Working on your friction fire-building skills just after realizing you are lost in the woods, cold, or out of drinkable water does not make much sense. It’s about as useful as learning how to control an airplane just before trying to land it. Crash. Likewise, fixing a leaking or damaged radiator on the side of a trail is not as easy as it may seem. Therefore, your friendly editors at Jp will use this month’s “What Now?” column to give you a few ideas of how to fix a damaged radiator when your life may depend upon it. Should you read this article, add some stuff to your tool bag, and call yourself ready? Probably not. We’d suggest taking that old crappy radiator you just pulled and trying some of these techniques at home before you have to do the same out on the trail. That’s what we did to test out a couple of common radiator repair techniques. Almost all of these “repairs” are temporary in order to get you off the trail. They are not a permanent fix, and many are much easier to perform with the radiator out of the vehicle. Also, getting things clean and dry may make the difference between a successful fix and a failed attempt, so be sure to clean the leaky areas with Emory cloth, sandpaper, or a small metal brush. Oh, and you are gonna need a bunch of water or coolant for any of the following tricks to work. In a pinch, you can use creek water to fill your radiator. If it’s available, save the drinkable water for yourself and use what nature gives you to keep the Jeep cool. You can always flush it out when you are back home looking back on your exciting adventure. Check it out.
Radiator Anatomy 101
A radiator is a fairly simple part. It has tanks, usually two, one at the top and one at the bottom (A), or sometimes one on either side. The tubes (B) are the small tubes that allow passage of fluid between the two tanks. There can be several rows of tubes. Fins (C) are the thin zig-zagged metal bits between and around the tubes. These help increase surface area so that air can cool the tubes and coolant more efficiently.