Dear Ole Mechanic;

I have a 1954 Ford tractor with a front end loader.  When I bought it, I was told that there was a small internal coolant leak into the oil pan.  I was also told that it had been patched with JB Weld , and that although it didn’t seem to leak, I shouldn’t tighten the radiator cap.  If I did, the pressure might cause it to leak again.  I got along fine with the tractor for over ten years.  Late last fall, I loaned the tractor to a friend that needed to use the front end loader.  He is a conscientious person, so before he even started it, he checked the oil and coolant levels. Unfortunately, I forgot to tell him to leave the radiator cap loose.  To make a long story short, the oil is now about two quarts over full, and it looks like gray mud.Cracked Block

I priced a new engine and it would run just over $4,000--about what the tractor with the front end loader is worth.  It's just not worth it.  I only use the tractor four or five  times a year.  Have you got any suggestions as to how I could continue to use the tractor with out spending more than it is worth?

Watching the Manure Pile Up


Dear Watching;

First off I will not make fun of your problem, as I can sense (scents) the problem of the pile.

One thing you need to do right away is to drain the antifreeze out of the block and change the oil.   The reason that you need to drain the block is because if you look at the water pump, you will notice that the pump and lower radiator hose are mounted high up on the block.  Even if you drain the radiator, it wil only empty the block down to where the lower radiator hose comes out of the block.  When you find the block drain, you will also realize that even with the radiator drained, there are still six to eight inches of antifreeze left in the block.  The block drain is a petcock--or more than likely a plug--on the side of the block.  It is located between the starter and the oil filter on the left hand side of the engine, as viewed from the drivers seat.  Once all the antifreeze is drained out of the radiator and the block, then drain the oil and change the filter.

The reason for getting that gray, muddy looking oil out of the engine is because the antifreeze that is making the oil look muddy will attack and eat away bearing material in the rod bearings, the main bearings, and cam bearings.  That is not good at all, so change the oil right away!  Have the antifreeze drained out so no more can get in the oil.

I would suspect that you have already thought about trying the JB Weld repair again.  That could be a very good option if you know exactly where the leaking crack is.  One thing in your favor is that the year of yourt Ford tractor has a small sheet metal pan that can be removed with out splitting (separating) the tractor.  That makes getting to the inside of the crankcase area fairly easy.  Of course, if the crack is under the side cover, that doesn't help.  You would need to find out exactly where the crack is before you could re-patch it.  The crack could even be under the timing gear cover.

One thing that I have seen done--and it might work for you--is to use only water in the cooling system.  Water won’t attack bearings, so to keep most of the water out of the oil, you would only fill the cooling system when you are using the tractor.  You would start the tractor and immediately begin filling the radiator.  When you shut off the tractor, you would immediately drain the block.  Don’t forget to leave the radiator cap loose!  That way, very little water would get in the oil.  What little did get in the oil would be drained out during your annual oil and filter change.  You do change your oil at least once a year, don’t you?

One thing that would help with the draining of the block--especially with all those front-end-loader arms, brackets and braces--would be to extend the block drain out a ways with some pipe and a petcock or valve.  The one that I saw had a forty-five degree fitting in the block, with a brass pipe that extended it down and out about three inches.  The valve was on the end of the pipe.  It was reasonable easy to get to.

There may be another way out, if the crack is very small.  That would be to try a “stop leak” product, but I would still only use water until you were sure that the leak was really stopped.

Of course, when using water, you would need to be sure that both the block AND the radiator are completely drained if freezing weather is even suspected.  If you don’t drain both, you may have some more cracks to worry about.

Herr Professor Nuzanbolts