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abrasv 11-19-2012 06:04 PM

Side radiator in DP's
Thinking about the advantages/disadvantages of a side mounted radiator in a DP. I know they are easier to work on the motor with and the radiator stays cleaner but what else?

ALso, more importantly, which years did they start making the switch and what mh's have them?

I'm thinking of looking for a newer model and this is one of the options I really want so any help to my questions will be appreciated.


rdownward 11-19-2012 06:13 PM

You already have stated the main advantages to the side pull radiator although I'm sure there are others. I don't know when they started putting side radiators on diesel pushers but I formerly owned a 1992 Safari Continental diesel pusher that had the side pull radiator. Later model Safaris have the radiator in the rear. So, I guess you just need to find a make and model and year that you like that has the side pull radiator stack since they have been putting them there at least since 1992 on various makes and models.

Air Baron 11-20-2012 08:45 AM

Must be less expensive for a direct drive rear radiator. I can't think of any other reason.

A side mounted radiator with a 2 speed hydraulic drive can be controlled by the engine (off-low-high) thereby saving on fuel. The fan comes on when and how much needed.

docj 11-20-2012 08:50 AM

My understanding is that the switch to rear radiator was driven by cost. There have been numerous threads on RV forums with owners of each type claiming theirs was better (nothing new about that). I believe that side radiator units are easier to cool because the air is constantly "rammed in" as the coach moved forward.

BFlinn181 11-20-2012 11:04 AM

Side radiators go back at least to buses in the 1940's maybe earlier. A side radiator puts weight out of balance, it must be compensated with batteries, tanks or other weights on the other side. This isn't a negative, just a consideration. The placement of the radiator is a factor of the chassis manufacturer. Most made both configurations to meet the design requirements of the coach body builders. I'm not sure side or back would be a deal breaker, just something to be aware of when buying. There will be service considerations with either design.

Submustang 11-20-2012 01:19 PM

Not scientific by any means, but I have never had an overheating issue with my side radiator. My friend, similar sized coach, different brand, same ISC engine was constantly fighting heat on every grade he pulled with a rear radiator.

Mr_D 11-20-2012 01:29 PM

Both our Dutch Stars (2000 and 2002) have been side radiators.

It's a cost thing, rear radiators cost less to build.

wil01 11-20-2012 05:50 PM

The only advantage to a side radiator is the easier access to the engine. I have had a diesel motorhome with both arrangements.

Disadvantages of a side mount radiator:
1. A whole new system is involved. The radiator fan is driven by a hydraulic pump. There is maintenance to that system. Fluid must be checked and maintained. I had to replace the hydraulic pump -- it leaked and wouldn't move enough air to cool the engine. Total repair cost was over $1,000 plus the time to find the problem.

2. When it works, the fan will draw all the road crud into the radiator since it is almost at road level. I had to clean mine out every week or two, or when I drove on non-paved roads.

3. It takes extra energy to run the hydraulic pump so fuel mileage will suffer.

4. The belt maintenance is the same with either system.

The position of the radiator should be a small issue when selecting a MH, but the side radiator is not a superior configuration -- just different with its own problems. The rear mounted radiator with direct driven fan is more effecient, but less convenient for engine service.

Good Luck,

jauguston 11-20-2012 06:58 PM

One negative of the side radiator is it takes the place of a storage compartment.


Traps90 11-20-2012 07:39 PM

Side Rad's also require more engine power to run the hydraulics for the fan also.

While I gotta admit I'd prefer a side rad, for us it was not a deal breaker to get a rear rad system.

deandec 11-21-2012 11:44 AM

Rear radiators require more cleaning maintenance. The air enters the radiator from the engine side of the radiator and may be combined with any oil blow by however minor.

Over time the rear radiator fins have become clogged. I have not heard of that happening on a side radiator rig and it has not happened in the 11 years we have operated ours.

You will find side radiators on the higher priced range of models from each manufacturer, and maybe on all the models of manufacturers like Foretravel, Newell and Country Coach. So they are viewed as an desirable feature for which the prospective owner will happily relinquish their money.

Folks that have not owned a side radiator will say they are not of much value.

Since I do most of my maintenance and repairs, I value the access to my engine with the side mounted radiator. I have recently changed serpentine belt in 5 minutes or less standing on the ground, not hanging upside down in the bedroom access.

Triker56 11-21-2012 12:16 PM

Is the shop rate $$$ less for a side mounted?
I didn't think so. :)

I have recently changed serpentine belt in 5 minutes or less
How often is that required? Once a year? Every 5 years? Every 10 years?
Can you change the hydraulic oil for the fan pump that fast?
Does it change from standing on the ground?

abrasv 11-21-2012 05:19 PM

All good points and answers to my questions. Thanks so much.

I've kinda decided a side rad is not a deal breaker if all else is equal but is a bonus as far as working on the engine.

Mr_D 11-21-2012 05:28 PM


Originally Posted by abrasv (Post 1377670)
I've kinda decided a side rad is not a deal breaker if all else is equal but is a bonus as far as working on the engine.

It is for me!

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