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Old 09-17-2021, 08:47 PM   #1
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Cracked and rusted sight glass

I have a 2000 Newmar Mountainaire with a Cummins 350 on a Spartan chassis.

Cummins service in Phoenix found my sight glass to be cracked and leaking coolant, but did nothing about it. After a summer in the Colorado mountains hosting at a National Forest campground, we are preparing for a long road trip and I am concerned about the sight glass. So I finally found it (I am a long ways from being very knowledgeable about diesel pushers), and removed it, intending to replace it with a flat glass one. Surprisingly, it came off easily with a quarter twist with a wrench. Why? The threads are all rusted away, including the female threads in the tank.

What are my options now? Must I replace the surge tank or is there some other option?
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Old 09-18-2021, 12:05 AM   #2
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If the threads are shot, find a bolt or plug with the same thread size, lather it up with sealer and plug the hole. The sight glass is just their for convenience. You can use a clean wooden dowel to check the tank level. The level is not going to change unless you have a leak.

You can also buy a new sight glass and fitting and use an epoxy to install it.
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Old 09-18-2021, 01:49 AM   #3
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Take the old one down to the local NAPA and get an expanding rubber freeze plug just a gnat hair smaller, stuff it in the hole and tighten it down, hole fixed easily and permanently. Make sure to top off your coolant, then take a dowel (stick) and mark it so you can easily tell where the middle of the window would be with the dowel inserted through the fill neck to the bottom of the tank. This is the minimum fill level and maximum fill is somewhere about an inch to half-inch from the top of the tank for expansion on most tanks. I would also attach it near the tank on a lanyard like a wire fishing leader, they work great to keep little parts from wandering away.
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Old 09-18-2021, 09:22 AM   #4
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My coach had just one sight glass that was to show the acceptable coolant level when running hot. I didnít want the hassle of the dip stick method when the coolant was hot so I added two additional site glass locations. I drained some of the coolant and removed the tank. A local radiator shop added the two pipe coupler fittings and then I installed ball indicator sight glasses from McMaster Carr. The shop charged $75 to add the fittings, clean the tank, pressure test and paint it at the same time. My engine is a 2003 Cummins ISL that does not have a low coolant indicator on the dash. This allows me to look and quickly assess the coolant level and what might be needed to be added if necessary. You can plug the hole for now, but I found the additional inspection points very convenient. Click image for larger version

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Old 09-18-2021, 05:47 PM   #5
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That is a very nice and intelligent upgrade to your coolant tank Bruce, I do believe we have been taken to school. On second thought about the OP's tank having had the threads rust out, he may want to follow your example and have his tank cleaned, the port repaired and one or two more added as you did, of course pressure tested as well to insure integrity. The expansion plug could be used until a competent radiator shop can be located.
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Old 09-19-2021, 09:24 AM   #6
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Thank you for the nice comment! I didnít want to leave the impression that the plug or dip stick is wrong. I thought adding additional sight glasses, was the right thing for me, given my resources and time. Your idea of the expandable plug was great.

I wanted to point out that some coach owners have commented that as their sight glasses age, it gets harder to see levels in the sight glass. Some tanks are tilted slightly to the rear and in some cases, hold some fluid in the glass when actually not full to that level. If you have a chance, Zoom in on my earlier photo, and you can see the ball in the sight glass. The rear baffle is a good contrast with the silver ball and makes easy to read. Swapping the old glass for this type is a great fix whether you add additional locations or keep it as originally built.
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