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Old 09-17-2021, 02:49 PM   #1
Woodie1
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Default nasty odor

We have 39 sedan that we recently bought. A couple weeks ago we took it for a 3 mile drive to see what needed tweaking if anything. It ran fine. It was a slow speed between 25 & 40 mph. Today we wanted to do the same drive but before we got 1/4 mile down the road we had a bad odor & I almost thought I could see smoke. We took it home. I adjust the brakes a little looser hoping that was it but it wasn't. The engine & radiator are very hot so maybe it's burning engine paint. Obviously overheating. I would think that after a 1 mile drive I could touch the radiator top tank & not find it too hot. Can't do that. I don't have a temp gun, maybe I need to get one. Any ideas on what to check? thanks.
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Old 09-17-2021, 03:00 PM   #2
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Default Re: nasty odor

Just wondering which one of the "We" ate beans before the drive.
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Old 09-17-2021, 03:02 PM   #3
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Default Re: nasty odor

Woodie, we need more information:
Did you check the oil?
Did you warm up the engine before driving?
Nasty odor smelled like what?
Was there steam?
Did you lose any coolant?


A 3 mile drive is not sufficient to prove roadworthiness. I hope you'll soon be able to take a good long drive that includes city traffic and highway speeds.
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Old 09-17-2021, 03:06 PM   #4
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Default Re: nasty odor

Roasted mouse??
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Old 09-17-2021, 03:09 PM   #5
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Default Re: nasty odor

The oil level is to the full mark. Can't say I warmed up the engine. Just got in & started driving. I can't put my finger on what it smelled like. That's why I thought maybe paint burning off from being too hot. I did not get steam but the previous owner has a 4 lb. pressure cap on the radiator. The coolant is almost to the point of running out the filler hole.
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Old 09-17-2021, 03:32 PM   #6
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I'm going to check the thermostats. What rating should I use, 160, 180?
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Old 09-17-2021, 03:37 PM   #7
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Default Re: nasty odor

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Originally Posted by Woodie1 View Post
The oil level is to the full mark. Can't say I warmed up the engine. Just got in & started driving. I can't put my finger on what it smelled like. That's why I thought maybe paint burning off from being too hot. I did not get steam but the previous owner has a 4 lb. pressure cap on the radiator. The coolant is almost to the point of running out the filler hole.
Maybe you can post a 'Scratch and Sniff' card
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Old 09-17-2021, 03:46 PM   #8
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Default Re: nasty odor

My 8BA ran cooler with 180 stats. Have you double checked timing ? Like 38V8 said more info needed.
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Old 09-17-2021, 03:47 PM   #9
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Default Re: nasty odor

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Originally Posted by Woodie1 View Post
The oil level is to the full mark. Can't say I warmed up the engine. Just got in & started driving. I can't put my finger on what it smelled like. That's why I thought maybe paint burning off from being too hot. I did not get steam but the previous owner has a 4 lb. pressure cap on the radiator. The coolant is almost to the point of running out the filler hole.
With the coolant level that high, there is a good chance that it started blowing some coolant out of the vent tube, which has a good chance of blowing back onto the exhaust manifold. If there is antifreeze in the coolant, that will cause a foul smell. Try lowering the coolant level to about half an inch over the radiator tubes, and try that run again.

Regarding thermostats, this board has advocates for everything from 190 down to "no thermostats". I take the middle road and use 170, with good success so far.
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Old 09-17-2021, 03:49 PM   #10
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Default Re: nasty odor

>>>has a 4 lb. pressure cap on the radiator. The coolant is almost to the point of running out the filler hole.>>>


That's good if there's an expansion tank. Leave the cap on when checking coolant level. Just make sure the coolant level in the tank covers the overflow tube cold.
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Old 09-17-2021, 04:36 PM   #11
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Default Re: nasty odor

You say to have the coolant just covering the overflow tube, is this for a split core radiator as well? I also see mention of checking the timing, how do you do that on a v8? I thought that had to be done on a Ford tester.
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Old 09-17-2021, 04:54 PM   #12
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Just wondering which one of the "We" ate beans before the drive.
My sentiments exactly. That was the first thought that entered my depraved mind. LOL Glad I am not alone in my thoughts. LOL

Jack ENJ: "That's good if there's an expansion tank. Leave the cap on when checking coolant level. Just make sure the coolant level in the tank covers the overflow tube cold."

How do you check coolant level with the cap on? Inquiring minds want to know. Wouldn't it be impossible to cover the overflow tube? The fluid would just keep running out of the tube wouldn't it, making it impossible to cover the tube? Am I missing something here?
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Last edited by Lawson Cox; 09-17-2021 at 05:05 PM.
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Old 09-17-2021, 05:31 PM   #13
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Default Re: nasty odor

I just let the car run for a bit so I could see the water flow in the radiator. I'm guessing the coolant is too full. I see coolant in the lower radiator pan so it must be coming out the overflow tube.
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File Type: jpg Front Filler Neck.jpg (42.4 KB, 152 views)
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Old 09-17-2021, 05:59 PM   #14
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Default Re: nasty odor

Woodie,I wouldn't do a thing with it but just get in and drive it.

You're doing right by not warming it up in the driveway.
Any difference in timing wouldn't cause it to smell funny.
Your 4 lb radiator cap will not pressurize for you unless you have a restriction valve at the exit end of the overflow tube.
You're not overheating unless you see and smell steam.
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Old 09-17-2021, 06:30 PM   #15
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Default Re: nasty odor

I think the way I see it, the water is coming out the overflow tube with the cap on. The fluid has to go up with the cap on pushing it out the tube. That's the way I see it. I could be thinking wrong. Wouldn't be the first time.
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Old 09-17-2021, 07:05 PM   #16
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Default Re: nasty odor

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I think the way I see it, the water is coming out the overflow tube with the cap on. The fluid has to go up with the cap on pushing it out the tube. That's the way I see it. I could be thinking wrong. Wouldn't be the first time.

Woodie, you are correct. Your overflow tube is separate from cap location, and must have a restrictor valve at the bottom in order for the 4 lb cap to pressurize. Skip Haney sells one for the purpose, that holds pressure at 3 lbs.


Your coolant does appear to be a pretty strong mix. It may be foaming out the overflow and dumping on the crossover exhaust pipe thereby producing the indescribable smell. Your picture shows a normal coolant level, you can't overfill that design radiator having the fill cap on the side.
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Old 09-17-2021, 07:42 PM   #17
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Default Re: nasty odor

I'm wondering if I should go back to the non pressure original style cap.
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Old 09-17-2021, 08:03 PM   #18
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Default Re: nasty odor

You can pick up a infrared gun at local hardware stores fairly cheap to check you engine temps.

If the radiator isn't leaking from pressure, I'd stick with the 4lbs cap.

I'm guessing you are smelling a chemical type smell? Not a oil or gas smell.

I'm also guessing that someone painted the motor before selling to give it a fresh look. Possibly the exhaust manifolds also.

I'm also guessing that'll burn of quickly.

Best of luck.




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Old 09-17-2021, 08:55 PM   #19
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Default Re: nasty odor

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Originally Posted by Lawson Cox View Post


How do you check coolant level with the cap on? Inquiring minds want to know. Wouldn't it be impossible to cover the overflow tube? The fluid would just keep running out of the tube wouldn't it, making it impossible to cover the tube? Am I missing something here?
Lawson, the overflow tube goes to the bottom of a recovery tank. If the cooling system is properly sealed, coolant is pushed out the overflow tube and discharged into the bottom of the overflow bottle. As the system cools, coolant is drawn back into the radiator. Since the water level rises and falls in the recovery bottle, you can see by the decreased level in the recovery bottle if there has been a loss. Of course, if there is a leak in the system air will be drawn back in instead of water. Diligence is required.
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Old 09-17-2021, 10:51 PM   #20
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Lawson, the overflow tube goes to the bottom of a recovery tank. If the cooling system is properly sealed, coolant is pushed out the overflow tube and discharged into the bottom of the overflow bottle. As the system cools, coolant is drawn back into the radiator. Since the water level rises and falls in the recovery bottle, you can see by the decreased level in the recovery bottle if there has been a loss. Of course, if there is a leak in the system air will be drawn back in instead of water. Diligence is required.
Am I missing out on something. Nobody has mentioned a recovery tank. A 4 lb cap has been mentioned, but no sealed cooling system. Hey, this is a 39 Ford we are talking about isn't it? No pressurized system. We need some clarity here to answer his questions.
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