1977 GMC Palm Beach

Our resto-mod RV, 2002 to present

Select Upgrade from List


Radiator Replacement

Including all hoses, vacuum lines, and "perishables".

March/April 2003

Approximate Price for all parts: $700

Why do this upgrade? I travel almost exlusively in the summer. I pull a light boat to races but I often have to travel during the hottest part of the day... 80-95 degrees on Friday and Sunday afternoons. I am often in relatively heavy traffic. All this combined with the age and my fan runs most of the time I drive. It appears that most of the hoses were OEM on the coach. I have chosen to replace the core with 3/4 tubes on 9/16 centers or, as some have say, go from 42 rows to 52 rows and bigger tubes. Brace yourself cause this ain't cheap... core with labor for a standard core is about $280, custom order a big-tube core $520. Labor for the core rebuild is $160 either way at the local shop (included in the prices above).

To see a detailed list of parts and prices go to http://teamteets.org/GMC/expenses.htm and look under job name "radiator".

This is really a two person job, minimum one person doing the work and the other handing in tools, best to have someone strong enough to help you muscle the core around. I tried the method on http://california.com/~eagle but was not able to get that to work on mine. Sure, others say I am wrong but they weren't here helping :-) - I spent more time trying to make it work than I did after I decided to just drop the frame. I did it by dropping the frame and all. When installing it was nice to have the radiator already buttoned into the frame... jacking it up frame and all was easy. I replaced all of the trans cooler and oil cooler lines, rubber gaskets and hoses including domestic water heater pre-heater. I wanted to use the stainless oil lines from JR but he was rallying so I settled for a rubber set from NAPA... I have absolutely no patience :-(

Here is the new radiator core... notice the gold tint to the coils... it must be real gold and explains the price! Obviously it costs more since it is not a standard item. It was a tough call but the extra insurance on my engine helped. It made the sucker really heavy... really need the floor jack to get it in place.

I pulled the frame with the radiator and took the time to sand, powerwash and paint. After all the work, it goes back in and is hidden from almost all views. But I do feel better.

Here are the connections on the hot water tank. I hadn't pulled the slack forward yet so the bottom hose is coiled a bit. After changing the hoses, you can feel the engine coolant lines warm quickly after the air works out of the system.

This picture is of the rusty engine before the hoses were changed. With only 60,000 miles in 30 years this baby sat alot. Probably the lack of heat and oil in the engine compartment caused this.

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About the Author: Mike Teets is an IT Innovation Consultant, Father of 3, outdoor sports enthusiast and builder/restorer of things
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