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When to Recore Your Aluminum Cooler

The core is the most important part of your industrial cooler. It is the large metal block between inlet and outlet tanks where the actual cooling process happens. The array of tubes and fins that make up a cooler or radiator core is key to keeping your HD equipment safe and running cool. 

As an experienced radiator shop, we live and breathe aluminum cooler cores. But you may not have given much thought to the specifics of your core construction or how it should be maintained. Brush up on cooler core basics and gain a better understanding of the recore process. It might just save you time and money the next time your equipment shows signs of overheating.

Cooler radiator in need of a recore
Heavy duty cooler before a core replacement.
Heavy duty cooler after completed core replacement.

What Is a Cooler Core?

The core usually sits between a cooler/radiator’s inlet and outlet tanks, and it contains the series of tubes and fins that transfer heat away from the engine. Cooler cores come in a variety of shapes and sizes. There are even some radiators with two or three cores. In general, larger pieces of equipment need larger radiators to keep their engines cool.

Most cooler cores are made of metal, with aluminum being the most common type. Older models may have copper or brass cores. The purpose of the core is to transfer heat away from the engine, so whatever materials are used must be effective heat conductors. 

There are different types of core design, but the most common is a fin-and-tube construction. In this type of cooler core, a length of metal tube or pipe bends around many times within a compact pattern. As the liquid coolant snakes its way through the tubing and cool air passes over it, heat radiates away from the engine. A series of thin metal fins around the tubing improves this process by providing extra surface area through which the heat can transfer.

Common Cooler Core Problems

Because most cores are made of thin metals (for better heat transfer), they are vulnerable to damage. Especially if your radiator is in equipment that operates in a harsh environment, like a construction site, mine or quarry, physical wear and tear is inevitable. 

Two of the most common types of cooler problems are clogs and leaks. Both can usually be traced to an issue within the core. If there’s a clog somewhere in the core’s tubing, the coolant cannot pass through and the radiator cannot effectively transfer heat. If there’s a puncture or tear somewhere in the tubing, the coolant liquid will leak.

Another very common problem among aluminum coolers is a cracked flanged header. When this type of header in a light duty core gets damaged, it is often best to replace it with an HD core that has a bar and plate header construction.

External view of a cracked flanged header.

Cooler Recore Benefits and Process

Some clogs and leaks within the radiator core can be easily repaired. For example, a simple clog may be cleared by running a thin rod through the core’s tubing (known as rodding). Depending on the construction of your core and tanks, a total replacement might be the only option. But, in some cases, we can utilize the recoring process to restore your cooler to prime condition. Especially for older coolers and HD models, a core replacement can be cost effective.

The recore process generally involves reshaping parts from other radiators or fabricating new parts to replace those that have been damaged. New tubes, fins or headers are sized to fit your specific core. If possible, the existing tanks are reattached to create a cooling system that functions like new. 

Core replacements take a lot of expertise and attention to detail. There are many variations between different cooler models. If you’re looking for an experienced radiator shop to handle your next cooler recore, contact Industrial Radiator today.

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  1. […] prevent overheating in your diesel engine. There are many components that help it do this, from the radiator core to the engine coolant. Some radiator issues are inevitable with operation and can be easily […]

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