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Old 06-23-2017, 03:17 PM   #1
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Norcold problems, freezer working on gas and propane, fridge not cooling on either.

Hello all,

I recently purchased a 2002 Winnie Journey DP. Documentation with the unit indicates the Norcold was replaced in 2014. It is a MDL 1201LRIM if my eyes are not fooling me, ser#1005586H

My problem is that on this week's run from NC to PA the fridge temp is around 55 degrees, freezer temps are 20 today, yesterday 35. The fridge has previously worked fairly well in 3 extended outings since January (all in SC and FL). That is, it would s l o w l y make ice and thingsd in the frdige did not spoil. I had to keep cold setting at 9, the coldest to get that. I snagged a cooling fan for the roof vent that I plan to install in the next day or so if it quits raining. WHat else should I be looking for? Cooling unit plumbing is hot as it should be when running. Ideally, the fridge should be at 40 and the freezer at zero so I'm a long way off from being where I should be.

Can anyone give me suggestions as to where to start looking? I plan to try and clean the LP portion of soot and particles (if there are any). Many thanks to any and all that can shed some light on this. I am about to leave on a 6 day dry camp and don't want to live on canned goods and crackers.

Darwin
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Old 06-23-2017, 05:26 PM   #2
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Ah, the notorious Norcold 1200 series. Fires, recalls, class action suits - - where to begin. I assume you are substantially level when running the unit.
If not, and you go beyond the NO CO code on the door control, the board probably has to be reset. You will likely need a pro to do this.

When we bought our new to us 2004 Dutch Star I knew the Norcold would be a problem, even with the factory recall work being done. First thing I did was get the ARP thermal limit switch installed. While on our current trip from the east coast to Montana, I was out of level too long while attending to another issue and the board evidently "locked up." This occurred near Indianapolis. The repair guy I called suggested that, although he could probably get it running again, I should consider driving up to Shipshawana (near Elkhart) and get the Amish cooling unit installed. I decided to bite the bullet and did just that. In about 4 hours, the Amish guys pulled the fridge, removed the old cooling unit, and installed & tested the new one. I opted for the helium charged unit. It has now been two weeks and what a difference. At setting 7, I had 36 deg F in the fridge and 8 in the freezer. I thought this a tad too cold in the fridge, so I dropped to setting 6. 40 deg F in fridge and 8 in the freezer. Cost of the base unit was $1,000 and install was $300. Add $200 for the helium charged unit. The way I looked at the issued and justified the $1,500 was that, even if I got it running again, it will always be a problem. YMMV. Best of luck.
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Old 06-23-2017, 05:34 PM   #3
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36 to 37 is best for the fridge, 40 is too warm.
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Old 06-23-2017, 05:40 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by macandphyl View Post
36 to 37 is best for the fridge, 40 is too warm.
I noticed some ice build up on the fins and the egg yolks were getting a tad stiff. 40 deg F too warm? I will reconsider.
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Old 06-23-2017, 05:48 PM   #5
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My guess is airflow. There should be two fans on the fins on the back of the unit. Make sure they are working. Mine are not and I plan to fix in the next few days. When in SLC and the afternoon sun hit the wall that the fridge is on, the unit was barely cool in the fridge but freezer was fine. We moved to Bend and the outside temps are cooler here. Also the wall is is the shade. Beer is cold.
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Old 06-23-2017, 05:55 PM   #6
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Technically the cold refrigerant flows down from the metal plate in the freezer to the fins in the refrigerator section. Both or nothing in terms of cooling. It may be that the cooling is not as strong as it should be and your freezer is not getting cold as it should, either. I would say that is the case if the freezer is only cooling to 20, it should be in the 0-5 F range.

Weak cooling when it is not really hot outside may mean your fridge refrigerant tubing is partially blocked due to being run at some point out of level, this causes the anti-corrosion agent in the refrigerant to crystallize and it can degrade the cooling ability of the unit. No way to fix if this is what happened other than replacing the cooling guts with new guts. If really hot then the prior post saying "check the fans" is another possibility to research.
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Old 06-23-2017, 09:41 PM   #7
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Put a battery-powered fan on the bottom shelf of the frig. That should circulate the air enough to cool things a bit. Check the door gaskets for sealing by placing a dollar bill between door and frame. If you feel resistance the seal is OK, if the bill pulls out easily the seal is not doing its job. The first remedy is to wash the seals billowing folds and gently pull them so you may wash the bottoms of the folds. TAKE CARE! The gaskets are non-replaceable, you must buy the entire door @$600 ea.
Remind everyone this unit is slow to recover after opening the door. Decide what you want to remove from frig- before opening the door, then close quickly.
Make sure your RV is level when parked for more than a few minutes. The owners manual states a Norcold frig will operate normally within 3 deg of level side-to-side, and 6 deg front-to-back when looking at the frig doors.
Finally, check the thermister on the fins on back-top of frig interior. It should not be corroded where it attaches to the fin.The Norcold 1200LR series service manual
will have much more information, tips, and troubleshooting procedures.
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Old 06-24-2017, 08:43 AM   #8
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If your fridge is in a slideout, that is a big part of the problem. The compartment traps way too much hot air causing the fridge to run warm. Mounting a fan in the top of the compartment and directing hot air out the vent will help the fridge to cool down considerably.
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Old 06-24-2017, 11:00 AM   #9
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While I second the comment re a fridge in the slide-out, it sounds to me like the cooling unit is going south [again]. It's basically not working much at all if 20 is the best it can do in the fridge - should reach zero easily (I've owned two 1200LRIM's and both did it handily). Make sure the two fans in the back are working and that nothing is blocking the air flow up and out the back, but barring a problem there it sounds like a goner. A tiny pinhole leak lets the hydrogen gas escape and cooling performance drops off fast. Then the ammonia boils off and cooling stops completely. If the leak is near the heater/burner, the risk of fire is high as well.
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Old 06-24-2017, 02:16 PM   #10
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Welcome to irv2.
Check this link out and the Norcold link in it.
Look in the threads they will show problems when driving and warm air entering the fridge from poor sealing job by factory or who ever installed the cooling unit or the rear air baffle at top of back of fridge not deflecting the hot air out from the back of fridge if the fans are working. If fridge on slide just compounds the problem.
There is a themister to control the fans as heat builds up, some times the themister fails.
You can place a 12v fan or 119 fan to help blow out the hot air.
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Old 06-24-2017, 02:31 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary RVRoamer View Post
While I second the comment re a fridge in the slide-out, it sounds to me like the cooling unit is going south [again]. It's basically not working much at all if 20 is the best it can do in the fridge - should reach zero easily (I've owned two 1200LRIM's and both did it handily). Make sure the two fans in the back are working and that nothing is blocking the air flow up and out the back, but barring a problem there it sounds like a goner. A tiny pinhole leak lets the hydrogen gas escape and cooling performance drops off fast. Then the ammonia boils off and cooling stops completely. If the leak is near the heater/burner, the risk of fire is high as well.
Gary's post reminds me to ask that you check to see if there is any yellow residue on the metal boiler cover. If there is, especially if it is substantial, the cooling unit has likely failed.
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Old 06-24-2017, 03:39 PM   #12
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We just returned from a 4-day trip to Lake Tahoe. I can't start the fridge(Norcold 1200) until we are several blocks from home, due to the 10% slope I have to park on in front of our house. The fridge was very hot as was the outside air temp (108 when we left). I hit the on button when we were level a few blocks from the house. No error codes. Its about a 4 hour trip to Tahoe from the house, when we arrived outside temp at Tahoe was 90. The inside of the freezer had frost on it but the lower refrig section was at 55. I couldn't get the rig leveled fore to aft, off by about 3/4 bubble. Long story short, I have read all the Norcold horror stories and I figured ours was dying. On our third day, the fridge was down to a normal 40f. Fridge not dead, life's good again! Give it plenty of time to cool down.
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Old 06-24-2017, 05:55 PM   #13
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Things that can really help besides of course being level:
1) Don't over load the frig and keep the frig loaded on the shelving in a way that air can circulate well
2) Whenever you first leave on a trip, put frozen water bottles in the door racks
3) Get one of these units
https://smartrvproducts.com
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Old 06-24-2017, 08:54 PM   #14
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read my article:

2002 Winnebago Journey DL Refrigerator replacement | RV Part Time

Take the nevercold to the junk yard get something actually works
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