1956 Radiator Replacement

Hi , I have a leaking radiator that I want to replace. I am looking for advice on choosing and installing a new aluminum radiator as most blogs seem to favor the efficiency of aluminum vs the traditional radiator. I am also wanting to install AC, along with an additional electric fan so my assumption is that aluminum would be best but would really appreciate advice before moving forward. Thank you.
 

Critterpainer

Well-Known Member
I too have been thinking of a new radiator as my wife would luv A/C in our 55. I have installed a high volume water pump and an improved volute (spacer behind water pump) to help ease my cars at idle attempt to heat up. I have read several reviews that do rave about aluminum radiators, but I cannot find any review that compares a new brass radiator against a new aluminum one. I assume that the reviews I have read are comparing a new aluminum radiator against an old uncleaned copper one. Bottom line is that tube size to tube size, number of fins to number of fins and and row to row a Copper and Brass radiator should outcool an aluminum one by 40% or better. I assume the "super efficient 2 row or the "high capacity" 3 row aluminum radiator are designed to be as efficient as the OEM Copper rad but are they as good as a heavy duty brass one? I don't know and my wallet won't let me buy one of each and test them in the Phoenix summer heat.
 

jack-in-sac

Well-Known Member
Lots of people like the aluminum radiators. when it was time to replace the radiator in the '57 I went with copper/brass. If you are never going to exceed the towing distance of your insurance, I think Aluminum is great. I would go that way, if I were going to be. not a long distance tripper.. If you are going to drive far from home maybe not. I do not believe you will be able to have an aluminum radiator repaired far from home. The possibility of repair with oem style is good, if needed. I don't have an overheating problem consistently running about 195 deg. F. Drove from Sacramento CA to Flagstaff AZ generally doing 70-75 mph without problem. I don't have a space with the modified volute not do I have an under-size pulley or high volume water pump. Everything is as original in that manner. I do stress that a lot of overheating problems I see are due to improper timing, wrong carburetor (650 Edelbrock is for a Chevy 350 and jetted as such), as well as vacuum advance problems,
In closing; 200 miles from home or less I would go with aluminum. If going a thousand miles away brass. That my friends is my 2 cents worth.
 
Hi , I have a leaking radiator that I want to replace. I am looking for advice on choosing and installing a new aluminum radiator as most blogs seem to favor the efficiency of aluminum vs the traditional radiator. I am also wanting to install AC, along with an additional electric fan so my assumption is that aluminum would be best but would really appreciate advice before moving forward. Thank you.
Call Randy Harding at Toms Radiator & A/C Service in Orange, Ca. (714) 532-6772. We went to high school together. Tom is his Dad and Randy has worked with him since he was a boy. 50 years later... Randy is now an expert at vintage radiator restoration and correct appearing upgrades.
 
I put an aluminum radiator in my '56. So far, I like it. The fit was good, though the shroud leaves a gap in the top. It seems to function well. I'm planning to run Route 66 both ways next summer, which kind of kills the distance my insurance will tow thing! Mine is quite used to long drives, though.
 

doug7740

Well-Known Member
I put an aluminum radiator in my '56. So far, I like it. The fit was good, though the shroud leaves a gap in the top. It seems to function well. I'm planning to run Route 66 both ways next summer, which kind of kills the distance my insurance will tow thing! Mine is quite used to long drives, though.
It sounds like you are missing the seal between the top of the radiator and the fan shroud. CASCO sells them for $3.65.

https://www.classictbird.com/Seal-Fan-Shroud-to-Radiator-1-Per-car/productinfo/8147A/

doug7740
1955 Thunderbird Blue
 
Thank you all for your input. I found an article from February, 2011 called "ThunderEnlightening" by CASCO. It is the only published article that I can find about actual testing of various radiator options. I have attached it for anyone who wants to read it or keep for future reference. Bottom line result is they give aluminum the edge.

One other question, I live in the Nashville, TN area and am looking for a mechanic who works on classics....TBirds would be great if known. If anyone has a contact I would appreciate it.

Thank you again....I will likely be asking for more advice in the future.
 

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The gap is considerably wider than the original setup, about 1". I tried gorilla tape, but it wouldn't adhere with the heat (as per the adhesive all over, as seen in the picture). I have considered trying the foil-type duct tape, like what's used in home heater ductwork. Would that part CASCO cover a 1" gap? For what it's worth, the gap hasn't affected cooling. I'm getting a parts order together now.
 

jack-in-sac

Well-Known Member
The gap is considerably wider than the original setup, about 1". I tried gorilla tape, but it wouldn't adhere with the heat (as per the adhesive all over, as seen in the picture). I have considered trying the foil-type duct tape, like what's used in home heater ductwork. Would that part CASCO cover a 1" gap? For what it's worth, the gap hasn't affected cooling. I'm getting a parts order together now.
I would have to disagree with the statement of; "the gap hasn't affected cooling". The idea of a fan shroud is to only pull fresh and cooler air through the radiator. A manufacturer is unlikely to add parts that do cost money and are needless. Altough a fan shroud would also be a safety device to avoid bloody finger parts littering the engine compartment. Without a shroud or with a shroud that is not closed the result is; not pulling fresh and cooler air through the radiator but recycling hot engine compartment air.
 
I just realized I failed to attach the photo showing the gap. Here 'tis: 20210606_174110.jpg
Regarding it not affecting the cooling, I agree it likely is less than ideal. However, after >1000 miles on the new radiator the temperature has never been above the normal operating range.
 

Ward 57

Well-Known Member
It sounds like it's doing the job to your satisfaction and it fits. I watch several shows on custom/restoration shops and this has arisen when they use aftermarket radiators when the original is either un-repairable/unavailable or can't cool enough for the upgraded engines. I have seen them use plastic panels that can be molded by heat to be molded to fit the application. I'm assuming the lower shroud is intact.
It appears you already altered your shroud to fit around your inlet port and also is scuffed up and in need of painting. New ones are $110. Originality is not your goal so I would look at molding an extension which could be then pop riveted to the original and a split rubber hose could serve as the gasket. Don't know how handy you are but if you use BBQ or welding gloves and a heat gun you could possibly mold something that works and even looks like it's not a hatchet job.
 

Ward 57

Well-Known Member
3 semesters of Antique Auto Restoration at McPherson College around '80. I haven't been around it for decades, but remember enough to get by.
Sounds like you have a good grasp of what you are doing and want to do. Now it's time to swipe off those cobwebs and put your knowledge to work. New materials and engineering on restoration have grown leaps and bounds. I'm old school and one of my constant comments has been, 'it's a good day, I learned something new today.' I know you like to take things and improve them It will be fun for you to finally say 'I did that' and it works great. Nobody will fault you other than the purists who want high auction authenticity but you can show off your work to local enthusiasts and talk about your early training and the results. Just whatever you do, be proud and as you found shortcuts don't usually work out well. Happy trails....
 
Thanks! I appreciate the encouragement. I finally bought mine ~48 years after having vowed to get a '56. Odds are good I'll die with it. I got it to use as a driver, and enjoy tinkering with it as time allows. Now that I'm nearing semi-retirement I wish I'd have stuck with the old cars as a vocation. I think I'd have enjoyed life more and had greater satisfaction. I'll just pour my passion into 'Betty Sue'. Once retired, I want to do a complete restoration on a '35 or '36 roadster (preferably Packard or Lincoln) with all that free time!
 

Ward 57

Well-Known Member
Thanks! I appreciate the encouragement. I finally bought mine ~48 years after having vowed to get a '56. Odds are good I'll die with it. I got it to use as a driver, and enjoy tinkering with it as time allows. Now that I'm nearing semi-retirement I wish I'd have stuck with the old cars as a vocation. I think I'd have enjoyed life more and had greater satisfaction. I'll just pour my passion into 'Betty Sue'. Once retired, I want to do a complete restoration on a '35 or '36 roadster (preferably Packard or Lincoln) with all that free time!
Uhh, free time? LOL the '56 will keep you pretty occupied for a while until you can get it to a turn key driver then to your roadster and especially the 'Honey Do' list your wife will present to you. All the best
 
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