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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all y’all,

I haven’t posted here in quite a while but when I did I was very impressed with the level of knowledge I found on this board. My FI 460 V8 powers a 1994 33’ Class A RV. Almost two years ago I was headed north through Arizona in 115 degree heat and on a long up-grade north of Phoenix the seals between my radiators plastic tanks and the radiators copper body blew out (the tanks are undamaged). The tow back to Sierra Vista AZ, where I live, cost me over $1,600 and left me really despondent about taking any more trips in my RV.

A few weeks ago I finally decided to do repairs only to learn that a new radiator was going to cost me over $750 and yes, I looked and looked and looked! I next took my radiator into two different repair shops, both said they couldn’t fix it because of the copper part of the radiator (apparently aluminum is good-copper is bad). FWIW I’m 72, retired and living on Social Security (my late wife died from cancer and hospital bills financially wiped us out). Since I can’t afford a new radiator and no one wants to repair my old one, I’ve come up with a plan to fix it myself.

My plan is to carefully remove the plastic tanks, thoroughly clean the joining surfaces as well as wire brush them to create micro-scratches and then lay in a bead of JB-Weld HIGHHEAT epoxy putty. After I fit the tank back on I’ll clamp it overnight using bar clamps (normally used for wood working). The next day I’ll bend the retaining clips back into place (hopefully they won’t break off or give me other problems.

The JB-Weld HIGHHEAT epoxy putty is listed as being able to withstand continuous heat exposure of 400 degrees and up to 550 degrees for short periods with a strength of 600psi at 400 degrees. It also has a set time of one hour before it starts hardening, with a cure time of 8 hours.

While I’m certain that the repair will be fine initially I’m not sure how it’ll hold up over 3-4 years time. The last thing I need is another $1,600 tow job.

What do all y’all think of my plan? Better yet, has anyone done this and if so how did it turn out?

Steve
 

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JB-Weld...might work but I would be more inclined to use some kind of flexible hi temp sealant.The JB might eventually crack and leave you stranded again.
 

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Have you checked on an all aluminum 3 or 4 core radiator. I have a Champion brand 3 core in my Ranchero w/472 & dual electric fans and it hasn't given me a lick of problems. Just installed a 3 core all aluminum in my late son's '95 F150 4x4 that we are restoring, fit was great and cools great. Just a thought.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
First I’d like to thank thermod for his response. I currently have an email into JB Weld with questions regarding their HIGHHEAT product.

Thank you for your response aquartlow, however, my Class A RV has a Ford F53 chassis and the radiator that fits the chassis was pretty much custom made, though some of the other RV’s from that period use a similar radiator. I have no doubt that a radiator for an F150-250-350 etc would work but I’d prefer to stick with a radiator that’s designed to fit what I have. However, with that said if push comes to shove I may just go ahead like you suggest and use a radiator that I can somehow fit into the space. As far as the radiator I have, the damn thing literally blew out the tank seal in Arizona’s 115 degree heat. Whatthehell, pathetic! However, when I eventually sell the rig I’d like things to be factory “proper” (even if it is pathetic).

Steve
 

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I don't quite understand why an aluminum core would be fixable and a copper one would not, but there must be something I don't understand if they both said the same thing. Getting comments from JB Weld on the proposal is a good idea. The coefficient of thermal expansion would probably be a bit different between the plastic tank and the copper core. I don't know if a rigid epoxy would be able to tolerate it. I suppose the difference would be the determinant. If there isn't much difference it will likely hold. Be sure to allow enough cure time before using it.
 

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Is your chassis considered an F53 motorhome chassis? If so go to rockauto, they have radiators for just over $100 2-1/4" aluminum core plastic tanks. This is an ebay item number 383305759654 for an all aluminum 3 row radiator for F53 motorhome chassis $199
This is an ebay item number 254272391434 for a 4 row all aluminum radiator $258

Dan
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Hi Ozzie H, I don’t understand between the aluminum versus copper core dilemma either but after being turned down by two shops, the second of which was a shop with over 40 years’ experience, and who very thoroughly checked it out while I watched, I figured it must be true. As for the coefficient of thermal expansion matter that you’ve brought up, that concerns me too. I figure the plastic tank, having a certain amount of flexibility, will expand and contract along with the epoxy that it’s adhered to leaving just the copper core rather inflexible. I feel that as long as the JB Weld can remain adhered to the copper core it should hold (that’s basically why I sent an inquiry to JB Weld). I emailed JB Weld on Saturday and I’m hoping for a response after Memorial Day weekend is over. I’ll pass along their response.

Hi amthatiam, I saw those two radiators earlier in my repair journey. I really liked both, especially the 4-row one. I’m just not certain how they’d fit in my RV and I’d like something that’d just drop in (such as my old radiator). However, later on today I’ll crawl under the hood, tap measure in hand, and see how it might fit. Of course there are other issues such as having to add a second transmission cooler to make up for the one not in the eBay radiator, as well as finding a different way to set up a new heater hose port to replace the one that is also missing from the eBay radiator. I’ve been a gear freak my entire life and issues like this used to be a challenge, now they’re more of a PITA. FWIW, if I find that my radiator repair job doesn’t work out I’ll probably pursue getting the 4-row radiator (if I’m certain it’ll fit nicely and not look too much like a hack job).

In the meantime, thank you both for your responses to my questions.

Steve

91500
 

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If the JB is a no go,you might try some of this stuff.Sticks to anything,flexible but tough.The whole key to using it is to be absolutely contaminant free and get the parts stuck together quickly before the sealant starts to skin over.

 

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The 4 row radiator I mentioned has the transmission cooler and bungs for the lines shown in the listing.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
I see the fittings for the transmission cooler (feel sorta dumb missing that!). I also now noticed two hose connections up by the fill cap. Is the lower connection a hookup for the heater?

Steve
 

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Nothing dumb about it , they were easy to miss with the clear plugs in them. It's been a stretch since I've been under one of those so not sure if it is for the heater. Do you have a shop manual for the chassis?
 

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Look closely, those radiators on RockAuto will not fit your F53 Motorhome. The mounts and fill are wrong. Those radiators are for a F53 truck, not a Motorhome.
This radiator on ebay has the proper mountings and fittings but will not cool properly. Note the 3/8" hose fitting on the left tank that you won't find on other radiators. It bypasses hot coolant onto the tranny cooler to keep the tranny fluid at 197 degrees all year long
Also be aware of replacements on Ebay etc. Your radiator has 20 fins per inch and all the copper brass replacement have 15 fins per inch. They will not cool properly. Been there done that, made the mistakes on my 95 F53.
Look around and see if you can find a custom/racing radiator shop and have them make brass tanks for your OEM core.
I used the brass tanks off of the junk Ebay radiator I purchased and soldered then to my OEM core. Took some mods but they worked.

Richard
 
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