Having mastered durability, ease of repair, and outlasting two engine lives for heavy-duty machines for the mining industry by placing Mesabi® radiators on machines all over the world, engineers at L&M Radiator have long since perfected the art of the retrofit.
So, it is incredibly unlikely that a retrofit of a radiator for a CAT loader would prompt any ounce of surprise for L&M Radiator engineers, but, in the face of a peculiar delivery on the L&M Radiator doorstep on one fall day in Hibbing, Minnesota – engineers met the delivery with tilted heads and furrowed brows.
In November 2020, engineers at L&M Radiator opened the wide doors at the manufacturer’s facility and were greeted with a spectacular delivery – the entire hard nose off the back of a 993K CAT Loader, which was being used in a coal mine in North Dakota.
The machine had been experiencing significant – not to mention, costly – issues with overheating before the mine decided that enough was enough.
“The 993K on any mine site is one of the most important machines out there. Many coal mines run 993K’s instead of hydraulic shovels and they run nearly 24 hours a day,” said David “Sully” Sullender, Southeast Territory Sales Representative for L&M Radiator. “Mines simply cannot afford to be down on this machine.”
For this North Dakota-based mine, turning to L&M Radiator to craft a solution was a no-brainer.
“Most mines around the world are familiar with L&M Radiator. They understand how our products — Mesabi radiators, coolers and heat exchangers — are better for their machines,” added Sullender. “They get that their heavy-duty equipment, whether it’s a haul truck, a dozer or a drill — will last longer and run better with a Mesabi radiator. So, putting a Mesabi® radiator on this machine had been the mine’s plan for quite some time.”
From the Inside-Out: Assembly Like Never Before
After inspecting the hardnose, engineers discovered that the radiator design of the 993K loader was assembled from inside of the hardnose. With a bar welded across the middle of the hardnose, and only small hole cutouts across the top of the hard nose, it was impossible to install a one piece radiator inside of the hard nose.
It was then that the engineers realized this would be anything but a typical retrofit – they would need to custom engineer and build a new radiator from the inside of the machine, out.
“Once we realized that we wouldn’t be able to put one full radiator into this piece of equipment, we brought our whole engineering team together,” said Ryan Jaeger, Design and Applications Engineer at L&M Radiator. “We went through our options, came up with a bunch of different ideas, and then landed on the fact that we would have to assemble the radiator from inside the hardnose.”
L&M Radiator engineers decided to assemble the tanks and install the tubes of a Mesabi® Copper V-Tube cooler from the inside of the hardnose. The team integrated a Copper V-Tube cooler for its intense durability against clogging and its easy ability to be cleaned in the field.
With the V-Tube design, if the radiator ever becomes clogged, the individual tubes can be seamlessly removed, cleaned using high-pressure water, and replaced, often within a span of only a few hours. In an environment where dirt piles, debris, and rocks are consistently blown into the radiator’s tubes, this was non-negotiable.
Drawing From Experience to Exceed Expectations: Retrofit on a South Carolina Gold Mine Solidifies 993K Solution
In developing a cooling solution for the coal mine’s 993K CAT Loader, L&M Radiator perfected a solution that it could implement for 993K CAT Loaders being used at other mines around the world, including a gold mine in South Carolina that experienced similar problems.
Several months ago, L&M Radiator was contacted by the South Carolina gold mine after the gold mine’s 993K Caterpillar Loader machine was in serious need of a new radiator. Operating nearly 24-hours a day, the dust and grit of day-to-day operation combined with sweltering 95-degree-Fahrenheit/98% humidity weather conditions, dramatically shortened the life of the original radiator.
But the obstacle remained: This radiator was designed to be assembled inside of the hardnose – just like the 993K loader from North Dakota that the L&M engineering team had worked on previously. It was not made to have a fully assembled radiator installed into it.
Based on their experience retrofitting the first radiator, L&M Radiator developed a replacement kit for the 993K loader at the gold mine in South Carolina. This kit would allow for the replacement of the radiator on that machine to occur at the gold mine itself – rather than send the hard nose back to L&M in Hibbing, Minnesota, to be customized.
“We developed a list of assembly instructions after the first retrofit and assembled a kit that we can send out to the field so the customer could easily install the new radiator themselves,” said Jaeger. “The kit that we send out to the field comes with a lot of extra equipment, such as test fittings, tools to install tubes, grease, brushes, and extra seals and tubes. It truly acts as a field install kit.”
Jaeger, Sullender and their colleague, Steve Smith, L&M Radiator’s sales representative for the Rocky Mountain region, traveled to the gold mine in South Carolina to personally install the 993K loader radiator kit designed by L&M Radiator – the first installation on a 993K loader that L&M Radiator had ever completed in the field.
“To assemble the radiator at the gold mine in South Carolina, we inserted 712 tubes by hand into the tanks,” said Sullender. “As the radiator was being assembled, it looked just like a big black box, a frame that was built inside that hardnose. By the time it was done, with the new copper tube radiator inside this black frame, it not only offered increased durability – it looked really cool.”
With this new field installation kit, L&M Radiator can now replace a radiator on a 993K loader anywhere in the world. The L&M Radiator team is thrilled they can now offer this cohesive and user-friendly assembly kit to customers who are experiencing this same issue. The client was equally ecstatic at the results.
“If they keep the machine clean and complete timely maintenance, the radiator will run two engine lives, easily,” said Sullender. “The client is so pleased that they plan to convert their entire fleet over to Mesabi radiators.”
The simple truth is that no radiator saves a mining site quite so much money and downtime as a genuine Mesabi radiator.