We still repair aluminum core radiators, whether they have plastic or aluminum tanks!
In 1977, Volkswagen made an innovation that would forever change the cooling system industry. In order to keep their Rabbits lighter, VW made many developments, one of which was to make their radiators out of aluminum instead of the traditional copper and brass. The new design was quite radical and frankly, not very good. Rather than making aluminum side tanks and attaching them via aluminum welding, an expensive process that would require skilled welders, they chose to attach tanks made of a nylon blend with very weak tabs on the header of the aluminum radiator core. In order to prevent leaks, they they put a rubber gasket between the core and "plastic" tank.
This design sucked. Badly. We could write for hours about the many issues that made these embryonic PTRs so awful, but the bottom line is that they were so unbelievably bad that, by the time Ford came out with their first PTR in 1980 and GM theirs in 1981, the word around the industry was that plastic tank radiators were utterly irreparable. Fortunately, Cap-A Radiator didn't open in Farmingdale until 1982! Even more fortunately, Bill Carberry, the owner of the franchise, didn't believe in the word irreparable. In fact, we're pretty sure he can't even spell it!
Most PTRs not made in the 1970s by VW actually were repairable and, in fact, held up quite well when compared to their copper/brass counterparts. Eventually, they began to enter radiator repair shops in the 1990s and most shops shied away from them. Combined with an influx of cheap generic radiators coming in from southeast Asia, the radiator industry was doomed. Around that time, Carberry attended a tech session by NARSA (the National Auto Radiator Service Association) in New Jersey and met the author of a book titled "Plastic Tank Radiator Techniques." Now, armed with a manual on the subject, Carberry was ready to go all-in on PTR repair... only one problem: there was nowhere in the northeastern US to buy the parts.
When Bill Carberry sees a problem, his instinct is to fill the void (this is also how he later began Classic Radiator and Classic Heaters). He attacked the problem head-on and became the largest distributor of plastic tanks in the northeast. In fact, he named his new company "Northeast Plastic Tanks." After more than a decade of growing NPT, he sold it to concentrate on his then-fledgling company specializing in the repair and restoration of vintage cooling system parts.
While plastic tank radiator repair is no longer a major part of the company's profile, Cap-A Radiator is still considered one of the nation's top PTR repair shops. So don't be afraid to ask about saving money with a repair of your radiator, even though everyone else told you they can't be repaired. Give us a call at 516-293-9026 or stop in at 994 Fulton Street (Rte 109) in Farmingdale for a free estimate.