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Radiator leak


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Well here comes my next project... It seems my cooling system has become incontinent, since I drained and refilled the system with fresh coolant. I will admit when I first saw it was having a issue I tried a radical idea, it only held till my last lengthy trip. Then its issue is when the weather drops to near freezing overnight is when it really shows its hand by leaving puddles of coolant, in 2K miles it used a 1/2 gallon. So it seems my next lesson in motor home ownership is learning how to replace the radiator...UGH! 

So my question is two fold, One is where can a new radiator be found with out costing a arm and a leg, One company I called which shall remain nameless want $3,300. for a "new and improved copper and brass unit. Frankly im happy with a original Aluminum one that lasted 16 years and 75K miles cause by the time that one starts to leak Im the one who may be Incontinent! Then 2nd is I have heard the rear radiator models have had "good" success in coming down and out, however it looks that between my hitch and my frame rails im kinda second guessing that idea, only cause I would rather get my Genie in the bottle to do the whole job for me... With one final question is just where do you find the needed hoses that inevediably need to be replaced at the same time as the radiator? My Wonderfull rig is a 2003 Holiday Rambler Endeavor, Cummins 8.3 

P.S. My radical idea which lasted for approximately 1500 miles was wash the outside of road grime, use brake clean to prep the metal then use spray on clear Flex seal... I mean come on, the guy made a boat out of the stuff!!! 

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If you're sure it's the radiator you should be able to have it repaired. Flex seal is never the answer but there are leak stop additives that may help short term. Also the hoses should have part numbers on them.

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New radiators are expensive. Depending on location and size, you could clean up that area again and use JB Weld instead of the "as seen on TV" stuff. I used JB Weld on a water heater leak in a stix n brix home and it lasted over 7 years. YMMV. Once applied be sure not to disturb it, if possible, for at least 24 hours to let it 'cure'....Dennis

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There is a product called Irontite that is a stop leak product.   https://irontite.com/       Dr4film used this starting in AK and all summer without a problem before he changed his radiator. 

I had to replace my radiator when road debris took it out, it would leak as fast as I pumped water into it.  I filed under insurance and was replaced by Cummins but I was the one that sourced the radiator.  I had prices from ~$7K down to $2500.  I ended up buying one from CG&J, if they've ever replaced one in an Endeavor they'll have schematic showing size and ports that you can confirm.  The CG&J will make both aluminum or copper, I ended up going with Al.  So far so good, I did this in 2015. 

There was a recent post by Bob Nodine showing what he had to do to get to his radiator to clean, it might be worth looking at. 

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I would never recommend any "leak seal" to be put into your very expensive motor.

Fix it the right way.  Either pull the radiator and get it fixed, or replace it.

Most of the time, these leaks are as result of not keeping the radiator clean.  A power washer used correctly is your friend.

Oh, and let's not forget to ensure that there are no oil leaks like from the oil vent line that will allow oil to get splashed onto the radiators which then attracts dirt which then attracts and hold water, which then corrodes the fins and tubes.

Edited by DavidL
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Jim J is correct. Back in 2015 I had a truck repair shop in Terrance British Columbia suggest that I dump in two bottles of Irontite into my almost completely empty coolant system as I had a small leak from very worn out tubes and fins in my side radiator near the bottom so I lost a lot of coolant. This was after a 200 mile tow off of the Cassier Highway in northern BC. I drove another 5000 miles from BC all the way to Rochester to see family and then on down to Gadsden Alabama to have a new aluminum radiator built and installed by CG&J Radiator without losing one drop of coolant. The radiator itself was $2450. A brass/copper one was well over $5000. Plus they were able to reuse all of the new coolant I had purchased in BC.

Then in 2019 on our way to New Hampshire my new radiator had developed an oozing from near the top. Not really a liquid leak. Over the nearly 1500 mile trip I had to put in about one gallon of coolant to keep the level up. While in New Hampshire I ordered two more bottles of Irontite from Amazon and dumped them into my coolant reservoir. Then I ran the engine for a good 30 minutes to circulate the coolant and heat it up. We were not going to be moving the coach for another 3-4 months. I haven' had any oozing or loss of coolant ever since then.

One word of caution, after running the engine and circulating the Irontite really well you need to change out the coolant filter if your engine has one as the filter will collect any unused solution.

I trust this product with my engine as did many truckers who have used it in BC and all across Canada.

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I have heard a little of source Engineering, i will check them out, thank you

So i have always been leary about additives, an espesially when a engine has a oil cooler, cause if they plug up it can be fairly expensive. Did you experiance any issue with something like that?

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Response to:

question #1 - a new or or new core in your  aluminum Radiator will cost you about $2700 - $3300 keep in mind shipping costs unless one of the big suppliers are near you.

 Q #2  not sure on your 8.3, as mine is a 300 HP 5.9 Cummins, but it took me 2 hrs. to remove and about same to reinstall. I am 72 so I had help lifting it out n back in only. Had to disconnect and remove trans cooler, un mount Power steering filter can and move to side, Charge Air Cooler is on top so just supported it with tie wire. had to cut off air filter minder bracket so radiator would lift UP and out.

As for hoses - got some from NAPA and other places as one had a some bends but the ID was different on each end. The 1 1/4 inch one from the recovery tank to the engine was about 40 inches long with sweeping bends so a hose with a internal spiral  wire/ coolant hose was necessary got one made by RUBICO they make hoses for the marine industry I used their Blue strip hose (NOT red stripe as that's for fuel and will leak after a year). All the remaining engine coolant system hoses that go around the engine (about 8 of them) I got from Cummins.

Also while your at it change out the thermostat,  engine coolant fan & A/C compressor belts, the hoses on the charge Air cooler. Inspect the metal coolant pipes also for any exterior rust or wear spots at clamps.

Think FUN!!!

 

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  • 3 months later...

Good Morning everyone, Well its done, I managed to remove and replace my radiator. after reading many others account how they managed there replacement I can once again state these coaches are truly like snowflakes and this project was no different. I did eventually go with Source for the radiator which was $2700 and the aluminum radiator is no longer available thru them. The company that actually made my new radiator is the same company which made the original aluminum one though. FYI when ordering the radiator I was told I needed the part number on the tag which was to be on the old radiator, when I removed it there was no such tag, it was not until the job was completed that I discovered that the tag was mounted on the FAN SHROUD that was covered in years of dirt. So if your ever faced with having to replace your radiator FIRST look on the shroud on the top left, it has the needed PN.

My job took the span of several weeks due to other parts that were hindered because of Covid as well as labor shortages, then the intense heat wave I had to suffer thru. When I had the radiator out I had perfect access to the engine, so I replaced hoses, water pump, t-stats tensioners, belts plus took the alternator off and had it rebuilt, as well as replace the fan due to chunks missing on the blades. I cut a hole in the shroud and covered it with a piece of sheet metal so I would now have access to clean out the shroud, I then (on the advise of a member here) installed two water valves that would allow me the ability to cut the supply to the heater core in the event someday when it fails

If needed I made a detailed account of what was done and HOW to remove the radiator that was different from Peters listed in this thread, however never being short of words when describing the events accumulated 3 pages of text which I will spare everyone here UNLESS you ask me. I will be more than happy to send it to you, I will say it feels Soooooo good knowing that job is done, and once again I have learned so much from the experience, Thank You everyone for all you wisdom and experience that guided me thru this ordeal.

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Glad you tackled the job n rebuilt or replaced things when you had the access. You made it worry free and should get another 100,000 miles. Plus the thousands you saved in labor parts markup  and stuck somewhere costs.

Well done! Carry on!

Job well done

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