Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

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Spade
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Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by Spade » Sat Apr 20, 2019 8:40 am

I'm a novice and have 1923 Fordor that I drive around the Ozark Mountains. I have a new radiator and the barf system works well. As we approach the hotter days of summer, would it be advisable to drain the antifreeze and replace with water in order to achieve a more efficient cooling system? The boiling points of antifreeze and the distilled water are different and I've heard the switch might help. I've watched my moto meter come near the bubble in the glass but it has never reached that point with the antifreeze. Would the switch to just water be worth it for some extra overheating insurance?

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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by John.Zibell » Sat Apr 20, 2019 8:45 am

No, I run an antifreeze mix(50/50) year round in the heat of Alabama. Never had an overheating issue. Never get more that half way up on the moto meter. If you want to increase cooling capability, add some of this. https://www.autozone.com/antifreeze-rad ... 486218_0_0
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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by jagiven » Sat Apr 20, 2019 8:48 am

I run 50/50 all year. Once it finds ot level is just sits there.


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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by MWalker » Sat Apr 20, 2019 8:52 am

Curtis -- Anti-freeze contains rust inhibitors. It's not a good idea to run straight water, which will allow rust to form inside your engine.


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Spade
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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by Spade » Sat Apr 20, 2019 10:53 am

Thanks Mike. I guess if it isn't broke, don't fix it.


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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by Norman Kling » Sat Apr 20, 2019 2:20 pm

The old alcohol type anti-freeze might boil away in the hot weather, but modern types do not boil away and contain rust inhibiter. I use it all year around and in our climate hardly ever gets cold enough to freeze a radiator even in winter.
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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by shammatt » Sat Apr 20, 2019 5:03 pm

.......and NEVER use just distilled water. Distilled water is very corrosive, the natural chemicals are stripped away when the water is distilled and it becomes very corrosive, trying to pull in nearly any metal it can, hence it's very corrosive.
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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by Allan » Sun Apr 21, 2019 1:03 am

Steve is right on. Water from a seawater desalination plant has to have minerals added back into it before it is realeased for household use. Otherwise plumbing and water systems are at risk of severe damage.

Allan from down under.

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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by dobro1956 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 4:29 am

Curtis, I agree with the others, keep the anti-freeze. The anti-rust properties are needed to help save our engines.


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Spade
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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by Spade » Sun Apr 21, 2019 8:22 am

Keeping the antifreeze in my "T". Thanks for all the advice!


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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by schwabd1 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 10:54 am

So...… is using distilled water straight the problem? Is it OK to use if you are adding anti-freeze? My uncle, who worked in the water treatment plant for Campbell Soups knew all the water chemical stuff. He always said to never use water from a dehumidifier, it was to acidic. The same theory as distilled? If you can't use distilled with antifreeze what water is best?


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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by Susanne » Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:18 pm

OK, I have to be different... :lol:

I used to run 50/50 but then I heard the horror stories of people who blew a head gasket, got anti freeze in the crankcase, and rotted out the babbitt in their lower end. Ever since then I've run straight water (NOT Distilled, but "hose water") during the summer months... add a dollop of water soluble oil to it, and had no problems to speak of. During the winter, I'll either dump in 2 quarts of 91% isopropyl alcohol and a quart of glycerine (this from an old recipe for anti freeze to below zero, BTW) or, i I know the car won't be run, drain the system down. YMMV, of course, and all the appropriate warnings...)

Ended up being a good thing as I had a compression issue 2 years ago, noticed the bubbles in the radiator, and ended up with not just a bad head gasket but a crack in the head (reformed from an old repair I never knew was there!!)... drained the milky oil out of the crankcase... Had I had anti freeze, well... it would not have been good.

If you run Glycol anti freeze, and it works for you, fine... I just didn't like the risks, and found the "period correct" alternative works FOR ME... YMMV, of course, and as with all things T, weigh all alternatives before proceeding, etc...


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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by Scott_Conger » Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:41 pm

Those stories are just stories. Wives tales. What exactly do you suppose will happen to the babbit when water from a blown head gasket turns the oil to sludge? Ethylene glycol or water...matters not. If you lose lubricity, the babbit doesn't care why.

At least with coolant, you are retarding the oxidation of the water jacket and providing freeze protection to a known value. Examples of careful use of water eating up blocks are shown every few months on this forum. I've never seen a block that froze or rotted out using coolant (though my -32F garage this winter may have tested the 50/50 that was in it!).

Using water with soluble oil is one choice, though I don't see it as a very good one. Rarely mentioned or even known by its users, it is very hard on hoses.
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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by henryford2 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 12:45 pm

Good article albeit for the Model A Ford

http://rmaford.org/wp-content/blogs.dir ... _v2007.pdf
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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by BobD » Sun Apr 21, 2019 1:07 pm

I am not a water chemist, however, while working in steam turbine power plants, “distilled” water was critical. Feed water to the boilers had to be carefully monitored, pure condensate was recovered from the condensers and make up water from demineralizers or in one case a desalination plant. Oxygen and other corrosive gases were removed by the condenser and a dearator. pH and silica a control point as well.

What I am getting at is that tap water in a boiler and its piping subsystems is a no no and will quickly scale up tubing from the magnesium and sodium salts as well as corrode piping from oxygen and other gases present in tap water. Granted a Model T radiator and block operate at mostly sub boiling temperatures only boiling during overheating conditions. All said and done, I use Zerex original formula cut with 50% distilled water.


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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by hpetrino » Sun Apr 21, 2019 1:39 pm

My grandfather used the TT I now drive on his ranch for 17 years (1946-63). All he ever put in the radiator was well water from a well located in a high mineral content area. I'm sure the guy before him did the same thing. When I got it I cleaned out the engine. You wouldn't believe how much crud there was in it. It was truly amazing. Also, the radiator was virtually a solid block of calcium (or whatever).

Distilled water is good advice.


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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by SurfCityGene » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:26 pm

Shammat, is right about Distilled water Only. It may be OK mixed with antifreeze but treat your beloved Model T just as good as you do your Modern Car and use a mix of Green Conventional antifreeze and water.
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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by TRDxB2 » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:36 pm

"Anti-freeze" not only keeps the water from freezing as the name implies but many brands also prevent corrosion AND all keep the water from boiling over. When the coolant (water or antifreeze) reaches its boiling point bubbles form on the metal surfaces. The better the contact with the liquid the better the cooling - so the bubbles interfere with that process. Water boils at 212F and straight antifreeze at about 387F. Not practical to use straight antifreeze -and best to keep engine temperatures below the max reading of your temp gauge. So calculate your mix ratio based on where you drive, radiator type and temp gauge. As far as changing and flushing your cooling system goes.... modern antifreeze contain inhibitors to prevent rust and corrosion. These inhibitors neutralize the "bad stuff" and eventually they are depleted. You still have a solution that keeps it cool and unfrozen but full of contaminants. Changing/flushing is a matter of millage - modern cars are every 30,000 to 50,000 miles for changing and you may as well flush it at the same time. Remember that it isn't just fluid in the radiator but what's in your engine and water pump if you run one

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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by shammatt » Sun Apr 21, 2019 2:47 pm

BobD
While I’m not a water chemist (by schooling) I am retired from my position that eventually was Technical Director for one of the larger industrial water treatment suppliers in the world. I agree with most everything you mentioned in your response, but I’m thinking that you left out the part about the chemical water treatment(s) that were added to the boiler feedwater. Tap water can sometimes be used but it’s normally more economical to use pre-treatment of the feedwater as you described, thus allowing for a lessened chemical requirement…….lessened, but not entirely eliminated. Remember, its pH control that is important, along with other factors such as blowdown of the concentrated buildup of minerals occasionally in a boiler.

hpetrino
Obviously your grandfather’s environment (high mineral content) is a factor. Your situation that you described is at one end of the spectrum, while the use of distilled water would be at the other end of that same spectrum. Moderation in all things is a good starting point for most everything in life. In your case with the TT, you could have the choice of a radiator full of calcium or a radiator full of rust. If you do use the very high calcium water, it will be very alkaline (high pH) and should be purged or flushed more frequently. If you used distilled water, it will be very acidic (low pH) and will be very aggressive (corrosive). However, a combination of both (alkaline water and distilled water) would result in a balanced (neutral) situation that prolongs the life of the equipment. A balanced (neutral) water with some form of chemical to stabilize (buffer) the pH would of course be the recommended procedure.

Again, my degree was IE, not ChemE and YMMV!
Thanks for nudging my memory on some of my wording.
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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by BobD » Sun Apr 21, 2019 3:49 pm

Steve, thanks “for nudging my memory” as well. Yes, boiler water chemical treatment and pH control is very important along with blowdown to control total dissolved solids. This got me to thinking maybe I need to run a pH test on the T’s coolant. :)


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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by Original Smith » Sun Apr 21, 2019 8:53 pm

Sounds like a common sense issue to me. If modern cars use anti freeze year around why not in a T? The exception to this statement is, pre 1917 radiators. The antifreeze is somewhat corrosive, and will stain your brass big time. If you get it on the brass, it is difficult to remove the spots.
I highly recommend using water soluble oil in brass radiators, in fact I use it in all of my T's.


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Re: Drain antifreeze and replace with distilled water for summer?

Post by Aarongriffey » Mon Apr 22, 2019 12:47 am

I have been working two years trying to get the rust,crud and corrosion from a car that sat thirty years with straight water.
I think I will end up stripping the block and having it set in a special accident tank to get the rust out.
I now turn down any work on all cars that the owners runs straight water in.
In my own cars the coolant get changed every three years. Since it doesn’t quite freeze here I use 25% antifreeze and 75% water with a half cup of soluble oil added..

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