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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Crossflow radiator draining.

Has anyone modified their cross pipe to include a drain plug?

For want of the right bolt, I've got to take the radiator out of my '73 midget.

I noticed the radiator was loose. Looking closer, I noticed there were only 2 loose bolts at the top, holding it in. They were both the wrong bolts, -- self tapping screws actually. So I tried to re-tap the threads to accept the correct bolts, only to find that the captive nuts were loose too. Hence the self tappers couldn't be tightened up, and I can't re-tap the threads. So it's radiator and cowling out to fix the captive nuts.

The Midget I bought is one without a drain plug. I don't like draining anti-freeze all over the chassis, and or the splines of the steering rack (where some might well find it's way into the rack). It's often said that the boffins at BMC weren't stupid. It seems to me though, that not including a means to drain the radiator other than pulling off the bottom hose, is particularly stupid.

So I want to put a drain plug into the cross pipe, for the next time I drain the coolant. Rather than re-invent the wheel, I was wondering if anyone has already done this, and fancies telling me how. :) Pretty please?
Lawrence Slater

Lawrence, my cross pipe has a drain plug already fitted. Its small, and awkward to get at under the steering rack but it does drain in a controlled fashion when removed. A small tap would be better.

And then there is the drain point on the block under the carbs. Later 1275's didn't have the luxury of a tap fitted, just a bolt to undo at which point it floods out everywhere. But you could just buy a tap and fit it in place of the bolt. Doesn't drain the rad fully though.
Guy W

If you are referring to the bolts that hold the rad to the stanchions, - I only use the top two. the lower two are unnecessary if the top ones are done up properly.

I also think that the arrangement of captive nuts and bolts difficult to get at through the rad grill to turn is illogical. I welded two bolts to the angle shaped brackets that connect between inner wing and the stanchions. When fitted they protrude through the splash guards and stanchions. They stay in that position as when removing the radiator you just undo two top nuts with a small ratchet socket, ease the rad off the bolts and lift it out. Bolts stay in position holding the splash guards to the stanchions.
Guy W

My thought was to add a garden hose faucet ...but when I got the new rad, I had aexit valve installed, so never persued it further

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

What about a refrig water tap

They make a self taper that goes onto a copper water pipe that has a hose that goes to a refrig ice machine...any appliance sale and repair shop will have them along with big lumber yard stores like home depot

Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Some of the cross pipes had drain plugs, some didn't.

When draining the block, I use a length of plastic pipe which is fed down between the engine and the chassis rail into a draining tin. I removed the plug, push the pipe into the hole, then remove the cap from the rad or expansion tank (if fitted).
Dave O'Neill2

i park over a large (35 gallon) plastic garbage bag, laid out flat, then slip a large cat litter box to catch the coolant and pull off the lower hose. Hardly a drop gets lost.

Every other option either takes too long (any kind of faucet/valve you can fit is going to be very small, like 1/4" diameter, and will take for ever to drain), or is too hard to get to (like the original drain plug on the cross pipe - that's why they deleted it on later years).

If you want a truly trouble free/mess free drain, get one of those powered coolant removal units, or make your own with a fish tank pump, some hoses and a bucket. Then, after most is pumped out, then pull the lower hose and flush it out properly with a garden hose, hot water and some vinegar.

Note that you want the largest possible size of opening, when draining, so that the most crud can come out.

Norm Kerr

I siphon it out with a piece of 1/4" plastic tube fed through the filler plug hole and right down to the bottom of the end tank.
Start the siphon, feed it into a flagon or whatever, then start undoing the bolts. By the time they are undone the radiator is empty.
Paul Walbran

How many bolts hold the radiator in ? I used a propane torch to heat and then queched them with a wet rag then hit it with penerating oil. Got them out with out any damage. Im trying to get the radiator out to get a better look at the engine. Its a 1970 midget. Any help is appreciated. I took the grill out and started loosening anything that looked connected but still vent got it yet, two rubber gromentsin the front and got those out. What holds the sheet metal that holds thetop of the radiator in?
Steven Devine

Sounds like ELO!
Steven Devine

"What holds the sheet metal that holds the top of the radiator in?"

That is a shroud that goes all of the way around the radiator, and is removed with it.

There are 4 places where that shroud is attached to the vertical "stanchions" (2 on each side), and 2 places at the bottom (on the rear edge of the lower valence) and the two on the top that you can see.

Undo all 8 of those, and the black shroud comes out with the radiator attached to it, then you separate the radiator from the shroud.

Hope this helps,

Apollo 100 and "Jesu", one of the great hits of 1972!
Norm Kerr

Pipped to the post by norm, but anyway --

What an abomination Steven. lol. Here's the real thing.

Btw, how'd you connect draining and removing a '71 rad to Bach?

The crossflow radiator is bolted to the cowling with 4 bolts, two on the top and two on the bottom. There should be 4 bolts holding radiator/cowling to the stanctions -- if they're all fitted. You get at these from behind the grill -- top two -- and inside the front wheel arch -- bottom two. If the hoses are off the rad should just lift out, attached to the cowling.

Anyway. I've been thinking of doing similar Guy. But I was going to permanently fit longer bolts in from the radiator side so they protrude through, so that all you need is to fit the nuts. But I hadn't thought to weld bolts to keep the splash panels in a fixed position. Sounds like a better idea, but I may still fit bolts in the other way for the bottom two. Might as well go for the full fixing method since there's already two holes there. Nothing worse than a neglected hole ;)

Definitely no tap on my cross pipe, and while I'm in there I really fancy fitting one. A self tapping tap sounds good. I google around, and take a trip to my local plumbing supply.(5 min walk).

I don't mind it taking a while to drain down, it takes a while on the sprite anyway, but at least that does have taps. If the plug on the cross pipe was hard to get at, why didn't they just make it more accessible by extending it, rather than just delete it?

I'll try the syphon, I hadn't thought the pipe would go all the way down past the honeycomb. If that works out ok, I'll maybe not bother to fit a tap. But on the other hand, along with my special A-post drain pipes(inspired by Guy), a decent radiator drain might make this Midget worth many thousands of pounds LOL.
Lawrence Slater

Here's one, but are they on sale in the UK?

I was thinking of making something just like this. Drill and tap the crosspipe to take a decent sized bolt, and drill and tap that bolt, to take a smaller bolt to act as the drain plug.

Lawrence Slater

And then there's this.

But at 62 quid plus delivery, it's a tad expensive. I think I'll make my own.

Looked at self tapping plumbing taps, but they only go to 22m copper.

Lawrence Slater

Now there's an idea. Replace the cross pipe with 22mm copper. Plumb in a T with a drain tap at the end of it, so that it just protrudes down between the chassis and rad for easy access. Only problem might be sealing the hoses to it as the bores are larger than 22mm.
Lawrence Slater

Radiator fitting. My rad is attached to its cowl with 2 short set screws (bolts) art the top. At the bottom, in place of the two bolts there, which have a tendency to get rusted up, I have two short studs which insert into two holes in the lower part of the cowl unit. I have rubber grommets fitted there that the studs are a push-fit into. So rad is held to cowl by just the top 2 bolts.

The cowling is held into the car by just the top two stanchion bolt positions, plus the two screw fittings into the edge of the slam panel. The reason I welded the bolts into the splash guard brackets is that the brackets can be removed for easy welding. And then when fitted they retain the splash guards in position when the rad/ rad cowling is lifted out.

I always used to find it fiddly getting those bolts to align through the multiple bolt holes, and then tightened up when working through slots in the front grill with long socket extensions! All too awkward for a happy life! Now, working only from the top with a small socket, I undo two nuts, and two screw fittings. Then the rad lifts out. Assuming the 3 hoses have been released first.

As for drainage, mine is fitted with the small drain point on the cross tube but it is slow and I am not patient. I do much as Norm describes. Position a good sized bowl under the front cross member an pull the bottom engine hose off the cross tube. Generally catch around 90% of what comes out. Filter out the crud and re-use it.

Why not 28mm copper then? That should match the hoses pretty well. But you might have more difficulty getting the angled bends on the ends fitted. You can get 28 X 15 X 28 yorkshire fittings
Guy W

Thanks for the explanation Guy. Some good ideas there that I think I'll incorporate into the Midget radiator fitting when it goes back together.

For drainage, I used Paul's siphon method this afternoon. I was amazed at just how easy it was and how quickly it drained the radiator. But it still leaves the cross pipe full, so when pulling the hose off there's still a little spillage. Having siphoned out the remainder from the cross pipe, I took it off.

What a daft idea. Someone tell me again what was wrong with the vertical rad? And why didn't they just design the thing the same as they did later on the 1500? A piece of steel pipe that furs up and rusts as well. And two extra hose connections to leak from. Brilliant.

Guy I thought of 22mm as I've got a spring to pull the angle. Measuring the steel cross pipe, the internal diameter is less than 22mm anyway with all the furring, and it hasn't been over heating. So I reckon it would do the job. Then thinking on, I figured a yorkshire angles would fit the hoses, as the external size of the yorkshires looks about ok. But your right, 28mm would be better using endfeed angles. I'll have to nip to my plumbers supply shop for a look see.

Lawrence Slater

I think the change to the crossflow rad coincided with the introduction of the smog equipment for the US market.

The top tank and filler of the vertical flow rad probably took up too much room.
Dave O'Neill2

Lawrence, I hadn't measured the cross pipe, but as you said 22 was too small I just suggested the next size up. But bending it does become a problem!

The angled ends are around 45 degs. But you can get solder feed 45 degree bends so they may do. And the fact that they are larger and have the solder ring ridge may make them ideal for fastening the rubber hose to. I reckon it could be quite a neat job!

Checking on some spare fittings the two possible sized pipes that may help:
Copper pipe ext diameter is 22mm or 28mm (+/-0.15mm)
External size of Yorkshire fittings 24.5mm or 30mm
External size across the solder ring ridge of the fittings is 26.25mm or 32mm.

Something there should work, probably using 45deg Yorkshires on 22mm pipe. The 26.25 would give just about the right size for a good snug push fit and he ridge will provide good location when a jubilee is added.

(-As an aside, silicon hoses are thinner walled and more flexible so are easier to fit and to seal than the normal, thicker walled, rubber hoses.)
Guy W

I thought crossflow rads were more efficient as they spread the hot water through the rad more evenly rather than all the hottest water accumulating at the top and then flow having to work against the natural thermosiphon.
Guy W

tut, tut,

end feed and capillary

and possibly not all silicone hoses are thinner walled than the rubber hoses, my silicone hoses are 3 ply, 5.25 mm wall, I've not got the standard rubber hoses to compare (with my clear plastic ruler and very poor eyes)
Nigel Atkins

Thanks for doing the leg work for me guy. I agree, something looks just right there. As my steel pipe's rusting at the ends anyway, I think it's worth the effort to swap it and plumb in a drain tap at the same time. I'll use a reducing T down to 15mm, then a radiator drain tap will do the job nicely.

All this because I noticed loose rad fixing bolts. lol.

I also noticed rust holes behind the horns on the lower section of the valence, which is why it's off and due for some welding.

Looking at the top of the radiator cowling, I assume it's not supposed to be shaped as mine is? I assume it's supposed to be flat. Can someone confirm this before I take a hammer to it?

Lawrence Slater

Sorry, I don't understand your Tut tutting Nigel?

Silicon pipes may not always be thinner walled, but I do think they are more pliable anyway. They do seem to seal more easily.
Guy W

Mine is flat at that point. Maybe it had a taller rad fitted and needed to be "modified" ?

You will need to think about adding some brackets to the pipe where it fastens under the steering rack bolts. Should be easy with some bits of copper soldered onto the pipe. Or maybe you would get away with it "floating".
Guy W

Right ho, hammer on the job tomorrow morning then :).

Yup I'm thinking of making brackets out of copper and soldering them on. I think left floating risks potential leaks, and it would be neater fixed in place anyway..

I was also thinking about what you said about the way you mount your rad in the cowling. Sounds like a good idea to stud the bottom fixings in rubber bushes, doing away with the bolts.

But why not go a stage further?

It's the top section(bent on mine) of the cowling that prevents the rad from being lifted upwards and out of the cowling, because it's fixed to the sides of the cowling. If it were removable (drill out the spot welds and replace with screws/bolts) then once removed, the rad could just be lifted out. No more having to undo the 2 or 4 stanchion bolts. The sides and bottom of the cowling could stay where it is whenever you need to remove the rad. It would make it a much quicker job.

Am I missing something? I can't see why it won't work. And if it does work, why wasn't it designed that way?
Lawrence Slater

Yes, definitely flat.

I've seen a number of crossflow rad cowls that shape. It seems that some people undo the two top set screws and then bend the cowl up to remove the rad.

I'm not sure how they get the bottom ones out, but if they do, I bet they don't go back in too easily.
Dave O'Neill2

Answering my own question, -- I suppose because you don't often need to remove the radiator. But still I think it would be a useful modification.

Edit. Ah interesting Dave. So my modification would be useful to save bending the cowling. :).
Lawrence Slater

You just need to be a little careful about positioning and the length of bolts/set screws used so they don't perforate part of the waterways. Otherwise it sounds a good idea.

Another thing maybe worth considering would be a removable fan shroud section to make lifting the rad vertically out easier.
Guy W

tut, tut, at you not understanding my previous tut, tut

yeap thinner or thicker walled silicone hoses seem to be more pliable

and I'm guessing it'd only be those using their intuition rather than a manual that would bend the top of the rad cowling to get the rad out ;-)
Nigel Atkins

What an abomination Steven. Ha Ha Ha! Yes Yours was a prettier version. No bend in my front panel. I kept trying to take it ut the way you want to set yours
up. thats the way they should have made it!

Anyone using an old bugeye rad with a 1275 motor. Can the old rad handle the cooling?

Thanks Norm the two bolts at the bottom were the ones I couldnt see. Got them out and it all came apart!
Night was falling and I couldnt see anymore.
Im glad all this Parts are fitting into the trunk!
Steven Devine

Btw, how'd you connect draining and removing a '71 rad to Bach?

Both are Classical and fall into music to work on your car by!


Finished the radiator off with this!
Steven Devine

I think lecter finishes off the last morsel of his victims to that as well Steven. lol.

"Anyone using an old bugeye rad with a 1275 motor. Can the old rad handle the cooling?" Yup as far as I know that's the same vertical rad that was in the 1st 1275s. My Sprite has one.

Guy, if by "fan shroud section", you mean the top plate -- that's bent on mine -- , that's what I was describing when I talked of drilling out the spot welds and replacing them with bolts, to make it removable. Then apart from the hoses, it would only require those new bolts to be undone in order to remove the rad -- with the top plate still attached.
Lawrence Slater

Ah, right. I misunderstood where you were adding the new bolts. Which is why I said to be careful about puncturing the rad!
Guy W

When I had the radiator out for cleaning awhile back, I had the shop put a drain in the lower part of the tank. (You can see it on the corner of the radiator.) The tanks are sort of mirror images, but inverted. There is a flat spot near the bottom that looks like the spot at the top of the opposite tank just below the filler. It works fine, but is slow. And, there is still a bit of liquid left in the radiator/cross pipe.

I like the idea of just sticking a tube into the radiator and siphoning it out. I have a tube that I use to do water changes in my aquarium and it has a one way bulb on it that you squeeze to get it started. Something like that should work great and keep you from getting a mouthful of antifreeze! (But don't use the same one for your aquarium and radiator!)
(This is a LHD, 1275, if that matters)

Jack Orkin

Ah right ditto. :). I thought by making sure I don't puncture the rad, you were referring to the studs you used at the bottom of the rad in place of the bolts.

Had a closer look at my cross pipe today. After giving the ends a good clean with a wire brush, it's apparent that I need a new one. Rusted to f##k, and no point in trying to fit a drain tap to it. So it's 24.81 including delivery from Sussex, with no drain tap, or make my own.

Established that a 22m yorkshire fitting, fits nicely into a new radiator hose. A bit loose in a used one, but still I reckon the jubilee will make it seal.

So I had a rummage in the loft. I thought I had a length of 22m tube, but sadly not. I have got though, 2 obtuse(45 degree) yorkshire elbows, a 22m yorkhire equal T, enough 15mm tube for the tap extension, and a brass domestic radiator drain tap, -- the type the fits at the end of a length of 15mm pipe.

So all I'm short of is a 22mm/15mm reducer to go into the T, and 16" or so length of 22mm copper tube. The reducer I can get for 1.29, but 2Mx22mm copper tube is about 17 quid. I don't fancy paying 17 quid and just leaving most of the pipe laying around unused. There's a bloke on ebay selling 500mm lengths of 22mm for 7 quid, but that's 14 quid a metre, and I just can't bring myself to pay rip off prices. So I'm looking for some local scrap on a building site or the like.

Hi Jack. Paul's siphon method worked fine, but left the pipe full, as I imagine would your tap. and since I need a new cross pipe anyway, I'm going for the home made solution to incorporate a tap in the cross pipe.
Lawrence Slater

Spot a local plumbers' van and blag a bit from his scrap pipe box. I could post you a bit but postage would be more than the cost of the pipe!
Guy W

Cheers Guy, you're right though, the postage would make it too expensive. I found some used pipe very cheap on ebay, but the postage makes it too expensive too. There's a local plumber in the next road from me, I'm going to ask him if he's got a bit that he's pulled out from an installation, or a bit left from the end of a 3M length. I'd happily buy him a beer.
Lawrence Slater

Lawrence, I had not thought about putting a drain in the cross pipe. Sounds like a great idea. Have any idea how much water will be left in the engine with the that drain? Is your plan to splice a "T" into the cross pipe and put the drain in the "T"? A picture would be great when you get through. Cheers,
Jack Orkin

Hi Jack. A drain in the cross pipe won't drain the engine below the water pump. You have to open the engine block tap/plug to do that. But it does mean that if you have to pull the hoses off, the pipe will be empty and won't spill any coolant on the chassis or anywhere else. Just a bit less to clean off, and since I have to replace my pipe anyway, I might as well put a drain tap in.

Yup splicing a T into a replacement cross pipe is exactly what I'm going to do. I'm going to use 22mm copper pipe because I've already got most of the fittings. But actually it could be done in PEX plastic pipe I reckon. The T will point downwards between the steering rack and the chassis. The T outlet will be reduced to 15mm, and I'll extend the 15mm pipe so that it ends just above the bottom of the chassis. Then I'll fit a tap into it as in the crude sketch below.

Lawrence Slater

Those drain valves are prone to sticking.

I had to replace a hot water cylinder recently. There was a drain tap, but it was stuck. I ended up syphoning most of the water out through the top.

A plumber advised me to use a small screwdriver in the drain to dislodge the valve. It kind of defeats the object, as you would end up with antifreeze all over the place.

The only consolation was that I got 26 for the old cylinder!
Dave O'Neill2

Hi Dave. That's a pic of one I found on the web, and I agree they can stick if they haven't been undone for a while.

Mine isn't exactly like that, and the valve can be fully unscrewed and using a pair of pliers pulled back, leaving the spout clear to release the coolant. I've used the same on the drains on my central heating, hence where I have the spare tap from. On the one in the picture/sketch, you just have to undo the collar holding the tap in place, and pull it back.

I want the smallest tap I can find, but my other alternative is a compression stopend(see pic below) at the end of the 15mm pipe. This would also allow a faster drain.

Lawrence Slater

Or use an isolating valve. The type with a ball seal. They don't stick, and give a good flow when open.

Guy W

I've got some of those Guy, but I suspect the crap off the road would sieze it up from the outside. I've come across a few of those corroded from condensation on the outside of the pipe, and it would get far worse under the car. Also if I use a "heavy" tap, I'll have to fix it to somewhere, otherwise it'll tend to bounce around as the car goes over bumps.

I'm hoping that just a short length of 15mm off the T, with the smallest outlet possible, can just hang down without being fixed.
Lawrence Slater

My preference would be the one you showed together with your sketch. Although as Dave says, they do stick sometimes, it is only ever the little rubber washer, and at at worst it just needs hooking out with a small pointy screwdriver.
Guy W

Yup my first instinct is the small tap too, as I can fix a hose to it for neater draining. And if it does stick, as you say it's not too much bother.

Got my copper pipe. 18" from a plumber who just happened to pull up at a house as I was walking to the local morrisons for some bread. Wouldn't take any money for it either :). So now I'm just nipping up to the plumbing supply shop near me, for an internal endfeed 22mm/15mm reducer to go in the T. 49p. Now that's cheap.

Which means that apart from the cost of the fittings I already have (bought at least 15 years ago when they were dirt cheap), this is going to be a very inexpensive alternative to paying 25 quid for a steel pipe with no drain. I'm happy with that, or at least I will be, if it works as imagine it should. :-
Lawrence Slater

I suppose the other answer to this could be to fit the later 1500 radiator and do away with the cross pipe completely. Has anyone done this in a 1275 car?

Does it fit?
Does it have a drain tap?

I had a "very" quick look in the archives but didn't find anything about anybody doing it.
Lawrence Slater

Here's a pic of the assembled, but not yet soldered, new copper cross pipe with drain. I haven't finalised the length of the drain pipe yet, and may lower it a little more. But where it is now seems to be pretty accessible without the need to jack the car up. The main thing is that it doesn't protrude below the chassis where it would be prone to getting knocked by something in the road, like humps.

The whole assembly is temporarily held in place by a removable cable tie, and resting on a bit of wood to simulate the height on a bracket.

For a bracket I'm going to use the old steel pipe. I'm going to slice it in half along it's length, and use the lower half to form a cradle for the new copper pipe to sit on. Doing it that way, I can bolt the "cradle" in place exactly as it was before. Then with a bit of foam or rubber insulation between it and the copper pipe, I'll use cable ties or jubilee clips to secure it firmly in place.

The other thing to get right is the angle of the T joint, so that it guides the 15mm drain pipe nicely between the cross member and the steering rack. There isn't as much room as I'd thought there would be(but there's enough), and that's another reason I want the cross pipe fixed firmly. I'll probably put a bit of pipe insulation along the 15mm drain pipe to keep it from banging against the rack or the cross member, just in case it has a tendency to "bounce".

Lawrence Slater

Something else to bear in mind is that the copper pipe you get from B&Q et al, is much thinner walled than the stuff you would get from the Plumb Center.
Dave O'Neill2

Yup it is. But that doesn't stop B&Q charging full price or more for the stuff. Lucky for me though, I got this from a pucker plumber whose unlikely to have gone to B&Q and paid for overpriced tube. And the stuff looks "normal" thickness.

But talking of the thickness of the pipe, one concern I had was in tightening the hoses onto the ends of the cross pipe. The steel is pretty tough, and even rusted hasn't collapsed under the presure from the hose clips. I did wonder though if copper pipe would be as strong.

At the ends of my copper cross pipe are yorkshire(capillary) elbows. As they have solder rings in them they are stronger than just the plain pipe. But just in case they aren't strong enough to take the hoses being tightened onto them, I'm fitting a short stub of pipe into each end, thereby doubling the thickness where the hoses are clamped. I should add that I'm going to use two hose clips at each end.

Another concern might be corrosion. My steel cross pipe is buggered due to corrosion. I have no idea if it's the original, or if it's been replaced before. Once? Twice? ? --. I'm going to paint the outside of the copper to keep the crap off it, but I wonder how long the insides of the tube will stand up to the coolant. I'm guessing it should do at least as well as the original steel, since I still have the original vertical rad in my Sprite, which has never been repaired and shows no sign of leaking yet.
Lawrence Slater

Lawrence, that is looking good. I had assumed the drain would take the easy route out down behind the cross member. But it will be easier to reach as it is, coming forward.

Also, there is a neater version of that type of drain cock that solders directly into a 15mm straight yorkshire, rather than having the weighty brass adapter fitting on the end like that. It would put less vibrating strain on the unsupported drain off pipe.

Guy W

lol Guy. Now you've really shown me up for the tight ar*e that I am. I thought in my spares, I had the tap you show in your picture, but it turns out that I had the chunky one I've used. Anything to save 1.50. LOL. If it does prove too heavy though, I'll change it.

I looked at running the drain down the back, but actually I think it's easier to run it down the front, and as you say, more convenient when needing to use it.
Lawrence Slater

There's some saying in my mind about a h'penny worth of tar!
Guy W

On the race Sprite, I used two Marina top hoses between the water pump and the bottom of the rad (vertical flow) as I had no heater take-off. I joined them with a 22mm solder-ring straight coupler. Never had any problems with tightening the jubilee clips onto it.
Dave O'Neill2

Yup your right Guy, so I might just pop up to the merchant and buy the lighter tap.

Thanks for confirming the strength of the yorkshire couplers Dave. All in all then, this should be a good conversion.

Lawrence Slater

Well I didn't get the ha'p'orth of tar. The bloody local shop was closed today, and I didn't fancy hauling myself to the nearest screw-fix to get the cheap lighter tap.

Anyway the extra weight won't matter much, because I've shortened the drain pipe instead of lengthening it. But it's still very easy to access without needing to raise the car, and being tucked away behind the valence protects it more from the road crap.

Next job the cradle.

Lawrence Slater


Very appropriate and good work. I seem to recall a discussion about coolants here maybe last year and one of the Fernox range apparently exceeded all the automotive anti-freeze/corrosion inhibitor spec by quite a margin, must be in the archives.

Are you going to paint that or lovingly polish it like a brass door threshold of old?
David Billington

Thanks David. It does seem a shame to paint it. Is there a road/petrol/oil/heat resistant clear varnish I could use to coat it I wonder? Ah ha. This might do it.

I'll have a dig into the archives for info on fernox then. Is it cheaper than regular auto antifreeze?
Lawrence Slater

A bit late now, but I've just had a thought.

Will the soldered joints stand up to the vibration?
Dave O'Neill2

I also got worried about the cars vibration, what the effects would be on the 20cm pipe with the metal(heavy) clossure bit at the end as its just hanging in the air an not supported in anyway...

Looks a bit like a prewar Type midget with all that copper in there. :)
Arie de Best

Well I guess I'm going to find But I don't think(hope not) vibrations are going to be an issue with the joints. Think of ropey old central heating systems rattling for 30 years. The joints don't fail, -- if they were soldered properly.

Besides which, it won't be unsupported/uncushioned. It'll be bolted to the chassis in just the same way the original pipe was. See prototype cradle below, made from the bottom half of the original cross pipe. I'm going to line it with a thin rubber membrane, or maybe some foam pipe insulation, and strap the new copper pipe to it. It needs some further "modeling", with a hammer and grinder to make it fit though. :).

The drain pipe is unsupported at the moment, but it's shorter than it was since I cut an inch or so off it. There's only 4 inches of it extending from the T, so I don't think there's too much leverage to worry about. Having said that, I might cable tie the drain pipe to the steering rack for belt and braces.

Where else can I put some polished copper? It'll contrast nicely with all the red primer anti rust paint lol.

Lawrence Slater

Heater tube running across above carb(s) looks OK in copper. But better in chromed pipe. That is, if you are not using the pipe through the manifold.

Soldered joints won't fail with a bit of vibration. But copper will tarnish / go green especially with corrosive effect of any antifreeze mix leakage.
Guy W

I'm going to paint the copper, might use bondaprimer and hammerite smooth top coat on it. Anyway, looking at the way the steel crosspipe corroded at the ends, is the copper likely to do better or worse than that?

The good thing is, if the ends do corrode in time, I can just solder on new ends.
Lawrence Slater

Painted the new copper cross pipe/drain in bonda primer, left it for 2 days and then top coated it in Hammerite smooth. Bolted the cradle made from the old steel pipe to the cross member, and used cable ties to secure the new pipe to it.

I put a bit of 3/4" heater hose at each end of the pipe to keep it cushioned off the metal cradle, and a few wraps of self amalgamating rubber tape around the drain pipe to keep it cushioned against the steering rack. It sits nice and snugly and can't rattle around.

To install and remove the new pipe/drain is a little more fiddly than with the original plain pipe. Instead of just unbolting and lifting up, it has to be removed and inserted upwards through the gap between the steering rack and chassis at an angle. Also this has to be done before the cradle is fully bolted down, as it gets in the way if already in place. But it's not much hassle as it can all be done with the valence and radiator in place. An alternative would be to loosen the rack and pull it forwards. This would make more room to install/remove upwards.

I imagine I would also remove the cross pipe if removing the engine, just in case the crank pulley hits it on lifting the engine. But all in all, I'm happy with it.

Lawrence Slater

Very neat Lawrence, should work well hopefully!
Jeremy 3

Cheers Jeremy, and I can confirm it works very well.

I mounted the rad back in the car today, filled it up and started the engine. No leaks from any of my soldered joints, and no leaks from the hose connections. I even re-used the old hoses lol. Drain is very easy to access when I need to.
Lawrence Slater

This thread was discussed between 21/10/2013 and 05/11/2013

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