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How to install a new radiator in a 1957 Chevy Truck

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Picture of How to install a new radiator in a 1957 Chevy Truck
This Instructable will show you how to remove and install a new radiator for a 1957 3600 series truck
 
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Step 1: Materials needed

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A new radiator (the one in the picture is designed in America, but made in China, will do until I get the $700 U.S Radiator Desert Cooler model)
Bucket to catch all of the Anitfreeze that will spill out
New AntiFreeze (about 2 gallons or more)
New hose clamps
Upper and lower radiator hoses
Socket set (Standard, this is a early model Chevy)
Torque wrench
Flat head and Phillips screwdrivers ( I used a ratcheting style one with multiple screw head attachments)
1 inch Aluminum fan spacer (the 3 inch one I had on my engine would not allow the radiator to be installed so I had to get a smaller one)
New hoses for my recirculating catch can along with new clamps
Gloves (not pictured)
Razor knife to cut hose (not pictured)
Sharpie to mark hose to be cut (not pictured)

Step 2: Before you proceed....

Be sure to check that your Fillerneck (the metal piece that the upper radiator hose connects to your engine), Thermostat, and Water Pump are ok. My thermostat was fine but I replaced it anyway. I found out that after i put my new radiator in my water pump failed, you can normally tell that this has happened by looking at the fluid leaking out of the weep hole on the pump, but sometimes this does not happen a pump can seize without any signs at all. A good way to check your pump is to see if it spins freely when cold. If not it is only a $30 investment to replace.

My engine is a 1978 Chevy 350, not the stock engine. If you have a different engine check with a mechanic or just replace the pump,

Step 3:

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Stock Radiator with 350 engine under the hood. I must say that they do not make trucks or their components like they used to. The ONLY reason that I am replacing this is because after on car accident, the engine fan digging into the stock radiator, and years of driving this thing off and on after that this thing still kept my engine cool,but just recently the radiator developed a small crack on the top and after 55 years of service it was time to get a new Radiator (lets see anything made today on a truck last half as long)

Step 4:

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Start off by removing the hose clamps on the lower part of the Radiator first. This is where the bucket comes in play.
Put the bucket underneath the lower radiator hose you are going to remove.
Let all of the antifreeze in your radiator and engine drain into the bucket
After that remove the hose clamps from the bottom hose that is connected to the engine let all of the left over fluid drain in the bucket.
Now remove the top hose by unscrewing the hose clamps.

Now is a good time to check (or just spend the $11 and replace it with a Failsafe thermostat) and buy some hi temp gasket sealer for the edges of the fillerneck and engine along with the gasket ( I made the mistake of not putting any gasket sealer because the gasket I bought said it did not need any and had Antifreeze leak all over my truck when I tightened everything up and added the antifreeze in the radiator which meant that I had to take the hoses off, fillerneck, and thermostat to wait for everything to dry off so I could add the gasket sealer)

Also check (or just replace your water pump, it is cheap insurance that you do not get stranded anywhere)

Now (if you have one) remove the hoses that connect your recirculating catch can to your radiator

Step 5:

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Now its time to take your radiator out of your truck.

I like to start with the bottom bolts of the radiator and leave the top two for last
There should be three bolts on each side. (the nuts with the bolts sticking out of them above the radiator bolts are for my transmission cooler that was bolted to the radiator mounting plate (which made taking out the radiator a nightmare, I fixed this, shown in a later step)

Loosen the top two bolts and grab the radiator with one hand then remove the first top bolt (while still holding the radiator) and then remove the last bolt.

List radiator out of truck 

Step 6:

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Now because the fan spacer was way too long (I looked at the measurements on the box of the new radiator and measured the space before I went to the auto parts store to get the right size (1inch) fan spacer) Remove the bolts holding the fan spacer in a X pattern starting with the top bolt, then the bottom of the opposite side of the bolt, this insures that you do not warp or overstress the threads of the bolts of the bolt holes.

After you take the bolts off remove the engine fan, followed by the fan spacer.

I wanted to just cut the spacer that I had down to the right size but read that if you do this and it is not 100% cut to size the fan will wobble at high speeds , causing the bolts to wiggle off and then you have a fan shaped projectile shooting out in your engine compartment ...... JUST GO TO THE PARTS STORE AND BUY THE RIGHT SIZED SPACER its only $6.00 or more







Step 7:

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Next put the new fan spacer on by mounting the spacer on the pulley.
Next put the fan on make sure that you match the holes from the fan and the fan spacer
LOOSELY put the bolts on using the required hardware, or if you want, go to the hardware store and buy grade 8 hardware
Tighten the bolts down using the same X pattern you used to loosen the bolts with
Torque down with torque wrench I did mine to 25ft lbs

Step 8:

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Now its time to take care of that trans cooler, I did not want it mounted to the new Radiator like the old one was, so I drilled out holes on the support mounts of the truck and bolted it to the frame directly.

This did two things for me, one it made taking out the radiator to replace it easier, and two it gave the cooler and radiator a inch of space apart form each other allowing both coolers to work without interfering in the cooling capabilities of each other.

Step 9:

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Here comes the fun part. Attach the Radiator to the mounting holes of the truck.

Now remember when I said that this radiator was designed in the U.S. but made in China.... many owners of this Radiator have complained that this was not the true "direct fit" that it claims to be, so out comes the hammer, since the Aluminum on the mounting plate of the radiator is softer than the steel in my truck I had to put this radiator in by mounting the top driver side bolt LOOSELY then hammering the mounting plates to fit  into the mounting frame.

The hammering was also necessary because of the nuts from mounting the trans cooler to the frame no longer gave the two plates a smooth mounting surfaces.

You can use a torch to soften up the aluminum but just using a hammer ans some restraint worked for me.

LOOSELY put the bolts in the Radiator, using the X pattern.
Once all holes are aligned tighten all bolts on the radiator using the X pattern

Step 10:

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Now get your hoses and mock then up to the engine and the radiator.

Use your sharpie to mark where you will cut the hoses to fit

Do the same thing with the hoses for your recirculating catch can.( even though it looks like it only has one house, there is two on the catch can, the hose that is connected to the overflow or "puke" tube goes on the BOTTOM of the catch can via hose clamps, the top hose is there for Vacuum to take place so when the engine cools down the radiator will suck the fluid back in the unit.

Attach hoses with hose clamps , double checking that all of the clamps on your hoses are tight

Step 11:

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Last step

Fill up your new Radiator with AntiFreeze ( I used Prestone 50/50 mix for the job, Reason for this is because it is mixed with DISTILLED WATER, if you just put water from a hose or undistilled water in your radiator all of the calcium, chlorine, flourine, lime and God knows what is in our water from that hose  will rust and corrode your new radiator faster than you can drive it)
amclaussen2 years ago
Good info, but you have to be aware of a Phenomena called "Electrolysis corrosion" which can literally "eat" an aluminum radiator in a matter of weeks!
Electrolysis is created when an electrical stray current uses the aluminum from the radiator, coolant pump or other cooling system components to become "anodic" and sacrifice themselves.

One quick way to test for the presence of electrolysis in your vehicle, is to connect one test lead of a Digital Multimeter to the negative post of the battery, and then submerge the other test lead into the coolant just under the filling cap touching only the coolant (engine not hot, obviously!) anything above a couple of tenths of volt is of concern,  Visit several of the many websites describing the causes and cure of this before thinking your new radiator is installed and forgotten.
Best Wishes, AMclaussen, Mexico City.