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Old 03-24-2004, 08:18 PM   #1
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39 year old Dometic Refrigerator

Well I fired up the 39 year old 2 way Dometic Refrigerator tonight for the first time in who knows how long. I have had the Globetrotter since December 2000 and had never tried it. It sat for many years when I had found it. The PO had never used it. Good thing....

Since it is freestanding while the interior is in rehab, I decided to look it over and see if it worked. Checking the power cord, I could see it was totally dried out and fell apart in my hands. The wires were all melted together. If it had been powered up, it would have easliy shorted....or worse. Replaced it with a new wire and plug.

It works, at least on AC. Temperature in the fridge part went down to 38 . I had put an ice tray in the tiny freezer and it made ice cubes. It took about 4 hours. Pretty amazing

Propane is next, after a good cleaning.
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Old 03-25-2004, 09:51 PM   #2
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Re: 39 year old Dometic Refrigerator

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Originally posted by BobbyW
Well I fired up the 39 year old 2 way Dometic Refrigerator tonight ... (snip, snip) ... It works, at least on AC. .. (snip, snip) ... Propane is next, after a good cleaning.
Well, maybe there's hope after all! We've run our 67 fridge many times on propane (it gets cold!), but have never tried it on electricity. The cord looked ok (last time I looked). Maybe it's worth a try!

Lynn
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Old 04-19-2004, 10:58 PM   #3
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Question 36 y/o Dometic fridge

Got our '68 Overlander last month...the propane cooling works very well (my damp hand stuck to the freezer compartment floor), but the electrical part does not. When I removed the access panel, the plug-in receptacle behind the fridge tested + for power(110AC). The power wire runs from the plug to a rectangular black box, and thence to the switch(yes, I did turn it on). I'm guessing that the black box is the culprit, and am wondering if this is a find-able part...also wondering what the box IS...will use propane for now, and be glad that that part works, but would really like to be able to pre-chill off a landline the night before leaving. Does anyone out there have a similar encounter, or expertise with this poser?........tracy's husband(mike)
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Old 04-20-2004, 07:39 AM   #4
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My 37 yr old Dometic works like this

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Originally Posted by ScrapIrony-2
... I'm guessing that the black box is the culprit, and am wondering if this is a find-able part...also wondering what the box IS...Does anyone out there have a similar encounter, or expertise with this poser?
Mike,
Most RV refrigerators cool with ammonia absorption refrigeration. It is a neat process (at least to a thermodynamicist ), but you do not need to understand it to solve your problem. The only thing you need to concern yourself with is supplying a heat source to power the process.

Offhand, I would say you and I have the same refrigerator. When you run the unit on LP, the heat source is a flame controlled by a thermostat. When the thermostat commands 'cool', more gas is supplied to the flame making it bigger. When the thermostat indicates 'cool enough', the extra gas is cut off leaving just a pilot. So, you have either a pilot, or a more robust flame i.e. cooling is either ON or OFF.

When you run the unit on shore power, the heat source comes from a 230 watt heating element controlled by a totally separate thermostat. When cooling is desired, the heater is ON. The heater is OFF when no cooling is desired. Again, there are no degrees of ON or OFF.

The heating element package looks somewhat like a fat cigar, and is not repairable. In fact there is no reason to pull it out unless you plan to replace it as there are no electrical junctions on which to hang a meter. I assume what you are calling the "black box" is the enclosure on which one of your two thermostat knobs is mounted. You should see your power wires going in to the box, and the heating element wires leaving the box. Gain access to the inside of the box, turn the thermost down to its lowest setting, and see if the wires leading to the element have 120 VAC. If they do, the element is bad, if they do not, it sounds like the thermostat is bad.

If you have long, skinny arms, you may be able to replace the heating element without removing the refrigerator. I doubt you will be able to service the thermostat in place simply because the non-detachable probe is mounted out of reach.

I currently have my Dometic sitting on the shop floor while I finish the new floor covering (do you realize that these units comfortably hold two cases of ...beverage? ) Let me know if I can supply a picture or something to help your effort.

Tom
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Old 04-20-2004, 06:19 PM   #5
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Ever wonder why the old reefers last so long and the newer ones go out in just a few years? The Dometic that came in my unit lasted about 9 years before it started smelling like ammonia. The fact that the old ones last almost forever tells me that the new ones are not made as well.
Wayne
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Old 04-21-2004, 01:26 PM   #6
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black box, revisited

Tom,
Thanks for the excellent lesson. I had planned on taking on the fridge thing today, but woke up to overcast skies and snow falling...a little cooler than I prefer for a work environment, and it's hard to tell if the fridge is working or the outside temp is working... I will aim for the weekend.......mike

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Old 04-21-2004, 01:33 PM   #7
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Can anyone explain exactly how to clean the burners in the fridge? I have new Dometic I put in a couple of years ago and I know your supposed to clean the burners once a year, but I don't have any idea what that really means.
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Old 04-21-2004, 04:35 PM   #8
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Cleaning the flue

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Originally Posted by Safari Tim
Can anyone explain exactly how to clean the burners in the fridge? I have new Dometic I put in a couple of years ago and I know your supposed to clean the burners once a year, but I don't have any idea what that really means.
Tim,

The one burner in the fridge has a course mesh screen over it to keep chunks from falling in and clogging the jet. Just vacuum it. If nothing else, its a good time to check flame color.

I think what you might have heard deals more with cleaning the flue on a regular basis. In my Overlander, it goes like this: On the countertop on top of the fridge, there is skinny cabinet suitable for not much more than drying dish cloths. But there is also a an access plug to get to the top of the flue.

Remove the plug, and you will see the top of the flue loosely covered with a round metal plate. Pull up on that, and you will find the top connects to a twisted piece of flat stock. I believe it is a baffle there to help the heat of the burner be absorbed by the fidge's working parts. If your flame is too yellow, soot can build up on the baffle. Since soot is unburned solids, the concern is that a large accumulation has the possibility of catching on fire, like a chimney fire.

Although the baffle should be checked on a regular basis, the flame should be checked even more often. Too much yellow in the flame (too much air) will cause soot, whereas too little air will make the flame noisy.

Hope this helps,
Tom
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Old 03-07-2006, 08:25 PM   #9
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Dometic refrig is the coolest!

I couldn't resist crowing about this--I am amazed! I finally got around to working on the OEM Dometic refrig in my '72 Ambassador. I plan to mostly boondock, so the propane system is all that I worked on (cleaning). The quaint flint striker lacked a flint, so I broke open a spent butane lighter, retrieved the flint, and installed it in the striker--works perfectly!

I still can't get over how that tiny little flame produces 38-degree cooling and freezing temps for ice cubes! I hope everything else in this tin bucket works as well!
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Old 03-07-2006, 08:39 PM   #10
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Tim,

Tom did a pretty good job of explaining the workings of the cooling unit.
Good job, Tom!

There are several other things that you should check/clean while you have the burner tube apart. Run a brush thru the tube to clean it thoroughly. Remove the burner orifice and look thru it. Blow some compressed air (ONLY!) thru it to remove any possible obstructions and do clean the baffle (the spiral piece at the end of the wire that Tom mentioned). A light sanding or stiff wire brush will do nicely. Vacuum the residue annd re-assemble. Your flame should be a nice bright blue. If not, the gas/air mix should be adjusted at the air inlet.

That should keep it running fine for another year. BTW, the black box on the
current models control the direct spark ignition of the gas burner (you don't have this) and the opening/closing of the gas valve. I would suspect that a vintage unit would have a thermocouple in the path of the burner to do this task.

Let me know if I can offer any more help. You also might try the Dometic web site for any pertinant docs.
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Old 03-07-2006, 10:03 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wayner1239
Ever wonder why the old reefers last so long and the newer ones go out in just a few years? The Dometic that came in my unit lasted about 9 years before it started smelling like ammonia. The fact that the old ones last almost forever tells me that the new ones are not made as well.
Wayne
Well yes at first I did, now I am just happy my 40 yr. old dometic still works !
34* last trip and ice cubes too.
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Old 03-08-2006, 07:40 AM   #12
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Thumbs up lol...

Quote:
Originally Posted by C Johnson
Well yes at first I did, now I am just happy my 40 yr. old dometic still works !
34* last trip and ice cubes too.
Got you beaten by a long shot..The "original" frig in the 64GT still cools down a six pack quicker than anything~
Your welcome to sample the beer anytime...lol
ciao
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Old 03-08-2006, 01:03 PM   #13
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The original fridges in my '75 Argosy and '79 Excella are still running, too. On both of them, I had to replace the electrical heating element soon after purchasing the trailer. I've found that pplmotorhomes in TX is a good source of them.

Lamar
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Old 03-11-2006, 03:44 PM   #14
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LEW,I was told to remove my 68 dometic and turn upside down to fix the vapor lock. I removed the wood panel and the floor bolts and 1 large wood screw, but I can't get the unit to move. Is ther any attachment on the oven side? Please help. I also want to use the electric side only, can I remove the gas lines completely?
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