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Old 07-25-2017, 03:40 PM   #1
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Removing the refrigerator

I pulled my refrigerator out today to investigate improving insulation, possibly speeding up the compressor, and/or adding a fan. I thought I might post some of the things I found, hoping it might help others.

First of all, the fridge door must be removed to gain clearance in the aisle. There are almost imperceptibly flats on the screw in the top hinge of the door. It looks round to the eye, but an open-end wrench will loosen the screw. The bottom of the door just lifts off the hinge.

Next, there are four screws through the front frame, into the cabinet. These screws are covered by black plastic plugs that are hard to remove. I was able to get behind them with the foil cutter on my wine opener and move them out slightly without damaging them. From there, I used a cooking fork to remove them. I pushed the fork down behind the heads so that the tines straddled the plug, then levered them out.

The next problem was that Airstream had installed the four screws helter skelter. If I was installing the refrigerator, I would have used my drill with a small bit to drill nice, straight pilot holes for the screws. Obviously, Airstream takes the easy way. The screws were all at different angles that made it hard to hit the heads with a Philips screwdriver while kneeling in the narrow aisle. They all eventually came out with a few bad words.

Next, there was not enough slack in the 12v feed to get the fridge all the way out. It was obvious that Airstream hooked up the 12v to the fridge, put it in place, and then installed other items that removed all slack from the wires. No way to reach the wires on the back of the fridge itself, and the slip-on connectors were so tight they were practically welded on. I finally removed the refrigerator fuse and cut the wires about 6" from the terminals. I'll extend the wires with butt connectors before I reinstall the unit and put in a tap for a possible fan. The 120v feed unplugs easily and is long enough.

Once the unit was out, it is obvious that there was no attempt to create a chimney in order to get an adiabatic flow over the coils on the rear. For most of the rear, there is only the metal outside wall with a little insulation stuffed here and there. Near the top, there are the bottoms of the mouse fur wall panels protruding down.

The good news is that there is plenty of space to add some insulation back there, and, in the meantime, improve the chimney effect. I have some reflective faced insulation board that should work back there quite well.
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Old 07-25-2017, 04:54 PM   #2
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Thanks for the write-up. I faced the same issues but managed to barely pull it out without taking the door off. Ditto for the nightmare DC cable which I managed to connect and disconnect blind. Lots of cursing was involved in the process though.
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Old 07-25-2017, 05:45 PM   #3
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Removing the refrigerator

When I pulled my refer to add insulation I also removed the microwave to give me better access to space around refer. Left the door on but never had to fully remove the refer - just left it in the opening about 3".
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Old 07-25-2017, 07:27 PM   #4
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Finders keepers

I forgot to say that I found a small trove of utensils lost over the back of the drawer above the fridge by the former owners. That's a good reminder to me to add some height to the rear of the drawer before I reinstall it. The area is unreachable without pulling the fridge.
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Old 07-25-2017, 07:48 PM   #5
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I forgot to say that I found a small trove of utensils lost over the back of the drawer above the fridge by the former owners. That's a good reminder to me to add some height to the rear of the drawer before I reinstall it. The area is unreachable without pulling the fridge.
Yes - I'd bet you would find lost utensils behind the refer on many Interstates. I had discovered the problem a while ago when I could no longer find my favorite spatula in the van. Initially I just added a piece of fiber screening on top of refer taped to the cabinet structure with “speed tape”, aka duct tape.

When I added more insulation, a piece of 1” rigid foam, on top of refer I also added a 5” wide piece vertically at very back of refer to block anything from falling from the drawer and ending up behind the refer again.

What “fun” it was squeezing into those tight spaces to complete the insulation upgrade.
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Old 07-25-2017, 07:54 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by Boxster1971 View Post
[COLOR=black][FONT=Verdana]
What “fun” it was squeezing into those tight spaces to complete the insulation upgrade.
Lots easier with it totally pulled out. I figure to be head and shoulders in there tomorrow.
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Old 07-25-2017, 08:42 PM   #7
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This thread...
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Old 07-25-2017, 09:21 PM   #8
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I'll post "pitures" of my insulation additions which I intend to tackle tomorrow. Not much need for photos just taking it apart for access.
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Old 07-26-2017, 04:27 PM   #9
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Since I did so much more than just removing the refrigerator, I'll end this thread and open a new one titled "Insulating galley cabinet" that more describes what I did today and the results.
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Old 07-26-2017, 05:05 PM   #10
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This thread...
Well most of it might be useless to you anyway - unless you have an Interstate van.

Took some photos today. I used 1-inch thick rigid polyfoam board by Owens-Corning, the Pink Stuff. Got mine at Home Depot. They have 4’x8’ sheets if you need a lot for other projects. I just bought three FOMULAR 2’x2’ R-5 pieces, the minimum to do the job.
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Project-P...-PP1/203553730

First attached photo are the pieces I had left over.

Next photo is the top of refrigerator with drawer removed to show the insulation installed and the 5-inch piece I placed vertically behind drawer to prevent contents from ending up in void behind the refrigerator. On an Interstate Lounge model like mine you can only add insulation to the sides and top of refrigerator. There is just enough room for the 1-inch foam board on Left side and top. For the Right side, I could only add a partial piece due to adjacent cabinet structure for a drawer. I then just slipped two layers of Reflectix cut to fit in space between refrigerator and the drawer under Microwave.

I have used Reflectix to make insulated covers for all my windows, so I had some leftover. It’s available in two sizes.
4-feet wide:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Reflectix...8025/100052556

2-feet wide:
http://www.homedepot.com/p/Reflectix-24-in-x-25-ft-Double-Reflective-Insulation-with-Staple-Tab-ST24025/100020855

The last two photos are just included to show the areas where you can add insulation. The back side has condenser coils so you can’t add insulation there.

Hope this helps,
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Old 07-26-2017, 05:50 PM   #11
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Another post on the Grand Tour is using the insulation to create a channel for better airflow. Is that the purpose of your insulation project too? If not, isn't the insulation as likely to keep heat in as it is to keep heat out? I too have a 2013 lounge EXT. Ours has three captain chairs, which means our kitchen is pulled forward and the microwave/refrigerator is reversed from yours, as it the stove/sink. Our refrigerator works fine, but maybe we got lucky when they reversed the appliances.

From what I can tell the warm air comes out between the back of the counter and the window. I am not sure where the air enters.
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Old 07-26-2017, 06:10 PM   #12
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My 2017 AI lounge has a vent built into the sidewall to the left of the refrigerator, something my 2014.5 did not have. We just drove back east from Colorado thru Kansas and Missouri during the recent heatwave. Temperatures got as high as 107 in Kansas, and 105 in Mo. but our refrigerator had no problems with the conditions.
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Old 07-26-2017, 08:26 PM   #13
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I have no vent in my 2013. It seems as if my fridge runs about all the time - even when full of cold food with the door not being opened. I believe that the fridge comes with the lowest resistant resistor such that the compressor runs at the slowest speed, and draws the least current. I thought this was the reason for constant running. But maybe it needs more cooling airflow??? Note that I have never had problems with it cooling the food adequately.
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Old 07-26-2017, 08:40 PM   #14
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I have no vent in my 2013. It seems as if my fridge runs about all the time - even when full of cold food with the door not being opened. I believe that the fridge comes with the lowest resistant resistor such that the compressor runs at the slowest speed, and draws the least current. I thought this was the reason for constant running. But maybe it needs more cooling airflow??? Note that I have never had problems with it cooling the food adequately.

There is a vent on my 2013 that is in the side window well behind the galley. It is hard to see but you can feel it right behind the stovetop below the counter top inside the side window well. It is partially blocked by some of the cabinet structure that Airstream installed. Like Pahaska I cut away the piece that blocks the vent.
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Old 07-26-2017, 09:27 PM   #15
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Well most of it might be useless to you anyway - unless you have an Interstate van.[/FONT][/COLOR]
Interesting that we used the same boards from Home Depot and did almost the exact same additions. Great minds ... I guess!

I'm glad I pulled out both the fridge and the microwave. It was a lot easier that way. The microwave is a lot heavier and a whole lot harder to handle than the fridge. The fridge is so light that, with the door off, I could simply grasp the top front with both hands and heave it up on the twin bed. I managed to get the microwave out by myself without damage, but I had to ask a fellow working at a nearby RV to help me get it back in without damage.
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Old 07-26-2017, 09:35 PM   #16
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Another post on the Grand Tour is using the insulation to create a channel for better airflow. Is that the purpose of your insulation project too?
Exactly why I did this was to create a chimney effect over the condenser on the back of the refrigerator. As delivered by Airstream, there was absolutely no chimney effect if you look at the photos on my newer thread on insulating the galley cabinet.

Secondarily, it was to better insulate the outer wall so that the sun blazing against that wall would transfer less heat to the interior.
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Old 07-28-2017, 12:24 PM   #17
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Exactly why I did this was to create a chimney effect over the condenser on the back of the refrigerator....



.... Secondarily, it was to better insulate the outer wall so that the sun blazing against that wall would transfer less heat to the interior.

I wish I had thought of this when I had my refrigerator and microwave out. Next time. A tip when removing the microwave - wear heavy leather gloves. The sharp edges of the trim around the microwave can cut you when wrestling that beast out of the cabinet.
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Old 06-18-2020, 08:22 PM   #18
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My refrigerator stopped cooling and I discovered that both power plugs had fallen out. Mine has 120 Volt and 12 Volt plug. I used plastic wire ties to keep the 120 Volt in place and had to extend the 12 Volt wires as they were to short to reach while trying to reinstall the refrigerator. The white ground wire to flat lug had come loose on the 12 Volt side.
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Old 06-19-2020, 05:14 AM   #19
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My refrigerator struggled for the first year on the road. I did three things to help the situation. First, I put it on a dedicated 15 amp circuit, per manufacturer instructions (stopped blowing fuses in hot weather). Second, I pulled refrigerator to trim the mouse fur panel to clear the vent in back along with installing Reflectix panels to establish the chimney effect. Third, I installed a vent grid at the bottom of the cabinet next to the refrigerator. Runs perfectly ever since.
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