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Girard awnings & side radiator


mewin

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Trying to decide between a Dutch Star and Ventana for our first rv. Think we would be perfectly happy with the Ventana but the Girard awnings on the Dutch Star look a lot more functional. Maybe not a lot more shade but every little bit helps since we love being outdoors and wife has had more skin cancer removed than we like to think about.

34 years ago I worked as Diesel mechanic b4 starting my current career that I will retire from in 9 days. Don't plan on having to do maintenance or repairs on it myself but thr rear radiator looks like a nightmare to work on. It's it as bad and more expensive as it appears.

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I look forward to hearing the replies from people who have had both the rear and side radiators. In my research, it seems that the side radiator is favored. As for the awnings, we too like the look and operation of the Girard awnings. So, the Dutch Star (having both) is our favorite.

 

Roy

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Welcome to the forums & to the Escapee's RV Club! It's great having you join us here.

 

Not being a diesel expert, I'll leave that debate to others but you might get somewhat better information if you let people know if you are shopping new or used? As to the awnings, we have had both A&E awnings and also Carefree of Colorado and don't have a strong preference there. Giarard Systems awnings seem to be found mostly on the higher priced RVs and cost more so I suspect that they may have advantages, but both of the others have served us well.

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I have Girard awnings, and they are generally fine. However, as all awnings, they are subjected to the same environmental issues that all types of awnings are subjected. On my 2006 coach, I have 2 slide toppers that the stitching in the seams is coming apart. To replace the Girard toppers seems to be more expensive than standard toppers. I would suspect the awnings are similar. Since I have 2 full length awnings, plus window awnings, I hope the 2 slide toppers are all I will have to replace this year.

 

I have read that the side radiators get better air flow across the fins. If you think about the nature of air flow around large vehicles, the air coming down across the back tends to hit the ground several feet behind the coach whereas the air coming down the sides of the coach hit the fins directly. Plus the side radiator gives complete access the engine much nicer than rear radiators.

 

EngineCompartment.JPG

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On the awning fabric the stitching does to be looked at. If taken care of the fabric can outlast stitching. I do see many that are 10 years old and look great.

Each year I do hand stich several on the ends before they self destruct. And have taken some off and have them machine stitched.

Then if they are faded at all the will match what ever else is on the coach.

 

 

Vern

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Thanks for the response, @ Kirk looking at new. My biggest concern with the awnings is how much shade they provide. The girard's look like they would provide allot more the way they slope down than the ones that come straight out.All the Dutch stars we looked at had the Girard's all the way down the side and the Ventana's just had one over half the side and they went straight out.

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I've never owned or worked on a rear-radiator chassis. I have a Spartan side-radiator chassis. Changing something as simple as the accessory drive belt can be a lengthy difficult job according to a topic post on irv2.com. I changed mine on the Spartan side-radiator chassis in about the same time, and level of difficulty, as changing the acc. belt on my Chevy Duramax engine.

I understand from reading many such topics, a rear-radiator gets dirty much faster than a side-radiator. Again no first-hand knowledge.

Concerning awnings, a manual awning has much more range of motion than a motorized awning.

 

I completely understand your wife's position. It's a PITA to always carry and use sunscreen every day you're outside, even under an awning. I was operated on in 2010 for malignant melanoma, 2 more years until I'm declared cancer-free.

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I've owned both a side and rear radiator motorhomes. Never had an issue with the side mount but the rear mount came with several issues.

Rear mount was more likely to over heat due to the lack of air flow at the back of the motorhome. Ever seen all that dirt on the back of buses and semis? That's because the dirt gets sucked up there. But not enough airflow to keep moving so it sticks. If you drive over grass clippings/hay or something similar that can also stick causing heating issues.

However the rear mount is generally easier to service. Side mounts are more complicated animals.

 

regards

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All we can share is this. When we were shopping for our MH my brother told me that if I was expecting to have him service it, to make sure we had a side radiator. He's driven and repaired diesel semis for years and felt it was an all around better situation.

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We have a Country Coach with a side radiator. It has one large Girrard awning over the patio. It also has three Zip Dee awnings for all the large windows. The Zip Dees are manual.

 

We have had our coach for a little over five years. I have never owned a rear radiator coach. I like the access you get with the side radiator.

 

As far as the awnings go. I would rate the Zip Dee awnings a 9. They are very sturdy and well made. I don't give them a 10 because sometimes I have to get out my ladder to get the pull down that is not hanging down. But you asked about Girrards. If the ones your looking at are the same one as on our coach, they are very beautifully made. Ours has no securing posts and is free standing. It also cost $6,000 when new. Yikes. Since no arms to steady the awning ours came with a wind sensor. When it senses wind over 22 mph it retracts the awning. It does not have a rain sensor though and that can damage this awning severely. We have replaced our wind sensor twice. I also had to adjust the microswitch that turns off the retraction motor when retracted. When we leave our coach we normally retract the Girrard and leave the Zip Dees out.

 

The best thing about all these awnings is that they came with Sunbrella material. It matches our paint. It is the original fabric. It is still in very good - excellent condition. If you can get Sunbrella fabric even at extra cost do it. We had this same material on our sail boat. In my opinion it is the best awning fabric on the market. For that matter our 12 year old coach has original paint that has not faded at all. It came with yacht paint on it and very thick clear coat.

 

I have heard repeated complaints on the road about poor quality on awnings. We do not have that problem. If I were buying our coach new today I would try to get these exact same awnings. I know everyone wants everything electric today, but the Zip Dees are really a superior product. So are their chairs. We got two of those included with our coach with matching Sunbrella fabric.

 

Here is my final suggestion. I know you did not ask but, consider buying a used RV for your first one. That way you get more experience knowing what you want, and if you want to trade you don't get hurt so much financially.

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One of our included chairs has a small rip in it. We are getting 2 of our slide toppers replaced next week. I might just grab some of the material to use on that chair. I also could use some on a set of patio chairs I have that have lousy webbing. I guess I am an advocate on recycling whenever possible. This sounds like a great possibility as much of this topper material has never seen the sun.

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  • 4 months later...

 

However the rear mount is generally easier to service. Side mounts are more complicated animals.

 

regards

Bruce, T, I'm confused about that last sentence. Do you mean to say that rear mount radiators are easier to service? As in the radiator itself? Because servicing everything else on and around the engine is way more difficult on a rear radiator vs a side radiator isn't it?

 

Roy

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HighwayRanger the mechanics to work a side mount radiator are a far more complicated animal. Rear mounts are easier to run off standard setups. One of the reasons why side mounts are 'normally' only found on higher end coaches.

 

regards

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We have a Girard awning that came with our MH. It is very attractive but it also has a warning from Girard that it is not warranted if it is used as a rain awning since that's not what it was designed for. It is also susceptible to wind gusts. As a result we use it far less than any other awning we have had. Attractive--yes; functional--no!

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Normally side rads come on higher end units and rear rads are on entry level. You didn't state if you are buying new or used. Often the rear rad units use a smaller less powerful engine ( maybe an ISB) along with an Allison 2500. Your towing capacity may be less with a rear rad. A rear rad blows air out the back. The fan can act like a giant vacuum and suck dirt and any oil from leaks into the rad. Can turn to "concrete" and is hard to clean. Sometimes requires removal of the rad. Not a fun job/ Some rear rad have a constant speed fan that draws HP all the time. A sides rad blows cool air from the outside into the rad. The fans are variable speed. A common engine used in side rad applications is he ISL400 or 425 HP. The 2 units you are looking at are built by the same mfr. but are quite different. The Dutch Star has a slightly different chassis and is built much better. I have had both side and rear rads and prefer the side rad.

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Bruce: I do not understand your posting about side rads being harder to work on. Try changing a thermostat or a belt on a rear rad. Heck try changing the rad. If you have to get to the top of the engine on a rear rad you will have to go in from the closet. Not fun. Although a few of the side rads use a

pulley system most are run by a hydraulic pump and motor. Very simple and adjustable speed. Some rear

rads are direct drive and the fan pulls about 40 HP ALL THE TIME. Very noisy and eats fuel and power.

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I got the impression Bruce T was explaining why side radiator chassis are more expensive, they take more parts to mate with engines. Side radiators are easier to work on, just ask a diesel mechanic or tech. Many times we were told a job would take hours longer if we had a rear radiator.

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Bill you're right. Maintenance wasn't my point. Simply the fact that side mounted radiators are a more complicated, thus expensive, proposition.

 

Our bus conversion was a rear mount but was easy to maintain because it had a swing out radiator. But it was a royal pain to keep clean and thus cool. I might also add that it sucked air in rather than blowing air out. In theory a better solution but is sucked air and everything else in as well.

 

regards

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