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Discussion Starter #1
Not sure this is the right forum to place this question, but hopefully will work. And no, I don't currently have a leaking heater core. But, the factory one is now 24 years old and I assume it will fail at some point even though the cooling system has been well maintained. So, the question is: what brand(s) of heater cores have proven to be good choices, and which brand(s) should be avoided?
 

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SuperNewbie
1995 Thunderbird LX 4.6 red
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Only problem I even had witha replacement heater core was with one that was made from copper/brass. Once installed it failed in a day. I've used the Spectra Premium aluminum ones with success. Or motorcraft if you can find one.
 

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If you must do it, I would go with a Motorcraft one, but while I know some people have had to replace them, I have never personally had to replace one in any of the MN12s I have ever owned. Considering the amount of work involved, that when heater cores do fail it usually starts as a slow leak, and considering how rare and brittle the 97 cluster surround is, I definitely wouldn’t tear into a car to replace it if it isn’t actively leaking, especially if the cooling system has always been well maintained.
 
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1994 Cougar XR7 DOHC/5-Speed
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Same here, and I’ve even had my dash out on several occasions for one project or another. I added a ground wire to to one of the outlets to mitigate electrolysis though, perhaps that’s prolonged the lifespan
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Appreciate all the good input! Since the heater core shows as discontinued, where could I find a Motorcraft part?
 

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1997 Thunderbird 4.6, 1998 Mark VIII LSC
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10,195 Posts
considering how rare and brittle the 97 cluster surround is
I'm actually working with one of my accounts, who has GOBS of money to spend, on helping them put together a makerspace. I'm having them consider a nice dual-camera 3D scanner and a 3D printer... both of which should be plenty large enough to run off cluster bezels. I'm purposefully holding off on putting in my spare cluster bezel until I can 3D scan it...
 

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1994 Cougar XR7 DOHC/5-Speed
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According to Ford parts giant the motorcraft 3.8 core is still available, only difference is the outlets splay out like \ / rather than / /, if you have a PI valley tube it’s an almost straight shot for the hose from it to attach to the left outlet, just use the manifold hose on the right side outlet instead
 

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Discussion Starter #8
My heater hose setup (like everything else under hood) is custom, but it does work with the V8 inlet and outlet ports.

If a cluster surround for ‘97s becomes available at some point, I’m in for one! Unfortunately I cracked mine trying to remove it a couple of years ago.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I could probably make that work.
 

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1996 Thunderbird LX
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I'm actually working with one of my accounts, who has GOBS of money to spend, on helping them put together a makerspace. I'm having them consider a nice dual-camera 3D scanner and a 3D printer... both of which should be plenty large enough to run off cluster bezels. I'm purposefully holding off on putting in my spare cluster bezel until I can 3D scan it...
That is awesome. I have been wanting to do this myself. Clean up meshes and making a 3d printed version that will be used as making a mold after it has been sanded. How exactly are you doing all of that? I want to make new parts for these cars as well. How large of a 3d printer do you have for a dash? If you could PM me on how involved this really is and why you need gobs of money that would be great. I have been looking into making injection molding dies but that seems more involved than I thought so that is why I am making a 3d printed version of anything I will make.
 

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SuperNewbie
1995 Thunderbird LX 4.6 red
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Same here, and I’ve even had my dash out on several occasions for one project or another. I added a ground wire to to one of the outlets to mitigate electrolysis though, perhaps that’s prolonged the lifespan
He could also add in the restrictor. Ford added that as a TSB i believe when these things were failing back in the day.
 

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1994 Cougar XR7 DOHC/5-Speed
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🤔 how does that work ?
The theory is with the heater core isolated an electrical potential is created between it and the engine, with the coolant becoming the path to ground. It’s in TSB 01-15-06

ISSUE:

Some vehicles may exhibit (repeat) heater core leaks. This may be caused by a chemical reaction called electrolysis.
Electrolysis involves an ion exchange between the heater core and engine coolant which can result in a breakdown of the heater core material. This is similar to the operation of a battery.

ACTION:

Check for electrolysis on any vehicle with a heater core failure. If electrolysis is verified, flush the coolant and follow
additional steps as required. Refer to the following Service Procedure for details.

SERVICE PROCEDURE

Electrolysis Inspection

If there is a condition of a heater core leaking or repeat heater core leak, check for electrolysis using the following procedure:

1.To check for electrolysis use a DVOM set on DC volts. Place the positive probe of the meter in the engine coolant and the negative probe on the negative battery post.

2.Adjust engine throttle to 2000 RPM to properly get coolant flow and true electrolysis voltages.

3.If more than .4V is recorded, flush the coolant and recheck (follow guidelines in TSB 98-23-16 for Cougar). See Coolant Fill Procedure below to remove trapped air on 4.6/5.4/6.8L modular engines.

NOTE: EXPORT MARKETS, BE SURE THE WATER IS DESALINATED.

4.If there is still excessive voltage present in the coolant, check the engine to body/battery grounds. Also, verify proper grounding of any aftermarket electrical/electronic equipment which has been installed into the vehicle.
Improperly grounded electrical devices can cause electrolysis to occur.

5.If the condition is still present after the grounds have been checked, it may be necessary to add extra grounds to the heater core and engine. A hose clamp can be used to secure a 16 AWG stranded copper wire to the
heater core inlet tube. The other end should be secured to an EXISTING FASTENER on the body sheet metal.Extra grounds to the engine should be attached between EXISTING FASTENERS on the engine and body sheet metal. Verify continuity of any added grounds to the negative battery terminal.

6.If the condition is still present, add a restrictor (part F1UZ-18D406-A) on the inlet hose with the arrow facing the direction of coolant flow (toward heater core). Cut the line and install with 2 hose clamps. It is important that the restrictor be installed in the right direction of flow and as close to the engine block as possible (not near the
heater core itself).

Coolant Fill Procedure

At times, in order to completely remove any trapped air in the cooling system of vehicles equipped with 4.6/5.4/6.8L modular engines, it may be necessary to use the following procedure:

1.Disconnect the heater hose at the right front or rear of the engine.
2.Remove the thermostat and housing.
3.Using the thermostat opening, carefully fill the engine with the proper clean coolant mixture until observed at the engine side heater hose connection.
4.Reconnect the heater hose and reinstall the thermostat and housing.
5.Fill the degas bottle to the coolant fill level mark.
6.Run the engine until it reaches normal operating temperatures.
7.Select max heat and max blower speed on the climate system.

NOTE: IF THE HEAT OUTPUT IS INSUFFICIENT, OR THE ENGINE DOES NOT REACH NORMAL OPERATING TEMPERATURES, VERIFY PROPER THERMOSTAT OPERATION AND REPEAT PROCEDURE IF REQUIRED.


PART NUMBER PART NAME
F1UZ-18D406-A Restrictor
 

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Interesting. I normally would not worry about an isolated coil, there is reduced galvanic reaction using aluminum vs. Copper heater core. The electrolyte solution is in the coolant. If the cooling system carries a charge like the TSB mentions, the entire system is already being eaten from the inside ( the heater core would be the weakest link / thinnest metal ). Changing the coolant more often is a bigger contributor to the reduction of electrolysis.

On the restrictor .. It will actually increase the heater core temperature by slowing the coolant flow down for more heat transfer time. I suppose the other effect is to reduce turbulence and the current inducing flow of coolant.
 

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1994 Cougar XR7 DOHC/5-Speed
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I’m not not big on the restrictor solution just because I want the coolant moving through the right rear of the engine freely. I agree that keeping the coolant fresh is the most important part, and given how many phases of project I’ve had my car in the coolant rarely stays in there for more than 5 years and has no doubt helped, but my rationale is keeping the block and core at the same potential the corrosion will be the same throughout when coolant takes a charge rather than concentrate to the weakest link. Cant hurt at least.
 
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