Simmering over 440 Overheating Issues – Part 2


A progressive update on my working on my overheating problems.

I decided to to troubleshoot this problem one step at a time.


Here a new Milodon hi flow thermostat, similar to the look of a hiperf Mopar piece I saw on Ebay.


The first thing I did was change the thermostat. First I drained the coolant into a new 4 gallon oil drain container so that I can reuse the coolant if needed.

In preparation to replace the thermostat, I ordered a new gasket and some gasket sealant from Jegs, but I will continue to use the current gasket until it breaks or no longer seals. There’s sealant on both sides of the gasket, but I am able to remove the coupling without damaging the gasket. If you know you’re going to be disconnecting this joint several times, I’m not sure if I could have used a technique I used on my Mustang valve cover gaskets to allow reuse and ease of removal of the valve covers to adjust the mechanical lifters. If you do this trick on your valve covers, apply sealant to the valve cover and tack on the gasket to the valve cover. In the thermostat’s case, the gasket is tacked to the block side.

Parts I ordered that I didn't need.

Parts I ordered that I didn’t need. Save for next time.


I forgot to take pictures of replacing the thermostat because I was busy explaining to my 10 year old son the idea of the Scientific Method in trouble shooting, changing one variable at a time to be able to isolate the effects on any given change.

Here' s the one that was in there, a no frills unit.

Here’ s the one that was in there, a no frills unit.


With the coolant drained from the radiator, I could see I have a 3 core/row radiator and gunk covering or partially covering every down tube I can see from the opening.

Not good, though a probable indication where the problem is. The last time I sighted the upper tank channels I didn’t see this crud. After an experience like this, that coolant (what ever I am going to use) is going to be changed more often.

Yuk! This looks like chit.

Sighting into my rad after draining the coolant. Yuk! This looks like crud.

I took a small pick to check the consistency of the crud stuck in the upper channels and it breaks apart like mineral sediments despite the gooey looking appearance. Geez, that looks nasty.



I took the car out for a drive around town and out on the highway and  I could sense even around town the temperature was slowly rising. By the time I made a high speed pass on the highway, the temperatures went high out of the “normal” temperature zone.

With the temp needle out of range and getting hotter as I approached my driveway, I started smelling what reminds me of overheated electrical or burnt electrical motor windings. Not sure what the source is but I’ve noticed the smell a couple times now when the engine gets too hot, hot enough to fill up my overflow unit to maximum capacity.



So I proceeded to take my radiator out to clean it. Removing the radiator on an old Ebody especially with a manual transmission (no tranny lines) is pretty simple. Removing the battery and washer bottle allows easy access to the four screws that mount the radiator tot he frame and then you can remove the four clips that hold the shroud to the radiator.

Removing the lower hose (after draining coolant) is easier if you remove the attachment to the water pump first, then using a blunt pointed object, push the lower hose connection off the lower radiator outlet as the coolant lubricates the operation.

Before lifting radiator out of car disconnect fan shroud and place protection like a fender cover over fan to avoid accidentally damaging radiator fins on fan blades.

Disconnect the fan shroud from the radiator and you do not need to remove the fan. Protect the radiator during lift out by placing a protective material (fender cover) to prevent gouging your radiator with the fan blades. Remove lower hose before lifting radiator out.

Disconnect the fan shroud from the radiator and you do not need to remove the fan. Protect the radiator during lift out by placing a protective material (fender cover) to prevent gouging your radiator with the fan blades. Remove lower hose before lifting radiator out.

I flushed out the residual coolant in preparation for cleaning.

I flushed out the small amount of residual coolant in preparation for cleaning.


Well…. it depends who you talk to when you pickup the phone.

I made a couple of calls this morning to get a recommendation to get the radiator rodded out, but have not found one yet. One guy said this isn’t done much any more due to toxic materials. Not sure about that.

I spoke with another guy I’ve worked with and having some experience with restored cars was able to recommend a couple of radiator shops which I will keep in mind if I want to recondition my radiator. It certainly ought to be cheaper that buying a new radiator and the fit will be without question.

A sight at the lower tank and the bottom of the channels shows no indication of crud build up, so I am going to try loosening the crud at the top with distilled white vinegar (as suggested by my friend Jeff Marcey who lives in a hard water paradise).



instead to taking my radiator to get rodded out,  I went to the local grocery store and got what I needed to try the poor man’s approach to dislodging the mineral/crud buildup at the top go the radiator channels by using distilled water and distilled white vinegar. I’ve read using anything from full strength to 1 part vinegar to 4 parts water mixture. I suppose it depends how long you want to leave your parts soaking.


High Tech Materials from the local mexican grocery store

I’m trying laying the radiator flat and using boiling hot distilled vinegar water and soaking overnight, then draining (careful to notice any sediment or debris)  flushing out with the water hose and then rinsing out with distilled water. Inspect the upper channel crud level and repeat if necessary.



I would be nice if this works. BUT If there isn’t a dramatic improvement, I’ll have to think about what is next. Do I find a shop to rod out the radiator or go a for 4 core radiator for insurance and upgrade?


Using kitchen appliances for quick boiling of NON-TOXIC radiator cleaning solutions.

I just needed something to plug the overflow hole so my vinegar solution didn't drain on the ground.

Other use for overflow unit. I just needed something to plug the overflow hole so my vinegar solution didn’t drain on the ground. Looks like an IV.


I’ve read people using an aftermarket flush or Arm and Hammer WASHING SODA (NOT baking soda) to neutralize the vinegar acidity. I suspect the rinsing qualities of Washing Soda is better. Maybe it’s finer, I don’t know. I’ll look for some the next time I’m at the store. I like these non-toxic ideas.




A word about GANO filters. GANO filters are a novel product that you install in the upper radiator hose. You need to cut a hose and  clamp the cut ends on the ends of a this clear plastic device with a wire mesh screen that traps crud coming from the engine before  it gets trapped in your radiator. It’s a great idea but let me suggest an idea way to use it based on my experience.

I ran one of these on my open track Mustang but it cracked at the track and I had to take a spare hose from a fellow tracker and replace my upper hose. What I may do later is buy a new cheap radiator hose and put a GANO filter on it and then run it long enough to catch any crud in a period after flushing the system after putting a new or cleaned out radiator in.

For long term reliability, I would install the regular Mopar upper hose. The last thing I need is getting stranded on a highway with a busted GANO filter.

I did look at the GANO website and they offer strong non-plastic versions but naturally, you will need to disconnect your radiator hose to see what the crud condition is.


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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2014  All Rights Reserved.

Challenger near the haunted house

Back in the 1970’s where the current Google headquarters is in Mountain View, California, was all farm land. There were many flower nurseries, ranches and dairy farms. My father rented part of a quanset hut for storage of his electric cars and roofing materials from a dairy farmer named Mr. Holthouse. We used to make frequent trips from home in Palo Alto to the Holthouse farm which was only about 10-15 minutes away, taking those memorable drives down the old farmland roads.

One of those roads to the farm was Stierlin Road (which is now Shoreline) and the west side of the road was lined with farm properties and on the east side a largely desolate, unkept, open farm land with an old Victorian house sitting in the middle of nowhere (an area close to the  now SGI site). The old white 3 story house we all thought was haunted and it looked menacing as it appeared in a dilapidated state sitting out there all alone along with a few trees.*

It was on that road that my father first let me drive his Datsun mini pickup.  This was a couple years before I got my license, I think when I was only 14. My dad used to let me shift all the time from the passenger side, but this was the first time I ever drove a full sized car. I drove it down that old country road perfectly, shifting gears and then pulling off to let my dad take over. I impressed my dad with how well I drove a stick shift for the first time – I attribute that to countless rehearsals in my mind in anticipation for that moment.

This worked out great for my dad, not long after this, he used to let me drive all over the place for work, before I had my license (don’t tell anyone, okay?).

It was along that old Stierlin Road, just about across the road from the old haunted house, that I noticed a “tree find.”


There was a sublime 1970 Challenger, with a tow hitch, which was neglected under a tree in front of a farmer’s yard. I saw that car every time taking Stierlin to and from our shop.  I thought for sure this neglected car might be something I could afford without help. I mean, who would leave his Challenger, for what seemed like forever, rotting under a tree? Maybe the guy would ask for $500 or something.

One day my dad and I drove our little four speed mini-pickup over there to pay the unknown owner a visit. Upon closer inspection, the car was an R/T, with a 383 Magnum and a four-speed. My heart started thumping again with the prospects of getting this one for cheap. We knocked on the door and the owner, a young man, maybe in his mid twenties, came out and explained that he was interested in selling the car. To get my adrenaline flowing, he started talking about how fast the car was and how “it just wants to go faster all the time.” (it didn’t make any sense but I was willing to believe anything and it sounded good). I still had a paranoia about powerful four speeds, but I figured it would be something I could get over for the right price.

The guy tried to start the 383, but the battery was dead. Without a thought, my dad asked me to move our truck closer so they could hook up jumper cables, which I did without question. But then the most unexpected thing happened as I tried to nudge the truck closer to the Challenger’s battery… I pressed the clutch in and suddenly panic overcame me. The truck started rolling on its own!

My foot neglected the brake pedal. (Oh *%$#!) To this day, I remember the owner’s expression, a look of complete unadulterated shock as he sat at the Challenger’s driver’s seat watching helplessly as I glided the truck right smack into his fender!

Thankfully, I don’t remember my dad yelling or getting really insane (being a paratrooper in the War, it seemed like things had to get a lot worse before he blew his top).

The guy still asked if we wanted to buy his R/T, for $1850. But it was too much. Maybe, I was just too embarrassed to deal. My Dad helped pay 150 dollars for him to get his dent repaired. The guy said he was going to get the car painted anyways, which he did, painting it black before selling the R/T for about $2400.

Too good to be true. Maybe it was the haunted house.


* The old “haunted house” became a historical site and has since been relocated and renovated. It stands at Shoreline Park, Mountain View, about a mile away from its original location.


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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.

Copyright © 2014  All Rights Reserved.

A Close Call with Luck

Challen’s Challenger Story – continued: A Close Call with Luck


A purple Challenger T/A – Added effects to image, original sourced from


In 1977, when I was in 9th grade, my older brothers’ friend told me about some guy who was selling a purple 1970 Challenger T/A for $2400. He said it had a 340 6-pak and a four speed. This was a very exciting proposition, but I was unsure for two reasons: one, I didn’t have half that much money and, two, I didn’t know how to drive a four speed… Wait that’s not completely true. I may have known how to drive a four speed (practicing on my Dad’ Japanese mini-pickup), but being the young kid venturing into manly things, I had no concept of how to handle real POWER.

The imminent possibilities of getting a Challenger, especially something like the T/A, was an absolutely fantastic and unreal concept, a real teenage kid’s wild dream. Being the young teenage kid, I thought that maybe a T/A was just too awesome and would somehow be a complete outrage in the hands of an inexperienced kid who hadn’t even earned his driver’s license yet. Well, after a few days, talking with my brothers and my Dad, my fear changed to consideration. With my dad’s help, my consideration evolved into realization that just maybe this was going to be THE Challenger. My hands began to sweat…

I could just about feel my anxious fingers folding around that pistol grip Hurst shifter, the throaty rumble of the exhaust, the engine sucking in low flying birds through the hood scoop, and the complete satisfaction that results from having earth pounding horsepower plaster my back against a bucket seat. A machine like a T/A seemed to have some unearthly power to launch my life into manhood like almost nothing else could! With the green light sparkling, we called to follow up on the sale. But, wouldn’t you know it, the seller decided not to sell! (#%&*, I always get slightly annoyed when I remember that experience).


Next: What’s Lime Green and sits under a tree looking like it left to rot in the weeds? It’s not an apple.


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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.


Copyright © 2014  All Rights Reserved.

Challen’s Challenger Story – The Beginning

Writer’s Note: I found this manuscript I wrote in 2004 after I began to show my restored Challenger T/A. The story was intended to be a feature article in Mopar Muscle Magazine that never happened. I submitted it and I managed to get a photo with a Mopar Muscle written caption under Reader Rides.

So I’m going to reproduce the whole thing, written mostly as it was in 2004, including a brief reference to Vanishing Point somewhere. I’ll break it in several parts just for you  internet Mopar guys and gals to nibble on (while you’re waiting for me to change my thermostat on my white car). 



From the Dodge Ad for the 1970 Hemi Challenger: “This Pony has Horses.” Image source: google



by Challen Yee



Back in 1975, when I was a young kid growing up Palo Alto, near San Francisco, I had dreams of having my own muscle car. My older brothers, who were too old for me to hang out with, would come home and feed me fascinating stories of their exploits which often had to do with their muscle cars or their friends’ cars, where they went or what they did – to me it all seemed larger than life.

When I became of age, around 12 or 13, my friends at Jordan Junior High School were motorheads and we all chose an American muscle car as our favorite. We had no idea these allegiances would last a lifetime. Which car would I choose?

Through my parent’s creativity, they chose to name me, their third son, “Challen.” They said that without the “GE”, I’d have to generate my own power. This stroke of fate is what led me to investigate the Dodge Challenger as my muscle car of choice.

One of the first Challenger ads I remember seeing was the one with the red 1970 Challenger R/T. The ad read: “This Pony has Horses.” Across the page was this sinisterly scooped, shaker-hooded machine that started my young imagination rolling. Underneath read some specifications that seemed to reverberate with massive earth-quaking power. Magical words like “Hemi” and “R/T” would forever be etched in my mind. My lifetime relationship with the great MoPar classic had begun.

One local story I’ll always remember about  E-body street machines was about a guy in Palo Alto. His name was Curt (or Kirk) Martin – it was reported that with his plum crazy (violet) 1970 440 `Cuda, he could light up his rear tires on the highway at 60 miles per hour. I never met Curt, but I’ll always associate his name with his powerful 440 `Cuda.

Challengers turned out to be an awesome choice. It seemed like it was a rare selection for a favorite car amongst the kids I grew up with, which suited me fine, because the Challenger was going to be my ticket to a unique ride.


A Young Imagination

In anticipation of buying my own car, I was working my tail off working for my dad’s roofing contracting company over the summers in hopes that someday I could find and afford the ‘perfect’ Challenger. I could draw, write stories about, speak tirelessly of, and imagine wildly about Challengers all day if everybody let me.

Today, kids are reading Harry Potter books; back then I was cranking out cruising stories, glorifying muscle cars and street machines and the cool “dudes” and “chicks” that drove them. One short story I wrote was about buying a used Hemi Challenger in 1984 for $500 (of course this is Orwellian fiction), and another would make a great script for a zany remake of a Cannonball Movie, called “The Great Desert Car Rally”… 186 hand-written pages, starring a tricked out Challenger with a turbo-charged 340 and an enormous cast of cars and characters. There’s more, like the unfinished 500 page hand-written novel (main car: Challenger) with even more cars and characters… but back to reality.


Next Part: What happened when someone offered to sell his purple T/A for $2400.


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The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976. I think I wore this hat everyday through my Freshman year in high school. Photo by Nick Yee

The Dodge Kid in his youth about 1976.


Copyright © 2014  All Rights Reserved.