Introduction of the Radiator

How the term radiator came into common usage is not certain. The word radiator is not quite accurate, since heat transfer takes place mostly by convection. The radiator had its beginning when engines were first used to propel horseless carriages. As a self-contained moving unit it became impractical to cool the engine by flowing water through the engine jacket to waste.

Copper and brass were selected for radiator construction because of their resistance to corrosion to water, ability to conduct heat, and ease of joining with tin-lead solders. Soft solders have been used since ancient Egyptian times and it is over nineteen hundred years since historians described how the Romans used them.

In the 20 centuries since, many new methods have derived, but solders, based on tin still continue to serve the needs of modern industry. In the early cooling systems, the radiator consisted of a tube, many feet long, which was wound around the hood of the car.

By 1904 the radiator assumed a position at the front of the car, encased in a shiny nickel-plated shell, topped off with a decorative figure such as a leaping greyhound or the goddess Diana.

Placing the radiator at the front of the car took full advantage of the airflow created by the forward motion of the car. This idea of using the radiator as part of the vehicle trim persisted well into the 30’s.

By this time the concept of the radiator as an engine component rather than vehicle trim had started to grow and in many instances the radiator fitted with tanks and side plates, had disappeared behind a decorative grill, the only external evidence of its presence being the filler cap.

This introduction is by the author “H. Horowitz” (1972)