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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I bought a '57 thunderbird with a 429/460 on eBay from the widow of the aeronautical engineer who built it. The builder apparently hid/destroyed all the receipts so the wife wouldn't know what he was spending. So I have a beautiful car, that looks like real care was taken in the build, but no information.

I do have some photos of parts of the build showing a '69 429 block with C8VE heads being used to locate the motor mounts. The engine now has D20E AB heads and I don't know if it is the same block. The intake manifold may be a stock Ford and has an Edelbrock 750 carb. Judging by the idle the engine has a pretty big cam. The distributor I think is a Ford with electronic pickup and capacitative discharge unit. The engine has headers and is backed up with a C6 and Ford 9 inch limited slip differential.

So buying a car sight unseen is probably not smart, but I've done it several times, so I'm not smart.

The problems are 1. that it overheats and 2. The idle is so lumpy and the timing so advanced that I wonder what is going on. I'm hoping that resolving the timing/cam issue will help with the overheating.

1. Overheating. The radiator is aluminum, appears to be 2 row,
Screen Shot 2021-05-26 at 9.06.06 PM.png
3 inches thick with a 19 x 19 inch core (to fit the T-bird.). It has a 16 inch pusher fan. As set up there is not room for a puller fan between the engine and radiator.

2. Timing. In order to run and start reasonably well the ignition timing has to be set at 18 degrees BTDC. When set back to 12, the engine barely starts and pops back through the carb. The advance curve is pretty quick and goes up to 36-38 BTDC. I've checked engine TDC against the timing marks and they are accurate. The harmonic balancer appears to be stock Ford. With this advanced timing I have not heard pinging, though I have not pushed the car hard.

I'd like to know why the timing has to be so advanced and if that may be affecting the overheating. I am not going to race this car and just want a fast street setup. I'd welcome suggestions on how to tame this beast.

Thanks for any feedback
 

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How much room is between your radiator and water pump? It looks like there's a bit of room there actually. Pushers are the worst design as they actually block air flow. I've got a SPAL electric on one of my Cadillacs that is only 2.25" thick, I had to grind the nose of the water pump to fit it, and it keeps it cool with a shroud no matter how hot it gets outside. A shroud on a puller will be a tremendous help, or even if you could fit some sort of mechanical fan mounted to your water pump in there. I'm assuming you've checked the antifreeze, make sure it isn't "too strong", as more water will cool better. You can also try some Water Wetter or the like to help out. What does the t-stat open at? And what degrees is considered overheating? Is it boiling out, or are you getting an actual accurate reading with a gauge? Don't forget to check simple things like the radiator cap.

Is that timing reading with or without vacuum advance?
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I put in a new EMP Stewart 180 degree thermostat. New 13 lb. cap.
The engine has a slight rearward slant and the radiator a forward slant so there is room at the top, but only about 1 to 1 1/2 inch at the bottom.
On the road the temperature just keeps rising, so I haven't driven it much more than 10 miles at a time. Usually the gauge is as 230+ by the time I get it back in the garage. I haven't boiled it over yet, though have had a little coolant go into the overflow pipe.
Everything about the engine looks like very few miles. I can't imagine it was driven much with the overheating issue.
The timing is without vacuum advance. I tried hooking up the advance, but get full vacuum (only about 10 in/Hg) from both the carb ports, timed and manifold. The car ran worse on the road.
 

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Will it start after you shut it off ? That radiator looks small, how many gallons does it hold ? Keep in mind an aluminum radiator will not cool as well as a copper / brass radiator. Not knowing anything about the engine I wonder if someone just put the timing chain in the 4 degree advance slot without degreeing in ? I would plug off the coolant bypass and drill a hole in the thermostat, that will let more coolant pass through the radiator.
 

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Looks like there is plenty of room between the firewall and engine. Suggest moving engine back as much as possible to run a decent fan setup.
I understand this may be non-trivial, depending on skill and equipment. Given that engine was not original, it shouldn't disrupt anything more than it already was.
 

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If you have enough room, put a 17-18” 4 blade fan on the water pump, they pull a lot of air.
 

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If you have enough room, put a 17-18” 4 blade fan on the water pump, they pull a lot of air.
Truck was acting the same and it turned out to be a water pump going bad. You said the guy rebuilt the motor? Stupid question but could he have put in a water pump that turns the wrong way?
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks for the replies and suggestions.
The car does start when hot, though it just barely cranks over when hot.
Since the radiator is cooler at the bottom and hotter at the top, I assume the pump is going in the right direction.
Seems like the consensus is that I need a puller fan (electric or engine driven). I think I can modify the radiator mounting to swing the lower radiator forward and so make some room for a fan. However, since the engine temp seems to keep rising above 180 while going down the road at 60, (on a 90+ degree day) I'm afraid that even the biggest fan won't solve the problem. That's why I was hoping that the engine/cam/ignition timing might be a cause of the engine running so hot.

Here's some additional information: The engine oil cooler sits right in front of the radiator a few inches forward. The transmission cooler is in the back with its own fan. I don't know where else I could put the oil cooler. Space up front is pretty limited. I had thought that the oil cooler was not needed for the way I plan to drive the car, but the lines to the cooler were pretty hot after just a few miles.
 

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There seems to be some misunderstanding about transmission oil temperature. It needs to be between 180° & 200°. For the very same reasons your engine needs to be up to temperature.
That's why OEMs put the tranny cooler in the radiator. To help heat the oil in the winter. I can't imagine why a light car, such as yours, needs an engine oil cooler. It can be a determent in cold weather. Oil not warm enough, equals stuck oil control rings.

Richard
 

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I had a late model T-bird electric fan on my truck. At 70 mph the temperature made a steady climb. Put a 17-1/2” 4 blade off an old car on. Made a big difference.
 

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Thanks for the replies and suggestions.
The car does start when hot, though it just barely cranks over when hot.
Since the radiator is cooler at the bottom and hotter at the top, I assume the pump is going in the right direction.
Seems like the consensus is that I need a puller fan (electric or engine driven). I think I can modify the radiator mounting to swing the lower radiator forward and so make some room for a fan. However, since the engine temp seems to keep rising above 180 while going down the road at 60, (on a 90+ degree day) I'm afraid that even the biggest fan won't solve the problem. That's why I was hoping that the engine/cam/ignition timing might be a cause of the engine running so hot.

Here's some additional information: The engine oil cooler sits right in front of the radiator a few inches forward. The transmission cooler is in the back with its own fan. I don't know where else I could put the oil cooler. Space up front is pretty limited. I had thought that the oil cooler was not needed for the way I plan to drive the car, but the lines to the cooler were pretty hot after just a few miles.
I don’t know if this will help but here it goes. If you cant find room for pullers maybe you could use a smaller, one row radiator. This might give you just enough room for pullers. I have that setup in a truck with a 460 and it works great. I used Deralle
Thanks for the replies and suggestions.
The car does start when hot, though it just barely cranks over when hot.
Since the radiator is cooler at the bottom and hotter at the top, I assume the pump is going in the right direction.
Seems like the consensus is that I need a puller fan (electric or engine driven). I think I can modify the radiator mounting to swing the lower radiator forward and so make some room for a fan. However, since the engine temp seems to keep rising above 180 while going down the road at 60, (on a 90+ degree day) I'm afraid that even the biggest fan won't solve the problem. That's why I was hoping that the engine/cam/ignition timing might be a cause of the engine running so hot.

Here's some additional information: The engine oil cooler sits right in front of the radiator a few inches forward. The transmission cooler is in the back with its own fan. I don't know where else I could put the oil cooler. Space up front is pretty limited. I had thought that the oil cooler was not needed for the way I plan to drive the car, but the lines to the cooler were pretty hot after just a few miles.
Thanks for the replies and suggestions.
The car does start when hot, though it just barely cranks over when hot.
Since the radiator is cooler at the bottom and hotter at the top, I assume the pump is going in the right direction.
Seems like the consensus is that I need a puller fan (electric or engine driven). I think I can modify the radiator mounting to swing the lower radiator forward and so make some room for a fan. However, since the engine temp seems to keep rising above 180 while going down the road at 60, (on a 90+ degree day) I'm afraid that even the biggest fan won't solve the problem. That's why I was hoping that the engine/cam/ignition timing might be a cause of the engine running so hot.

Here's some additional information: The engine oil cooler sits right in front of the radiator a few inches forward. The transmission cooler is in the back with its own fan. I don't know where else I could put the oil cooler. Space up front is pretty limited. I had thought that the oil cooler was not needed for the way I plan to drive the car, but the lines to the cooler were pretty hot after just a few miles.
One row radiator might give you more room and 3600 cfm or more pullers. Got that setup on my truck and it works great.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
There seems to be some misunderstanding about transmission oil temperature. It needs to be between 180° & 200°. For the very same reasons your engine needs to be up to temperature.
That's why OEMs put the tranny cooler in the radiator. To help heat the oil in the winter. I can't imagine why a light car, such as yours, needs an engine oil cooler. It can be a determent in cold weather. Oil not warm enough, equals stuck oil control rings.

Richard
I imagine the PO used an external tranny cooler to reduce the demand on the radiator. He put in a temp gauge for the transmission and the fan is switched. Maybe the oil cooler is there in an attempt to keep engine temps down?! Otherwise, like you said, it seems a bad idea. I haven't checked the oil temperature once the engine gets up to 230, except by feel. I can check with a lazer thermometer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I wonder if you guys with the one row radiators have bigger cross flow radiators on your trucks?
Will it start after you shut it off ? That radiator looks small, how many gallons does it hold ? Keep in mind an aluminum radiator will not cool as well as a copper / brass radiator. Not knowing anything about the engine I wonder if someone just put the timing chain in the 4 degree advance slot without degreeing in ? I would plug off the coolant bypass and drill a hole in the thermostat, that will let more coolant pass through the radiator.
I wonder about the cam timing too.
If I plug the coolant bypass, won't that just make it warm up faster? The EMP thermostat comes with holes.
Thanks for your help
 

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One more thing, since you didn't rebuild the engine yourself and it is a fairly common mistake: Make sure the back plate is on the water pump. Lots of guys who aren't familiar with 385s forget or don't know to put them on.
 

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I don’t know if this will help but here it goes. If you cant find room for pullers maybe you could use a smaller, one row radiator. This might give you just enough room for pullers. I have that setup in a truck with a 460 and it works great. I used Deralle


One row radiator might give you more room and 3600 cfm or more pullers. Got that setup on my truck and it works great.
Sorry about the two responses. Not tech savvy.
I wonder if you guys with the one row radiators have bigger cross flow radiators on your trucks?

I wonder about the cam timing too.
If I plug the coolant bypass, won't that just make it warm up faster? The EMP thermostat comes with holes.
Thanks for your help
I know the tubes are pretty big. As big as they get from what I understand. Had a radiator shop order it for me because I was concerned about the possibility of overheating due to slow operating speeds. He said it would be fine as long as I had puller fans. The fans never turn on while moving at 45 or faster. When they turn on though, you know it. I don’t have the answer but it’s an idea. I hope he finds what works.
 

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Sorry about the two responses. Not tech savvy.

I know the tubes are pretty big. As big as they get from what I understand. Had a radiator shop order it for me because I was concerned about the possibility of overheating due to slow operating speeds. He said it would be fine as long as I had puller fans. The fans never turn on while moving at 45 or faster. When they turn on though, you know it. I don’t have the answer but it’s an idea. I hope he finds what works.
From what I understand, running lean; spark firing too soon, not enough oil/lubrication can make it run hot. I had a radiator that looked good but would overheat constantly. I tried all kinds of stuff but nothing worked until I took the radiator to a shop. They said it was toast. They couldn’t do anything for me. I had them order me one and it works great. They didn’t charge me since they weren’t able to fix the old one. He was a stand up guy. If you’re overheating, I would start by making sure the rad is working right. Then from there move on to the motor.
 

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I wouldn't go swapping too much stuff right now. If you have a temp gun, shoot the radiator in and out(top tank and bottom tank). That'll tell you how much work its doing. Old t-birds usually have the radiator cap sitting slightly lower than the engine h2o outlet. This causes steam to accumulate at the outlet and gives you a false high water temp reading. It's actually measuring steam accumulation that cant get back to the radiator. (Look at old FE pics with the fill tanks mounted on engine to give a place for de-gas.) There's a couple things you can do to bleed a system like this but its a PITA and you'll have to do it everytime you open the cap. I would move the temp sender to front of manifold where the heater outlet normally is just in case. You'll get much better reading there anyway. Plug the one above thermostat or use it for electric fan switch. Try that out and repost
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Thanks Hillbilly911 and everyone else for your ideas. My laser temp gun is a cheap Harbor Freight unit, which I tested with boiling water and found that it reads about 10 degrees low, so my temp gauge is probably more accurate. However you are right that the upper radiator temp is lower than at the top of the thermostat housing and the lower radiator is cooler.

I'll try moving the temp sender and then move from the simpler changes (like flush the cooling system) to the more involved changes until I get the car running cool enough. It will probably be a while, but I'll eventually repost and let you know what I find.
 
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