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Old 11-10-2011, 06:34 PM   #1
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1968 28' Ambassador
Debary , Florida
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My Refrigerator thinks it's an Oven

I have a 1968 Ambassador with a Dometic RM1303. I had purchased the trailer a few years ago as a project and my buddy has “shamed” me into going camping this Thanksgiving, so I have pulled it out of storage and I am going though the systems so I can make it operable for some basic camping.


I fired up the fridge on shore power and the green light comes on and you can tell the heater is working as the fridge gets very warm on the inside and you can hear an occasional gurgle coming from the fridge. From reading some different sources out there I have seen where you can get a re manufactured coil unit for the fridge. Has anyone had any experience with these???? is it more trouble than it is worth and should I just spring for a new fridge????? or is there a possible fix I should try before I proceed any further????
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Old 11-10-2011, 07:27 PM   #2
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Most likely the refrig is toast. The question of a rebuilt unit vs. a new refrig is never going to have a definitive answer. The rebuilt units require at least to have the refrig removed from the AS and replaced, after the cooling unit is itself removed and replaced from the box. Cost is about half to 2/3 the cost of a new refrig, if you do the work yourself. Then you still have an old refrig, with a rebuilt cooling unit, with maybe a 2 year guarantee, at best.

But a new refrig is costly, and in general only has a 3 year warrantee on the cooling unit.

I might note that neither of the major refrigerator makers for RV's either offers or sanctions rebuilt cooling units for some reason, be it cost, profit, liability or whatever. I guess they just don't think they are cost effective from their viewpoint.

My strictly personal thought, if it were mine, I would buy an entire new refrigerator, but many are happy with the re built cooling units.

Ya pays your money and takes your choice I guess.
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Old 11-10-2011, 07:40 PM   #3
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If you smell ammonia, it's definitely toast. Yours is 50 years old, and though some are still going strong, yours is probably corroded. Also the gaskets and hinges, etc. could be well worn too. Unless everything but the cooling unit IS pristine, I'd replace the whole thing.

If you don't smell ammonia, or see evidence that it all leaked out in the past, then you could take the fridge out, turn it upside down and "burp" it to try to get the ammonia flowing again. Might work... and costs nothing beyond a bruise or two to try.

OH, and you COULD just use a good cooler or throw some dry ice in the fridge and have an "icebox" for this trip.

Happy trails, Paula
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Old 11-10-2011, 09:51 PM   #4
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Oswego , Illinois
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I got a new cooling unit from here:

RV Cooling Unit Warehouse

It was 1/3 the cost of a new fridge, took about 3 hours to install with simple tools.
It's only been one season so I can't comment on durability, but I will tell you the performance is better than any OE fridge cooling unit I have ever owned. Read the story about how the Amish have modified to their liking.
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Old 11-10-2011, 11:08 PM   #5
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Morrill , Nebraska
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Is your fridge level? In both directions?
Have you tried it on both gas and electric mode? Is the vent clear of obstructions. Is the chimney above the burner clear? Do you see any yellow dust on the back of the unit? Do you smell ammonia?
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Old 11-11-2011, 06:06 AM   #6
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thanks for the input!!!

I figured it was fried but I will try to " burp" it just in case. For the camping trip will probably use a cooler and some dry ice ..... the link to warehouse site is great and will probably go that route after the trip. Project for Jan, Feb and March is to strip the interior and start the rehab and upgrades....Thanks again for the help
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Old 01-01-2012, 01:57 PM   #7
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have you tried leveling? mine does this if it's not level. the heater pump cavitates. and the heat from the pump turns it into a oven instead or a refridge. i can thank my nephew for that he's an hvac tech. so informed me this may be the problem. leveled and it worked!
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Old 01-01-2012, 02:23 PM   #8
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Troy , Ohio
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That happened to us as well--a hot box and gurgling noises. Those are symptoms of a cooling unit gone bad. We replaced the cooling unit ourselves with a rebuilt one, and it was still going strong 2 years later when we sold the rv.
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Old 01-02-2012, 03:14 PM   #9
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1968 28' Ambassador
Debary , Florida
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thanks jennygt

we tried the leveling and the unit is toast ....... My Jan - May project is to tear out the interior and redo everything and I will put in a new cooling cartridge at that time since the box itself is in very good condition. Thanks for the input and have a great new year
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