aluminum vs. copper radiators

Big Bart

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I would recommend you getting your old one recored if you can find a place in your greater area. It was $900 to get mine done 2 years ago with a heavy duty core. I am glad I did so and I expect to get another 10-15 years out of it. (Only time will tell.)


I decided on the more expensive recore for a few reasons.


1) It is a big and heavy duty radiator that never allowed the truck to overheat prior to starting a small leak.

2) I knew it would fit right back in, nothing to alter or change. (Yes I would imagine some aluminum ones do too.)

3) I could go down the street and get it warrantied or repaired by the radiator shop who did the work. VS having to be in a return situation that could take how many days????

4) I would not have to worry about any kind of electrolysis causing issues.

5) I did not have to worry about ballooning it and ruining it if there was a overheating issue.

6) I was not interested in a plastic and aluminum one. Figured the vibration a diesel puts out would cause failure faster than a gasser would. But there are all aluminum ones too if I went that way.

6) I felt it would last longer, probably twice as long, so would there be a savings???


However price, your location, and options can play a big role in going aluminum.


All the best!
 

catbird7

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I had horrible luck with aluminum radiators, went back to stock. Also have a second stock radiator and tempted to have it re-cored just so I'm ready should something happen.
 

IDIBRONCO

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I had horrible luck with aluminum radiators, went back to stock. Also have a second stock radiator and tempted to have it re-cored just so I'm ready should something happen.
I tend to hoard them myself. I have one that definitely needs to be recored. The one in the Blue Truck was a new aftermarket brass/copper one when I got it. I have another one that I bought from a guy for $100 a few years back. He said that before they parted the truck out, it worked fine with no leaks. Then there's the ones that are in the Ex Wife and my treasure hunt truck. They appear to be fine, but I haven't done more than pull the caps off and look inside. Overkill? Nope. Not at the prices of new ones and recores.
 

ISPKI

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I wonder what the purpose of the Brass and copper mix is. Why not make the entire assembly out of copper and GTAW all of the joints?

Copper has considerably superior heat transfer compared to aluminum, the only issue with radiators is that they are soldered together whereas aluminum is welded.
 

Philip1

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I wonder what the purpose of the Brass and copper mix is. Why not make the entire assembly out of copper and GTAW all of the joints?

Copper has considerably superior heat transfer compared to aluminum, the only issue with radiators is that they are soldered together whereas aluminum is welded.
Probably something to do with brass being more structurally sound making better frames and tanks, while copper is a better heat transfer material better for the tubes and fins. Although this is just a guess on my part.
 

ISPKI

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Probably something to do with brass being more structurally sound making better frames and tanks, while copper is a better heat transfer material better for the tubes and fins. Although this is just a guess on my part.

That is probably the case. I recently setup a new resistance welding shop and have become much more involved with the metallurgy of coppers and their alloys. Brass certainly has superior strength and hardness of many base coppers but there are coppers nowadays that have similar tensile strength and superior hardness by alloying chromium and aluminum oxide. Cost increases somewhat however. Brass is likely most cost effective and the weldable brass alloys are far too expensive for the application.
 

ISPKI

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It seems that the big weakness of copper radiators is actually the solder joints. If they could be fully welded like an aluminum radiator, you would have a much more superior product.
 

ISPKI

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In my experience, brass is less malleable than copper.

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Makes sense, common brass has a tensile strength around 4x that of 110 copper (probably the most common grade) as well as much higher hardness. That makes it far less formable but there are brass alloys that are extremely malleable as well as copper alloys that are hard and rigid. They just tend to cost more $$$.

I would be very curious to see if an all copper radiator could be built fully welded. Copper welds fairly well depending on the process used.
 

jeepj667

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Got mine mocked up last night. Now to build a new lower loop.
50cad76646aaea59da83ec6b67b93dab.jpg


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71 Highboy

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My OEM rad sprung a leak about 6 years ago on the 91 so I decided to pull the trigger on a Mishimoto off of E-Bay. It was a coupe hundred less than the one I bought the previous year for the 89 that came directly from Mishimoto. The E-bay Mishimoto rad leaked from day one. Just seeping , but enough to be annoying. The one bought directly from Mishimoto ,so far, is leak free. The leak progessively got worse. I finally had enough and decided to go on the search for somebody to repair the OEM one(which I saved). As luck would have it there is a company in my area that repairs radiators. They informed me that typically, an aluminum cant be repaired , but copper and brass can. I handed over my radiator and 4 days later got it back and in the truck. Im happy to report its leak free. The company, Mac's radiator repair, has multiple locations in Oregon and one in Idaho. Definitely getting harder to find somebody willing to repair radiators. Their customer service was great, and the price I felt was reasonable(590.00). Hopefully this helps somebody out!


Macs has been the go to place for years. The radiator I installed in my 71 30 years ago was a donor from a 1976 camper special with a 460 and C6. 3", 4 row core with brass tanks. They repaired and serviced it 6 years ago for 200$. When I designed the intercooler, I made a wood frame to hold the ends where I wanted them to be, and Mac's built a four row cooler core and welded it up to the tanks and pressure tested to 30 psi. Top shelf company.

custom built for behind stock 1971 grill.jpg
 
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