Radiators..steel vs. alumn


11 replies to this topic
  • yz00

Posted May 27, 2012 - 07:26 AM

#1

I have steel radiators (I believe they are, black in color) on this 1998 yz400f rebuild, and im wondering if there is a significant gain to swaping them out for aluinum ones?

  • The Spanky

Posted May 27, 2012 - 07:28 AM

#2

I assure you they are not steel. They are simply painted aluminum.

  • yz00

Posted May 27, 2012 - 07:34 AM

#3

thanks!lol

  • The Spanky

Posted May 27, 2012 - 07:37 AM

#4

You're welcome. Good luck with the 400, it's a great bike. Super-reliable and long lasting, and tons of fun.

  • grayracer513

Posted May 27, 2012 - 07:48 AM

#5

I don't recall having ever seen a steel radiator on anything. Automotive radiators were brass for most of the 20th century, primarily because brass conducts heat much better than steel (due to the high copper content) and could be easily assembled with soldering equipment. They were generally painted black.

With the concern over emissions and economy, aluminum became the standard beginning around the early '80's. It's lighter and more conductive, but more expensive to build.

  • The Spanky

Posted May 27, 2012 - 12:57 PM

#6

I don't recall having ever seen a steel radiator on anything. Automotive radiators were brass for most of the 20th century, primarily because brass conducts heat much better than steel (due to the high copper content) and could be easily assembled with soldering equipment. They were generally painted black.

With the concern over emissions and economy, aluminum became the standard beginning around the early '80's. It's lighter and more conductive, but more expensive to build.

Don't forget about those wonderful modern radiators with plastic reservoirs found in some cars today... :cry:

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  • grayracer513

Posted May 27, 2012 - 01:09 PM

#7

Not sure what you find so objectionable about them. They work fine.

  • The Spanky

Posted May 27, 2012 - 01:40 PM

#8

Not sure what you find so objectionable about them. They work fine.

Sure they do. But they also tend to have a much shorter life than a properly maintained all-aluminum radiator.

Over time the plastic becomes hard and brittle. With the higher pressures typical of modern automotive cooling systems this is not a good thing. A very common issue with these plastic tanks is broken hose necks, where the brittle plastic simply breaks when removing/installing a new hose. The plastic tanks also tend to crack due top flex from being pressure/temperature cycled over time.

The plastic tanks also can not handle overheating situations that an aluminum tank will handle just fine. The plastic will simply melt.

Don't get me wrong, they really aren't that bad, and problems aren't rampant. But they still don't have the reliability or longevity of a properly maintained all-aluminum radiator.

  • grayracer513

Posted May 27, 2012 - 02:35 PM

#9

You may be right, and I have seen a number of them leak at the gaskets where the tanks join the core. In fact my truck has already started to leak after only 16 years and 229,000 miles.

  • The Spanky

Posted May 27, 2012 - 03:27 PM

#10

You may be right, and I have seen a number of them leak at the gaskets where the tanks join the core. In fact my truck has already started to leak after only 16 years and 229,000 miles.

So typical of you to ridicule others just because you have a single personal instance that goes against what they may have experienced.

My last three vehicles have had plastic tank leaks/ruptures with less than 100k, one of them with less than 60k. But it's OK, you keep right on poo-pooing people just because you haven't personally experienced the same issues... :cry:

  • grayracer513

Posted May 27, 2012 - 05:17 PM

#11

Really?

I agreed that the crimped-on tanks have been problematic, but I was trying to point out that plastic tank radiators won't necessarily fail as a result of the design. Over time, the gasket will eventually leak, and there's only so much you can do to prevent it. But it's also true that not all plastic radiator tanks necessarily harden or embrittle because they're "plastic". The term covers a huge range of compounds, and some are far better suited for the job than others. With some of them, you can extend the life of the radiator if you do all the right stuff, and some others were just like you said. Some plastic won't hold up in a cooling system as long as it should, but the better stuff does.

You didn't get it. Sorry.

  • The Spanky

Posted May 27, 2012 - 05:34 PM

#12

You didn't get it. Sorry.

I didn't "get it"? Really? How about "you didn't say it". Was I suppose to just "know" that is what you "meant" to say? :cry:

The inarguable truth is that the switch to plastic tanks on radiators introduced an entirely new set of potential problems that did not exist with soldered aluminum radiators. Do all vehicles experience these issues? Of course not. But enough do experience issues to justify saying that they are potentially more problematic than an all aluminum radiator. Pontificating on how some materials work better than others won't change that.

Whatever. I'm done hijacking the thread for a stupid and pointless disagreement.





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