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Old 01-21-2020, 04:46 PM   #1
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1969 18' Caravel
san francisco , California
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1969 18' Caravel furnace & fridge replacement?

I just acquired a 1969 18' Caravel. Everything more or less in working condition, apart from the Atwood/ Hydroflame furnace (likely bad thermocouple) and Dometic fridge.

Anyone can suggest good modern models with same dimensions for substituting these appliances?
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thanks!

* Hydroflame heater Model number ARS-10L.
* http://vintagetrailertalk.freeforums...propane-heater
* https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/repa...ons-t2935.html

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Old 01-21-2020, 05:11 PM   #2
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1967 17' Caravel
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Can't help with your needs, but welcome to the Forums and especially welcome to vintage Caravel ownership! That is the cutest rig on the road (except for mine).

Vivian

PS Is the fridge kaput for sure? I understand they can be rebuilt, and the older fridges are made of porcelain-covered metal, better construction than newer ones (plastic). Also, I believe the measurements are different for a similar size new, so reconstructing your cabinet would be necessary and I think you would lose the silverware drawer atop the fridge. Not sure about all this....
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:45 PM   #3
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1969 18' Caravel
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Welcome to Airstream ownership. I too have a 1969 Caravel and have done some refurbishing/remodeling on mine.

So, starting with the furnace; If yours is like mine, you have what I call a coffee-can furnace. This is simply a propane-fed flame burning inside a coffee-can-sized pipe behind the furnace grate. There is not even a fan. The exhaust is another straight pipe set at a right angle out to the side of the trailer. That and a thermocouple is all there is.

I never considered this design particularly safe, nor efficient, nor particularly effective. I am not sure you can even get a new one of this alarming design, but then, why would you want to...

What I did: after using the furnace a couple of times and deciding it wasn't that safe, I blocked it off with insulation for a while and simply used a ceramic electric space heater for the few times I needed heat (I was at a site with hook-ups) This was effective for the small space, and cheaper and easier than burning propane.

Eventually, two years ago, when I got around to completely redoing my galley, I decided to completely remove the entire furnace. By that time, just about everything was starting to rust away anyway. Instead, I added a Catalytic heater. Some people are nervous about these, but they are far safer than what you have, IMHO, and perfectly safe as long as you crack a window and vent the air, plus it's always a good idea to have a CO2 detector in your rig regardless (and check it every year). You can also run a dehumidifier to help with the moisture a catalytic heater produces. If you don't camp much in cooler climates, you can easily get away without having to use a heater at all: if you are used to tent camping, your AS will already stay warmer than that.



So, now the fridge; It is true that they don't make a replacement that will exactly fit your space. Mine, remarkably, still works, at least on electric - haven't fired up the propane part in several years now (I usually camp where there is power).
But mine does have some cracked shelves on the door and there are some stains inside - all of which was there when I got it. I thought I would wait until it died to replace it, but 12-15 years later, it's still working!



So I mentioned my plan to some old-time AS owners and they said "Don't buy a new one, the new ones only last several years! (note: the new 3-way RV fridges of that size cost ~$1000) You would be better off to fix the one you have, but if you do sell it, let me know and I will buy the old one off of you!"

So you might want to explore the costs of fixing the one you have, it is possible, and might in the end be the best option all around. You could buy a new RV one ($$$), there is a list on both Norcold and Dometic sites that list the most comparable sizes with your original (but you would have to do some carpentry to make a frame that fits it into the old slot) -- or you could do the "unthinkable" and buy an all-electric compressor fridge for a couple hundred bucks and frame that in. Going electric, while cheap and easy, will affect the resale value negatively and you loose the ability to operate off-grid as well as the ability to keep things cold enroute on the road.

Whatever you decide, remember this little gem is now yours for a while; do with it what you want, avoid doing or not doing with it what brings you regret.
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Old 01-21-2020, 07:55 PM   #4
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2017 25' International
1968 17' Caravel
Los Osos , California
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dedalus View Post
I just acquired a 1969 18' Caravel. Everything more or less in working condition, apart from the Atwood/ Hydroflame furnace (likely bad thermocouple) and Dometic fridge.

Anyone can suggest good modern models with same dimensions for substituting these appliances?
Attachment 359601

thanks!

* Hydroflame heater Model number ARS-10L.
* http://vintagetrailertalk.freeforums...propane-heater
* https://www.tapatalk.com/groups/repa...ons-t2935.html

Our 68 Caravel was restored in 2010 and the Olympian Wave 6 propane heater was installed at that time along with the Dometic Fridge.

Amazon sells the Olympian Wave 6, https://www.amazon.com/Camco-57341-O...s%2C212&sr=8-1.

Dometic RV refrigerators are widely available. Our Caravel's model is very similar to the one in our 2017 International
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Old 01-22-2020, 12:38 AM   #5
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1969 18' Caravel
san francisco , California
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Thanks Scott for the detailed reply!

Re: catalytic heater, did you find a model that fits in the existing space after removing the coffee can furnace? ALso, did you have any issues rewiring the gas pipe and ventilation? Yes, I also use electric heater whenever possible, just planning for going off grid in the future

Re: Fridge, Great to know yours is still in working order.. my unit is not completely kaput but it is not cooling properly, are there any articles about debugging the dometic fridge? (I tried both electric and propane, also made sure the trailer is level)
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Old 01-22-2020, 12:40 AM   #6
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1969 18' Caravel
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@SilverWind Thanks!

Re: furnace, did you you have any issues rewiring the gas pipe and ventilation? The Olympian looks like an attractive option, needs to find out if it fits into the existing space of a 69’ caravel vs. 68’ caravel
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Old 01-22-2020, 01:39 AM   #7
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2017 25' International
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dedalus View Post
@SilverWind Thanks!

Re: furnace, did you you have any issues rewiring the gas pipe and ventilation? The Olympian looks like an attractive option, needs to find out if it fits into the existing space of a 69 caravel vs. 68 caravel
I didn't do the install but since the Olympian is very near the water heater and stove, access to a gas line should have been easy. I like the cabinet door mounting. We still retain decent storage space since the furnace body is relatively shallow.

Ventilation is via the windows. They recommend cracking open two windows or vents on the opposite side, one high one low, of the space you are heating.

I installed a hard wired propane detector and a lithium battery operated CO detector. Be aware that the hard wire detector will create a parasitic draw so keep an eye on your trailer battery.

All my 68's gas appliances are on the curb/door side. From you photo it looks like your stuff is on the road side. You may have different mounting options.
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Old 01-22-2020, 11:01 AM   #8
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1969 18' Caravel
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The Wave 6 will generally fit in the area where the current furnace is. You may have to rotate it 90 degrees, but it is designed to work in that orientation as well. It is not nearly as deep. You will need to do a bit of carpentry work on your cabinet frame to make it work. You can also order an optional chrome frame with your Wave 6 to help finish out the install. You can use the existing LP supply line, with perhaps some right-angle adapters, perhaps adding a shut-off valve for additional safety - all of which are readily available, including at amazon.

Note the Wave 6 is not a vented Catalytic heater, so there is no venting to the outside. I understand they do make vented catalytic heaters, which would eliminate the need to open vents and windows when in use. You might try searching for those to see if that might work.

In my case, I completely removed the exhaust/intake pipe, which gave me some additional storage space. I patched the hole on the outside with some Aluminum, making sure the top of the patch was underneath the above Al panel, and overlapped and on the outside of the panel below for proper water shedding. Water works hard and relentlessly to get inside, so make sure if you patch to do so properly.

Eventually, I may replace the new patch with one of those exterior showers. It would be easy to install as the water lines run right behind it. I would do so mostly for the looks; the patch is an obvious patch, but still looks better and sleeker than the mud-dauber screened pipe assembly wart that it replaces.

Regarding troubleshooting the fridge, yes, there are plenty of articles on the web -- for instance https://100refrigerator.com/dometic-...oubleshooting/ to get you started.

Most likely worst case is a rebuild of one or more components. The good news is that in that golden era, there were very few plastic parts and everything was built quite robustly and even if the cost of repair is near the cost of new, you would still end up with a better-built, longer lasting product. Look how mine is still working after fifty years! I doubt a brand new one is going to last as long.

Also, note that while I have done a bit of work on my camper, I have done so over the course of over a decade. Tackle the important safety issues first: frame, axles, wheel bearings, brakes, tires, leaks and any rotting floors. Then, once these foundational issues are taken care of, you can at your leisure and pleasure start on the comfort and cosmetic things. That, for me, is a rewarding part of the fun.

Hope this helps, have fun whatever you decide.
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Old 01-22-2020, 12:05 PM   #9
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1969 18' Caravel
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Thank you again for sharing! Great pointers
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Old 01-23-2020, 07:26 AM   #10
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Since this is your first camper, I realized this morning that you may not be aware that ammonia evaporated refrigerators take longer to cool down then a compressor refrigerator. It may take up to 24 hours for your refrigerator to reach its desired temperature. This is why when you are preparing to go on a trip, you want to start loading it up a day before hand and plug your refrigerator in to allow it time to reach its desired temperature.

Alternatively you can fill it with a couple of frozen 1 gallon jugs of water. This will help it to reach the temperature sooner. Try running your refrigerator for 24 hours with a thermometer inside and see if it reaches the desired temperature to make sure that your refrigerator is in fact not working correctly.
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Old 01-23-2020, 03:38 PM   #11
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1969 18' Caravel
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Thanks! Yes I realize I’ve never had it running that long (24hours)- I’ll try that. Related newbie question, does that mean it’s common practice to have the propane tanks and all pilot lights (stove/water heater/fridge) kept on throughout the trip (including during towing)?
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Old 01-23-2020, 04:21 PM   #12
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The newer RV fridges are 3-way, meaning they can operate of of 110, propane or 12v, the later usually meaning that power is drawn from the tow vehicle during transit to keep the fridge cold.

Some campers do fire up the propane system during transit to keep the fridge cool. There isn't a law against it per se in the USA, however, if you stop to fuel the tow vehicle (TV in forum-speak) you must turn off the propane system before entering the fuel station.

There are many opinions on this. It is hard to argue that not running the system isn't safer than running it during transit. However, if you don't need to take a hot shower the minute you arrive, and you just want to keep your food cold during transit without lighting the fridge up (and your's is just a 2-way fridge) then you can keep food cool by either adding aforementioned frozen jugs of water, or by keeping things in a cooler. The way-over-priced (IMHO) Yeti coolers can keep things frozen for days with no power.

I have found that if I cool the fridge a day beforehand, and add a frozen gallon of ice in the compartment before departure, that gallon will still be almost completely frozen solid after a full day of driving. YMMV depending on how hot it is where you're driving through. The gallon does take up a significant amount of space in such a small fridge, but I end up using it as drinking water anyway.

And of course, running the propane during transit will be a drain on the propane supply. So far, I have not been in a situation where I was in such desperate need of keeping the fridge perfectly cold (ice cream, champaign, organ transport) that I've had to.

Here is a link to a good article: https://camperreport.com/can-i-tow-a...ridge-running/
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Old 01-27-2020, 05:50 PM   #13
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1969 18' Caravel
san francisco , California
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Thanks Scott,

I wanted to follow your advice and repair the original 2way dometic fridge unit instead of newer replacement. Unfortunately, the old 16caravel has no exterior access to the back of the fridge. I confirm that the cooling is not working in propane Or electric even after >24 hours.. I think I might need a new cooling unit.

I have no idea how to find parts or even the model number on the original 1969 dometic fridge- is it still legible on your unit?
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Old 01-27-2020, 07:03 PM   #14
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1969 18' Caravel
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I don’t recall the exact model number off the top of my head, and I am currently on a long business trip and won’t be able to look at my airstream for another month. The model number and other information should be located on a sticker that is pasted to the inside of your panel door which is located below the main door to your refrigerator.

If you do a search on the Internet you should be able to locate a number of companies that could rebuild or refurbish your refrigerator.

http://www.airforums.com/forums/f425...red-88301.html

Some places can remove the cooling unit on the back of the refrigerator and repair or replace just that unit, or they can remove the entire refrigerator and work on it that way. The more work you do yourself to remove the refrigerator and or cooling unit in the back, the more feasible repairing the refrigerator will be. If you search the Internet you can find a lot of videos and guides on troubleshooting and repairing these refrigerators yourself. Even if you eventually decide not to do it yourself, the articles are fascinating.

The easiest way to get access to your refrigerator is to unscrew the quarter inch plywood bulkhead on the left side ( the side by your entrance door)

The refrigerator in this unit is bolted on top of a metal frame in order to make room for the wheel well underneath.

One nice thing about this model year of trailer and refrigerator design is that it’s completely passive. There are no 12 V DC biscuit fans running in the back to move air across the cooling coils. Your trailer has a screened in hole in the floor and a chimney out the top. (Make sure this air convection pathway has not been blocked).

If you so desire airstream will sell you a stainless steel ventilated access grate which you can install on the side of your airstream for additional airflow and easier access to the back of your refrigerator.
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Old 01-29-2020, 04:42 AM   #15
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1966 17' Caravel
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Refrigerator

Try Norcold n305r 2.7 CD. I have a 66. Not sure if its the same size as 1969. But worth trying. I took out my original.. this was a near perfect pit. No modifications
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Old 02-03-2020, 09:10 PM   #16
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1969 18' Caravel
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Refrigerator and Heater

Hi Dedalus,
The heater and oven were removed in mine after renovation. I use a catalytic heater; I have a Dometic air conditioner with a heating element and just bought one of those small "As Seen on TV" plug in space heaters (plugs into the outlet above the sink).
My original Dometic regrigerator works like a champ on both gas and electric; even the freezer. I agree with others to look into having it rebuilt; mine only needed a new thermocouple. I did rebuild the door and added a stainless steel front that is easy to put in: looks great. You may want to take it out and replace the electrical outlet and clean thing up in that space too (easy). I did cut a small door into the side wood panel to access the pilot light; I use a lighter with a long flexible tip. I have the original flint tool but it does not work well. I also bought one of those battery fans that gets it cold faster (mine takes about eight hours to get cold). I start the refrigerator a day prior to a trip, pack it with food and just keep the door closed; it stays cold while the gas/electric is off during towing. I did put new rubber seal on the freezer door (Home Depot). I called Dometic and they do not make a size that fits perfectly. Enjoy; we love ours. Vista Nic
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Old 02-03-2020, 09:16 PM   #17
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1969 18' Caravel
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69 18' Caravel Refrigerator / Heater

Also, I'd change out the univolt with a new converter if you have not. I put in a Five Phase Boondocker with a new fuse panel (modern fuses) and it works great. The old Univolt may boil out batteries when left plugged into shore power for long periods.
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Old 02-04-2020, 05:36 PM   #18
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1969 18' Caravel
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69 18' Caravel Refgrigerator

Hi Dedalus,
I was reading this stream again and have more comments. The refrigerator is relatively easy to remove (I did it). The tall side wood panel (on the left of the entry door) can be easily removed by taking out all the screws. The side of the refrigerator is then exposed; the refrigerator is mounted on a metal frame that boxes in the space under the Dometic. Take out the bolts (replace with stainless) connecting it to the frame, disconnect the gas and unplug. This is where you can clean up that space where the refrigerator is and replace the old electrical outlet (put in an outdoor one that is sealed better). My old electrical outlet box was filled with 48 years of dust. I found a guy in San Diego County (mobile truck) who came to my house to work on mine. This is when he replaced the thermocouple. I also found the Technical Manual for our Dometic on eBay and bought it. If anyone needs pages copied; I'm willing to do this. I'm picking up my Caravel this weekend if you need the model number for the Dometic.

I have a question for any vintage Caravel owners; has anybody found a good replacement for those long plastic hinges on the storage bin doors under the rear seating area?
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Old 02-05-2020, 09:15 AM   #19
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1969 18' Caravel
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Check out this Airstream fridge repair/replacement article!

http://vintageairstream.com/refriger...cement-repair/

It includes links to dealers who know how to work on older Dometics


Quote:
Originally Posted by Vista Nic View Post
has anybody found a good replacement for those long plastic hinges on the storage bin doors under the rear seating area?
You can find standard hinges at any hardware store that would last much longer than the plastic. Perhaps your needs require those doors, but in my case I decided to do away with the troublesome, awkward doors altogether and purchase some very nice looking crates (wood, plastic, fabric-covered, your choice). This way, I can simply pull and slide out the crates like drawers and easily reach everything under there, no need to crawl down and reach waaaaaay back in the corners. Looks so nice, neat and organized also. The cabinet frame will keep your crates/bins/tubs in place during travel so they don't slide out. Saves a pound or two in completely unnecessary weight, too, in my case.
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Old 02-16-2020, 06:49 AM   #20
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1965 17' Caravel
Edisto Island , South Carolina
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Heater design and concerns

Hey skyguyscott

I read this,

"I never considered this design particularly safe, nor efficient, nor particularly effective. I am not sure you can even get a new one of this alarming design, but then, why would you want to..."

I have a 1965 Caravel with that heater design you discussed. The heater is working although probably not the thermostat.

I have recently used it and you are right, it is really not efficient. But is did help to heat the trailer. I did not sleep with it on.

I am more worried about safety. It seems pretty simple, the gas is burned and the exhaust moves to the outside of the trailer. If the connections are good, I can't see how there would be exposure to gases. I worry a bit that the whole thing could explode but since it is open to the outside.....

Could you share your safety concerns? I am not all that technical so my analysis of the unit's safety is pretty uneducated.

Thanks
Larry
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