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Old 05-11-2014, 09:03 AM   #1
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1970 25' Caravanner
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Refrigerator troubleshooting

Hello. I just bought a 1970's refrigerator to put in my AS. I had to transport it on its side for a day and was wondering if this would affect its ability to run. I did allow it to stand upright for several weeks before I installed it but now it won't cool. I tested it on 110 before transport and it cooled great. I didn't test it on propane but the seller told me it tested great. The back of the fridge gets warm but the inside does not cool. Any suggestions? Thanks.
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Old 05-11-2014, 10:09 AM   #2
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Give it at least 12 hours to test if it is cooling. It is possible you have a bubble in the cooling coils. Try turning it upside down to "burp" the fridge.
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Old 05-12-2014, 07:48 PM   #3
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The back of the older fridges get you can't hold your hand on the coils hot within 2-3 hrs. Very often you loosen up rust, dirt, ect in the chimney when you remove and transport. All that crap falls down around the burner or element when you stand it back up and insulates the boiler pot. You should clean out the burner/chimney every couple years to avoid the problem. Very few owners ever did. I've seen mud dobbers set up nest in a chimney!
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Old 05-22-2014, 08:00 AM   #4
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Thanks for the suggestions. I cleaned out chimney by using the included spiral coil inside and by banging on it. A little rust came down but not much. No luck with cooling fridge though. I also tried burping the air by leaving it upside down for a day and by another method where you rotate it from side to top to side then back to top and side and upright followed by 45 degrees forward and backwards for 3 minutes each. No luck with cooling with either method.

I bought this one month ago in Arizona and it cooled great. But then I transported it on its side to nevada and it won't cool.

Any other suggestions? Are there other ways to clean the burner and chimney? Do I need to disassemble the whole chimney unit? I don't smell ammonia and I can hear the fluid running in the coils when I rotate it. The casing around the chimney dies get warm when it is plugged in.
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Old 05-23-2014, 08:23 PM   #5
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Problem solved. I leveled the fridge and it works perfectly. I feel a bit stupid but I didn't realize how necessary that is. I was not that far off level to begin with but I guess it matters.
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Old 09-13-2014, 05:40 PM   #6
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Dometic RM 3862

My fridge seems to have bit the dust.

I recall seeing a note about a business (in Oklahoma?) that repairs the ammonia tube part of the unit.

Can anyone help me with identifying that company?

Fridge worked fine until we defrosted it and seemed to be good for several days, but soon it would not cool. Took it to RV repair place and it worked well there.

Brought it home and it would not cool, either on propane or electric. Coil gets hot but no cooling.

On a 3 week trip now so relying on a 12v portable cooler and ice chest.

Dwight
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Old 09-13-2014, 05:44 PM   #7
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Turn it upside down.

Perry
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Old 09-13-2014, 06:38 PM   #8
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My Dometic would do that, too. It was usually dirt and dust and "stuff" in the chimney.

The first time it did that I took it to the dealer. "Perry" took the metal shields away from the gas flame area, and blew up through the chimney with compressed air. He had a cloud of "stuff" come out of there like a mini mushroom cloud. He kept blowing until all was clear air coming out. (big mess)

I did that the first of every camping season, and never had another problem with the fridge.
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Old 09-13-2014, 08:02 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 16595 View Post
My fridge seems to have bit the dust.

I recall seeing a note about a business (in Oklahoma?) that repairs the ammonia tube part of the unit.

Can anyone help me with identifying that company?

Fridge worked fine until we defrosted it and seemed to be good for several days, but soon it would not cool. Took it to RV repair place and it worked well there.

Brought it home and it would not cool, either on propane or electric. Coil gets hot but no cooling.

On a 3 week trip now so relying on a 12v portable cooler and ice chest.

Dwight
If your heating systems (LP and 120VAC electric element) are both heating the boiler tube and you are not getting cooling from the unit, you either have:

• a leak, in which case you would have noticed a very strong ammonia smell and possibly seen bright yellow staining at the back of the fridge

••••••••••••••OR•••••••••••••••

• you have a total blockage somewhere in the cooling unit. These are generally caused by clumping of the sodium chromate salts that are an ingredient of your cooling unit's refrigerant.

If the latter is the case, you might be able to get your refrigerant flowing again by shaking the fridge in a rather violent manner, driving down a very bumpy road, removing the unit and repositioning it up side down and on all four sides and then replacing it.

This action might loosen the blockage, but it will not remove it and from my experience, it will re-block the flow in another location.
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Old 09-13-2014, 09:38 PM   #10
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Dometic Fridge

Thanks everyone!

So it is not remedied by anything other than replacing the fridge?

Lew, have you heard of repairing or replacing the cooling coil?

Dwight
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Old 09-13-2014, 10:23 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by 16595 View Post
Thanks everyone!

So it is not remedied by anything other than replacing the fridge?

Lew, have you heard of repairing or replacing the cooling coil?

Dwight
Most newer fridge units like yours have replacement cooling units available, either from the manufacturer like Dometic of after market suppliers like Nordic, Nucold and many others. If your box is in good shape, it will be less expensive to secure the services of a qualified RV tech who has substantial experience in removing the unit from Airstreams and doing the actual replacement.

It's not rocket science, so it is entirely possible for you to attempt it if you: are handy, can follow directions and have a helper or 2 for the heavy lifting.
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Old 09-16-2014, 06:44 PM   #12
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I bought a RM 2811 Dometic fridge today. Very clean from a junked motorhome from the 80's 20.00
I got it home hooked 12 V to it and plugged it in and have lights and it will click a bit but hours later no warm or cool tubes on the back. I haven't been able to try LP yet. i haven't tried the upside down deal yet and i did lay it down to get it home. Anyone know more about it working on 110 V it did have to have 12 V to get lights on dash to work kinda stuck
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Old 09-17-2014, 07:24 AM   #13
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Call these guys - they fixed an rv refrigerator in my friend's SOB. This place rebuilds the coils and can provide you with detailed instructions for re-and-re. Trailer & RV Refrigeration - Sales and Service Gas RV Refrigerators
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Old 09-17-2014, 05:37 PM   #14
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The ones I've dealt with have been late '80s and older. 12 volt ran the interior light and gas igniter [ on those that had elec igniter]. The electric heating elements have been 110 volt. As far as I know a 2 way fridge is gas & 110 volt. A 3 way is gas / 110volt & 12 volt. I expect the clicking is the igniter trying to fire the gas burner. If the dial is set to gas and there is none available it will "click" until it fires. Nice warning feature on the road if the burner blows out, can save your beer! You can bench test it with a grill tank and most any common regulator to see if it works. Your looking for a gentle BLUE flame, not a blow tourch, not yellow or orange. 11 column inches of gas pressure to the unit. Google up manometer [? I think that's the name of the gauge?] You can make a very accurate one for a few bucks in short order.
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Old 09-19-2014, 07:04 PM   #15
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I bought a regulator with hose and hooked up the gas bled it out. and reconnected the 12 v and 110 v at first it did light up the gas light then out and did not come back on Then checked it on gas and auto but it as far as i can tell did not try to fire spark or click. I did run this test with unit off hold temp control down and turn power on hold temp 3-4 seconds and all the lights blink randomly and a couple of heavy relay clicks but not the igniter and i don't think the gas valve opens to start the gas.
I think the mother board might be defective .??
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Old 09-20-2014, 09:19 AM   #16
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For reference my fridge is a RM 2811 Dometic mid 80's
I wanted to be sure it cooled on gas or electric . So last night i made a 110 v test cord and plugged it into my heater element After not getting the gas igniter to function. I left it on all night about 12 hours and in the morning the freezer was 0 degrees and the fridge was 35 degrees.
So the cooling system works! now on to the gas system.
YouTube has a variety of videos ( Ford's RV Training & Service) is one that helped out
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Old 09-23-2014, 11:05 AM   #17
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Great, now you know the "unit" is good. For the gas side I would first remove the shields around the burner and clean and vacuum it. On a new to me one I remove the burner to do it well. If you remove it be carful not to damage parts. On the ones I've dealt with I needed to be connected to 12 volt for the igniter. However you can light the pilot with a match or grill lighter.
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Old 09-23-2014, 07:06 PM   #18
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So yes that's what i did next , I traced wiring to apply 12v to the gas valve and it clicked and opened so i had gas . After cleaning and blowing out with compressed air I reapplied 12v to gas valve and lit the burner i'll try a picture of it lit (So proud ) Remember to not delay lighting the burner immediately opening the gas valve
Also a picture of the mother board the top lighter blue wire is my test wire to yellow wire to open the gas valve.
I tried to test the igniter but could not get it to work ?
so i think i need a mother board and probably an igniter relay
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Old 09-24-2014, 06:35 PM   #19
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A couple really big maybe s. The thermocoupler has to be in flame a few moments to get hot enough to generate the millivolts to open the valve. Is it possible by bridging the circuit you opened the valve before the thermocoupler could? The igniter tip has to be fairly close to the burner, the tip and the burner have to be fairly clean to allow the spark to arc the gap.
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