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Old 09-24-2012, 08:27 AM   #1
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Samsung rf 197 retrofit

Well, after months of planning, scouring the internet reading "how to's," and much research, I pulled the trigger and removed the Norcold 1200 and installed a Samsung residential.
I have learned so much, most of it the hard way. For those of you considering installing this unit into a Newmar product (I have a 2005 MADP 4304 and installed the unit above the furnace), I can tell you that the "how to's" available on the internet are helpful, but in no way tell the "whole story." There were many, many obstacles to overcome, beginning with the removal of the Norcold and getting the Samsung through the front door (my coach has the 35" Plasma TV option, mounted over the passenger seat), to wiring the refrigerator to the inverter, to getting the Samsung into the rebuilt compartment, to anchoring the Samsung, to trimming it out.
The Samsung is in the coach, maintaining 38/-2 degrees, and it looks like a factory install.
So, if you have questions about such a project, feel free to ask. I think I could do another installaton in about 1/3 of the time.
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Old 09-24-2012, 09:20 AM   #2
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Sounds like you did a great job. Pics would really help us visualize the project. What's the amperage draw?
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Old 10-28-2012, 10:27 PM   #3
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I am presently prepping for the install of a Samsung RF197 that I have on order. I have a 2004 40DSO3 Travel Supreme. I am fortunate that other than a drain line for the kitchen sink and water lines running through that area I can lower the floor base unit to make it fit with out too much of a problem. However going over the given dimensions I am pretty sure that I am going to need to place the frig into its spot without the doors on it as the hallway behind the kitchen slide only affords so much room. I am concerned about leaving enough room down from the top to get my hands in there to put on the hinges and install the doors. I also would like to know how much space you allowed from the top face frame to the top of the refrigerator for air circulation. There was a drawer under the old Norcold that I know I am going to loose but I wanted to leave just a small access area to get into that area if I need to. Sure would appreciate your help on this. Tom O'Neill 303.898.1345
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Old 10-29-2012, 04:24 PM   #4
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I am not familiar with the TS layout, but I strongly recommend that before you do any significant construction or demolition, you have the fridge in the motorhome so you know exactly the dimensions you are dealing with. I had all the dimensions from Samsung on the unit, and they were accurate. It is what the dimensions don't tell you that becomes important
during the installation. I could have saved myself a lot of time if I did my modifications while looking at the fridge.
Because my fridge sits above the furnace, I was concerned about contacting the ceiling, not airspace, at the top of the fridge. I estimate that once installed I have about 1/2" airspace between the top of the fridge and the ceiling.
The hinges install with screws driven from the top. If you have to install the doors after the fridge is in the box, you will need at least enough room to get a right angle screwdriver in there....not fun. Note that the Samsung diminsions do not include the control panel and wiring harness that are mounted with the hinges on the top of the fridge and significantly increase the height. This is one reason I recommend building the box with the fridge in the coach.
Here is some encouragement. I just returned from a two week trip, the "maiden voyage" with the new Samsung. The fridge never deviated from 38/-2, regardless of conditions. I did dry camp two nights on the road. With four Lifeline batteries and a 2000 watt MSW inverter, parked for about 9 hours, the auto gen start did not come on. I don't know how long I could go without starting the gen set, but I was pleased that I could overnight at a Walmart with the fridge on with no problems.
Good luck on your project...you will not regret it.
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Old 10-30-2012, 12:33 AM   #5
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Thank you for taking the time to provide some food for thought. My hesitation on this point has been the very points that you bring up. I do not want to provide a space and then need to redo it. I am lucky in that my furnace in the TS is not in that location and I only need to deal with the kitchen drain and the water lines which do not take up very much room. There is a clean out in there for the drain so I would like to maintain access from the front but from your comments I think I will need to make that access a small as possible and leave as much room at the top as I can. I think I will get all my ducks in a row and make as many items ahead of time as I can then wait to have the frig on hand before finalizing anything. So thanks again for providing your thoughts and insight. I found charred wood from a luan baffle that was installed above the Norcold flue to direct the exhaust gasses towards the ceiling vent. So even though it is nice to be able to dry camp and have a frig work on gas. Until they make a safe product which I feel that they have not!!! I will deal with the electric load off the inverter and batteries and just run the gen as needed. At least I will still be alive instead of possibly dead from a fire caused by the Norcold frig. Everyone seems to worry about the fire caused by a leaking cooling unit and I would too. However there is also a hidden danger caused by the flue gasses when running on propane that is located in a spot that you can not see unless you pull the frig or use some kind of fiber optic system to inspect that area. How they can build something like this and not provide some kind of double walled pipe and vent system is beyond me. Knowing what I know now I will never own a Gas Absorption type cooling system in any RV that I ever own. I hope to post pictures of the charred wood for others to see and realize the danger they are in even if the cooling system does not leak. Thanks again
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Old 10-30-2012, 07:04 AM   #6
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I saw some evidence of scorching of the insulation on the flue when I removed my Norcold. But my primary complaint with my Norcold (both the original one and the one Norcold replaced it with) was its inconsistent cooling. Norcold's customer service is poor, and I will never own another one.
I was thinking about the problem with installing the doors and top trim pieces after the fridge was in your box....could you remove the fridge vent and do it through the roof?
One other point you might consider. I assume that the depth of the box in your TS is less than the depth of the Samsung, so that the doors will protrude from the box. When you get your Samsung, look at the brackets which are bolted to each side of the fridge at the bottom. They protrude from the front of the refridgerator, and are covered by the plastic trim piece that snaps and screws to the bottom front of the fridge. If you build your deck base to be the same depth as the box, which is what I did, you will remove these brackets and not use the plastic trim piece, because they will be hanging off the edge of the deck base.
If I had it do over again, I would have extended the deck approximately 3", rather than constructing it to be the same depth as the box. The reason: securing the fridge to the deck is very difficult once the fridge is installed...there is very little room to work through the vent door on the outside of the coach. The brackets on the front of the Samsung would have been an ideal place to bolt the fridge to the deck. They are easily accessible if you needed to remove the fridge, and they would be hidden by the trim piece. Unfortunately, I could not use them because my deck was not deep enough. I recommend that you consider this option to simplify anchoring the fridge in the coach.
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Old 10-30-2012, 07:36 AM   #7
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The hinges were a concern with our installation also. Since the Samsung would not clear the TV inside the front door without major demolition we opted to go through a side window. It just fit without removing any glass. We did have to remove all of the doors and shelves for clearance and to reduce the weight.

Once in I had constructed a dolly out of lumber and casters that put the fridge right at the height of the new floor I constructed over the furnace duct, central vac and LP detector. This put it so close to the ceiling that the only way I could attach the door hinges was to roll them under the ceiling Magic Fan vent and use a small mirror to attach the screws. What we won't go through to get rid of the Norcolds.

BTW we ordered an RF197 from Lowes but what they delivered was an RF217. Since they remove the packaging before hand and the two appear identical we never discovered it until noticing the label after installation. We carefully measure first and were confused as to how it would not go through the door. The reason was it is a larger fridge. After some redrawing of plans we did end up with two cubic feet extra of room though.

Here is the thread on the install New fridge goes in through side window
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Old 10-30-2012, 05:50 PM   #8
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Thanks to all on this great forum for the comments. I too am sick and tired of throwing food away due to a poor cooling system and temp fluctuations in the rig. We full time so we are in this girl summer and winter both and outside temps on the side wall of the rig can really hammer the internal temp in the rig. Even though we installed one of the battery fans and it certainly kept things cooler, the milk, celery,cilantro,parsley,lettuce,milk,and most of everything else you can think of did not have a very good shelf life. So yes a very inefficient frig system is a factor but all aside the different ways this Norcold could catch your rig on fire for the privilege of running off propane is short sided. If the posters of this comment had any idea of what is going on behind and above this refrigerator they would not be able to sleep at night or leave any of their four legged critters behind when gone from the rig. The very thought of my Golden Retriever dying this way makes my eye's water just thinking about it. Knowing that I am going to lose her one day anyhow is a killer. Imagine killing her over something like this. I will not in my case be able to use anything existing above the frig to install the doors, no fantastic vent, the roof vent is too far to the rear. So I am going to drop it as close to the floor as I can possible get it and try and leave as much room to the ceiling as I can possibly get and then just fight the good fight to get the hinges on when the time comes as the hallway will not allow the unit to be positioned in the opening with the doors on to get stuffed in. No regrets for my choice on my end. I am extremely happy with the future thought of having a real refrigerator and you will NEVER here me complain about the energy use it takes and the load it puts on the generator or batteries. Heck that is why I have them..thanks all for your input...This is a fantastic forum for the RV Family and I wish all save travels and a happy long life.
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Old 11-01-2012, 01:41 AM   #9
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For any others thinking of changing out the Norcold here is a good thread for just that.
If others find its expensive, the Norcold box is fine, it just needs a good cooling unit here is a change out for that.
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Old 11-01-2012, 11:03 PM   #10
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Actually the Norcold Box is not fine. I am trying to get the point across that there is a hidden issue with this refrigerator when it is being operated on propane. It involves the flue and the close proximity of its terminus and combustible objects. This is located in the area just above were it exits the refrigerator and in a place that can not be seen with the naked eye. You would need some kind of fiber optic camera to look up there with the frig in place to see if the wood baffle or the ceiling has been burning. Yes burning, and one day given enough time there will be a fire, even if the cooling system itself never leaks. How can this device be engineered like this and sold to the public? Why has there not been more discussion in this regard? Most topics in this subject concern boon docking, inverters,batteries,poor cooling performance, and generator run time. The real discussion should be about personal safety and the loss of life and or property. I am not trying to be an alarmist. But after seeing what I saw after removing mine from the cavity I felt extremely fortunate that all I had was a cooling failure and not a fire and total loss of the Motor Home, our lives, or the lives of our furry companions if perhaps this happened when we were not there. Am I being overly dramatic about this? Are there others out there with similar experiences and if so how can we get this message out to our fellow Rv'ers to be aware of this potential and perhaps all of us should have this area scoped out to see if there is any ongoing funny stuff happening? Please chime in or perhaps the moderator would like to start this thread in a different segment/section? Good luck to everyone out there and happy camping, be safe.
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Old 11-02-2012, 09:37 PM   #11
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The Norcold box is fine on some coach's there is discoloration of walls surrounding the box because of heat from the burner I agree.
This TSB will explain some of that and what Newmar did for problem.
There is also a cap that is applied to the top of chimney for another problem.
My Norcold of 10 years doesn't have a discoloration on walls and have ample space with insulation surrounding it.
If installs are to tight for heat to build up than maybe anyone should have it looked at.
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Old 11-03-2012, 01:38 AM   #12
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Thank you for the Service Bulletin, in looking at the pictures I noted that they were registering the temperature down lower by the burner assembly. The wood in question for me was not just discolored but charred. So my main purpose for commenting was to advise all that there could in fact be something going on up above where you can not see it and perhaps as a matter of course we should have this area checked out to insure that we have sufficient clearance and venting at the top and I feel this could be done with a fiber optic camera such as they use to look at combustion chambers in furnaces and scoping out sewer pipes etc. Just food for thought and discussion.
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Old 11-03-2012, 08:19 AM   #13
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I am still looking for that chimney cap TSB it may have something to do with your problem.
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Old 11-03-2012, 09:27 AM   #14
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Do you know if there is a SB on installing metall baffle behind
refer. I have a 05KSDP and it just has a wood strip installed on the wall. I will be pulling refer out again to seal cooling since it does not cool well when moving down the road.

Dave
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