Radiator Replacement - 09/19/2015

One side effect of working air conditioning is it taxes the cooling system. If the cooling system has been lax or ill maintained, it will have problems and begin to manifest itself as the weakest link. The only way to solve this problem is replace everything or fix every item that creeps up one at a time. Driving home from work the other day I noticed a puddle of green under the car. Fearing the worst, leaking air conditioner condenser, I crawled under the car and saw it wasn't oil but just oily water, the consistency of anti-freeze. Looking through the core support I could see it dripping down the side of the tanks about 1/3 the way up. Looks like the weakest link in the cooling system after putting a new cap on was the radiator. I had a known good radiator in my '74, so rather than buy a brand new one I just decided to re-use the perfectly good field tested one I have already.

Begin the process by draining! Spilling and making a mess are par for the course here.

Transmission cooler lines are always a nervous proposition. Will they round off? Will they break free? Will they snap off?

As you can see, they both came out. Unfortunately if you notice the top one is a little deformed. That's because the top fitting was rusted to the line and would only twist with the tube. Terrified, I sprayed PB Blaster like mad, wire-brushed the fitting to get as much corrosion off, and worked it back and forth for at least 30 minutes. It finally stopped and broke free, but only after twisting itself almost 180 degrees around. I managed to twist it back very slowly and use a pair of pliers to open the line back up as can be seen here. Future job: replace transmission cooler lines with new (aka spares).

Upper radiator hose is pretty crusty. Cleaned it all off.

One is good so more must be better, right? Someone put a second hose clamp on the lower hose. Judging by how rusty and crusty it is, it's been here a good long while. It won't be going back on.

After removing the fittings and hoses plus 6 screws, out it comes as a giant assembly.

The old is out. You can see on both sides it has evidence of having leaked in the past and evidence of fresh leaking on the lower right.

The "new" radiator. Much nicer shape than the old one.

Old petcock is not to be trusted and is replaced with a new one.

Shroud with the rubber feet is prepared to accept the new radiator.

Radiator slides right in and is ready to go.

New is installed and fittings are tightened down.

Put back the old anti-freeze, using a funnel with a filter on it. Then run the car to burp any air that happened to be in it. Put cap back on and let it build pressure and warm up.

Simple task, almost had a disaster but averted it. New radiator doesn't leak! Thermostat housing has a weep now, so I'll likely pull the water pump, timing cover, thermostat and housing, and upper and lower radiator hoses in the near future to replace all of this and be done with it. It works fine for now though.

Return to 1973 Grand Safari

Last updated September 19th, 2015