Seven America on the Rolling Road at Lotus Engineering at Ann Arbor, Michigan

Four: Letting Off Steam


So the car is idling on the trailer and I watch as the temp needle come up off the peg, slowly crawling upward toward an optimum 185 or so. I soon notice a wisp of steam rising from under the nose cowl. The longer I watched the more steam came out until it was positively pouring steam out the top and green liquid out the bottom. Of course this radiator's been repaired twice now, the latest effort being last spring, but obviously something's not right with it. Removal of the cowl reveals telltale greenish streaks running from the attachment point of the inlet tube in the top of the radiator - precisely at the point of the two previous repairs.

The tube actually goes into a sort of 'U' channel piece which wraps from front over the top down the back and is soldered to the top tank. I scratched my head a bit then figured well, it's on the trailer, I can take it to the radiator shop first thing in the morning and pick it up at the end of the day. of course, 'Bill' had different ideas. After explaining my situation - his failed repairs, my needing to take the car to Ann Arbor the following morning, dyno time scheduled, etc, etc, he tells me he can 'get it in' on Tuesday! Says he has to take the radiator out to do it properly. The last two times I had removed it and brought in just the radiator, and the more I thought about it, the less I wanted Bill and his crew to be messing with the rest of my car, so I asked him 'if I remove the radiator can you do it today?' - Oh yeah, no problem. So I run back home to my tools, call work on the way to tell them I'll be a half hour late, pull the radiator in about ten minutes and return to the shop. 'Back already?'

photos of radiator AFTER repair, before finishing!

About 10am I get a call at my office - 'It's all done. I took off the whole piece where it was leaking and it was all corroded underneath. Sand blasted the parts clean and completely resoldered.' So I picked it up on my way home from the office, and thankfully they didn't even consider charging for the work... hopefully it will hold this time!

Of course here I am on Valentine's day evening, scheduled to leave at 6:30 the following morning and the radiator is in the trunk of the big car... nice dinner, the kids are doing their own thing and my wife says 'well, aren't you going to put the car back together? I try to explain that I can do it at 5:30 in the morning, before we leave - it'll only take me an hour or so. She insists that if it's only going to take an hour, that I ought to get at and be done before it gets too much later! So out I go to the garage, reinstall radiator and steering rack, fill, start, warm - someone's on MY side this time - no leaks! I'm back inside in less than an hour.


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