How to get finished look on cast iron radiators

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  #1  
Old 10-19-04, 01:09 PM
Clare
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How to get finished look on cast iron radiators

Hi, would anyone be able to give me advice on how to get the more polished finished look on the reclaimed cast iron radiators that we have. They are stripped of paint but the metal is quite dull looking. Would I need to sand them?
 
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  #2  
Old 10-19-04, 04:52 PM
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Clare,

How you smooth the surface will depend on whether the surface is fairly flat or has a design cast into it.

If it's a flat surface then yes, sanding will work. Starting with a medium grit of about 180 and winding up with a grit that gives the finish you want.

If there is a pattern of some type then I would suggest a wire wheel or sandblasting.

Are you going to paint them? You really need to, so that the surface has some rust inhibiting qualities.
If painted the surface won't look so rough.
 
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Old 10-20-04, 05:45 AM
SalvageCzar
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Hello Clare, and welcome to DoItYourself!

I noticed that you stated the radiators you have are "reclaimed" and as the owner of ornamental and architectural salvage yards I must confess you've warmed my heart, as I love seeing DIYers reusing vintage and reclaimed building components and materials.

Having had the experience of quite a few cast iron radiators pass through my yards, I should advise you that unless you know where the radiators are from, and are sure they are in good working order, you should first check them for leaks. Cast iron looks indestructible, but it can sometimes also be very fragile. Often times in the removal and transporting process they get manhandled, bounced around or dropped. There can sometimes be small unseen cracks as a result of this manhandling, and they may leak, and all your refinishing efforts might be wasted.

Normally I test all the radiators I buy before resale with equipment that a DIYer doesn't have. I put them in a tank filled with water and charge them with air ... if there are bubbles in the water I know I have a cracked or otherwise damaged radiator. You can check for leaks by filling them with water and letting them sit for a while. Don't worry if you have a leaker. Cracks and pinholes can be welded, and many times the leak is just a threaded plumbing piece that can be cheaply and easily replaced. It's best to check for these problems and make repairs before you start refinishing.

GregH has given very good advice about preparing the surface. You should get good results. There is another option that has become very popular for old radiator refinshing. This is just a suggestion ... something to look into and explore. It's not a DIY project, but gives outstanding results; it's powder paint. I hope it's available in your part of Scotland.

After the radiator is checked for leaks and repaired, a paint shop dips the radiator in a big solvent bin that cleans away every speck of paint and oil. Any "nubs" left behind from the manufacturing process are grinded away and the piece is cleaned again. The radiator is then washed and neutralized of solvents and power air dried. Then it's placed in a sanitary dust free booth where an electric current is passed through it and the powder paint applied. What an unbeliveable smooth, deep and shinny finish!!

I hope there are paint shops like this near you. Those in my area usually do this process for custom motorcycle frames, fenders, gas tanks, and also for race car parts and on some commercial kitchen equipment.

Many of the old radiators I've sold have been refinished with this process; but like I said it's just an idea to explore.

Good luck,
SalvageCzar
 
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Old 05-14-05, 03:27 PM
ed45Champ
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Radiator cracks and welding to repair them?

HI - we recently had a cast iron radiator sand blasted to clean of the many layers of paint and had it repainted in aluminum. To our dismay the radiator now has a few hairline cracks in it. Do you know if these can be repaired? This radiator is close to 6' long. Any additional advice or links to help us is appreciated.

Thanks,

Ed45champ
 
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Old 05-14-05, 11:10 PM
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ed45Champ, Welcome to the DIY Forums.
Cast iron is a strange animal. It can be brazed. The cracks would be ground into a vee shape and then brazed. Usually they drill a hole in each end of the crack to keep it from "running" (cracking further). It CAN be done. Check with a local welding shop. Good luck.
 
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Old 05-15-05, 08:30 AM
ed45Champ
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majakdragon - thanks for the quick reply. That's good to hear. I will be looking for a local welder and see what they have to offer. It would be a shame to loose this radiator. I've looked on the internet for new radiators like this but I only find useful links from the UK. Not much here in the US.
 
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Old 05-15-05, 10:26 AM
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Ed45champ,

I would add to what majak has said by saying that the cracks could have been started by the sandblasting you had done.
If these are vintage radiators, the inside surface could have become porous leaving the metal very thin.
Welding and brazing cast is a tricky procedure and I would suggest you hire someone who knows what they are doing plus be prepared for other cracks to appear.

Good luck with it and let us know how you make out.
 
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Old 05-22-05, 06:53 PM
ed45Champ
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To GegH and majakdragon - these radiators were made by the Lincoln Radiator Co. and look to be pretty sturdy. They are not ornate radiators but the basic standard ones. The cracks are pretty thin. To me they look like they can be repaired. I don't think these radiators are thin walled. Do either one of you know if new radiators can be purchased in the US in case this repair process doesn't go well.

Thanks.
 
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