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Topic: What type of radiator screen ???

Posted By: Gigem on 05/09/10 07:17pm

I was planning to attach a radiator screen guard to protect the Ford 350 radiator. I know there has been a lot of information related to this on this an other forums but I'm having some trouble finding the actual or recommended type of screen. I know a screen too small will not be good for air flow to the engine.

What gauge or mesh is generally used? This seems like a simple piece of protection but a screen too restrictive would cause more harm than good. Since I'm bugging everyone again, could anyone recommend a place to buy the screen .. ie. Lowes, HD, etc.

Thanks in advance for your help.

Marie and Paul,
2005 Ford F350 PSD DRW LB CC
16K Draw-Tite Slider
2003 HitchHiker II LS 32.5 RLBG

Posted By: SideHillSoup on 05/09/10 07:24pm

What reason do you want to add a screen...Rocks?........ Bugs?
I've never used a screen and we have shadflys around here and they can be thicker than a London Fog. All we do is wash the radiator after a good shadfly encounter.

* This post was edited 05/10/10 08:00am by SideHillSoup *

2018 Northern Lite 8-11 EX Dry Bath
2017 Sierra SLE, 3500 HD / 4x4 / Duramax with a 6 speed Allison Trans
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Posted By: Hook on 05/09/10 07:55pm

I use 2 layers on 1/4" galvanized hardware screen to stop rocks. Can be purchased at most building supply or hardware stores. Very cheap insurance compared to a break down in the middle of no where or cost of replacing a radiator. Practically all the roads I drive here in Alaska are paved and I still get viscous rock strikes to the vehicle. They come from heavy winter sanding which has up to 1" rocks and under, and from the gravel shoulders of the road. I generally have to replace the windshields about every three years that is if they are not shattered all the way across. In the last 35 years of installing the hardware cloth as soon as I get a new vehicle I have not had a problem. I also know of several cases of people I know that have had a radiator puncture and were left steaming on the side of the road. Really not that many compared to the people that do not have a problem but 5 or 10 bucks for the hardware cloth is not that expensive. I also do not use the plastic ties any more, they get brittle a break. I now use #12 solid copper coated electrical wire that does not fail if you do not twist it to tight.


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Posted By: MR MAC on 05/09/10 08:04pm

Yes 1/4" Hardware cloth works great, Also I covered the tranny cooler, its low in the front. We saw radiator dammage on vehicles while travel to AK. One sealed a leak by putting a box of table pepper in it,sealed right up.


Posted By: Goldencrazy on 05/09/10 08:12pm

I got the a great protection for my E-450 when I stopped in Dawson Creek. It was a pvc frame that fit from bumper to just below top of the hood. Covered head lights on the ends. Both hardware cloth and bug screen attached with plastic ties and the whole thing bungeed to the vehicle simply to the grill and under the hood. I sure cleaned a lot of bugs off and it was easier than doing the radiator and I have no idea about how much rock protection I had but there were rocks and I had no radiator or headlight problems. It stayed put nicely. Campground up on the hill in Dawson Creek made it for me for 60 bucks. Well worth it. Not much material so I paid for the work and concept.

Posted By: rgraham on 05/09/10 08:22pm

we went to Alaska in 2001 and went to the hardware store and got a piece of Aluminum screen wire about 2 ft by 3 ft what ever it took to cover the radiator tied it in with copper wire that was almost 10 years ago and it is still in use today, no bugs no rocks and no trouble,

1987 ford f250 6.9 diesel
1997 Innsbruck by Gulf Stream 28ft fifth wheel with slide
and the wife and co-pilot Trudy

Posted By: BAMH on 05/09/10 09:15pm

We'd like to see pics...rgraham, Goldencrazy, Hook! Please!

Also, what have you come up to cover the windshield on the tow vehicle?

Diana, Eric & family
Celebrating 20 Blog- Alaska Trip Summer 2010 - COMPLETED!

1994 Winnebago Vectra, 5.9 Turbo Diesel Pusher
1993 Jeep Cherokee (toad)

Posted By: wilber1 on 05/09/10 09:51pm

For bugs I use aluminum screen door and window screen. Tie rap it in front of the rad, scrape the bugs off every once and a while and change it every year or two depending on condition.

"Never trust a man who has not a single redeeming vice" WSC

2011 RAM 3500 SRW
2015 Grand Design Reflection 303RLS

Posted By: joe b. on 05/10/10 04:58am

I, like Hook, use 1/4 hardware cloth and put it on the truck when I first bring it home. Any place road debris can get to the radiator or a cooler, is covered with the wire. I still use black plastic zip ties and replace them every few years. The wire may be a much better method to consider. Make sure to wear leather gloves while istalling the wire as the cut edges are wicked on the hands. LOL
Over the years, I find I get hit with road debris more often in the Lower 48 than in Alaska. Especially in any of the mid western states that use pea sized gravel in the winter on their roads.
A time or two I have had to stop in a car wash to back flush the bugs, cotton wood tree lint, etc. out of my radiator and screen. When I lived in rural Interior Alaska I also added on the outside of the grill a snap on screen that had a cover that could be zipped closed when it was real cold. As I remember I bought them from J.C. Whitney. With them on the outside it is easy to see if they are getting clogged with bugs or anything else and can be removed and cleaned. (but the screen doesn't stop rocks, chunks of rubber, sticks, etc. as well as the hardware cloth on the inside of the grill.

joe b.
Stuart Florida
Formerly of Colorado and Alaska
2016 Fleetwood Flair 31 B Class A w/bunks web site
Alaska-Colorado and other Trips posted
"Without challenge, adventure is impossible".

Posted By: sue.t on 05/10/10 07:37am

Gosh, the only times we've put something in front of the radiator was during our two trips in December.

Nice piece of cardboard to reduce wind flow through the radiator. This helped the coolant get warm enough to throw some heat into the truck cab!

sue t.
Pictures from our many RV Adventures to Yukon & Alaska from Vancouver Island. Now we live in Yukon!

Posted By: Galvanizd on 05/10/10 09:34am

We went in 2006 with our Class A Diesel pulling a chevy. Up the Alaska Hwy. Down the Cassiar.
We're going again in 2011. I swear this time I'm getting pictures of all the rigs I saw with stuff mounted on them to protect against rocks and bugs and such, I guess, If it works, I guess great, but we didn't use anything other than a protect a tow between the rv and towed and i use that all the time. Got no damage, even on the Top the World Hwy. No wait, got a ding in the windshield, in Arizona of all places.

I guess, if you feel the need, try some of that plastic wrap. We saw a couple of rv's with it on the front , taped on to prevent rock damage. Careful about blocking radiator for those types.

One guy had so much stuff on his rig, he looked like an extra for the "Mad Max" set. It was great.

I'm taking pictures next year.

Posted By: 2hams2alaska on 05/10/10 10:21am

We went with the 1/4 inch sreen on the grill. I mounted it on the backside of the grill using tywraps. The grill is easy to take out so you can do the installation on the workbench. Beats standing on your head or lying underneath. With the sreening on the backside, it was not noticeable and did the job. The hardest part was cutting a small opening to allow finger access to the hood release. We went to AK and back last year and had no problems. Hopefully it will do the same this year as we are heading back up the road to AK in June.

Mike NA9Q, Retired Electrical Engineer
My Shih Tzu traveling companions Jack and Diane
Memories Of My Beloved DW & Traveling Companion for 51 yrs Arlyce NB9Q
and of Pookie Sue, Our Shih Tzu, Companion 10/26/1992- 04/27/2010
2000 Coachmen 285QB

Posted By: brinasmemaw on 05/10/10 11:14pm

Yep we use hardware cloth/screen on our F350 too & wouldn't make a trip without it. As others have said, cheap insurance against problems in the remote areas.

Mac & Becky
Seeing North America one mile at a time
2006 42' Allegro Bus towing a 2011 Cadillac SRX

Posted By: sue.t on 05/11/10 07:52am

Then there are those that need to protect their grills from the bison, caribou, and moose. My dad endured extensive front end damage to his car near Steamboat on the Alaska Highway when a caribou ran in front of his car & we almost snagged a moose near Fort St John one year.

Picture from

Posted By: Gigem on 05/16/10 02:21pm

Well I finally decided on using 2 piece of hardware cloth. I attached the 1/4 galvanized to a piece of 1/2 inch vinyl or the green coated cloth. I attached the 1/2 inch or green coated cloth to the front of the grill. My hope was that the green vinyl coating would keep the h/w cloth from scratching the grill. What I really wanted was the 1/4 inch vinyl coated but couldn't find it anywhere.

I don't believe this should be too restrictive ... having the 1/4 inch attached to the 1/2 ??? Thoughts ?? but make it quick we're leaving for Alaska 6 am tomorrow morning.

One final note. Putting the "Road Wrap" on the front of the 5th wheel is a a pain in the you know what. I'll let you know if it was worth the effort.

If the screen is too restrictive you're likely to find a couple pieces of h/w screen in a dumpster somewhere in Montana along with a can of Bud Light.


Posted By: BAMH on 05/16/10 10:26am

Here is what I did (Just last night).

I am using 1/4 inch Hardware cloth, purchased at Home Depot in a 5 foot rolled up sheet for $8.88. I measured and cut a section of the radiator and then two more pieces for the headlights.

Keep in mind my Jeep is a 1993, and though mechanically sound, it is not in the best cosmetic shape.

I literally Sheet metal screwed it to the fascia. This may not work for people with newer vehicles, or ones that are not dedicated toads, but it works for me [emoticon]


People with newer vehicles may be able to attache the screen behind the fascia and in front of the radiator.

--Eric, of Eric & Diana

Posted By: 2hams2alaska on 05/13/10 08:53pm


Here is a photo of our E450 based Class C with the 1/4 inch wire cloth in place behind the grill. It is held in place with tywraps through holes I punched in the rear lips of the molded grill.

You can see the small opening I cut to access the hood release. You do have to be careful when sticking a finger through there since the edge is a bit ragged.

We had no problem last summer with bugs collecting. It was easy to keep clean with a small stiff brush.


Posted By: Gigem on 05/12/10 08:37pm

Well I guess I'll go with the 1/4 hardware cloth (galvanized) from Home Depot. They had some of the hardware cloth with a vinyl coating but not in 1/4 inch mesh. I'm just hoping if I mount on the outside the galvanized doesn't scratch the grill.

It would seem if you mount it on the "inside" it would be a bit hard to keep clean of bugs and debris etc.??

At any rate, we're planning to leave for Alaska on Monday so we'll be the people you see on the road with the 1/4 hardware cloth screen mounted on the outside of our 350.

I want to thank everyone for putting up with all my Alaska questions and here's hoping all of you have safe trips.

Posted By: Xpoint on 05/12/10 09:31pm

Thanks everyone for the help. I went to the hardware store today and got some galvanized 1/4" screen. I covered the grille. The grille is a silver color so you hardly notice it. This is an old 79 Dodge Class C motorhome, so it has quad headlights on both sides of the grille. Took the remainder of the screen and covered each set of headlights seperately. Figured that way I can just remove one screw to clean the headlights if necessary. We leave form Southeast Washington June 1st. Will cross into British Columbia that day. Meeting some Canadian friends near One Hundred Mile House, B.C. and will continue on from there on the 3rd.

* This post was edited 05/12/10 10:59pm by Xpoint *

1994 Rexhall Airex

Posted By: Xpoint on 05/11/10 10:15pm

Are you putting the screen over the radiator itself, or over the grill in the rig. Anybody have any pictures they can post. Thanks.

Posted By: AKsilvereagle on 05/12/10 04:18am

I installed a $3.00 piece of galvanized mesh screen (from the hardware store) that measures 1/4th inch squares between mesh (.25 inch) and I installed it on the outside portion of the front grille....The mesh screen shown in this picture covers the entire airflow area of the radiator and 8 tube transmission cooler mounted between the inside portion of the grille and radiator.


In case anyone wonders where the picture is located, it is km 455 (mile 283) NWT highway 1 near the east bank of the Liard River waiting to board the Lafferty Ferry to cross near Fort Simpson.

1975 Ford F250 2WD Ranger XLT (Owned June 2013)
460 V8- C6 Trans- 3.73:1 (145K Total Mi)
2000 Fleetwood Angler 8ft Cabover
Air Lift 1000 (Front)
Hellwig 3500 lb Helper Springs (rear)
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Posted By: flylipsdaddy on 05/11/10 10:18am

We put 1/4 in like HOOK said-on the inside between grille and rad.Just have to undo a few screws on the top and slide it down in place-had to cut it for the hood release.couldn't see it from the outside unless you looked.Got 1 large dent in the screen on our trip-2 windshield dings though.

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