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Old 11-07-2005, 06:25 AM   #1
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Dead Fridge ?

I just bought a 1975 31 foot Land Yacht. (i'm a rookie). I went to check out the original 1975 gas/electric Fridge on this unit that has been sitting unused for 10 years. I know I am getting voltage to the Fridge. Checking it out in the electrical mode using my owners manual, when nothing happens. Can I assume the compressor is shot from sitting so many years unused? I assume a new like replacement fridge would be very expensive? Please respond. Randy Wilson
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Old 11-07-2005, 06:31 AM   #2
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Randy,

Welcome to Airstreamforums.

The compressor isn't shot 'cause it doesn't have one. Turn it on again and wait an hour or two to see if it gets cold. It will be silent.

Post again if it still doesn't work.
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Old 11-07-2005, 06:41 AM   #3
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Dead Fridge ?

I Will try to restart my Fridge today. Thanks for the very quick reply. WOW. Randy Wilson
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Old 11-07-2005, 07:04 AM   #4
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Randy,

The refrigerators commonly used in RVs are called ammonia-absorption refrigerators. They have a cocktail of ammonia and other chemicals that are used instead of freon as a coolant. The ammonia is heated by either the electric element or a propane flame, and then as the chemical boils, it squirts through a small orifice into an expansion chamber. As it cools, it cools the interior of the fridge. It doesn't make a lot of sense to me, but it works.

That said, sitting for ten years is absolutely the worst thing that can happen to these fridges, as the chemicals added to the ammonia will tend to solidify out of solution. Moving the trailer or using the fridge regularly keeps the cocktail mixed properly. When the added chemicals begin to solidify out, or the system corrodes, the effectiveness of the fridge may be reduced, or if the orifice is blocked or a pinhole develops, the fridge may be history.

If it doesn't cool in a few hours, try it on propane. Typically, if the works are still good, but it won't cool on electricity, there may be a problem with the heating element. It may work fine on propane. If it won't cool on either electric or propane, you may have a dead fridge (read BIG $$$$ here).

Here are a couple of the best links I've found for diagnosing and understanding ammonia-absorption fridges:

http://www.rvmobile.com/Tech/Trouble/CoolingD.htm

http://www.gasrefrigeration.net/Why%20they%20fail.htm

Roger
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Old 11-07-2005, 07:36 AM   #5
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One other thought is to make sure the trailer is level before you turn on the fridge. As Roger noted the Witches brew that boils in the tubes also requires gravity and a basic levelness of the trailer to move around. The older units require a more level condition than the newer ones. If you aren't level and the liquid can't move around, deposits will form thus plugging up the tubes.

Jack
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Old 11-07-2005, 08:58 AM   #6
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And lastly, if you can start the fridge on gas, and it doesn't cool, you may want to loosen its mounts and shake it (not hard) a bit, to see it those chemicals can be moved away from where they are blocking things.
A word of caution, if you smell ammonia, extinguish the LP, turn off the electric to it, and start looking for a new fridge.
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Old 11-07-2005, 10:44 AM   #7
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If it still does not work after a bit of jiggling, hope is not completely lost. You may have to take the whole thing out and sit it on its head for a couple of hours and then back. Do this several times and it may come back to life. You will need to set up a temp propane line to try it out without putting it back into the unit. I did this after my 63 had set for 14 years without a working refrig and it came back to life. It is worth the effort to save $1000.
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Old 11-07-2005, 01:22 PM   #8
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Dead Fridge?

Tidings from Morristown IN. I kept my mouth shut and did as I was told. Hence I am glad to report that my Fridge seems to working fine and dandy. Put a can of peaches in there and in a few hours were nice and chilled. For all that responded to my post....Thanks a heap. Randy Wilson
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Old 11-07-2005, 04:52 PM   #9
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Looks like you have it figured out. Good!
I recently went through the same thing on my 75 Overlander.
After working well for the past two years it just seemed to quit cooling at all.
It didn't occur to me that it quit after I moved it to mow around it.
I was thinking I'd have to buy a new one - even took some measurements and looked at a couple of fridges at Best Buy and Circuit city.
Then I finally got around to leveling the trailer and surprise! it started working again. It was pretty level front to back but about an inch off from side to side. Surprising how finicky it was but I'm glad to fuss with it since it does work very well when it's level.
Jerry
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Old 11-07-2005, 04:58 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Randy Wilson
Tidings from Morristown IN. I kept my mouth shut and did as I was told. Hence I am glad to report that my Fridge seems to working fine and dandy. Put a can of peaches in there and in a few hours were nice and chilled. For all that responded to my post....Thanks a heap. Randy Wilson
That, Sir, is the best news I've heard all day! You beat the "Refrigerator Grim Reaper"!

Congrats!

Rog
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Old 11-07-2005, 06:07 PM   #11
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Ya, dem frigerators can be pesky critters. My dometic only worked on gas the first two years I had the coach and now the electric works as well. The thermostat still has issues however. Maybe I should just be patient.
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Old 11-10-2005, 05:01 AM   #12
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Good info guys! I am currently pulling the fridge out of my '73. I'll be trying your suggestions! I'll let you know how it all works out.
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Old 11-18-2005, 06:22 AM   #13
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Removed the Fridge from the 73 last week, Flipped it over to its top for an hour or so to ensure the liquid was in it and there was time it all moved around. Made a fixture to hook it into a propane tank. Loosened all the fittings and checked them for cracks. After working the knobs a few times to get them free, I turned the gas on and....... Viola flame on! Within 30 minutes the freezer was 30º. Now getting the electric to work has not been as successful to date. Once I got the knob to turn all the way to electric mode and check to see that power is in fact going to the heater, still not getting it to cool on AC…

Does anyone have a source for a replacement heater element?

If I can not replace the heater that is not a big problem. The 76 (the With Pearl) does not have a OEM fridge,

Next quest it the rubber seal for the doors.
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