August '17

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30 THE SHOP AUGUST 2017 tors back to original is absolutely some- thing we do. We go to lots of old-car swap meets to buy up all the antique radiators. We went to the Portland Swap Meet and picked up 61 radiators. I remember some really cool ones from different antique cars—Essex, Oakland and Packard." Garrett points out that antique car radia- tors are different from newer, pressurized units. "Pressurized types didn't show up until about 1950, 1952, 1953, depending on the make," he says. "Then they went to a 4-pound radiator cap, which wasn't really a lot of pressure, but gave it a higher boiling point. Then, they went to a 7-pound cap in about 1955. In about 1963 or 1964, they went to a 12-pound cap. But pressure works against the seams and joints in a radiator. With more pressure and vibration, they're going to come apart quicker." According to Garrett, automakers mostly run 16-pound caps today. "But then they can go to a lot smaller top tank and plastic," he notes. "The old ones with no pressure, of course they last longer. A lot of those are restorable because of that. However, if you have a radiator with the old cell-type cores—diamond cell, hexagon cell, octagon cell, square cell and cellular— they don't make those in the United States anymore, that I'm aware of. They're made in England and they're expensive. I priced out the core for that Packard and it was $3,000. That's just to get it in our shop and then we have to take that all apart, restore all the pieces and put it all back together. That's going to be another $1,000." That equates to a total cost of $4,000. "It'll be nice," Garrett points out. "But the only way you're going to get there is by opening up your wallet. However, I can restore that same radiator with a vintage style-looking radiator, which has straight- fin cores, like a Model T Ford had in the same era. It gives it a vintage look and now you're talking a price that drops down to a third of it." Garrett says his 40-person staff can do radiators for vehicles from the smallest cars to the largest semi-trucks in vintage style or "anything else." RSH builds radiators that are 9-feet tall and 18-feet wide. "We build radiators for motorcycles and everything in between," Garrett notes. "Six employees work on the layout bench and they do all the custom stuff." A man who came up to the RSH booth at the show needed a radiator for a 1937 Diamond T truck. "We'll build an all-aluminum unit for that," Garrett explains. "It will be polished aluminum and it will fit right back into the original factory location. It will have all the cooling power he needs and it will work with the modern turbo diesel engine that he's going to put into his old truck. One side will be a diesel for the turbo cooler; one side will be the radiator. It'll all fit into the factory location. It really cleans up the rig and makes it look a lot nicer than put- ting it under the cab and trying to vent the turbo. It will look sanitary." LAST FOREVER Randy Methig is another expert on old radiators. He has been working at Al's Radiator & Auto Repair in New London, Wisconsin since 1979. "Not too many places like to do older radiators," Methig says. "First, we clean and flush the radiator and test to see what its problems are. No chemicals are used to do the flushing. I use very few chemicals when doing a radiator." The next step depends on what issues the radiator has. "If the tests show it's repairable, I sand- blast the areas that are really bad so I can solder things together. Then, I re-solder the seams and test again. It's a slow process. You fix the biggest leak first, then go to the next largest leak. You keep eliminating them until they're all gone, hopefully." We asked Methig why o TR7's radiator fins rotted away. "Most older American car radiators are made of copper-brass alloy, but foreign car radiators can be different," he explains. "They make those out of all kinds of metals; the Triumph ones are made out of steel and they can be eaten away by cor- rosion." Prices can go up whenever the companies that make radiator cores raise prices. "Copper is just expensive; there's no way around it," he points out. "Copper is a metal that there's not a lot of in the world and it's priced accordingly. Sudden price increases are possible, but usually that doesn't happen. Some companies go out of business or get bought out by another company that raises prices. I remember when Modine got out of the aftermarket, so then we were scrambling to find a new supplier." Schirmer repaired this cooler for a Boss 429 Mustang owner. Old radiators drew bids at a recent old-car parts auction in Hustisford, Wisconsin. Radiator Supply House can fix units like this Hawkeye Truck radiator.

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