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help: towing 5500 lbs over a low pass, hissing and coolant over passenger side engine behind fanbelt

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help: towing 5500 lbs over a low pass, hissing and coolant over passenger side engine behind fanbelt

 
  #1  
Old 03-15-2019, 10:21 AM
eclectix
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help: towing 5500 lbs over a low pass, hissing and coolant over passenger side engine behind fanbelt

i was towing about 5500 lbs with my f250 on SB interstate 5 between los banos and coalinga, (having crossed pacheco pass), when the coolant temperature started to rise. i had not experienced a hot engine in many years (if at all) and all other systems seemed ok according to a station break i had just taken, so i tried to proceed cautiously. however the temperature shot up suddenly (to "H"), and at the same time i suddenly heard a hissing noise coming from the front of the truck.

so, i stopped the truck and took a very quick look. i could see droplets of liquid coming down from just behind the front axle on the passenger side. the liquid felt slippery so i presumed it was oil (this was later contraindicated by closer inspection and consideration). i could not open the radiator cap because of steam danger so i checked the oil. at the time, i had assumed the droplets were oil, but anyway i read the dipstick as 1/2 quart low whereas i had read it as full about 20 miles uproad a half hour previously at the gas station.

i thought i somehow had a combination leak of coolant and oil. an oil leak would have made at least a little bit of sense since i recently had work done on the edelbrock intake gaskets. nightfall was coming quickly and there was no close exit so i called for a tow.

the tow truck operator arrived and by then we could take off the radiator cap. the radiator tank was at least by then completely dry. he also helped find the coolant over the carberator and front passenger fender area. i had already stocked up on some oil and coolant at the gas station. we hatched a plan to put some coolant in the radiator and then continue to drive more slowly a couple of exits south to a repair shop there, with the tow truck flashing lights in the rear for safety.

this plan worked and now i am waiting for the shop to open. hopefully i will find out more soon from the shop, but meanwhile, what could have gone wrong? immediate thoughts are a defective coolant hose or universal hose clamp.

however, is this all? could it also have been a slipping fan belt or failing water pump?

or could the proximate cause have been an oil blockage leading to increased engine temperature? or had i been driving overly aggressively? i had never driven an enclosed trailer, and i have only rarely towed anything with this truck, and nothing since an engine rebuild.

thanks for any thoughts...
 
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Old 03-15-2019, 11:36 AM
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Pulling an enclosed trailer is like trying to drag a parachute. Even though it might not weigh much, it takes a lot of power to move it down the road.

I'd say you were probably just going a little bit too hard.

If you have an automatic transmission, i The torque converter will be slipping more and creating a lot of heat. That in turn will transfer to the radiator and engine coolant. Engine temperature starts going up, oil gets thinner and starts to fog out of breathers and go past the rings.

So this all makes pretty good sense....


What condition is your radiator in? And is it big enough?
 
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Old 03-16-2019, 04:41 AM
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i believe the radiator is the stock 1968 radiator that goes with a fe 360 engine. i upgraded the 360 to a 390 with an edelbrock intake and carb. it never occurred to me to increase the radiator size. (however, one thought i had in this experience was to get or make and install a fan shroud... and maybe a surge (overflow) tank.)

since the original post i got with a repair shop in coalinga. they found some loose coolant hose clamps and tightened them. they pressurized the system and it tested ok. they took the truck for a short test drive and it seemed ok. i decided to go back home. so i took off and a couple of miles down the freeway, i got waved to the side of the road by passing cars. i stopped and walked back but saw nothing. so i called aaa and waited for a second pair of eyes to help by following me. the truck arrived and told me i had been blowing white smoke out of the passenger side exhaust.

this sounded (i believe i was told) like a header gasket failure. the local repair shop did not have a nearby machine shop and wanted to send the headers out to fresno, and even then, would not warranty any work due to the engine having overheated for from their perspective an unknown but possibly lengthy amount of time, possibly warping the engine (!?). they talked about the alternative of getting a new engine which is unfortunately out of my budget.

i decided to tow everything back home at considerable cost, back over the pass. now, near home again, the truck still runs (but...). i am going to cast about for notions since it had just been in the shop. it was a bad day on the road...

thanks for the insights.

EDIT: the truck has a nv4500 5 speed transmission. i never got to 5th gear, often settling for 3rd gear going up pass grades.
 
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Old 03-16-2019, 11:06 AM
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I would replace your radiator once you fix the motor or verify it is ok. Overheating on the highway usually means you have too small of a radiator or a clogged radiator. Rock Auto has aluminum radiators for 200ish bucks that are oem like bolt in. I bought the larger radiator for my truck. ~24x24 in. I think the smaller radiator is ~20x24 in.
 
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Old 03-16-2019, 12:19 PM
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thanks. i did have the radiator refurbished around maybe 1500 miles ago (until the trip, driving locally) (and at that time the engine was still a 360 ci).
 
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Old 03-16-2019, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by eclectix
thanks. i did have the radiator refurbished around maybe 1500 miles ago (until the trip, driving locally) (and at that time the engine was still a 360 ci).
Then it SHOULD be adequate.

Retarded ignition timing and a lean fuel mixture can add to heat problems. So make sure timing is advanced properly and fuel mix is rich enough. But not too rich.

When you really start to get it tuned, you'll be able to tell where it likes to run.

Personally, I run mine lean&mean with a good bit of timing. It will ping on regular gas if I run it too hard, but the result is snappy performance and pretty good fuel economy. When I plan on racing it or running hills, I'll put midgrade or premium in it and that solves the pinging, and then I can really give it the boot.
 
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Old 03-17-2019, 01:28 AM
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The fan shroud will help a whole bunch. Also if you don't have one, a seven blade fan will increase the air flow. If you don't have one, get a large "plate and fin" transmission cooler and install it. The trans cooler may mean that the tranny will need more tranny fluid- which is always a good thing. That white smoke may mean that you blew a head gasket. You will not be the last person this happens to, keep us informed. It will help someone else down the road
 
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Old 03-19-2019, 11:07 AM
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Hi,
Check the oil.... Does it look milky? If so then you have water mixing with oil and could explain the white cloud coming out the exhuast. When the engine over heated you could have warped a head and/or blown a head gasket or worse cracked the head of block allowing water to get into the oil.... Has nothing to do with Headers as was suggested privious. You will need to perform a Compression check to confirm.

Also, as suggested it you plan on continuing to tow,... a radiator shroud is needed.
 

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