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Old 08-16-2015, 10:25 PM   #1
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1981 Southwind radiator

I decided to replace my fan clutch because nearly fulltime noise and drag on my 1981 25 foot Southwind. Pulling hills with it engaged really caused my temps to increase. On the few times it wasn't engaged I had no issues with heat even while gaining speed.
Well, during replacement I caused a pinhole leak... Thought I was being careful but apparently not enough.
This started my quest for either a repair, re-core or replacement. I am pretty sure the radiator is original. This made me concerned for a repair. A re-core looks to be a pain to find someone locally and very expensive. A direct replacement doesn't seem to exist!
On a whim I looked at the local parts store and they had a "direct" replacement. I was skeptical... So today I stopped by advance auto and asked them to take it out of the box so I could get some pictures and measurements. It is not direct.
It did look close enough to work though. So I kept measuring and comparing the new to the old. There is no front side fill, the Radiator cap is on top and the inlets are on opposite side. Beyond that it appears that it'll work. I started removal of the old one. Pulling it from the front will be a huge job. Dropping it from the bottom is pretty easy. Until you realize the radiator is about 3 feet tall! Our drive way ends with a decline to our back yard. So I dug a whole about 16 inches deep and will use it to remove the radiator. There is about 16 inches of clearance from the radiator bracket to the ground. Tomorrow I will try to raise the RV the rest of the distance for removal.
I went ahead and bought the radiator from advance. It cost me about $110 after using the online order coupon and picking up in the store. I measured the core of the new and the old (while still in the RV) and they look the same or very close. The new will probably be a little shorter over all though. The rubber mounts appear to be the same width after fit testing with the bottom mounts.
The new has a connection that I think I'll be able to use for filling, but it'll be on the inside and the old and new are different diameters though so I will have to work through that. There is also a radiator cap on the top driver side corner I may have to deal with.
It won't be a direct replacement, but for the price I am willing to deal with it. The new is a two row core and the old is a 4 row, but the depth size is the same. Once I get the old out I will check for any other differences.
After taking a look inside the radiator after removing the hoses I don't think I'll go with a repair. It doesn't look well enough for me to trust on long drives. That leaves a re-core. If the new one turns out to not work I'll just take it back. But for the money I have to see...
I'll follow up on how it goes. From what I have been able to find online radiators on the p30 is a troublesome issue.
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Old 08-17-2015, 09:01 PM   #2
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I went thru the same thing with my 88 Gulfstream/John Deer chassi. I went with an Aluminum radiator and single electric fan. My radiator didn't have a place for a temp sensor to control the fan so it's manually switched now but I still may add a temp sensor in the future.
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Old 08-18-2015, 06:55 AM   #3
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I got the old radiator out last night right before the rain started. My hole was deep enough so I did not require any additional lift. With them out I was able to compare them side by side. The depth and width are the same. The new core is actually a tad bit wider since the old has some beefy side supports. I'd say half an inch on each side. The new radiator is shorter by an inch of so. I don't think this will be an much of an issue. The bottom mounting bracket has holes through it that bolt in to the side radiator mounts. I'll just add some additional holes once I find the correct fit.
The real challenge will come from either mounting the old remote fill or making it so I can use the radiator cap/fill built in to the new radiator. I was going to use the remote fill, but I'll make that call when I get the new one in.


If the weather holds I'll be yanking off the water pump and replacing it. Once that is done I'll change the belts and start putting it back together.
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:21 AM   #4
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You might want to rethink putting a 2 core in place of a 4 core, there may not be enough cooling area to keep that beast cool. Especially pulling a hill or if you tow a toad.
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:31 AM   #5
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to be honest i was thinking like frank,,,,---and while your at it might aswell back flush your heater core,,,,we dont think of that stuff when its hot and humid outside...lol,,just a thought,,,,,-----wish you the best of luck..
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Old 08-18-2015, 08:10 AM   #6
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I did a bunch of reading on the differences between the radiators. The aluminum one has two 1" cores while the old one has either four 3/8" or 1/2" cores. So the core area will be the same or greater with the new aluminum radiator. I really think its a 3/8" core so I'll be 25% better on core density. The fin count is about the same per inch.
Brass and Copper dissipate heat better than aluminum, but from what I have read the solder used to put the radiator together is horrible at dissipating heat. That causes the radiators to be similar in removing heat.
I looked online and compared the size of two core aluminum radiator for big block engines running way more power than I'll have and none were as big as the one that's going in.
Now I understand none of this will for sure tell me its going to work, but I feel comfortable enough with giving it a try. I am keeping the old one handy incase I need to re-core it. It won't be nearly as big of a job now that I know how to remove it.
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Old 08-18-2015, 08:26 AM   #7
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first time is always the hardest,,,lol.--


i truley hope all goes well and you dont have to mess with it again...
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Old 08-18-2015, 08:36 AM   #8
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If the old one was running warm stop now and take the unit BACK!

Old is 4 row and new is 2 so it will be much less effective at transferring heat.

Take removed unit to same place and see if they can find replacement.

If not there are many places that can repair the old one as the cores are simply a special order and almost anything can be sourced by the shops.

They measure what you have and order the core and solder it in.

You will get what you pay for...going cheap here WILL COST YOU PLENTY when you overheat in the middle of nowhere. ..
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Old 08-18-2015, 09:02 AM   #9
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Jpony,
What was the row count of the radiator you put in? How have the results been?


TQ60,
From what I can find, nearly all aluminum radiators have two 1" rows in them. The copper/brass with 4 rows have either 3/8" or 1/2". So the overall row area is the same or greater with an aluminum radiator. I haven't been able to find any negative results when running a new aluminum radiator in place of an old copper/brass. None related to an RV though so I still have concerns. Do you have any experience?


Thanks!
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Old 08-18-2015, 07:56 PM   #10
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If it has 2 large rows then it may be fine.

Me old fashioned and only been associated with copper brass old style.

The vendor or manufacturer should be able to provide some sort of data sheet showing btu or whatever unit of measurement used for measuring performance of radiators.

Maybe some auto pros could advise.

If it will meet the need the price sounds good.
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Old 08-18-2015, 10:09 PM   #11
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The more I thought about it, the more concerned I got. So I went out and measured everything closer and here is what I found.


Old:
Rows = 4
Row size = 3/8" (I am pretty sure. I could not measure them directly, but I do not think they are 1/2" as there isn't enough space)
Fins = 12 per inch
Total rows across front = 34


New:
Rows = 2
Row size = 1"
Fins per inch = 14
Rows across front = 46


By these measurements the new has 30% more row area than the old and almost 15% total fin area.


I called a couple places today about a re-core and need to take the old one in for an estimate. Will see about getting that done and then make the call and which to use.
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Old 08-19-2015, 12:41 AM   #12
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Something you forgot. What cap poundage does old compare to new. Usually new radiators which are aluminum use a lower poundage cap as aluminum isn't as strong as brass/copper older radiators. New caps are around 9-15 lbs and older copper radiators are 15-19 lb pressure caps.

Also, aluminum radiators/aluminum blocks generally takes a different type antifreeze to prevent rust/scale.

How will this affect your iron block engine over a short/long period of usage? This is something that needs answered by the antifreeze company before filling up with coolant and maybe this answer is on the coolant jug that it's ok to use on different types metals with no ill effects.
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Old 08-19-2015, 03:44 AM   #13
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Mine is the same as what you have, two row replacement for four row radiators. I got mine for Summit Racing and it was listed for big block Ford applications. It was about 3" wider and 2" shorter that the stock unit. I eliminated the dual oil/trans fluid cooler and A/C Evaporator from in front of the radiator also. I eliminated the Evaporator as the a/c wasn't working anyway and placed two Nascar type oil coolers on the left & right side lower nose valance. The coolers are in air boxes with cooling fans and a water mister like in the produce departments on grocery stores. The misters are hooked up to a large windshield washer tank and controlled from the dash. The radiator also has an air box from the grille to radiator with fan and spray bar with two misters. We've been in 100*+ temps and barley moving traffic with the fans on and an occasional shot from the misters and maintained 180*-190* engine & 200*-210* engine oil / Trans fluid temps. I have mechanical temp gages for all fluids. I spent my whole life as a metal fabricator in the Aircraft Industry with Race cars and Bikes for a hobby so when I started to modify this beast I Kinda went Overboard.
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Old 08-19-2015, 08:21 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jpony56hd View Post
Mine is the same as what you have, two row replacement for four row radiators. I got mine for Summit Racing and it was listed for big block Ford applications.
Is yours solid metal or does it have plastic ends?
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