Is it just Texas heat?


Gear Grinder
Mar 2, 2010
Willys Model
Willys Year:
Hello guys....Mike here in east Texas. I'm an old car guy, and always wanted a 'Woody' here i am with a 61' Willys bought on ebay sight unseen.
The old girl has the 226 engine, and it shows only 59 thousand on the clock. (am I dreaming? probably) Came out of a barn up in Michigan with 94' license plates on it.
Anyway, it starts and runs good....had to replace the master cylinder on the frame...and front wheel some wiring and replace the rear light sockets and such, to get it inspected.
Haven't driven it much....but after running into town today to get all the gear oils replaced in everything...and get it greased.....i came home, and it had lost a gallon and a half of water/anti-freeze...and radiator cap was 'wheezing' when I turned it off. the run was about 10 miles in the heat of Texas ...105 degrees this afternoon. temp guage doesn't work yet. Didn't go over 45-50 mph.
I let it cool down, and topped it off....and started it back up and looked in the radiator and it seemed to be flowing water through there, so I believe the water pump is ok. Also the fan blade is tight...there's no slop in it. And with the flow I would seem that the thermastat would be open....wouldn't it?
There's no leaks that I can determine....when it's running in the garage, there's nothing going onto the floor.
The radiator from the outside looks fine. Nothing plugging the front of it...and the fan is working fine. did get hot enough to lose about a gallon and a half of water. Checked the oil and it's clean and just oil.

Could it just be the Texas heat? 105 degrees? Should I just wait another month or so, until the weather cools down some, and try it again on the roads? Are these things pretty touchy about hot weather?
Any 'cheap' suggestions, or do I need a new radiator or something?
Stuck thermostat, clogged radiator and or bad radiator cap can be the problem too....besides the heat.
Good Luck!
Yes...thanks for the good thoughts. I've just ordered a 160 degree thermostat from Walcks...i'll try that first.
Does it still have a fan shroud? Is the radiator partially clogged internally? Could it be a head gasket problem? Are all the clamps tight, our truck was spewwing coolant due to a loose heater hose clamp. wasn't leaking but was sucking air in when driving!
Fill it up and drive it for a few miles, then check the tail pipe. There is a good possibility that you are losing your coolant through the exhaust. Reasons include:
1. Blown head gasket
2. Cracked block - these 226's are prone to cracking between #3 and #4 cylinders.
3. Head bolt sealant deteriorated . Some bolts lead in to the exhaust chambers.

There's a reason I'm still waiting for a rebuild. :)

Members here have covered the topic well so I won't add anything other than a tip on filling the radiator and a MOD you should consider.

Coolant expands and contracts. In rigs such as yours this leads to two things. Expansion = expelling coolant leading to contraction upon cooling which leads to more and more air being sucked into the radiator.

How to fix: A junkyard plastic radiator container will allow the radiator to expell the coolant and then SUCK it back in as it cools.

I had the same issue as you out here in the desert, it was 110 today. One of the first things I did was to pick up a junkyard coolant container and some rubber hose to attach to the radiator overflow tube. Problem solved

Adding coolant: The proper way is to bring you engine to operating temp sans rad cap or remove it being CAREFUL to not burn yourself. WITH the engine idling add water SLOWLY NOTE if the water SUDDENLY rises in the rad this is a sign the cold water you added has CLOSED the thermostat. Wait till it opens again and continue to add coolant until the rad is full and will take no more. The procedure will remove all the air from the system. You might want to rev the engine a few times as you do this to insure any air pockets get sucked out of the block.

Do that and you should be fine even in the Tex heat...
If you do above you must make sure you use a 'recovery' radiator cap. These are designed to let the coolant be sucked back in as it cools.
Check for bubbles in the radiator too. If they are there you most like have a blown head gasket and the coolant is getting pressurized by the cylinders.
Thanks guys for all your suggestions. Steve's note kind of shook me...! But i'll be optimistic and try the new thermostat first...then go from there.