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Old 02-26-2024, 12:38 PM   #1
Tom Grz
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Default Racked Radiator Shell

I'm working on a '31 pickup project that I bought with an assembled radiator and shell. I recently removed the radiator to rod it out and repair some leaks. When I was done and ready to put the shell back on, I noticed that the shell was badly racked. I started thinking that it might have been in a roll-over or something even though the radiator, frame and rest of the truck don't show any signs of that. What's really strange is that even the shell doesn't have any other significant damage or buckling along the face of the shell. When I tried to straighten it just a little, that's when the face started buckling. Does anyone have any other thoughts on how it could have gotten so out-of-square?
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Old 02-26-2024, 07:57 PM   #2
nkaminar
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Default Re: Racked Radiator Shell

It looks like it is painted.

My guess is that it came from a truck that was damaged in an accident and not original to the truck the radiator came from.

You will not be able to just bend it into shape. You will have to use some body repair techniques with body hammers and dollies. And maybe some metal shrinking. If this is beyond your skill set, take it to a body shop. The metal can be stretched if in an accident and not buckled.
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Old 02-26-2024, 09:24 PM   #3
Marshall V. Daut
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Default Re: Racked Radiator Shell

Maybe just a guess here, but it is a well-known fact that Model A commercial vehicles received parts that were rejected for use on passenger cars. And to some degree, even the venerable pickup truck was often loaded with such cosmetically defective parts. These "seconds" were usually painted black to hide the defects in plating or stainless steel, such as headlight buckets and radiator shells. Even emergency brake handles and shift levers that had plating problems were painted black and installed in commercial trucks, presumably on the theory that only hired workmen would drive the vehicles and not care if the plating was perfect. These vehicles had rough working lives ahead of them, so who worried if a new AA truck was delivered with flawed appointments that had been painted black at the factory?
In this shell's case, since there is no obvious buckling, bulging or signs of an accident that would surely be present if the vehicle had been in an accident, it seems likely that this shell was one of those "seconds" that was installed at the factory and made its way into a company's rolling stock, possibly at a discounted price. The fact that this shell was attached to the radiator on the car that Tom Grz bought and no fit or appearance problem was noted until after the radiator had been repaired tells me that the workers at the Ford plant "adapted' this shell to fit properly over the radiator - although that would have taken quite an effort and a lot of time to do. I would like to know if the shell's mounting holes are in the usual places or if they had been drilled somewhere else on the shell to make it fit the radiator. Or perhaps the radiator itself was reworked to fit the shell??? Unless some past owner fesses up here and admits that he modified the shell himself, I guess we'll never know for sure how this shell ended up so cattywompas. But since 1931???
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Old 02-26-2024, 09:26 PM   #4
ursus
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Default Re: Racked Radiator Shell

I would mount the radiator to the front crossmember then mount the shell to the radiator. You may be surprised that what looks "racked" off the pickup will turn out to be OK when mounted in place.
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Old 02-26-2024, 10:19 PM   #5
CarlG
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Default Re: Racked Radiator Shell

If all else fails, source another shell.
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Old 02-27-2024, 09:13 AM   #6
Tom Grz
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Default Re: Racked Radiator Shell

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I looked back at a picture I took before I removed the shell. The driver side hood needs to be worked a little bit, but there is a significant difference in the shell curves where the hood sits. You can also see how the shell doesnít fully cover the edge of the radiator on the driver side, so putting it back as is really isnít an option. I have some metal working experience, so Iíll attempt some surgery. I probably wonít start all the other bodywork for a few years since I want to go thru the chassis first. Worst case, Iíll have to find another shell if it doesnít work out. Thanks for the responses!
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Old 02-27-2024, 09:56 AM   #7
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Default Re: Racked Radiator Shell

Your truck would have left the factory with a mild steel shell painted black enamel . it would not have been the 31 passenger car style but same as 30 . The stainless 30 style shells are plentiful and cheap and after going over with 400 grit take rustoleum black which sticks like cr@p to a blanket . My truck has one like this and after 12 years no stainless showing through . Your mild steel shell is stretched somewhere and would be difficult to "message" back to shape . An original truck shell would be hard to find without rust damage so get a stainless one and rattle can black it .

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