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Calcium and Lime in Radiators


MacAR
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Just curious how you guys get the lime and calcium out of your tractor radiators. My 340 is still getting hot after having the head and valves done. Figured it was a blown headgasket at first but not the case. I flushed the radiator with a commercial flush from parts store and it removed a lot of rust and gunk, but I can see lime/calcium buildups in the top tank and tubes of the rad. A friend of mine recommended white vinegar, and another recommended CLR followed by baking soda to neutralize it. Worst case I'll have to have the rad rodded out but I'd really like to start putting the tractor back together and not take it apart further! Any advice is appreciated, figured I'd ask here before doing anything as you fellers have a lot more experience with this sort of thing than I do. 

Mac

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I would flush again with rad flush, preferably with T-stat removed for optimal flow, white vinegar isn’t going to do any particular harm to your system but I think you want something designed for it. The flush should take care of buildup. Once rinsed use 50/50 antifreeze, not straight up and tap water. 

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This guy does heater cores with CLR and has success. Jump to 10 minutes in to skip family time. It would seem you could do the same with a radiator:

 

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...one of the items that cause so many issues....cooling systems...

...the lack of a coolant conditioner over the first 40 yrs  of the engines life  will always come back to haunt the bloke that lovingly restores that tractor....

...top tank off and clean each and every tube out......or fit new core....

....only way to go, Mac ....:)

Mike

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5 hours ago, vtfireman85 said:

I would flush again with rad flush,

I might do that, Seth. The cost of the rad flush and the vinegar is about the same if I'm honest. At this point, I don't have a lot to loose. 

4 hours ago, Dan Robinson said:

Only way to do it correctly, is have the radiator recored.

Very true Dan, but I've never been one to be "correct" 😄. I really, really don't want to have to take the radiator off unless I absolutely have to. But if I do, I already have a local radiator shop lined up to clean it for me. 

2 hours ago, New Englander said:

This guy does heater cores with CLR and has success.

I found that video very interesting. If I could rig a way to isolate the radiator, that might work out just fine. 

1 hour ago, Dirt_Floor_Poor said:

If that radiator is old and looks very bad at all, it’s likely scrap metal. If you actually get it cleaned there’s a good chance with all the crud removed it will leak. 

It still looks good, just cruddy inside. The initial rad flush treatment cleaned out an unbelievable amount of rust, but didn't touch the calcium/lime buildup.

50 minutes ago, mike newman said:

....only way to go, Mac ....

Probably so, Mike. If worse comes to worse, I'll take it down and have it rodded out. Good radiator shops, like good machine shops, are beginning to disappear. 

24 minutes ago, edwardporter1 said:

Cascade dumped into radiator does a good job cleaning. Better than store bought rad flushes

As in Cascade dishwasher detergent? How much should you use, and will it break the lime? 

Mac

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A friend who is an old oilfield mechanic swears by automatic dishwasher detergent. 

Here's his procedure. Add a generous amount of detergent, cup? Start engine and warm up to operating temperature. Then running it for 15 min at operating speed, typically 2000 rpm. Shut off engine and allow to cool some. Remove the lower radiator hose and let the coolant out fast! After the engine is cool enough, add fresh water and detergent and repeat the whole process 3 times. Then fill with water again and put to work and see how she does. If she's OK drain water out and replace with appropriate coolant. If still bad remove the radiator and replace or have it cleaned. 

He says his procedure will clean almost anything that can be cleaned.

Thx-Ace 

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Yeah I ruined mine trying to flush it with acid after being dissatisfied with radiator shop cleaning, raidiator shop claimed EPA eliminated the good stuff in the 80's.  I ended up putting a aluminum one in and will recore it if the aluminum one goes.  I spent to much time cleaning the block and replacing the water pump to put a calcium deposit radiator back on.  I also put a high flow thermostat out of a Mopar, after experiencing running hot issues upon start up.  Find my 656 build thread for details.

Scott

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How bad is it? That should determine what course of action is necessary for the results that you want and need. If it’s something you use on occasion and it only bothers when it’s really hot out, then try a flush, try clr, try cascade, etc. but if it’s something you depend on daily, ie; daily driver, fix it once and done. Recore it or replace it, then buy premixed antifreeze so that you’re not dealing with this again in the future. 
My 2 cents, been there, done that. New radiator made a new tractor out of it.

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Restore from Cummins is supposed to be good.  There are two varieties of it so make sure you get the right one.  I thought Cascade was for when your oil cooler ruptured.  Can't hurt to try it on the rust though.

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They make a stronger vinegar called cleaning vinegar can be bought at most stores. Vinegar is acidic around 3.5 ph so it should remove some of the higher ph minerals. But nothing like having it cleaned and rodded like the used to do in old days.

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4 hours ago, MacAR said:

I might do that, Seth. The cost of the rad flush and the vinegar is about the same if I'm honest. At this point, I don't have a lot to loose. 

Very true Dan, but I've never been one to be "correct" 😄. I really, really don't want to have to take the radiator off unless I absolutely have to. But if I do, I already have a local radiator shop lined up to clean it for me. 

I found that video very interesting. If I could rig a way to isolate the radiator, that might work out just fine. 

It still looks good, just cruddy inside. The initial rad flush treatment cleaned out an unbelievable amount of rust, but didn't touch the calcium/lime buildup.

Probably so, Mike. If worse comes to worse, I'll take it down and have it rodded out. Good radiator shops, like good machine shops, are beginning to disappear. 

As in Cascade dishwasher detergent? How much should you use, and will it break the lime? 

Mac

I just dump a box in the radiator .make sure it gets good and hot. Run it for 1/2hrs. Then drain rinse. It will eat crud and deposits out. May have to do it several times

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I have tried a number of chemicals to clean calcium build up out and none really done the job. Did end up with leaks several times. Have had much better results from rodding them myself, all old dozers with bolted cast iron tanks. I did open some crude patches in tubes that had been damaged. As it was only one tube I soldered it closed top and bottom and all was good.

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On 8/11/2022 at 3:35 PM, jeeper61 said:

What ever route you go use distilled water to make your coolant mix it is free of all minerals 

X200

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Thought I'd update y'all. I went yesterday and bought 3 gallons of white vinegar. For $8, thought it would be worth a try. I clamped off the tad hoses and poured 2.5 gal in this morning before work, around 7:30. Let it work til 6:30 this evening. Came home, drained the radiator and refilled with the other half gallon of vinegar and 3.5 gal of water and unclamped the hoses. Ran for 5 minutes with a feed sack over the rad, then flushed with pure water with the draincock open. Drove tractor up and down hills wide open and at idle for 30 minutes, with the feed sack over the grille and I could never get the temperature gauge to go past the N in RUN. Going to drain and refill with antifreeze tomorrow afternoon, after retorquing the head and checking the valves again. Plan is to hook it to the brush hog Sunday and see how it gets on, but I'm cautiously optimistic. So for those of you curious, you evidently can clean a radiator out with vinegar!

Mac

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I’ve used both of these products. This winter I had to do a flush on my d7 when the oil cooler wheat out. I did 2 or 3 flushes with cascade detergent. 1lb each time. Fresh water rinse them hot it again twice more with fleetguard restore plus and then one more freshwater rinse after again.  Rad appeared to be pretty clean after all or that. 
 

https://www.cumminsfiltration.com/south-pacific/sites/cumminsfiltration-empty.bitnamiapp.com.south-pacific/files/Fleetguard_Restore_final 2021.pdf

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2 hours ago, JaredT said:

Glad to hear it worked. Vinegar eats calcium nicely, we use it all the time in dishwashers to keep the deposits down, works like a champ

Use the cleaning vinegar at work to clean the lime residue  off the lime shakers. It is a never ending battle to keep them clean.

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My daughters former boyfriend cleaned the rust out of a motorcycle gas tank with vinegar successfully. Nice to know it works on lime deposits

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The best stuff I have found was Sioux Valve Grinding oil.

Put a 1/4 cup of that in the radiator.

Look 30 days later and the inside will be just like new with the coolant looking a bit milky.

It must suspend the minerals as I have never found sludge in the block after using.

This is a water soluble oil. 

You mix some of this oil, normally, with water and it makes the coolant for valve grinders.

But I can no longer find it?

 

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I can definitely say the vinegar worked. I brush hogged for the better part of two hours today and never could get the needle past the U on the gauge. But now, the bypass hose is weeping, and so is the valve cover gasket. And the fast hitch cylinder as started leaking too. Seems I canna catch a break! Ah well, at least I won't be in need of something to do.

Mac

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