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Old 05-28-2016, 08:14 AM   #1
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1979 31' Sovereign
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Replace or Repair the Fridge? 1979 31ft Sovereign Intl

My girlfriend just went up to our '79 Sovereign for the weekend. Said soon after connecting power to the trailer, she detected a smell of ammonia from the fridge and after a while it still wasn't cooling. She still needs power in the trailer so left the shore power plugged in but turned off the fridge.

Hopefully with the fridge off there's no risk of fire or health from the ammonia leak?

It's Dometic model RM100 product no 9264301 and likely original to the trailer (but externally in very good condition.) So now what to do? I'll attach a pic below. It worked quite well up until this event, but I have noticed the components are pretty rusty looking when looking from the exterior access panel.

We're going to have a service tech come look at it, but if the pipes are corroded seems any patch could fail, or might just reveal another weak spot. I know nothing about refrigeration but can move things around, make connections, etc.

Online, I've found a supplier of full replacement cooling units (~$425) and also a new OE Dometic Refrigerator Double Door 8.0 c.f. RH Product Code: 690609-02 that might be a candidate for new.

The idea of a fresh, new original spec fridge is appealing, providing it can fit without requiring major modification of the china cabinet, etc. and that it will be reliable. That said, replacing the entire cooling unit might be better built than an entirely new unit and of course there'd be no issue with fit.

Fix or replace?
Any recommendations from pros or those with a similar experience?
Can anyone confirm the new Dometic 690609-02 would fit?
Should I be considering other options looking ahead?



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Old 05-28-2016, 08:33 AM   #2
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That stock fridge looks pretty nice, I would be prone to want to try installing the cooling unit in that one.


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Old 05-28-2016, 09:23 AM   #3
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2007 27' Classic FB
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I agree with J. Morgan. In my first AS the fridge was out when I bought it. I took it to a guy in Corpus Christi, Tex who rebuilds them. The cost was about half the cost of a new one. The repair worked well. However, the cost of a rebuilt one that you mentioned seems well worth the cost.
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Old 05-28-2016, 09:43 AM   #4
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1979 31' Sovereign
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Thanks, our '79 is overall quite original and in great condition. I did put a brand new furnace in, all new pex plumbing and propane lines, but the fridge is so well built into the cabinet I'm loath to change it up too much.

Then again, a nice new modern looking fridge would be great and I can see at least another 20-30 years for this trailer.
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Old 05-28-2016, 10:00 AM   #5
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I replaced mine.

For one, my trusted, kind hearted, fair and professional restoration guy, noticed the greenish gold ooze,coming from the coils, and more or less forbid me to go camping, with the fridge in that condition.

For two, my fridge was nowhere near as clean looking as yours.

For three, I was having a hard time finding anyone who wanted to perform the repair/replacement.

For four, Mine was much smaller and the cost of a new fridge was not as much as your big fridge.

Anyway be careful. Avoid the smell. Hope someone with more knowledge than me, will address how dangerous the gas is.
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Old 05-28-2016, 10:07 AM   #6
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It is my understanding by reading this forum that no new refrigerator will fit that space without modification/shimming.

It cant be THAT hard to replace a cooling unit, and assuming that the replacement unit is pretty good, you will have a nice simple unit that should last decades more.


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Old 05-28-2016, 10:58 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by J. Morgan View Post
It is my understanding by reading this forum that no new refrigerator will fit that space without modification/shimming.

It cant be THAT hard to replace a cooling unit, and assuming that the replacement unit is pretty good, you will have a nice simple unit that should last decades more.


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I agree that the replacement wouldn't be THAT hard mechanically….BUT. You'd have to deal with the gas, disposal of the liquid, exposure to the gas etc., which I have " heard " described as lethal.

I am wondering if the new replacement coil, comes " charged " with the Ammonia gas. I wonder, because of the possible problems of shipping the gas.

Waiver…I am barely smart enough to know what I don't know
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Old 05-28-2016, 11:23 AM   #8
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1990 34' Excella
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I recently purchased a '91 Excella with the original frig. Looked great, but too small, manual defrost (huge pain) and costs $30 a month to run. Sold it for $300 and purchased a 9.9 cu ft. Vissani. Oh, what a beautiful difference!!! Highly recommend.
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Old 05-28-2016, 11:32 AM   #9
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I had a refer repaired with a new cooling system, came with the updated chimney and shrouding.
One major key in the repair/replace is the condition of the interior walls and door seals. Cracked plastic will hold odors, sagging shelfs are weakened, door seals may lose the magnetic stick, and or torn.
My interior was good to go.
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Old 05-28-2016, 12:51 PM   #10
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1972 29' Ambassador
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My full-size Dometic went south (without me!) a few months ago, and we replaced it with a 10 cu. ft Igloo that we got on a super discount from Best Buy. That prompted the usual upgrade cascade effect- now we have 4 Trojan T-105s to power the thing through our new 1800 watt inverter. I also installed a pair of muffin fans to move the air around behind the fridge. A pair of bungees keep the doors shut.

Pros:
Wow is it big! Lots more room inside than the Dometic that fit in a similar space.

Only $200

For a few extra $$$, you can get an extended warranty,

Cons:
Needs to be plugged into shore power most of the time. Not good for boondocking without a solar panel install.

Unfashionable white color.

Seems to need defrosting a lot- probably due to the excessive shaking from my worn-out axles.

Will require mods to get a nice fit, probably out of the range of the non-handy.

Bottom line, I figured that I wanted to do all of the upgrades anyway, and I was willing to risk the $200 that I would get something usable. Replacement cost on that Dometic (I'm not a fan of that technology) would have worked out to about $1500.

Many of the newer high-end RVs are going with a marine-grade electric 12V fridge, so there's that to consider.
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Old 05-28-2016, 01:35 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mandolindave View Post
I agree that the replacement wouldn't be THAT hard mechanically….BUT. You'd have to deal with the gas, disposal of the liquid, exposure to the gas etc., which I have " heard " described as lethal.

I am wondering if the new replacement coil, comes " charged " with the Ammonia gas. I wonder, because of the possible problems of shipping the gas.

Waiver…I am barely smart enough to know what I don't know

I am 99.99% sure that new replacement coils come charged with gas.


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Old 05-28-2016, 01:51 PM   #12
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1973 31' Sovereign
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Seems like you've gotten your money's worth... At 30+ years old.
I'd bite the bullet and replace it. If you ever use it in gas mode get a 2 way unit. If you always use shore power, the ones for homes would be great.
It's not that hard to remove one, but it does take disassembly of the cabinet. And man power. Those old refrigerators weigh a ton.
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Old 05-28-2016, 10:39 PM   #13
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I did a exchange of the cooling unit on my Dometic because the excela 1000 came with matching wood cabinet doors. The old unit was not that hard to change out. took a few hours and gets good and cold. even to the point of freezing food if i turn it down enough. Shop around the internet a lot. It seems there are several people who refurbish these units. you will be asked to send back the old one.
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