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Old 11-07-2003, 09:03 PM   #1
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Wood Inserts on the Fridge?

I just read over on the Airstreamer Forum that the wood inserts on the fridges eventually crack or split.

This has me concerned because when we ordered our 34' Classic we were informed the fridge would come as stainless steel.

Petunia had a mild panic attack because she really wanted the look of wood. Well, the good guys at Toscanos called the factory and got them to change it to wood from stainless.

Also, we upgraded to 10 cubic feet at the same time.

So now we are thinking of changing back to the stainless model. So tell me .. oh wise and thoughtful experts .. is this true .. or am I just being paranoid?

One more thing .. a few months before we ordered our AS .. we saw a 2000 34' Classic at Toscanos ... and noticed that the wood insert was so badly warped that it would not fit into the side grooves.

This leads me to believe that there has been a problem?

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Old 11-07-2003, 09:40 PM   #2
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My oak inserts are five years old without a cracked yet.

Solid wood panels need to stay at a relatively constant temperature and humidity level to prevent wood movement. It is not possible to do that in a trailer in most climates or in most houses for that mater. However, if the panel is allowed to float inside the frame of the refrigerator, it is less likely to warp or split.

If a panel is assembled correctly, alternating annual growth rings, the warping will be minimized.

There are a number of remedies for a warped panel that any good wood worker can perfrom. Cutting a number of continous dovetail groves perpendicular to the grain and sliding a strip of hardwood or metal dovetail strip in the grove has worked for me on a number of restorations.

Hopely others with older trailers will chime in with their experiences with wood refrigerator inserts.

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Old 11-07-2003, 09:52 PM   #3
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my oak insert on my '92 looks like the day it left the factory.

why not get both inserts? then you could swap it for whatever mood suits you.

if the oak one fails then you would have the stainless one as a backup.

you call them ferrets, i call them weasels.
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Old 11-07-2003, 10:08 PM   #4
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Thumbs up 84 and, still looking

My wood faced panel still looks great~
Hasn't warpped or cracked yet...20 yrs old this month as the unit was built in Nov., '83. (as an '84 year model.)

I suppose alot has to do with location and how it's used.

Stainless steel has its place and, I wished I had some on the shower stall walls..I just hate this cheap wallpaper crap that A/S used in the past..This is one area in my unit I'd love to get more use of..Sorry, I didn't mean to get off track here but, at some point in the past, I honestly feel there were things about the real world usuage the A/S designers were out to lunch~IMHO
The newer units now come with molded ABS stall..

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Old 11-08-2003, 08:15 AM   #5
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IMHO you cannot make sweeping generalizations about the quality of the new Airstreams. Legitimate complaints have been voiced by others regarding specific QC problems that seem to have occured with some of the 2002 and early 2003 models. To make an unfounded and wholesale condemnation of an entire product based on specific, and generally correctable, flaws in the manufacturing process is simply not credible. Should the flaws have been detected before the unit was delivered? Absolutely - but as long as the human element is involved mistakes will be made. Many owners of older Airstreams, who have traded up over the years, have reported in this forum, and others, that they have not seen noticeable changes in Airstream quality. I based my purchase on these voices of experience and my personal inspection. Is my Airstream flawless? Not hardly - but there isn't anything else on the market that even comes close with respect to quality of design and construction.

I had to replace the transmission on my new truck in the first 500 miles. Does that mean that all GM trucks with the Duramax/Allison are junk? Read the reports from other owners before making any sweeping generalizations!

2003 GMC 3500 D/A, CC, LB, 4x4 and 2000 Airstream Excella 30. WBCCI 7074
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Old 11-08-2003, 08:19 AM   #6
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Hart, you got something specific to complain about, then say it. Give us particulars. Are Airstreams overpriced? I think so, that's why I have no plans to buy one. But about 1,000 people a year disagree, and do so voluntarily with their own money.

As far as the Refrigerators are concerned, Thor doesn't make them. Nor the inserts. And the available suppliers to choose from is exactly two. Wood will split, eventully. Exactly when depends upon climatic conditions - somewhere between five and 40 years. New inserts can be purchased, or even new ones made by any competent cabinet maker.

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Old 11-08-2003, 09:20 AM   #7
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mine is warped too

My fridge panel is warped too, however, it has nothing to do with AS. This is a Dometic fridge that was replaced just two years ago by previous owner. Can't blame that on AS.
"would you rather have a mansion full of money or a trailer full of love?"

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Old 11-08-2003, 10:05 AM   #8
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Thanks to everyone ... except Hart ... for their response.

I do understand that this is a Dometic problem .. I was just trying to get a feel for how bad it is out there.

I haven't had a chance lately to go look at one up close .. so I can't remember .. are those panels easy to slide out?

I know they are held in by grooves on the sides .. what about the top?
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Old 11-08-2003, 11:25 AM   #9
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On the Dometic's the panels are held in on all 4 edges. The bottom and sides are fixed. The top is a removeable trim piece that is held on with 3-4 screws. The trim cap (top) is removed and the panel "should" slide up and out. I say should because one refer I had, an enterprising PO used some sort of adhesive behind the panel and it came out in pieces .
Brett G
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Old 11-08-2003, 12:14 PM   #10
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Wood Inserts on Fridge


Our wood insert on our 69 Overlander is still nice after 34 years.

Don't know why, but maybe we just got lucky.

Gloria & Don
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Old 11-08-2003, 12:30 PM   #11
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Our insert looks like the day it was put in, last year. Has not cracked yet. However Hart does have a point. Our AS has had many problems that I fixed myself because of the cost of taking it back to the dealer. One of the wood galley cabinets just fell a part when there was not enought of those cheap stapels in the corner support. When we replaced the new carpet we couldn't believe ow many stapels missed the seam completly. We removed about nine of them and replace them properly before putting down the new wood floor. Also the hot water switch was put in backwards, off was on and on was off, but thank goodness the switch was bad also or the water heater element would have burnt out. There were many other things poorly built or installed.
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Old 11-09-2003, 07:03 AM   #12
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Wood inserts

The wood inserts on my 78 Excella were warped. I replaced them with aluminum. Not all that satisfactory, but if anyone knows where I can get stainless I would appreciate a note.

One other consideration, there is a lot of same color wood and laminate in the coaches and the stainless breaks that up. A personal preference of mine.

Congrats on your new coach and tow vehicle. You have the best of both worlds regardless of the refer inserts. Enjoy Airstreaming.

Vic Smith
Director Florida State Rally
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31' 78 Airstream Excella 500
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Old 11-09-2003, 07:33 AM   #13
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Most anything you buy that is as complex as a Airstream, airplane or even your home all come with problems, it is virtually unavoidable. However the Airstream is by far, THE MOST WELL BUILT Motor Home or Travel Trailer on the road. We are referring about the basic structure, frame and aluminum body. That is why we purchased an Airstream even though it was a budget buster. It will be the last Travel Trailer we will probably ever buy because of it's unique quality on the marketplace today. Now that the creature comfort problems have been repaired, we are as happy as clams at high tide.
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Old 11-09-2003, 08:50 AM   #14
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Thumbs up Two votes FOR wood!


When we sold it this spring, the wood inserts in our '85 325's refrigerator looked just as nice as the day they came from from the factory and I presume they're still doing fine.

The inserts in our '94 tri-axle appear to be on the road to out-lasting the refrigerator doors. I have a couple of cracks in the plastic interior doors that I've repaired, and it needs new seals. It's a Dometic side-by-side. The wood inserts are gorgeous tho...

From my experience, I wouldn't panic about the wood panels. With occasional care, they should last as long as the refrigerator; and as has been said already, if one cracks or warps, they are replaceable.

Just an afterthought... I wonder how much storage conditions have to do with the doors deteriorating... hmmm...


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Former Airstreams: 1953 Flying Cloud, 1957 Overlander, 1961 Bambi, 1970 Safari Special, 1978 Argosy Minuet, 1985 325 Moho, 1994 Limited 34' Two-door, 1994 B190 "B-Van"
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