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Stine's heads for 7 decades

February 18, 2007|by ASHLEY HARTMAN

From copper to plastic, radiators have changed in the past 65 years, but one thing has remained the same - Stine's Auto Radiator Service has been fixing them.

The business dates back to 1941, when Max Stine purchased a building on South Potomac Street from Bud Semler and opened Stine's Auto Radiator Service.

Max went into the business "to make a living," said his brother, Emmert Stine, 78, who began working at the business soon after it opened and has been there ever since.

Max passed away in 1963 and Emmert took over the following year.

Now, three generations of the Stine family work at the business: Emmert; his son Jeff Stine, 40, who took over the business in 1987; and Emmert's grandson, Wesley Truax, 17.

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The Stine's radiator repair business has moved over the years. In the early 1950s, it was relocated to 644 W. Washington St. It has been at its current location on 241 N. Burhans Blvd. since 1988.

The business "really expanded since Jeff took it over," Emmert said.

The main office is roughly the size the entire business facility was in the early days on South Potomac Street, Emmert said.

The walls are decorated with photos from the two previous business locations.

Emmert sits in a black leather chair that has been around for 50 years.

The size of the Stine family business is not the only thing that has changed; the radiator industry also has changed over the years.

"We used to have a tank of acid that we cooked the radiators in" to clean them, Emmert said. "The EPA stopped that, so we have to use pressure."

The shape and material of radiators also have changed over the years. Radiators went from being made of brass and copper to aluminum and plastic.

In the '60s, radiators went from vertical to horizontal, Emmert said.

Along with passing the business down through the generations, the skills needed for the auto radiator trade also have been handed down from generation to generation.

Emmert said he learned from Max. "I picked up a torch and he (Max) used to give me heck for not getting (the radiator) clean enough," Emmert said.

Jeff learned from Emmert, and Wesley learned to work on auto radiators from his uncle, Jeff.

"I just started putting them (radiators) together this year," after practicing for a couple of years, Wesley said.

Stine's Auto Radiator Service specializes in "anything related to the cooling system," Jeff said.

That includes heaters, radiators and water pumps.

Stine's Auto Radiator Service is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

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