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Old 07-21-2014, 06:32 PM   #1
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Klixon Frustration

I have a Dometic 50 that is in pretty good physical shape but is untested in my 1961 Tradewind. I can light the pilot, hear the famous click, and have the burner come on. Burns well if I leave the pilot on - have adjusted the flame so in high looks okay. If I shut the pilot off, burner cuts off with a click after a few minutes. I checked the aluminum tongue and it appears to be placed correctly. Just does not appear to be transferring enough heat to keep the valve open.

First, any safety danger in leaving the pilot on for a while to see if the fridge will cool?

Second, any ideas about getting the tongue to transfer enough heat?

If the cooling unit is bad, which is what I would like to check, will have to replace the unit. But would love to salvage it if at all possible.
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Old 07-21-2014, 09:55 PM   #2
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Will this help?

Airstream Refrigerator Manual.pdf
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Old 07-22-2014, 08:42 AM   #3
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I am confused about your desire to turn off the pilot light, but to run the burner. I can't think of any flame driven appliance with a pilot light that doesn't keep the pilot light lit all the time the unit is in "operation mode."
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Old 07-22-2014, 12:56 PM   #4
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Looks like two types of valves with the old fridges. The mechnical Klixon valve and the more modern thermocouple. Which do you have? Both need a pilot to keep the burner on. If the burner is on and you don't get cooling then the cooling unit is bad. It may take an hour or so before the fins inside start to get cold. Is this fridge gas only?

Perry
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Old 07-22-2014, 03:29 PM   #5
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It is gas only. To light the fridge, you depress a brass button located on the front behind the vent. The pilot lights and heats the Klixon until you hear the "click" at which point the burner comes on. At that point you release the button and the pilot goes off. The burner flame keeps (or should) burning at various levels, but all at a temp high enough to transfer heat to the Klixon through the aluminum tongue to keep the valve open.

It seems that insufficient heat is being transferred through the tongue to keep the valve open. What I was thinking was to keep the pilot button depressed (like with a clamp) to keep the burner going long enough to see if the cooling unit itself was good. Just did not know if there would be a safety issue with that. Also, trying to figure out if there is some fix for the aluminum tongue to transfer more heat.

I appreciate the repair manual and also I have the original spare parts and instruction manual. About to go out and work a bit more on it.
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Old 07-22-2014, 04:04 PM   #6
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Most likely corrosion has made the thing non-functional. I don't see a reason why it can't be retrofitted with the thermocouple type gas valve. I doubt the Klixon is still made and I would think, has some serious safety hazards. A dirty burner might cause this problem but more than likely the components have corroded and may even have holes in them. You need a thermocouple and gas control valve for the same size fridge in a slightly newer model. I expect it can be made to function reliably but it will take some work. Their might be someone who specializes in restoring the old fridges. I seem to remember someone posted not long ago about having one refurbed with a complete new cooling unit.

Perry
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Old 07-22-2014, 06:25 PM   #7
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I have a Dometic 50 in my '62 Tradewind that operates exactly as Beatrix describes except mine stays on as it is supposed to. I've been told that the klixon is very fragile and its very difficult to find replacements. So I was fortunate that mine worked. I'd be interested to see how anyone retrofitted theirs in case mine ever breaks. I suppose there has to be a way. However, they operate completely different than modern fridges I've seen, as the klixon provides a small flame similar to that from a bunson burner that never turns off, whereas modern fridges provide a more energetic roaring flame that tuns off and on using a pilot light or spark igniter.

I'll be watching this thread with interest.
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Old 07-22-2014, 11:31 PM   #8
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My new thought is that there might be insufficient LP gas flow. I cannot light the stove as it just sputters. The Tradewind has the original regulator. I posted under the gas forum and those posts, plus what I already know, suggest I just replace the regulator. Cheap part that ensures safety. Going to do that tomorrow and see what it does.
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Old 07-23-2014, 05:01 AM   #9
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Oil or water build up in the propane lines could be the cause of the sputtering.
You could try opening one of the coupling or tee fittings at a low point in the lines beneath the trailer to see if anything runs out.
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Old 07-23-2014, 05:25 AM   #10
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I have 6 of these sitting in storage hoping for a reanimator to come along. 5 have this very issue you describe. Here is my theory: Inside the mechanical Klixson tongue there is a piston that is moved when the eye(brass disc) heats up and becomes concave instead of convex. The brass eye becomes week from all that convexing and concaving and no longer holds that piston in the open position. The Klixon tongue is a totally non repairable part no longer available anywhere. I have spoken to numerous repair facilities about this issue and they all told me the same thing, move on, buy a new fridge. I keep storing them hoping a working burner will come along and I can put my original fridge back in my trailer. At this point I think it is a lost cause.
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Old 07-23-2014, 07:51 AM   #11
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I guess the question would be this correct.

Find out how much heat did the original burner put out? Then find a source for that same amount of heat.

Either that or send it to "Rick's Restorations" tell him you want it to work with all new updated burner parts and make a TV show out of it ;-)

Enjoy,
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Old 07-23-2014, 08:20 AM   #12
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Frank I am sure they can be moded with a new burner and more modern gas valve. If you have the guts to a newer fridge I am sure you could make it work. Is there a hatch door to acess the back of these older fridges? Not sure how easy it would be to make it all work from the front side. I am thinking parts from the RM series would work. Since you have so many it is worth a try.


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Old 07-23-2014, 03:59 PM   #13
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I think we might need some rocket scientists and engineers for this project. Now if we can just find a few of those maybe we could do a TV show about it….

As Paul hit upon, the amount of heat is very key according to an old time appliance guy I spoke with.
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Old 07-23-2014, 04:38 PM   #14
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Not a very safe way, but in my mind I see one of the little propane torches turned up on end that has the little adjuster knob turned a little at a time until the correct amount of heat makes it work, then crazy glue the knob in place.

What can go wrong!

Enjoy,
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