Does your classic truck mark its territory? Those that retain their traditional motors and drivetrain components certainly tend to. A little dribble of motor oil or gear lube on someone’s clean driveway is embarrassing enough, but shame on us if it’s antifreeze. Yummy to pets, that’s powerful poison and today there’s just no excuse for letting it go to the ground.
If memory serves, coolant recovery systems weren’t common features ’til the late ’60s or so. Here at our shop, since the majority of our builds do incorporate pressurized engine cooling systems, containing our coolant is a no-brainer must.
A coolant recovery system is easy to come by. Auto parts stores carry plastic add-on assemblies. The street rod stainless variety works just as well. They look better, too, but since their early ’80s introduction we’ve seen a bunch of those. This time we want something different—and it’s got to fit the build.
Our ongoing ’55 Chevy second-series project has made CTP appearances before. It won’t be heavily modified but to suit the tastes of its owner a lower-than-stock stance tops the list of requests. There’ll be a few lowkey custom touches and a number of safety upgrades already built in. At this stage of the build the old truck’s personality is established. The centerpiece is a well-dressed 235ci Chevy inline 6 engine with twice-pipes by muffler man Joe St. Louis (rest his soul).
Clamped-on factory style to the unaltered intake manifold is an OE remote oil filter assembly. It, of course, looks like it belongs there—because it does. With high and low ports, both vertically inline, such a canister could be converted to an undercover coolant recovery tank. Just as a notion we kept that on the back burner, in the backs of our brains for quite some time—’til the just-right hunk of hardware emerged from out of nowhere (one of our own plastic totes) at a swap meet.
Now back at the shop, an eyeball engineering session is underway. To create a visual distraction we might mount our little can at the frame’s sore spot where previous repair remains evident. There, along the passenger-side ’rail, it just might align with our OE radiator’s overflow tube. If so, hose connections should be a natural breeze to boot.
We may never know the true origin of our little swap meet discovery, but the look of its brazed-on bracket suggests that it may have been repurposed once before. As the key component of a coolant recovery system, this old oil filter canister should do its new job without lookin’ too-terribly out of place.
Is your project truck lacking a coolant recovery system? By thinking outside of the obvious options, you’ll likely find the parts to build your own. Contain your coolant in a way that fits your build.
Now Let’s Ask an Expert
When the project truck came to us, it came with a functioning used radiator. It might actually be good but we wouldn’t just paint it up and run it without a proper checkup.
For as long as we’ve been in northwestern Montana, we’ve had no radiator shop. Recently, however, Reynolds Radiator (a long-established Missoula-based business) has opened a second location in nearby Kalispell. Now that we’re aware of them, we’ll no-doubt be regulars.