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  • Cool/Heat: Basic radiator flushing question

    Yep. That basic.
    So, I took my cooling system apart last night to drain and flush. 1960 Lark VI. The heater valve has been frozen and from the look of the water I flushed out of the heater core, it was frozen closed as no green coolant came out. Changed the other hoses and refilled the radiator which is 4 years old.
    The car has always run well within temp range, even when ambient temp is high.

    1. It only took 8 quarts of water before filling up the radiator and I ran the car, with the cap off, but couldn't seem to get it to burp and drop. It did at one point start to bubble and spit out, but I turned the car off at that point. Should I have left it run?

    2. When refilling with the coolant, since it's 11 quart capacity, should it be 6 quarts of coolant or 6 quarts of water, or just estimate that last split?

    With the 60 Lark, would I have any luck just walking in to a NAPA with the valve and showing it to them to see about a replacement equivalent?

    I also heard from someone that they usually had to run their car up to temp, then let it cool, for a couple-three times before they could get their car to burp and lose the air pocket. Is that a routine to expect?

    Thanks!

  • #2
    If you didn't remove the pipe plugs in the block, then the block will retain a couple of quarts. if the stuff that came out of the radiator was green, then you can probably assume that the stuff still in the block is roughly 50-50. Put 5 quarts of antifreeze in it and top it off with water and call it good. And yes, you might get some burping after driving it, so check the level a couple of times in the next weeks.
    Skip Lackie

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    • #3
      If you put 8 quarts of water in, you have no room for antifreeze, re-drain. Mix water 50/50 with antifreeze and refill as necessary. Top off with same mix after driving and cycling a few times.

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      • #4
        Thank you. Not knowing what I'm doing the tendency is to go by the numbers.

        Messing with all the hoses, valve and heater core was the work, the drain and refill isn't that big of a deal now.

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        • #5
          I don't think you will have much luck finding a replacement heater control valve from anyone other then our Studebaker vendors. I'm sure you could find something to replace it with if you want to do a little modifying. I have used Ford pick-up control valves from the mid 70's on a lot of modified cars. I put one on my 63 Daytona to get the leaky valve out from under the dash. They are cable operated and can be found that either push or pull to open. They come in various sizes to match the hose size on your car.
          sigpic1966 Daytona (The First One)
          1950 Champion Convertible
          1950 Champion 4Dr
          1955 President 2 Dr Hardtop
          1957 Thunderbird

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          • #6
            Drilling a 1/32 hole in the thermostat flange will let the air out while filling. Thermostat will work ok.

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            • #7
              I just did this on the wagon. I used 4 seasons 74764 (pull open) heater valve and made some hoses fit (all the pictures are gone on my thread), the one that SI sells is pull close so your cable will be pulled out all the time. I also would drill a hole in the thermostat (I did 1/8"), if not it will hold air behind it and cause the thermostat not to open. If you can drain the block and flush, I was amazed how much flushing out the rear helped.

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              • #8
                I removed my heater valve on my 59 Lark VIII and replaced it with a 3/4" ball valve with a hose nipple on each end. I have to turn the heat on/off under the hood, but usually, I'm there to check the oil anyway and it's just a quick flip. It's not like it's going to cook me out in Kansas. If I'm hot, I roll down the window. If I'm cold, I put on another coat.

                In NV, I would consider just a ball valve for yours because you will probably never need heat. You could even bypass the heater entirely.

                As far as "burping" it, I usually park with the front end up on ramps or facing uphill on a steep incline (my driveway works for this) and fill it while running. I rev it a few times, then let it idle with the cap off until it starts to overflow. I put on the cap and drive it 15-20 miles. Bring it home and shut it off with it pointing uphill. In the morning when it's cool, I check it. Lather, rinse, repeat until it is full each time when cold. I am guessing it will take 3-4 times of this process.
                Dis-Use on a Car is Worse Than Mis-Use...
                1959 Studebaker Lark VIII 2DHTP

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                • #9
                  Thank you for the suggestions. I went with another local club members' solution of an inline heater valve. His is plastic, the one I got at NAPA is metal, but the action seems pretty easy, so there shouldn't be an issue with my just leaving it in the hose and pull and push from the dash.
                  I drive the car and only display it, no plans to 'show' it, so it was primarily a convenience reason I was pursuing the original replacement valve, if available. I think the inline alternative shouldn't be a problem.

                  So when I remove the rear plug ( a square headed 'plug' below the expansion plugs and near the starter, iirc, that hole is pretty small, how do I 'flush' it? So far, I've driven it a good 20 miles and between the new ignition switch and/or the radiator flush the car is running noticeably quieter and seems to be starting a little easier than it was before. Temp is still running fine, the needle's maybe moving more than it was prior, but nothing out of range so all is good.

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                  • #10
                    Just drain it and look inside with a light. You can just run a hose in the thermostat housing (thermostat out) and let it run until it's clear water. If it's real chunky inside the block or with the plug out nothing comes out, you can use a wire or coat hanger it clean it out (I made a small hook on the end to clean the sides). I also bought a 3/8" pipe to hose barb fitting that screws into the block, 6 feet of clear hose, a hose barb to garden hose fitting that way I can back flush the block (I had the lower hose off the radiator).......then run until clean water comes out (both sides).

                    If yours is running a normal temp then you might just pull the plugs and flush through the radiator.....so no build-up starts to happen.


                    Here's my valve and hose set-up.
                    Click image for larger version

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                    • #11
                      From first hand observation Reverse flushing heater cores is pretty important. Probably radiators too I'm guessing.

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                      • #12
                        Probably been mentioned many times before, but avoid using tap water to refill your cooling system. It's OK for flushing but it has minerals and chlorine that could cause issues, especially if you are adding water regularly to you car. You can get distilled water for about 79 cents/gallon at most grocery stores.

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                        • #13
                          If no one has cleaned out your motor block before there WILL be a bunch of crud inside the block, and mostly settled toward the rear.
                          Its not at all unusual to pull the drain plugs and find that the drain hole is completely blocked up with crud.
                          Did my 13,000 mile OHV 6 Lark a couple of years ago and was amazed at how much there was to dig/scrape/flush out; some mud but mostly casting sand and wires. Even pulled the small "freeze" plugs in the OHV head and found junk and wire.
                          Screw driver to punch thru the crud at the drain. Needle nosed pliars/vicegrips are the tool of choice for the wires. Straightened coat hangers to probe for the rest.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by 63 R2 Hawk View Post
                            Probably been mentioned many times before, but avoid using tap water to refill your cooling system. It's OK for flushing but it has minerals and chlorine that could cause issues, especially if you are adding water regularly to you car. You can get distilled water for about 79 cents/gallon at most grocery stores.
                            I did fill it with the distilled water and flushed with the hose. Nothing wrong with the reminder.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by Dan Timberlake View Post
                              From first hand observation Reverse flushing heater cores is pretty important. Probably radiators too I'm guessing.
                              Yep. Even though it appears it wasn't used, the heater core was filled with fluid after at least 4 years' time:

                              Click image for larger version

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                              The fluid out of the radiator looked normal. That was a good seal on the heater valve, apparently.

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