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Thread: Thermal Imaging: '51 Champion

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    Thermal Imaging: '51 Champion

    As part of my ongoing '51 Champion Regal overheating issue - or at least running at "H" but not boiling over - I've finally reached for my company's T400 FLIR camera to take some thermal images. See pics attached below.

    Due to dragging brakes, I sorted through the brake system, replacing only the hydraulic lines with stainless steel and several flushes to rid the crud and rust. Then I replaced the thermostat/collar/gaskets, gave the block a good flushing, tested the sending unit (down to ~0 ohms at 190-195 F) and made sure the timing was correct.

    Interesting to see how the upper tank takes the coolant initially via the upper hose (violet is cooler, red to orange to white is hotter). Ignoring the "shadow" created by the spinning fan, it seems to me the center cores of the rad are not taking coolant, even after these "hotter" photos were taken after a short run around the block. Prior to sending the core out for testing, has anyone sent an anti-scale or similar boilout through their old radiators?

    Curiously if the gauge itself may be suspect - the block looks uniformly heated in the picture but I'm troubled as to why the gauge should read so "hot" so quickly, typically within 10 minutes at 80 degF outside, etc.

    Any comments would be welcome.




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    Buy an inexpensive temp gun and shoot the radiator intake and the outlet, there should be a 10-20 degree difference if the radiator is working correctly. Depending on engine load, fan speed and ambient temperature the difference can run from between 10 degrees and 20 degrees. Treblig

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    The little area defined by the crosshairs in the above pics is approximately what the inexpensive IR guns are showing you. I have a few of the guns as well for my job, but they don't tell the visual story that the cameras can, but at least we can all afford one. These cameras are stupid expensive.

    That all said, I'll test out the 10-20 degF differential when the weather improves and see what I can find. Thanks for the feedback.

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    To me, it appears that you are not getting circulation through the center cores of the radiator.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCDave51 View Post
    The little area defined by the crosshairs in the above pics is approximately what the inexpensive IR guns are showing you. I have a few of the guns as well for my job, but they don't tell the visual story that the cameras can, but at least we can all afford one. These cameras are stupid expensive.

    That all said, I'll test out the 10-20 degF differential when the weather improves and see what I can find. Thanks for the feedback.
    Just noticed that you don't have a shroud...that can make a big difference when it comes to air flow, especially when the car is sitting still.If the radiator temp isn't dropping it might be because there's no shroud to direct the air through the radiator. One easy way you can determine if the shroud is what you need is to drive the car on the open highway at 50-60 MPH and if runs cooler then the radiator is OK and it needs a shroud at the lower speeds (and idle)>

    Also if you take a IR pic from the front of the radiator you might be able to see the temp drop by viewing the radiator core (top to bottom) through the IR lens?? treblig
    Last edited by Treblig; 09-12-2018 at 09:26 AM.

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    President Member RadioRoy's Avatar
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    51 Champion cars do not have a shroud.

    It looks like the radiator is plugged up. Sometimes they can be rodded and sometimes they must be replaced.
    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RadioRoy View Post
    51 Champion cars do not have a shroud.

    It looks like the radiator is plugged up. Sometimes they can be rodded and sometimes they must be replaced.
    Just because it didn't come with one doesn't mean you can't install one, but if it came from the factory without a shroud it should run cool. Are you saying that a shroud wouldn't help with directing air through the radiator?? Treblig

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    President Member RadioRoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Treblig View Post
    Are you saying that a shroud wouldn't help with directing air through the radiator?? Treblig
    I do not know if it would help or not.

    But... the educated/trained/experienced people who designed the car felt that it did not need a shroud. Of all the thousands of 51 Champion cars made, none of them needed a shroud either.

    Besides, the infrared scan clearly shows that the radiator is cold in the middle. The most likely cause of that is plugged tubes.

    Finding the faulty component and replacing/repairing it is always better than redesigning the rest of the car to accommodate the faulty part.
    Last edited by RadioRoy; 09-12-2018 at 08:40 PM.
    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

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    Quote Originally Posted by RadioRoy View Post
    I do not know if it would help or not.

    But... the educated/trained/experienced people who designed the car felt that it did not need a shroud. Of all the thousands of 51 Champion cars out there, none of them needed a shroud.

    Besides, the infrared scan clearly shows that the radiator is cold in the middle. The most likely cause of that is plugged tubes.

    Finding the faulty component and replacing/repairing it is better than redesigning the rest of the car to accommodate the faulty part.
    I agree with Ray. Please refer to my post - no. 4.
    Gary L.
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    SDC member since 1968
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    I too agree completely - I certainly won't be adorning my stock '51 with a shroud if the engineers at South Bend didn't deem them necessary. It's made it this far without one.

    To my original question on an anti-scale boilout. MoPar made one for their systems many years ago, likely GM and others. Anyone had success with chemical flushes (generally acidic) to loosen up scale or rust prior to pulling it and have a pro recore the unit??

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    President Member LeoH's Avatar
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    Interesting images! No ghosts visible at least. ;-) Have you tried asking a local rad shop how much a boil and rod through would run?

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    President Member r1lark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCDave51 View Post
    To my original question on an anti-scale boilout. MoPar made one for their systems many years ago, likely GM and others. Anyone had success with chemical flushes (generally acidic) to loosen up scale or rust prior to pulling it and have a pro recore the unit??
    The radiator flush/cleaners that are available today are pretty weak in my opinion. Studebaker had a good two part system -- a cleaner, and a neutralizer. There is a lot of that cleaner/neutralizer out there still, and it still works on our old Studebakers. And, when you get done with it, you have a cool can to display.

    Back about 25 years ago, when we would solicit door prizes for our big NC Chapter Tri-State Meet, Newman-Altman would send a couple of cases of Studebaker Cooling System Cleaner/Neutralizer. Just about every member had a few cans. Newman-Altman must have had a bunch of that stuff!

    Paul
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    What I very often see is flakes of rust laying on top of or wedged into the tops of the tubes. Before even starting with the chemicals try a simple home-grown back flush to blow those flakes out. Remove the top hose completely and leave the cap off. Remove the lower hose from the water pump. Stick the blow nozzle from your air compressor into the end of that hose and then pack the rest of the opening with a rag as tight as you can.
    fill the radiator 'bout half full of water and then pull the trigger on your air nozzle. An astonishing geyser will erupt out of the radiator-fill and the top neck. Do this several times. You will almost certainly find rust flakes all over your driveway.

    You can follow up with a chemical flush if you like: oxalic acid works the best and is available at boating stores AKA wood bleach. Use about a cupfull in a system full of plain water and then go for a long drive. Drain and neutralize with another cupful of baking soda. None of this costs much and might make a big difference.

    PS Oxalic acid and baking soda are the two parts in the Studebaker rad flush.

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    Quote Originally Posted by r1lark View Post
    The radiator flush/cleaners that are available today are pretty weak in my opinion. Studebaker had a good two part system -- a cleaner, and a neutralizer. There is a lot of that cleaner/neutralizer out there still, and it still works on our old Studebakers. And, when you get done with it, you have a cool can to display.

    Back about 25 years ago, when we would solicit door prizes for our big NC Chapter Tri-State Meet, Newman-Altman would send a couple of cases of Studebaker Cooling System Cleaner/Neutralizer. Just about every member had a few cans. Newman-Altman must have had a bunch of that stuff!

    I hadn't thought about that stuff. I used to use it (years ago). I even have a couple of NOS full cans on the shelf downstairs.
    Gary L.
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    SDC member since 1968
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    Thanks everyone. Great discussion.

    I'll do a Prestone (inhibited oxalic) boilout, flush and refill and report back. Florence is making work outside a bit dicey at the moment...

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    President Member RadioRoy's Avatar
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    Any chance you can take the radiator out of the car, turn the radiator upside down and then flush it?
    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

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    President Member TWChamp's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RadioRoy View Post
    Any chance you can take the radiator out of the car, turn the radiator upside down and then flush it?
    Yep, that's the only way to do it. I had a plugged cooling system in my Model A, so I ran 2 1/2 gallons of white vinegar in the car for 30 days, then removed the radiator, turned it upside down and back flushed it. I also back flushed the block. I used a sump pump and circulated the water in a large plastic tub. I got a cup full of rust flakes from the block and radiator. Sump pump is needed for a large flow of water with good pressure, which a garden hose can't deliver. Runs cool now.

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    I'm not trying to stir the pot, but don't discount the effectiveness of a fan shroud simply because a car didn't originally have one. I suspect the reason their use was fairly rare in the early 50s was probably because engineers hadn't yet learned to appreciate their value at controlling engine temperatures (even though air control for military aircraft engines had become a major science during WWII). Too, it's quite possible the engineers at Studebaker would have liked to have had shrouds as part of the cooling systems, but the bean-counters weren't willing to spend the money. Remember that Studebaker was often fighting for its survival, year to year, and keeping the cars' prices low was key.

    Today, it would be difficult to find a car without a well-designed shroud except for perhaps the most inexpensive models. Cooling became so much more important in the 70s when emissions became a big deal; engines began being designed to run much hotter to help control the formation of exhaust pollutants like NOX, and that approach has not changed. I, for one, would like to know if anyone has found a good factory fan shroud that adapts well to my '51 Champion. I'm a real believer in what fan shrouds are capable of.

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    Nobody doubts the effectiveness of a fan shroud. But the car cooled properly without one for decades, so putting one on now is just masking the symptoms of the real problem.

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    President Member TWChamp's Avatar
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    Here's the factory fan shroud on my 1950 Champion, and I'd have thought 51 would have the same.

    003.jpg

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    Quote Originally Posted by RadioRoy View Post
    Any chance you can take the radiator out of the car, turn the radiator upside down and then flush it?
    After being away from the '51 for a few weeks, I did remove the radiator tonight with ease. I wish all cars were this easy to work on: 6 cap screws, 2 hoses and the four bolts on the fan removed and out she came. It is what appears to be the original McCord radiator, with a "C5" tag brazed next to the manufacturer plate. Other than being brazed in a small spot on the upper tank, it looks straight and the core fins are perfect.

    Upon turning it over, quite a few chunks of sticky grey material came out (not overly gritty, maybe old AlumaSeal or coolant breakdown over the years). I forced a healthy stream of water up through the bottom (outlet) and forced more chunks free out the filler neck. Nothing that I'd call rust flakes, but semisolids that could have plugged passages all the same.

    A quick shot of semigloss black paint tomorrow and I'll give her a try. Glad I listened to others before doing any chemical flushes, etc.

    Anybody have a 5-blade fan for the Champion they'd be willing to sell? Apparently these were an option from the beginning. Part number: 679622P for the 10G model.

    Many thanks as always.

    David
    Last edited by NCDave51; 10-02-2018 at 08:56 PM. Reason: typo

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    Yeah, if you wanna do one that will drive you nutz, try a 98 VW Beetle. whole front clip has to come off. You're left with the engine and the AC radiator just sticking out in the air once the radiator comes out.

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    When you get it back together, can you borrow the camera again and take comparison heat pictures?
    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

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    Will do, Roy.

    I took it out yesterday for a test run in local errands, stop and go, 85 degree ambient heat and it's still reading against the "H". After making sure timing, coolant mix, brakes not dragging are all in-spec, I'm starting to give up and think its the damn gauge in the dash - the sender responds fine with a multi-meter. And if it's the water pump, I'd like to know what the fix is - impeller clearance, etc?

    I'm taking it to church on Sunday and will try and do a before-and-after IR camera look then. I'm not hopeful...

    Brand new radiators from CG&J in Alabama are $450 in aluminum for these Champion six cylinders so I know there's a fallback.

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    Haven't had this issue (yet) in my '51 Regal Champion, but appreciate all of the advice on this forum should I have HOT issues in the future! Glad to see another beautiful '51 convertible in good hands!

  26. #26
    President Member TWChamp's Avatar
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    To get some idea of how well the radiator is working, I'd take infrared readings in at least 3 places across the top of the core, then the middle, and then the bottom. These 9 or more readings should show at least a 20 degree drop in temp from top to bottom. I'll have to shoot mine, just for future reference. Now I need to find my temp gun.

  27. #27
    President Member RadioRoy's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by NCDave51 View Post
    Will do, Roy.

    And if it's the water pump, I'd like to know what the fix is - impeller clearance, etc?
    As far as I know, the only water pump clearance issue was on one production run of the V-8 reproduction pumps. I have never heard of a problem with Champion six pumps, except for leaking when the seal fails.

    As tempting as it is, try to avoid Easter-egging; replacing parts at random. You KNOW that the center of the radiator was cold because of the first thermal images. That tells you that the problem is in the radiator. Replacing other parts, or modifying the design will not fix a clogged radiator.
    Last edited by RadioRoy; 10-10-2018 at 11:57 AM.
    RadioRoy, specializing in AM/FM conversions with auxiliary inputs for iPod/satellite/CD player. In the old car radio business since 1985.

    17A-S2 - 50 Commander convertible
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    On my '47 Champion, when the radiator was flushed with water at city pressure, the water came through clean and apparently without obstruction. After a radiator shop cleaned it properly, it sprayed like a lawn sprinkler. Recoring was what was needed, as the crud was holding the radiator together.

    I have been told several times never to use paint on a radiator, as it will insulate the rad. Instead use something like black liquid shoe polish which provides nothing more than colour.
    Bill Jarvis

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    Well, even with a radiator potentially plugged in a few spots based on my original IR thermometry (above), I decided to undo something that I did when I brought the car home: I had replaced the old 180 degree thermostat with a new one, also 180 degrees. So, off to NAPA for the $4.00 solution: the most typical option in 1951, the 160 degree thermo.

    Took it out today (75 degree ambient and humid here in NC) and what a difference. After about 5 minutes of easy driving, the gauge climbed to the end of the "oval" approaching the "H", and with a few more blocks and likely the thermostat opening, the needle settled into the "oval" and stayed there for the rest of my stop-and-go trip for the next 20 minutes. Haven't seen this ever on my Champion.

    Things investigated and/or solved: dragging brakes leading to a complete set of new brake lines, ignition timing, tire pressures, a thermostat collar (ring) on the wrong side of the thermostat unit, flushed the block from top to bottom (but not through the frost plugs), radiator removed and flushed, fan belt tension, temperature sending unit, plus a myriad of other small things....and the most obvious one being the last thing tried: a $4.00 thermostat.

    Those in hotter climates or everyone in summer: check and switch to a 160 unit unless you really need a 180 degree?

    Thanks - David

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    President Member TWChamp's Avatar
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    I don't know what degree thermostat is in my 50 Land Cruiser, but was surprised that this past Saturday it took a good 5 miles before it reach normal temp.
    Outside temp was in the 40's.

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