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FAQ

Q. How long have you been making these radiators?
A. We have been manufacturing radiators for over thirty-eighty years. We started making hi flow water pumps about seventeen years ago and we keep adding things e.g.die stamped tanks, machined logo dies, caps and necks, gas tank fabrication, custom fan shrouds, copper intercoolers and bespoke heat exchangers for all sorts of applications.

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Q. Where are the radiators made?
A. We manufacture our radiators in Paso Robles.   A small town in the wine country on the central coast of California.

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Q. What is a heavy duty and standard radiators?
A. Like “Ultra” detergent, heavy duty and standard radiators are marketing terms that do not mean a whole lot to cooling performance. Radiator buyers might instead ask questions like …what is the tube configuration, how many fins per inch, how is the fin material constructed, what type of solder was used, where is your copper sourced, how deep is this core, what gauge are the side walls and mounting brackets, how thick is the tank material, how do you test your radiators, what size radiator do I need for my application, do you actually make these cores etc. The answers will help you find a qualified radiator manufacturer and the best radiator for your application.

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Q. What is the difference between a Brassworks Model A and the cheaper ones I see in catalogs?
A. Our dies stamp the correct direction, we use galvanized steel to prevent rust, our tanks are a heavier gauge of brass, the tubes in our cores are a more efficient tube design (see below), our 28-29 inlet has the funnel neck and the 30-31 has the correct angled tube, our 28-29 top tanks are three piece part and our 30-31 is deep drawn, we have the wire harness tabs and internal baffles, we use the same paint that Ford did and we do not gob-on the solder to save time in production. In short, we pride ourselves on building our radiators to mimic Ford’s design and improve them where you cannot tell. It takes more time and more effort to do it properly and it costs us more to manufacture in the United States. This is reflected in the 10-20 dollar price premium over the discount radiators offered in some catalogs.

Q. How many tubes are in your 1928-1929 flat tube core?
A. Brassworks 28-29 Model A flat tube radiators consist of fifty-seven elongated tubes. The internal wall of the ¾ inch elliptical shape tube has 293% more surface area than Fords round tube design. The tube wall is 40% thinner and is constructed with a seamless weld.  With fifty seven tubes, the aggregate cubic volume is 4% greater than the original round tube design.  With fewer tubes you can actually get more cooling.

Q. How many tubes are in your 1930-1931 flat tube core?
A. Brassworks 30-31 Model A flat tube radiators consist of fifty-seven elongated tubes. The internal wall of the ¾ inch elliptical shape tube has 134% more surface area than Fords oval tube design. The tube wall is 80% thinner and is constructed with a seamless weld. The aggregate cubic volume is 112% greater than Fords original oval tube design.

A flattened tube with a thinner wall improves heat transfer and makes a better radiator.

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Q. Do you sell Aluminum Radiators?
A. The Brassworks does not manufacture an aluminum radiator.  Here’s why…

Physics – The material property that indicates its ability to conduct heat is known as its thermal conductivity.  Copper has a thermal conductivity of 231 Btu/hr/ft. Aluminum has a thermal conductivity of 136 Btu/hr/ft.  Copper is a significantly better heat exchange medium.

Chemistry – Aluminum is more vulnerable to electrolytic corrosion than copper/brass because aluminum is a highly reactive metal.  If the corrosion inhibitors are used up and the pH of the coolant drops to 7 or below, aluminum becomes a sacrificial anode and is eaten away resulting in radiator seam failure and coolant leak.

Environmental – Half of the failures of Aluminum radiators are simply thrown away.

Economics – Aluminum costs around 1.20 a pound and high quality production grade Copper costs over 5.00 a pound.  Material costs of Copper and Brass radiators are greater than Aluminum. Aluminum is a more profitable metal for radiator manufactures but that does not make it a better value for car owners.

History - In 1975, the federal government established Corporate Average Fuel Efficiency (CAFE) standards. CAFE standards are 27.5 miles per gallon (mpg) for cars and 20.7 mpg for light trucks.  Car manufacturers began to immediately lighten the load. After all, for every 100 pounds of weight removed from a vehicle, there’s an increase of half a mile of fuel efficiency.

Longevity - Aluminum radiators have a shorter life. When the epoxy glue in an aluminum radiator leaks and needs repairs, many aluminum manufacturers, throw it in the scrap pile and make a new one. When the weld fails, few shops can repair it so in the scrap it goes. Just how much margin is in an aluminum radiator to justify that? We frequently restore copper and brass radiators that are over 100 years old.

We find most car enthusiasts who are battling an overheating engine quickly come to understand and appreciate the heat transfer benefits, reduced maintenance, longevity and long-term value a copper radiator affords them over the aluminum alternative.

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Q. How much does a Brassworks Street Rod or Classic Car radiator cost?
A. Our radiators are priced individually based on material cost and time required for fabrication and assembly time. Radiators start below 600 and go up depending upon the time involved in their construction. Radiator restorations too vary greatly based on materials and fabrication or build time. Please call 805-239-2501 or email us for a quote.

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Q. Is it better to restore my antique radiator or buy a Brassworks reproduction?
A. Brass will work-harden when formed. Additionally, being heated and cooled and the simple progression of time will work harden the brass. Work hardened brass may crack when bent and separated. If this happens on a header, then the header will need to be replaced. The header must match the core’s tube pattern so the core would need to be replaced. This involves removal of sidewalls, bottom bars, bottom tank etc. As the time adds up, the cost of the restoration adds up and you may soon arrive at (or pass) the price of a newly fabricated radiator.

A properly restored radiator will retain die stamped parts and castings and will help hold a car’s value. It is a decision best made by the vehicle owner.

We collect and preserve radiators as patterns.

If you send us a radiator to pattern from and are going to dispose of your radiator, we are happy to keep it in our warehouse.

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Q. How much does a radiator restoration cost?
A. We frequently receive calls asking for the cost of a restoration of a radiator. We will do our best to estimate the cost of a “sight unseen” radiator but no estimate is a firm quote. We estimate based upon our experience, we visually inspect the radiator upon receipt and we contact you if we foresee incremental time involved in your radiator.

We cannot say how long your radiator will take to restore until the core builder, part fabricator and assembler has turned in the time. We charge on a time and materials basis and we only progress if you know and understand this restoration process.

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Q. Can you just do a recore?
A. Recoring a radiator with a new core but not addressing the underlying problems is a quick fix and often pennywise but pound foolish. When we restore a radiator, we dismantle it, clean all materials, resurface, and inspect the radiator from the inside out. We straighten and remove dents, fabricate, build and install a new core, test and paint. A simple radiator generally can be done in 6-8 hours, a more complicated radiator with angled headers, cellular honeycomb cores, complex parts, dent removal time, bolt mounting, crank holes, split cores, tank reliefs, bar forming, or confusing customer drawings tend to take us more time.

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Q. My honeycomb radiator leaks, can you fix it?
A. Honeycomb radiators are a unique and attractive core design. People may used the term honeycomb to refer to a variety of designs with flared cartridge or cellular film style cores. The shapes or patterns may be squares, diamond, hexagons, chevrons, circles, A type, Auburn or Moreaux patterns.

Honeycomb radiators are best left to a professional radiator restorer. A good way to determine the experience of your prospective restorer is to visit their business, ask questions about the process, ask what is “in the shop right now” and what was shipped in the last few weeks that was like the radiator you have. A radiator shop learning to restore a honeycomb on your time can generate an expensive bill and a mess of a radiator.

By construction and design honeycomb cores are difficult to build, clean and repair. They are also a unique and necessary to a period correct restored car, truck or fire engine. We generally replace the honeycomb core with a new honeycomb core for improved cooling and longevity.
Call 805-239-2501 for honeycomb core radiator restoration pricing.

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Q. Does a Brassworks radiator have a warranty?
A. Each radiator is tested to ensure there are no leaks and is fit to an original shell when available. Our radiators are manufactured one at a time by human hands and because we are human, we can make mistakes. Each Brassworks radiator comes with a non-transferable warranty against defects in materials and workmanship for two years from the ship date. During the warranty period, Brassworks will repair, or at its option, replace at no charge components that prove defective. Radiators must be returned with proof of purchase and shipping and insurance prepaid. Please do not send radiators to the facility without calling first.

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Q. Can the Brassworks repair my antique radiator?
A. If a Brassworks radiator has a failure outside of the warranty period we will repair the radiator at our shop rate. If your radiator requires repairs and parts fabrication please visit our restoration page to learn more about the process.  An approved customer estimate is required before any work is done.

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Q. I did not see my street rod on the list, can the Brassworks make me a radiator?
A. We fabricate many radiators from our customer’s existing radiator and frequently from our customer’s drawings. An approved estimate and customer approval is required before any work is done.

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Q. What should I do with my old radiator?
A. Despite the all-time high price level of metals used in radiator construction, the value of your radiator as scrap metal is quite low due to the mixture of metals and the condition of the metal. The Brassworks retains perhaps the largest radiator pattern collection in the world and we use that to confirm accuracy of measurements for unique classic cars. If you are going to send a radiator to the scrap yard, contact us and we might be interested in it for our radiator pattern collection.

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Q. I have seen different cores in 1928 and 1929 Model A radiators, which is original?
A. Ford began producing radiators for the 1928 Model A at their Green Island Plant and then outsourced to three other radiator manufactures due to popularity of the Model A. The three outsourced radiators are referred to as “The Long”, “The Flintlock” and “The McCord.” Original Model A’s in 1928 and 1929 may have 3 or 5 rows and 87, 94 or 100 round tubes. Our most common reproduction radiator for these cars cool better than Ford’s original design due to advances in radiator design.

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Q. Why does my Model T (or Model A) run hot?
A. Your Model T can run hot for a variety of reasons; carbonized cylinders, low speed driving, a fuel mixture that is too lean, spark may be too far retarded, defective ignition, clogged muffler, improper carburator adjustment, a slipping fan belt or your may be trying to cool with a radiator that has become clogged. Over the last 80 to 90 years your radiator will have accumulated dirt and grime both inside and out. This build up will impede the heat transfer between the coolant and tube or the tube and fins. Either inside or out, it will impact a radiator’s ability to cool.

You may read more about “Ford’s Cooling System here

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Q. I am close to boiling…how can I reduce my engine temperature a few degrees?
A. If you are looking to reduce your engine temperature consider the low cost solution of altering your ratio of distilled water to coolant.
Specific heat is the amount of heat required to change a unit mass of a substance by one degree in temperature. The specific heat capacity of ethylene glycol based water solutions is less than the specific heat capacity of clean water e.g. water will better dissipate heat than ethylene glycol.

Boiling Point of Ethylene Glycol Solution

(% by volume)

0

10%

20%

30%

40%

50%

60%

70%

80%

90%

100%

Boiling Temp in degrees F

212

214

216

220

220

225

232

245

260

288

386

Boiling Temp in degrees C

100

101

102

104

104

107

111

118

127

142

197

Distilled or deionized water should be used for ethylene glycol solutions as chlorinated (AKA City Water) may be corrosive to your system.

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Q. Will you hot tank, boil out or rod out my original radiator?
A. Using hot tanks and boiling out radiators involves caustic and corrosive metals. The chemicals can clean but if left too long to too corrosive can expose leaks and compromise the integrity of the radiator. We do not do this as we do not want to be responsible for causing a leak or raising the costs through repairing exposed leaks.

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Q. Why is my Model T frame slightly wider than Ford’s original specification?
A. Regrettably, we all sag with age. You may find the distance from the center to center of the mounting bolt holes has spread open 1/4 to 1/2 inches. To restore the frame, first unbolt and drop the front spring, loop a chain through cross member around both side rails and securely bolt together above from cross member. Using a bottle jack on top of front cross member, jack the chain up to pull
in the side rails of the frame. When it has returned to 21.5″ you are ready for radiator installation.

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Q. Why am I am seeing foam and/or bubbles in my radiator??
A. Foam in the radiator may be caused by anti-freeze and low water. To remove low water foam, fill the radiator to within 2″s from the top of the radiator tank. This will allow for natural expansion of the coolant and help evacuate air.
An alternative explanation for foam may be the use of a detergent in the cooling system to remove excess oil from the cooling system – it is commonly done with older cars and takes quite a while to remove.

Foam from an over flow tube or bubbles however may may indicate a compression leak. Fill the radiator with water to the neck and run the engine at a fast idle watching the coolant for bubbles. With a compression leak, the hotter the water gets the larger the bubbles get e.g. generally growing from 1/8 inces to ¾ inches.

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Q. What is the difference between an expansion tank and a recovery tank?
A. This picture illustrates the difference.

Q. Can I lay my AC condenser down flat?
A. Probably not. Read more about laying AC condensers flat.

Q. How do you ship the radiators?
A. We ship via UPS ground. Each radiator is encased in a foam cocoon to protect against damage. It is then inserted into a heavy stock box easily identified by the box color and The Brassworks logo. Some overseas orders can be shipped via the USPS but it largely depends upon the receiving country’s postal service acceptance of the box size. We also ship to freight forwarders and consolidators in the US who build container loads for foreign destinations.

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Q. Radiators have gotten expensive…why?
A. Building handcrafted radiators is labor intensive and cost of materials e.g. copper, brass and lead has risen as world demand has outpaced supply.   Most of the cost of a radiator is in the labor of parts fabrication and assembly.  As a business, we have workman’s compensation, unemployment insurance, employment taxes, environmental regulatory fees and licenses etc.

Additionally, our material costs keep climbing.  We recommend to our customers that they buy fewer foreign produced goods. The foreign economies will slow, they will build fewer houses with copper plumbing, use less copper for power and telephone lines. More copper will be available on the market and radiators will be cheaper.

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Q. Who is Briscoe Manufacturing?
A. The Briscoe Manufacturing Company was the company started by Benjamin Briscoe in 1886 when he was 19 years old, initially producing sheet metal goods such as pails and sprinkling cans. In 1901 J.P. Morgan invested the sizeable sum of $100,000.00 in Briscoe’s company, and 1902 he met Ransom Olds (founder of Olds Motor Works, bought in 1899 by S.L. Smith, and designer of the 1901 curved-dash Oldsmobile) and his engineer at the time Jonathan D. Maxwell (with whom he would later form Maxwell-Briscoe in 1904) and commenced the production of radiators and other automotive products for Olds Motor Works and other companies.

Q. Who is a Harrison Radiator Core?
A. The Harrison Radiator Corporation was an early manufacturer of automotive radiators.

Q. What is FlowKooler?
A. FlowKooler is The Brasswork’s sister company. FlowKooler manufactures over 90 different high flow water pumps designed to cool engines that overheat at at lower rpms and stop and go traffic. If you wish to learn more please visit our website www.flowkoolerwaterpumps.com.

Q.Who are all the guys holding signs on your website?
A. We try to take photos of our radiators when they leave. Unfortunately some photos are not web-worthy so we use the founders of the companies until we have a photos that is good enough.  Some of them are  characters.

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