Radiator Leak and Coolant



Radiator Leak and Coolant

Issues with my L15 on the 80 eme Traction Anniversary Run. This is an article run in the latest issue of Front Drive with the added benefit of some photos and a link to Bruce Arcutt’s quest for a coolant for his 1950 traction.

Before the run the car was given the usual thorough check and maintenance within the limits of my knowledge and knowhow. Detailed preplanning and preparation by my wife ensured an early departure avoiding the rush hour traffic from Geelong to Melbourne. The Western Ring Road was starting to get busy but we just mosied along as the traffic rushed by and we were on the Hume heading north as the rest of Melbourne was waking up. Euroa seemed a good stop for morning tea. Pulled over at a little park we have frequented over the years to be greeted by a hissing noise emanating from under the bonnet. Not Good!  Removing the radiator cap confirmed more than not good, it revealed no water. I always carry water and 3+ litres later I had water in the radiator. Next stop was Benalla so it was cross the fingers and see how we go. I had no temperature gauge.

Benalla gave us no joy, another 2 to 3 litres needed. A phone call to Rob Little for some solace and technical advice and discussion of options followed. We decided on using some stop leak compound. I could not see the source of the leak and the engine oil was clean. I also rang the RACV to confirm my level of cover and options there. An interested bystander who always wanted one of these cars told me where to find the Repco shop. Fortunately, it was on the way out of town. After purchasing the compound they informed me the radiator repair shop was just a little further down the road. He kindly took a look and eventually decided the leak seemed to be coming somewhere very low down on the radiator on the passenger side. I showed him what I had bought to plug leaks. He said it was good but not to use it as it could not be used if there was additive in the water. I was using Tectaloy. So it was back to Repco to get one compatible with additives. In the meantime another bystander struck up a conversation with my wife and informed her as a young fella he and his mates plugged up their radiators with a raw egg. The Repco lot second time around told me they had heard black pepper worked. I have since had several people tell me black pepper works. The AlumAseal   Alumaseal       was put in the radiator and next stop was Wangaratta and lunch.

We were a little more apprehensive on this leg of the trip and were really hoping for the best. We turned into the park by the river bank where there are twelve tennis courts. Bev started making lunch while I checked the radiator.  Low and behold I could see green water. I rang Rob Little to tell him the good news as he was in the vicinity on his way to Gundagai. So we had a relaxed lunch and on the way out I though it wise to buy some more stop leak compound just to be sure and added it to the mix.

When we got to Albury I did another radiator check. No water!!!! Filled up with 3+ litres again. Back to Repco to buy some more Alumaseal. This time my plan was to keep topping up to get to Gundagai where I knew I could get help from our fellow travelers. I would also put more Alumaseal in the radiator when I was in the Caravan Pk and give it a better chance to work.  So we stopped every 15 to 20 miles and topped up with 2 to 3 litres of water. We also had to make sure we stopped where we could refill the water container. It was just as well I didn’t have a temperature gauge, I didn’t want to know! On one of these top ups I was surprised by the appearance of Bob Shackley who was on his way back from Melbourne. He was going to join the group for dinner at Gundagai but had to be off the next day as he was heading overseas. It was a great relief to arrive at the caravan park even if it was much later than we had planned, our dreams of an early arrival with plenty of time to relax and socialise had long been dashed.

Chatting with David Grise we agreed to look at it in the morning after breakfast. However, breakfast was with the dog on his tucker box so to save time Peter Stringer (my brother) & I had breaky at the caravan park and then  got on with the business of removing the radiator. To our consternation we could not find a leak. We found a suspicious area but that was it. To cut a long story short we ended up at a garage where we pressure tested it only to find a leak in the radiator cap where it had been worn through by rubbing on the bonnet. L15 radiator Cap with hole in it This would have been irrelevant as it would have  been sealed by the rubber seal under the cap and we would have had green fluid all over engine and windscreen like Liz & John Henderson with their leak from a crack in their radiator overflow pipe. We came to the conclusion that the sealant had worked overnight. The radiator was returned to its rightful place filled and the engine started. The water swirled around, the cap was screwed on and we were on our way again. Needless to say I kept checking it regularly. On the first check I told my wife to tell me when the odometer read 60. She said it was on 58 and the 8 hadn’t moved. I ignored this for a while and then  a voice repeated again“ it still hasn’t moved “. A more focused look this time on my part saw the speedo needle gasping for life. I decided in view of its age it was not an appropriate time for resuscitative measures and called the Tom Tom to the rescue. The radiator did need toping up a couple of times on the rest of the trip so I’m not sure if the problem is really fully solved.

One of the incentives to write this little narrative is that several times it was commented to me that I didn’t have an additive in the radiator coolant. Now I found this interesting as I had been discussing what additive one should use with my brother Peter in relation to his engine rebuild. I had also previously been discussing this subject with Rob Little. Peter had decided to use Nulon and I had decided to replace my coolant which had Tectoloy in it which is apparently not too good for older engines. I had been unable to replace the Tectaloy before the run but it had effectively been removed by all the water I had put in the radiator when it was leaking. I thought this would be a an opportune time to draw people’s attention to some correspondence  Rob Little has supplied  about coolant written by Bruce Acutt in 2010 in his quest for a coolant for his 1950 Traction.

If anyone would like to make any comments on this posting about radiators, coolants, temp gauges, speedos, etc, please do so because as we all know we all seem to benefit from others misfortunes.

Bruce Stringer


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