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Old 04-20-2012, 08:27 PM   #1
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1988 dometic fridge just died, need help

well, just got the fuel problem solved, now this crops up. go figger!

1988 allegro 31 ft, john deere/ford chassis, dometic 2-way americana mod rm 2652 fridge, probably original.

owned just over a year. have been running off shore power mostly, once/twice per mo on the road for short day trips. fridge never turned off except 2x to defrost it. always kept on auto.

this am fridge was hot, 78 deg inside, power lite still on. turned it off, did my thing on the road all day, returned and hooked back up to shore power. left on auto about an hour. no cooling.

selected gas only, left for an hour again. still no cool, but inside the fridge part, smells like ammonia, and the space between ice box and fridge doors is hot to touch, not burnie hot, just pretty warm. sorta like the no-mildew gaskets on some house fridges. no other areas are hot.

shut it off with front button. looked outside in trap door hoping to find a gas shutoff valve. only thing i see is a knurled thumbscrew just below, but part of, the solenoid in the gas input line. it's a slotted screwdriver control. i turned it clockwise 1/4 turn, all it would go. hope this turned gas of.

is this the gas shut off?

now, maybe it's not exactly broken? guy 'filled' the propane tank just before i bought it just over a year ago, and i've neither checked the gas level (don't know how) nor had it refilled. only use is to run the fridge and cook some stuff maybe 2 days a month, but still, maybe gas level is down. maybe with this fridge, if gas is too low it won't run? i still have ok flame on the stove, but what do i know....

of all the books and papers i have, there's nothing about this fridge in my packet of docs.

any ideas out there?

am
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Old 04-20-2012, 08:55 PM   #2
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Go to the Dometic web site and see if you can find the model you have. From what you have said it sounds like the cooling unit has bit the bullet.

Dometic.com Dometic

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Old 04-20-2012, 09:21 PM   #3
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looks like about a grand + to replace with same model at ppl. <300.00 for a house fridge/freezer. need to decide how bad i need the gas power. right now on shore power 90 pct time. on road day trips only, so bag of ice ought to keep stuff ok for the day. need to research how others are doing when using home type fridges. thanks! am

ps am i turning the gas off correctly with the knob i mentioned? (guess this is important for quick response.)
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Old 04-20-2012, 11:49 PM   #4
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Smell of ammonia is a very very bad sign. I hate to ask- you say fridge has been running constantly; have you been very very careful about leveling the coach/reefer? These old units are very touchy about level. Run out of level, the tubes will block up and that's basically curtains for the cooling unit.

The replacement Amish cooling units are cheaper than a new RV fridge, but still expensive. People appear to be very pleased with the quality, however.
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Old 04-21-2012, 02:02 AM   #5
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oops!

sure looks dead to me. kicked it twice and it still just lays there.

so, how do i shut off the gas?
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Old 04-21-2012, 06:24 AM   #6
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So I was going to take out the frig in my 1981 20' Warrior.I turned off the gas and thought I was all set.Now I was outside with the windows and door open in the RV.I get everything unscrewed and take off the line last.Push the frig forward so I could grab it inside and take it out.I walked inside the RV and within seconds I am choking so bad I thought I was going to pass out and die.I am not kidding here.I came within moments of going to a next door neighbor to have him call 911 because I was so overcome with ammonia flumes.The msg here is to have a cap for the input line.

At some point you want to sell everything.So to replace with a RV frig that is a update I do think adds value.The cooling units of the old ammonia frig's do go bad and you can buy replacement units for it.What I found is you replace that and end up chasing leaks everywhere else.After all it is very old using a coolant that isn't used any-longer.In my case I wanted something larger anyways and I am going to build a cabinet to change the floor plan.I suggest you buy a takeout or new one.Some of the newer ones are only two way.AC/DC.So when you buy be aware of what your getting if you want to keep a three way frig.
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:08 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by fleamarketer View Post
.The cooling units of the old ammonia frig's do go bad and you can buy replacement units for it.What I found is you replace that and end up chasing leaks everywhere else.After all it is very old using a coolant that isn't used any-longer..
The amonia smell is the key. The cooling unit is sealed. If you can smell the stuff, it's not anymore.

RV fridges do still use these same ammonia based cooling systems, very little changed since your was made. They are simple, effective, have no moving parts, and the ability to run on multiple "fuel sources" and not use much battery power.

I would replace it with a new rv fridge.
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Old 04-21-2012, 07:30 AM   #8
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The amonia smell is the key. The cooling unit is sealed. If you can smell the stuff, it's not anymore.

RV fridges do still use these same ammonia based cooling systems, very little changed since your was made. They are simple, effective, have no moving parts, and the ability to run on multiple "fuel sources" and not use much battery power.

I would replace it with a new rv fridge.
Jim-not for nothing Norcold tech line said that kind of coolant isn't used any longer.
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Old 04-21-2012, 08:45 AM   #9
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Fleamarketer, I would question the "Norcold tech" and ask him what they are using if not ammonia. There is a limited number of refrigerants that can be used that allow operation below 32 deg F.

For comfort cooling, the commercial units are Lithium Bromide and water. The water is the refrigerant and the Li-Br is the absorbent.

In and RV refrigeration, the ammonia is the refrigerant and the water is the absorbent.

I think what the Norcold tech was referring to is that, the corrosion inhibitor has been changed. They had used a chromate inhibitor in the past and had to get away from this.

Here is a link to the Norcold site with an explanation on how the system works.
http://www.thetford.com/Portals/0/PD...tionSystem.pdf

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Old 04-21-2012, 11:26 AM   #10
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now what

thinking about it after reading all i could about fridges in general, what i find of value to me is this:

these rv units sometimes die because they were run off level. mine died in the driveway at the house, actually quite level. however, bumpy roads? lots of those while running on gas so maybe why it died? i'd rather think being 24 yrs old is more the reason. it was just tired. but just a guess.

smell of ammonia is probably the key to define current condition.

resale value is not an issue. total cost was 8k incl 6 new tires and some minor fixens, tax, tags, yrs insurance etc, so real value is not in resale, but in what she means to me every time i spend a day in peace and quiet with her in the bush.

cost to replace is only factor i can consider at the moment. i'm just not flush to spend the 1300 to replace in kind. i see that 350 max for a 9 cu ft res unit (50% bigger than my dometic and only 130 lbs dry) and i'm day camping next week again.

i'm plugged into shore power most of the time to make the ice to carry over when off power for 12 hrs or so at a time. i'm not loaded with a week's worth of food and (yum) mint choc chip bryers.

lots of discussion all over about running res fridges indefinitely on batts/solar/ with only minimum need for the genny. no one doing it has any negatives. those against it don't like the cost of the power systems, not that it won't work. however, solar is too far for me right now. i have one small panel that runs an attic fan i modified to keep me 'cool-ish', and i'm thankful for that.

still need to know how to disconnect this bugger, shut off gas, make safe etc. any ideas appreciated.
thanks, am
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:04 PM   #11
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This website might be helpful. It tells how to remove a unit, take off the cooling unit, and replace it with a rebuilt one. Just click the link below:
New Page 1

It will cost about $500 to replace the coil plus shipping. When I had mine done, I just pulled the coil and dropped it off at the rebuild center while going on vacation and picked it up a week later on the way home. The total cost was $450 and it works just like new. I would have dropped off the whole refrigerator but I couldn't get it out the motorhome door. It was about 1/2 inches too wide for the door.
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:17 PM   #12
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Should be a valve, much like a faucet handle on the tank. If not I would take to fill station and they know how.
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:29 PM   #13
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sure looks dead to me. kicked it twice and it still just lays there.

so, how do i shut off the gas?
If there isn't a shutoff in the vented compartment outside just turn off the main valve at the LP tank.
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Old 04-21-2012, 01:39 PM   #14
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Here's another website you might check out. They seem to be running a sale on your cooling unit. You might be able to change it out for $400 which includes shipping.
Replacement Cooling Units for RV Refrigerators
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