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Old 08-23-2007, 08:11 PM   #29
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AC Repair In Action (Hard Start Cap)

Today I had a chance to replace the start capacitor and PCTR. Dometic USA has a part that was suitable and I had it in my hands within 2 days for a total cost of about $30 including shipping. Part number: 3106732.013 I think this part is probably a little old school (PCTR looks more mechanical than the one that exploded). The person on the phone was nice, but not technically knowledgeable.

So the first photo just shows the inside wiring. It's not relevant to the repair, but I wondered if anyone knew what the two unterminated connectors are for? (Circled in red)

The second photo shows the schematic on the control box lid.

The third photo shows the internal of the control box, but without the start cap and pctr which I had removed last weekend.

In the next photo I have lifted the box out of it's normal lowered position in order to get access to the cramped area where the start cap goes.

The final photo shows the new start cap installed and hopefully wired properly (unliked the factory wiring). Basically the red wire on the non-cap side of the pctr goes to the other red wired at the run cap, the white and black wires are connected on the other terminal of the cap (the white wire goes where the other white wires go on the run cap, I can't remember where the black one went but I think it was longer and travelled quite a distance).

Also note the complete absence of any support hardware! The screw that holds the pctr to the sheet metal keeps the cap in place, but there has to be something else that's missing from my unit. I would love a picture of the correct installation. There is a screw near the bottom of the cap that does nothing, so that's probably where the proper mounting hardware goes.
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Old 08-24-2007, 08:48 AM   #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SilverCabin
I've attached this snip from HowieE's post above. Questions: If you see a huge voltage drop when the compressor comes on, and quickly turn off the unit, is it still okay? How many of these hits can it take becore toasting the capacitors?
The voltmeter is mainly to check a campground voltage before you start using things, AC, or Heaters, in the trailer. Low voltage will cause damage to the compressor over time, running time on a give day, because of increased heat. As voltage to a motor goes down internial heat will go up. The older Airstream AC units had an indicater light on the control panel that lite when the voltage was low.

I would prefer not to use the AC under low voltage conditions, -105 volts. Yes the hard start kit will help start the unit but the unit life may be effected. With a meter it becomes a judgement call reather than a crap shot.
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Old 08-24-2007, 09:46 AM   #31
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grantb4
Today I had a chance to replace the start capacitor and PCTR. Dometic USA has a part that was suitable and I had it in my hands within 2 days for a total cost of about $30 including shipping. Part number: 3106732.013 I think this part is probably a little old school (PCTR looks more mechanical than the one that exploded). The person on the phone was nice, but not technically knowledgeable.

So the first photo just shows the inside wiring. It's not relevant to the repair, but I wondered if anyone knew what the two unterminated connectors are for? (Circled in red)

The second photo shows the schematic on the control box lid.

The third photo shows the internal of the control box, but without the start cap and pctr which I had removed last weekend.

In the next photo I have lifted the box out of it's normal lowered position in order to get access to the cramped area where the start cap goes.

The final photo shows the new start cap installed and hopefully wired properly (unliked the factory wiring). Basically the red wire on the non-cap side of the pctr goes to the other red wired at the run cap, the white and black wires are connected on the other terminal of the cap (the white wire goes where the other white wires go on the run cap, I can't remember where the black one went but I think it was longer and travelled quite a distance).

Also note the complete absence of any support hardware! The screw that holds the pctr to the sheet metal keeps the cap in place, but there has to be something else that's missing from my unit. I would love a picture of the correct installation. There is a screw near the bottom of the cap that does nothing, so that's probably where the proper mounting hardware goes.
grantb4,

Actually, your start cap gets placed right beside the run cap and BOTH of them go under the plumbers tape to secure them. Use a longer piece if necessary and be sure that the bottoms of both are at the 'floor' level of the control box.

That black wire that is found on the other terminal at the start cap with the white one should be going to the reversing valve of your heat pump. It is a little 3-way vave with 3 copper tubes coming to it and should have a couple of wires from it also, one of them being the black one to the start cap.
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Old 08-24-2007, 10:03 AM   #32
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster
Actually, your start cap gets placed right beside the run cap and BOTH of them go under the plumbers tape to secure them. Use a longer piece if necessary and be sure that the bottoms of both are at the 'floor' level of the control box.
I don't think there is room to do it that way, but I'll look again. You can see that the run cap is not at the bottom of the box. I'd love to see someone else's new Airstream and how theirs was done. It's not a big deal ot hop up on the roof and undo 4 screws.


This kind of bracket might work, but it would be a lot of effort to do:
http://pages.prodigy.net/jimmcshane/lbrkt.jpg
http://www.jacksonampworks.com/images/uj_filtercaps.jpg

Anyway the AC is working (or was for the two hours I was there) and the trailer is not moving anywhere for a while, so I have time to sort something decent out.

Do you know what those unconnected connectors are for in my first photo? Just curious...
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Old 08-25-2007, 12:30 AM   #33
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grantb4

Do you know what those unconnected connectors are for in my first photo? Just curious...
Every Dometic unit is set up at the factory for the potential use of multiple units. A/S is one of the few OEM's that only use one roof air. I've seen as many as FIVE used on the 45' Prevost bus conversions.

Anyway, that extra RG-6 connector is used for the first A/C unit to communicate with the other(s) present, as they are connected in series and the t/stat uses a digitally encoded signal to control the other units from that extra plug. Just wire tie it back into the ADB (air distribution box) out of the way and forget it's there.
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Old 09-04-2007, 03:53 PM   #34
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Well, I seem to have been bitten by this dog. Over Labor Day Weekend we went out for about three hours on Sunday afternoon. When we returned the A/C had tripped the 20 amp breaker. When I reset it, the fan came back on and the compressor seemed to start. Two hours later, it was no cooler than when we first got back. I thought the unit may have frozen up so I turned it off for about three hours and tried it again about 10:00 at night. We could see the lights dim when the compressor tried to start and could hear it try but it would almost immediately shut back off and only the fan would run. Fortunately, it cooled off into the mid-70's Sunday night so we were fairly comfortable with the fantastic fans, and we were leaving Monday morning. One of the things I had ordered from Camping World a couple of weeks before we left was a voltage meter, but unfortunately it is on back order.

Does this sound like the controller board, blown compressor, or something else?
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Old 09-04-2007, 08:23 PM   #35
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Originally Posted by Minnie's Mate
Well, I seem to have been bitten by this dog. Over Labor Day Weekend we went out for about three hours on Sunday afternoon. When we returned the A/C had tripped the 20 amp breaker. When I reset it, the fan came back on and the compressor seemed to start. Two hours later, it was no cooler than when we first got back. I thought the unit may have frozen up so I turned it off for about three hours and tried it again about 10:00 at night. We could see the lights dim when the compressor tried to start and could hear it try but it would almost immediately shut back off and only the fan would run. Fortunately, it cooled off into the mid-70's Sunday night so we were fairly comfortable with the fantastic fans, and we were leaving Monday morning. One of the things I had ordered from Camping World a couple of weeks before we left was a voltage meter, but unfortunately it is on back order.

Does this sound like the controller board, blown compressor, or something else?
If the compressor is laboring to start and is at the point that it is dimming the lights, it's a good bet that the start cap and PTCR are shot. When you remove the shroud and open up the electrical box (right side) you will probably find a burnt mess. If so.....easy fix!
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Old 09-05-2007, 12:51 PM   #36
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster
If the compressor is laboring to start and is at the point that it is dimming the lights, it's a good bet that the start cap and PTCR are shot. When you remove the shroud and open up the electrical box (right side) you will probably find a burnt mess. If so.....easy fix!
Even so, it's kind of frustrating. We've stayed in a couple of state parks and a couple of private parks and the rest of our camping has been a couple of stays at Topsail Hill and several stays at Ft. Wilderness Campground at Disney World (4 stays) and we have used the A/C on all trips except two when we used the heat pump. At least the unit is still under warranty and it should be a freebie this time.

Other than the voltage meter, what can I do to prevent this in the future? Camping World has a surge guard, but it is $269. Is that necessary?
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Old 09-05-2007, 11:54 PM   #37
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Start Capacitor Syndrome

Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnie's Mate
Even so, it's kind of frustrating. We've stayed in a couple of state parks and a couple of private parks and the rest of our camping has been a couple of stays at Topsail Hill and several stays at Ft. Wilderness Campground at Disney World (4 stays) and we have used the A/C on all trips except two when we used the heat pump. At least the unit is still under warranty and it should be a freebie this time.

Other than the voltage meter, what can I do to prevent this in the future? Camping World has a surge guard, but it is $269. Is that necessary?
MM,

Unfortunately, there isn't much you can do to prevent the dreaded SCS (Start Cap Syndrome) . It is really a function of ambient temps, amp draw, available voltage and the general condition of the unit. I have seen new units blow the start caps (less than a week old) and have seen 10+ year old units with the original caps. Best insurance (and cheap too!) is to carry an extra hard start kit with you in case you blow the start cap and PTCR again.
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Old 09-06-2007, 08:59 AM   #38
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Quote:
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Best insurance (and cheap too!) is to carry an extra hard start kit with you in case you blow the start cap and PTCR again.
Not exactly what I wanted to hear.
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Old 09-06-2007, 09:38 AM   #39
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Not exactly what I wanted to hear.
Ditto!

Don't forget the ladder to get on the roof to make the changeout...

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Old 09-07-2007, 10:05 AM   #40
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You know, over the 4th we were at Ft. Wilderness and I forgot to lower the awning when we went to dinner (I usually lower the rear arm all the way when we leave). While we were gone there was a torrential down pour that resulted in the rear arm being bent all the way to the ground. It literally had a 90 degree bend in the inner segment that was extended. Well, Disney maintenance wouldn't loan me a ladder and I called several of the on-site repair companies and they advised me to find a ladder because they charged so much to come out. The minimum I think I was quoted was going to run about $240. There just happened to be a mobile service company at one of the sites across the road from me a few days later (I had managed to retract the awning, but couldn't get the rear up high enough to secure it) and the repair tech came over and got out a folding ladder that was the size of a six foot long 4X4. I was impressed with how small it folded and unfolded to a regular width A-frame ladder. So I ordered a five foot length one to fit under the sofa in our Airstream. If it was an 1/8th of an inch longer I would have to put it under at an angle, but it fits perfectly and leaves plenty of room to store other items.

Here is a link to the one I got:
5' Compact Folding Step Ladder - Camping World
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Old 09-07-2007, 11:53 AM   #41
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Minnie's Mate
You know, over the 4th we were at Ft. Wilderness and I forgot to lower the awning when we went to dinner (I usually lower the rear arm all the way when we leave). While we were gone there was a torrential down pour that resulted in the rear arm being bent all the way to the ground. It literally had a 90 degree bend in the inner segment that was extended. Well, Disney maintenance wouldn't loan me a ladder and I called several of the on-site repair companies and they advised me to find a ladder because they charged so much to come out. The minimum I think I was quoted was going to run about $240. There just happened to be a mobile service company at one of the sites across the road from me a few days later (I had managed to retract the awning, but couldn't get the rear up high enough to secure it) and the repair tech came over and got out a folding ladder that was the size of a six foot long 4X4. I was impressed with how small it folded and unfolded to a regular width A-frame ladder. So I ordered a five foot length one to fit under the sofa in our Airstream. If it was an 1/8th of an inch longer I would have to put it under at an angle, but it fits perfectly and leaves plenty of room to store other items.

Here is a link to the one I got:
5' Compact Folding Step Ladder - Camping World
I use the double-sided 6' version of that........very nice! Just be sure that you double check the ladder locks before ascending the ladder as they are sturdy when locked, but quite noodley and dangerous when not.

Be careful out there!!!!
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Old 09-07-2007, 12:07 PM   #42
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster
I use the double-sided 6' version of that........very nice! Just be sure that you double check the ladder locks before ascending the ladder as they are sturdy when locked, but quite noodley and dangerous when not.

Be careful out there!!!!
Thanks, lewster. I had been contemplating one of the retractable-extendable type ladders, but I figured I get up on it and it would decide to retract on me and I'd come crashing to the ground! I actually think this one is easier to store and is a little less expensive. Now my next safety equipment is going to be some fold flat safety cones I saw on RV Road Trip with the battery powere flahing red light on top and some fold up safety triangles in case I ever have a flat or other break down 'cause you can never be too prepared and never have too many gadgets!
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