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Old 02-17-2015, 02:03 PM   #1
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Cummin ISL-400 overheating

My motorhome is a 40' - 2007 Alpine with a side radiator. I tow a 2010 HHR. I have no problems with the cooling system while traveling on level roadways or on 1-2% grades and ambient temperature below 95 degrees. Engine temps run at 185 to 210. I have had the radiator inspected externally, including fins checked and air cleaned, hoses seem OK. When I start pulling 4-6% grades the temps will go to 230 degrees and I have to pull over and let the engine cool down. I've run with the engine hood open but no help. I've also downshifted to 4th gear with mixed results. With higher RPMS there is some engine temps lower when the ambient temps are below 85 degrees. If the ambient temperature is higher then I start getting high temp warnings.

Last fall I took it into Cummins NW in Renton, Washington. They ran it on their DYNO. "They monitored all parameters, results as followed: TSTAT opened properly, fan control works correctly - 0% at 180, 75% at 205, 100% at 210. Does gradually overheat under full load". They don't know what is causing the overheating. They recommend having the radiator pulled and sent to a radiator shop for service.

That recommendation seems like a crap shoot if there is no assurance it will solve the problem. Any suggestions?
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Old 02-17-2015, 02:16 PM   #2
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My motorhome is a 40' - 2007 Alpine with a side radiator. I tow a 2010 HHR. I have no problems with the cooling system while traveling on level roadways or on 1-2% grades and ambient temperature below 95 degrees. Engine temps run at 185 to 210. I have had the radiator inspected externally, including fins checked and air cleaned, hoses seem OK. When I start pulling 4-6% grades the temps will go to 230 degrees and I have to pull over and let the engine cool down. I've run with the engine hood open but no help. I've also downshifted to 4th gear with mixed results. With higher RPMS there is some engine temps lower when the ambient temps are below 85 degrees. If the ambient temperature is higher then I start getting high temp warnings.

Last fall I took it into Cummins NW in Renton, Washington. They ran it on their DYNO. "They monitored all parameters, results as followed: TSTAT opened properly, fan control works correctly - 0% at 180, 75% at 205, 100% at 210. Does gradually overheat under full load". They don't know what is causing the overheating. They recommend having the radiator pulled and sent to a radiator shop for service.

That recommendation seems like a crap shoot if there is no assurance it will solve the problem. Any suggestions?

I would pull a sample of the coolant and send to JG Lube Services or Blackstone for testing. If the coolant tests good there is little reason to suspect the internals of the radiator are to blame. If the coolant has gotten too concentrated and the freeze point is way low you might consider a drain/ flush/fill. If ethylene glycol is not cut 50/50 with distill water, heat transfer suffers. Most DPs dont have much excess cooling capacity so if heat transfer is compromised that might push the system up to its limits.


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Old 02-17-2015, 02:20 PM   #3
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Pull a rad hose and see if there is build up of scale in there. Find someone with one of them boreoscope camera things.

Good luck
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Old 02-17-2015, 09:16 PM   #4
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Have you checked if your fan is coming on. I don't know what kind of fan you have but most are hydraulic driven and run of a thermostat.
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Old 02-17-2015, 09:29 PM   #5
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When they say the fan controller is working properly, does that mean that they verified that the fan is actually turning those RPMs? I know they probably are, but having gone through a variation of this myself recently, I'm sensitive to the issue.

Also, going to 100% at 210 seems a little like closing the barn door too late... but I won't claim to know the specs. I just know my Silverleaf alerts at 215 and I've never let it get to 220 (and then only early on when people said "oh, the fan will speed up and it will stabilize"...and only did it once).

When it happened, did you slow up and gear down to keep the rpm high but the engine load lower? That of course just addresses the symptom and not the cause, but might beat pulling over if you have to go somewhere to find a shop that can really identify this...

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Old 02-17-2015, 09:42 PM   #6
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I was told the thermostat on our ISC doesn't fully open till past 200. On the flats it barely gets to 185.
No idea what it is on the ISX the Magna has.
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Old 02-17-2015, 10:58 PM   #7
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You said
When I start pulling 4-6% grades the temps will go to 230 degrees and I have to pull over and let the engine cool down.
Is this on the gauges in the dash or something different. I have a Cat 400 with a side radiator and run the Silverleaf and there is about a 30deg difference in the two. My fan will come on at 204degs and turn off at 196degs and the trans temps will run about the same in hot weather.
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Old 02-18-2015, 10:19 AM   #8
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"They recommend having the radiator pulled and sent to a radiator shop for service."


Quite an expensive crap shoot.

What was the max temp see by the ECM when it was on the dyno? If you are using the gauge on the dash, you probably aren't getting correct info. If the fan controller is actiong like they say, it is working properly.

I would look at the gauge and the temp sending unit.
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Old 02-18-2015, 02:30 PM   #9
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75% fan at 205 sounds weak - my ISL gets to 100% by then. However, the fan system is not a Cummins engine function - the entire cooling system is built by the chassis provider, i.e. the Peak chassis people at Western RV (Alpine). Who of course no longer are around to answer questions. However, they no doubt used a fan control and fan from an industry vendor, so maybe you can identify it and find out what it is set up for.

Regardless, it seems obvious that cooling is lacking. The likely culprits are:
1. A clogged radiator (what they are suggesting you do next)
2. Inadequate air flow through the cooling system, e.g. dirty grill or fins, fan not performing to spec, etc.
3. Thermostat not fully open, thus slowing coolant circulation
4. Cooling system not holding pressure, e.g. a cracked reservoir or leaky cap
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Old 02-18-2015, 02:46 PM   #10
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75% fan at 205 sounds weak - my ISL gets to 100% by then. However, the fan system is not a Cummins engine function - the entire cooling system is built by the chassis provider, i.e. the Peak chassis people at Western RV (Alpine). Who of course no longer are around to answer questions. However, they no doubt used a fan control and fan from an industry vendor, so maybe you can identify it and find out what it is set up for.

Regardless, it seems obvious that cooling is lacking. The likely culprits are:
1. A clogged radiator (what they are suggesting you do next)
2. Inadequate air flow through the cooling system, e.g. dirty grill or fins, fan not performing to spec, etc.
3. Thermostat not fully open, thus slowing coolant circulation
4. Cooling system not holding pressure, e.g. a cracked reservoir or leaky cap
Or like the Freightliner chassis of that era, too small of a radiator.
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Old 02-19-2015, 09:47 AM   #11
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Or like the Freightliner chassis of that era, too small of a radiator.
"Too small" can be debated by the lawyers, but I agree. Cummins specs the cooling requirements and most RV chassis builders fit the absolute minimum size radiator that meets Cummins requirements. That means that even the slightest degradation due to dirty fins or reduced coolant flow is likely to result in overheating.
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Old 02-19-2015, 02:34 PM   #12
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Thanks all for posting their comments. This will give me good leads to follow.
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Old 02-19-2015, 06:30 PM   #13
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Hi Les
2 stroker makes a valid point. I to have an ISL and pull a 32 foot trailer with it. When I got the thing I never had a problem on the flat, was always on the hills. Did all the obvious things, also made sure the shroud was well sealed and was only pulling outside air. No help, then as I was thinking about it something came to mind, the gauge would climb to 230-240, but the engine never lost power and I never got a warning alarm or light. I figured the idiot light was ECM based and the gauge, well, it's a gauge. I also had low pressure reading on the oil gauge, it fell into Cummins range of normal so I dismissed it as normal. I've used all sorts of mechanical and analog gauges on muscle and race cars and one thing is for sure, they aren't overly reliable. I bought the silverleaf program and module for my PC and found exactly what I suspected, I'd spent a lot of time chasing a problem that wasn't really there. Both the oil pressure and the temp gauge were off significantly. Now with that being said, as said in an earlier post, I agree the cooling systems are on the edge in a lot of these rigs. On a long 7-8% grade it will climb up to the alarm level, but I'm pulling a 12,000 pound trailer. The dyno results may well be normal if they are really loading it, I don't know what system or program they were using. You may well have a problem, but if you aren't routinely getting alarms going off it may well be worth your time and money to check it against the temps the ECM is seeing. I don't go anywhere without my silverleaf. Just my .02.
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Old 02-20-2015, 09:40 PM   #14
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Have your Charge Air Cooler checked for leaks. On our Dutch Star DP with the ISC 350 we were having problems when working the engine such as you describe. Pulling steep grades etc. Turned out the CAC had a number of leaks and needed to be replaced. Works great now.
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