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Old 05-21-2020, 08:20 AM   #1
WHN
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Default Distilled Water?

I have always used tap water in our cars with rust inhibitor.

Last year we tried distilled water with rust inhibitor. When I drained it out last fall the water was really rust colored.

In past years, with tap water and inhibitor, color of water would be milky white.

What are you thoughts on this?

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Old 05-21-2020, 08:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

Why wouldn't you use anti-freeze?. Even if it's never going to freeze where you live it's still better than water. Don't know anything about rust inhibitor/water. Just curious why some guys don't use antifreeze.
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Old 05-21-2020, 09:07 AM   #3
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

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Originally Posted by Licensed to kill View Post
Why wouldn't you use anti-freeze?. Even if it's never going to freeze where you live it's still better than water. Don't know anything about rust inhibitor/water. Just curious why some guys don't use antifreeze.
Many years ago, I was told by a Ford Tractor dealer that anti-freeze could effect your bearings if it leaked into the crank case.

We also donít drive these cars in the winter so water works for us. I also believe plain water has better cooling abilities than anti-freeze. Not looking to start another discussion here.
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Old 05-21-2020, 09:50 AM   #4
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

When you add anti-freeze to the water it lowers the specific gravity of the solution. In other words, the weight of a gallon of 50/50 solution is less than a gallon of plain water. It makes the solution leak out easier than plain water. I don't like the coolant blowing back onto the firewall from the water pump and I don't like to take the risk of head gasket seepage into the crankcase. I use plain water with Prestone Anti-Rust and Water Pump Lubricant. In Florida this coolant is just fine. In Maine, I mark my calendar to drain the water/anti-rust solutions in mid October!!

At the Model A National Meet in Georgia in 2019, a speaker mentioned that distilled water tends to absorb minerals from the metals in the radiator and is not recommended. Of course always use distilled water in your battery. Ed
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Old 05-21-2020, 10:12 AM   #5
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

Babbit is the final layer on insert bearings,cant tell you how many head gaskets I've done on overhead valve engines that filled the crankcase with antifreeze..change the gasket,drain and refill the crankcase,good to go..that antifreeze/babbit issue is overblown..yes,water displaces oil,run an engine long enough with water in the crankcase and you will destroy bearings but that takes quite a bit of neglect,far more than the average a owner tolerates
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Old 05-21-2020, 10:48 AM   #6
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

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Getting back to the OP's original Q, in many municipalities the tap water contains additives to prevent the water from attacking the iron water system street feed pipes and rusting them through.

The anti-rust treated municipal water works by causing calcium salts to coat and encrust the iron surface, blocking chemical interaction of the iron with the water.

Unfortunately (for iron engine blocks) running tap water in an iron engine block causes that tap water lime to deposit both in the radiator and over the block surface, reducing thermal transfer and eventually creating cooling issues.

Running distilled water, which is very ion-deficient, causes stripping of those deposits and a return to the iron rust problem. That is why you went from whitish with tap water to red with distilled!!

A lot of people say it is a crazy waste of $$ to buy 50/50 pre-mix antifreeze, but that stuff has none of the problems of either calcium rich tap water or ion deficient distilled.

A name-brand 50/50 pre-mix contains water that has been reverse-osmosis processed, is free of calcium, is pH balanced, and has the correct ion additive enrichment to work with the glycol without problems.
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Old 05-21-2020, 11:00 AM   #7
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

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Originally Posted by Licensed to kill View Post
Why wouldn't you use anti-freeze?. Even if it's never going to freeze where you live it's still better than water. Don't know anything about rust inhibitor/water. Just curious why some guys don't use antifreeze.

One reason is it depends on the A. If the A cooling system is not sealed tight, EX: drippage on an original style water pump packing nut, antifreeze can spray everywhere and probably will ruin the paint.
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Old 05-21-2020, 11:12 AM   #8
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

After I had my motor rebuilt, I asked a couple of re-builders and radiator shops their thoughts on Antifreeze. Was told that they recommended Antifreeze, has vastly superior anti-rust properties compared to distilled water/rust inhibitor. They also said what I had seen on line. Antifreeze itself does not wear out, it is the additives in antifreeze, and was told to freshen the antifreeze every so often with a bottle of additive. When the additives go bad the antifreeze turns acidic and can attack gaskets/do nasties to aluminum/cast iron/etc/formrust-deposits.


This is what I currently believe, am open to others opinions.
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Old 05-21-2020, 12:40 PM   #9
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

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Originally Posted by 30 Closed Cab PU View Post
One reason is it depends on the A. If the A cooling system is not sealed tight, EX: drippage on an original style water pump packing nut, antifreeze can spray everywhere and probably will ruin the paint.
So if you are running water it is OK not to fix the leaking water pump packing? Sorry, I'm having a hard time understanding that logic.
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Old 05-21-2020, 02:08 PM   #10
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

I think the real question is: “did Henry use anti-freeze?”

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Old 05-21-2020, 02:32 PM   #11
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

Ethylene glycol began being used in automotive applications in 1926,Ford recommended alcohol in the A.Ethylene glycol became the standard of industry in WW2..

Alcohol,'what Henry used' is corrosive and tends to evaporate,modern ethylene glycol based coolants inhibit corrosion and rust and provide a superior conductor medium than straight water.

This is one area (there are a few,like mechanical advance distributors) that were concrete improvements over 'what Henry used' in fact other than slight technical improvements Ford engineering kept their discovered advancements with A production and field observations to introduce with the model B engine..
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Old 05-21-2020, 03:17 PM   #12
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

Didn't mean to hijack the thread. Sorry. Some good info shared though. Appreciate it. For me, the real question is not what Henry used. from my understanding i would NOT want to run the oil that "henry used" when we have so much better quality than what was available then. Same with coolant. None of me "toys" see freezing temps but there is a chance that the heat goes out when it's -30 out and would;t take long for a wreck. Even still, It's been my belief that the advantages of anti freeze, IE, anticorrosion and lubrication was worth the "price of admission" and was just wondering if perhaps i was overlooking something. Not everything that we take as "common sense" today applies to these old cars so I am learning to ask rather than assume.
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Old 05-21-2020, 03:35 PM   #13
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

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So if you are running water it is OK not to fix the leaking water pump packing? Sorry, I'm having a hard time understanding that logic.

Not exactly what I am trying to say. Drips at the packing nut can develop while driving - then you have a mess in the engine bay, and by the time you notice it on your hood or windshield, hot antifreeze is all over the place. Happened to me and is why I run a leakless water pump.
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Old 05-22-2020, 07:08 AM   #14
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

For those who run water only.... have you tested the water?

Run for awhile then get some swimmig pool test strips to test PH you may be surprised what your find! PH should be no higher than 7.8 or less then 6.8 over is too acidic
less too alkalyn.
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Old 05-22-2020, 07:14 AM   #15
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

I have switched to paying extra$ for premix after using tap water and a/f mix. Rotted through aluminum heads on my v8 was enough evidence for me
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Old 05-22-2020, 08:10 AM   #16
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

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Originally Posted by barkleydave View Post
For those who run water only.... have you tested the water?

Run for awhile then get some swimmig pool test strips to test PH you may be surprised what your find! PH should be no higher than 7.8 or less then 6.8 over is too acidic
less too alkalyn.
pH 10 alkaline - 7.0 neutral - 3 acidic
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Old 05-22-2020, 02:14 PM   #17
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

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Originally Posted by 30 Closed Cab PU View Post
Not exactly what I am trying to say. Drips at the packing nut can develop while driving - then you have a mess in the engine bay, and by the time you notice it on your hood or windshield, hot antifreeze is all over the place. Happened to me and is why I run a leakless water pump.
Gotcha. I use one of those leather covers. If I have a drip while driving it controls it keeps the coolant from being thrown "all over the place". Cheap insurance.
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Old 05-22-2020, 10:24 PM   #18
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Default Re: Distilled Water?

Tap water in my area is suicide in any auto. S. California water has calcium and it collects the white calcium deposits in your core. Distilled water is a must out here. And you can you soluble oil (the white stuff you buy in a bottle called anti-rust & lube) will keep corrosion way down.
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