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Old 02-09-2014, 10:58 PM   #1
Old Henry
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Default How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

In my recent winter road trip I discovered that my 59A flathead just would not start below 20 in spite of a strong battery and 20W-50 oil until I had towed it to a garage and warmed it up some. So, if I am to be able to count on it starting that cold on future road trips I will need to keep it warm overnight outside of the motel so it will start in the morning. These are the ideas I've come up with and my thoughts on them:

1. Magnetic oil pan heater that attaches to the bottom of the oil pan. I've actually tired that. The biggest one I found was 300 watts. It was a little awkward to put on the oil pan at night and not recommended to be left on there while driving in case it came off. The 300 watts power was not enough to heat the engine up enough to make any difference.

2. Oil dipstick heater. That would be easy to install at night but only comes in 90 watts so would not probably be enough to help.

3. Water recirculation heaters. These can be bought very powerful - 1500 - watts and heat the block by recirculating the coolant through the heater. Would probably work the best but would be hard to install to heat both sides of the flathead engine. One could go in the heater line on the passenger side but would only heat up that side. Would probably take a second one for the driver's side but I don't know how that could be installed on that side.

4. Plain old space heater. Right now I'm probably gravitating toward this idea - just stick the heater in the engine compartment on high aimed at the engine and close the hood. It puts out 5,000 BTU's at 1500 watts and seems like it would keep the engine bock, water, oil and battery warm enough to start on the coldest morning.

I wouldn't mind anyone's thoughts on these or other ideas, even if just wild speculation, but would really like to hear the real life experiences of any that have actually dealt with this problem and found a solution.
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Last edited by Old Henry; 02-10-2014 at 12:02 AM.
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Old 02-09-2014, 11:12 PM   #2
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

Kat's makes an electric silicone heating pad that you glue to the bottom of the oil pan with silicone sealant. I had one on my Toyota pickup in Alaska. Worked okay but engine always started anyway since it is fuel injected. Where it really needed to be was on the gearbox on sub-zero days.

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Old 02-09-2014, 11:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

Henry, have you checked out lower radiator hose heaters.
1 in each lower hose would keep her nice and toasty.

Do a google search for lower rad hose heaters,
pretty easy to install, usually..... good luck.












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Old 02-10-2014, 12:01 AM   #4
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

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Henry, have you checked out lower radiator hose heaters.
1 in each lower hose would keep her nice and toasty.

Do a google search for lower rad hose heaters,
pretty easy to install, usually..... good luck.
.
Thanks. I did look at those. Couldn't figure out how I'd ever get them in that very short hose in the very short distance there is between the radiator and water pumps on my 59A, especially since the right side has the heater T in it.
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:18 AM   #5
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

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Thanks. I did look at those. Couldn't figure out how I'd ever get them in that very short hose in the very short distance there is between the radiator and water pumps on my 59A, especially since the right side has the heater T in it.
First thing I would try is a lighter oil like 10x30 might be enough to turn over easier in cold weather.Ive been using 20x50 for yrs and it does turn a little slower but always started up. Worth a try. ken ct. Also run the car at a fast idle 5-10 min with everything off to get a good charge at the battery before shutting down.
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:49 AM   #6
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

I would try to figure out why it want start.
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:52 AM   #7
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

Old Henry, Kats makes a recirc. heater that goes in the heater hose, but the flathead with it's 2 "separate cooling system's" it would probably only heat half of the eng. I have torn down flatheads here in Alaska that have had one head bolt replaced with a head bolt heater. this consists of a heating element that screws down into the head and is torqued like a normal head bolt. I have not seen them for sale in years, but I have not looked either. you may find them in the Kats, or Zero-Start brand. Ck at Napa, or CARQUEST. other than that ,I would go with the silicone pad on the oil pan. I have one on my C%%%y pick-up on the trans pan and the eng. oil pan along with a freeze plug heater. I don't know if a freeze plug heater is available for a flathead they can be a pain to put in depending on the recommended location. you would have to knock out an existing freeze pug to put it in. it is a coin toss as to what is available, and what you feel is worth the trouble. For what it is worth I think coolant heaters work the best, as they keep the block, pistons, etc. warm. they do help heat the oil just by the coolant radiating heat through al the metal parts, also helps bring operating temps up quicker ( faster hot air at the heater and defroster). take your pick--hope this helps----Jim
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:56 AM   #8
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

My 51 Mercury flathead has dual headbolt block heaters.
Both made by Carter
Attached Images
File Type: jpg IMG_20140202_130719.jpg (62.1 KB, 141 views)
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:57 AM   #9
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

Old Henry--P.S. I have in an emergency ( no eng heater) have used a drop light with a 100 watt bulb lying against the eng. block. if you do this you must use care to keep it away from any thing flammable, and not to close to any wiring or plastic.----Jim
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Old 02-10-2014, 12:58 AM   #10
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

My old man always had Ford junkers to drive back and forth to work in the frozen north. He would put a light bulb under the hood and throw an old blanket over the hood on the outside. Also seen him bring the battery in for the night. Also used an old electric heating pad over the engine.

We would use a blowtorch to warm up the tractor pan back on the farm but the Fords always leaked too much oil to do that!
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:01 AM   #11
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

I'm sure you don't to hear this but I would try to figure why it want start.
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:12 AM   #12
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

all fire engines have a keep warm thingy in them
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:20 AM   #13
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

Try a shot of starting fluid. 10-30 oil is good too.
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:40 AM   #14
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

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Originally Posted by 189j40 View Post
I would try to figure out why it want start.
Quote:
Originally Posted by 189j40 View Post
I'm sure you don't to hear this but I would try to figure why it want start.
It was too cold.

The engine was cranked at starting speed. There was current to the coil. The points were turning the coil on and off. There was plenty of gas - I could tell because the cranking speed increased when I choked it and I had the electric fuel pump on. I bypassed the coil resistor to get extra current to the coil. Even tried starting fluid. All elements to start were there. It had started and run fine the night before and as it warmed up in the garage I had it towed to and continued to try to start it every few minutes it finally started firing a little then gradually fired more and more times in a row until it finally started.

It was the same problem I had trying to start it on cold mornings to get to high school 45 years ago. I'd usually have to have someone push me bumper to bumper with their car for a while to get it going.

Any other ideas?
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:41 AM   #15
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

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Try a shot of starting fluid. 10-30 oil is good too.
Tried a bunch of starting fluid. Didn't help. The engine was cranking at starting speed with the 20W-50 oil. The spark plugs were just not firing or not firing enough. (See previous post)
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:46 AM   #16
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

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Originally Posted by Flowmeister View Post
My 51 Mercury flathead has dual headbolt block heaters.
Both made by Carter
My engine actually had those on it when we bought it in 1959. (See the plug on the head bolt?)



You can see the cord that was hooked to those through the grill.



That was on this trip to my Great-grandfather's house that's now a bed and breakfast.



They were there until it was rebuilt in 2008 when my rebuilder destroyed them getting them out of the block and didn't replace them. Can't say they worked really great but were better than nothing. Just did a quick search for them on the internet and didn't find any. Know where to get them?
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Last edited by Old Henry; 02-10-2014 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 02-10-2014, 01:54 AM   #17
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

Do you have an oil bath air filter that could be over-choking your engine? You wouldn't know your compressions would you?
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Old 02-10-2014, 02:07 AM   #18
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

All these ideas on why it wouldn't start... Old Henry's simple answer "It was too cold" works for me.

Without the proper combination of fuel/air/fire, there will be no ignition. The vaporization of fuel being the missing element, the carburetor and intake manifold had to warm sufficiently to make that happen, then you have what you need to start the engine.
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Old 02-10-2014, 02:41 AM   #19
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

I used 10-30 wt oil and an old heating pad laid across the engine of our VW which worked well down to about 10*. After that it was a call to AAA for a jumpstart. The trick will be finding a place to stay on your travels that has an exterior outlet to run an electrical cord to your car.
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Old 02-10-2014, 04:31 AM   #20
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Default Re: How have you kept your engine warm at night outside?

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Tried a bunch of starting fluid. Didn't help. The engine was cranking at starting speed with the 20W-50 oil. The spark plugs were just not firing or not firing enough. (See previous post)
If it's spinning fast enough, then must be something in the ignition system not delivering enough spark...I left out the fuel delivery since you used starting fluid.

Might ask Jim Linder what could hamper a stock system when cold, maybe time for an upgrade to electronic?
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