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Old 05-11-2015, 09:53 AM   #1
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Question Rear mount radiator

Looked at a 2002 Holiday Rambler 35 DP this week-end and really liked the coach. I seem to remember being warned about rear mount radiators. I never could find a place to see the engine. Does maintenance require removal? Kind of like to inspect things myself from time to time, belts, hoses, etc. Also I would like to avoid engines that have the EPA required modifications on newer units. Any counsel per your experience would be helpful. Looking to upgrade from C gasser.

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Old 05-11-2015, 10:45 AM   #2
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Unless your really serious about doing all of your own maintenance then it doesn't make any difference whether it is a rear or side radiator. Inspecting belts and hoses would be easier on a side radiator unit. I am not sure it would be worth turning down a unit that you like just because it has a rear radiator though.
Newer engines with DEF are actually more efficient that pre 2010 engines so again, not worth worrying about.

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Old 05-11-2015, 10:51 AM   #3
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Having had a side radiator, I would not have a rear radiator.

But, I have saved lots of money, and a fair amount of time by doing my own minor repairs and routine maintenance because I can easily access the comparatively simple C8.3L mechanical engine. I had no engine knowledge before buying this DP.
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Old 05-11-2015, 11:09 AM   #4
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I'll agree with Dean, I wouldn't have a rear rad coach.
Engine access if you DIY is great on side rad, and many repairs on rear rad equipped coaches, take longer and will cost more if being done in a shop.
Some members report a $500 bill for a belt change on a rear rad unit.
Others report that for a radiator change ; on some years of rear rad coaches; the fiberglass rear cap either had to be cut, or removed to change the radiator.
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Old 05-11-2015, 11:53 AM   #5
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In one word, rear radiator "sucks"
I changed the serpentine belt on my C9 in about one minute, took longer to get the tools than to change the belt. You can check hoses and see the motor and a rear radiator you have to go down through the bedroom.
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Old 05-11-2015, 02:21 PM   #6
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Even if you don't do your own maintenance the extra time at the repair shop adds up very quickly at over $ 100.00 an hour, why not put a slide over the top and make it almost impossible to get at the engine?
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Old 05-11-2015, 04:27 PM   #7
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Originally Posted by gilcolog View Post
Looked at a 2002 Holiday Rambler 35 DP this week-end and really liked the coach. I seem to remember being warned about rear mount radiators. I never could find a place to see the engine. Does maintenance require removal? Kind of like to inspect things myself from time to time, belts, hoses, etc. Also I would like to avoid engines that have the EPA required modifications on newer units. Any counsel per your experience would be helpful. Looking to upgrade from C gasser.
Well Sir, it's not the end of the world if you acquire a rear radiator. As has been stated, if you really like the layout, length, features, colors, mileage, and more, having a rear radiator is not really a deterrent. We've had our present coach, an '04 Itasca Horizon 36GD with the C-7 330HP CAT now for right at 4 years. It's been a great coach. Yep, I've had to do a few repairs and a bit of maintenance in the engine compartment and radiator work.

Before you make a decision on this, as you more than likely know, while there is maintenance to be done from time to time, belts to be changed, a fan bearing or, serpentine tensioner bearing, or water pump tensioner bearing etc., IT'S NOT AN EVERY DAY THING!

Some rear radiator coaches have better access to the engine components via the bedroom etc. than others. Ours is not all too bad. The bed lifts on compressed gas shocks, two engine cover panels are removed and, I have access to the entire engine. Changing a belt is not the funnest thing to do but, is doable. I did it with the radiator OUT OF THE WAY.

We have several friends who have rear radiators and, they've all been very happy with their coaches. If you're the kind that does his own maintenance, you'll find ways to get your work done and, you'll be happy with the layout, color and all the rest of the parameters you were looking for. Good luck.
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Old 05-11-2015, 05:37 PM   #8
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We have a rear radiator, and I do clean from the inside once or twice a year. Simple Green and Dawn mixed in a 2 gallon garden sprayer. Spray on, rinse off, start engine, spray on, rinse off, spray on, stop engine for 20 minutes, start engine, and rinse off. The worse I ever had was coming back from Alaska, just sprayed water from rear twice for the 5,000 mile trip. Be sure if you have a crankcase slobber tube that it is extended to the rear of the radiator to prevent oily build up to collect dirt.
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Old 05-11-2015, 06:32 PM   #9
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Having a side radiator is nice, but far from a deal killer in my mind. In general if you factor in a few hundred dollars a year in extra labor time, and more of your time if you are doing the work, I think you'll be fine.

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Old 05-11-2015, 06:44 PM   #10
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mrboyer, I would like a more detailed explanation of the radiator cleaning. Are you saying just spraying in some mixture and rinsing off with just the garden hose is all you need to do?

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Old 05-11-2015, 06:50 PM   #11
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I would never have a rear radiator. All three of our DP's have been side radiator, but with the present Magna there is very little engine access beyond the belts. They shoehorned the ISX in there, then built the surge tank just to the side and the alternator is below that. Best access to the filters is from below, just like a rear radiator unit.
But other than the access, extra cost for some service and the need to clean the radiator stack more often there's not much difference but you do gain a storage compartment with a rear radiator.
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Old 05-11-2015, 07:26 PM   #12
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A rear radiator is NOT a deal breaker. I have a rear rad Discovery that has been owned by me since new, and I have over 90,000 miles on her. Are there times that I wished for a rear rad, sure, but I can tell you that the engine access covers in the bedroom give you pretty good access to the engine, and they take me maybe 20 mins to get them off. I think in the entire life of the coach, they have been accessed maybe 6 or 7 times. Most engine work has been performed from underneath. I even had blown exhaust gaskets that were totally accessed from below. Yup it was tight, but it was doable. Bottom line, there are more important things to consider than the side rad. A side rad is in my opinion more luxury than necessity. I know some will argue that a side rad cools better, and they probably do, but in the same token I have never had an overheat with the exception of a failed radiator. I have been up some of the highest climbs in this country, and nary a problem with cooling.
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Old 05-11-2015, 07:47 PM   #13
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I have had both rear and side radiators. The side is more convenient, but there is no way I would choose side radiator over a floor plan I liked. The side model eliminates all storage behind the rear drivers side wheels. That storage is the first thing I missed when we got our current coach. Pick the floor plan you like in whatever motor home you like and don't be concerned with the radiator location.
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Old 05-11-2015, 08:21 PM   #14
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Deal breaker for me. Not only are many repairs much easier and faster with a side radiator but it enables you to do quick inspections of most of your engine to look for leaks, loose fittings, cracks in belts etc. something I learned to do regularly after many years of owning diesel equipment. I was at my local diesel mechanics a couple of weeks ago and he had a DP there with lots of parts plus the radiator on the ground. He was pretty exasperated when he told me "that job will take four time longer because of the #$@% radiator". Food for thought.

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