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EFV-8 Club Forum / General Ford Discussion / 1936 Overheating Problem

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Posted By Discussion Topic: 1936 Overheating Problem

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09-15-2020 @ 5:29 PM
Posts: 65
Joined: Jul 2020
Overheating, one of the major issues my 1936 has been plagued with for what would seem like at least several "decades". I say decades as someone installed a plastic overflow tank back in the 1970s or 1980s before the cars was stored away for the next 30+ years. Upon previous owner take out of storage, the overflow tank was still on the car. Since my purchase and now possession of the car I plan to take everything back to a stock outfit as it was brand new off the line. I have since removed the plastic overflow tank and have started my trouble-shoot of the cooling system in this car.

Notes: After flushing the oil and cooling system I deemed the car safe for driveway idle and movement confined to the drive way area at the house. Regarding the cooling system I flushed two times, second time with a mild rust remover. Bits of rusty iron (size of crumbs) as well as brown murky coolant came out on 1st and 2nd flush after I drained the initial green Prestone the previous owner added 2 years ago. I used distilled water as a flush agent between and after each chemical flush. No acid in chemical flush. This engine has never been pulled and likely the water jackets inside the block have plenty of rust and contaminants present.

I figure it will take several flushes to remedy the rust issue (it will always be present to some degree since the engine has not been rebuilt). I will complete several more flushes in the near future to help with that issue. Stock original water pumps are on the car, never pulled or re-built, stock original radiator, never pulled or serviced, radiator hoses 30+ years old, fan belt 30+ years old, thermostats missing (they were in a box inside the trunk upon my purchase) Looks like they were pulled many years ago, likely back in the 1980's as an attempt to try and remedy the overheating issued that was had back then before I purchased the car.

The cooling system will need a tune-up.

WHY I KNOW I HAVE AN OVERHEATING PROBLEM: Two separate occasions under different outside temperature days I let the car idle in the driveway under no load. Day one the temperature was 80 degrees F (afternoon). Day two day the temperature was 58 degrees F (early morning). Constant factors: Coolant 1 inch above radiator tubes and car stopped-throttle at idle. I used distilled water as the coolant+water wetter. Fill up 1 inch above radiator tubes allowed space for expansion of coolant upon heat up. On both days after about 20 min of idle the car overflow tube on front of radiator let steam and water droplets out the bottom. Upon both occasions of steam and water droplets, my temperature hand gun showed 220 degree F on each head near water pump inlet (on cast iron head side) as well as 220 degree F on top end of radiator. Bottom end of radiator showed 190-200 degree F. Car dash temperature gauge level showed halfway mark between the bottom of the tube and first line on the dash gauge metal face. Temp gauge did not max out, fluid in tube moved to halfway mark (temp gauge appears to be factory original).

From research and intense study of Ford service books circa 1936 to 1940, I kind of realize what I will need to do to service the cooling system. I want to complete a process of elimination first before I decide to take off the radiator for a re-core or factory reproduction replacement exact to the original. Pulling the radiator will be a job for this winter when I plan to service several other items that sit behind the radiator (including dropping the oil pan for the first time).

Several questions:

How should I proceed with the water pumps? - Both on my car appear to be factory originals and look to have never been taken off or re-build, never. I have discovered Drakes as well as Third Gen sell rebuilt "improved impeller" water pumps that are identical to the original style and type. What are your recommendations? I want to keep this car as original as possible and realize I will have to do something with the water pumps. They could be part of the overheating issue.

What are your thoughts on radiator servicing? - Likely a major culprit regarding my overheating issue. The tubes and catacombs could be clogged. I could have the radiator "re-cored" or purchase a brand new perfect reproduction to stock original. Would it be wise to start fresh regarding the radiator in order to eliminate trouble-shooting guesswork after other cooling parts are addressed?

Fan belt, how do I know the proper tension? The shop manual states perfect adjustment is obtained once the belt can be moved in and out 1 inch. What is meant by this? This is my first Pre-war car purchase and experience. Is there a "best" belt to purchase. I noticed Drake and Third Gen both offer belts.

Thanks for any help you can provide,

Jon Ketron
1936 Ford V8 Deluxe Tudor Touring Sedan

This message was edited by Ketronj281989 on 9-15-20 @ 5:35 PM

09-15-2020 @ 6:55 PM
Posts: 1127
Joined: Nov 2009
Most flathead Ford will get very hot and puke water while sitting and idling for 20 minutes....A better test would be to drive it....

09-15-2020 @ 8:14 PM
Posts: 824
Joined: Oct 2009
One rule of thumb for Flathead coolant temperature is that it will be approximately 100 degrees F hotter than the outside ambient temperature while being driven on a level surface. While climbing hills or working hard, it will be hotter.

09-16-2020 @ 6:58 AM
Posts: 6288
Joined: Oct 2009
To check coolant temperature, measure at the hoses, or top and bottom tanks or the fluid in the radiator. The head temperature will be higher than the coolant temperature.

If you are concerned about originality, Skip Haney's rebuilt pumps are the best way to keep originalty. Send your pumps to him for rebuild.

A recored radiator will work just as good as a new radiator, but I would look for a shop that does a lot of antique radiator work to have yours cleaned and evaluated before deciding on any replacement. The Ford radiators are better than any of the cores available today.

The fan belt adjustment is measured half way between the generator and the water pump. The belt should move 1/2" toward the distributor and 1/2" away from the distributor. The reason for having it this much play is to preserve the bushings in the water pump.

Idling for 20 minutes is not a good test of the cooling system. Drive the car to check for overheating problems. If the coolant boils, your engine is overheating.

Idling for 20 minutes is not good for the mechanical condition of the engine as well. It leads to fouled spark plugs, sludge buildup inside the engine and contamination of the oil with unburned fuel deposits.

I would tend to buy a replacement belt from Third Gen as Drake belts have been too short when I have purhased them in the past.


09-16-2020 @ 1:17 PM
Posts: 29
Joined: Feb 2015
Most all of my cars would overheat as well with 20 minutes of sitting at idle. The pumps we sell typically are Carpenter pumps but we sell Drake pumps as well and stock NOS and rebuilt original 36 pumps. Another option many opt for is to have skip haney rebuild them

Chasing a overheating flathead can be a real pain, but as mentioned all my early cars except one overheat if left idling that long. Sometimes something as simple as the timing being off can affect temperature. I'd drive it and see how hot it gets before you dig too deep, or at least but a fan in front of it while in your drive to mimic wind while driving and see how it acts

PS give me a call sometime. 844-327-5988 (Shop) 615-293-9985 (Cell)

Michael Driskell
Third Gen Automotive

09-16-2020 @ 4:20 PM
Posts: 795
Joined: Mar 2013
A friend with a 1950 sedan recently had overheating problems; and puking water out the overflow tube.
I told him that I didn't think his radiator cap was sealing, and to check the rubber seal on it. Well, he took the cap off, and guess what? It was the wrong cap and didn't extend down far enough to seal!!
He bought a new cap, that was long enough to seal- and no more overheating; or puking water out the overflow tube!!
Always Remember K I S S. " Keep It Simple Stupid! "

Regards, Steve Lee

09-16-2020 @ 5:42 PM
Posts: 29
Joined: Feb 2015
The big difference here, is a 1950 uses a pressurized cap whereas a 1936 Does not.

09-17-2020 @ 6:00 AM
Posts: 795
Joined: Mar 2013
I thought all cars and trucks used pressure caps. Well, I learned something that I didn't know!!

Thank you for that!!

Regards, Steve Lee

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