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Unread 10-28-2009, 04:47 PM   #1
J33P'r
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Heater Core Copper or Aluminum?

So I need to replace my heater core on my scrambler, and If I do a search I see some that look like they are aluminum, and some that look copper, which is the best and why if you know? I'm not as much concerned about the cost difference as I am getting good heat.

any thoughts?
also any good write ups on removal and installation in a CJ?
Thanks Guys!

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Unread 10-28-2009, 08:12 PM   #2
-AC-
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The "hot" rumour is that aluminum transfers more heat more efficiently than does copper, but I have always preferred copper. I guess because I'm from Michigan (Copper Country), copper is WAY less brittle and fragile than aluminum, and I can ALWAYS braze up a copper leak, but TIG welding takes special equipment and practice... Don't get me wrong, for someone who TIG's on a semi-regular basis, it's not that big a deal, and anyway, you wouldn't expect to have to do much repair on a new core for at least a few decades. Also, aluminum is usually cheaper. Still, cuz I'm old, give me copper...
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Unread 10-28-2009, 08:42 PM   #3
illinicj
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Copper as a higher thermal conductivity than aluminum, and therefore transfers heat more efficiently. (all other things equal)
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Unread 10-28-2009, 08:50 PM   #4
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Hmmm... were I feeling ambitious and not-so-lazy I would head up-stairs and get out my engineering textbooks and see if I could intelligently refute your point. As it is, I guess I'll say that, as I recall, aluminum is a "more efficient" conductor, while copper has more "preferable" conductive qualities, but I'm not willing to argue the point and would rather concede it. I guess the over-riding point is that whatever the Original Poster buys, it should last for a decade or two...

Moot point?
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Unread 10-28-2009, 09:08 PM   #5
Roadymi
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all I know.......Almost everthing I've ever read about cooling issues say go with Aluminum.
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Unread 10-28-2009, 09:10 PM   #6
73jeep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Roadymi View Post
all I know.......Almost everthing I've ever read about cooling issues say go with Aluminum.
Not true.
Copper has higher the "k" value as aluminum.

copper: 231 Btu/(hrftF)
Alu: 144 Btu/(hrftF)
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Unread 10-28-2009, 09:10 PM   #7
illinicj
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Yeah, you wouldn't want to make your radiator out of copper. Too soft. An aluminum radiator is better than steel for heat transfer, which is why aluminum radiators are preferred. If you are talking about a heater core in the safety of a heater box, then copper is better. Thats probably why Jeep did it that way.
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Unread 10-28-2009, 09:28 PM   #8
bentshackle
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Quote:
Originally Posted by illinicj View Post
Yeah, you wouldn't want to make your radiator out of copper. Too soft. An aluminum radiator is better than steel for heat transfer, which is why aluminum radiators are preferred. If you are talking about a heater core in the safety of a heater box, then copper is better. Thats probably why Jeep did it that way.
Pretty sure that stock radiators are soldered copper (As are stock ('83 at least) heater cores)

Basically it comes down to this. Copper has higher thermal conductivity but is heavier and more expensive. They are soldered together and when clean do an admirable job of cooling most engines. Aluminum is cheaper, lighter but lacks in the thermal conductivity department therefore aluminum radiators generally have more fins and are thicker to offset the poorer thermal properties of the material.

Either type in good condition will serve you well.

BS
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Unread 10-29-2009, 06:18 AM   #9
jfwireless
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Radiator and heater elements are really made of Bronze, as the copper has a small amount of tin added to make the alloy harder, but the copper alloy is a better conductor than aluminum. Aluminum is just a cheaper material so the marketing guys are trying to convince everybody an aluminum radiator/heater core is better so they can make a better margin on the sale.

Jim
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Unread 10-30-2009, 10:23 AM   #10
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Hey guys sorry for the lack of response on my part, I was away with my unit yesterday...
so it sounds like Copper would be the way to go for a warmer Jeep? yes?
but because of todays industry aliminum is a cheaper alternative...
To what I understood from the thread; Aluminum is always a "cooler metal' so therefore it won't provide as much radiant heat as it is dispersed by the blower...
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Unread 10-30-2009, 11:05 AM   #11
jfwireless
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For your heater I do not think it will make much of a difference unless you live in the artic circle.

Jim
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Unread 10-30-2009, 11:25 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jfwireless View Post
For your heater I do not think it will make much of a difference unless you live in the artic circle.

Jim
lol well sometimes I might think it is, but it's just New England

Jim & all
Thanks
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Unread 10-30-2009, 03:59 PM   #13
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Conductivity issues aside, my experience switching from a 4 row brass radiator to a 2 row aluminum, with same dimensions, was a good 15 degree drop with the aluminum-they just cool better. You also lose 15 to 20 lbs. I do not expect to build any more rigs with brass radiators.
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Unread 10-30-2009, 04:31 PM   #14
jfwireless
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duffer View Post
Conductivity issues aside, my experience switching from a 4 row brass radiator to a 2 row aluminum, with same dimensions, was a good 15 degree drop with the aluminum-they just cool better. You also lose 15 to 20 lbs. I do not expect to build any more rigs with brass radiators.

The radiator does not determine the engine operating temp, the thermostat does.

Jim
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Unread 10-30-2009, 04:34 PM   #15
Mike Romain
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Well I switched from a 10 year old 2 core copper alloy kinda crudded up rad to a re-cored copper alloy rad because I snapped it in half and that also dropped mine a good 15 % in the temp gauge just by putting nice clean cores in it.

Aluminum is a pain in my opinion, if steel touches it, it burns a hole through it from electrolysis.
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