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Old 06-01-2004, 07:11 AM   #1
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How cool are these Refers??

My '85 has the original Dometic< I think, it doesn't cool much just sitting there plugged into 120v. Is this normal?

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Old 06-01-2004, 07:22 AM   #2
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How cool are these Refers??

Greetings jperryfly!

Originally Posted by jperryfly
My '85 has the original Dometic< I think, it doesn't cool much just sitting there plugged into 120v. Is this normal?
I just returned from a four-day excursion with my '78 Minuet with its original Dometic. Its refrigerator maintained 40 degrees in the freezer compartment and 0 degrees in the freezer compartment all four days - - it performed in much the same way for more than a month while I was out with the coach last summer. In both cases, I too, was operating on electricity - - in fact, I rarely use the LP setting a lighting the unit is such a nuisance. With my Minuet, leveling the coach is critical - - anything more than 1/2 bubble off and cooling suffers. One of the things that has helped to improve the functioning of all the LP appliances in my coach is annual servicing at my Airstream dealership - - it is a rare situation when any of the appliances give me problems while on the road, the sole exception being a tendency to attract spider webs ad nests in the water heater.

Good luck with your refrigerator!


Kevin D. Allen
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1964 Overlander International/1999 GMC K2500 Suburban (7400 VORTEC/4.11 Differentials)
1978 Argosy Minuet 6.0 Metre/1975 Cadillac Eldorado Convertible (8.2 Liter V8/2.70 Final Drive)
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Old 06-01-2004, 07:26 AM   #3
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I likely have the exact same unit. Although it cools faster on lp, it will get cold enough to freeze water in the refrigerator compartment if I don't cut the thermostat back. At outside temperatures of, say, 85 deg., expect it to take about four hours on lp, six hours on 120 to reach operating temperatures.

There are many things which could cause it not to cool, but on a unit that old I'd start with checking to see that the flue is clear.

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Old 06-01-2004, 07:26 AM   #4
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You have two items to check. First, feel the heating element and coils located behind the back of the refrigerator (accessible from the outside via an access panel) to check its temperature. If it is cool to the touch, the refrigerator may be set to operate on gas in which case you need to set the gas valve to 'electric'. Second, verify that the electric/gas switch is positioned to provide electric service which can only be positioned to electric when the gas valve is closed.
In all cases, if the heating element or the cooling coils are cold to the touch, then the refrigerator will not cool.
Also, the trailer needs to be level so that the refrigerator is level. Use a bubble gauge on the rack inside the refrigerator to establish whether or not the unit is level.
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Old 06-01-2004, 08:26 AM   #5
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Just as a refernce. All coaches we've ever owned (including when we were younger camping with our famiy), have had ice cold fridges...all Dometics. So cold that at times you have to be careful how high you set them as the fridges can actually freeze stuff--this is both with gas and 110v.

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Old 06-01-2004, 08:38 AM   #6
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For even more reference, I have had four, three did not work worth a hoot.

While camping this weekend, I witnessed two on site, Reefer repair jobs, one was replaced circuit board, the other was order new cooling unit for replacement, both Dometic on Airstreams.

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Old 06-01-2004, 09:32 AM   #7
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My Scamp had a bad circuit board that couldn't tolerate my flourescent lighting. Once fixed, it worked great.

On both of my Airstreams, it will freeze the lettuce in the crisper drawers at the lowest setting.
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Old 06-01-2004, 10:51 AM   #8
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Thanks for all the replies. I'm new to this. I'll start with checking the flue and leveling it and the gas valve. We'll see how that works. This trailer ( sorry "coach") has sat for a long while and not had much care, so I'm trying to get it all working again. I see the gas valve knob in the outside access door has broken off. I'll have to see if I can figure out which way is off.
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Old 06-01-2004, 11:23 AM   #9
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I have been having trouble getting my fridge to cool down enough to use. I was told it's important to level it, and that the correct spot to put the levels is on top of the coil in the freezer. If it's level there then it's really level. I was checking from a shelf in the fridge and apparently that's not always good enough. Good luck.

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Old 06-01-2004, 11:36 AM   #10
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"I see the gas valve knob in the outside access door has broken off. I'll have to see if I can figure out which way is off."

jperryfly - All the gas valves I have seen on Airstreams are a "pointer type" which means that the handle is only a two inch long handle (not round like water) and when it points down the gas line (i.e. parallel to the tubing) it is in the on or gas-to-flow position. When the handle is pointing perpendicular to the gas line (i.e. at a 90 degree angle to the gas line), the gas flow is cut off.
You should be able to visualize which position the valve is in by looking at the spot where the handle has broken off. To be off, the jagged edge where the handle used to be attached should be at the 90 degree angle to the tubing. If memory serves me correctly, the gas will be off when the handle/jagged edge is facing outward towards you as you look at it. Also, the switch to turn the electric on and off can not be turned to on when the gas is on because the on position of the electric switch is covered by the gas valve handle when the gas is turned on.

I am worried about this situation because it appears to me that the valve may have been broken off so that both electric and gas could operate at the same time. This is VERY DANGEROUS!! If you have any question, get the unit to a qualified repair facility before attempting to use it.

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Old 06-03-2004, 10:24 PM   #11
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I attended a Dometic lecture at the International two years ago out in Rapid City. The temperatures were around 90-100 during the day and they were measuring skin temperatures on the trailers at around 130F! It was hot! Needless to say, ice cream was melting in a lot of freezers!

To make a long story short, these fridges have a maximal theoretical cooling limit of X deg from ambient. The value of X depends on a lot of factors but is linearly related to the HEIGHT of the cooling fins on the back of your fridge. So the taller the fridge, the better it will cool. Also, having better flow of cooler air flow along these coils helps. Putting your awning down on the fridge side may help. On our '72, we would leave our solid fridge cover door partially cracked open and put a small fan up there to draw in cool air. Gas works more efficiently than electric in extreme cooling situations. Obviously being level is important.

On our '72 we were getting abysmal cooling last year. I took everything apart and cleaned up what I could to no avail. Then I talked to some gurus who recommended tapping (?beating) on the gas thermostat with a screwdriver handle. Wala!!! The flame suddenly shot up much higher and we were cooling much better. Another critical factor is the seal with the freezer and the main door. Our door had sagged over time and repeated use and was losing it's seal and allowing cold air to cascade out onto the floor. A couple of washers in the hinge fixed that in a hurry. Suddenly our 40+ degree temps dropped into the 20's with both of these simple manuevers.
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Old 06-03-2004, 10:44 PM   #12
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Another thing that I found about these RV type of fridges, and I put a new one in our trailer, is they are VERY dependent on the outside temperature.

For instance, when we were camping in the mountains it could be 80F in the day and 40F at night. Well, at night the stuff in the fridge compartment would start the freeze. Say hello to orange juice slushes!

So, you have to very the thermostat setting at night to keep from freezing.

Which makes me ask the question. What exactly is the point of the thermostat? Shouldn't it keep the fridge at the setting you made it and not allow it to go into a freeze situation?

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