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Technical Tips & Tales

Antifreeze is cheap compared to .................?

With the colder weather and shorter days now is the time to put antifreeze in the cooling system or at the very least check the strength of the old solution and top up its concentration if necessary. Antifreeze does not last forever and should be renewed at the recommended intervals, if not then the engine may suffer from internal corrosion - modern antifreeze does not just prevent freezing but helps to fight corrosion as well. In the UK you are best to have a 50% solution of antifreeze to be on the safe side.  Another tip is to use distilled water if you can when making up an antifreeze solution as this will reduce limescale deposits in the engines water passageways - if you live in a hard water area just look in the kettle next time you make a cuppa to see what I mean !.
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To check the strength of antifreeze  the specific gravity can be measured with a antifreeze hydrometer ( not a battery one !!), this will determine if the solution has been diluted in the summer months by topping up the cooling system with just water and not a 50% antifreze / water mixture. If this is the case boost the concentration back up to the correct strength with concentrated antifreeze after draining some old coolant off. Don't forget old coolant is dangerous to the environment so must be disposed of legally.

When talking about antifreeze I am reminded of a colleague who back in the mid 1970's drove a Hillman Avenger. Now for those of you who don't know the Avenger was a car made by Hillman or Rootes Group as it was then and launched with much acclaim in 1970. Now my colleague had a maroon red Avenger of 1975 vintage and knocked up a fair few miles between business and pleasure. He maintained it himself (being an engineer) and fastidiously changed the engine oil, coolant and the other maintenance tasks as regularly as clockwork. The car was nearing the 100,000 mile mark when he broke down, the coolant was lost and so the engine overheated. Now the cause of the breakdown was actually the antifreeze. The Avenger had a cast iron engine and a cast iron cylinder head so my colleague had used an antifreeze suitable for cast iron. Unfortunately he failed to appreciate that the thermostat housing was made of aluminium and over the years had been corroding away from the inside due to the incorrect antifreeze being used until one day it became so weak and thin a hole appeared. So make sure you are using an antifreeze that is suitable for the materials your engine and cooling system is made from !.

If you neglect the antifreeze and the engine freezes you might be lucky and get away with just a core plug being pushed out (don't forget some core plugs are only accessible once the engine is removed) or more than likely on some engines the block ends up split - and so a few litres of antifreeze is cheap compared to .............

the expense of sorting out a cracked engine block !


Video Tip - getting the best from your tractor battery

Mike's Blog  

This is where I have a monthly rant, rave, reccomendation, reminiscence or simply just a report of whats been happening in my neck of the woods, what might be called the "Five R's" !. Its a monthly blog I'am afraid as when the sun shines I much prefer being outside doing things rather than sitting in front of a computer.

FEBRUARY  2021  -  "snow and snowdrops" !.

As I write this the UK is still in lockdown, tragically the number of covid related deaths has passed the 100,000 marker. Covid vaccinations are gathering pace which brings hope, with luck the vaccinations should begin to have an effect on hospital admissions in the next two weeks. 

It is all too easy to forget that the figures comming up on our TV screens each evening are not merely numbers but are human beings, someone's mother, father, grandfather, grandmother, son or daughter. We owe a huge debt to our health workers who are doing the very best they can despite being utterly shattered and exhausted. I am staying at home and only going out for food and medication, plus walking the dogs, although this cold weather they are content just to run in the garden.

The weather seems set in a weekly cycle of warm and cold, warm midweek with temperatures in double figures then back to icy cold for the weekend. Last weekend saw the first snow of 2021 when locally about 6 cm fell in little more than a couple of hours, but was soon gone in a couple of days as the temperautre warmed up. The resulting snow melt and heavy rain has caused parts of the UK to be flooded, for some poor folk this is a repeat of recent years. On a brighter side there are snowdrops out in the garden along with daffs poking through too so Spring is not too far away. Some folk consider the 1st of February to be the begining of Spring, indeed some years have seen warm sunny days during this month, we could all do with some of those right now !.

Enough of my ramblings I hear you say, yes, OK I can take a hint, so until next month folks thats all for now, take care, stay safe, we can all do our bit to help and see you soon.



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The first snow of 2021 (for us in Buckinghamshire)  ........................  snowdrops in bloom in the garden, signs of Spring at last !