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Old 12-11-2010, 10:21 AM   #1
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1976 Argosy 26
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Question Turned off fridge to defrost, won't come on w/elec., will with gas

Hello,

I have a 1976 26' Argosy and haven't owned it that long (since the summer).

My refrigerator was working on electricity. I read on here that one should defrost it about once a month if continually using it. I wasn't sure what 'defrost' meant as far as whether to completely turn off the fridge, or just open the doors.

So, I turned it off completely after running it straight on electricity for about two months. I left it off for a weekend, then came back to the trailer and it wouldn't turn back on.

I haven't been using the fridge since the end of the summer when this happened. I decided to try and turn it on today using gas. It has come on and it seems like the freezer is starting to get cold.

So, I'm finally here posting this problem to see what you all think.

Two questions:

Why won't it come on after it worked before with electricity?

Will it use up a lot of propane if I continue running on gas? I don't know if it's just a pilot light burning to heat up the ammonia or more than that.

I would appreciate your advice or point me to an older post that I didn't see after looking for this issue.

Thanks,

Brian
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:21 AM   #2
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I will generally get about 3 weeks cooking and running the fridge on gas with a 30 lb bottle.

If it works ok on gas you likely have either a burnt out electric heating element or a problem with the electric thermostat.

I am assuming that it is the original fridge and that you have confirmed there is power to it.
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Old 12-11-2010, 11:31 AM   #3
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Try cleaning your electrical connections. Power off, of course. I had the same problem with the one in my Trade Wind a few years ago and it turned out that one of the connections was corroded at the thermostat.
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Old 12-11-2010, 12:18 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RickDavis View Post
I will generally get about 3 weeks cooking and running the fridge on gas with a 30 lb bottle.

If it works ok on gas you likely have either a burnt out electric heating element or a problem with the electric thermostat.

I am assuming that it is the original fridge and that you have confirmed there is power to it.
Thanks for the response. Yes, it is the original fridge. I'm not sure how to confirm it has power other than the three breakers in the rear are all on. Perhaps get a handheld power meter and touch it at the various wired connections on the back of the unit?

I have the trailer hooked up to a 100lb tank, so i guess it would last longer than that.

I don't know how to identify the electrical parts really.

There is a local mobile RV repair guy around. He won't work on the ammonia part. I wonder if I should ask him to do some electrical testing on the back of the unit?
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Old 12-11-2010, 12:20 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vswingfield View Post
Try cleaning your electrical connections. Power off, of course. I had the same problem with the one in my Trade Wind a few years ago and it turned out that one of the connections was corroded at the thermostat.
Thanks for the reply Vaughan. So I can take a look where I see there are wires connected that can be pulled off and cleaned.

Should I clean them with a wire brush perhaps? That's what I have on hand.
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Old 12-11-2010, 12:27 PM   #6
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If you are comfortable with the use of a volt meter disconnect the power and remove the wires from the heating element in the chimney at the back of the frig. Set the meter to ohms and read across the element. You should see continuity. If you do not the element is open and needs to be replaced.

If the element is good set the meter to AC voltage and a range that will read 120 volts. Connect the meter across the wires that went to the element and have the power turned back on. You should see 110 volts. If not check the fuse or circuit breaker feeding the frig. If the fuse is good and you don't have power on the wires check the receptacle the frig is plugged into for power, it should show power if the fuse was good.

If all these tests prove good and the frig still is not working on electric I would look to the control board and see if there is a separate fuse mounted on the board. If everything checks out OK you may have a bad board.

It is unlikely that just turning the frig. off would cause the board to fail. I think you are looking for a electrical problem.
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Old 12-11-2010, 01:57 PM   #7
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Refer

Does your refer look like this inside? If so I have pictures of the back as well and might be able to help you out. I can help you out if you want to try it yourself.
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Old 12-11-2010, 02:00 PM   #8
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Refer

Here is a shot of the back. There are no electronic circuit boards in these old models. Are you sure that you selected the electric mode? It's a 3 position switch; maybe you had it in the off position. Just checking. It does take a lot longer to cool down in the electric mode; the heating element is only 150 watts. If it is bad, new elements are available. They are relatively easy to replace.
Do you know how to use a Volt/Ohm meter? Do you have a meter?
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Old 12-11-2010, 08:09 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by BrianD. View Post
Thanks for the reply Vaughan. So I can take a look where I see there are wires connected that can be pulled off and cleaned.

Should I clean them with a wire brush perhaps? That's what I have on hand.
The one on mine was a connector held on by a screw. I removed the screw and used a piece of sandpaper if memory serves me. A wire brush would work fine.
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:33 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
Does your refer look like this inside? If so I have pictures of the back as well and might be able to help you out. I can help you out if you want to try it yourself.
It's similar to that but not exactly. On the outside of the fridge door it says:

The knobs are different colors. I think it's probably the same controls.
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:35 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TG Twinkie View Post
Here is a shot of the back. There are no electronic circuit boards in these old models. Are you sure that you selected the electric mode? It's a 3 position switch; maybe you had it in the off position. Just checking. It does take a lot longer to cool down in the electric mode; the heating element is only 150 watts. If it is bad, new elements are available. They are relatively easy to replace.
Do you know how to use a Volt/Ohm meter? Do you have a meter?
That's what the back of mine looks like. I think I have a black box plate over those wires. I don't know how to use the meter, but with the instructions posted above and looking online I think I can figure it out.

I tried several times to turn and reset the elec. settings to make sure if I had it on, and I waited a day and then checked. I did this a couple of times and nothing happened.

Thanks
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:42 AM   #12
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Thanks everyone for these comments. It's getting colder here and might snow in the metro Atlanta area. So, I will have to try your ideas when it gets a little warmer. I'm worn out from spending 7-8 hours yesterday afternoon and into the night trying to suspend a 12x30 tarp in the air over the trailer to help with the 10 or so little leaks I have around the trailer that I can't figure out where they are coming from. I'll have to do some research on all the posts in here related to that in the future.

One thing I've noticed now that maybe you can point to a problem. I did as the instructions say printed on the inside bottom of the fridge when starting the fridge in gas mode-to make sure the setting is set at 4.

That was yesterday-Sat. I put in a little leftover coffee creamer carton in the fridge last night to test out the temp and this morning I noticed it was frozen. I put a fridge thermometer and will check it later.

So, is this a problem with temp control or is 4 just too high for the fridge. It doesn't look like I have separate controls for the fridge and the freezer. Just one global setting.
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Old 12-12-2010, 09:49 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HowieE View Post
If you are comfortable with the use of a volt meter disconnect the power and remove the wires from the heating element in the chimney at the back of the frig. Set the meter to ohms and read across the element. You should see continuity. If you do not the element is open and needs to be replaced.

If the element is good set the meter to AC voltage and a range that will read 120 volts. Connect the meter across the wires that went to the element and have the power turned back on. You should see 110 volts. If not check the fuse or circuit breaker feeding the frig. If the fuse is good and you don't have power on the wires check the receptacle the frig is plugged into for power, it should show power if the fuse was good.

If all these tests prove good and the frig still is not working on electric I would look to the control board and see if there is a separate fuse mounted on the board. If everything checks out OK you may have a bad board.

It is unlikely that just turning the frig. off would cause the board to fail. I think you are looking for a electrical problem.
Thanks Howie. This will really prove useful. I will try this when it gets warmer since there is a cold front coming in this area.
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Old 12-12-2010, 10:24 AM   #14
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The fridge thermometer in the fridge is staying below 20 degrees. So, I turned down the temp to 3 and will see what will happen.
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