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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Rugby,West Midlands.
    Age
    60
    Posts
    612

    Copper radiator leaking , Copper V Aluminium

    After having my copper radiator repaired twice, it is leaking again from the bottom N/S corner, and this is even after I got the repairer the last time to re-enforce the brazed tube joints into the side tanks along each side. Its hard to tell but I suspect the leak is from where the tubes are brazed into the side tanks Maybe the repairer I took it to wasn’t any good ,but this last leak has really annoyed me, because I have taken this rad out the car twice and the car is only eight years old and only covered around 7000 miles. To isolate the radiator from vibrations and flexing, the rad is mounted on Td5 Land Rover bobbins top and bottom.

    To avoid the risk of clogging my system up with something like Radweld or similar and causing yet more problems, I have decided to replace the radiator with a brand new one. I am not too bothered about which type is more efficient at cooling anymore, I just want a robust ,reliable radiator .

    So I want to see how many of you guys have had leaks from Copper rads ,as opposed to Aluminium Rads, just to gauge which type is more reliable .

    This should be interesting
    Paul.

    AK Huddart Chevy 383 Stroker, BMW Royal Grey Metal Metallic , 5 speed Jaguar Getrag , Holley 670cfm 4 barrel street Avenger Carb, 450 BHP at flywheel , 460 Ibs/ft torque, and luvin it !

    " We dont stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing" - George Bernard Shaw.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Nova Scotia
    Posts
    831
    My copper radiator leaked from new, however I didn't realize it for a long time as it was such a small leak. I don't know why the radiator leaked, but I suspect it was due to a manufacturing defect. I removed it and soldered the pin-hole years ago and it's held fine ever since.

    My heater core also leaked and I repaired that as well. The core is mounted in a metal box. The box panels are held together by sheet-metal screws. It appears that rough handling during shipping cause one of the protruding screw points to pierce the core. I can't remember any more details, but it was a significant leak I found right away and the repair has held since 1996.

    I'm not sure why the change, but I see my kit manufacturer now supplies an aluminum radiator with their kits. Less chance of a leak, but if you get one, I know I can't repair it. Not even sure if it can be repaired and a new core might have to be fitted instead.

    A flying rock kicked up from a vehicle in front of you could do that... assuming that there's ever anything in front of you... but you know that's going to happen a lot. You'll catch up, catch a rock, and then catch your empty wallet when the Radiator Shop guy tosses it back to you,
    John

    “A prudent person profits from personal experience, a wise one from the experience of others.”

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Chelmsford Essex
    Posts
    994
    After recore of brass radiator and leaking again after some time I have gone down the aluminium route. Source a aluminium 52mm thick for about £130 off ebay new. I bought mine for Ford layout reverse hose positions vs Chevy. The part was shipped from Germany manufactured in China. I must say the weld quality and polished finish is very good. If you look at copper rads they a lot more costly. Lots of previous posts on what rads are recommended.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Perth
    Posts
    4,593
    Radiator sealants have come on a long way since the days of Radweld. I used to have a P38 Range Rover which had the notorious O ring leak in the heater which dripped onto the carpet. Replacement would be a major hassle but I was recommended Forte Radiator Stop Leak and Cooling System Conditioner which worked a treat. My advice would be to try this first before removing your radiator and going to the expense of buying a replacement.

    https://www.forteuk.co.uk/product/ra...m-conditioner/
    Cheers, Clive

    (If I'm not here, I'm either in my new workshop or on the golf course!)

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Rugby,West Midlands.
    Age
    60
    Posts
    612
    Thanks for the advice guys, but as said I do not want to go down the “Stop leak products” route, as I don’t want to risk the chance of it clogging up my cooling system. I can see the benefit of carrying this stuff with you, especially if you are travelling a long way or abroad and just need to stop it leaking long enough until you get it home.

    However I have a theory as to why my copper radiator might be prone to fracturing.

    The tubes and fins are copper, which is a good conductor of heat, however the end tanks are brass and the side channels are steel, and they are all bonded together with soft lead solder which apart from being the weak point, has horrible heat transfer capabilities. The copper core in my three core Rover SD1 rad is very heavy, especially when full of water and each time I go over a bump, all that weight is trying to move up and down, with all the force being transmitted onto the lead brazed tube joints where they enter the side tanks, causing them to fracture.

    An Aluminium radiator is 100% aluminium furnace brazed without any soft heat insulating lead solder,which is why aluminium radiators work better than copper ones, and so should be more robust. Aluminium radiator cores are also lighter, and therefore don’t have all that weight being applied to the side tank joints, thus making them more reliable I would have thought.

    I had hoped for more replies to give me an idea of which out of copper and aluminium radiators have proved more reliable in our cobras, but I have decided to bite the bullet and go for a brand new aluminium one, and was wondering how many of you guys with AK cobras have the AK supplied aluminium radiator and if so, how have they fared.
    Last edited by psh; 30-12-19 at 04:58 PM.
    Paul.

    AK Huddart Chevy 383 Stroker, BMW Royal Grey Metal Metallic , 5 speed Jaguar Getrag , Holley 670cfm 4 barrel street Avenger Carb, 450 BHP at flywheel , 460 Ibs/ft torque, and luvin it !

    " We dont stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing" - George Bernard Shaw.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Chelmsford Essex
    Posts
    994
    With the copper and brass radiators I have ended up with what is called "core shift" where weeping occurs at the joints. A re-core resolves it but re-occurring. My water system takes 3.5 gallons in total. The rad core is 75mm thick radiator so a lot of weight with water in it as well. I am going down in core size to a 52mm core and aluminium I will retain the same if not better heat dissipation but a lot less weight.

    There are a lot of radiator options and at very reasonable prices. You might have to do some bracket work to make it fit.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2017
    Location
    South Warwickshire
    Age
    57
    Posts
    21
    I have only used aluminium, first a Griffin (lasted 30 years and was still fine apart from a small weep when cold!!) and now (as of last year) an Afco (virtually same as Griffin but fully welded whereas the Griffin used resin on the cores). Both 3 inch rads. I bought the Afco from Harrison Supplies in Kettering. They fit nicely in a Dax, I assume an AK is similar, albeit on a rake. Both rads are what they use in F1 Stock Car Racing in UK and Circle Track in the States, the logic being if they can stand that, they can stand anything!! I have no cooling problems at all running a big block. They also do a 'double pass radiator' but I don't need it and I doubt it will be necessary for anything with normal road use. Harrison do a next day delivery.
    I think I paid about £260, more than what you will find alternatives on EBay for but good quality is never cheap and if I get another 30 years will be worth it!!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Leeds
    Posts
    2,917
    Mines a rover SD1 rad, and other than being heavy compared to the ally ones - it's been fine since car was built (20yrs) and as yet hasn't leaked.

    Wonder if yours Paul is a 5 to 5 Friday build ??
    Conny - A Carnival Red Metallic (paint code Ref: Jag CGG/1811) Southern Roadcraft V8 ( SRV8 ) with 383ci stroker chevy.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    Wales
    Posts
    350
    Quote Originally Posted by nealgs View Post
    Mines a rover SD1 rad, and other than being heavy compared to the ally ones - it's been fine since car was built (20yrs) and as yet hasn't leaked.

    Wonder if yours Paul is a 5 to 5 Friday build ??
    Hi Neal, is your SD1 radiator two or three core? Do you know how thick the core itself is? Ie is it just your standard SD1 rad? Does this cool your 383??
    Cheers Nige

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Sep 2009
    Location
    Leeds
    Posts
    2,917
    Hi Nige,

    As far as i'm aware it's just a standard SD1 rad - not sure what core it is for standard one. Yep cools it fine, along with wrapped headers/manifold

    I had purchased one of the Alloy rads with twin fans that usually on a Nissan, and would of loved to of been able to get it fit, but was too much work needed that i couldn't do to get it to fit the Radiator cradle on the SRV8 - damn shame as it was a great bit of kit and nice and light compared to the SD1 rad.

    rgds
    Gary
    Conny - A Carnival Red Metallic (paint code Ref: Jag CGG/1811) Southern Roadcraft V8 ( SRV8 ) with 383ci stroker chevy.

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