Aluminum Champion and US Radiator Review

Heating, Cooling & AC

  1. themechanic

    themechanic Oklahoma is OK FBBO Gold Member

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    1969 Dodge Coronet R/T with A/C, 727 AT, stock 440, purple cam, TTI 2 inch headers, Edelbrock 750 carb.

    My engine was overheating due to my 3-row copper/brass 2949054 OEM radiator being clogged. Local Oklahoma temps were in the high 90s and the car's gauge was reading 220 degrees F before I shut the engine off. A local guy wanted $500 to re-core. So, I bought the 3-row Champion aluminum radiator due to mostly positive reviews here and elsewhere on the web. It cost about $223 including shipping. Quite a bargain. It arrived in about 5 business days. It was packed in a cardboard box with styrofoam and cardboard bracing/protection. I unpacked it and right away could see my OEM cowl would not fit due to the flanges being different, one of the bungs for the AT line was not welded straight/parallel to the core and the welds on the top tank were questionable in some places. The top tank was made of 3 pieces welded together which was ugly. Kudos to the eBay seller who gave me a full refund (cost me $30 to ship back, though.)

    I viewed the video tour of US Radiator's production shop and was impressed. I decided to give them a try due to positive reviews. I received a 20% off coupon via email from Classic Industries which gave me $80 off the US Radiator 2-row aluminum radiator Classic Ind. part #AL035220AADZ. This made the cost $320 plus $50 for shipping. It arrived in about 5 business days. The US radiator was packed in a much larger box than the Champion with much better insulation made of plastic bags filled with expanding foam that form-fitted the radiator, suspending it in the box. Cardboard bracing was added, as well. Once unpacked, I could see the difference in quality was much greater than the Champion. The top and bottom tanks were stamped from one piece of aluminum. The brackets appeared to be identical to the OEM radiator (more on those later) and all the welds looked exceptional. The AT line bungs were parallel to the tank and the filler neck was machined from billet aluminum.

    Pleased with the quality of my purchase, I fitted the OEM fan shroud to the radiator and all the mounting holes lined up; sweet! I compared the mounting flanges and noticed a significant difference that made it impossible to install the radiator in the car. See the photo of the cardboard drawing. The orange line is the outline of the US radiator and the blue line is the OEM radiator. After some minor grinding I was able to install the radiator in the car. One additional note on the fan shroud bracket: there are bolt holes drilled where the OEM radiator has studs welded on. So, I used machine screws, washers, and nuts to mount the shroud to the radiator. After much swearing and trying not to dent the delicate fins on the radiator I got the fan, fan clutch, and shroud installed. The fan clutch was about 3/8 to 1/2 inch from the radiator which is the same as with the OEM radiator.

    I filled the radiator with 50/50 mix of Auto Zone green antifreeze and warmed up the engine. The temp in the garage was 80 degrees F. The car's temperature climbed to just under 180 degrees F and stayed there. I waited another 10 minutes for all the air bubbles to flow out and put the cap on. No change in temp. I checked but no leaks and shut her off.

    I hope this helps anyone in the market for a new radiator.
     

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    • nomax

      nomax Well-Known Member

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      Thanks,
      I like the original look of the that rad, Big plus for me.
       
    • tallhair

      tallhair Rufus "Mod-hair" Firefly Staff Member

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      Nice review and it looks great in your rod TM.
       
    • b-star69

      b-star69 Well-Known Member

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      :headbang:that's cool, never a fan of the aluminum radiator ( big block of aluminum) but that one looks good. hit it with some black spray and bob's your uncle.
       
    • themechanic

      themechanic Oklahoma is OK FBBO Gold Member

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      My Dad was Bob. But I get your drift. Now, on to repair the fuel leak.
       
    • Plucked Chicken

      Plucked Chicken Well-Known Member

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      US Radiator most def getting the nod for my '62 Dart wagon when it comes time. Very reasonable compared to Griffin or others, much better looking with the formed tanks than most. Just got a made in America welded version for a truck project where looks are not that important. Still rather went with US Radiator.

      :headbang:
       

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    • Gpuller

      Gpuller Well-Known Member

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      The US rad looks great. Have to give us an update after the fuel leak is fixed and you get some miles on it.

      Thanks!
       
    • HYRDGOON

      HYRDGOON Well-Known Member

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      I anticipate my rad from Wizard should show up today or tomorrow if you guys like to aid in comparison in this post I can take a picture of how it came packed as well as the unboxed product. I won't be able to comment on install though until mid-winter
       
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      • Plucked Chicken

        Plucked Chicken Well-Known Member

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        Here's how mine came packaged - Triple boxed really - had a crease across the front of the box - no damage to radiator thanks to "superior" packaging that was designed for the job....
         

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      • themechanic

        themechanic Oklahoma is OK FBBO Gold Member

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        Although I'd like to see your review, I think you should start a thread on Wizard Radiator review to make searches easier.

        - - - Updated - - -

        *****UPDATE 10-2-13*****

        Plastic fuel filter was leaking. Replaced with a metal filter. The car ran at 190-200 degrees F last evening with ambient temps around 85 F. I think I'll keep the new radiator.
         
      • Cranky

        Cranky Banned Staff Member FBBO Gold Member

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        How wide are the tubes? After replacing the 2 row stock radiator in my Dakota with a single row aluminum, I'm pretty much sold on them. The tubes are as wide as the 2 row was put together and cool much better than the original did even when it was new. Now sitting in traffic on a 100 degree day, I can now leave the AC on and actually stay cool and so can the engine!
         
      • daredevil

        daredevil Well-Known Member

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        Was that the cc375? I bought one and it wouldnt cool my 500 incher
         
      • themechanic

        themechanic Oklahoma is OK FBBO Gold Member

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        There are 2 rows of 1 inch tubes on this radiator. I think they make one with bigger tubes for higher HP.

        - - - Updated - - -

        Yes, it was CC375. I never installed it and returned for a full refund.
         
      • brasil

        brasil Well-Known Member

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        @ themechanic.... I have the same radiator /fan shroud combo in my 66 Coronet ( with 440 cui RB)...

        I saw on the pictures that you use a fan clutch also.... can you tell me the part number ? I am still in search of a good working /fittig clutch...

        Thank you for your help

        Juergen from Germany
         
        Last edited: Oct 10, 2013
      • themechanic

        themechanic Oklahoma is OK FBBO Gold Member

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        It is the Hayden 2747 for $40 from Rockauto.com. It is the heavy duty clutch since I'm using the big and heavy all steel 7-blade stock fan.
         
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        • brasil

          brasil Well-Known Member

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          .... thank you ! But one more question...You have a 66 Coronet...with BB engine and US Radiator . I have the same "SET UP "
          I have a new 2747 laying also.... but I can´t fit this clutch in my car, because the Disance is @ 6 mm to close to the radiator.
          How did you resolve this ?

          Thank you
          Greetings Juergen

          - - - Updated - - -

          ....sorry just saw that you have a 69 coronet... perhaps thats the difference...

          how far is the radiator away from the fan clutch ?

          Greetings Juergen
           
        • themechanic

          themechanic Oklahoma is OK FBBO Gold Member

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          I guess between 3/8 to 1/2 inch. It places the fan within 1 inch per the FSM.
           
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          • CoronetDarter

            CoronetDarter Well-Known Member

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            Great post TM. I just picked up a '69 Coronet with a stock 440. BTW, love the T5 bronze; I aspire to get my engine compartment to look yours. It's running fine but starts getting up in temp sitting in traffic. It's only a 24" rad with no shroud and no clutch. Definitely gonna look into your suggestions.
             
          • Durandal25

            Durandal25 FBBO Gold Member FBBO Gold Member

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            I got a Champion for my 69/ 383 and the fit was not good at all. It cooled just fine, but clearly OEM and US are better. Bought a nice unit off this site, and still have the Champ in a box if anyone needs a 22' unit.....
             
          • 69a100

            69a100 Well-Known Member

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            The fact of the matter is, as any old OEM radiator gets older and more used and neglected it's going to cost buku bucks to keep things original, esp. radiators as they get rusted out and beat up. If this isn't a 100% concours resto, this is the best way to go. And I'm sure one day car judges will start to overlook this fact. Personally I'm starting to like the look of a aluminum radiator in any car, but I'm still a purist at heart. I feel one day I'll have to go this road myself, if I don't neglect my current ones. Look's good!
             
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