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Old 10-01-2014, 08:22 AM   #1
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Side vs. Rear Radiator

As my MH search is winding down I have narrowed the list to a couple of different brands.

One of the items that differs between the units I am looking at is a Side Radiator vs. Rear Radiator DP. It's obvious to me that with a side radiator unit access for maintenance to the motor area is outstanding. However, this comes at a cost as the side units I am considering are 20 to 30K higher in their purchase price.

So I am interested in just this aspect of the MH and if all the other features of the MH were equal (engines are all 450HP) what additional value would you place on and be will to pay for to have a side radiator vs. a rear radiator placement on the coach.

Thanks

Jim
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Old 10-01-2014, 08:32 AM   #2
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Are they truly equal other than the side radiator ? Is the total build quality really the same on the coaches selling for $ 30K less ? In other threads on this issue someone said the side radiators were mostly used on higher end coaches. I don't know if this is true.

We have an older coach with side radiator. I didn't know enough at time of purchase to make radiator location an issue and I don't think we paid any premium for it, but if I was to buy another coach it would have a side radiator
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Old 10-01-2014, 08:35 AM   #3
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I have been reading RV forums for ~10 years. I purchased a 2002 Windsor in 2008. At that time I never paid attention to side versus rear radiator. Now after ~6 years of owning this coach I can full appreciate the benefits of a rear radiator.

Maintenance for sure is substantially easier. I do an engine compartment inspection after I've driven ~1000 miles. I look at fuel filters, belts, check oil, inspect hoses, coolant level, air cleaner status gauge etc. You could never do this with a rear radiator. I also look for any other types of problems. Much easier with a rear.

Doing maintenance is also easier, changing fuel filters etc.

Earlier this year I purchased a VMSPC system which gave me accurate engine and transmission temps. My engine & transmission temps were running well within spec and I had NEVER cleaned the side radiator. I decided to go ahead and clean and see if it made a difference and if it was dirty. I did get some, very little, dirt out of it but overall it was very clean and my temps didn't change.

I doubt you could do that with a rear radiator and after reading numerous posts on rear radiator cleaning, or lack there of, and the number of overheating problems the benefits of a side radiator is evident.
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Old 10-01-2014, 08:38 AM   #4
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Difficult to say all other aspects are the same because usually the side radiator coaches have other improvements as well.

The rear radiator coaches need the radiators cleaned much more frequently because all the
Road dirt, and oil blow by from the engine is pushed through the radiator.

Another thing is most rear radiator set ups have the radiator and CAC (inter cooler for turbo) sandwiched together.......side radiators have a more efficient design where the two units are stacked....

Side radiator designs frequently have a hydraulic fan which has several speeds....lowering noise, dust kick up and power robbed from the engine when the fan is running at slow speed. The rear radiator design is driven by pulley and belts.

I would pay the 30k extra for a side radiator...if that's what it costs.....I'm gonna bet the side radiator coach will also sell for more than the rear radiator coach years from now.

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Old 10-01-2014, 08:38 AM   #5
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I think you answered your own question, if all things we're equal and it cost 20-30k more for a side rad, that 20-30k would sure pay for a lot of repairs.

I will say that if we like 2 coaches and one had a side rad for the same price or slightly more that would sway our decision. It would take more than the side rad for me to pay 30k extra.
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Old 10-01-2014, 11:36 AM   #6
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For myself, and I speak only for my self, whether the coach has a side radiator or rear radiator just does not make a difference. The simple things that I might do myself, like changing filters, are easily accessible on my rear radiator coach. We full time and don't have the facilities to really do the annual maintenance like it should be done so I take it to an Oasis or SpeedCo shop.
If you plan on doing most of your own maintenance then a side radiator might be worth a little more, $20K would be a stretch though.
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:50 PM   #7
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A side rad doesn't cost $30k more, or even $5k more. You are seeing just one of the more superficial attributes of a superior chassis and coach. My advice would be to look deeper and find those differences. But if you don't recognize them, or they don't matter to you, there is little point in paying extra for them.

Larger engines usually have a side radiator simply because they need more cooling, i.e. a larger radiator and more airflow through it. You won't find many (any?) 450 hp diesels with rear rads. Usually in the Cummins line, rear rads are limited to the ISB and ISC engines, while the ISL/ISM/ISX will nearly always be side rads.
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Old 10-01-2014, 01:56 PM   #8
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I agree with Gary, I suspect you aren't looking at equal coaches.

That said, not everyone wants/needs/has to have a high end coach. I freely admit that whilst I wanted a side radiator because I'm a gearhead, I was shocked to end up with one.

That said, I probably have one of the few side radiator/IFS coaches with steel wheels...

Steve
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Old 10-01-2014, 03:36 PM   #9
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Here is my 2 cents. A side radiator also cools 30% better according to Spartan. I am told that Cummins motors have a computer program in them that cuts power to the motor when it gets to a certain temp to help cool itself. I also know that a Spartan with a side radiator costs $9000 more than a Freightliner with a rear radiator. The ride quality of a Spartan is also very smooth, and its easier to work on with the radiator not in the way.
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Old 10-01-2014, 03:59 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
A side rad doesn't cost $30k more, or even $5k more. You are seeing just one of the more superficial attributes of a superior chassis and coach. My advice would be to look deeper and find those differences. But if you don't recognize them, or they don't matter to you, there is little point in paying extra for them.

Larger engines usually have a side radiator simply because they need more cooling, i.e. a larger radiator and more airflow through it. You won't find many (any?) 450 hp diesels with rear rads. Usually in the Cummins line, rear rads are limited to the ISB and ISC engines, while the ISL/ISM/ISX will nearly always be side rads.
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Old 10-01-2014, 04:13 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by datrbone8 View Post
Are they truly equal other than the side radiator ? Is the total build quality really the same on the coaches selling for $ 30K less ? In other threads on this issue someone said the side radiators were mostly used on higher end coaches. I don't know if this is true.

We have an older coach with side radiator. I didn't know enough at time of purchase to make radiator location an issue and I don't think we paid any premium for it, but if I was to buy another coach it would have a side radiator
I don't think DSDP's have ever come with a rear radiator. the two we've had and all the newer ones have/are side radiator.
Did you pay a premium?
Possibly since it's built into the original price and subsequent resale value.
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Old 10-01-2014, 04:17 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveLevin View Post
I agree with Gary, I suspect you aren't looking at equal coaches.

That said, not everyone wants/needs/has to have a high end coach. I freely admit that whilst I wanted a side radiator because I'm a gearhead, I was shocked to end up with one.

That said, I probably have one of the few side radiator/IFS coaches with steel wheels...

Steve
We didn't order the alum wheels on our 2002 DSDP with Spartan and IFS, but I did add them after 8 years when we got new tires as they fronts needed wider wheels anyway.
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Old 10-01-2014, 04:19 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by isellem View Post
Here is my 2 cents. A side radiator also cools 30% better according to Spartan. I am told that Cummins motors have a computer program in them that cuts power to the motor when it gets to a certain temp to help cool itself. I also know that a Spartan with a side radiator costs $9000 more than a Freightliner with a rear radiator. The ride quality of a Spartan is also very smooth, and its easier to work on with the radiator not in the way.
One of the dealers said that the side radiator costs about $5,000 more than a rear radiator at the manufacturer level.
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Old 10-01-2014, 06:00 PM   #14
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As the original poster

on this thread I wanted to initially leave brands out of the discussion. There have been some very interesting and at least to me accurate comments.

I realized that the delta in price accounts for more than the rear vs side radiator. Here is my dilemma. When I look at the Thor Tuscany it has the 450HP, IFS, but a rear radiator. I know that many will jump all over Thor's quality and I have read many a post that support that criticism including the article in MH Magazine. I really like the Thor floor plan for the 45AT & 44MT. What is really appealing is that it can be purchased around 260 to 270 which puts it 30 to 40K less then the Newmar and almost 50 to 60K less than the Anthem. Besides the rear radiator the real problem I have with the Tuscany is the very high gloss finish on the wood work.

Now as I read the forums Entegra it seems is not without its' quality issues. Newmar's DSDP on the other hand does not have the same level of complaints and I believe of the three has the best rep as from a quality POV. The DS has IFS the same 450HP and Transmission. Great wood work and floor plan and Newmar told me that they can upgrade the batteries to Glass Mat for 810 dollars and add the Advantium for about 1500 dollars as well. The other thing that I like is that the floor plan is available at 43'. Hey not a biggy, but does appeal to me. Newmar also offers factory delivery so I feel more confident buying from the lowest dealer quote as once I take delivery and go through the PDI the actual dealer does not factor into the equation like Entegra and Thor. It does look like the Newmar will fit the budget. I think the 4369 with the must have options will come in around 300 to 305K and therefore putting it way less than the Anthem < 35k and more than the Tuscan > 30 - 35K. So as it stands right now Newmar is in the lead and I have gone back to my financial advisor to find another 30 to 40K.

The dark horse in all of this in the American Coach Rev. My thought is that from a quality standpoint it is right up there with the Newmar offer and better then Tuscany and Entegra, Same offer for factory delivery, but it seems that the dealers handling American are more capable with regard to factory delivery. I guess what I am saying here is I would not be as concerned to take factory delivery from Tom Johnson vs say RV Direct. The basements in the Revolution have a significant increase in height and the 30 inch slides are huge and open. The one issue I have is that the interior height is less, so much so, that a bedroom ceiling fan is not a readily available option and there is no storage above the bed.

Thanks to all of you that stayed with this ramble. I do write it for some input on my thought process, but also write as it helps me think it through. Hey, maybe Thor will read it and kill the gloss on the cabinets ( one of the things I will ask them anyway ) or a Newmar dealer will read it and add a couple of points more on the discount line.

We are going to need to order vs. finding something on the lot so I am working to finalize things so that a May or June 2015 delivery is possible.

Regards,

Jim

Just as an after thought, I have also considered the Aspire and Ventana. The Aspire is out as it does not have IFS and the wheel cut is 50 degrees. The Ventana has a solid front axle, but does have a 55 degree wheel cut, but again the rear radiator. So if the budget rears its' ugly head the Tuscany wins against these other two. Well maybe not the Ventana, but certainly the Aspire.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
A side rad doesn't cost $30k more, or even $5k more. You are seeing just one of the more superficial attributes of a superior chassis and coach. My advice would be to look deeper and find those differences. But if you don't recognize them, or they don't matter to you, there is little point in paying extra for them.

Larger engines usually have a side radiator simply because they need more cooling, i.e. a larger radiator and more airflow through it. You won't find many (any?) 450 hp diesels with rear rads. Usually in the Cummins line, rear rads are limited to the ISB and ISC engines, while the ISL/ISM/ISX will nearly always be side rads.
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