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Old 11-16-2019, 10:22 PM   #1
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Monaco Coaches with Norcold Refrigerators

We own a 2007 Monaco Cayman that was purchased from a private party in 2011. The coach came with a Norcold 1210 IMSS gas / electric refrigerator. We drove the coach about 4,000 miles before we received a recall notice from Norcold in October 2012 because of a fire hazard. The recall on our refrigerator required the installation of a temperature sensor. The sensor was intended to shut off the refrigerator should it over heat. We continued to use the refrigerator for the next seven years feeling confident that the recall had solved the refrigerator over heating problem......WRONG!!!!!

This year we noticed that the refrigerator was not performing up to the level it had in the past. So, to keep the refrigerator as cold as before, the cooling level was increased from a "5" to a "7". Then the recall sensor tripped. Time to look for a new refrigerator.

We found a suitable solution to the problem by purchasing a new 'electric only' unit from JC Refrigeration. The "Dutch Air" unit requires the removal of the gas / electric cooling unit from the Norcold box. The work was done in the coach and; can be done by most individuals with a moderate knowledge of mechanics. Watch the video presentations by JC Refrigeration about their "Dutch Air" units.

When the Norcold gas / electric refrigerator was removed from the cabinet in our Monaco we were HORRIFIED by what we saw. The Norcold gas / electric refrigerator is built with a burner tube that extends up to but not past the top of the refrigerator. The top of the tube has a metal "T" that directs the hot combustion gas out to either side of the refrigerator. The Norcold installation and service manual describes the need to install sheet metal baffling around the top inside of the refrigerator cabinet walls and ceiling; and, install a sheet metal baffle to direct the hot toxic gases up to the ceiling vent.

Monaco when they build the refrigerator cabinet left about one eight of an inch clearance from the burner tube "T" to the side of the cabinet. Additionally they had installed fiberglass insulation along the side wall that was held in place by thin wood battens. The wood battens are better suited for fireplace kindling. There was NO SHEET METAL around the top of the cabinet. There was no baffle to direct the hot gases to the ceiling vent; and the ceiling vent was simply cut through the fiberglass roof and the highly flammable vinyl covered foam ceiling panel.

Upon close inspection we found that one of the wood battens had been scorched and charred but had never fully ignited. Additionally, since there was no connection from the burner tube to the ceiling vent, the toxic combustion gasses vented to the space above the refrigerator and could easily enter the coach interior. The construction of the cabinet verges on GROSS NEGLIGENCE since Monaco did not follow the Norcold installation instructions. One can only imagine how many RV refrigerator fires were caused by careless refrigerator installation; and, how many more refrigerator owners are out there thinking that since they have the recall sensor installed they are protected against such a fire.

I strongly urge all Monaco owners to inspect the back of your refrigerator cabinet if you have a Norcold refrigerator. The inspection may save your life.
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Old 11-17-2019, 06:51 AM   #2
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Old 11-17-2019, 07:24 AM   #3
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Everyone should look but no one does. I purchased my coach and never thought twice about the Norcold. I previously had Dometic units in my TT and 5'er that performed flawlessly. After getting home and beginning the research on my coach components I ran across all the horror stories about the Norcolds. I decided at that time a replacement was in order. Fortunately to make the decision even easier it failed during my remodel. I elected to go with a residential instead because the cabinet the Norcold was in had plenty of room with minimal modifications. I found no indication of any fire hazards when I pulled it out but the piece of mind I have about not having a potential fire hazard between us and the exit door was worth every penny.
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Old 11-17-2019, 07:34 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John Kaehms View Post
We own a 2007 Monaco Cayman that was purchased from a private party in 2011. The coach came with a Norcold 1210 IMSS gas / electric refrigerator. We drove the coach about 4,000 miles before we received a recall notice from Norcold in October 2012 because of a fire hazard. The recall on our refrigerator required the installation of a temperature sensor. The sensor was intended to shut off the refrigerator should it over heat. We continued to use the refrigerator for the next seven years feeling confident that the recall had solved the refrigerator over heating problem......WRONG!!!!!

This year we noticed that the refrigerator was not performing up to the level it had in the past. So, to keep the refrigerator as cold as before, the cooling level was increased from a "5" to a "7". Then the recall sensor tripped. Time to look for a new refrigerator.

We found a suitable solution to the problem by purchasing a new 'electric only' unit from JC Refrigeration. The "Dutch Air" unit requires the removal of the gas / electric cooling unit from the Norcold box. The work was done in the coach and; can be done by most individuals with a moderate knowledge of mechanics. Watch the video presentations by JC Refrigeration about their "Dutch Air" units.

When the Norcold gas / electric refrigerator was removed from the cabinet in our Monaco we were HORRIFIED by what we saw. The Norcold gas / electric refrigerator is built with a burner tube that extends up to but not past the top of the refrigerator. The top of the tube has a metal "T" that directs the hot combustion gas out to either side of the refrigerator. The Norcold installation and service manual describes the need to install sheet metal baffling around the top inside of the refrigerator cabinet walls and ceiling; and, install a sheet metal baffle to direct the hot toxic gases up to the ceiling vent.

Monaco when they build the refrigerator cabinet left about one eight of an inch clearance from the burner tube "T" to the side of the cabinet. Additionally they had installed fiberglass insulation along the side wall that was held in place by thin wood battens. The wood battens are better suited for fireplace kindling. There was NO SHEET METAL around the top of the cabinet. There was no baffle to direct the hot gases to the ceiling vent; and the ceiling vent was simply cut through the fiberglass roof and the highly flammable vinyl covered foam ceiling panel.

Upon close inspection we found that one of the wood battens had been scorched and charred but had never fully ignited. Additionally, since there was no connection from the burner tube to the ceiling vent, the toxic combustion gasses vented to the space above the refrigerator and could easily enter the coach interior. The construction of the cabinet verges on GROSS NEGLIGENCE since Monaco did not follow the Norcold installation instructions. One can only imagine how many RV refrigerator fires were caused by careless refrigerator installation; and, how many more refrigerator owners are out there thinking that since they have the recall sensor installed they are protected against such a fire.

I strongly urge all Monaco owners to inspect the back of your refrigerator cabinet if you have a Norcold refrigerator. The inspection may save your life.
Often the same story when folks pull the Norcold. We did ours in Aug 2011 and could not believe what a fire hazard the the 4 door Norcold was even when working properly. We have had numerous RV's with absorption refrigerators and they all worked great until we got this coach with the 1200 series. Ours was working at the typical performance level when we pulled it and replaced it with a Samsung RF-197. The reason we did was because a friend could not get inside his coach one day because the ammonia fumes were so strong. His Norcold did not catch on fire but the piping ruptured and fill his coach with gas. We leave the dogs in the coach often when camping and could not stand the thought of killing them with ammonia gas.

Bob
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Old 11-17-2019, 07:55 AM   #5
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This subject has been batted around for quite some time now but it's a good one to be aware-of, especially for newer rv'ers.




We went thru 3 in-warranty replacements with our 1200-Series Not-Cold units in 2 years, before it failed the final time out-of-warranty and I replaced it with a residential Samsung. When I pulled out the Not-Cold, I saw that the entire wall next to the burner-tube was charred to the extent that some of the wood had actually turned to 'charcoal'.

I also noticed that some factory workers had played tic-tac-toe on the backside of one of the panels. Must have been doing it for quite awhile - all games ended in a draw.
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Old 11-17-2019, 09:14 AM   #6
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Agree that this subject has been discussed numerous times but it's worthwhile to post again for new IRV2er's since they may not be aware.


Our Norcold never really did a good job, I'd hate to think how much $$$ in wasted food that we had to throw away. I did install an additional fan in the rear of the refrigerator hoping to improve cooling, it didn't. I ended up putting in remote temp monitors in both freezer and fridge so at least I knew when I had to be checking food quality.

I also had the recall done with the black box. Last year the black box kicked out the fridge so I reset it with a magnet ( not really the wises of thing to do and would not recommend but when it quit I had lots of food in it). This worked for a day and it kicked again, but this time there was a dusting of yellow powder under the back of the fridge, so I unplugged quit using.

I finally got a chance to replace it with a Samsung this year. From appearance the fridge was installed correctly, it did have a metal baffle mounted above the burner exhaust with no evidence of charring.

I haven't had a chance to really use the Samsung on a long trip but when I plugged it in the first time it was down to temp in about 2 hours and it stayed that way for a week.
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Old 11-17-2019, 09:42 AM   #7
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Thanks for the heads-up! I will be removing the top vent and checking on this potential problem!
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Old 11-17-2019, 10:29 AM   #8
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Imagine if RV MFGs would follow the Installation Instructions provided by the RV Fridge MFGs how much better the fridges would function and not be a fire hazzard due to unprotected areas near boiler exhaust tubes.


Amazing.............
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Old 11-19-2019, 08:37 PM   #9
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JR Refrigeration

I have a 2003 Diplomat with the 1200 series Norcold. I bought the JR 120 Volt conversion and got rid of the propane problems. Easy to install and works great. They also have great customer support. Very cold beer now.
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Old 11-20-2019, 10:41 AM   #10
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Monaco Coaches with Norcold Refrigerators

Thanks to all who have replied to the original post. The purpose of the post was to alert Norcold owners who have the recall safety sensor. The sensor will not protect against fire if the refrigerator was improperly installed. Additionally, Norcold owners should inspect their circuit board where the electric heating elements connect to the board. We found that the plastic connectors at the circuit board were partially melted possibly because the heaters were staying on longer to keep the refrigerator cool.

Tell all your friends about these problems. You may help to save their lives.
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Old 11-22-2019, 09:32 AM   #11
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I am looking at doing a JR 120 Volt replacement. What is you experience with the replacement units that you have?
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Old 11-23-2019, 12:12 PM   #12
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Works great, watch the JC Refrigeration video. If you plan to do the install yourself send me another message and I'll give you some tips to help make it easier.
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Old 11-23-2019, 12:36 PM   #13
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What the members here have discovered about the interior of their coaches behind the NotCold 1200 series... Matches perfectly with what I discovered on my 2003 Diplomat. The inside wall was packed with fiberglass batt and covered with Luan wood, this was charred all the way along the burner chimney and at the top was completely charcoal. The fiberglass was also charred black behind the wood showing excessive heat - the ONLY reason it wasn't active flame would have been lack of oxygen - and that doesn't mean that it wasn't active flame for at least a brief period until the oxygen was consumed.

My fridge had evidence of THREE recall repairs including the sensors... And still it didn't work for crap, and the heater (power monitoring) was running basically 24/7. Such a waste of resources.

Pulling that unit and replacing it with a 23 cubic foot Counter-Depth Frigidaire was the best upgrade. That unit doesn't even use half the power of the NotCold while coming out of storage, and only around 40-60 watts average the rest of the time.

The horror stories about these NotCold units makes me understand why I didn't get a single inquiry about selling it after it was removed. I finally had to dump it when it started spontaneously smelling of ammonia after sitting in a climate-controlled storage for nearly a year. Good riddance.
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Old 11-24-2019, 05:59 AM   #14
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Originally Posted by geordi View Post
What the members here have discovered about the interior of their coaches behind the NotCold 1200 series... Matches perfectly with what I discovered on my 2003 Diplomat. The inside wall was packed with fiberglass batt and covered with Luan wood, this was charred all the way along the burner chimney and at the top was completely charcoal. The fiberglass was also charred black behind the wood showing excessive heat - the ONLY reason it wasn't active flame would have been lack of oxygen - and that doesn't mean that it wasn't active flame for at least a brief period until the oxygen was consumed.

My fridge had evidence of THREE recall repairs including the sensors... And still it didn't work for crap, and the heater (power monitoring) was running basically 24/7. Such a waste of resources.

Pulling that unit and replacing it with a 23 cubic foot Counter-Depth Frigidaire was the best upgrade. That unit doesn't even use half the power of the NotCold while coming out of storage, and only around 40-60 watts average the rest of the time.

The horror stories about these NotCold units makes me understand why I didn't get a single inquiry about selling it after it was removed. I finally had to dump it when it started spontaneously smelling of ammonia after sitting in a climate-controlled storage for nearly a year. Good riddance.
We pulled our Norcold 1200 in August 2011 and did not even attempt to sell it because I would not want to contribute to someone else's misfortune. Took the piece of crap straight to the dump!

Bob
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