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Old 05-29-2013, 02:22 PM   #1
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Golly, I'm gettin' tired of this

Warning- this is just a personal rant; no larger issues involved.

We've been fulltiming since early 2011 in our '89 Fleetwood Southwind. We're not well-to-do, and our retirement funds took a big hit in the financial crisis in 2009. But we bought our 34' rig and had fun looking forward to full time RVing.

We had totally rehabbed the interior before going on the road, new paint, tweaked and modded nearly everything.

The first two years we had minor issues, but nothing wildly expensive or catastrophic. New water pump, vacuum leaks in the engine, that kind of thing. A storm ripped the awning fabric last fall, so we put lovely new fabric on.

But this year...
Ah, this year's different.

We ended up having to have the motor rebuilt for an unmerry Christmas present. Yikes, there goes the savings account.

In January we went to work in the oil patch as gate guards on an oil rig, working out of the RV and had trouble with the power steering as we drove up here- something to deal with when we leave, right?

Six weeks after we arrived on the job, a turning truck ripped the patio awning, awning hardware and passenger side mirror right off the RV with its load. We are STILL struggling to get compensated for that.

About a month ago, the company we work for replaced the generator we had been connected to with a newer one (we are totally off-grid here: the company supplies a 15KW diesel gen+fuel, fresh water and sewer tanks to dump into) and we've had nothing but electrical issues since.

Also, as the weather heated up, we realize our old Dometic reefer is not keeping up- not completely ruined yet but clearly getting there.

Yesterday was the culmination: the main breaker on the company's generator got so hot it melted into slag but stayed open- lost one leg of the 50 amp power which burned up our 50 amp splitter, plus when they finally got the generator back on line (sans breaker!) we discover what appears to be the compressor in the front air conditioner is shorted out.

Now this is south Texas- we've already had plenty of days over 100 degrees, and today its 90 something degrees and 85% humidity, so the lack of the front A/C is major (bedroom A/C still works, thankfully).

(Before anybody says anything YES we should have had a surge protector on the coach; we had a portable 50 amp Progressive that was stolen while we were in South Dakota last fall. I meant to replace it, of course, but kept putting it off. )

So it looks like we'll say sayonara to this job and head back to Corpus to see about getting the air conditioner replaced or repaired. Sadly, we are not able to install a new one ourselves- just too old and crippled up for hoisting an A/C up on the roof.

Then there's the fridge- pulling that out and replacing the cooling unit makes me exhausted to even think about.

I have to say I love this old beast (the motor home I mean) and I love the fulltime life but I'd sure like to be able to get back on the road and not feel like I'm just waiting for the newest disaster.
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Old 05-29-2013, 05:16 PM   #2
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Retired one year before the " downturn " and have been hanging on by my finger nails since. New roof on the sticks and bricks last week and house taxes in the mail today , mortgage up for renewal June 13th.
Where can we meet up , I'll buy the first round.
We'll drink to a brighter tomorrow.
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Old 05-29-2013, 05:30 PM   #3
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Blessings on you both. Seems like the guy that can afford it the least, gets kicked in the butt the most.
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Old 05-29-2013, 05:39 PM   #4
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Honey Badger--sounds pretty discouraging. Sorry you have had so many issues and I hope your luck will turn around going forward. Hang in there!
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:46 PM   #5
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HB - I know we discussed refers on a different thread and you had advice from an RV tech that might not have been very helpful - but this is a little trick that you might want to try before giving up on the refer.

Without getting too technical, RV refers don't wear out - there are no moving parts. What can happen is that the chemicals inside them start to crystalize and that blocks the tube - a bit like a heart attack waiting to happen.

A trick given to me a while back when I was in the same predicament was to disconnect the heater wires and connect them directly to a 110V extension cable and let it run for 24-48 hours full blast. Your refer will freeze up just like the freezer section so only do this when you have nothing of consequence in there.

After 48 hours, reconnect the heater to the refer wiring and if it worked you should be back to having a full functional refer again.

This works best when the refer appears to be aging rather then when it's stopped working altogether - at that point the crystals have blocked the pipe and there is no way back (some people suggest banging it but I have no experience of that ever working!)

It's worth having a go - it won't do any harm and it might fix one of your problems

Good luck
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Old 05-29-2013, 08:57 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveclv View Post
HB - I know we discussed refers on a different thread and you had advice from an RV tech that might not have been very helpful - but this is a little trick that you might want to try before giving up on the refer.

Without getting too technical, RV refers don't wear out - there are no moving parts. What can happen is that the chemicals inside them start to crystalize and that blocks the tube - a bit like a heart attack waiting to happen.

A trick given to me a while back when I was in the same predicament was to disconnect the heater wires and connect them directly to a 110V extension cable and let it run for 24-48 hours full blast. Your refer will freeze up just like the freezer section so only do this when you have nothing of consequence in there.

After 48 hours, reconnect the heater to the refer wiring and if it worked you should be back to having a full functional refer again.

This works best when the refer appears to be aging rather then when it's stopped working altogether - at that point the crystals have blocked the pipe and there is no way back (some people suggest banging it but I have no experience of that ever working!)

It's worth having a go - it won't do any harm and it might fix one of your problems

Good luck
The other thing that happens is that the tubing breaks or a hole is eaten in it, that releases the ammonia mixture into the air and maybe causes a fire. Have the recalls been done? Do you smell ammonia?
Only fix is a rebuilt or new cooling unit. I replaced ours with a new Amish unit a couple years ago.
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Old 05-29-2013, 09:19 PM   #7
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Hopefully it will get better sooner than later.
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Old 05-29-2013, 10:57 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mr_D View Post
The other thing that happens is that the tubing breaks or a hole is eaten in it, that releases the ammonia mixture into the air and maybe causes a fire. Have the recalls been done? Do you smell ammonia?
Only fix is a rebuilt or new cooling unit. I replaced ours with a new Amish unit a couple years ago.
Yes, I did assume that there were no leaks in my advice - leaking ammonia or yellow sulphur deposits means a new cooling unit.

Just that a lot of advice is focused on simple replacement without seeing if the existing unit can be brought back to life.
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Old 05-31-2013, 05:59 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveclv View Post
HB - I know we discussed refers on a different thread and you had advice from an RV tech that might not have been very helpful - but this is a little trick that you might want to try before giving up on the refer.

Without getting too technical, RV refers don't wear out - there are no moving parts. What can happen is that the chemicals inside them start to crystalize and that blocks the tube - a bit like a heart attack waiting to happen.

A trick given to me a while back when I was in the same predicament was to disconnect the heater wires and connect them directly to a 110V extension cable and let it run for 24-48 hours full blast. Your refer will freeze up just like the freezer section so only do this when you have nothing of consequence in there.

After 48 hours, reconnect the heater to the refer wiring and if it worked you should be back to having a full functional refer again.

This works best when the refer appears to be aging rather then when it's stopped working altogether - at that point the crystals have blocked the pipe and there is no way back (some people suggest banging it but I have no experience of that ever working!)

It's worth having a go - it won't do any harm and it might fix one of your problems

Good luck
Will definitely give this a try

Thank you for the advice and sympathy, folks. Our internet connection has been marginal the last few days and I didn't mean to post and run.

Sometimes its just nice to vent to someone else who's been there, done that, got the tee shirt.
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Old 05-31-2013, 06:44 PM   #10
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One other thing you could try is unplug/unhook and turn it upside down for 24hours and then turn it right side up and hook it up and try it.
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Old 05-31-2013, 06:55 PM   #11
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What about adding a couple of computer fans wired to a thermal switch in the vent chamber? Many people have reported great success in warm climates with this simple mod.
Also, have you checked for obstructions in the vent?
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Old 05-31-2013, 11:30 PM   #12
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Sounds a lot like my last year. Luckily this year has been fairly uneventful. Hang in there, it will get better.
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Old 05-31-2013, 11:33 PM   #13
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Quote:
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What about adding a couple of computer fans wired to a thermal switch in the vent chamber? Many people have reported great success in warm climates with this simple mod.
Also, have you checked for obstructions in the vent?
If your refer, like ours, is in a slide with no roof vent then a fan is required. I have one but will add at least one more this summer.
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Old 05-31-2013, 11:47 PM   #14
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I feel for you, but then again it is only mechanical equipment which though often expensive can be repaired as you can afford it. This year has been the pits for us also. I was scheduled for knee replacement in January when the DW started having heart problems. Had to cancel my surgery as she had to have a new heart valve and a bypass. Now that she is starting to feel better and hopefully can take care of me, I am trying to schedule the knee again. Looks like we will miss most of the year to surgeries. Although a pain, I would trade you your good health for our good mechanical luck any day. Hang in there it can only get better, at least that's what people are telling us.
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