Water or Antifreeze?
The following comes from a recent topic on SmokStak, which can be found on the Internet at: www.engineads.com/ smokstak.cgi. As ever, various individuals started, commented on and concluded the following bulletin board thread.
I've been to several engine shows so far this summer and noticed some guys use antifreeze in their cooling hoppers. I was curious if anybody had any thoughts about the advantage or disadvantage of using water versus antifreeze in hopper-cooled engines. Also, if water is being used, should the hopper be drained after each run? I don't know if this affects the proper cool down period of the piston and cylinder, but I always drain my engines immediately after they have been used. - Mike
You should always use a 50/50 mix with water and antifreeze as it provides better cooling than just water alone, but most importantly it acts as a rust inhibitor. I leave the mix in all the time for this reason. You should not drain the liquid until the engine has cooled down. - Steve
You need some water, and be sure to add more from time to time, otherwise the heat will build up. The main way that water cools hopper-type engines is by evaporation. If you don't have any water then you've lost a lot of your cooling. Antifreeze will eventually evaporate some but at a much higher temperature than water. - Leonard
What about using a wood block in the hopper? It is usually to keep the splashing to a minimum. Maybe something other? I use plain water and add a small amount of 'cooling system conditioner and water pump lubricant.' It's cheaper than antifreeze and it prevents rust. I think it is a form of water-soluble oil.- Gary
Just a technical note, antifreeze added to water decreases the ability of the coolant to dissipate heat. A 50/50 mixture, although not as efficient at removing heat, does have corrosion inhibitors, lowers the freezing point and increases the boiling point of the coolant. Modern antifreezes are primarily designed for closed, pressurized cooling systems. - Richard
Straight water will dissipate heat way better than any mixture of water and antifreeze. Once you start to add antifreeze to water, its cooling ability will be less. The best coolant is straight water. - Bill
Keep in mind that antifreeze is extremely poisonous. Not following instructions for proper disposal may result in the death of a family pet or other critters. - Eugene
How about RV antifreeze? Besides, it is non-poisonous.- Allen
Allen, I tried RV anti-freeze. I found that it evaporates faster than water. - David
In my engines that I store at a friend's barn, I use RV antifreeze. The directions on the bottle say to drain it before and replace with regular antifreeze before use. So far, I have had no problems with those engines. I also do the same thing for water pumps that I display; fill with RV antifreeze over the winter when not stored in a heated building. The RV antifreeze that I got is nontoxic (at least that is what the bottle says). Its main use is to winterize RV plumbing so it won't freeze and bust their pipes out. I do run my hopper-cooled engines on water. - Steve
I use an antifreeze solution in my 10-20 Titan, (and the rest of my tractors too) which can evaporate a lot of water! I called an antifreeze manufacturer to ask if I only needed to replenish the lost water of if the antifreeze would boil off too. I was told to just add water. - Craig
When these engines were built water was all they had. It works for me and there is nothing poisonous to worry about. - Patrick
I agree with Patrick. Water is a better coolant than antifreeze 50/50 and who cares about the rust? It seals cracks and leaks. Why bother restoring an engine to the nines so that even the correct police won't comment and then add a glaring green 21st century coolant. - Garry
I like to use a 50/50 mix of antifreeze in my kerosene burners because the antifreeze doesn't carry the heat away as fast and the engine runs hotter with no load. It also boils at a higher temperature so that raises the hopper temperature also. Using the antifreeze while burning kerosene will let it idle all day without fouling a plug or blowing black smoke. Oh I love the smell of those engines running on kerosene. - Bill
I keep antifreeze in my engines while storing them in winter. It's cheap insurance just in case I don't get all the water out of them. - Dave
Antifreeze may work okay if you are not taking your engine to shows. How do you keep it from spilling while loading and unloading and bouncing down the road on your trailer? It might work if you do not keep the hopper full. I use water and drain before I load on my trailer. Besides, that's less weight to carry with an empty hopper or tank. - John
WATER! WATER! WATER! These engines were made to run with water in the hoppers. Water will boil off at 212 degrees and evaporation is how these engines are cooled. Antifreeze can get upwards of 230 or so before it boils. Besides antifreeze is nasty on paint. As far as leaving water in the hoppers for an extended period of time, it doesn't really hurt anything. I will run my engines for four days at a show on the same water. As long as you get it out before it freezes, it shouldn't be a problem. - Joe
I use water in the summer and antifreeze for insurance in the winter. I let my engines set for about five minutes after I shut them off, then drain the water. If you drain the water this way the moisture left in the hopper will evaporate quickly and the water hopper will be dry. Just a note, I have a Fairbanks-Morse Model D that I run a Baker fan with and it will use 5 gallons of water to 1 gallon of gas. - Gary
Use water - they were made for water so let's use water. /And like Joe said antifreeze is hard on paint. My Stover's paint was all dull and chalky because of antifreeze. - Chase
I'm not sure how the order of events goes, but if you store your engine outside or in a barn that is somewhat open to the elements, mud dobbers can build a nest inside the hopper. This can get wet and not dry right away after an engine was drained or it might prevent complete drainage. This will freeze and can cause a crack. I've seen it happen. There might be other junk in a hidden area of the hopper or head that could do this also. For that reason I like the idea of keeping some antifreeze in the engine when stored. - Ed
With all of my old marine engines that have been run in salt water, I fill the water jackets full of straight antifreeze and cap off the inlet and outlet pipes or just run a hose from one to the other. This seems to keep the salt crystals in the pores of the old cast iron from drying out and splitting the castings, and the lack of air exposure seems to lessen the corrosive activity. I have done this with some engines over 25 years and it works well.
I now add an anti-electrolysis additive to the antifreeze to help stop this type of corrosion caused by dissimilar metals connected together in a cooling system. When nothing is done to preserve them I have seen many of these old marine engines decay and turn to rusted hulks in a matter of 10 years or so. And not only in private collections but many of them in the hands of our maritime museum collections, which seems contrary to their primary purpose of preserving these very artifacts. - Richard
I guess I'll throw my hat into the ring and add that antifreeze is the best way to not have to say 'I'm sorry' to your engine after a cold winter and a fit of forgetfulness. I'll take the advice of the writer who said to only add water to the mix. My condenser Type ZC-52 uses only about a pint of water a year (200 hours or so of running time) but after a few seasons of evaporation, the mixture is probably getting pretty heavy on the antifreeze side. Now, where did I put that antifreeze tester! - Elden
As a few have mentioned the wooden block in the hopper is used to stop the water from splashing out and it works very well. After spending many hours restoring an engine and doing the paint work you don't really want water splashing over the sides and leaving nasty white marks from the minerals in the water.
As for letting the water out of engines, it's best to leave them for at least 10 minutes before draining to allow the engine to cool down somewhat. However letting the water out when it is still warm will help the dregs evaporate. Antifreeze to me is a waste of time and money. If you want your water to look a different color get some food coloring. Water makes the engines heavier and more difficult while traveling, especially when you are the guy behind in a new four-wheel-drive and you're getting splashes of antifreeze all over your new four-wheel-drive! - Adam
' . . . antifreeze is the best way to not have to say 'I'm sorry' to your engine after a cold winter and a fit of forgetfulness.'
SmokStak is an engine conversation bulletin board with over 50,000 messages on file and is part of the Old Engine series of Web sites that started in 1995 as 'Harry's Old Engine.' Harry Matthews is a retired electronic engineer and gas engine collector from Oswego, N.Y., now residing in Sarasota, Fla.