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Old 01-27-2016, 06:38 PM   #1
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Chassis and Side Radiator Questions

I keep hearing the Spartan chassis are so great, what does that mean (where do you see the differences or do you?) and which manufacturer uses these chassis? secondly, I also hear about the side radiator being nice to have. I will not be doing any engine work myself so should I care about that? Are there only certain chassis and manufacturers that use this configuration? Is it worth limiting my choice of coaches due to the type of chassis and side radiator? Thanks for your help, appreciate your comments.
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Old 01-27-2016, 06:46 PM   #2
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Most manufacturers will have side radiators on their higher end models. Whether the extra expense is worth it to you, I cant say.
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Old 01-27-2016, 06:59 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Quincybear View Post
I keep hearing the Spartan chassis are so great, what does that mean (where do you see the differences or do you?) and which manufacturer uses these chassis? secondly, I also hear about the side radiator being nice to have. I will not be doing any engine work myself so should I care about that? Are there only certain chassis and manufacturers that use this configuration? Is it worth limiting my choice of coaches due to the type of chassis and side radiator? Thanks for your help, appreciate your comments.

Spartan and Freightliner are the two big chassis builders who provide chassis to all builders of diesel motorhomes. They are broadly similar and each motorhome builder buys a chassis from one or the other with the selected specifications that they desire. They both conduct training classes for owners of motorhomes built on their chassis. The largest differences between the two is that there are lots of Freightliner service locations around the country but in truth, these locations are happy to service Spartan chassis also.

The side vs rear radiator argument will be clearer when you pay $120/hr for 3 hours to replace a serpentine belt on a rear radiator. 15 minute job with a side radiator. Also the rear radiator is in the line of fire for road debris and any fan driven fluids or road tar. The side radiator takes up storage real estate and the fan drive components are more complex

At the end of the day, these are just two of the many decisions you have to make.
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Old 01-27-2016, 07:55 PM   #4
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Everything about a side radiator is spot on. When changing the serpentine belt it takes longer to get the tools than to change the belt. Checking and adding oil if needed is a plus and you can see the motor. My daughter has a Monaco with a rear radiator
Don' forget about Country Coach with the DynoMax chassis and the Independent Front Suspension!
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Old 01-27-2016, 08:09 PM   #5
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I hear that the Spartan chassis is good too, but I also hear that the ball joints on a lot of years go bad and cost $3000 to repair and Spartan doesn't stand behind them. I was interested in early 2000 Newmars, but I want a Cummins engine and they only come on the Spartan chassis. I started looking at other brands. I think one of the positives is the independent front suspension with 55 degree wheel cut. I'm willing to live with the solid axle for the dependability and reliability.

It's expensive to remove a radiator do do work on a coach--it literally adds up to 6 hours labor to any job requiring access to the rear of the engine. A side radiator is also more efficient and easier to keep clean. There are also down sides like the fan set up, but overall I think the side radiator is worth the extra cost.
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Old 01-27-2016, 08:21 PM   #6
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It's not Spartan's ball joints that are failing, it's a Reyco-Granning front axle and the joints are on it. Our '02 DSDP had a '04 14,600# Reyco-Granning front axle. When we traded the rig in last year the rubber was just starting to come apart.
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Old 01-27-2016, 08:54 PM   #7
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It's not Spartan's ball joints that are failing, it's a Reyco-Granning front axle and the joints are on it. Our '02 DSDP had a '04 14,600# Reyco-Granning front axle. When we traded the rig in last year the rubber was just starting to come apart.
Well, it doesn't really matter whose fault it is when YOU'RE paying the 3 grand.
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Old 01-27-2016, 09:04 PM   #8
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I cannot address the chassis issue, but I disagree with making a decision on a coach based on a side vs rear radiator. There are SO many others things to look at that I think are more important than the position of the radiator. I have a rear radiator and I extended the slobber tube. I had the belts replaced this last year and it did not cost me a bunch because I had a rear radiator. Yes, there is easier access to the engine with a side radiator, but I have a big access panel in the bedroom that opens up right over the top of the engine. I would look at how well the coach has been cared for, the condition of the paint, the floor plan, the quality of the manufacturer, is it in your price range, etc.
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Old 01-27-2016, 09:09 PM   #9
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Spartan builds chassis for fire trucks and military vehicles as well. I believe many items in a spartan chassis are designed better than they have to be. Spartan chassis cost more for this reason.
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Old 01-27-2016, 09:15 PM   #10
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BTW: having a side radiator doesn't guarantee anything but easier access to the serpentine and air con drive belts. When Cummins needed access to the top of the engine they charged something like $4,400 just to open up and then close the access hatch when done. Now, admittedly the hatch was under the mirrored closet doors and bed frame on a slide. Next time I have the rig out and slides extended I'm going to look the whole thing over and see what it entails.
Here's a picture of a rig like ours, not much access in the back:
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Old 01-27-2016, 10:03 PM   #11
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One point that hasn't been addressed is the smaller displacement/less hp DP units typically use the rear radiator design. Conversely, I can't recall ever seeing a 450hp or larger engine without a side radiator. There are a multitude of reasons for this including the initial cost difference of the two designs...
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Old 01-27-2016, 10:17 PM   #12
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One point that hasn't been addressed is the smaller displacement/less hp DP units typically use the rear radiator design. Conversely, I can't recall ever seeing a 450hp or larger engine without a side radiator. There are a multitude of reasons for this including the initial cost difference of the two designs...

Winnebago has been stubbornly resistant to side radiators over the years. Their current Grand Tour is powered by the Cummins ISL 450 and is a rear radiator design.

http://winnebagoind.com/products/cla...terior/chassis
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:10 PM   #13
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Winnebago has been stubbornly resistant to side radiators over the years. Their current Grand Tour is powered by the Cummins ISL 450 and is a rear radiator design.

Grand Tour | Exterior | Chassis | Winnebago RVs
Thanks for the info & link. Perhaps their decision is driven by the smallish 8.9L displacement and 3000 series Allison?
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Old 01-27-2016, 11:52 PM   #14
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Winnebago has a proven horse in this race with a rear radiator (Cummins 450hp).


If you think side radiators are so good, go to the Entegra section and read "Radiator Fairy struck again". It's about a half hour read and much is repetitive, especially note the comments about the PRICE Spartan charges for side radiator work. Case closed!
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