Lowering the Radiator

Following the advice of my chosen coach builder who indicated that a slightly lower radiator is more in line with the competition cars of the era, I sought out a reliable company who could take the original radiator, re core it to modern standards but reduce the height by a maximum of 3″. I was lucky in finding a company relatively local to me but had enhanced luck in that he lived locally to me and I could drop off / collect it from his house. 1 week later he transferred over the original top and bottom tanks and all the brackets and I was the proud owner of a shorter more efficient radiator.

The brass radiator shell was now of course 3″ too tall to fit, but I found to my delight that with a little adjustment it would slide down the ‘new’ radiator and fit between the chassis rails. So I can retain the vintage look of a large radiator but it is noticeably lower. All I will need to do is enlarge the hole for the starting handle and its good to go.


The downside? the pipe from the top header tank no longer aligns with the outlet from the engine so I need to manufacture a new thermostat housing for the top of the engine. Somehow I also need to work out where to install the sender for the temperature gauge, I am custom building this as Riley didn’t really have something that worked a gauge. I will also need to custom build the face of said gauge so that it is in keeping with a 30’s car. More on that in a later post.

Whilst I have the radiator out, I am taking another look at the repair in the side of the engine block – it slightly weeps water and running out of coolant when you don’t have a fan or a water pump is probably not a wise thing to do. Previous owner has welded a plate onto the cast iron engine. That’s a big no-no. You cant really weld Cast iron without preheating it to ludicrous temperatures. I suspected the weld wasn’t actually achieving much so I ground it back and to my horror discovered that previous owner had used 1.2mm sheet metal for the patch. That’s designed for car bodywork not the water jacket of an engine! It took very little to remove the patch and oh dear, not good. Not good at all… look at the size of that hole. I thought it was hiding a crack and I have no idea how a hole that size could have occurred. It will need a specialist repair (£££) or an alternative solution that I haven’t thought about yet.

Blast you previous owner – why couldn’t you do things properly!




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