From:Dave Hennessey
Subject:Return from Elkins Date:Mon Jun 20 10:02:22 2016
My truck overheated dragging two motorcycles over the next-to-last mountain heading to Elkins, West Virginia. An oddity of my truck is that when I flush the radiator, I have to remove the thermostat, and fill it through the upper radiator hose, or else an air bubble in the engine prevents the water from circulating. So this cost me two hours on the side of the road, waiting for it to cool sufficiently to pour cold water into the engine.

Rollo volunteered to lighten up my load by bringing back the Henderson. On the way home, I kept the heater on full blast, closed the center vent, and and aimed the side vents out the open windows. Although closed, leakage around the center vent kept the coffee in my dash-mounted cup holder nice and hot all the way home. I left outta Elkins at 7 am Sunday morning. The outside air was 60 degrees. I noticed that as soon as I took off, the heater air was quite hot. This told me that most of the heat transfer was occurring through the heater core, not the radiator.

By driving 40 mph up the mountains, and 50 mph on the flat, heater on full-blast, the temperature gauge stayed on about 150 degrees, going up a little going up the mountains, and down a little down the mountains. After clearing the last mountain, the gauge remained on 150. The reduced speed made it a pleasantly warm 4-hour ride. Have you ever tried going 50 mph down Interstate 81 or I-66? Almost every car and tractor-trailer tried to run over me. I got the "Hell-fire" part, but narrowly avoided the "Damnation".

After getting home, unloading the Sportster and detaching the trailer, I checked the NAPA web site, and found that there were 3 possible radiators for my truck. (a) without engine oil cooler, without heavy-duty cooling system $169; (b) with engine oil cooler, without heavy-duty cooling system $169; (c) with engine oil cooler, with heavy-duty cooling system $154.

I don't have no stinking engine oil cooler, so I purchased option (a), 10-minute flush, and anti-freeze for a total of $200. I drove home, flushed the system, dumped the coolant, and started removing the radiator. No problem, until after removing the automatic transmission lines, I encountered the strange lines on the other tank. Crawling around on the ground, I determined that unbeknownst to me, I do have an engine oil cooler. Re-assembled everything, and drove back to NAPA to exchange radiators.

My radiator was option (b). But I asked about option (c) heavy-duty cooling system, and found that the difference was that (b)'s core was 1.25" thick, while (c)'s core was 2.25" thick. After physically comparing (b) and (c), and finding no difference except the core thickness, I speculated that (c) would fit just fine, and maybe give heavy-duty performance. So I gambled and chose (c), and got a $15 refund.

I won the bet - it fit just fine. I filled the engine with plain water to check out the performance. I drove around, with the heater mercifully off, and the temperature gauge never wavered from 115 degrees. So a new radiator has fixed the overheating problem. Later this morning, I'll fill it with antifreeze, replace the thermostat, and call it a job well done. Then I can go over to Rollo's and retrieve the Hen.

Will the extra-thick core heavy-duty option do a better job than a standard duty one? Don't know. But I'll bet back in 1998, Chevrolet charged $200 extra for the heavy-duty cooling system option, that today I got for $15 less than the standard duty.