1980 Radiator p/n

This area is for posting questions/information concerning 1980-89 year Thunderbirds NO FOR SALE POSTINGS
Post Reply
TbirdJohn1
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun May 17, 2020 2:33 pm

1980 Radiator p/n

Post by TbirdJohn1 »

The radiator on my '80 has a small leak that I cannot seem to pin down. Since it is relatively easy to replace it I am looking for a new one.

I prefer an OEM one but all the obsolete parts sites I have found only allow a search by Part Number. I have the Shop Manual but did not find a p/n in it.

Can anyone provide the original P/N for the Radiator? The car has the 255CI engine and A/C.

Also, if anyone has successfully installed an aftermarket radiator I would be interested in brand, p/n, etc. And was it a drop-in with no mods?

Thank You, John

mcm51
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:41 pm

Re: 1980 Radiator p/n

Post by mcm51 »

Hey John, I just did a radiator in my '86 SVO a couple of months ago, the O.E.M. one that came out carries a part# E5LY8005B. This radiator on my cross ref charts shows it's the same radiator for 1980-88 T-bird as well as 1980-93 Mustang....I replaced my SVO radiator with a spectra premium #CU556 from rockauto, $88 bucks plus shipping, it fit like a glove, no mod's and so far I've been very happy with it, the only difference is the original was black in color and the spectra is in that brushed alum. look (kinda silver), I'm still getting used to that every time I pop the hood, just has a whole different look.....hope any of this info helps..............Mitchell
'95 Thunderbird LX 4.6
'86 Mustang SVO 2.3T
'84 Mustang GT-350 Conv. 5.0
'84 Mustang GT-350 Htbk. 5.0
VTCI #12973
U.S. Army 194th Armor Ft. Knox, Ky. 1977-81

TbirdJohn1
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun May 17, 2020 2:33 pm

Re: 1980 Radiator p/n

Post by TbirdJohn1 »

Mitchel,
That info is a great help. I had no idea it might be the same for so many years. That should make finding one so much easier. I know I could probably get this one repaired, but since I have to take it out anyhow why not put in a new one.

The info on what you used as a replacement is also very good. I will look at that. I had seen aluminum replacements, but wasn't sure about fit - but you confirmed the one you used was no problem. Like you, I know it would be strange to see one that wasn't black. I am the original owner and it is a relatively low mile survivor so even though it is "only" an '80, a black one would be nice. However, that price for the replacement sure looks attractive...

Will give an update when I solve this, which will need to be soon since I have to get the annual inspection in July.

John

User avatar
Alan H. Tast
Posts: 3185
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 10:52 pm
Location: Omaha, NE

Re: 1980 Radiator p/n

Post by Alan H. Tast »

I'm personally not a big fan of aluminum radiators for a few reasons:
1. Dielectric action - aluminum reacts differently from the brass of original radiators and will degrade faster over time unless you dump additives in the coolant system and replace. If you're running an aluminum intake or heads, you're supposed to be using the additive to keep the aluminum from getting eaten away as the coolant turns acidic over time. In other words, another maintenance item to remember to take care of every few years.
2. Cooling properties are slightly different - not significantly, but could be noticeable. The engineers knew what they were doing back in the day.
3. Looks/appearance, especially for older ones (welded vs. stamped tanks, for one thing). On a Fox-bodied '80 with side tanks it's probably not that big of a deal.
4. Aluminum radiators caught on because of the "street cred" from racers and their use in high-performance applications, which are different conditions than everyday driving would be. I don't think you have a 1000 hp blown/injected 255 V8 or inline 6 in this car.

With all that being said, the original number should be similar to E0SZ 8005-x for the P&A part number that'd be in a Ford parts book, and if OEM may have the engineering number stamped into the frame of the radiator, which would use another letter than the Z (Z in this case stands for replacement/service part). Take a good look at it and see if it is there. I highly recommend not pitching it - you might be able to get it recored or fixed, provided there's still an old-school radiator repair place (think trucks and industrial equipment) in your area. If you're patient, I might be able to dig through my library and find the OEM part number for it, but that might take some time to get done.
Alan H. Tast, AIA
Technical Director/Past President,
Vintage Thunderbird Club Int'l.
Author, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" & "Thunderbird 50 Years"
1963 Hardtop & 1963 Sports Roadster

mcm51
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:41 pm

Re: 1980 Radiator p/n

Post by mcm51 »

@John, Like I said, when I first opened the box and saw it was'nt black, I too was'nt wild about it but I thought it's sure got to be better than, everytime I lifted the hood that darn puck box was ALWAYS down...but now, that water level is in the same place everytime I pop the hood....btw, I could never see the leak in my old rad. no matter how much I looked, I thought it was gone on the bottom but once out, it was leaking dead center, of all places....and like you was saying, I used to have a radiator guy back in the 90's, would make one like new for $27 bucks and thats the route I'd went if he was still around.............On another note, just want to say my brother and I always liked those '80-'82 Birds, I have'nt seen one on the road for many years now !
'95 Thunderbird LX 4.6
'86 Mustang SVO 2.3T
'84 Mustang GT-350 Conv. 5.0
'84 Mustang GT-350 Htbk. 5.0
VTCI #12973
U.S. Army 194th Armor Ft. Knox, Ky. 1977-81

mcm51
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:41 pm

Re: 1980 Radiator p/n

Post by mcm51 »

@Alan, Thanks for that info, no I would'nt throw the oem one that came with the car out, it needs repaired and put back in the box is my normal way of doing things for me, but I still looking for that radiator repair man replacement(I live in middle of nowhere)........been needing to do the radiator in my T-Bird Too, pretty sure I can get one that will look like the one I'm replacing there.....and as far as coolant issues when it comes to alum. or not, I won't have any there, I'm one of those freaks that change my coolant every 2 yrs in my T-Bird and had I been doing that with the SVO, it probably would'nt have that alum.-looking thing in there right now.......
'95 Thunderbird LX 4.6
'86 Mustang SVO 2.3T
'84 Mustang GT-350 Conv. 5.0
'84 Mustang GT-350 Htbk. 5.0
VTCI #12973
U.S. Army 194th Armor Ft. Knox, Ky. 1977-81

TbirdJohn1
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun May 17, 2020 2:33 pm

Re: 1980 Radiator p/n

Post by TbirdJohn1 »

Alan,
Thanks for that replacement number. I will use that one along with the other one for the parts search.

And, no, I won't be throwing the original one out, even if I get a replacement. I am a nerd for keeping original parts. I know it is the original radiator, I am the original owner from 1980!

As far as a repair shop, as you say it is getting harder to find a place. There was one listed in the next town but when I drove by it was closed up (looks like it closed a while ago).

Update - I have been taking the car on a couple of short trips to try to pin down the leak. Short trips because I don't want to get stranded if it decided to give out. However, I have seen a slow drip from under the edge of the radiator cap. So, I guess I go tomorrow and get a new cap and see if that does anything. It would seem way too convenient if it is that easy, but it is at least an easy first step. It is a little confusing because the level in the overflow container hasn't seemed to change, which I would have thought it would if the cap was releasing too early. But, get a new cap and see what happens.

John

mcm51
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:41 pm

Re: 1980 Radiator p/n

Post by mcm51 »

Hey John, when it comes to coolant leaks though the years, I even had one that I slid a clean piece of cardboard under the engine compartment over night to find the leak, on that one, turned out to be the radiator and a blessing too!!, before the cardboard bit, I was really afraid it was a heater core or even a freeze plug.......in your case, if it appears to be leaking around the cap, I agree, try a cap, and yes it is the cheapest try, if it was mine, and it's not, I'd try to get a Motorcraft cap if availiable, that's what I put on my SVO when I changed my radiator........Well keep us informed on the issue, and if you ever got that T-bird in the Tallahassee area, I'd be honored to help ya out with it, I've been a Ford man my entire life...............Mitchell
'95 Thunderbird LX 4.6
'86 Mustang SVO 2.3T
'84 Mustang GT-350 Conv. 5.0
'84 Mustang GT-350 Htbk. 5.0
VTCI #12973
U.S. Army 194th Armor Ft. Knox, Ky. 1977-81

TbirdJohn1
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun May 17, 2020 2:33 pm

Re: 1980 Radiator p/n

Post by TbirdJohn1 »

Update - I took off the radiator cap and it looked like new (it is the original). There was some "sludge" under the cap so I cleaned that off and soaked and washed the cap real good.
I took off the overflow tube and flushed water through. No obstructions.
Looked in the overflow tank and there was some water at the bottom, but upon close examination there was about 3/4 inch of "sludge" at the bottom. I thoroughly cleaned it out and put everything back together.
I have driven it a few times in the last few days and all seems to be working as it should. After a ride there is about 1/2 inch of overflow in the tank that slowly gets pulled back in (at least seems to). The level in the radiator has stayed where it should, no loss.

So, my fingers are crossed that it could possibly be the "fix". My suspicion is that the overflow tube was below the level of the sludge and therefore the overflow coolant couldn't get to the tank and ended up forcing its way under the cap (even though the cap gasket looks good and is soft and pliant. I know that seems strange, but if it keeps working then that is all I can think of.

The sludge in the overflow tank is a concern which seems to point to needing a good cooling system flush.

Even though I have owned the car since new (40 yrs, yikes!) I learned something new during this episode. Careful reading of the maintenance manuals shows I have been overfilling the radiator all these years and had been keeping a level in the overflow tank - which it shouldn't have.

I really appreciate all the info and suggestions posted to my questions and will keep the info handy in case this easy fix turns out too good to be true.

P.S. - in case you are wondering, this car has always been a "third" car and only has 70k miles, has always been garaged and very rarely used in the winter. So, it has a sentimental value that has trapped me into keeping it all these years, hahaha.

John

mcm51
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:41 pm

Re: 1980 Radiator p/n

Post by mcm51 »

Hey John, hope that does fix the leaking around the cap AND yes I agree that sluge in the bottom of coolant box would play with coolant flow in either direction and coming out under the cap was the only exit the coolant could find to expand.......and when it comes to coolant level changing in the box, I've seen half of them the level never seems to change and the other half, every time ya check it, it's moved up or down, IMHO, I like the ones that's moving that box level a couple inches either way. that's the proper way for it to work, but like I said, I've seen some that look like they never move and never have a cooling issue and I'm only talking about Ford's, that's all I've drove and worked on since I was 16.......ya make me feel bad with that 70k on the mileage, my Bird is 15 yrs newer and I have 129k but it's my daily driver........I can't get on here but every few days, I've never seen your Bird but I'm sure I'd like it, hang in there keeping up with it, and I'll let ya know Ha Ha HA when I see a '80-'82 Bird running down the highway here, don't hold yer breath..................Mitchell
'95 Thunderbird LX 4.6
'86 Mustang SVO 2.3T
'84 Mustang GT-350 Conv. 5.0
'84 Mustang GT-350 Htbk. 5.0
VTCI #12973
U.S. Army 194th Armor Ft. Knox, Ky. 1977-81

TbirdJohn1
Posts: 8
Joined: Sun May 17, 2020 2:33 pm

Re: 1980 Radiator p/n

Post by TbirdJohn1 »

Thought I would give another update since I always like it on other forums I follow when you hear how things turn out.

Hoping that I don't jinx myself - It has been almost a month now that I have been using the car (in it's occasional use role) and there has been no more issues with coolant drips. It does appear that the simple approach worked. I guess it shows starting small and progressing to more complicated steps can sometimes work.

As far as the sludge in the overflow tank: The radiator fluid has been replaced many times over the years (flushes, changes, new hoses, etc.) and the fluid is clear and clean, but it dawned on me that the tank has never been touched at all. So, lesson learned is don't overlook that portion of the system. Now to check my other cars...

And Mitchell - as I was driving it today I was thinking how cars of this age are so rarely seen, and especially this era 'bird. So, I agree, it will likely be a long time before you pass one on the road.

I have belonged to the VCTI since way back when it was the VTCA and have been to a couple of the National Meets, but this is the first time I have used the forum. I appreciate the input I received and feel more connected, now. I find myself looking at it every few days just to see what is going on.

Happy Motoring!

User avatar
Alan H. Tast
Posts: 3185
Joined: Wed Aug 20, 2003 10:52 pm
Location: Omaha, NE

Re: 1980 Radiator p/n

Post by Alan H. Tast »

Trust me - accessing the VTCI Forums is addictive, but then again when you're living where I do it helps in staying connected to everyone.
Alan H. Tast, AIA
Technical Director/Past President,
Vintage Thunderbird Club Int'l.
Author, "Thunderbird 1955-1966" & "Thunderbird 50 Years"
1963 Hardtop & 1963 Sports Roadster

mcm51
Posts: 12
Joined: Sat Aug 03, 2019 7:41 pm

Re: 1980 Radiator p/n

Post by mcm51 »

I agree w/ Alan about getting on this site, I only wished I had found it many years ago and wish I could get on here more than I do........I dabble in the '80-88 Bird section because of the relationship between turbo coupes and my SVO........AND John, keep up with that T-bird of yours, your probably one of the few people left that's got one that still on the the road AND a fairly clean one from what i understand AND yes, I'll post when I see what my Brother and I call the "little square T-bird", don't bet any money on any posting anytime soon !!!!....................Mitchell
'95 Thunderbird LX 4.6
'86 Mustang SVO 2.3T
'84 Mustang GT-350 Conv. 5.0
'84 Mustang GT-350 Htbk. 5.0
VTCI #12973
U.S. Army 194th Armor Ft. Knox, Ky. 1977-81

Post Reply