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Old 02-03-2014, 06:52 AM   #1
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Side Radiators vs Rear

Ok, how bad is it NOT to have a side radiator? I mean they do make rear radiators, SO, they must work, right? I believe that side radiators are better, because the breath a little better and perform better, but, we have found a coach that we like most everything about it, but it has a rear radiator (1999 -330 cummins, freight liner chassis) and a rubber roof. We can have a new rubber or Rhino roof put on, but how bad is the radiator situation? Any comments???? Thanks in advance.
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:11 AM   #2
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IMO the only advantage to a side radiator is ease of service. Probably close to 75% of the DP MHs have rear mounted radiators and they work fine.
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:22 AM   #3
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I've had both. Both cool, work as advertised. Rear rad can more easily get dirty from road grime, oil vapors so will generally need periodic cleaning to prevent overheating. Rear rad may use less HP since it does not require a separate hydraulic 'motor' to run the fan, especially if it has a fan clutch.

Side radiators certainly do provide much better/more easy access to much of the engine and key service items. Side radiators are generally seen in more high end rigs.

If I was planning to keep a coach for many years and do my own basic service/maintenance, I would really try to get a side radiator coach.
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:32 AM   #4
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[QUOTE=Park Ranger;1911345]Ok, how bad is it NOT to have a side radiator? I mean they do make rear radiators, SO, they must work, right? I believe that side radiators are better, because the breath a little better and perform better, but, we have found a coach that we like most everything about it, but it has a rear radiator (1999 -330 cummins, freight liner chassis) and a rubber roof. We can have a new rubber or Rhino roof put on, but how bad is the radiator situation? Any comments???? Thanks in advance.[/QUOTE

Look for the floor plan you like and don't worry about the radiator. There are a lot of rear radiators out there.
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Old 02-03-2014, 07:49 AM   #5
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To me it's all about ease of access for maintenance and repairs. I am way to old to be hanging upside down at the back of my coach trying to replace a belt or alternator. I looked for a used coach that not only had side radiator but also the biggest engine access doors I could get. My last motorhome had a side radiator but a very small access door to the engine. Damn near broke a rib one time trying to reach in to replace my alternator. Good luck on your choice.
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:14 AM   #6
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I do my own maint, side radiator only for me.
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Old 02-03-2014, 10:13 PM   #7
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I would not let the side vs. rear radiator affect my purchase. I have had both and I consider it a no big deal. If you like the rear radiator coach buy it
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:26 PM   #8
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Is it just me or do higher HP motors have side radiators? Is this because of motor size or just higher end coach?

BTW, ours is side and I do all the maintenance and repairs I can. It would be more difficult with a rear radiator.
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:29 PM   #9
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Park Ranger, you didn't mention length but we found that in our looking at 36-37 foot rigs, every cubic foot of basement storage was important to us especially for longer distant journeys. All things equal, I would have preferred a side radiator, but everything else about our purchase was just what we both wanted.
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Old 02-03-2014, 11:38 PM   #10
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Side radiators with vents [air scoops] force more air into the engine compartment. But if the back of the motorhome does not have adequate venting, then it is less effective and traps the heat of the engine.
Getting air to the engine and venting out the heat is the objective.
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Old 02-04-2014, 05:33 AM   #11
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Originally most all DPs were side radiator. A few years later they moved away from side radiators supposedly for a few different reasons such as supposed overheating problems and damage from road debris since in most cases the radiator was right behind the rear wheels, an increased "cost" for the cooling fan setup, better fuel mileage (of which I never understood), etc etc etc.

Now there is a resurgence of going back to side radiators. Which is better? Unfortunately, the engineers who design these things rarely factor in having to work on them. I guess they assume that there will never ever be a need to access things - their design will never fail.

With all the variables, personal opinions and data, there is one thing that is pretty much guaranteed; At some point in time during the life of your coach you will require some sort of major maintenance that requires getting access to the front or top side of your engine.

You may be fortunate enough to be able to do this work yourself at home however if you're on the road keep this in mind.... Many OTR service shops will refuse to work on rear radiator DPs that require some sort of major service that would require access to the engine itself simply due to the amount of time involved in removing the radiator to access the simplest of things, the technician traffic inside the coach, and complete teardown of the bedroom (or rear bath or walk-in closet) in most cases. A simple water pump replacement, normally a 1 hr job, can quickly turn into a labor nightmare on many rear radiator DPs. Serpentine belt replacement? Idler replacement?

Regardless of what opinions you may see on this thread, simply call around to a few shops who will work on your brand of chassis and ask them the very same question.
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Old 02-04-2014, 05:56 AM   #12
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Side radiators are a nice option for reasons mentioned above, but rear mount works just fine and actually has a more simple fan drive.
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Old 02-04-2014, 06:32 AM   #13
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It seems like alternators go multiple times over the life of a coach. Ours is on its 4th in 12 years and 120k miles. The last one we had replaced on a trip. The mechanic said it would have been another $1k and overnight stay if we had a rear radiator. Instead it was $550 and 2 hours and we were back on the road.
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Old 02-05-2014, 10:08 PM   #14
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A rear radiator is a deal breaker for me.
ease of service is so much better with a side radiator.
we have been looking at new(er) coaches and have passed on rear radiator coaches.
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