Flax water bag for cooling an engine?

PlymCrazy

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Channel surfing last night ran across this on Pawn Stars. Never heard of or seen these before. A Flax cooling bag? Used for cooling an engine? Anyone recall these being used or using one personally? Were they even effective? How did they work?

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Photon440

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Not for cooling an engine. Its a bag for holding drinking water like a canteen, but the water stays chilled by the slight amount that evaporates through the fabric.
 

sam dupont

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I know cars would boil over and spew trying to get up the hill to Mt. Rushmore, so I always assumed it was for replenishing the radiator.
 

440 4 speed

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Not for cooling an engine. Its a bag for holding drinking water like a canteen, but the water stays chilled by the slight amount that evaporates through the fabric.
I remember my father hanging a bag behind the grille of our 49 Chev torpedo back, Grandpa did the same with his 48 Dodge. I still might have Dad’s somewhere.
 

PlymCrazy

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One of the selling/pawning points mentioned on the show last night was it alternatively being used for cooling a car engine. i.e. hanging from the grille like @440 4 speed mentioned above. I found it hard to believe it would have much effect, especially if the bag blocked some air moving through the grille. Would the trade-off be worth it? In particular in the '40s they said it was more commonly seen.
 

440 4 speed

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One of the selling/pawning points mentioned on the show last night was it alternatively being used for cooling a car engine. i.e. hanging from the grille like @440 4 speed mentioned above. I found it hard to believe it would have much effect, especially if the bag blocked some air moving through the grille. Would the trade-off be worth it? In particular in the '40s they said it was more commonly seen.
I think it was supposed to work like a swamp cooler. I was young, and just wonder if it was for drinking water.
 

mopar 3 B

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Think of it as a cooling towel around your neck on a hot day. It had the same effect on a radiator.
 

PlymCrazy

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Here's a pic I found online. Bags hung around the grilles. I was reading that in the 20's, 30's and 40's this wasn't that uncommon.
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mopar 3 B

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Hay if that thing pukes water in the desert or anywhere else for that matter where you going to put the water? Or do you like walking? Now what's the bag for? Coolant wasn't then what it is today.
 

PlymCrazy

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They are hung on the grills not for any cooling effect on the radiator, but to keep them in the air-stream to chill the water for drinking later.
As mentioned here: Flax Canvas Water Bag
I completely agree with you as to what they were originally intended for. But that episode of Pawn Stars last night mentioned some folks using them to cool their engines in the 40’s. That’s how I understood it anyway. And that prompted me to start this thread. Whether it worked or not was a question I had. And if anyone knew of anyone who ever did this. Then again the folks on this site probably weren’t driving cars in the 40’s. Nor the 20’s or 30’s for that matter.

A brief search on the inner webs earlier today turned up this result. The first post on the thread here makes mention of the engine cooling use. Myth? Wives tale? It is the internet after all so I take it with a grain of salt. Appreciate your input.
Flax cooling bags. Old vehicles
 

Photon440

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I completely agree with you as to what they were originally intended for. But that episode of Pawn Stars last night mentioned some folks using them to cool their engines in the 40’s. That’s how I understood it anyway. And that prompted me to start this thread. Whether it worked or not was a question I had. And if anyone knew of anyone who ever did this. Then again the folks on this site probably weren’t driving cars in the 40’s. Nor the 20’s or 30’s for that matter.

A brief search on the inner webs earlier today turned up this result. The first post on the thread here makes mention of the engine cooling use. Myth? Wives tale? It is the internet after all so I take it with a grain of salt. Appreciate your input.
Flax cooling bags. Old vehicles
I guess we'll have to ask someone who lived in that era. :) Looking at those cars in the article, two of them have the water bags hanging below the bumper, which to me looks like any cool air is going to miss the radiator.
 

1STMP

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Having grown up in arid climate NM,
and witnessing many old timers in
their rugged Willys Jeeps, this reserve
water supply was not for human
consumption. Most engines run in this
Era were flathead which ran at higher
temps. The practice was carried over
when OHV engines hit the scene, but
mostly for the hotter, drier climates
of the desert southwest. Nobody
drank the water in those bags, unless
it was a life or death situation.
 

1STMP

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I completely agree with you as to what they were originally intended for. But that episode of Pawn Stars last night mentioned some folks using them to cool their engines in the 40’s. That’s how I understood it anyway. And that prompted me to start this thread. Whether it worked or not was a question I had. And if anyone knew of anyone who ever did this. Then again the folks on this site probably weren’t driving cars in the 40’s. Nor the 20’s or 30’s for that matter.

A brief search on the inner webs earlier today turned up this result. The first post on the thread here makes mention of the engine cooling use. Myth? Wives tale? It is the internet after all so I take it with a grain of salt. Appreciate your input.
Flax cooling bags. Old vehicles
I'm first hand witness as to this water
bags' intended use. My granddad owned a ranch just outside of Artesia,
NM in the late 1940's/early 1950's.
He passed away in the middle 60's.
He had a 1946 CJ-2A Jeep that
regularly patrolled the ranch
boundaries kind of like riding fence
line on a horse. Creeping along, in
low gear, not more than ten mph
in 4wd, in temps of 100f +,
the water in the bag was used for
the engine.
He had a thermos filled with
water next to the drivers' seat to
keep his radiator cool. A canteen,
if you will.
Those bags hanging off the front
we're susceptible to being caked
with dust/bugs/dead bunnies, road
tar, engine oil, on the road.
Would you seriously consider
drinking the water within unless
it were a dire emergency?
 
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1STMP

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Not for cooling an engine. Its a bag for holding drinking water like a canteen, but the water stays chilled by the slight amount that evaporates through the fabric.
Sorry, but have to disagree. I didn't
give you a big red X out of respect.
I've witnessed first hand what these
bags were used for. (Yes, I'm that old).
Engine cooling was the primary
concern, as these bags were used
almost entirely in the desert southwest
during the flathead engine era.
 

PlymCrazy

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@1STMP, how was the water in the bag used to cool the engine?

Was it by adding the water in the bag to the cooling system as needed?

Some things I've read state that the evaporation effect of the bag would provide cool air through the grille of the vehicle, thus cooling the engine.

You being a first hand witness, can you further clarify how exactly the water in the bag provided the cooling to the engine?
 
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Photon440

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Sorry, but have to disagree. I didn't
give you a big red X out of respect.
I've witnessed first hand what these
bags were used for. (Yes, I'm that old).
Engine cooling was the primary
concern, as these bags were used
almost entirely in the desert southwest
during the flathead engine era.
I have no doubt that they could be used to cool an engine; any source of water would be used if the engine boiled over and needed some more. I just can't imagine that the bag would really cool the air by an appreciable amount unless the bag seeped so much that it would be empty in half an hour, and as I said earlier, hanging it below the front bumper won't help the rad much. At any rate, looking it up I have seen a couple of notes about people using it to cool the car, but some sources say that it was to put the water into the rad as needed. I also came across an old timer who said that it was common for ranch trucks to have the bags for cool water when thirsty; they hung not from the front but off the side mirror.


The bags are still available brand new for those who want to give it a try!
Flax Canvas Water Bag They mention hanging it in front of the car.
Roxy- Desert Water Bag Crossbody/Unisex - AMERICAN GLORY STYLE Not only for drinking, but for dousing the rad. :)
'Desert' Brand Canvas Water Bag Like so many sites, it also mentioned that the water tastes bad.

This actual instruction from the Desert Bag brand does mention engine cooling at the end, like an afterthought.
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sam dupont

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I had a vintage bag and went looking for it, but I must have sold it. I could be wrong, but I remember a plastic bladder inside. That would make sense for potable water. A bladder for sanitation and wet canvas to cool the water.
 
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