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Old 03-23-2011, 10:17 PM   #1
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1965 28' Ambassador
Spokane , 99201
Join Date: Mar 2011
Posts: 2
Newbie needs help

I just purchased my first travel trailer and it had to be a vintage Airstream. 1965 28 foot ambassador. Really good condition but unfortunately the Dometic m52 fridge does not appear to be working, not that I would even really know how to work the thing since it is 17 years older than I am. Also the furnace pilot light is not working while I think I followed the instructions will not seem to work for me. Really wanting to get my toddler out and about in the near future. Can anyone help?

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Old 03-23-2011, 11:26 PM   #2
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1963 22' Safari
sherman oaks , California
Join Date: May 2010
Posts: 69
I can finally weigh in on a subject that I have some knowledge about. After such a lomg time of learning from y'all maybe I can give back... but not that helpful..
I have just restored a '62 Safari with a rm 52 dometic refer and it's toast... A beautiful inside with a beautiful global skin and it lights up on propane wonderfully but there is no gas in the heating system in the rear of the appliance and therefore no cooling.
I have not been able to find anyone that can fix that model and everyone says I need to replace it totally with a new refer. I'm reluctant to just give up and pull that baby out and junk it...
Someone help us!

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Old 03-24-2011, 05:43 AM   #3
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1974 31' Sovereign
1993 21' Sovereign
Colfax , North Carolina
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Posts: 19,577
You can try these people, they rebuild cooling units:
Dometic & Norcold Cooling Units. RV Refrigerator Repair.
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Old 03-24-2011, 05:57 AM   #4
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1970 27' Overlander
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I believe you can purchase the new/rebuilt cooling units and install them yourself while retaining the original vintage fridge.
Craig and Carol
1997 34' Excella 1000
1970 27' Overlander, International
2009 Ford F150 5.4L
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Old 03-24-2011, 06:35 AM   #5
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Vintage Kin Owner
North central , Florida
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Make sure the lp tanks are not too low and turned on. Sometimes when the lp is low on fuel it makes for problems. zz
1984 Avion 30p 9.1 meter. 2006 Dodge 3500 cummins srw short bed crew cab.
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Old 03-24-2011, 07:05 AM   #6
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Richmond , Virginia
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if it's a combo unit, try plugging in the electric and checking then.
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Old 03-24-2011, 08:56 AM   #7
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1973 27' Overlander
1977 23' Safari
Palmer Lake , Colorado
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Furnace: I've done 4 '70s Airstreams and all the furnaces were rusted beyond use, even though two of them continued to work. Blow the pilot area clean with compressed air. Also, check the pilot flame adjustment on the propane regulator--a small screw that is in the face of the regulator, w/o any indication of what it is.

Fridge: Also blow this area out. There is a flame adjustment on the regulator, also. Plus, check that the flame is impinging on the thermocouple. The thermocouple is the second thing to replace after you've blown the area clean and it's still not working.

Right above the pilot/burner area there is an approximately 2-1/2" diameter vertical tube. Inside this tube is the pipe where the amonia is heated. When you're on electric, there is a 75-120 Watt resistive heater (it varies in Wattage between fridge models) inside the tube that takes the place of the burner heat. There is an access panel in the side of the tube that allows you to replace this item.

Try your fridge on electric--if the tube is warm (give it a few minutes), the fridge should start working within a few hours. It takes quite some time for this to happen. This will give you a chance to figure out whether the basic amonia system is still intact. If so, you can then concentrate of further repair of the propane side.

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Old 03-25-2011, 05:05 PM   #8
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1964 22' Safari
1962 28' Ambassador
enosburg , Vermont
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Posts: 293
With a rig of this age you should start at the propane supply. Check pressure and volume, without that correct all else is hopeless, and dangerious. 1st, do'es any appliance have propane? If yes check the lines / connections for leaks. Use a common spray bottle with soap / water solution. With tank valves open & appliances off start misting lines at the tanks working back looking for bubbles. If OK or fixed next check pressure. Fridges are very finicky about pressure. To do this you need a magnometer. Pricey little tool to buy, but very easy to make. Would make a long boring post, google it up. In generall you need 3 ft of 3/8 vinyl tubing, a board, few nails, a ruler & pen. If, BIG IF, the tank regulator funtions properly the magnometer will let you adj the tank regulator to the column inches of pressure required by all appliances in your system. With the pressure. & volume up to snuff you can tackle repair on the fridge & furnace and expect results. Good news is most old fridges can work D.I.Y. Bad news is often old furnaces are wasted internally.
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Old 03-25-2011, 05:37 PM   #9
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@ ---> blanbowski

My trailer was like Christmas in reverse. Everything I opened, something was taken away. In the end, nothing worked except the water pump and the converter and I think I'll replace those just to not loose the momentum. My trailer was a 20-20. Everything looked pretty good from 20 feet away going 20 miles per hour.

My Airscream experience has been more of a forensic exercise than a restoration. I expect to have a few more surprises before I'm ready to try this trailer on the road. My blog carries a photo record of my misery.
Click on the link to see a picture of the Sioux River falls near my home.
Eastern South Dakota is very pretty with hills, rivers, and trees.
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Old 03-25-2011, 05:52 PM   #10
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Morrill , Nebraska
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Level is important

The first thing is to make sure the refer is level. Place a level on the floor of the freezer and check it from side to side and front to back. It's most critical that it be level from the left side to the right side inside the freezer.
Then as noted previously, put it in the electric mode (making sure you have 120 volt AC power to the Unit) set the thermostat at 5. Let it set for 24 hours and see what happens.

Knowledge: "A gift to be shared. A treasure to receive."
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