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  #1 (permalink)  
Old 05-16-2013, 04:33 PM
dandydon dandydon is offline
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LMC Truck Core Support

I have a 2003 F150 with 4.2 v6 and at my last inspection they said I needed the core support repaired or it won't pass next time. I priced out part at Ford dealer--->$745 or so. Is the one from lmc as good as the original? Any one with that info I would appreciate your knowledge and input.
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Old 05-17-2013, 06:47 PM
CatBob CatBob is offline
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I have bought various body parts from LMC for a 95 f150. Chrome bumpers, grills, headlight assem, windows, ect. All the parts were excellent and fit well.
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Old 05-18-2013, 06:41 PM
artfd artfd is offline
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Originally Posted by dandydon View Post
I have a 2003 F150 with 4.2 v6 and at my last inspection they said I needed the core support repaired or it won't pass next time. I priced out part at Ford dealer--->$745 or so. Is the one from lmc as good as the original? Any one with that info I would appreciate your knowledge and input.
I am on the home stretch of replacing my 2001 F150 4.2L radiator core support, very similar problem to yours. I have a lot of specific info.
The bottom part of my core support rusted completely away where it connects to the 2 sides of the core support. The radiator & AC condensor were simply hanging in space. This was almost completely invisible until plastic valences & many other parts that were obstructing the view had been removed.
I have a little rust on my frame & at the very bottom of the body sheet metal, but the core support had the worst rust of all.
Originally I was hearing noises & thought something needed doing in the front suspension. My front end man spotted the problem right away, although there wasn't much he could show me. A few months earlier I had taken my F150 to the dealer to have the gas tank straps replaced under the OEM recall. The mechanic said there was some automatic transmission fluid was staining the lines where they connected to the radiator. Certainly the core support was rusted badly at that time, but the dealer's man did not see it. I suspect the lines were leaking because they were bouncing up & down all the time.
I didn't quite believe him until I started removing valances, and suddenly the extent of the problem was obvious. I needed a new radiator core support - or perhaps simply welding a new lower horizontal bar could have been done. I'm not a welder.
Someone has posted his repair job showing a patched / welded lower bar. This might save a lot of work and expense if you have the requisite welding skills. The only bad part of my core support was that bottom bar plus the mounting points where the body bushings and frame bolts attach the support to the frame. Everything above that was fine.
A local body shop gave me an off-the-cuff estimate of $1700 for parts & labor, most of that was for labor. LMC's basic core support sheet metal part was $99, certified parts (I forget the source now) were in the neighborhood of $300-400. Shipping of any of these was about $125.
My F150 has 106,000 miles on it, but I didn't think it worth putting $1700 in view of its age and resale value.
I did a lot of internet research & thought I could replace the core support myself. If the job proved impossible, I was going to scrap my 2001 F150.
I found a warehouse 130 miles away where I could pick up a support & save the shipping.
I drove my F150 into my back yard during a snow storm in mid December 2012 & that's where it's been ever since.
This past winter was horrible. There were very few days fit for doing outdoor mechanic work. Had I tried this project in the winter 2011-2, I would have had it completed by the end of January, but not this year.
Removed the valances, turn signals, head lights, grilles, support brackets, front bumper to expose the core support. I took hundreds of digital photos of my work so I could replace the parts I was removing.
I made a couple of trips the pullapart to check out similar models of my F150 & scavenge bolts and U-clips. A couple of rubber bushings that attach the lower plastic pins of the radiator to points on the lower beam of the core support had fallen out, and I got replacements from a junker. Every one of the junked F150's of this generation had severely rotted lower core supports, most were worse than mine.
Then & only then was I able to see the entire front aspect of the core support (so I could verify the model of replacement part I would be getting).
I had to make an emergency trip from OH to NM to help my sister move in early February, something I hadn't counted on. I fashioned a crude lumber roof rack for her Kia Rondo, which was loaded nearly to its GVWR with her stuff and ourselfs.
Since we would be driving across the country any way & since the weather was absolutely perfect for a road trip, I took us across the Texas Panhandle to Enid OK, then north on I-35 to the Kansas Turnpike, heading right toward Lenexa, home of LMC.
I called LMC a couple of days before, to order a core support for my truck, and stopped at their Will Call desk to it up one nice winter afternoon for $108, local tax included, no shipping. By then I knew exactly what the part was supposed to look like, so I knew it would work. I lashed it onto sis's roof rack & we boogied on to OH a couple of days later.
The part weighs perhaps 30 lb, but it's very bulky. It had a minimal coating of black enamel, which I intended to add to once I got it home.
Back home the OEM support was spot welded at the top & at the points where it overlapped the inner fender metal. The outer fenders were bolted near their front to the core support, one place each, & had to be removed so I could undo the spot welds.

I removed the front tires, fenders & their liners, The front of the truck has been on jack stands since January.
I then drilled out the spot welds with the $5 Harbor Freight 3/8" rotary spot welder cutter. I needed a Steck brand right angle "Seam Buster" to completely separate the sheet metal at a couple of points where the spot weld cutter didn't completely remove the welds. Otherwise I would have really damaged the inner fender metal, which I was trying to conserve as much as possible.
I made LIBERAL use of the metal cutting blade on my angle grinders. Basically I butchered my OEM radiator core support to make it easy to remove.

The metal bolts I removed from the OEM support were mostly 6M-1.00 and 8M-1.25 metric bolts, with corresponding U-clips. There was a large number of plastic Christmas tree clips holding the valences on.
The two lower attachment points were still intact, where the core support is bolted to the frame through huge rubber bushings with a bolt about 7/16" diameter and about 8 inches long coming up from 2 special brackets welded to the frame rails on either sides. Many other internet accounts mentioned that the bolts & bushings had to be destroyed to remove them. Actually my lower bolts looked better than anything I had seen on the internet or in junk yards.
Fortunately PB Blaster took care of the corrosion of the two bolts, and a 25" breaker bar with a 18mm socket on it loosened the nuts on both sides. Thus I was able to re-use the lower bushings, bolts and nuts.
However this meant my installation of the new core support would be quite different from the way the manufacturer did it.
I think the original support was slid in straight with the bottom of the core scraping along the frame rails, then the support was raised up into the mating points on the inner fender metal. Then the top "wings" of the core support were spot welded to the inner fender metal.
At the bottom the bushings were inserted from underneath the core support, and the bolts inserted from beneath the frame. This is my best guess as to how the thing was assembled originally.
I did not want to destroy perfectly usable bolts and bushings, so instead I modified the top of the inner fender metal so that the new core support could be hammered into position.
I matched my OEM support to the LMC one. There were a couple of places where holes and cutouts needed to be put, to match my OEM's points of connection to all the stuff I had removed. I traced the outlines of the missing holes off the old support, taped the paper tracings to the LMC support, and drilled & cut the additional holes. Smoothed the sharp edges with a small Dremel grinding wheel.
The new core support I washed & rinsed (once the weather warmed up), sanded with 3M pads to roughen the original paint. I used a couple of cans of Rustoleum's basic spray undercoating from Wally World on that lower support beam that is so prone to rusting. I could see a couple of points where water tended to pool even when the support was in its normal upright position. I drilled some additional 3/16" holes to promote drainage. I wish I could have sprayed undercoating inside the lower beam, but this wasn't accessible in the time I had.
The new support was outdoors this whole time & various dings & cuts I put in it were starting to rust. I cleaned the newly rusted areas with Rustoleum Rusty Metal primer, then applied several coats of Rustoleum Gloss Black primer.
More on next installment.
__________________
1983 F250 6.9L Diesel, bought new & have 160,000 miles on it. Still getting 22-25 mpg driving it around town. Supposed to need a new flywheel ring gear and clutch hydraulics.
2001 F150 4.2L gas, bought at 11,000 miles & have 108,000 on it. Getting 14 mpg around town & 17-21 mpg on interstates depending on wind & slopes. I replaced my rusted out radiator core support in my backyard last winter, it only too me 5 months. If I'm lucky I can use this truck another 3 or 4 years before it falls apart from rust.
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Old 05-18-2013, 06:54 PM
artfd artfd is offline
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It would have been a bit easier if the radiator & the AC condenser had been removed, but I worked around them. The AC part gave me the most trouble since it has several rigid pieces of tubing connected to it, while the radiator is linked to the engine by flexible hoses & tubing.
I left the hood attached the whole time. I did have to remove the grille, cowl & windshield wipers to get the fenders off, but somehow the hood stayed functional during this whole project.
I went from test fit to nesting the pieces together in just 15 minutes, by myself. I had to cut flaps at the top of the inner fender metal, and then hammer down the two topmost parts of the core support to make these nest together. As a result a couple of the drilled out spot welds don't align anymore.
I did no welding at all.
Once I got the parts aligned, I checked that the hood closed properly. I had removed the latch from the front center bracket of the core support, simply bolted these back on and reinstalled the end of the cable for the hood release. Didn't need to adjust anything. The hood closed & latched properly,and the cable release worked.
I used the drilled out spot welds on the inner fender metal to guide me to drill many more 1/4" holes through the sandwiched pieces, and I simply used 1/4-20 hex bolts & washers to clamp the pieces together. A couple of points I broke off the bolts, and used grade 5 bolts instead. Where the metal was closely aligned I used pop rivets.
At the bottom front of the inner fender metal, some fender material had corroded away. The fender metal seems to have been galvanized, but not so the OEM core support. I fashioned crude sheet metal brackets from the OEM core support, bolted them to the bottom of the core support, then used punches & chisels to bang the rest of the DIY brackets up against the fender metal & core support metal - there are several OEM openings & plenty of space to do this at this point. I added extra bolts & rivets to hold this bracket in.
Washed this new bracket out with Dawn and hot water & poured plenty of boiling water into this opening to de-grease it, then after it dried, slopped plenty of Rusty Metal Primer to coat this vulnerable part of the core support. Added gloss black primer just for looks. At this point my new core support has a much better paint job than the OEM support ever did.
Starting the F150 for the first time since January next.
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Old 05-18-2013, 07:07 PM
artfd artfd is offline
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I took my nearly new battery out of the basement where it had been on a trickle charger for months, installed it, along with the windshield washer reservoir and the coolant reservoir on the other side. Connected the air intake tube but left the air cleaner element out of it.
Verified the engine had normal oil level. I lost about half of my coolant when I removed the coolant reservoir. I did not intend to run the F150, just to verify the motor was working.
Did not reinstall any valances, since I just wanted to verify the motor would start without any new problems.
That was not to be, however.
The engine roared into life on the very first try. There was a hell of a lot of rattling and screeching from the engine compartment, then a loud clunk followed by a quietly running engine. And a puff of brown smoke rose into the air. The smoke disappeared very quickly.
I left the engine running - it actually sounded OK by now.
I looked under the hood. The serpentine belt was not moving & none of the pulleys were spinning. I figured the belt had either broken or was stalled due to a frozen device or pulley.
The battery trouble light was on, otherwise the dashboard looked OK. I shut the engine off.
I fished the broken serp belt out of the engine & spun the pulleys.
The alternator pulley was frozen tight, the other devices all spun freely.
Apparently my alternator had corroded tight due to inactivity.
I've been working on fixing the alternator since, but I do believe I have succeeded in replacing my core support. Once I have debugged the alternator, I will refill with coolant and run the engine a bit longer to verify nothing else is wrong at an idle.
Then the fender liners, fenders, wheels, and valences go back on & I will hit the road again. I hope.

Last edited by artfd; 05-18-2013 at 10:33 PM. Reason: spelling
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Old 05-18-2013, 07:10 PM
artfd artfd is offline
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Originally Posted by dandydon View Post
Is the one from lmc as good as the original?
The short answer is, it'll do.
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Old 05-18-2013, 10:32 PM
artfd artfd is offline
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Exclamation A really bad core support on a junkyard queen

Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 05-20-2013, 05:27 PM
dandydon dandydon is offline
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LMC Truck Core Support

Wow!! That was an excellent explanation of the work you did, artfd. More than I'd be able to do in my shape! I do have a garage and the truck just barely fits to close the door. Also, I am not blessed with welding skills although my brother gave me his old Lincoln 125 since he bought a new unit. Also, thanks to you, CatBob---I've never bought parts from LMC but have been getting the catalog since buying this truck over 2 yrs. ago. All inputs greatly appreciated--thanks guys, really.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:13 PM
artfd artfd is offline
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I don't think welding is necessary. My collection of nuts, bolts & rivets seems to be holding things tightly together.
I cured my stuck alternator with a lot of WD-40 and then an impact wrench with a 15/16" socket on the pulley nut broke everything loose and spun the thing. I had it bench tested at a parts store & it passed. The idler pulley on the serp belt adjuster seemed a little sticky, so I replaced it. Now the engine starts quickly & runs smoothly.
Then I noticed the leaking of automatic transmission fluid. This was at a 90 degree bend in the metal line about 6" from the bottom of the radiator. That line had been wet with transmission fluid before I started the repair.
I think the core support corrosion damaged the coolant lines, since the radiator was able to move too much before my repair, plus I moved it a fair amount during the repair.
If you have an automatic transmission and you don't remove the radiator itself for the core support repair, it would probably be a good idea to disconnect at least the transmission coolant lines to protect them from accidental damage.
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Old 05-20-2013, 10:40 PM
artfd artfd is offline
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Knowing what I know now, and IF I had had access to a competent sheet metal welder man for not much money, I would have had him fabricate a new lower bar for the radiator support, rather than replace the entire radiator support.
I have found pictures of this on the internet.
The rusty metal could have been cut away and new metal cut & welded to replace it, since 100% of the corrosion was on that lower bar, and nowhere else.
That way you would have fewer parts to remove from the support, and you wouldn't have to remove the tack welds on the top wings of the support, and wouldn't have to refasten these parts again.
Since I don't know any welders willing to work for free, I did what I did.
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Old 05-22-2013, 09:43 PM
artfd artfd is offline
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Exclamation LMC radiator support installed on 2001 F150 4.2L

Click the image to open in full size.
Since my A/C quit on me, I decided not to try to repair it. I removed the AC condenser & several other AC-related parts behind the radiator. The image shows the steering fluid cooler bolted to the front of the core support with the radiator fully seen behind it.
I am also in the process of replacing the leaking transmission cooler lines, and this is easier to do with the fenders, wheel well liners, etc. having been removed to replace the core support.
Many auxiliary transmission coolers would be bolted to the bottom of the core support, just to the right of the center bracket.
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Old 05-22-2013, 09:43 PM
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