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Radiator Repair Methods


I can not offer phone quotes, I may be able to give an estimate once I discuss and understand your needs.

Once I have the job here in my workshop I will be happy to discuss the process and costs.

Owned and operated by Greg since 1982, both in Nundah and Northgate. (Greg worked as an employee, in the radiator industry, for 10 years prior to this)


Radiators of all types can be repaired and re-cored, many varying designs of core can still be accessed all though the suppliers are becoming fewer. One option of core for the Veteran and Vintage vehicles is the "Cleanable Honeycomb" as made by us here at Vintage Honeycomb Radiator Company. This is a film type core made in a style consisting of a straight tube within the hexagons to carry water from the top to bottom tank, it is therefore cleanable unlike the original Harrison core.

Vintage Honeycomb Radiator Company logo

In 2009 I negotiated the purchase of very early authentic film type honeycomb core manufacturing machinery from a long standing and now closed business in Sydney. This machinery has known history dating back to Johnson Brothers, who I believe had this machinery made here in Australia, possibly as early as the 1930’s.

After more than 18 months of restoring this well worn vintage machinery and with a combination of research, improved tooling and testing the core has now been re-designed. This allows a core made with 0.15mm copper to be run as a serviceable core, superior in design and endurance to the 0.11mm copper used previously. This new core has been wind tunnel tested and I am happy to be making a core more efficient than what I have imported and fitted for many years. I already knew the performance of this imported core and this new VHRC core is better!

Why serviceable? If you are going to spend good money on a honeycomb radiator, why not ensure it is serviceable in 20+ years?

Looking forward to the future with "authentic machinery, new tooling, new cores and a new attitude!"

Visit the Vintage Honeycomb Radiator Company page.

Film Type

The differing styles of veteran and vintage cores are,

(A) FILM TYPE. This style of core is made from strip copper run through dies. Once the sections are reversed the tube takes shape. The normal type of honeycomb has the water following the shape of the honeycomb; therefore the tube cannot be cleaned.

Cartridge Type
Copper Wire Type

(B) CARTRIDGE TYPE, this core is made up of individual cartridges placed together. The water then flows between the cartridges. They are kept separated in several ways. The most common way to keep a space between them is to flare the ends of the cartridge. When the cartridges are laid together in a slab formation, they are then clamped and the core is then face solder dipped to approximately 10mm depth. The dipping creates the soldered joint. Some more exotic cores are straight pieces of Tube or Cartridge, (i.e. not flared on the end) held apart by a piece of 1.6mm Copper Wire.

Modern Tubular Radiator
Cathedral Style - close-up

Modern Tubular Replacements are another popular option, particularly when the vehicles radiator forms part of the front of the car. The core is manufactured in the samy way as a modern truck or tractor radiator; that is, heavy copper fins horizontally across the core whilst the water tubes go vertically. The header plate can be made to suit the tank shapes, eg a "Cathedral" shape as per the sample shown here.

Old Solder

Radiators of all types can be repaired, BUT, old solder tends to react very badly to heat. On some occasions a small leak can be made worse by the application of heat whilst trying to make a repair. The problem here tends to be the deterioration of the existing solder, particularly with Leaching Chemicals penetrating the old solder, eg salts etc.

The Workshop
Cast Iron Fittings alongside Solder-dipped Brass Replacements

With extensive Workshop facilities, replacement parts can be fabricated and replaced. Eg, brass fittings can be fabricated to replace unusable Cast Iron hose fittings. These are solder dipped to fill any leaks through any joints, prior to fitting to the radiator.

Brass radiator tanks can also be fabricated to replace old unusable tanks. Brass radiator tanks suffer from a form of corrosion similar to rust. This corrosion may not be noticeable until the tanks are stripped and blasted. Metal side bands etc can also be fabricated.

Tank on an Alloy Radiator

Tanks on alloy radiators can be fabricated or some pressed tanks are available for "specials".


Electrolysis - Stray Current

Stray current has been a concern within the radiator industry since the introduction of aluminium radiators. This form of corrosion can perforate an aluminium radiator within weeks. Stray current in the coolant is usually caused as a result of the earth path for some components being altered, a faulty earth strap or a fault in the wiring loom. Vehicles that have been in an accident, had engine rebuilds, or had a radiator or cooling fan replaced are more vulnerable to stray current problems.

Below is a simple test:

  1. Remove radiator cap.
  2. Turn your multi-meter to the mV range.
  3. Insert the positive lead into the coolant. Do not allow it to touch any part of the radiator.
  4. Connect the negative lead to the earth terminal of the battery.
  5. Check for any reading above 50mV.
  6. Turn on the vehicle’s accessories one at time. Any readings would mean there is probably a faulty earth associated with that accessory.

Testing for stray current should be carried out on all cooling systems, not only those containing alloy.

If you have found a problem relating to stray current, change the coolant. Some coolants don’t allow the charged oxygen to dissipate, so if you are unsure of the coolant in your system, flush it and replace it.

Stray current can result from a number of odd sources, including loose or missing earth cables from radiator mounted electric fans. Some other odd cases which are common are:

  • Ford Laser
    • Multi earth plugs located at the front of both chassis rails.
  • Ford Falcon
    • Main battery earth cable fitting at the engine block.
    • Wiring harness fitting at the front inner guard.
  • Holden Commodore
    • Main battery earth cable fitting at engine block.
    • Rear stop light wiring harness earths.
    • Earthing point behind right headlight.


Austin Seven

Since we own Morgans, the Oldsmobile, Model T Ford and previously the Austin Sevens we are active in the Veteran, Vintage and Historic Vehicle Scene. I have found myself rebuilding and repairing many of them. It can be a simple fact that an enthusiast would rather give the work to another enthusiast, than a repairer who has little or no interest in the vehicles involved. I have tried several different types of cores in the Austin Sevens, with mixed results, in our hot Queensland climate anyway!

Another important success is the difference that can be made with the various types of cores in the Morgan radiators. I read with interest the "jottings" of various Morgan Owners from all over the world regarding what works and what does not in Morgan radiators. It appears that they have varying opinions on what it takes to cool a Morgan. Morgans do not present any great challenge to keep cool, after all they are the same motors as the donor cars, just different in the shape. The biggest problem appears to be "battling" with the owner and what they have read on the internet or a magazine. In many cases a simple $5.00 piece of foam to block All of the gaps around the radiator can make a great difference. The air then MUST be made to pass through the radiator not around it. This is not rocket science, but common sense!

Close-up of Tubular Core
Close-up of CT Core

The original Tubular core in the Morgan certainly lacks the thermal efficiency of aluminium, for example. The better variation in copper-brass radiators is known as a CT core. This gives better efficiency than the tubular, and is more suited to cooing Morgans, both V8 and the fours. A tubular core, in fact both tubular and CT, can suffer from problems which are hard to detect. These can be loss of joints, reducing the transfer of heat from Tube to Fin. Blockage is another common problem, though this can’t be found unless the tanks are removed. Debris in the fins can also be a problem in some odd cases, this happens more in vehicles which work in a high debris area, eg forklifts, and headers. This can happen with car radiators as well.


Copper & Brass Core with Fabricated Brass Tanks
Completed Radiator - Unpainted

This job was recently undertaken - a complete assembly for a 1988 Maserati Spider Bi-Turbo 2.5L V6. The original assembly had become unusable due to leaking in the core. Being an alloy core with plastic tanks the owner had experienced frustration in the un-repairability of the tube to header joints.

It was decided to make a new copper brass assembly to replace the entire unit, rather than re-core the radiator re-using the old plastic tanks, which may be a cause of trouble at a later date.

New Core with Old Maserati Radiator

The core was measured and made as an NPN (no part number) because it was not able to match the core to an off the shelf replacement. Once the core is supplied, new tanks are folded from 1mm soft drawn brass, silver soldered in the corners and fitted to the core.

The hose fittings are then matched to be the same size, position, angles and length. A brass Thermo-fan switch flange is made and fitted. New side bands complete with fan mount points and locating pins are made and fitted.

The radiator is then tested dried and painted, complete.

Greg Stevens Trading Company

Radiator Workshop Equipment supplier to the industry. As well as the above, I fabricate equipment for other radiator shops. Radiator Jigs and Ridge Rollers are a couple of the specialised equipment I make and sell throughout Australia. Well over 1,000 Radiator Jigs and over 500 Ridge Rollers are being used in shops in Australia, New Zealand, Fiji and New Guinea.