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Old 06-16-2002, 10:44 PM   #1
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Check , Check and Re-Check a new refer saga.

Last week I go into the motorhome and notice that I have left the doors on the refer closed, in storage. Normally I prop them open so the moisture can evaporate. So I open up the freezer and take a careful wiff and almost pass out for the AMMONIA smell. OH NO... my fridge is dead. It is a 10 year old unit lots of rust on the back, interior light non operational, etc. So I decide we will go off to Campingworld to get a NEW one. I do all the research based on the model number on the front of the installed refer, and pick a unit that should just replace the one that has died. WRONG! Based on the model number that was installed I bought the same size. I should have measured. The new one is 2.5 inches shorter that the one I took out. So now I have 2 choices. Install the one I have, or take it back and get a 2.5 inch taller one.

Now if Camping World was not an hour and a half away, I would have just taken it back. But I looked at it as the joy of doing the work myself and besides the only thing I own big enough to get the fridge in IS the MH, so I would have had to re-install the old one to put the kitchen cabinets back together to drive 3 hours to exchange the fridge. No I will make it fit.

I decided to make lemons from lemonade tonight. See I had the unit 70% installed and then I had the bright idea to jack it up the 2.5 inches I was short so the fill plate would be on the floor. I uninstalled it, fabricated the box to lift it, installed the box and put the fridge back in it's spot. It would not fit. Now the back of the unit was against the inside skin and would not go in the hole all the way. So pull it out, unfabricate the box, reinstall the basic foot plates and reinstall it again &*&^$%^&*.

So I guess the reason for this cautionary tale is to not always belive the badges/nameplates on appliances that have minimal clearances. Measure, Measure, Measure. The story is not over, as I still need to finish installing the remaining cabinets. You see I am only 70% completed with the installation.
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Old 06-17-2002, 12:19 AM   #2
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May I ask, Brett - how long did it take for you to do all of this . . . did it take you longer than the 3 hours it would have had you just taken the unit back and got another one?

Just curious . . .

-Emily.
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Old 06-17-2002, 06:47 AM   #3
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My attempt only took about 2 hours, so I am still came out better. The drive time was 3 hours but the reinstallation and re-removal so the coach was drivable would have been another 3-4 hours as well. After doing some checking I am finding that even if I had got the one that was 2.5 inches taller, I may not have been able to get it to fit. Due to the curve in the wall the taller unit would have hit the wall in the same way the one I have did when jacked up on the base I built. So tonight I will work to finish the installation and test the unit. I only hope that it works properly. My understanding is that about 30% of the new fridges are DOA.
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Old 06-17-2002, 08:41 AM   #4
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Apparently, I'm in the 30% DOA group

I have a new box that won't get cold or even stay cold on AC while it tends to freeze everything on propane. It's a pain to take it to the dealer, so I want to record exactly what is happening and hopefully determine why.

I'm taking it out to the state park tomorrow for 2 nights. It'll be in the mid 90s during the day, so this is a good test of cooling. I'll switch it back and forth from propane to AC and record what happens.

All I know so far is that the freezer gets real cold on AC but the fins in the box barely get cool. The box temp hardly goes down at all. On propane, the cooling is great ... I have to keep the thermostat on about 2 to keep from freezing the milk. Last time I switched it back to AC, the fins were no longer cool and the box temp started to rise.
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Old 06-17-2002, 09:17 AM   #5
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New Fridge problems

My early diagnosis would be the fact that the thermostatic control of the electric heater is bad (defective board in the control panel)or the element of the heater is bad. Since it works fine on gas, it pretty well elimanates the cooling engine as the problem.

Did your dealer offer you an overnight at his place when you picked up the trailer? One of the things I recommend to new owners is an overnight stay so you can check out the mechanicals. Especially if you don't live close to the dealer.

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Old 06-17-2002, 09:36 AM   #6
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Fridge Diagnosis

I have the same diagnosis. When I bring the trailer home from storage today, the first thing I'll check is the resistance of the heating element. The spec is 190 watts, so it should be less than 76 ohms cold.

If not that, then the thermostat is probably the culprit. However, I suspect the heating element since the pipe at the top rear of the fridge was quite hot last time after several hours on AC while the fins inside were barely cool. That would tell me that the element was on but minimal cooling was happening.

One thing I notice is that the heating element is quite loose in the stack. I wonder whether there just isn't good enough heat transfer going on inside the stack. It rattles all over the place. I don't remember the elements on my several previous fridges being so loose.

The dealer is just 9 miles from home, 31 miles from the storage place, so taking the trailer back is not a massive chore. As a retired engineer, though, I have to understand these things myself. My aim is to diagnose the problem myself first so that it gets fixed properly the first time.
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Old 06-17-2002, 10:18 AM   #7
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Unfortunately the 30% DOA is no cool on any source. I.E. a bad cooling unit. I hope that my new one is in the 70% category. I have heard no rattling on mine but I am curious about a wire that has what looks like a handle on it that sticks out of the top of the chimney. Is this some kind of automatic cleaner? My old one did not have one of these wires, and it does move about freely. Anyone know what it is for? I did not see a reference to it in the manuals, but I have not read them cover to cover yet. I do have the pages with clearances memorized by now....

Now all I need is a piece of Luan that has the proper color (teak) surface to fill my 2.5 inch gap. Suggestions???
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Old 06-17-2002, 01:59 PM   #8
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Wire handle

That wire handle goes down in the flue to a twisted peice of tin that causes the flame to swirl around and make more contact. You can depress the wire and pull it straight up. After about 1 foot of wire, the twisted flame diffuser will appear. It just hangs on the end of the wire. You pull the flame diffuser out to get it out of the way when you clean the flue.

Well, I just checked the heating element on mine and it is 69 ohms cold. That is consistent with the 190 watt rating when the element is hot. The only thing left to check is the AC part of the thermostat. I'll check that the next three days at the state park.

It is 86 degrees out and I started the fridge on gas about a half hour ago. The temp inside has already started down a bit. Ordinarily, I would put a couple of cold packs in at this point, but today I want to find out what the box does on its own.
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Old 06-17-2002, 10:49 PM   #9
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progress at last!

The AC heating element is fine. 69 ohms cold is just about right for 190 watts.

That left the thermostat. I finally lucked into the problem. The fridge was slowly cooling on propane and I turned the temperature control clear around to "on" which should run the flame constantly at high, regardless of the fridge temp. Lo and behold, the box started warming up on me! I then turned the control to about 4 and the box started cooling again.

Coupling the fact that "on" actually turns the box off and the fact that I have to turn the control clear down to 1 or 2 to keep the contents from freezing on propane, the answer becomes kind of obvious. Either the thermostat is screwed up or the control knob is somehow not aligned with the thermostat.

The next step is to put a meter on the AC element and prove to myself that this is the case. Always before when trying to run on AC, I had the control turned clear to the "on" position.

I have 2 1/2 days at the State Park to experiment with the box.
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Old 06-20-2002, 06:50 AM   #10
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Last night I was able to finish the installation of the new fridge and test it for cooling. Everthing works, after 2 hours the freezer was in the teens and the refer compartment was in the 70's. After 4 hours the freezer was below 0 and the refer was in the 40's. This was on AC. I will let you know how it works on gas later.
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Old 06-20-2002, 11:57 AM   #11
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Success!

I just spent 3 days at Inks Lake with temps in the 90s. The fridge worked fine on both electric and gas, staying in the mid-30s with the control set on 2.

I just have to remember that with the control turned full cold, both the electric and the propane quit cooling. It's not worth worrying about now that I know what's happening.

Apparently, the thermostat and the knob aren't quite in sync.
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Old 06-23-2002, 09:36 PM   #12
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Well, everything is completely back together, door panel installed etc. So I thought I would post a picture of my endeavor. Note the filler plate on the top. I have not yet decided what I will do here. It may come out and be a spice rack, for now it is just a filler plate. The black blob at the top of the fridge is an in/out thermometer with the out probe inserted into the refer compartment through the back of the refer.

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Old 06-24-2002, 08:15 AM   #13
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Looks really good. Is that top area sealed off fairly well? You don't want to pick up any heat or CO from the gas burner on the fridge.

Jack
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Old 06-24-2002, 10:54 AM   #14
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On the refer top there is a strip of foam tape. I am planning on using a clear silicone around the rest of the edge. That is if I don't rip it out and create a spice rack! Otherwise I will laminate the piece of Luan and silicone it into place.
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