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Old 12-22-2005, 09:48 AM
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Repairing Cracked Weld on Radiator

I have a old (1939) radiator that has been recored. The top tank has developed a leak where it is soldered or welded down on the new core. When the work was done the radiator shop warned me it was really difficult to get a good joint since there was no header on the radiator core.

The leak is a small crack about one half inch long shooting a pinhole leak at one point. Anyone have a suggestion for an at home repair rather than driving it back to a radiator shop.

John

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Old 12-22-2005, 10:10 AM
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Clean the cracked area really good, down to bare metal. Put some J-B Weld on it.
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Old 12-22-2005, 10:11 AM
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John, Unfortunately trying to re solder a leak in a seam is seldom successful without disassembling the tank from the core and cleaning the whole thing. you could try and warm the seam with a torch to make sure it is completely dry and then try to re solder it. This can be very tricky and if you are not really familiar with the process I would recommend taking it back to the shop and have them retry it. If this is only a pinhole and not a crack that is going to get worse then you might try a radiator sealer like Bars-Leaks., I know some may not agree with using this stuff but for a leak that is not going to get worse such as a pinhole left from a repair this works darn good. Contrary to poplar belief it will not harm your radiator or heater core if used like it is meant to be just follow directions and you will be ok. If this is a crack and not just a pinhole left from the repair then it will probably get worse if not repaired and sealer will not help.
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Old 12-22-2005, 10:51 AM
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oldrod,

Do you think the JB Weld will not work?

The pressure cap is a T-7 so the radiator is not under real high pressure.

Someone also suggested once upon a time to use epoxy while drawing a vacuum on the radiator to help pull the epoxy into the hole/crack. Ever heard of that?

And I have so experience with solder except for a few electrical connections.

John
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Old 12-22-2005, 11:22 AM
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I have never used J-B weld or epoxy on a radiator so I really cannot say how well it will work. Radiator repair uses different types of flux than electrical connections and is a completely different process. Whatever you decide one thing that will be the key to success to ANY method is to get the surface perfectly clean and dry. When you consider the difficulty of this type of repair when trying to do it without the required tools and the problems it may cause if it fails out on the road(most likely) and cost due to possible engine damage then taking it to a repair shop would seem to me to be the best option. If it is a crack I don't think anything short of removing the tank from the core and properly cleaning/re soldering it will completely solve the problem. Contamination inside the crack that can't be removed will prevent anything from sticking except on the surface where it will do little, if any, good as far as strengthening the failure so even if you do get the leak stopped it will not last long because of expansion and contraction. A pinhole left from a faulty repair does not weaken the seam like a crack and if you can get it pluged from the inside with sealer it may last a long time but don't try sealer with a crack.
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Old 12-22-2005, 12:36 PM
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re:reparing cracked weld on radiator

J B Weld should work for you. I have heard of using a vacuum and the people who told me about it were mechanics so it should do the trick. Just make sure you unhook the hoses and plug them or you will get a wet vacuum bag.
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Old 12-22-2005, 04:51 PM
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It will work

JB weld WILL most definitely work. I have used it before, I have a radiator that I'm still using that was fixed with the JB weld patch. Buy the JB weld for aluminum and mix up enough to seal the leak..try and NOT use to much..it looks nasty and will be hard to hide..even with black radiator colored paint. I have it on a 4-core racing radiator that's unpainted..hasn't leaked again in 4yrs. I'd let the radiator cool down, then clean it off as best you can..maybe use a soft wire brush to get off the paint right at the leak. I had to remove the radiator I repaired this last time so it was drained and washed off with a hose then dried and repaired. I let it set over-night and installed it in my race-car..fully...expecting it to leak again but it hasn't!!!


Tazz
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Old 12-22-2005, 05:20 PM
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dont try this, but i have heard pouring black pepper in a radiator will seal it
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Old 12-22-2005, 08:24 PM
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Anyone used Perm-Seal by JB Weld? Their product that you add to coolant made specially for rad leaks.
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Old 12-22-2005, 08:54 PM
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John, I have never used the Perm-Seal but I would assume it is about the same as most other radiator sealers. As I have already said it is difficult to seal a crack and get a permanent repair. The problem with a crack is that it is like a tear in a piece of paper, once started it takes little effort to tear it farther. A crack in a radiator seam will continue to grow due to expansion and contraction so even if you manage to plug the leak it will start to leak again as the crack grows. IMO anything you use to cover a crack will only be a temporary fix because it will not add strength and stop the crack from growing. Do your self a favor and take this thing to a shop and have it repaired right, the peace of mind will be worth it and you may save your self a tow bill later.
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Old 12-23-2005, 05:35 AM
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I've got the experience for which you're looking. In '57, my wife and I were living in Michigan and were about to leave for a 2 week vacation to visit the folks in Iowa when the car slipped off the jack and I poked a hole right in the middle of the radiator. She's packed and ready to go. What to do? I had been doing some Fiberglas work, so I quickly mixed up some epoxy and poked it in. No cleaning. It not only got us to Iowa and back without leaking, but I never did take it to a radiator shop!
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Old 12-23-2005, 07:00 AM
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39 What?? I may have an extra 39 Chevy radiator.
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Old 12-23-2005, 07:50 AM
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Billy, There is a lot of difference between plugging a hole and covering a crack. If you make a hole in a radiator there is a Chance you can get away with just plugging it with something because it will not get any worse than it already is, not true with a crack. Come on guys do you really believe "shade tree cobbling" is the right way to recommend someone fix his radiator? What would you say if you took your car to a garage to get the radiator repaired and found they had fixed it with J-B weld? Something like that may be ok for an emergency but for a permanent repair?
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Old 12-23-2005, 11:33 AM
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It is hard to tell if it is only a hole or maybe a crack. The crack could be in the paint. But here is a short history:

1. The car is a 1939 Olds that has been in the family since 1968, street rodded over the last 1.5 years
2. Except for engine and wheels and drivetrain, have tried to keep same look and original components - the radiator is the original
3. Had radiator recored for $400 - that was probably my first mistake, but we wanted to keep the original
4. After 6 mo. the rad sprung 3 pin hole leaks at the core to upper tank seam
5. The rad shop I had used had gone out of business (after 35 years of business)
6. Paid another shop $65 to remove top tank and do that part all over again
7. Held for couple of months, now have this new single pin hole leak at this same seam again.

Don't think we should spend any more money on repairing, and we are over keeping the original radiator.

Walker doesn't offer a replacement, there must be something differnent between the Olds mounts and Chev mounts.

So, looking to try a simple fix like JB Weld or sealant added to the coolant before we give up and pay for a custom fab, probably $600.

We bought a jar of Bar AL seal at Walmart today. Says it treats 3 gallons. Anyone know how much coolant should be in a 350 V8 engine and 1939 GM style radiator?

Thanks for listening.
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Old 12-23-2005, 03:19 PM
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oldred, I considered my "fix" simply an emergency repair and I planned on having to add water during my trip and taking it to a shop while I was in Iowa. The point I was making is that the emergency repair turned, quite unexpectedly, into a permanent repair. Consider the economics of the situation: It costs virtually nothing to try the quick fix. If you're lucky, the problem is solved and you can spend the money somewhere else. If it doesn't, you've wasted a couple of bucks and a little time. Now, when it comes to paying someone else, then, yes, I expect nothing less than a professional and permanent repair.
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