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Old 06-21-2004, 02:39 PM   #1
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1958 Overlander Dometic

My wife and I recently cmae to be the owners of a beautiful 1958 Overlander. It was on a parcel of real estate we bought, and we were lucky enough to have it as part of the deal. The major appliances are original, and look as if they wil work with little or no problems. Our first question is about the refrigerator. It appears to operate on gas only. What sort of things should I inspect, and how do you operate it? Any help will be greatly appreciated. We've stayed in the Airstream it twice now and look forward to getting more and more use of it. Biggest problem is it's 500 miles away from us!
Thanks,
Bruce Woodburn
Rock Island, IL
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Old 06-21-2004, 03:09 PM   #2
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Congratulations Bruce. If you have to purchase a parcel of land in order to get a vintage Airstream, then you have it bad . How do you know this is a '58 model? Sorry I can't help you with your fridge as mine was missing when I purchased the trailer. Someone here will be able to assist you.

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Old 06-21-2004, 04:43 PM   #3
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Hi FF, yes, life is good. I'm going by what it says on the title, and seems like it's on the guarantee on the inside of the closet door.
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Old 06-21-2004, 04:44 PM   #4
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Before operating any appliances, you should have the propane system checked to make sure there are no leaks. While a professional check is recommended, one way to see if you have any leaks is the light the stove, then shut off, turn off the valves at the bottles and wait 15min. You should be able to light the stove and it should burn for a little bit as it uses up the gas in the line. If you are unable to relight the stove, you have leaks.

To light the refrig (doing this from memory) there should be a burner underneath the frig that you light as you would any other gas appliance. Should be a thermostat inside the frig.

Ken
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Old 06-21-2004, 05:50 PM   #5
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Congratulations Bruce, We have a '59 tradewind with the original dometic. Check underneath the fridge for a metal rod with a fork looking end. If you lucky it will still be there. The way it was explained to me by the p.o. was..
1) make sure everything is turned off (duh) then open the gas on one of your bottles.
2) light the gas on a couple of your burners on the stovetop to get the gas flowing
3) pour some white gas on the wick on the fork end of the gizmo you found under the fridge
4) turn on the gas valve under the fridge and slide the gizmo into the slot in the left rear of the fridge.
5) wait and repeat if it doesn't light the first time.
hints.. make sure you pour the gas onto the wick and not over it

If anyone knows of an easier way I'd sure like to know!
I have some diagrams with eploded views of the components if you're interested.
Paul
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Old 06-21-2004, 05:57 PM   #6
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Wow - yet another kind of refrig - they must have had a dozen types of burners at that time. Mine was a ceramic piece that was the burner, just turn the gas on and light it.

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Old 06-21-2004, 06:26 PM   #7
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If that's the procedure to light the fridge them I'm glad mine was missing. Sounds dangerous.

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Old 06-21-2004, 07:02 PM   #8
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Thanks guys...I remember there being some kind of thing on a rod laying on the floor underneath the fridge that I figured had something to do with lighting it. But I thought ours had a flint like edge to it. There was also a round knob, painted red in color, that must be the gas shut off. The first time I really looked at it was on New Years Eve, and it was 25* inside the AS...it's in the Upper Penninsula of Michigan...so between my shivers, I couldn't tell you much of what I was looking at. We're going back in a couple of weeks, so I'll take a flashlight along and take a hard look at it. With your help, I should be able to keep things pretty cool. Thanks again!
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Old 06-21-2004, 07:03 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by flyfshr
If that's the procedure to light the fridge them I'm glad mine was missing. Sounds dangerous.

FF
No kidding, must have been braver souls back in the 50's
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Old 07-28-2004, 08:11 AM   #10
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Hi folks,
I used the method of lighting the refridgerator that Plowboy offered. It would take quite a while, but you could hear an audible click, then the gas would light. It never developed a very strong flame though, and would eventually go out. I'm guessing that the click I heard was that of the valve next to the burner as it heated up enoough to open, allowing tha gas to flow to the burner. Because the flame never got much larger than a pilot light, it wouldn't keep that valve hot enought to continue to stay open.

I took the burner unit to the RV center nearest where the AS is, about 50 miles away, and they looked at it as if they had never heard of such a thing. Their last words were, good luck.

I've had the suggestion of blowing some compressed air into things to possibly clear out any cob webs that may have been built in there. I'll listen to any other suggestions as well.

Thanks,
Bruce
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Old 07-28-2004, 09:14 AM   #11
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Bruce,

before you go too much further in the diagnosis of the refer trouble, have you successfully lit other appliances in the coach? If you light the cook top, can you get all the burners going on high? Does the water heater light (if you have a gas one) and the main burner stay lit?

If not I would suspect the gas regulator before the valve in the refer. Also the compressed air can damage the fragile porcelain burner causing you to need a new refer since all the parts are NLA.

The refer requires 11 WC of pressure in order to work. This equates to less than 3 PSI. A local gas guy could test it and reset the current regulator, but if it is original equipment I would get a new one. The gas regulator will come factory set to 11 WC +- so that makes it a DIY repair.

Also, this is a dumb question, but where do you have the thermostat on the refer set when you are lighting it? It needs to be at least in the midpoint position to be sure that the thermostat calls for the burner to go to full pressure.
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Old 07-28-2004, 11:46 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwdbrn1
...I've had the suggestion of blowing some compressed air into things to possibly clear out any cob webs that may have been built in there. I'll listen to any other suggestions as well.
This thread might offer additional insight.

Tom
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Old 07-28-2004, 11:47 AM   #13
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thenewkid64,

Thanks for your reply. I'm guessing that the regulator you are talking about is the one at the tanks, and I'm pretty sure it's original.

Yes, all three burners and the oven work to full on. The stove was the first thing we tried after visually inspecting all that we could. Our next priority is to see if we can get the refrigerator up and cooling. Then having a furnace this winter when we visit would be nice.

The thermostat on the refrigerator was set at anywhere from the mid range to max as I tried it.

I have not tried the water heater, as there is no water in it, and no water supply available to fill it. I've turned the gas off to it, and disconnected the power supply as I don't want to get that far yet.

The picture to the left, and in our photo gallery, is of our AS. It is sitting in the UP of Michigan, some 500 miles away from where I live. Our best guess is that it's been sitting there since 1979, or so. It's just been part of the property it sits on for a long time, and the last owner didn't do anything with it, or in it, so is not able to answer any questions.

We're really new to the whole experience. Doing all of these things are something that I really have to plan for ahead of time, so all of the knowledge that everyone has passsed along is really appreciated. Our plan is to move the AS from it's present spot to a different place on the lot and use it while a home is being built. Then, time permitting, to tackle restoring it.

Bruce
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Old 09-14-2004, 11:32 AM   #14
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Here's an update on what the old Dometic does. We just want to know if this all sounds right to those who are more experienced at these things.
I had taken the burner assembly off and brought it home with me after our last visit to the AS. At home, I took the gas jet off from the rest of the assembly, and noticed that I could not really see any daylight shinning through it. I shot a little carb cleaner on it and that opened it up. Then I found I was able to blow air through it more easily than I could before.
When we were able to get back to the AS, I reassembled everything according to a parts diagram we had been given from an RV dealer. That diagram showed that little metal tab that sits somewhere above the flame to transmit heat to the safety valve to keep it open, bent upwards. The burner lit nicely, but made a whistling sound. I adjusted the barrel around the outside of the burner until that whistle stopped, and the flame burned steady.
Everything seemed to be working fine, but after the temperature had settled inside the refrigerator, and the flame was regulated back by the thermostat, it went out. After this happend a few times, I bent that little tab thing over so that it was above the flame more. Having done that, the refrigerator worked fine and remained lit for better than 24 hours, until unfortunately, we had to go home.
So, does this all sound right to you guys?
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