August '17

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26 THE SHOP AUGUST 2017 I f your shop works on old cars, the chances are good that sooner or later you'll be dealing with either the replacement of a radiator or with finding a shop that rebuilds, re-cores or restores original factory-installed radiators. Replacement radiators break down into two basic types: direct fit or make fit. Radiators can be remanufactured to function properly or they can be restored to look and function like new. A radiator that is restored to show-car condition will be dent-free, nicely refin- ished and have the proper stampings and date codes on it. As a shop owner, you will want to explore the best options for your cus- tomer's vehicle. Whichever direction you choose, you'll want the cooling system to work well, so quality is important— whether you go with a reproduction, non- stock replacement or restored radiator. While it's true that quality comes at a price, the highest price does not always ensure getting the best quality. TIME TO REPAIR Our shop was working on a 1980 Tri- umph TR7 and the car was not having cooling issues. We were replacing the water pump, which installs on top of the engine under the intake manifold and dual carburetors. Quite a few components needed to be removed, including the radiator. When we removed the radiator, we noticed that the cooling fins on the bottom corners were rusting away. This surprised the technician working on the car. At this point, we did not understand why radiator fins would rot away like they had on this car. The cus- tomer was also surprised, because the car was not running hot and the radiator was not yet leaking. However, the problem was obvious and there was no doubt the time to repair it was while we had the car apart for the other work. Exact or close-to-exact reproductions of factory radiators are available for many British cars through suppliers such as Moss Motors (, Victoria British ( and, in the case of Triumphs, The Roadster Factory ( This was not the case for the Triumph TR7 mentioned above, however. No reproduction was available. The Wedge Shop (www.thewedgeshop. com) is a company that specializes in the wedge-shaped Triumph TR7 and TR8 models. It sold a high-performance aluminum radi- ator that was a direct fit in the TR7. The aluminum radiator was a very good option and was actually on sale, but it was still in the $500 range, plus shipping, which was a hard sell to a customer who didn't expect to be replacing a radiator in the first place. In addition, the aluminum radiator would not have an original look. This was not a big deal to the customer, but price was. Also, we thought we could get the original radiator Repairing, rebuilding and restoring vintage radiators. 26 THE SHOP AUGUST 2017 By John Gunnell Bob Schirmer has these Mopar radiator tanks reproduced. Close-up of reproduction tanks shows stampings and date codes.

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