Products to Compare (max of 3)
X
Compare These Parts
Talk to the Experts. Call 800.979.0122, 7am-10pm, everyday.
Customer Service
Since 1952
in
in
  • Expert Tech Support
  • Huge Inventory
  • Fast Shipping

'57 Bel Air Heater Core

3 months 11 days ago

I usually don’t work on other people’s cars. On rare occasion, I do make an exception. This article documents one of those exceptions. My dear friend Carol has a few cars and thoroughly enjoys driving them to shows and cruise nights. Since her husband passed away a few years ago, she needs a hand with repairs and maintenance every once in a while. Don’t get me wrong, this little old lady knows her way around the garage. She’s an excellent help with handing and finding tools and knows more than most of my buddies do about hot rods.

Last summer my son and I helped her put a new alternator on her flathead powered ’47 Ford tudor. It was then that she mentioned a massive puddle that had formed under the cowl of her ’57 “no-post” more-door while it sat in storage. I was 95% certain it was the heater core leaking but you never know. I didn’t want to sign on for an afternoon job and find a frost plug or other more severe problem.

When we got to the storage building I was able to confirm that the anti-freeze tested fine (probably no freeze related damage) and that the leak appeared to be emanating from the lower hose nipple on the heater core. Cool. So I looped the heater hoses to cut the leaky heater core out of the equation, topped off the coolant and we went to work on getting her started and to my place to work on.

That’s when I discovered the other little problem that had developed over winter. The fuel pump wasn’t getting any gas up to the carb. Even with priming the float bowl and running the engine, the pump wouldn’t pick up any fuel from the tank. I guess we’ll need to put that on our list too. Eventually I was able to prime the pump itself with some fuel and got it started. See the next article for that adventure. I don’t want Carol stranded somewhere with a dead fuel pump.

Once we got the old hardtop to my place I made a list of items that I’d need to complete the job. I also made some calls to see how much it would cost to have the heater core re-cored, sealed and pressure tested. To my surprise, the Radiator Shop in my city said that they no longer repair radiators or heater cores. The guy who specialized in that work was no longer working there as there wasn’t enough work to keep him busy.

All the new radiators are aluminum and plastic, they just scrap them when they’re leaky. So, I called another shop in Omaha and they said that they could look at it and if it was repairable that they’d be a week or two. That settled it, I picked up my catalog and placed an order for Speedway's 1957 Chevy Car Heater Core, part number 91734460 and as a precaution I also ordered their Heater Core Mounting Plate, part number 91734461. Chances are, if the core has been leaking, this plate will be pretty crusty.

These cars are about as simple as they come. It’s such a pleasure to work on tri-five Chevys. From an era when engineers still considered the people servicing the car later on. The heater core is completely accessible from the engine bay. The cover baffle is secured by two sliding clips.

Something to note on ’57 passenger cars, they were available with two different types of heaters. Deluxe and Standard. You can quickly identify which you have based on whether the inlet and outlet are offset in opposite corners or together on the same end. The offset version is the Deluxe heater, which is what is in this Bel Air. There are other major differences in the systems are regarding where the blower is located and how much under hood duct work there is.

While the radiator drained I began disassembling the front side items like the blower motor, plenum boot and eventually the heater hoses and the plenum itself.

Once the sliding clips are in the full-up position, they will slide off the studs. In theory, the plenum along with the heater core and mount plate will all come out as well. What I discovered in this case was that the unit as a whole would not clear body brace at the lower outside corner. It took a little jostling, but I was able to separate the plenum from the mount plate and take it out in parts.

Duly noted. I need to reinstall the core and plate first, then tuck that corner of the plenum in and rock it into place. So much for those generous GM engineers.

The reassembly process was pretty straightforward and in reverse of the tear down. I reused the seal the was between the mount plate and firewall. Between the plenum and mount plate I applied a bead of black RTV silicone sealant to ensure the next guy had just as much fun as I did separating them later. After everything was reassembled and refilled with a fresh 50/50 mix of antifreeze I checked for leaks. I did this again after the engine was warmed up and the heater valve all the way open.

Products Featured in this Article

Related Articles

Cooling System Principles
by Jason - Posted in Tech
1 year 8 months 4 days ago
Is your engine overheating? You've invested all that time and effort, but your gauge is still reading in the red. Let's take another look at the basics and make sure you're getting the best performance possible out of your cooling system.
Learn More
Radiator Cooling Performance
by Jason - Posted in Tech
1 year 8 months 9 days ago
Are you ready to replace that old radiator? Whether it's a factory or high performance application, we can help you choose the correct radiator with a matching fan shroud for your street rod.
Learn More
Looking Beyond the Cooling System for Common Overheating Cures
by Jason - Posted in Tech
1 year 8 months 9 days ago
Have a monster radiator but your engine still overheats? We'll show you what to look for beyond the cooling system for common overheating issues.
Learn More
Speedway Tech Talk - Electric Cooling Fans
by Pat O. - Posted in Videos
1 year 5 months 14 days ago
Pat gives some tips about choosing the right fan for your application.
Learn More
Protect Your Radiator With Nomex Honeycomb
by Jason - Posted in Tech
1 year 8 months 4 days ago
Tired of straightening damaged fins or replacing your new race radiator? Try protecting it with a sheet of Nomex honeycomb and let it take the beating instead of your expensive radiator.
Learn More
Fan Shrouds - A Critical Cooling System Component
by Jason - Posted in Tech
1 year 8 months 9 days ago
Cooling fan shrouds are a critical component of an effective cooling system. Want to know why you should shroud your fan? Click here to find out why it matters!
Learn More
32 Radiator Install
by Tim - Posted in Tech
1 year 6 months 28 days ago
Speedway Motors employee Tim M. keeps his cool with a custom install of a 1932 radiator in his 29 roadster project. Follow along as he walks step by step through the process.
Learn More
Water Pump Options for the Chevy Crate Engine
by John - Posted in Tech Tips
1 year 2 months 6 days ago
In this Tech Tip, a customer asked for some recommendations on water pumps for his 1934 Chevy Coupe build.
Learn More
Speedway Tech Talk - Keeping it Classy with Motor Meters
by Pat O. - Posted in Tech
9 months 8 days ago
Speedway Motors employee Pat joins us once again. This time Pat is talking to the Model A and Model T owners, specifically in regards to Moto-Meters and accessories.
Learn More
Electric Fans
by Speedway Tech Team - Posted in Tech
1 year 8 months 4 days ago
Answering a few common questions regarding electric fans.
Learn More
Suggestions
Error
Note
Ok