water jacket problem

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    When I filled the radiator the first time on my newly acquired Model 81 and ran it a few seconds, a drip started from the bottom of the water jacket cover on the generator side of the engine. I began trying to take the bolts out to remove the cover to get at the problem, and two of them just snapped off about 3/16″ inside the block. The one where the leak was has apparently rusted completely through from the inside since I can stick a needle way inside through the hole. The plate itself does not appear to have ruster through, but of course I haven’t seen the back side of it yet. Apparently, there was water sitting behind that plate the last time it was run [in the 1980s I would guess] and just sat there and rusted the bolts. I’m afraid to try to remove any more for fear of more their breaking. I suppose if most or all of the bolts were to break off, I could just drill them out, retap the holes, and use new bolts, but am seeking more advice before I risk making things worse? Jack Davis



    you already outlined the program, that is, remove all of the bolts, but use some PB Blaster on them first and let them sit for a few days before attempting to remove them.

    Then, very gently rock the bolts back and forth a bit as you work to remove them.

    I believe that I tapped all of the bolt holes in my Series 80 head when I removed my father jacket many years ago.

    One or two needed to be tapped at the next larger size.

    Also, be prepared to find a virtual TON of RUST Flakes in the cooling chamber.

    I spooned out the majority of the flakes with a Tablespoon and then went after the remainder with a magnetic pick-up.

    If you have power (I didn’t at the time), a Shop Vac should do a good job.

    I literally took out at least a quart of rust flakes.

    When replacing the bolts, you will of course use Stainless Steel bolts.

    I ground the markings on the heads of the bolts so that there were no markings remaining.

    Selling the water jacket in place required a bunch of Permatex Ultra-Black sealer, I believe, but mine is now water-tight.




    Also, with the few bolts that were larger than the remains 35+ bolts, I had my machinist reduce the size of the heads so that all of the bolt heads appear to be the same size, even though two or three were larger sized diameters.

    I didn’t want it to look like a botched job, and it doesn’t.




    Regarding your water jacket problem, search back on the message board index to a thread from December 2 2017. While this discusses eight cylinder engines, Greg Long’s comments will be helpful. Either way, it’s quite a bit of work to get these plates off.



    There is also a gasket that surrounds the water jacket.

    That is affixed to the cylinder block with the Permatex Ultra Black sealer and similarly to the water jacket cover.

    Don’t be skimpy with the Permatex, but don’t glob it on.

    Also, you need copper crush washers for correct seating of the bolts.

    They are impossible to find at a reasonable price, check Restoration Supply, and after you do, be in touch with me, as I have a Supply that I will sell for much less than the Resto price.




    Thanks for your wonderful messages. They are a template for the job ahead and I much appreciate the benefit of your experience. As it happens, I had already started spraying PB Blaster on the bolt heads, so I had a little head start, but will give it the time and repeated applications you suggest. Trying the same thing with the packing nut on the shaft of my water pump, which has a leak around the shaft. I am always a bit terrified of trying too hard and cracking or breaking something.

    The gasket between the plate and the block. Is that a cork gasket? I can’t tell as yet. Getting to be an old hand at making new gaskets. And thanks for the offer on the copper crush washers.

    Tom and Joan

    Thanks for the suggestion on the December 2017 posting from Greg Long. I think I ran across it a few days ago but will check back to make sure I haven’t overlooked it.




    The water jacket gasket is cork and with the Permatex, will be leak free.

    Just make sure that when you put it on the cylinder block side that you hit the holes a touch with the Permatex, or at least tight to them.

    Then, make sure you cover to the edges of the gasket, both sides.

    Olsen Gasket sells a full sent of gaskets for the Series 80 / 81, but making your own gives a real sense of accomplishment.



    That gasket as I recall on my Series 80 will fit properly only one way. the bolts may appear to be arranged symmetrically but they are not, so don’t panic if your gasket appears at first to not fit.

    Previous Caretaker replaced all the bolts with stainless during a rebuild so I was OK there; my problem was that the cover had corroded from the inside out until it weeped. Solution: have a welder at work run a small bead over the corroded area on the inside/wet side with a wire welder. No more leaks after two years. It can take a little fiddling to get it together with no leaks/seeps but you will get it. Also I recall that most or all the bolt holes are accessible once the plate is off because the holes, at least on my Series 80, are drilled and tapped through.


    Hello Jack:

    The original bolts are 1/4-28, yep, fine threads into cast iron. The corrosion will make 50% or more of the bolts weak and not free-up.

    I have gone to the extent of draining the cylinder block, filling it with Diesel fuel [which is close to Kerosene] Letting it sit for several days. Heating the head of each and every bolt to near red, letting them cool. Then repeat the next day, continue for 4-5 days.

    AND STILL had 50% of the bolts refuse to break loose from the iron block.

    You do NOT have to drill out to the next size bolt thread which is 5/16″ . As long as the hole remaining in the block is not corroded to being bigger than the drill for a Heli-Coil, or for a ‘Time-Sert’ insert.

    Heli-Coils are much less expensive than the Time-Serts. BUT the Time-Sert will repair an oversize hole back to standard size if you purchase the correct size insert kit.

    Take a 1/4-20 [most common 1/4″ bolt/thread size] bolt and see if it just passes through the remaining hole in your block where the original bolt broke off. If the 1/4-20 bolt will not enter the hole, there is HOPE that the thread might be repaired with a Helicoil. There is no guarantee.

    The iron flange that the water jacket is bolted to is rather thin, only about 5/16″ thick, and that is when new. After decades of rusting, it is now thinner yet. So there is not a lot of metal to get a Helicoil to attach/ thread into. It can be fussy, delicate work. The Time-Sert system is less fussy, but again, expensive.

    When you have the leaks repaired and are going to run the car again, here are a few things to do first:

    Take a strong magnet, tie/twist/glue a piece of stiff wire to it, like a piece of an old coat hanger or similar bendable but stiff wire. Insert this magnet into the top of the radiator, and drag it over the bottom of the radiator upper tank. Remove frequently, to remove the ‘fur-ball’ of rust flakes the magnet will pickup. Do this for both sides of the upper tank of the radiator.

    All of those rust flakes came from the engine: the radiator has no iron or steel inside to rust. So, you need to STOP any more rust flakes from migrating up and into the radiator.. Each flake of rust is able to block or clog a water passage through the radiator, resulting in overheating and water going out the over-flow tube.

    The best method is to get a footy-size ladies hosiery sock. or a cut off leg from a ponty-hose.

    Remove or loosen and slide back the upper radiator hose to expose the inlet pipe to the upper tank of the radiator.

    Insert the foot-part of the stocking into the upper radiator inlet tube. Leave about an inch of stocking outside the tube. Roll this extra inch of stocking over the outside of the radiator tube, then slide the upper radiator hose over this overlapped stocking and tube. Clamp the upper hose again.

    If the connection with the stocking leaks water, wiping a later of Permatex ‘Ultra-Black’ or ‘Ultra-Grey’ sealant on the tube, then over lap the stocking, then a thin layer on the stocking, then a thin layer on the inside of the radiator hose [acts as lubricant as well as sealant].

    The stocking will act as a flexible filter, and will catch an AMAZING amount of rust-flakes an other crud that WILL otherwise clog your radiator passageways.

    The gasket for the water jacket is a rubberized-cork. Regular cork is too fragile, and will compress too much, then rip and have leaks. Use .080″ or near that thickness rubberized cork.

    For as good as possible original look, using SS bolts, grind or file off the head of the bolt until smooth, then polish to remove grinding / filing marks. The modern bolt-heads will not be as tall as the originals but at least they don’t have to have names, numbers or hash-marks on them too. Do this even if you plan on painting the new bolts.

    Note: the Pierce arrow water pumps and cooling system are designed to have a water pump with much greater pumping capacity than the radiator is capable of flowing through the core. This is so that the water pump creates a suction on the lower radiator pipe, and the entire radiator core..

    This so that the coolant that has been pushed up into the top radiator tank does not ‘gravity-flow’ back down through the core, it is sucked or drawn down, creating a much more reliable and quick passage of the hot water in the top, to arrive cooler into the bottom tank, then to the water pump.

    So: the lower radiator pipe must be there, or if replaced [incrrectly] with a long hose, the hose MUST have an anti-collapse coil spring inside the hose. The hose clamps must be tight, the vacuum in the lower pipe will draw in outside air ! The water pump shaft packing must not be leaking, it will allow air to be sucked into the pump.

    If air is entering the coolant/water, and being mixed with it, the resulting foam or mass of air-bubbles does NOT cool the engine properly, and also has a LOT more VOLUME than just coolant or water.. So the much larger volume overfills the upper radiator tank, causing a great deal of coolant/water to be pushed out the radiator overflow pipe, and then your engine runs low on coolant/water, and then overheats, cracks the block and cylinder head.

    So; tight, non-leaking lower hose/pipe connections and a good water pump packing are VITAL.

    OK ‘lecture’ over.. The above is the accumulated knowledge from 29 years owing several Series 80/81 Pierces, and working on many more.

    Oh, the Series 80/81’s all originally had a thermostat located inside the base of the outlet pipe where it is bolted to the head. The original thermostat was bronze/brass. it corroded the aluminum outlet pipe very quickly if the coolant had ANY acidic pH. Most thermostats were removed.

    I found a NOS thermostat, and it has two 1/8″ diameter holes drilled in the body, to allow a small amount of circulation of coolant before the coolant warms up enough to cause the thermostat to begin to open.

    All of my Series 80/81 engines have a moden 160* thermostat installed in the water outlet neck’s base, and all have two 1/8″ holes drilled in the thermostat plate to allow cold-water circulation.

    Having a thermostat in the pipe does two very important things: it allows the engine to warm up MUCH quicker than without a thermostat, and in cool weather, allows the engine to reach a safe, low-wear operating temperature.

    Second; the fully open thermostat still has only an opening of roughly 3/4″-1″ diameter. This restriction helps ‘de-foam’ the coolant if it has air mixed in, and slows the ‘over-filling’ of the upper tank, reducing the loss of coolant/water.

    I HIGHLY recommend using for the summer /non-freezing months pure water with some form of anti-corrosive addictive, i use Penn-cool 2000. Napa-cool, ‘water-wetter’ and a few other additive work as well.

    An ethylene-glycol mix will foam like soapy water in a non-pressurized system. At least in my experience it does.

    some non-pressurized systems idon’t have any problem with an anti-freeze mix. i have not learned why some foam and some don’t.

    Also adding a piece of zinc into the upper radiator tank will act as a ‘sacrificial anode’ to nullify most of the corrosion caused by the diss-similar metals and acidic water/coolant.

    NEVER use the pink/red ‘extended life’ propylene-glycol antifreeze, it destroys gasket sealants and corrodes soldered joints. it is designed for modern engines with modern gasket technology…

    I’ve learned the ‘hard-way’ that this type of coolant WILL not stay in our engine cooling systems.

    OK, NOW I think I’m done.. now to dip my fingers in a bowl of ice-water to cool them and reduce the blistering.

    Greg Long


    BRAVO, Greg!



    In case it didn’t register thanks very much indeed for your outstanding advice. I can’t think that you have overlooked anything on the subject, and I’ll have your comments before me as I undertake the job. My hat is off to you. Well, actually, I don’t wear hats as my head is too darn big thanks to hair, not conceit.



    Greg….great post!



    To add to Greg’s finger blistering comments, i offer some details.

    Paul Jacobs, a PAS member offers a radiator neck that is made of some composition material that will not corrode.

    Regarding the sacrificial anode, you can pick one up at a Marine Supply store. When you get it, just place it in the cooling chamber of the cylinder block, or as Greg suggested, in the upper radiator tank, and you will be good to go.

    Apropos of the modern, 160-degree thermostat, I attach a photo of what you want.

    After you acquire said thermostat, then you can drill two small holes in the base to allow for minor water / coolant flow.

    I believe that everything else Greg posted covers the bases.

    Also, regarding Randy’s posting, the water jacket gasket,, and of course the water jacket, has a wonky arrangement of the bolt holes with the bottom left having an non-symmetrical extra hole, but you will figure it out in one shot: up, down, left, right, oh yeah!




    In reviewing the Parts & Services page on the website, I see that Karl Krouch may also offer a cylinder block / radiator neck, but I do not know the details of it.



    Hi have not seen the water / thermostat neck that Paul Jacobs has. I knew of his Aluminum ones.

    There is a ‘big’ problem with the water neck on sat S80/81 engines: it is mounted on two head-studs that have to be torqued along with the rest of the fasteners holding the head on, and sealing the head-gasket.

    The problem is that way too often people will make a gasket out of some material that is too thick, and will ‘yield’ or compress under the water neck’s mounting surface. Sounds like that’s normal, right ?

    Well the aluminum, old and new is not strong enough to compress the gasket all the way from one head stud to the other. The head nuts when torqued compress the gasket around the stud, but the water neck doesn’t have enough strength to compress the gasket in the middle, so it stays much thicker, the base of the water neck gets a curve, then the two ears that the head studs go through break off. !!

    ” Don’t ASK how i know this!!”

    So, when installing the water neck/thermostat housing, first use a flat mill file, and flatten and smooth the cylinder head’s gasket surface. Then do the same on the bottom of the water neck. I usually use a piece of sandpaper on a surface-plate or rigid FLAT surface.

    Then, I usually use only Permatex Ultra-Black, or Ultra Gray. But a very thin piece of gasket paper can be used. Along with the Ultra-Black.

    Apply a very think layer of Ultra-Black on the cylinder head gasket surface, and the water neck gasket surface. Rub it in, make sure it fills all corrosion depressions. Then if using a thin gasket, coat the gasket also with a thin layer of ultra black. When the pre-coated surfaces mate, there is very little chance of a void in the sealant.

    Carefully torque the head nuts to your torque setting used on the rest of the head.. if you are using GOOD thread lubricant, 45-50 ftlbs is plenty. If the threads are dry, 50 is good. Do not exceed 55#, the head studs are soft and will distort. or strip.

    Greg Long


    Yet again I am in your debt Greg and Peter both. With big steps and little ones I’ll get ‘er done.


    Jack & Greg,

    The Paul Jacobs Cylinder Block / Radiator Neck is of excellent quality and the bottom is Piano-Wire Flat / Straight.

    It is not aluminum.

    There was no problem attaching one of Paul’s reproductions to my Series 80 without leaks, but of course, I followed the procedure outlined above by Greg.

    Jack, keep at it and you will get that engine working properly.

    Then, you will host discussions here on other matters (brakes, electrical, etc.).

    BTW, the thermostat number: 248-160 is what you need, as finding a “Federated” 248-160 may be near impossible.

    Other makes (viz., Motorad) are available, and note that 248 is the size, and 160 is the temperature.

    You should be able to get one for under $20.00.



    Well, Greg, you were just about on the money. I removed the water jacket today and out of 39 bolts, 22 came out intact, and the rest sheared off, so a little better than 50% but not much. And Peter, you were right about the rust. I pulled about a pint or more out in a few minutes, and may get close to that much more out with wire brushes, toothbrushes, spoons, etc. Happily the lip that the plate attached to seems to have suffered virtually no loss of thickness despite all the rusting.

    Interesting things when I opened it up. The plate is made of brass and so hasn’t corroded a bit. I presume that was put on in the circa 1980 restoration. There was also one 3/8 bolt while the rest are 1/4, so a probably at that same time the owner drilled out that hole. There are also about 4 of the intact bolts that are nearly twice as long as the rest, including two that hold the coil loop on. Again probably artifacts of the restoration.

    So with the exception of the one 3/8 hole, the rest still have good threads I guess. Won’t know until I get the broken remnants out of their holes. Any suggestions for a good way of doing that without doing violence to the threads? I could drill them out with a 3/16 bit but that is risky as I could inadvertently damage threads in the process.

    And while doing all this it suddenly occurred to me that there is a whole opposite side of the cylinders that will have the same rust in it, so I guess I’ll be taking off the manifolds, which hadn’t occurred to me until now. Bear of little brain, I guess. But Rosanna Rosannadanna was right. If it isn’t one thing, its another.




    Taking off the manifolds won’t help your cleaning out the rust, as the only substantial access to the cooling chamber is where you are now.

    You will be maximally successful if you Shop Vac, then hose it out, let it dry, then repeat with the Shop Vac.

    I continue to believe that a long, thin magnetic pickup will be of great assistance and you won’t run the risk of dropping a magnet off of clothes hanger wire and being unable to retrieve it because you can’t reach it and it is magnetically stuck to some part of the cylinder block.

    As far as removing the broken bolts, if you hav any part sticking out of the backside (within the chamber, try a small vice-grip to get them moving.



    So the only real access to the “dark side” of the cylinders is via the cooling chamber. I see where the magnet will come in handy. Have a shop vac fortunately. Do you coat with a rust inhibitor on the accessible surfaces once you’ve gotten all the rust scale off, or is there no point in that?

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