Pantera Cooling System

Hi guys,

Well after 12 weeks of work replacing rusted floor and sill sections, yesterday my car went back on the road for it's maiden voyage on Australian roads.

I picked a great day for it too, 35 degrees and a hot Northerly blowing.

Now the old girl didn't like the temperatures which is why I wanted to ask a few questions about the cooling system.

The car has a new alloy radiator and a set of 12" electric thermo fans fitted. They are rated at 880cfm. Both the radiator and the fans came from Summit racing equipment in Nevada. The water pump was replaced at the same time and it uses an Edelbrock 8844 series high volume pump.

The tanks in the engine bay appear to be original, and are chromed finish, but have obviously leaked at some point as there is evidence of solder on top of both tanks. Not currently leaking though.

Both tanks have pressure caps on them.

Driving the car yesterday the temp gauge reached 210 degrees F and when I stopped the car, there was water coming out from under the pressure cap on the smaller of the two bottles and dripping onto the headers.

Can somebody please explain how the system works and what both tanks are for. Should both have pressure caps, and should they both be full of water?
Original Post
When I purchased my car, the former owner told me that the rearmost (toward the back of the car) bottle should be full when the engine is cold, then open the bleeder on the rad until some fluid show ups, close it off, top up the bottle and it's set. Then open the bottle behind it - closer to the cabin (overflow bottle) and make sure it has about 5" of fluid in it (1/3 full). That's worked fine for me in the northern climate, I've driven in 35C weather a few times here and it's never gone over about 180.

I'm using a 50/50 water/antifreeze mix. I'll defer to the gurus on whether having both tanks full and full of just water maybe the cause of the bubbling over.
Ah, new owner cooling questions....deja vu Smiler

In no particular order:

And yes, some of these are real basic, but troubleshooting should always start off with the obvious.

Are both fans turning the correct direction? You need to get that air flowing from front to rear through the radiator.

Has the system been fully burped of all air?

Are both fans actually working? Controlled by relays with temp sensor(s)? AND/OR controlled by switches?

There is often a mismatch of pressure caps to the necks on the stock tanks. Euro neck, USA cap. Any radiator shop can cut off the old neck and braze on the proper one.

Is the cap new? 16 pounds is common rating.

Rearmost tank is surge tank. It should always be full. Should have a pressure cap. SHOULD NOT have the temp sensor still mounted in it, as was stock. Move that sensor to the block, just below the thermostat housing.

Foremost tank is overflow tank. It should be about half full when system is cold. Overflow hose from that tank should be lengthened and moved so it exits behind the rear tire, NOT in front. Antifreeze is not good for traction control. That tank only needs a closure cap, it should NOT have a pressure cap. If overfilled, it will just puke out the extra coolant until it finds its own proper level.

Stock temp gauge is notorious for NOT showing the true temp. If you have an infrared temp gun, use it to seek out system temps at various places. 210 is not a dire temp, but is high.

The true test of a Pantera cooling system is what happens when you turn the engine off. If there is no overflow, no boiling of water in the tanks, no steam escaping from who knows where, then your system really has no major problems.

A recent thread here on this forum discusses the Cleveland specific thermostat. Find that thread. Then pull your thermostat housing and see what you have. The wrong one (That is, what is proper for all the other small block Fords) will not function as needed, and will allow about 25% of the coolant leaving the pump to just immediately return to the block without ever going through the radiator.

Check all these items out and report back to us.

Larry
Hi OzGT5,
Yes check all of what Larry and Garth said.

Welcome and glad you have the Right Color Car applause

I live in Florida and worst case... you can do what I did. Which was after everything I checked was good, there was room on my rebuild for a 16 inch 2000 cfm sucker fan behind the (2) 900 pusher fans. I ran the fan on the lowest switch(unused) under the courtesy switch mounted. Use a relay.

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quote:
Which was after everything I checked was good, there was room on my rebuild for a 16 inch 2000 cfm sucker fan

Joe,

The added fan may have solved things, but if your radiator is the original stock piece (which it appears to be), I would suspect that tired old gal was your main culprit.

I always have felt three fans is an overkill that is used in trying to work-around something not yet discovered.

Have you had it rebuilt?

Larry
OK, so IF you want to change the rad, what alternatives exist besides an aluminum one?

I have heard all the benefits of them, but frankly, I've heard of more failures within a 5-year window than makes me all fuzzy for one. Does anyone have a recommendation for a good old fashioned brass rad for our cars? Feel free to PM me if you don't wish to publicly appear to support my heretic notion that aluminum rads are not the best thing ever invented.

Thanks!
Mark
THe simplest way to get a brass rad is to take an OEM unit to a rad shop and tell them to build you something that fits inside the OEM frame, which is soldered to the core. That way you'll be certain that it fits. I suspect there are also still some vendors that sell brass rads (possibly built exactly this way). I did this 18 yrs ago (4-tube copper core from Detroit Radiator) and it worked fine until I added the aluminum Fluidyne and Flexilite suckers. The aluminum rad upped cooling power immediately (15 degrees lower water temp), and I lost 25 lbs of weight off the nose. The old D-R unit with home-made shrouded dual sucker fans is available.....
The biggest problem with aluminum rads comes from the quality of water in your local area, even with a 50-50 mix of antifreeze. Fluidyne says that some East Coast water is so acidic, they replaced one Pantera's rad twice in 2 yrs from internal corrosion. Now, Fluidyne ships a bottle of No-Rosion with each rad. Sacrificial anodes work, too. FWIW, my Fluidyne from PI Motorsports is going on 8 yrs old on NV water with zero trouble.
Problems with alloy rads can usually be traced to improper mounting or something wrong with the coolant.

If a radiator is mounted too securely in a chassis the flexing and twisting of the chassis will flex and twist the radiator resulting in cracking, because aluminum work hardens. The lower mounting points on the Pantera radiator are two pins that slip through two rubber grommetts, no solid attachment. The upper mounts are "channel" shaped, they slip around the tanks and grip them with rubber. They are attached to the chassis with via another grommet type mounting arrangement. There's room for slipping there too. If those upper mounts are replaced with tabs welded to the radiator tanks, you must be careful to avoid fastening those tabs to the chassis in any solid manner.

The use of demineralized water you buy at the grocery store for steam irons is a good product to mix with your anti-freeze, it has very little mineral in it, but is not as corrosive as purer forms of bottled water. I also recommend the use of RMI-25. RMI-25 Web Site

When motorcycles were first water-cooled, some of them had a terrible problem with erosion, corrosion and scale in the cooling system, the radiators would plug up and the engine cases would erode until they leaked. RMI-25 was recommended to me 20 years ago for my motorcycles, and it absolutely solved all cooling system issues in my water cooled motorcycles. I use it in all my vehicles now. Choice Quality Stuff.
I would add a couple of comments here as addendum.

There is a difference between regular production anti-freeze like Prestone and the GM version. The GM is more expensive but is formulated to work better with aluminum radiators.

You should pressure test your system. You can buy a system/cap tester kit from a NAPA parts dealer for about $100. With it you can verify that your caps are holding the design pressure.

You can also verify that your system can be pressurized without a leak. The plumbing on the P car is very large with a lot of connections and turns. It is possible that the the junction hoses on the sub-floor pipes are worn out and permitting pressure drops in the system.

If you refer to a boiling/freezing chart (it is available on the Prestone anit-freeze web page) you will notice where the boiling points of the coolant are for varioujs pressurization of the system.

With no pressurization of the system, a coolant fluid temperature of 210 F is too close to boiling over.

Pressurized it is not a problem at all. In fact it is a good temperature to run at.

Doing this from memory (don't have the chart in front of me) I think that you are safe until something like 242 F with a 16 pound system?

If the car is cruising you will have enough air flow through the radiators to not even need the fans to run.



The biggest advantage of the aluminum radiators is the lighter weight. They are not more efficient then the brass/copper radiators.

The best radiator that I experience for the Pantera was Hall's Phoenix brass unit. With that one you could idle all day with the a/c on in Phoenix, AZ in the sun in the summer and not overheat.


I get the impression that some people think if the car isn't running at all times at 192 degrees there is something wrong. They are going to be just like the new, other cars and that means at times that they are going to push the limits of the system.

You can actually push this system a bit by using less flexible, or expandable hose like aeroquip and using higher pressure caps.


Basically what I am saying is that some of you need to get over all of this paranoia and accept the car for what it is...which ain't bad. Big Grin
quote:
I get the impression that some people think if the car isn't running at all times at 192 degrees there is something wrong. They are going to be just like the new, other cars, and that means at times that they are going to push the limits of the system. You can actually push this system a bit by using less flexible, or expandable hose like aeroquip and using higher pressure caps.

Basically what I am saying is that some of you need to get over all of this paranoia and accept the car for what it is...which ain't bad


I agree with Doug- our around-town '98 Z-28 Camaro has a single 16" shrouded sucker fan that doesn't even come on below 230F! 'Hot' on that car is over 245F... One caution: an 18-lb cap is about as high as one should go with an aluminum rad, and a 16-lb cap for copper/brass rads. Run the pressure much higher than this and you can balloon the very thin-wall core tubes in the rad, blocking airflow and causing overheating. Aluminum rads have much larger, thicker-walled core tubes than is possible with copper/brass, which allows far higher water flows. While the theoretical efficiency of a copper rad is higher than aluminum, the aluminum rad's higher water flow means that as a bottom line, your engine's water temp will run lower.
In our '72 with it's aftermarket-everything cooling system, the ONLY part that actually lowered the highway water temp was an aluminum Fluidyne rad (from PIM, incidently); dropped water temps 15F.
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