The Blackbird's broken radiator

by Ivan Hamilton 5/14/2008 10:12:00 PM

I took a quick trip out to the post office yesterday afternoon, and when I got back the CBR1100XX Blackbird was steaming.

Most people know steaming from a vehicle is not a good thing (unless it's steam powered). After the steaming, came the dripping... green blood (coolant).

I had coolant leaking. Leaking on to something hot (probably the exhaust). Busted radiator? Split coolant hose? Cracked head? I was hoping for something simple (and inexpensive).

After taking the covers off, it wasn't obvious where the source of the leak was... but the radiator was wet. Wet from one point down. It was most probably a leak in the radiator.

I removed the radiator, which on the Blackbird has the thermo fan mounted to it. Removing the fan revealed the problem... the fan had been rubbing on the radiator, and had worn through. The bike's never been dropped or abused, so I assume it's always rubbed and has just taken 30,000kms to wear through.

A call to a local radiator repair shop was answered with "If it's aluminum we can't repair it, it'll need a new core". That' didn't sound right to me. I'm a silent member of the Two Wheels web forums, and thought I'd check if anyone had any recommendations. A recommendation had been made for "Better Radiators Pty Ltd" at Lidcombe. That's 10 minutes away, so I dropped in with the radiator.

I arrived around 12:00pm. "Would you like it today?" I explained was hoping to go on a ride tomorrow. "Come back at 3:30pm". A number of repairs had been done (the fan had worn a large arc), and even the fan brackets adjusted for consistent clearance. All that for ~$50.

I put the repaired radiator back in, topped up the coolant, and let it idle until it warmed up enough that the thermo fan kicked in. There was some steam (water still on the radiator from pressure testing), but that quickly subsided and I went for a short test ride. A quick post-ride inspection show no leaks (everthing dry and no steam), and I'm back on the road 24 hours after the incident.

If you need any sort of radiator repair, I can highly recommend the guys at Better Radiators Pty Ltd at Lidcombe - friendly, efficient & economic.

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Name of author Ivan Hamilton
"My inner nerd can beat up your inner nerd."

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