Norcold 323 installation in '71 Compact Jr., Part 1 - Fiberglass RV


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Old 07-14-2012, 02:00 PM   #1
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Norcold 323 installation in '71 Compact Jr., Part 1

Greetings all.

We are in the process of installing a Norcold 323 in our 1971 Compact Jr. and I have some questions (and hopefully photos!). [I was trying to post photos within the text, I'm not sure I can figure out how to do so, they might all be at the end.)

The PO had a 12V igloo cooler installed. Not only was it ugly, but he said it did not cool or keep things cool. I pulled it out. QUESTION: Can I use the wiring for the 12V plug to run the Norcold?


There was an initially 'unidentified 12V device' on the back of the refrigerator enclosure with an exiting (I think)-to-the-outside pipe. When I dismounted it, I discovered that it was a switched fan. It drew from the closet enclosure (unless it was an intake fan [?]). QUESTION: Do I need this?
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sm.igloo cooler.jpg   sm.mystery device.jpg  

sm.exhaust fan.jpg   sm.intake.exhaust pipe.jpg  

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Old 07-14-2012, 02:16 PM   #2
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Norcold 323 installation in '71 Compact Jr., Part 2

(continued)
I am building the enclosure according to Norcold specs and the "almost good venting" diagram. Plywood on the outside, with foiled Tyvex (foil facing outward) on the refrigerator side. The enclosure is almost completed, I need to finish the space above the refrigerator where it exits to the outside. I also plan on sticking a 12V fan in there for increased circulation. QUESTION: Any suggestions/advice?
Attached Thumbnails
compact jr.closet plan.jpg   sm.almost good venting.jpg  

sm.norcold install 2.jpg   sm.norcold placement.jpg  

sm.rear wall junction.jpg   sm.refrig outlet.jpg  

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Old 07-14-2012, 02:18 PM   #3
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Norcold 323 installation in '71 Compact Jr., Part 3

I need to cut into the fiberglass wall to install the required vents. To say the least, this makes me anxious. I plan on measuring many, many times then using a Dremel tool, mask, long sleeves, etc for safety precautions. Butyl tape between the vents and the body. 1x strips on the inside to screw in to, possibly add support (?). QUESTION: Any suggestions/advice on this part of the modification?

We really appreciate and enjoy this site, a source of great information and friendly peoples.

Thanks in advance!

Jan Georgen
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Old 07-14-2012, 02:37 PM   #4
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Hello Jan. I am not familiar with the Norcold 323 but in most cases 12 volts (DC heating element) is used as one of the 3 way power sources with propane and an AC heating element being the other two. The 12 volt line tends to be used only for traveling because of the heating elements high current demand, typically 10 amps or so. Some refrigerators also require a 12 volt supply for the temperature control board. Whether the old igloo line will do really depends on the wire size and fusing. Since you plan on a circulation fan, you might use it for that. As far as the existing fan, I can't think of a good reason to keep it. Don't forget to fill the hole.

I had to do some fiberglass cutting. I used a grit blade on a jig saw and later a bare hack saw blade. Be brave, fortune favors the bold. Raz
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Old 07-14-2012, 02:58 PM   #5
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I have used this type of tool to cut/shape fiberglass
Amazon.com: Genesis GMT15A Multi-Purpose Oscillating Tool: Home Improvement
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Old 07-14-2012, 02:59 PM   #6
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Maybe you could utilize the old vent hole for condensation run off from the new refer?
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Old 07-14-2012, 05:20 PM   #7
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I installed a 323 into my UHaul a few months ago. A few things that I did that really worked out well for me.
  • Added 1.5" styrene insulation on 4 sides with foil facing
  • Added 1.5" 12 volt fan inside
  • Added 4" 12 volt fan on exhaust vent (note fan in picture overheated - needed to move to a cooler location off the heat exchanger)
  • Fabricated aluminum baffle to direct all incoming air from lower vent through the heat exchanger (no bypass space at all)
  • Added secondary inner "door" with 5 mini doors to prevent cold loss when opening door
On a recent camping trip interior temp was 50 degrees lower than ambient.

To cut my vent holes I taped the cut lines and used a fine hacksaw blade in my jig saw. The tape prevents splintering.
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Old 07-15-2012, 12:11 AM   #8
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re: Norcold 323 install

Thanks to everyone for the ideas, suggestions, and encouragement! I might be going about this sort of backwards, if I had known that the existing fan was expendable, I would have removed and not have cut out for the pipe. And I would have used thicker insulation around the refrigerator. Learn as I go, I suppose...

I think I will install the (new) 12V fan in the lower part of the enclosure and aim it upward, pushing vs pulling + prolonging fan's life? I like your aluminum baffle, Tom. When I get the lower vent installed, I will see how much room is really there and what I might need to do to limit the bypass space.

So tomorrow is the cut-the-fiberglass,-install-the-vents day. I will try to remind myself to be brave, be brave, be brave...

Thanks!

Jan Georgen
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Old 07-25-2012, 03:57 PM   #9
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Soooooo how did the fiberglass cutting go?
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Old 07-25-2012, 05:38 PM   #10
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Norcold 323, '71 Compact Jr.

Thanks for asking!!

I had to stretch it out over 2 days, too hot in this part of the world right now to be standing in the sun for too long... And too hot for all of the safety precautions, masks only. The cutting went very well, a lot of anxiety for almost nothing! For the 1st 'incision' we used Norcold's dimensions (upper vent) which left very little wiggle room for screwing it into a wooden backing frame. Squished the butyl tape down good and tacked aluminum screening to the inside. Looks good.

The 2nd opening took a couple of 'measure first's and is a tad bit smaller than Norcold's recommended opening size. The cut is not as pretty as the previous, but the larger lower vent conceals my jiggling well. I might have bee too brave on this one...

I have photos of the of the upper vent opening, will take more pictures this weekend. I am hoping to permanently install the Norcold enclosure, deflector, baffles, and all.

Onward!

Jan Georgen
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