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Old 05-11-2014, 08:30 AM   #1
solidirish
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Default Antifreeze Loss Mystery

Looking for ideas. No collant loss before I had my engine rebuilt last year..insert bearings, counter balanced crankshaft, larger intake valves, 330 camshaft, lightened flywheel, 6.0 high compression head..using Autolight 3076 plugs set at .028. Have about 1,500 miles on new engine. Had about 3 quarts of antifreeze loss on my 800 mile trip to the St Louis Meet, driving a lot at 55mph, so I thought I would test what is happening.
Two days ago I filled antifreeze to 1 1/4 in below end of overflow tube. At this level there was no loss for 2 days sitting in the garage. I drove 27 miles yesterday.....outside temp 75deg, antifreeze temp max 185 deg, speed 35 to 45 mph when I got home I immediately checked antifreeze when still hot....nothing visable. Filled again to 1 1/4 in below top of overfill tube and put in 2 qrts of antifreeze. Any ideas? Thanks in advance.

Ray in Illinois
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Old 05-11-2014, 08:40 AM   #2
Gunmetal blue2
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

Ray take your spark plugs out and check for moisture on the plugs. Run the engine for about 20 mins, setting still and look for leaks. Look for moisture coming out of exhuast. Look at radiator for leak. Sound like that mite be it, because you level seems to be the same when you use water.
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Old 05-11-2014, 08:48 AM   #3
Mitch//pa
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

Your filling it to high
Most are happy at a level of the baffle or above the tubes. Did you notice the coolant loss coming out of the overflow? If so there would probably have been a mess under the car
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Old 05-11-2014, 09:17 AM   #4
Purdy Swoft
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

Running antifreeze in summer will cause more problems than it will solve in an unpressurized cooling system.
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Old 05-11-2014, 10:50 AM   #5
Tom Wesenberg
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

Tie a gallon jug to the hood rod and run a rubber hose from the overflow pipe to the jug. Run the hose to the bottom of the jug so the overflow can syphon back into the top tank as the radiator cools. You need a good cap gasket for this to work, and as Mitch said..............DON'T overfill the radiator. I fill to about 1/2" over the tube tops. The jug is just a temporary measure to see if and how much overflow you get.

I would also install a thermostat.
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Old 05-11-2014, 12:16 PM   #6
dankurth
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

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After you fill the radiator, start the engine and look for bubbles in the radiator. If you do, you need to re-torque you head, which you should do anyway with a fresh rebuild. A loose head will also give you the moisture in the exhaust that Gunmetal Blue told you to look for.
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Old 05-11-2014, 12:29 PM   #7
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

If you are losing it from the overflow, could be over filled but also could be that the water pump is pushing so much water back to the radiator that it can't accept it. I know someone who had this problem and purchased an impeller with part of the blades removed to reduce the flow. Problem solved! And no overheating either.

Last edited by jax55; 05-11-2014 at 12:42 PM.
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Old 05-11-2014, 12:41 PM   #8
noboD
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

Don't Model A's have a baffle to keep the water pump from pushing coolant out the overflow? Was the radiator worked on recently?
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Old 05-11-2014, 12:54 PM   #9
solidirish
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

Thank you to all who commented. I will try all suggestions and get back with results. Also, a couple of questions. Tom & Mitch...with a baffle how can you see the level of coolant relative to the tube tops? Also, I did retorque the hi - compression head nuts to 65ft-lbs and all nuts where tight. Lastly, I do have a 165 deg thermostat installed....can these fail and cause a problem?

Ray in Illinois
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Old 05-11-2014, 01:04 PM   #10
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

Hey Ray,
Some good thots for your consideration, so far. My questions asked to narrow clues:
-are you running a thermostat ? I'm guessing 180, if you are ?
-have you looked at plugs for evidence of water, while this problem goes on ?
-have you checked ALL possible water connections, including water pump shaft and gasket ?
-have you ever checked oil dip stick for moisture ...before and after warm up ?
-have you done a compression check , if all else above seems ok?
-is block (A or B) and head STOCK, and did you use head gasket sealant(coppercoat)?
-was radiator cleaned/cored ?
Lots of reasons ...why coolant can be lost, and answers to above questions can lead to remedy. For example, if stock block, was it crack repaired ? If so, could repair have failed. If head is stock and no sealant and not RETORQUED properly, could account for problem. Now, if water found on plug and/or on dip stick...and no repairs on block, then head flatness and/or gasket blown is indicated. Compression test, done properly, can rule in/out possible blown head gasket. It's all a matter of a thorough investigation and evidence gathering process that will give you the answer
to your problem. Make a list and rule each item in or out !
It can be as simple as an external leak (hoses/gaskets/connections) or more involved. Investigate the simple things first then move on to more serious possibilities.
BTW..I've run antifreeze all year for ever with leakless stock type pump. You WILL blow water out overflow, if overfilled. But, not two and half quarts...if overfill is only problem !

Ray, I see where you just posted minute before my input. Hm, running 185 ain't bad , with a 165 thermostat, but I'd still do all suggested checks as gas from blown head gasket into water system would raise water temps. Also, look into radiator with flashlight to see coolant level easily. And, I see where you have high comp head. How high is your comp ratio, as higher/higher makes proper use of processes more critical.

Last edited by hardtimes; 05-11-2014 at 01:16 PM. Reason: upate....
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Old 05-11-2014, 01:36 PM   #11
Mitch//pa
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

most baffles have holes in them or just fill it to where the coolant starts to cover the top and stop
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Old 05-11-2014, 01:41 PM   #12
larrys40
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

Quote:
Originally Posted by noboD View Post
Don't Model A's have a baffle to keep the water pump from pushing coolant out the overflow? Was the radiator worked on recently?
I would bet that you have more of an overfill problem and lack of a proper baffle in the top of the radiator.
It should be more than just a "U" shaped which is what many of the repro radiators use, both old and new. I have a local radiator shop pretty well trained at doing radiators for me... and making the correct baffles when they don't have one or is inadequate. It should pretty well run 3/4 length of top of the upper tank, left to right. I generally fill to where you can just see the level at the baffle.. as you have to give it room to expand as the coolant warms, and also for flow.
Use an infared on the radiator and make sure you don't have any cool spots.

I'm in St. Louis and am the one who gave the meter seminar and tools.... glad you made the trip. Our region enjoyed hosting it and appreciated the fact of all those who drove and brought their cars under the adverse conditions of the weather. The neat thing is... you will remember it forever. I've been in lots of bad weather and even tornado's within the vicinity with the "A". Just missed baseball size hale one time... Yes, I remember them well. Good luck with the radiator!

Larry S.
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Old 05-11-2014, 02:09 PM   #13
BILL WILLIAMSON
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

If everything else checks out O.K, drop a loose fitting, large head NAIL in the top of the overflow tube. MANY times, this solves the problem. It's a PROVEN, OLD TIME FIX!--Bill W.
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Old 05-11-2014, 03:10 PM   #14
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

Quote:
Originally Posted by BILL WILLIAMSON View Post
If everything else checks out O.K, drop a loose fitting, large head NAIL in the top of the overflow tube. MANY times, this solves the problem. It's a PROVEN, OLD TIME FIX!--Bill W.
+1 I wrestled with the same issue until 3 weeks ago at which time Bill suggested this solution and Bless him for making it. The "nail" inserted in the overflow pipe has worked wonders. My engine is a recent rebuild, however without the proper amount of coolant on trips the engine got hotter than hades. Two days after the "nail" went in we had a 95F degree day I drove the car for forty minutes. When we came home the water and temp was where it should be and the motor wasn't a pizza oven. Thank you Bill.
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Old 05-11-2014, 04:41 PM   #15
solidirish
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Default Some Coolant System Test Results

Thanks again guys and I am making some progress...it's getting exciting!
Thanks Tom, I used your idea of collecting overflow in a plastic tube to a 1-gal container.I also put pans under the radiator and tail pipe end. I let engine idle at 1200 rpm in garage for 10 min.

Results below:
1) leakage....over 1 pint of coolant in bottle..started flowing immediately to bottle...no dripping below radiator, hose connections or tail pipe.
2) Temperatures in F deg using infrared.. 90 in plastic bottle, 136 below thermostat at pipe, 128 above thermostat at hose, 145 at radiator.

So it looks to me as strictly a coolant flow problem. Could it be a stuck open or partially open thermostat? I'm thinking flow shouldn't start until thermostat opens at 165 deg but flow started immediately. Any of your thoughts would be appreciated.

Ray in Illinois
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Old 05-11-2014, 04:48 PM   #16
Tom Wesenberg
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

I drilled two 1/8" holes in my thermostat to allow some hot coolant to flow past the thermostat, otherwise the stat might not sense the actual hot coolant until it's very hot. So I get a small flow and when the stat opens I get a large flow.

Many radiators have plugged tubes and then the top tank fills faster than it can drain to the bottom tank. Once it fills then the coolant has to go out the overflow pipe. I had this problem and fixed it by turning my radiator upside down and backflushing it with a sump pump. I removed a lot of rust flakes.
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File Type: jpg Radiator Flush1.jpg (64.4 KB, 18 views)
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Old 05-11-2014, 05:14 PM   #17
solidirish
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

Thanks Tom. I will try your idea of back flushing with radiator upsidedown, also look at thermostat to see if stuck open but 1st I'll try Les Andrews idea of plugging radiator inlet and outlet and then fill radiator to see how much water it takes. He says it should take 1.5 gals and drain in 4 seconds if tubes aren't plugged too much. Thanks again everyone and I will report back but will be a few days.

Ray in Illinois
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Old 05-11-2014, 07:18 PM   #18
Marshall V. Daut
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Default Re: Antifreeze Loss Mystery

It looks as if it's time for another one of my LONG "Why does it always happen to me?" stories that had similar symptoms. Being in this hobby since 1966 has afforded me a great number of "opportunities" for things to go wrong with my Model A's. Because of my penchant for making long, virtually non-stop cross-country trips in Model A's between Arizona and Iowa during the 1970's until just a couple years ago, you can bet if something is going to go wrong, it will happen while crossing the desert or on a lonely stretch of Kansas plains at 2:00 in the morning. Anyway, the following is what happened to me, and just might be what you're experiencing, too.
A Model "B" block I was running in a '31 Deluxe Roadster mysteriously kept losing coolant overnight once I had reached my Iowa destination, and after very long driving periods. The fact that this was a sure-to-crack-someday Model "B" block should have been my first clue. I noticed that each morning the car was somewhat hard to start, which I chalked up to the considerably colder early morning weather in Iowa than what the old girl was used to in Arizona. Once the engine did start, it misfired for a couple minutes before smoothing out. The first couple of days going through this always resulted in the engine beginning to run warmer than usual within a few miles. I often had to add 1 1/2 gallons, sometimes almost 2 gallons! Everything was fine after
that - until the next morning when this annoying song and dance started all over again = hard starting, misfiring engine for a few minutes, low coolant level (which contained anti-freeze).
Finally, one morning while the engine was warming up and misfiring, I happened to walk around the back of the car to check something unrelated to my problem. That's when I saw coolant spewing from the exhaust pipe and onto the ground into a puddle, or vaporizing. I watched this for a minute or two until the engine smoothed out. I noticed that the coolant coming out of the exhaust pipe now was only a few drops. There had to be an internal leak some place. I filled the almost empty coolant supply and enjoyed another day of vacation, mentally noting what I'd do the following morning.
When that time came, I didn't even try to start the engine. Instead, I removed all the spark plugs and cranked the engine over with the starter. WHOOSH!!! Coolant came flushing out of #3 spark plug hole. I then went through the process of removing the cylinder head right there in the motel parking lot. (The manager LOVED that!!!). You can guess what I saw when the head came off: coolant in the cylinder! Near the exhaust valve seat was a crack running to the cylinder. Coolant was draining into that cylinder overnight, hence the hard starting and misfiring scenario. You see, a Model A engine stops in one of two places about 95% of the time. Apparently, when my engine was stopped each evening, #3 piston was at the bottom of its travel in the cylinder, or at least low enough to fill with leaking coolant. When trying to start the morning each morning, the coolant was being compressed by the piston travel and forced out of the opening valves. Once enough coolant had been displaced from the cylinder so that incoming fuel could ignite, the coolant already leaked into the muffler was blasted out of the tailpipe. The crack in the block from the valve seat into the cylinder was what was causing all my problems.
I talked to a local engine machine shop, who recommended I pour Pioneer ceramic block sealer into the radiator (after flushing out as much residual anti-freeze as I could from the system). This was done and the instructions followed to the letter, i.e., allowing the sealer to harden in plain water after running the engine for a while so that the sealant could penetrate the crack. The water and sealant were then drained and all possible air passageways were opened, such as spark plug holes and the radiator cap, so that air could cure the ceramic sealer. 24 hours passed. Coolant was replaced and guess what! And it worked! I was able to drive the car all the way back to Arizona without any further coolant loss problems. That %$&*(# Model "B" block was yanked and snapped up by the next poor sucker, who believed all the hype about Model "B" engines. Baloney! CRACK CITY!!!!
So, I'd suggest you start your engine after it has sat overnight with the full complement of coolant and see if coolant comes out of the exhaust pipe. It's easy to overlook this because who stands BEHIND the car when there are problems with the engine? That's how I discovered where my anti-freeze coolant was disappearing. Maybe you have a similar situation? Your engine might not stop where the coolant
could drain into the cylinder overnight (meaning the piston stopped close to the top of the bore), but while driving, the coolant will flow from the crack into the cylinder, where it will be atomized by the explosions. It's after the car has sat with coolant draining into cylinder that the hard starting begins. If you can naturally let your engine stop on its own to its usual position, hand crank the engine a little farther so that the pistons change positions relative to their cylinders. If the engine is hard to start the next day, remove the spark plugs and see if coolant flushes out. If so, you've got a cracked block, most likely between a valve seat and the cylinder. Let's hope not...
Marshall
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