senior Member
Country flag

I like the idea of an aftermarket heater. I see Summit has several in the $150 to $200 range. They look pretty powerful. I was thinking of heated seats and blankets, but a real heater is a better way to go. Its probably not to hard to rig up the demisters using the original hoses and sheet metal "Y" duct.

Thanks, Roy


Great Pumpkin - R.I.P
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