Need Ideas - Fiberglass RV


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Old 11-12-2005, 12:01 PM   #1
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Trailer: 1979 13 ft Trillium
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It appears my refer has officially been called. Time of death, unknown. I would suppose if I was really, really motivated and/or mechanically inclined, it's possible to save it. But I'm not so....
Plan B. What are some other ideas (other than a new $600 refer) I can put in that space. I know Jackie (with the whale) uses an electric portable cooler, I suppose I could get one of those and put it there. Can anyone tell me how they like their icebox? If it is installed there, how does it drain? I could just put a door on the spot and use for storage and carry a regular ole cooler.

HELP! What would you do?
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Old 11-12-2005, 12:06 PM   #2
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I love having a refrigerator (w/freezer) in my trailer. I'd go real cheap...use coolers (heck, I used to tent it..so have about three, or four, or five of those) and SAVE for a new refrigerator. Rather than spend money on something that would be replaced in a year or so anyway.

OR, if you know you're always going to be hooked up...buy and install a dorm-style refer. But they make lousey coolers for boondocking...something about the lack of insulation?

My 2 1/2 cents.

Oh, have you turned the refrigerator upside down? On the "old" forum, that was mentioned as a method to get the thing running again....
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Old 11-12-2005, 12:50 PM   #3
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I used a Colman Road Trip cooler in my Pop ups. They are 3 way, if you look at it in a crooked manor :-P

They come with a 110 adaptor for when you have hook ups. Thats the easy way. They also work on 12v, just use the ciggy lighter sockets.

They also come with a shelf and can be used as an icebox. They are smaller than you average egg icebox, but for a 60 dollar investment, you can do as donna says, have a fridge in the meantime and then you can use it for other things when you get a proper fridge replacement.

http://www.coleman.com/coleman/colemancom/...categoryid=8570

I sold mine as part of the package with my pop up. wish I still had it for the car on long trips to keep my POP (oregonian here...) cold!
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Old 11-12-2005, 01:34 PM   #4
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Since the fridge in my 13' Burro only held a six pack and 2 eggs anyway, I used the upper and lower outside refer vents to divide the area to intake and output air ducts and installed a Walmart air conditioner. Sweet.

For refer we just use a coleman 12v cooler/ fridge we picked up in South Dakota. It's worked for us for two years now. I just move it to AC when camped.

Drat! I forgot how to add an image. Let me check.
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Old 11-12-2005, 04:36 PM   #5
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Domestic (no, not Dometic brand, but household-style) refrigerators do not need to be well-insulated, because they always have power available. Their operating principle is based on a compressor-driven cycle with a material such as freon. This seems like a perfectly reasonable choice for people who always camp at powered sites. During the drive to the camp site the door is left closed so the insulation may be adequate; a relatively small inverter could keep a "bar sized" refrigerator running with power from the tow vehicle for longer drives.

There are a number of brands of compressor-type refrigerators which are better insulated, designed for mobile use and efficiency, and usually configured for 12 VDC operation (avoiding the inefficiency of an inverter if running from battery power). Some use a normal rotary compressor; others use special low-power designs. These are common in marine use and in other countries, particularly Australia, where a lot of people seem to camp in conditions which we call "boondocking", but in weather that requires refrigeration.
Waeco Australia
Engel USA
Norcold AC/DC
Nova Kool
Tundra
I'm not sure that any of these units are much cheaper than a typical North American RV absorption-cycle RV refrigerator (they might even be more expensive), but they don't use propane and it appears that when running on electricity (AC or DC) they use less power and thus are more practical for battery-based operation.

The Coleman Road Trip and similar devices are usually constructed like a traditional insulated cooler, although many are set up to work decently in a standing position (with some built-in shelf provisions) to emulate a more conventional refrigerator. Instead of a compressor and freon (or similar) coolant, they use a solid-state module, which is normally 12 VDC powered. An adapter or the trailer's converter can be used to run them from AC power. Given the power draw which I have seen with the two such units I own, I believe that they are not particularly efficient. They are also usually quite limited in cooling ability, being unable to maintain normal refrigerator temperatures in hot weather. On the plus side, they are cheap, light, simple, and reliable. If I were setting up a trailer to use one of these, I would try to use it in the horizontal "chest" position, rather than the vertical postion (like a traditional refrigerator), because it would lose less cold air that way when opened. Since these are single-compartment devices, two could be run (one as refrigerator, one as freezer) if they can be found with appropriate thermostats and enough cooling capacity - if there's enough space for them, of course.

There are some interesting comments about refrigeration alternatives at KingKampers.Kamper.Fridge (King Kampers are typical of the Australian style of folding camping trailer).
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Old 11-12-2005, 09:27 PM   #6
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C'mon Gina, would you really keep your father on ice?
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Old 11-12-2005, 09:52 PM   #7
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*rassa frassa racca*... dang Californians...



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Old 11-12-2005, 10:04 PM   #8
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As mentioned, if you aren't boondocking, and plan to stay in sites with power, getting a bar reefer or one with a freezer would be a lot cheaper. Sears has several sizes on sale right not for $139-180 that would work nice and look pretty good too.

We have a Dometic in our boler, about 30 years old, and is still working strong. It runs on gas or 110. We hardly ever use the gas, but think its nice to have it, as we consider the boler our earthquake insurance. We'd want to be able to use it for a couple of weeks if we needed a disaster alternative, and a full gas bottle lasts nearly 3 months.
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Old 11-12-2005, 11:29 PM   #9
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Many years ago, in my bus conversion, I`d put in a Norcold ac/dc unit....it was a 2 door, 7.7 cu. ft. that had a built in converter/inverter that put out 43 Volts to run the fridge compressor motor....it would automatically switch between 12V and 110V. depending on what was available....using 110V primarily.......the unit didn`t need leveling like the absorption units, but sure needed a lot of 12v battery power when boon docking.....these units possibly priced themselves out of the market as I believe are no longer available.....disadvantage was that there was no propane capability.....Oh yes, The disadvantage of the electric coolers is that they can only cool down to about 30 degrees below ambient temps....so if the outside temps are in the 90`s they`ll only cool into the 60`s, which is a no no for meats, etc. .... Benny
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Old 11-12-2005, 11:29 PM   #10
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we have a 73 Trill, the original three way fridge is still going strong. when it dies, i will replace with a three way- just way more options on a trip...even with the cost- you will get it back when you seel your rig..

just my 2 bits worth
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Old 11-12-2005, 11:52 PM   #11
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Quote:
Benny K Posted on Nov 12 2005, 09:29 PM
.....Oh yes, The disadvantage of the electric coolers is that they can only cool down to about 30 degrees below ambient temps....so if the outside temps are in the 90`s they`ll only cool into the 60`s, which is a no no for meats, etc. .... Benny
I have camped in the desert, along the Columbia River in Central Washington with my little electric cooler. I was in a tent at the time, and put the cooler next to the power pole, then put a tarp over it with a little air space between...and the fan froze up on me...in mid-summer! Just my experience.....
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Old 11-13-2005, 12:22 AM   #12
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Our Scamp came with an ice box. We camped with it ONCE before decided to yank it out & put in a fridge. We found a small (dorm-size) one at Sam's Club for $80. It fit perfectly into the ice box space and we have been very happy with it. Of course, it only runs on EL but we never boondock, so that's fine. Before we go on a trip we plug in & run it for several hours & everything is still good & cold when we get where we're going.
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Old 11-13-2005, 11:12 AM   #13
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Hi Jackie, I have a Koolatron cooler that I used to use in a van and it worked fine for my although if it was too warm we used the A/C so the cooler didn`t have to work too hard......I wasn`t the originator of the 30 degrees info...just passing on the info from previous posts....Benny
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Old 11-13-2005, 03:54 PM   #14
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Any refrigeration unit pushes heat "uphill" from the cooled space (the inside of the 'fridge) to a warmer sink (the air outside of the appliance). They are all limited in the difference between those temperatures, but the limitation seems to be more apparent in the typical "electronic" cooler.

As for Norcold, the link from my last post is current, and the closest match to Benny's old unit looks like the DE-0061. I think the primary market is boats which have generators, and do not want to use propane (or diesel) to run an absorption-cycle unit (the typical RV type).

The 3.6 cubic foot Norcold claims to use only 1.6 to 2.8 amps on 12VDC, which would be much less than a similarly sized Dometic, but perhaps still too much for boondocking, especially if it has to run all of the time (instead of cycling on and off). I think that this would still be much better than the electronic coolers, but I have no experience with the Norcold type, and if Benny says the power draw is too high to be practical, I'll believe him.

In a chest-style (or horizontal, or top-opening) configuation, those Australian campers apparently run for days on a small deep-cycle battery, using compressor-type units.
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