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Old 02-21-2009, 09:37 PM   #1
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Refridge in 72 Tradewind won't cool

Just purchased this trailer and the fridge doesn't cool. Got the trailer leveled or close to it. on electric the heater box gets hot, all other pipes are cool. Tried to light it on gas but didn't seem to light, followed the Airstream manual I have but pilot didn't light. Have downloaded the Dometic manual and have a basic understanding of how things work but haven't found a step by step how to guide. Lots of information on what to do but can't find a how to do it. Right now I've got electric on and it's hot but doesn't seem to be flowing to other parts of the system. Any help?
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Old 02-22-2009, 12:11 AM   #2
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It may take time

Quote:
Originally Posted by RichHog View Post
Just purchased this trailer and the fridge doesn't cool. Got the trailer leveled or close to it. on electric the heater box gets hot, all other pipes are cool. Tried to light it on gas but didn't seem to light, followed the Airstream manual I have but pilot didn't light. Have downloaded the Dometic manual and have a basic understanding of how things work but haven't found a step by step how to guide. Lots of information on what to do but can't find a how to do it. Right now I've got electric on and it's hot but doesn't seem to be flowing to other parts of the system. Any help?
If the unit has been sitting for a while it may take some time before the inside gets cold. The pipes on the outside will at least get warm if the chemicals are moving. The longer it has been sitting, the longer it may take. Give it at least 3 days.
Dan
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Old 02-22-2009, 06:49 AM   #3
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If the box is getting hot, the heater element is working. If you see any yellow residue or smell ammonia, the cooling unit is leaking. It does take a while foe these things to get cold, but it it does not cool after some time, you have a problem. A solution that sometimes works it to remove the unit, turn it upside down for a day and then reinstall it. This burping method will sometimes remove a blockage in the cooling unit. some people have had great success doing this, other have not.
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Old 02-22-2009, 10:08 AM   #4
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It does indeed take some time, like several, if not more, hours. They are a pain to take out and burp, so hopefully yours will work just fine with some patience. If you can't light the pilot manually, with a long match, then you are not getting gas. Check the obvious reasons for that (there is a valve in the gas line right there at the back of the fridge, maybe another down below the belly pan), and if you think gas should be making it to the burner, maybe the burner orifice is clogged and can be carefully cleaned out. It is a very small orifice, so this is entirely possible. As stated, if you smell no ammonia while trying to fire the thing up, chances are that your fridge will work just fine. Good luck!
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Old 02-23-2009, 08:24 AM   #5
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Don't smell ammonia or see any signs of leaks. Unit has been on for 2 days and heater element is hot but isn't cooling. Tried the flint sparking from inside the fridge, that didn't light it and then used a butane fire started in the slot and that didn't ignite the gas either. Where is the burner orifice and how do I take it apart to clean?
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Old 02-23-2009, 11:36 AM   #6
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Mine has a pilot button that has to be depressed to get propane to flow. Much like the pilot on a water heater. My orrifice was plugged and I had to clean. I have a access door on the outside of the trailer,behind that a wind shield. After removing the shield you can see the gas orrifice. Mine took a 5/8 or 11/16 end wrench to remove,I used an acetaline tip cleaner to clean the orrifice. After cleaning you can ajust the threaded collers to get the proper air mixture for a clean burn. With the orrifice removed it is a good idea to clean the chimney flue. The flue baffle is removed from the top, rear of the fridge. On mine the is a cutout at the back of the counter top to acess the flue. Adios, John
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Old 02-23-2009, 02:36 PM   #7
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Do you have the thermostat knobs, inside the fridge on the front, set somewhere in the middle range? Starting to sound like a blockage in the ammonia unit (or maybe NO ammonia)- taking it out, inverting it, burping it- might help. Would help if you could get gas to the burner, and get that lit- if that also produces no cooling, then burping would be the next step before more serious repair or replacement. For gas to light all valves must be open, and you must depress the pilot button for quite a while sometimes, to get rid of the air in the lines. Manually light by sliding open the "door" and sticking a long match in there. (at least that's how my '72 OL fridge is configured) Good Luck!
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Old 02-23-2009, 04:07 PM   #8
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If you go to all of the trouble to remove the old frig to "burp" it, I don't know if I would want to reinstall it even it did work. These things are not easy to remove. I do know on the old frig in my 1976 Sovereign that the lower frig area would take awhile to get cold. But the freezer would start to feel cool very quickly. So if the freezer is not cooling by now I would say something is wrong. Here are my frig replacement pictures that may help.

Don
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Old 02-23-2009, 06:58 PM   #9
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The propane and the electric heat the same plumbing. If "the other pipes are cool" when the "box" is hot getting the propane to work probably won't make any difference. My guess is a blockage or you have lost the ammonia. I think your only choice may be to burp it. There are a few people around who can still rebuild these things. But when you put the money in you may want to consider a new, reliable unit. It probably will be difficult to find a new unit about the same size however.
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Old 02-24-2009, 10:40 AM   #10
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I let it run on propane overnight, no difference in temp this morning, so I will have to burp her as the next step. Can I expect the core ammonia from a 72 unit to still have active cooling ability after all these years?
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Old 02-24-2009, 07:31 PM   #11
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I let it run on propane overnight, no difference in temp this morning, so I will have to burp her as the next step. Can I expect the core ammonia from a 72 unit to still have active cooling ability after all these years?
Both fridges in my 71 and 73 work.

As mentioned above the person who designed how the 70s fridges were installed believed if 1 screw is good then 50 must be 50 times as good. In case you have not snapped to it yet just about every fridge in the world is held in place with 4 screws at the bottom except 70s ASs. They require you to take cabinetry and counters apart, how much depends on your model.On my 71 Tradewind you take off the bulkhead next to the door, top galley cabinet, galley cabinet counter and then start unscrewing. Don't forget the hidden screws in the inside of the pantry closet. I would figure on a whole day to get it removed and reinstalled.
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Old 02-25-2009, 01:55 PM   #12
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Both fridges in my 71 and 73 work.

As mentioned above the person who designed how the 70s fridges were installed believed if 1 screw is good then 50 must be 50 times as good. In case you have not snapped to it yet just about every fridge in the world is held in place with 4 screws at the bottom except 70s ASs. They require you to take cabinetry and counters apart, how much depends on your model.On my 71 Tradewind you take off the bulkhead next to the door, top galley cabinet, galley cabinet counter and then start unscrewing. Don't forget the hidden screws in the inside of the pantry closet. I would figure on a whole day to get it removed and reinstalled.
On my 67 what Lumatic said!!! The goods news I was able to refinish all the woodwork wilst I repaired said fridge. I did not burp mine ,replaced the door gasket, rebuilt the inner door panel &, refurbished the gas works. Mine works very well, both on 120v & propane.
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Old 02-25-2009, 02:23 PM   #13
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I went through these trials and tribulations when I got my trailer.
The Dometic (rm660) refrigerator had the same symptoms as yours - the thing was just shot.
I opted to reuse the old refrigerator but I ordered some rebuilt coils from somewhere on-line.
Pros:
  • less expensive than a new one
  • don't have to worry about electronic boards going bad
  • The refrigerator is manually operated.
  • it works great
Cons:
  • Still have an old gasket which I don't know if a newer one is available
  • I don't have the modern automatic gas/electric switchover.
  • The refrigerator is manually operated.
I installed the rebuilt coils and workbench tested it. Electric was easy of course. I borrowed a components from an old gas grill and fired up the gas portion on the workbench. Works flawlessly except that it does take some time for the gas to get flowing through the system. The first lighting of the gas is the toughest. If I haven't used the trailer for some time it is easier to take the wind deflector off and use a match to start the gas. Once the gas has flowed I don't have any trouble switching from elect to gas for the remainder of the trip.
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Old 03-01-2009, 07:49 PM   #14
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Rich Hog,
You asked if you can burp the coils by removing them without taking out the fridge. I don't know, but I doubt it.
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