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Mission Statement: Supporting thoughtful exchange of knowledge, values and experience among RV enthusiasts.
I have worked in the automotive service business most of my life. RV's are somewhat new to me, but there are many similarities with them and their cousins... cars and trucks. I am a long time automotive enthusiast and hope to help others by providing any info I can. In the following blogs I will attempt to describe repairs and maintenance in terms that everyone can understand.
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Installing Radiator Air Dam on 1997 F53 Chassis

Posted 04-02-2012 at 06:05 PM by Wanabee FTer
Updated 04-02-2012 at 08:40 PM by Wanabee FTer

I was changing the oil under the coach the other day and noticed there is a large 6" gap between the front of the radiator/condenser and the front cross member.

On all newer cars and trucks there is a air dam installed underneath to direct air flow into the front of the radiator. It's common to see shields and plastic covers underneath cars and trucks, so why not on the F53 chassis. Not sure if this was fixed in the 1999 chassis redesign, but my '97 doesn't have one.

I don't have any problems with overheating, but that annoying fan clutch is so noisy when it comes on. On a hot summers day cruising on a perfectly flat freeway, it can constantly cycle off and on.

I am hoping this project will help keep the engine cooler at freeway speeds and help reduce the amount of time the fan clutch engages.

First I went to Home Depot and found a suitable material to make the air dam out of. I could have used a few different things but I choose Poplar hobby board 3/16" thick, 4' long, 8" wide. It's a solid wood and seems it will be stronger then plywood.

I noticed the planks had a bit of a curved radius at the width, hum... Seems that may work to my advantage. The radiator cross member is a tad lower then the frame cross member, so it seems that may help.

I also bought a small can of flat black RustOleum paint. Not a spray can, the brush on type. I want a thick layer of paint to protect the board from moisture.

I held the board up to the opening underneath the radiator and noticed that the front spring shackle brackets have a lip protruding outwards. I measured between both front shackles so the board would just fit in under that lip.

Next I cut the board and painted it with 2 coats of flat black enamel paint. I lined up the board in between the front spring shackles and gently hammered it into place. Wow, nice tight fit and I don't even have the board secured yet. I decided I only needed 1 self tapping screw to hold it in. I was very careful not to drill up into the radiator from the lower support cross member.

Okay it's all in, just the matter of a 1" gap in front of the board at the frame cross member. I could have left that open but I decided to seal it up with 2" foil duct tape.
I cleaned all points where the tape sticks and applied the tape to the front edge of the frame cross member and air dam. I figure I can always remove the duct tape later, to play around with the air flow if I want to.

That's it, all done. Total cost for this project $15

I'm looking forward to traveling this summer to see if it makes any difference. Keeping my fingers crossed.
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