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Old 08-30-2003, 06:07 PM   #1
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The Radiator Blues

OK, my cooling system rebuild was going great. I had the water pump on, the belts & hoses were on, everything was back together and looking good. I went through every clamp and nut getting ready to fire her up and test all of my repairs today. I had visions of climbing the hill south of the city at 190 degrees the congratulating myself for a job well done. Well...I should have known better.

As soon as I started filling the radiator, coolant started running out from the fan shroud and radiator support. At first I thought maybe I missed a hose but upon further inspection I realized that the water was coming from the lower third of the radiator about 10" from the driver's side. Right in the middle of the core.

After a cool down period (my cool down not the engine) and an adult beverage (wetting agent) I pulled everything off and got the radiator out. Sure enough it looks like some of the tubes got cracked when I removed it. My own fault, didn't know not to put so much leverage on the bottom of the radiator when removing it.

So...I have a quote from radiators.com for $279 and radiatorbarn.com for $300. I'm planning on bringing it to my local radiator shop on Tuesday to see about a re-core. Has anyone done this before? Is there is big enough price difference to justify it? Should I just suck it up and buy new?

I guess the only good news about today is that I can now remove a radiator from a 345 in about 45 minutes!
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Old 08-30-2003, 06:23 PM   #2
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Lucky you...that you didn't have the A/C condenser installed and the system charged up. That would have really cooled ya down.
I had mine recored (4 row HD)for about 250.-, but had no comparison to a new one, since they are NOT available for my rig.
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Old 08-30-2003, 07:03 PM   #3
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That was an eye opener for me, I checked both sites and mine isn't available either. Guess I need to get serious about finding some 1/4" hardware cloth.

I ran your year through and neither one really said 3 or 4 core, just OEM replacement. My experience even with BB pickups hauling loads is they need 4 core. I would check and see what they are selling, it would be terrible to do all that work and not get your 190.

John
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Old 08-30-2003, 07:40 PM   #4
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I called radiators.com and they have the four core for the P30 Motorhome with the oil and trans cooler for under $300 with a one year warrantee but they had a note on it that said it was not for a Class A. Strange since I thought they only used P30's for Class A's. I'm hoping the re-core will work out. An four core OEM is closer to $500...ouch.

Maybe my local radiator shop needs a website!
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Old 08-30-2003, 09:11 PM   #5
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4 core

I had a 4 core rebuilt at a local shop with my tanks reused and new core material for 350 including labor in and out....lol..jem
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Old 08-30-2003, 09:14 PM   #6
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Quote:
since I thought they only used P30's for Class A's
Stepvans, delivery trucks, even UPS trucks from that era were P30's.

How bad is the leak? If it is only a tube or 2 it can be soldered if the radiator is in decent shape.

John
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Old 08-30-2003, 09:17 PM   #7
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Steve,
All the Re cores i've had done, they replaced the Cores with new ones and used the old tanks, I've had more cores added on special jobs like old tractors and crawlers & trucks .
You can't have too big a radiator. if you are in lowie ville there has to be a good rad shop that does custom and big truck radiators just take your time and find a good one.
most shops will stand behind there recores for at least a year.
re coring ain't rockett science .I've done small ones my self,
but It is quicker and easier to get it done.
there is a lot of stuff comming from asian countries that is NEW
and you can't even buy the core for what you can get a complete new one for.
them countries don't have enviromental laws we do
nor the wage structure. so we can't compete
Luck!! ol' George
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Old 08-30-2003, 09:48 PM   #8
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Last August (2002) when my '74 Argosy engine blew up in Louisville, I had it repaired at a shop called Probilt on Preston Highway. (They did an excellent job for me, by the way. Diagnosed, got the new 502 shipped in, did the modifications necessary to change from 454 to 502, didn't charge an arm and a leg, let me store my trailer there for free, etc.)

At my request, they got the radiator recored while it was out. The cost was $275, and it's worked great ever since. Even towing my 6000# race trailer, I never have any overheating problems - and I don't drive slow, either!

You might check with Keith at Probilt for a radiator shop recommendation.

Bob McKeown
Nashville
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Old 08-30-2003, 10:15 PM   #9
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Thanks for all the local tips. I never really cared too much that Louisville was a big logistics town until we bought the AS....now I'm see truck shops everywhere! I knew of a few places already but I'll add those guys to the list. Preston Hwy is pretty close. From what I've heard it pays to shop around on a recore. If I can get a new one for a few bucks more then I'll go that route.

John, you're getting my hopes up! I can't really tell how bad the leak is. Maybe tomorrow I'll try and see if it's solder-able. The radiator seemed sound (no leaks, no whiffs of coolant) before my repairs so I'm quite sure I caused the leak. I suspect its just a couple of tubes. When I removed it I mistakenly tried to unseat the upper radiator support by lifting up on the bottom of the radiator with a huge screwdriver. Didn't think much of it until the leak started - then it hit me. (Now I know better and I also what those little slots in the sides of the supports are for!)

Also on the P30 thing; I meant that radiator.com had their part number listed for a P30 454 motorhome but there was a note on it excluding Class A's....that seemed strange. They referenced the Class A radiator as a 3 core for the P30 with a 350 with no oil cooler instead. The measurement for the P30 454 matched mine included the oil cooler and was a four core HD model. Seemed like the right match. They also promised I could return it if it didn't match the OEM.

BTW - Bob, if you or anyone ever breaks down in Louisville let me know. I've got plenty of storage at the office and am friends with the owner of the big RV dealer around here (soon to be adding a Camping World). Especially if you have a cooling system breakdown You also got my curiosity up on the 502 in your Argosy...sounds very cool indeed!
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Old 08-31-2003, 07:21 AM   #10
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Radiator

Steve,
Just something to think about, - WE - don't know what the rad. looks like inside, Partially plugged with lime deposits???
or perhaps the "'core" weak( salt spray) from years of use.
I'm thinking it shouldn't have "leaked" when you slightly mishandled it.
You make that decision , I personally have skimped on a lot things, but that could cost you engine .
Now IF the rad. is in good shape, and a reputable shop will tell you that , they can repair it.
Also they can remove the tanks and clean the core and re sweat them. I would have no problems with that.
It's you call, I'm just trying to give you more info to base your decision on.
Course if the rad goes and takes the engine, kinda makes a good excause for a "502" Ha, LOL!!

Like I always say, There ain't no 5 minute jobs
Best of Luck, Ol' George
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Old 08-31-2003, 08:51 AM   #11
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My $ .02

Steve:

I'm 100 % in agreement with George.

Absolutely no better time than right now to replace it rather than repair it.

If it were me, I'd get a quote both ways (Repair/Replace), and if a repair is more than 50% of new, order a new one.

Either way, put a good pressure test on the radiator prior to installation. It's amazing how shipping and handling causes even the best appearing solder job to spring a pinhole or cold solder leak.

Practically every one of our P-30 chassis's have been subject to poor maintenance/sitting a long time with no radiator fluid protection. I know that you suspect mechanical damage to yours, but let's face it, a 15 year old radiator is aproaching the end of it's useful life.

Good luck on which ever decision you make. I'd appreciate feedback when you finish the job and get back on the road. I suspect I'll be in the same position you are in sometime in the near future, and I sure don't need to reinvent the wheel.
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Old 08-31-2003, 09:16 AM   #12
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Mine can not be removed in 45 minutes without disturbing the freon.
I had to use plan B.
(this does not work on the mid eighties models due to a frame cross member)
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Old 08-31-2003, 09:59 AM   #13
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Repair vs Replace

I agree with everyone about replacement over repair. I knew that addressing the cooling system would be a big job, but one that I felt was necessary to ensure safe and reliable operation of our new (to us) MH. In fact I planned on replacing the radiator later in the year as a precaution anyway - after all it is 17 years old and sat unused for a couple of years before I purchased it.

My overall goal with these "initialization repairs" has been to shake out the bugs and get the MH to a point mechanically where I can feel reasonably confident that it won't surprise me on the road. Shes in good overall shape and it would be nice to address future repairs/improvements on my own schedule rather than on the Airstream's. It also is helping to build my knowledge of the chassis systems so if something does happen I'm better prepared to address it myself. But honestly I'm trying to balance my engineering mindset to re-manufacturer the entire RV with a reasonable budget for time and money and actually go camping with it from time to time. The budgeting goddess is starting to wonder if this is really a family RV or more of Daddy's toy - maybe a little of both.

I'll take the old radiator to the shop on Tuesday morning to see what I'm dealing with. I'm curious to see what it would take ($$$) to add two more rows at the same time as the recore but based on the some of the numbers I've seen from other members for their recores we're only talking a difference of $30 - $50 to go new.

After reading about some of your experiences with this issue and seeing PeterH's removal procedure I guess I feel kinda lucky.

87airstream345 - I've been snapping pics all along so at some point I'll post the replacement procedure along with some key photos. There are a few tricks I've figured out already that will save the next lucky streamer hours of head scratching!
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Old 09-01-2003, 11:33 AM   #14
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A few quick updates

Found a replacement 4 core for $208 + $15 shipping at CarRadiator.com...they are the current leader.

Bigger news: I found the leak! It finally stopped raining around here so I went out to try my hand at a backyard leak test. I plugged up the outlets and pressurized the radiator (garden hose + "duct tape"). There is one leak and it's not an entire row of cracked tubes as I thought. Instead, there is a 1mm hold in the outer row of the rear-most core. For cryin' out loud I can see it and put my finger on it. Looks almost like a a bolt cut through it....maybe it was there before????

So...since I've already prepard myself and the budgeting goddess for a replacement, it will be at the radiator shop tomorrow to see if we can resolder and pass a real pressure test. Then I can order a replacement on my own time.
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