When I bought my ’50, it had been sitting in a barn for 19 years. (Yes, I know every story in the world starts with the car sitting in a barn for 20 years, but I guess I couldn’t wait.) Obviously I checked as much as I could on the car and fixed whatever I thought needed to be fixed before I drove it out of the garage.
As with most old car enthusiasts, I wanted to make sure the cooling system was up to the challenge. The first thing that happened was I stripped all the old hoses and clamps off the car so I could put all new pieces on, as well as a fresh thermostat and radiator cap. The car had sat without coolant, or perhaps most of it had evaporated, I don’t know. I flushed the block with water, but I had to open the drain up with a wire a couple of times to get all the rust free. The same is true for some of the connections for the heater hoses. Once the car was put back together and running, I ran some cooling system flush through it according to the directions on the bottle. Lots more rust came out so I repeated the process.
Once the cooling system was filled up with a 50/50 mix of anti-freeze, we drove the car. It ran hotter than I wanted, so that winter I took the radiator out and had it “boiled out” and the fins combed. The following summer we drove the car a lot more. It ran about 15 degrees cooler than the year before, but still hotter than I wanted.
The next summer I tried some “water wetter”, a product very popular with drag racers. They tend to run very small radiators and motors that produce a lot of heat. The water wetter, along with the traditional 50/50 mix of anti-freeze cooled the car another 10 degrees. It now runs at the temperature recommended in the owner’s manual no matter what. I couldn’t be happier. I still carry a gallon of coolant with me in the trunk, just in case, but I have never had to use it myself.