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Old 03-08-2018, 07:44 PM   #1
Dennis D 1929
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Default Water or Antifreeze ?

Hello all. I am a new member and eager to get answers to my many questions. I am in the process of acquiring my first model A, a 1929 Coupe. It only took me 68 years but I finally got the car of my dreams. I have no knowledge of Model A's what so ever, so please bear with me. I read on a blog some where about a fellow who said his radiator has only water in it. Thought that was strange, why would you not put antifreeze in ? I live in Michigan and would think antifreeze would be a must. Is there some advantage to only water ? Second question, my top is really in bad shape so I thought of taking it off and making a Roadster out of the car. Are Roadsters and Coupes the same length ? Thought I read some where that the coupe was longer. I know the doors are different but what other problems would I encounter ? Also what is the best Model A magazine to subscribe to. Thanks to all !
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Old 03-08-2018, 08:28 PM   #2
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

WELCOME TO THE FORUM. I think it would be a mistake to modify the coupe and make a roadster. You will not really gain anything except a lot of work and expense finding the parts plus lower the value of your A (IMHO). If that is the type A you really want than sell this one and shop for a roadster.

Model A Times is a great magazine as are the bi monthly magazines from the 2 National Clubs, Model A Restorers Club and Model A Ford Club of America. For help with the mechanics get the Les Andrew books especially Model A Mechanics I and II. There also is a book written just on Coupes available.

I'll let the other members of the Forum chime in with answers to your other questions

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Old 03-08-2018, 08:37 PM   #3
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

Welcome Dennis,

Generally, I run just water but then I live in california. I have heard of people using anti freeze and don't really see a problem with it. As far the top goes, if you have a sport coupe I would leave it as is and replace it. I know it will be spendy but I think you will find that the hot summer sun will fry you. Also don't forget about resale value and it may just look really bad. But then again it is your car.

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Old 03-08-2018, 08:45 PM   #4
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

6 window coupe or (4 window) sport coupe with a soft top like a cabriolet?
Suggest using 50/50 premix antifreeze especially if in freezing climates and to generally prevent internal corrosion, etc. Make sure all hoses and water pump are not leaking because some antifreezes can eat into paint. Also some owners recommend not filling the radiator to the bottom of the filler neck but a little below it to allow for expansion when hot.

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Old 03-08-2018, 08:49 PM   #5
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

Welcome to Ford Barn, Dennis. Where in Michigan are you?

I live in Grand Haven, MI and for me antifreeze (standard 50/50) mix is a must. Just the thought of not catching the change to winter and draining the coolant is scary. I have not noticed any negative effects of using antifreeze year round, but I do change it every few years.
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Old 03-08-2018, 08:51 PM   #6
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

Do not use straight water in a model A. At the very least use a conditioner rust inhibitor with the water. But if you live in Michigan you would be better off using antifreeze. It has all the rust inhibitors built in and will keep you coolant from freezing and probably ruining you block.
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Old 03-08-2018, 10:01 PM   #7
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

Please use antifreeze. I prefer standard ethylene glycol types that must be diluted with water, they have been used successfully on cast iron engines for many years. I am unaware of any advantages to "extended life" antifreezes for cast iron. I have seen the best rust protection with them and have found separate product anti-corrosion products to be worthless or near so, including soluble oil.

I live in Tucson, AZ where it never freezes, right? That is what most folks here believe however a typical winter has three days of consecutive 20° nights and most A's are stored in unheated garages, carports, or worse. I do not believe that you will find more freeze-cracked blocks anywhere than in Tucson, AZ because many A owners have been encouraged by the local "gurus" (?) to use plain water from a yard hose in their cooling system.... which by the way is full of hardness minerals that precipitate out and clog radiators. If you value your 87 or + year old piece of history, preservation should be foremost in your thoughts whenever you do anything to it.
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Old 03-08-2018, 10:55 PM   #8
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

Antifreeze is a must for every car. As Foxfire said, trying to change a coupe to a roadster would be a huge costly mistake. As often as not projects like that wind up an unfinished pile of parts that rust away or get sold cheap. Coupes are nice, and the new top and wood should be too bad a job to fix.
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:12 PM   #9
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

I use antifreeze 50/50 ratio and then I throw in some soluble oil (water pump lube & corrosion preventer) About 1/2 of the small bottle you buy at the parts store. Said that, I knew many a Model A owner that only used soluble oil + water for So. Cal climate and it worked and protected their cars just fine.

But....whatever you do, Do not ever use straight 100% antifreeze AND always use distilled water so you do not put minerals like calcium into your radiator. The calcium will love to clog up your cores in the radiator!
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:27 PM   #10
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

I have two coupes and a roadster. Guess which is the most comfortable year round. The roadster sits in the garage most all winter while both coupes get out almost daily. All three run antifreeze, 50-50 and no problems. Fill a bit low until you are sure the radiator and water pump cooperate in keeping the car cool without any eruptions of coolant. If one occurs clean it off as quickly as possible and discover the cause. I keep mine filled to the point where I just see coolant when I look into the filler neck. I belong to both National Clubs (MARC and MAFCA) and enjoy both magazines as well as John La Voy's Model A Times.ur local club is a Chapter of MAFCA so we do most things with them in mind. This June our club will run the repair facility in Reno. If you get to that meet, look me up, I'll give you one of my books. http://bit.ly/FromtheShadows It is just a fun read.



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Old 03-08-2018, 11:29 PM   #11
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

Pictures, please.
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Old 03-08-2018, 11:46 PM   #12
Dennis D 1929
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

You guys have been so helpful. Thank you very, very much. I will post pictures when I pick up the car from the UP in May. Motor runs very well as far as I can tell, bad news is the body is a train wreck. Sub rails gone, all tin floors gone, fenders dented and split, etc. Hope I didn't over pay at 4200. It has 6 windows, what is it called ??
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Old 03-09-2018, 12:16 AM   #13
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

Look at it this way ...

Water rusts engine from inside.

If it freezes a rebuilt engine is $3500 to $5000... more if you have to buy 8 or 10 used blocks before you find a rebuildable one that is not cracked due to freezing.

The rust particles in the water get into the seals of a Leakless water pump and destroy the seal.

THe use of antifreeze prevents many problems.

If you are lucky and remember that the engine block might freeze ... the first thing to freeze is radiator and they are only $600 to $700. Your call ...

Last edited by Benson; 03-12-2018 at 11:36 AM.
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Old 03-09-2018, 04:54 AM   #14
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

Told so many times : only water in a cars cooling system is begging for rust !
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Old 03-09-2018, 11:50 AM   #15
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

Something you need to be aware of if you are using antifreeze. Antifreeze will seek out tiny internal leaks in these old engines that water won't. Eventually it will find its way to your babbitt bearings and erode them. I don't know the scientific reason why this is, been told that antifreeze has less surface tension than water. I can, however speak from experience that my engine was okay with water, never needed to add any. When I tried using antifreeze, it started showing up in the oil. One day after a hard drive, there was a nice puddle of it on the garage floor. I run distilled water with a water pump lubricant added to the water. I understand the inconvenience of having to drain it in cold weather.
I live in a cold climate too.
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Old 03-09-2018, 12:31 PM   #16
Dennis D 1929
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

I think Goodcar guy nailed it Thanks !!I will try water and a lubricant this summer. ( I knew there was a technical answer. )
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Old 03-09-2018, 12:39 PM   #17
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

I live in the UP, where about are you getting the car from?
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Old 03-09-2018, 12:45 PM   #18
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dennis D 1929 View Post
Hello all. I am a new member and eager to get answers to my many questions. I am in the process of acquiring my first model A, a 1929 Coupe. It only took me 68 years but I finally got the car of my dreams. I have no knowledge of Model A's what so ever, so please bear with me. I read on a blog some where about a fellow who said his radiator has only water in it. Thought that was strange, why would you not put antifreeze in ? I live in Michigan and would think antifreeze would be a must. Is there some advantage to only water ? Second question, my top is really in bad shape so I thought of taking it off and making a Roadster out of the car. Are Roadsters and Coupes the same length ? Thought I read some where that the coupe was longer. I know the doors are different but what other problems would I encounter ? Also what is the best Model A magazine to subscribe to. Thanks to all !
I think what you are talking about removing the top is creating a "coupster". Do a search in the archives here and on HAMB (https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/). To make it look good is an extremely big project and you would be better to start with a roadster body. In my opinion of about 100 "coupsters" you will find about 2 that turned out good (and in those cases it probably would have been less expensive to start with a roadster body).

Charlie Stephens

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Old 03-09-2018, 01:07 PM   #19
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

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I think Goodcar guy nailed it Thanks !!I will try water and a lubricant this summer. ( I knew there was a technical answer. )
That was not a technical answer to me
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Old 03-09-2018, 02:25 PM   #20
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That was not a technical answer to me
Didn't intend it as a technical answer, was just relating what my experience was and what some others have also experienced. Go ahead, use the antifreeze but just be aware of what could happen and monitor the oil and water levels. If the water level starts dropping and the oil level starts rising, then there's a serious problem.
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Old 03-09-2018, 02:49 PM   #21
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

Dennis D,
The antifreeze debate aside, how many Model As have you looked at before deciding this one in the UP is the one for you? Your description of the condition of the body doesn't sound like an easy project. During my search, I found many reasonably priced As in the mid-west. I think for a few thousand more you could find a car that you wouldn't consider cutting the roof off! I found that I could buy an older restoration, still in good shape for about half what the owner spent on that restoration. I paid $7,500 for my 29 Tudor. Engine was rebuilt with insert bearings and a frame off restoration in the mid 90s. Seller estimated he had driven it about 500 miles since. He gave me over $16,000 in receipts for work done. As an added bonus, it was only about 3 1/2 hours from my home. They are out there if you look. I don't want to discourage you. If you have the time, skills and drive to do the work right, have at it! There are many on this site that have the time, money and experience to take on a major restoration and complete in a year. But on the other hand there are lots of projects sitting in garages for years, never finished. Just my opinion. That and 2 bucks will get you a cup of coffee.
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Old 03-10-2018, 12:33 AM   #22
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Didn't intend it as a technical answer, was just relating what my experience was and what some others have also experienced. Go ahead, use the antifreeze but just be aware of what could happen and monitor the oil and water levels. If the water level starts dropping and the oil level starts rising, then there's a serious problem.
Yes, there is a serious problem ... with your engine.
But certainly not because of the antifreeze in the cooling system.
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Old 03-10-2018, 12:45 AM   #23
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That and 2 bucks will get you a cup of coffee.
2 bucks/ Is that what a cup of coffee is these days? I gotta get out more often.
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Old 03-10-2018, 05:21 AM   #24
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

In China last September we regularly paid A$10 (US$7.85) for a cup of coffee.
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:29 AM   #25
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

It has 6 windows, what is it called ?? Dennis D.

Dennis: When describing coupe bodies, the windshield is not counted. Therefore, you have what is called a "five window coupe". More often referred to as a "standard coupe".
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Old 03-10-2018, 07:45 AM   #26
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Something you need to be aware of if you are using antifreeze. Antifreeze will seek out tiny internal leaks in these old engines that water won't. Eventually it will find its way to your babbitt bearings and erode them. I don't know the scientific reason why this is, been told that antifreeze has less surface tension than water. I can, however speak from experience that my engine was okay with water, never needed to add any. When I tried using antifreeze, it started showing up in the oil. One day after a hard drive, there was a nice puddle of it on the garage floor. I run distilled water with a water pump lubricant added to the water. I understand the inconvenience of having to drain it in cold weather.
I live in a cold climate too.
I've heard this many times on this forum. To me it just doesn't "hold water".
So if this is the case a person should be able to drill a small hole of just the right size in a container of coolant/water mix and separate all the coolant out leaving the container with just water in it.
Maybe I'm just over thinking it.
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Old 03-10-2018, 09:59 AM   #27
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

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2 bucks/ Is that what a cup of coffee is these days? I gotta get out more often.


Better stay inside. You won't like what's happened out there. This sure ain't the 60's any more.
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Old 03-10-2018, 11:21 AM   #28
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I've heard this many times on this forum. To me it just doesn't "hold water".
So if this is the case a person should be able to drill a small hole of just the right size in a container of coolant/water mix and separate all the coolant out leaving the container with just water in it.
Maybe I'm just over thinking it.
Anti freeze has a lower viscosity than water. Making it easier to pump, by being thinner. This allows it to go into places water would not flow.

The higher the percentage of antifreeze to water, the lower the viscosity.

Think of different weights of motor oil, 20w or 50w. Enjoy.

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Old 03-12-2018, 04:15 PM   #29
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

Here is one that a is headed in the right direction but note the amount of work, https://www.jalopyjournal.com/forum/...pdated.335443/ The doors have been narrowed and the area where the front window meets the body has been blended in. One advantage to a coupster is that the doors are wider. I still wouldn't do it and recommend that you don't. Also note that the guys into original Model A's are not going to like it no matter how good it looks. The hot rod guys will like it is it is done right.

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Old 03-12-2018, 07:25 PM   #30
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Charlie -Thanks for the links. Those guys are a million times more talented than I'll ever be. Been looking into making a Speedster. Looks much easier. Lay down a piece of 3/4 plywood, grab a bench seat, fake gas tank and a wicker basket and call it good. LOL.
Waiting to hear from others on the water issue. Thanks again.
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Old 03-12-2018, 07:32 PM   #31
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Thanks Mike- A standard Coupe is what I have I guess. The material is removed from the top and what is under it is a mess of wood framing and sheet medal sections. Maybe it has been modified. Does that sound like how a standard coupe was made versus a solid metal stamping ?
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Old 03-12-2018, 09:15 PM   #32
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Thanks Mike- A standard Coupe is what I have I guess. The material is removed from the top and what is under it is a mess of wood framing and sheet medal sections. Maybe it has been modified. Does that sound like how a standard coupe was made versus a solid metal stamping ?
Sounds like a Special Coupe ??
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Old 03-12-2018, 10:05 PM   #33
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

A few years ago Mr Andy Wiedeman of the Rocky Mountain A's wrote a technical guide entitled, "What Coolant to Use". It should provide some insight. Here's the link:


http://rmaford.org/wp-content/blogs....uids_v2007.pdf


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Old 03-12-2018, 11:18 PM   #34
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

My car has a sealed cooling system. Pressurized. I use Evans Waterless Coolant. Boiling point is above 375 degrees. No rust, corrosion or pump cavitation. Reduces pressure in the system. It will not work in an unpressurized system.
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Old 03-13-2018, 02:03 AM   #35
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My car has a sealed cooling system. Pressurized. I use Evans Waterless Coolant. Boiling point is above 375 degrees. No rust, corrosion or pump cavitation. Reduces pressure in the system. It will not work in an unpressurized system.


375, or did you mean 275 degrees?
Either one is too high for an engine.
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Old 03-13-2018, 07:45 AM   #36
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Oh it's special alright (LOL) Thanks !!
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Old 03-13-2018, 07:54 AM   #37
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Now THATS an answer. Vwery technical and complete. THANKS 29er
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Old 03-13-2018, 08:59 AM   #38
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

Dennis, the guys are correct. You are better off not changing the car. What you are talking about would create a 'Sport Coupe' at best. Beyond the door difference, the windshield set-up is as well.

You should look at 'Marco's Model 'A' Ford Barnyard' page (just google it). Marco gives step-by-step instructions (with pics) on how to replace the the top. I bought a kit from Snyder's and then followed Marco's instructions and the top came out 'PERFECT'. That was 25 years ago and still not a wrinkle or wave at all. Still as 'tight' as the day I finished the job.

I stated a while back that I only use water - That is in Tampa Florida! I went this way due to the water pump leakage (before I went to the leak-less pump. RUST is a problem. NEVER use tap water due to mineral deposits as others have stated - use distilled water. Even here when it looks like a Freeze is coming I drain the engine, BUT there is still the possibility of freezing pockets in the block.

Hope this helps.
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Old 03-13-2018, 10:36 AM   #39
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I know that antifreeze does leak easier than plain water, and wonder if it wouldn't be smart as a preventative measure to put some bars leak tablets in the system before any leaks start. They won't hurt anything, and would stop any leaks that might start. I think it is Cadillac or maybe some other GM that uses it from the factory.
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Old 03-13-2018, 01:33 PM   #40
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

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375, or did you mean 275 degrees?
Either one is too high for an engine.
375 is what their website says. Not that an engine would ever reach that temperature.
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Old 03-13-2018, 04:46 PM   #41
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Default Re: Water or Antifreeze ?

What is the supposed benefit of an engine coolant product that will not boil till 375 F?

The engine will have long been reduced to scrap well over a hundred degrees earlier.

Some sort of stop-leak product was/is often added by OEMs at the factory, and I assumed perhaps wrongly that antifreeze-coolant contained small amounts of stop leak as part of the additive package.
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Old 03-13-2018, 04:47 PM   #42
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Now THATS an answer. Vwery technical and complete. THANKS 29er
And what was wrong with the answer I posted that it could be a "Special Coupe" ??.
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Old 03-13-2018, 07:03 PM   #43
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F.M. : I think he was only referring to the length (36 pages; whew!) of Mr. Weideman's technical article. I don't think it was a comment on your suggestion his may be a Special Coupe.
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