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Aluminum Radiators and Electrolysis


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A thread the other day about the best aluminum radiator and a response by Mesozoic prompted this article. As more and more of us are replacing our brass radiators with aluminum this is something we need to be concerned about.

Edit (08262021): Updated the article to include a section about cathodic protection and the availability of a zinc anode for automotive radiators. Thank you TheDude for bringing the availability to my attention.

 

 

Aluminum Radiators and Electrolysis-v2.pdf

Edited by Don C
Updated article
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“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”

--Albert Einstein

 

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  • 6 years later...

I agree with Don C. I have both and prefer the brass and copper radiators. Chuck

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On 2/24/2015 at 1:02 PM, Don C said:

A thread the other day about the best aluminum radiator and a response by Mesozoic prompted this article. As more and more of us are replacing our brass radiators with aluminum this is something we need to be concerned about.

Aluminum Radiators and Electrolysis.pdf 35.69 kB · 86 downloads

Six years after your post, but still is a very good article.

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20160929_171923_edit2_small.jpg

 

1971 M-Code Mach 1 w/Ram Air, 408 stroker, 285/291 0.558" roller cam, Blue Thunder intake, TKO600, Hooker headers with electric cut-offs, FiTech EFI w/ RobBMC PowerSurge pump

Strange center section with Truetrac, 3.5 gear and 31 spline axles, 4-wheel disc brakes

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Having had boats used mostly in salt water, we always used sacrificial zincs to keep electrolysis and at bay. Seems like with aluminum radiators, water pumps and heads, the same thing would make sense in the cooling system. Maybe something like this might make sense https://www.flex-a-lite.com/radiator-anode.html   https://www.amazon.com/Flex-lite-32060-Anode-Drain/dp/B001GR09S4 

Edited by TheDude
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 image.png.c5a82cdc270542869e213815ec368140.png   72 Fastback - 351C-4V, Fitech EFI, T56 Magnum 6 Speed, FiTech EFI, 8.8 / 4.10 LSD Rear end, discs all around. Fancy rattle can paint job. 

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Interesting, I'm familiar with cathodic protection for various things, such as reinforcing in concrete, pipelines, water heaters, and as you said, saltwater vessels, but hadn't heard that it was available for aluminum radiators.

Thank you for sharing, I'll update the article.

Don

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“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”

--Albert Einstein

 

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Actually didn't realize you wrote that. Very cool.

Doing some googling around and I see that the form factor of that zinc is pretty common and used frequently in Marine engines. So there are bunches around in different lengths NPT size etc. and often under $10. One could conceivably screw one of these into the block or water pump. But I'm thinking might be a bad idea as the anode might come apart as it wears? I suppose if you consider it a wear item and replace it before its too far gone that should be OK. 

Here's some examples

https://www.boatzincs.com/engine-sizes.html?gclid=Cj0KCQjwsZKJBhC0ARIsAJ96n3UxXJH7Fq_BNOM3a7t-utP3T-oYs4KR5REW3nCUPNUC0nNQMJE6zNcaAktKEALw_wcB

 image.png.c5a82cdc270542869e213815ec368140.png   72 Fastback - 351C-4V, Fitech EFI, T56 Magnum 6 Speed, FiTech EFI, 8.8 / 4.10 LSD Rear end, discs all around. Fancy rattle can paint job. 

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Didn't they used to sell an anode that hung just inside the radiator cap? I seem to recall JC Whitney had something like that...although, being JC Whitney, who knows if their version actually worked.

Edited by detritusmaximus
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24 minutes ago, detritusmaximus said:

Didn't they used to sell an anode that hung just inside the radiator cap? I seem to recall JC Whitney had something like that...although, being JC Whitney, who knows if their version actually worked.

Well there you go, that's even easier. https://www.summitracing.com/parts/sdk-c5zz8100rce  or  https://www.amazon.com/MACs-Parts-Radiator-Sacrificial-Anode/dp/B095SZ8H7D

 image.png.c5a82cdc270542869e213815ec368140.png   72 Fastback - 351C-4V, Fitech EFI, T56 Magnum 6 Speed, FiTech EFI, 8.8 / 4.10 LSD Rear end, discs all around. Fancy rattle can paint job. 

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1 hour ago, detritusmaximus said:

Didn't they used to sell an anode that hung just inside the radiator cap? I seem to recall JC Whitney had something like that...although, being JC Whitney, who knows if their version actually worked.

Good memory, now that you mention it, I do seem to recall them. But, I considered them in the same category as the tube of stuff that you squeezed into the battery to rejuvenate it and make it last for many years.

On the other hand, though, I bought my first tool set (Indestro) from them, and I still use the ratchet, a few of the sockets, and most of the end wrenches, and that makes them over a half-century old, even still have the metal tool box.

 

 

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”

--Albert Einstein

 

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I went looking for an old JC Whitney catalog ad online for giggles...the younger members probably wouldn't believe what they were seeing. I won't muddy up this thread, but I found stuff worthy of a new thread!

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Yeah, I wish I had kept one of the paper catalogs, some interesting stuff.

 

 

“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”

--Albert Einstein

 

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I was at a car show not long ago checking out a pretty cool Nissan GTR surrounded by the owner and a bunch of 20-30 year old guys. He was showing some gadget that helped keep the hood up since the stock hardware wasn't there anymore. I jokingly asked if he got that from JC Whitney... 

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 image.png.c5a82cdc270542869e213815ec368140.png   72 Fastback - 351C-4V, Fitech EFI, T56 Magnum 6 Speed, FiTech EFI, 8.8 / 4.10 LSD Rear end, discs all around. Fancy rattle can paint job. 

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Exactly. The best part was spending 5 minutes trying to explain what it was to a bunch of guys who basically boiled it down to "so it's just like like car parts like on the internet, right?". 

Here's one of the VW catalogs if someone is board. https://www.thesamba.com/vw/archives/lit/jcwhitney_1996summer/JC Whitney Catalog Summer 1996.pdf

 image.png.c5a82cdc270542869e213815ec368140.png   72 Fastback - 351C-4V, Fitech EFI, T56 Magnum 6 Speed, FiTech EFI, 8.8 / 4.10 LSD Rear end, discs all around. Fancy rattle can paint job. 

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I have fond memories of flipping through the JC Whitney catalog at my grandfathers house.  All kinds of goof stuff, retrofit cruise control, sketchy dually wheel kits, random musical horns, chrome stuff etc...

 

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I updated the article this morning.

Don

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“If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough.”

--Albert Einstein

 

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