Since I just finished winter wrenching, everything is nice and clean and any presence of 'wet' is therefore easily traced. I noticed a drip hanging off the bottom of the radiator cover. (For the ACE Deluxe model, that is the black 'flap' partially covering the overflow bottle). Removed the cover, dried everything off, went for a ride around the block and checked again. This time there was a drip hanging off one of the studs. Everything above it was dry, everything around it was dry so it had to be the stud.
This seems to be a known area for leaks to happen, at least for Shadows. To top it off, whoever installed it did a moron job as the rubber dampener that sits on the stud, was installed incorrectly, rendering the radiator to sit on the frame's bracket metal on metal. (Terrifying to think about the impact this radiator must have endured through my few months of riding it plus some previous owner use).
Aluminum is a **** to weld/solder/braze. It can be done but even the rad shop I called wasn't interested in doing it! I've seen people's videos with successful repairs, but from eyeballing their equipment, materials and technique it is quite apparent; this takes advanced skill I don't have. Trust me, I'm all in for learning ... and often the hard way unfortunately but this one I can predict. Either I mess up the stud beyond functional design, melt the radiator around the stud entirely or set my garage on fire. So!
Some have had success with JB Weld, others reported failure; however, it is the closest and cheapest option I can at the very least give a try. Overall chance? 50/50 for $10. I'll explain what I did exactly. If it works (update 2/2 coming in a few days) then you can follow these directions. If it doesn't work, then we at least know this method doesn't work. Deliberately saying 'method' as we also know that JB Weld has worked for others.
- Took a small rotary wire brush to the area around and the stud itself to remove paint and generally clean up the area.
- Took 400 grid sandpaper to the same area to roughen the surface. You should perhaps use something courser like 300 grid. This will roughen and increase the surface area.
- Cleaned the area with contact cleaner as it dries clean and very fast. This will remove any dirt, oils and other potential contaminants that will interfere with the adhesion. You can use rubbing alcohol for a similar effect. I personally will not
use carb or brake cleaner as they leave a residue and take longer to evaporate completely. At this point we have a clean surface. Note that bare aluminum starts oxidizing immediately, more on that later.
- At this point I mixed the JB Weld. (This is the regular one that fully cures between 15 to 24 hours). Because it has a long working time, I set it aside for now while:
- I went back to the radiator. Since I'm not sure how fast the oxidation takes place, I re-worked it with (a new piece of) sandpaper, sprayed it with contact cleaner and used compressed air to blow away the cleaner and have it dry even quicker. Promptly after I applied the JB Weld.
- Made sure to adapt the JB Weld to the metal 'tightly' and to cover and seal all areas. The rubber dampener should still fit on the stud. Whatever your case, make sure nothing interferes with the glob after it has cured! I also feathered the patch into the metal as good as I could. It is a tricky material to manipulate and to make look good ... weak excuse.
Waiting for comments to come in now.
"You should have done this! You did that wrong!" Ta ta!