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Old 06-18-2008, 10:47 PM   #1
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Electric Works, Propane Doesn't!!!????

What should I do? I have a 65 Overlander with an original refer. The 120v electrical works like a charm, cold cold cold! But, as soon as I switch it to the propane, it burns, and burns, and burns, but does no cooling and within a day it's warm...
Help!
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Old 06-18-2008, 11:01 PM   #2
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The obvious answer is run it on electric, but I know you don't want to hear that.

It sounds as if the refrigerant is low and needs service - but then I know more about car A/C systems than refers...
Good luck with it.
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Old 06-18-2008, 11:15 PM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HansenClan View Post
What should I do? I have a 65 Overlander with an original refer. The 120v electrical works like a charm, cold cold cold! But, as soon as I switch it to the propane, it burns, and burns, and burns, but does no cooling and within a day it's warm...
Help!
Reefer burners must operate at a certain temperature in order to create cooling, on both gas as well as electric. Since your reefer colls ok on electric, then the cooling unit is ok.

It is very common for a reefer that has some age on it, to have a dirty burner and/or a partially clogged oriface.

It could also have low LPG pressure. The LPG pressure should be 11 to 13 inches of water column pressure, but 12 to 13 inches is even better.

The burner should be removed for cleaning as well as the orifice. However, before you reinstall them, the flue "must" be cleaned.

What your reefer is doing, is very common, but not a big deal to fix.

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Old 06-18-2008, 11:19 PM   #4
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Unfortunately, RV absorbtion refers don't 'get low on refrigerant' like A/C units will, and there is no 'recharging' available since they are all hermetically sealed units (but then again, you can't recharge modern roof A/C units either). In this case, if the unit works well on AC power, then there is a problem with the LP section of the boiler tube.

My guess would be a very dirty/rusted/corroded flue tube and probably a badly deformed spiral baffle as well, assuming the the LP burner is creating a nice, blue and intense flame. The spiral baffle is a flat piece of sheet metal that has been twisted into a spiral shape, and suspended into the flue tube at a very specific position. It is hung from a piece of piano wire from the top of the flue tube.

The spiral baffle's job is to create heat turbulence at this specific location in order to heat the ammonia solution (refrigerant) into a gaseous state, allowing it to rise up the pump tube into the condenser, where it mixes with the hydrogen gas, and this condensation process creates the cold that drives the heat transfer from within the refer box.

You might have to remove the refer from the cabinet in order to access the top of the boiler tube, but my guess is that proper servicing of the LP side of this refer will bring it back 100 %.

Let me know if you have any other questions...............
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Old 06-18-2008, 11:44 PM   #5
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Well that's good news!

Thanks Andy & Lew! Hopefully I will be able to find and fix the problem, thanks to you guys...
Cheers!


Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
Unfortunately, RV absorbtion refers don't 'get low on refrigerant' like A/C units will, and there is no 'recharging' available since they are all hermetically sealed units (but then again, you can't recharge modern roof A/C units either). In this case, if the unit works well on AC power, then there is a problem with the LP section of the boiler tube.

My guess would be a very dirty/rusted/corroded flue tube and probably a badly deformed spiral baffle as well, assuming the the LP burner is creating a nice, blue and intense flame. The spiral baffle is a flat piece of sheet metal that has been twisted into a spiral shape, and suspended into the flue tube at a very specific position. It is hung from a piece of piano wire from the top of the flue tube.

The spiral baffle's job is to create heat turbulence at this specific location in order to heat the ammonia solution (refrigerant) into a gaseous state, allowing it to rise up the pump tube into the condenser, where it mixes with the hydrogen gas, and this condensation process creates the cold that drives the heat transfer from within the refer box.

You might have to remove the refer from the cabinet in order to access the top of the boiler tube, but my guess is that proper servicing of the LP side of this refer will bring it back 100 %.

Let me know if you have any other questions...............
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Old 06-19-2008, 05:29 AM   #6
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Hey Lewster...thanks a lot. Being a new owner of a 1968 Safari, I had no idea what that little squiggly thing was that is hanging down a tube behind my fridge...now I know...it is a baffle that is suspended into the flue tube and it has a purpose...I am always learning new things!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by lewster View Post
Unfortunately, RV absorbtion refers don't 'get low on refrigerant' like A/C units will, and there is no 'recharging' available since they are all hermetically sealed units (but then again, you can't recharge modern roof A/C units either). In this case, if the unit works well on AC power, then there is a problem with the LP section of the boiler tube.

My guess would be a very dirty/rusted/corroded flue tube and probably a badly deformed spiral baffle as well, assuming the the LP burner is creating a nice, blue and intense flame. The spiral baffle is a flat piece of sheet metal that has been twisted into a spiral shape, and suspended into the flue tube at a very specific position. It is hung from a piece of piano wire from the top of the flue tube.

The spiral baffle's job is to create heat turbulence at this specific location in order to heat the ammonia solution (refrigerant) into a gaseous state, allowing it to rise up the pump tube into the condenser, where it mixes with the hydrogen gas, and this condensation process creates the cold that drives the heat transfer from within the refer box.

You might have to remove the refer from the cabinet in order to access the top of the boiler tube, but my guess is that proper servicing of the LP side of this refer will bring it back 100 %.

Let me know if you have any other questions...............
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Old 06-19-2008, 09:18 AM   #7
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Hey Lewster...thanks a lot. Being a new owner of a 1968 Safari, I had no idea what that little squiggly thing was that is hanging down a tube behind my fridge...now I know...it is a baffle that is suspended into the flue tube and it has a purpose...I am always learning new things!!!
............my pleasure..........
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:08 AM   #8
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I'm always learning something here...
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Old 06-19-2008, 10:26 AM   #9
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The good news is if it works on 120 the guts of the beasty are still good. Not every RV guy has the parts to repair them, but there are folks out there that can still do the job.

If the burner works you are ahead of the game. I am not an expert, but I do believe from the burner on up there is not too much technology that can go wrong. Ditto the above suggestions.
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Old 06-20-2008, 09:04 PM   #10
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Thanks for everyones input! I am going to work on it tomorrow.
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Old 06-20-2008, 09:29 PM   #11
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Hey HansenClan,

Man, you received some sage advise from people with years and years of knowledge, I guess I should check out the function of my frig on propane, but I have never operated my refer on propane because I don't dry camp.

When I travel, I just use two 1/2 gallon heavy duty juice containers that I have saved and re-filled with water and froze solid. I place one in the frig and one in the freezer before leaving and everything stays cold/frozen for up to 12 to 18 hours.

When I arrive at the camp ground I plug into the electric grid and I never notice a difference.

I guess it is a cost to benifit ratio, how you use your Airstream Vs. costs to maintain features.
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Old 06-22-2008, 02:35 PM   #12
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After a few hours of demolition, I mean removal, I free'd the refer from it's hole. Inspected, cleaned, measured and reinstalled the burner assembly and the baffle system. IT really didn't seem to dirty or out of alignment when I pulled it out! Hmmm...So, too hot (95 degrees) and too tired from a long half day working on the Airstream and the other half roughing the kids up in the pool, I slept without re-igniting the bastard. If all goes well and I am not sent to Northern California to fight the wildfires, I will light it off tomorrow, and patiently sit, watch, and wait....
Crossing fingers & toes...
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Old 06-22-2008, 02:46 PM   #13
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Eating Smoke

Quote:
Originally Posted by HansenClan View Post
After a few hours of demolition, I mean removal, I free'd the refer from it's hole. Inspected, cleaned, measured and reinstalled the burner assembly and the baffle system. IT really didn't seem to dirty or out of alignment when I pulled it out! Hmmm...So, too hot (95 degrees) and too tired from a long half day working on the Airstream and the other half roughing the kids up in the pool, I slept without re-igniting the bastard. If all goes well and I am not sent to Northern California to fight the wildfires, I will light it off tomorrow, and patiently sit, watch, and wait....
Crossing fingers & toes...
So another firefighter that likes to play with propane.

By the way, I tried fixing the safety valve on my fridge. There is a magnetic swtich that is activated by the thermocouple. Didn't help. So I jury rigged the safety switch open. The burner is only pilot light size and is vented out the bottom anyway. I also have CO, propane and smoke detectors in my AS. But I am sure there are those out there who will say I'm playing with fire (pun intended) The other alernative would have been to send the fridge out or replace it.

Marshall
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Old 06-23-2008, 07:02 PM   #14
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IT'S PARTY TIME & IT'S ON PROPANE! Thanks to all who contributed! After all the fore mentioned muckery, I managed to not break anything else in the process, and fixed the refer! Thanks LADS!
I think my cerveza is cold now, gotta go....
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Old 06-26-2008, 09:09 PM   #15
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first question?

well here goes, this is my first question (and it might sound a bit simplistic) I just acquired a 1977 sovereign international and we're planning on going to the "vintage trailer jam' in july and while I'm getting my unit prepped and ready to go I am having trouble figuring out how to clean and make ready my dometic fridge (ac/gas) is there anyone out there that know of written instructions on how to clean the burner and working bits on one of these units if so please let me know, thanks
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Old 08-10-2008, 06:54 PM   #16
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Same Question

I would also like to see written instructions, and maybe even photos of how to service the refrig. Mine works like a charm on 110v, but not on propane. All other propane devices work well (stove/oven/water heater/furnace). I can hear the ignitor trying to light, but nothing. Hate to pay to have maintenance if it's something that I can do.

Thanks
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Old 08-10-2008, 07:43 PM   #17
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You can follow the instrauctions in post 3 and 4 above.

You can also invest in a "service manual" that covers what to do and how to do it, for the complete trailer.

That manual will save you bunches of money, anytime you wish to repair something in or on your Airstream..

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Old 09-01-2008, 08:06 AM   #18
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During a dry camp this weekend, I found our refer not properly cooling. It was almost cool, but not enough to freeze bottled water completely solid in the freezer. When we got home, I plugged the shore line, and went in for a few hours before cleaning up the trailer, and to check pricing on a new refer. Much to my surprise, when I returned to the trailer, I found the water frozen hard. I tried to new batch of bottles, confirmed that the refer works fine on electric.

Now, after searching the trusty forums I found this thread and help. I speculate, that a recent "upgrade" (replacement) of the valve that switches between full and empty propane tanks, is the culprit. I assume it is supplying a lower flow pressure than the previous regulator.

Is anyone aware of varying pressure models of these valves? My local parts dealer had only this one model one the shelf.

Thanks!
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Old 09-01-2008, 09:08 AM   #19
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During a dry camp this weekend, I found our refer not properly cooling. It was almost cool, but not enough to freeze bottled water completely solid in the freezer. When we got home, I plugged the shore line, and went in for a few hours before cleaning up the trailer, and to check pricing on a new refer. Much to my surprise, when I returned to the trailer, I found the water frozen hard. I tried to new batch of bottles, confirmed that the refer works fine on electric.

Now, after searching the trusty forums I found this thread and help. I speculate, that a recent "upgrade" (replacement) of the valve that switches between full and empty propane tanks, is the culprit. I assume it is supplying a lower flow pressure than the previous regulator.

Is anyone aware of varying pressure models of these valves? My local parts dealer had only this one model one the shelf.

Thanks!
Before you invest any money in another valve, try the following first.

Check the LPG pressure. It should be between 11 and 13 inches of water column pressure. 12 inches is better.

Next, take the burner apart and clean it. That should be done every 4 to 5 years or so. If the burner orifice is partially plugged up, and that's also what you will find, then it limits the amount of LPG that can burn, which in turn means the flame is not hot enough. The result of that is exactly what your describing.

Many owners fire up the reefer before they start their trip, and it checks out fine.

When they get to their campsite, then they encounter what you have. The problem is caused by the trailer bouncing around, which loosens some rust particles within the reefer flue, which falls into the burner and orifice.

Use caution when cleaning the flue, since you will find a spiral piece of metal within the flue. It's purpose is to keep the heat within the flue as long as possible.

When you fire the reefer back up, make sure that the freezer compartment shelf plate, is level. If not, it can also reduce the cooling.

Let us know what you find out.

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