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Old 10-01-2013, 08:48 PM   #1
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Insight on a side mounted radiator on DP

I have always heard that a side radiator was the best way to go on a DP, because it also gives you easy access to the engine area. Are there down sides to a side mounted radiator? And if not why don't they mount them all on the side?

Randy
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:03 PM   #2
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Downers are that you loose basement storage room where the radiator goes, some manufacturers jam up the rear of the engine access with hydraulic reservoirs, coolant expansion tanks, filters and anything else they don't know where to put someplace else. Also, you need some way to get power from the engine to the fan(s). Some are mechanical and some hydraulic, but all take room and weigh more.

All that said, I'd still go for the side mount radiator. That is if the coach is big enough to handle the added weight and has room for the added equipment.
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Old 10-01-2013, 09:23 PM   #3
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Randy, if you look at high end coaches they all have side radiators. If you look at the lower cost units they have rear radiators. Side radiators are more complicated and hence more expensive. In older units blow-by oil could clog a rear radiator and cause overheating problems. Newer engines have eliminated this problem with proper crankcase vent filters so access is probably the main issue now. Like Pigman I would choose a side radiator again if all other things are equal.
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:03 AM   #4
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I have a Country Coach with a side mounted radiator and everything Pigman 1 said is right on. If it did not have a SR I did not look at it because my daughter has a Monaco with a rear radiator and to work on it you need to go through the bedroom closet floor or from under the coach. Mine you open up the back and all you see is Cat motor (fuel filter,Hyd filter tank,serpentine belt,ez oil fill,ez trans check and oil check) and the radiator is clean. The fan is hyd driven along with the power steering. Mine is air leveling so the only hyd used is for the fan and steering plus you don't loose horse power driving the fan.
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Old 10-02-2013, 01:04 AM   #5
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Side radiators have advantages- cleaner air intake vs rear which has to re-organize air sucked up around the engine. Likewise air sucked up around the engine is going to be dustier on average. The air path to a rear radiator is in the line of rocks being kicked up; although a side rad is not perfectly immune to this, the rear radiator is highly susceptible by comparison and many install an elaborate rock screen from protection which is then in the way for service & extra labor to remove. And as mentioned dirty air collects crud on the rear radiator that needs periodic cleaning or you loose cooling capacity, and to clean it you need to get to the inner side of the radiator stack which can be laborious (not to mention progressively harder as the years go by; I can clean my side rad w/a garden hose from the outside.

The real genius of side radiators came when somebody got the bright idea to place one radiator (rigs have multiple) on top of the next in a vertical stack. On mine the charge air cooler is on top, then the engine coolant radiator below that, then the hydraulic oil cooler, then the air conditioner rad on the bottom. With this design each rad receives fresh air, vs the conventional sandwich-turned-on-edge pattern where only the first gets truly fresh air and each successive one in the sandwich after gets warmer & warmer air due to cooling the rad before it w/the air stream.
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Old 10-02-2013, 06:20 AM   #6
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Great thread. I have being wondering about this too. The whole DP-thing is new to me. I am trying to gather as much info as possible.
What are some Class A DP brands from the 2000's that use side radiators? I see Country Coach is one. Newmars, Tiffin's...?
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Old 10-02-2013, 06:36 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by EricGT View Post
Great thread. I have being wondering about this too. The whole DP-thing is new to me. I am trying to gather as much info as possible.
What are some Class A DP brands from the 2000's that use side radiators? I see Country Coach is one. Newmars, Tiffin's...?
Newmars, Entegras, believe American (but not sure).
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Old 10-02-2013, 07:10 AM   #8
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I have a Country Coach with a side mounted radiator and everything Pigman 1 said is right on. If it did not have a SR I did not look at it because my daughter has a Monaco with a rear radiator and to work on it you need to go through the bedroom closet floor or from under the coach. Mine you open up the back and all you see is Cat motor (fuel filter,Hyd filter tank,serpentine belt,ez oil fill,ez trans check and oil check) and the radiator is clean. The fan is hyd driven along with the power steering. Mine is air leveling so the only hyd used is for the fan and steering plus you don't loose horse power driving the fan.
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I'll take the counter point here.

Actually, I believe you do USE power to drive the fan? The hydraulic pump uses the engines power to drive it, does not run for free? What I don't know is how much power relative to a direct drive fan. There's also controllers involved, and all this is a level of complexity and potential failure points a direct drive fan doesn't share.

I like the side radiator setup, but it's not a deal breaker here, even though I do all my own work? My coach doesn't have a rear slide though. I could see how that might really mess up the reasonably easy access I have to my engine through the bedroom, from underneath, and from the LR compartment where the air cleaner is installed. Fuel filters and air dryer/filter easily accessible just inside the RR comp. door. I can change a belt from underneath with a flashlight and a 1/2" ratchet inside of half an hour. Alternator not much worse, might go an hour? Checking oil and coolant levels no issue either, take seconds.

Whatever, I think one must consider how often access like this is even necessary (beyond oil and coolant level checks!), and factor that in from a functional standpoint. Then decide if it's the 'cool' factor you're demanding by not considering a rear radiator rig, or if there really is some merit behind it. I don't see the big deal myself. That's me though. -Al
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Old 10-02-2013, 07:40 AM   #9
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Originally Posted by EricGT View Post
Great thread. I have being wondering about this too. The whole DP-thing is new to me. I am trying to gather as much info as possible.
What are some Class A DP brands from the 2000's that use side radiators? I see Country Coach is one. Newmars, Tiffin's...?
It's not a matter of brands, it's a matter of price point. In general, for any manufacturer, you'll get rear rad for lower end and side rad for upper end.

Personally, a side or rear rad would not be a deciding factor but it's more that I might prefer having all the features a higher end coach has (including side rad) vs the features missing on a lower end coach. That said, within a given budget, I'd probably be more likely to buy a newer lower end DP (with rear rad) than an older higher end DP (with side rad) but that's a decision you have to make for yourself.
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Old 10-02-2013, 10:36 AM   #10
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Which chassis manufacturer the motorhome manufacturer chooses to buy is dependent on how much money is invested in the finished product. My 2000 Winnebago Ultimate Freedom is on a Spartan side-radiator chassis. The Ultimate line was Winnebago's top-of-the-line DP model back then, other DP models were built on Freightliner rear-radiator chassis.
Just last week I cleaned the entire radiator sandwich. The cooling fans are electric-motor driven, which greatly reduces power demands on the engine(which can be as much as 70 HP total). Sorry I got side-tracked. Anyway my point was, cleaning the side-radiator was really quite easy. There was no sign of oil holding dirt in the radiators whatsoever, access with a air hose was easy and convenient.
Next week I change the accessories drive belts. When I open the rear grill, there they are in plain view with easy access. If it were a rear-radiator model, that would be performed from inside the coach.
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Old 10-02-2013, 11:23 AM   #11
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I'll take the counter point here.

Actually, I believe you do USE power to drive the fan? The hydraulic pump uses the engines power to drive it, does not run for free? What I don't know is how much power relative to a direct drive fan. There's also controllers involved, and all this is a level of complexity and potential failure points a direct drive fan doesn't share.

I like the side radiator setup, but it's not a deal breaker here, even though I do all my own work? My coach doesn't have a rear slide though. I could see how that might really mess up the reasonably easy access I have to my engine through the bedroom, from underneath, and from the LR compartment where the air cleaner is installed. Fuel filters and air dryer/filter easily accessible just inside the RR comp. door. I can change a belt from underneath with a flashlight and a 1/2" ratchet inside of half an hour. Alternator not much worse, might go an hour? Checking oil and coolant levels no issue either, take seconds.

Whatever, I think one must consider how often access like this is even necessary (beyond oil and coolant level checks!), and factor that in from a functional standpoint. Then decide if it's the 'cool' factor you're demanding by not considering a rear radiator rig, or if there really is some merit behind it. I don't see the big deal myself. That's me though. -Al
I agree with this response to your original question and observations. Fans take horsepower regardless where they are mounted or by which means they are driven. Given the choice of a side or rear I would have chosen a side if it were in my price range. Instead I got a high quality Freightliner chassis with a rear radiator that has served me well. It is more challenging to service the belts, hoses and such but as far as being more or less dependable, both kinds of cooling are very dependable. I would buy the same coach again if I had to do it over again. Good luck in your search for the "perfect" motorhome..
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:03 PM   #12
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Cat's own literature " Understanding Coach / RV Performance " that was available as a download off their web site, before they got out of the Over Highway engine business , lists HP demand as up to 70 HP for a C-13 engine equipped with hydraulic driven fan, and 40 HP for a C-7 coach with rear rad.
The performance drop, would be approx. the same given, the fan demand HP as a % of the engines available HP.
I know when the side rad fan cuts in full on my Dutch Star, speed on a 6% grade can drop 5MPH.
On the flip side the belt driven , fan on my last tow vehicle , would drop speed about the same amount, when the thermo hub locked it up on the same grade.
Your engine needs cooling, both systems require power to operate, JMHO, servicing access is the real plus in a side rad coach.
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Old 10-02-2013, 12:19 PM   #13
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I had the alternator replaced while on a trip this summer. I have a side radiator and the bill, installed was about $500. The manager at the truck center where the service was performed said we were lucky, if we had a rear radiator we would have spent the night there and paid another $800 in labor. Instead, we were back on the road in 2 hours.
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Old 10-02-2013, 06:48 PM   #14
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The only downside to a side radiator IMO is when the hydraulic motor fails.
The motor alone cost me $862.
Otherwise, it's the only way to go.
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