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Old 03-15-2006, 08:14 PM   #1
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1983 31' International
Jasper , Georgia
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Motorhome Overheating Problems

We took our 93 Arstream Land Yacht to Florida last week for our fifth anniversary and unfortunately had overheating problems on the way back. I had just done a flush and antifreeze change with water wetter(and oil change) before we left. We were towing a Jeep Liberty. On the way down, temp was constant at about 190. We have had issues before about temp rising on long hill climbs, etc. Also, when we shut down the engine we would have overflow of coolant from the reservoir. When we started on the road home, temp was running around 200. We stopped at a McDonalds and when I shut the motorhome down, a lot of coolant overflowed out of the reservoir. Once back on the road, the engine started running hot, we smelled antifreeze and the temp shot up suddenly. I pulled over immediately to let it cool down. That's when I discovered that the electric fan mounted on front was switched. I let the coach cool down until I could add water (nearly four gallons of water). Started back up and kept a close eye on the temp. It remained in the 210 - 220 range most of the way home, going up onthe uphills and going down on the downhills. As I approached Atlanta, it suddenly dropped to about 200 than about 30 minutes later jumped back up to 220. I couldn't understand what was going on. I thought it might be a thermostat stuck partly closed so I replaced it and tested the old one ( by the way, those are awfully small thermostats, how does enough water flow through them). The old thermo opened at the proper temp. I also decide to replace the lower (suction) hose since it seemed soft and maybe prone to collapse. As I took it off I noticed a lot of buildup in the radiator tubes themselve, so I decided to bite the bullet and remove the radiator for replacement (am I really crazy?). We are going west this summer and I want all the cooling I can get. I got the radiator off tonight, but as I was flushing the radiator out, it didn't seem too stopped up. I am taking it to a radiator shop for an opinion. I also checked and the water pump seems OK. This is starting to drive me nuts . If I put it all back together and it's still running hot, I really will freak. Any ideas what might cause this inconsistent behavior of my cooling system? Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 03-15-2006, 08:18 PM   #2
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Sounds like you could have a combination of problems, like a bad fan clutch, bad electric fan or fan relay, and a plugged radiator. The radiator can have plenty of flow on the ground with a garden hose, but still be plugged up, especially with you observing lime deposits around the cores.
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Old 03-15-2006, 08:20 PM   #3
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Been there

Your clutch fan is bad. I had same problem on my 1990 Landyacht

It will seem to be okay but quite simply if you can spin it free hand, even with a little resistance, it needs to be replaced. I had to do it in the Pep Boys parking lot on the way home from a rally. Cost about 80 bucks. Not hard to do. You can do it without removing radiator and AC cooling core.

The electric fan is for the AC cooling core. It will only come on when the AC calls for it. Or you can wire it to come on with ignition, (I did).

The fan is cooling a little but not enough for warm to hot weather.
I had the exact same symptoms you describe above.
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Old 03-15-2006, 09:25 PM   #4
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Had the same problem with my '97 Ford F-150 at about 100k miles. I went thru the same thought process you did. Change the thermostat, problem still there. Change the fan clutch, problem still there. I'm thinking, the radiator couldn't possibly be blocked after only 100k miles, right? So I'm telling Dad this sad story and he says "have you had the radiator roded yet? The simplest explanation is usually the answer." So out comes the radiator and off it goes to the radiator shop. Another old grey haired guy, like Dad, at the radiator shop, tells me after he fixes it that the radiator only had two paths open between the left and right sides of the radiator. He said that it looked like Ford added some of that radiator stop leak stuff at the factory, when the engine was built, to prevent leakage on a new engine.

Bottom line, it's run great ever since. It has about 140k on it now and #2 child uses it at college. I gave it to her when she went away last fall. It's a great truck that still even looks good after 10 years. But I digress.

The point is that if you bought the Airstream used, there's a really good possibility that the PO didn't change the radiator fluid on a regular schedule. And things do simply get old and wear out. Especially if they haven't been serviced on the proper schedule.

Good luck with it. Let us know how it turns out.

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Old 03-16-2006, 06:03 AM   #5
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Oh, one other thing

Most new vehcle manufacturers specify using distilled water with the coolant, mixed 50/50. Distilled water has no minerals in suspension to form deposits in the radiator, and 3 or 4 gallons of the stuff is not expensive.
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Old 03-16-2006, 06:41 AM   #6
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I use distilled water mixed as above, but also add a coolant surfactant--- I use the NAPA Brand made by CRC. It has lowered average running temps about 15- 20 degrees, in the hottest weather.
The fan clutch also is a common issue many have experienced here.
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Old 03-16-2006, 07:42 AM   #7
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I agree with Jim and Susan with a used vehicle sometimes flushing a cooling system can cause more harm due to the PO's neglect. Same with changing the tranny oil if it has never been done before. I'd take out the radiator and have it cored, replace the fan while it is out.
Good luck to you.
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Old 03-16-2006, 09:37 AM   #8
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The last time I drove ours any distance, it was 20 degrees, and overheating (inside or out) was not a problem.

Where is the coolant block drain bolt on a 454?

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Old 03-16-2006, 11:58 PM   #9
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block drain plugs

It should be just above the oil pan rail (where the pan bolts to the block)
and mid way between front and rear of the block. Be sure to drain BOTH sides of the block.
sometimes when you take the plug out,you need a little wire to open up the hole as they are plugged up with mud.
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Old 03-17-2006, 08:54 AM   #10
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I used a Prestone flush valve you insert into the heater hose, backflushed out the radiator after putting in a can of their flush solution and runniong it for awhile. Refilled it with the 50/50 + mixture mentioned above and have not had a problem.
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Old 03-17-2006, 09:10 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by George
It should be just above the oil pan rail (where the pan bolts to the block)
and mid way between front and rear of the block. Be sure to drain BOTH sides of the block.
sometimes when you take the plug out,you need a little wire to open up the hole as they are plugged up with mud.
George,

Any idea if that's the same location on the Ford 460 that I have in my 370? Of course, I could go outside and get under there and look, but it's so much easier if someone already knows . Most of the engines I've drained and flushed were GM, so I'm not as familiar with how Ford located their drains. If it's anything like the location of their thermostat it would be easier to drill and tap new holes, or maybe just shoot holes with a 357 magnum pistol !
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Old 03-17-2006, 09:24 AM   #12
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Thank you, Gentlemen!

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Old 03-17-2006, 03:54 PM   #13
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drain plug

sorry I never worked on a Ford 460
I have always been a Chevy fan, but it has to be in a simular location so it will drain properly.
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Old 08-12-2006, 07:14 AM   #14
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Smile Thanks

Want to thank everyone for the good options for checking overheating. We're having problems with our 310 1984 Airstream- running 210-220 degrees. It's great to have some options we can check out ourselves without taking her to the R&R (remove and replace) guys at $85 an hour!
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