Scamp Fridge Trouble - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-26-2010, 10:59 AM   #1
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Scamp Fridge Trouble

Hi all,
I have a 1998 16' Scamp with a Dometic RM183 fridge. The fridge runs fine on gas and 12V but has stopped working on 120V. It has worked on 120V on previous trips this summer. I suspected a fuse but all camper fuses check out. I also thought about testing the 120V switch but am not sure how. There doesn't seem to be an easy way to get to the switch wiring. Does anybody have any ideas?

Thanks
Ken
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Old 08-26-2010, 11:21 AM   #2
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Just a thought Ken but have you taken a look to see if the wiring to the electrical plug it goes into have come loose? The plug on mine is located on the outside control hatch. Recently had some on and off trouble with a plug in the trailer turned out it was just the wires had rattled loose over time - sometimes had a good contact sometimes not.
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Old 08-26-2010, 12:04 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Carol H View Post
Just a thought Ken but have you taken a look to see if the wiring to the electrical plug it goes into have come loose? The plug on mine is located on the outside control hatch. Recently had some on and off trouble with a plug in the trailer turned out it was just the wires had rattled loose over time - sometimes had a good contact sometimes not.
Carol,
Thanks for the idea. Yes. I checked that. I also verified I had 120V AC power by testing with my 120V fluorescent light above the side dinette.
Ken
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Old 08-26-2010, 01:10 PM   #4
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Humm - how about trying to plug something else into the plug the fridge uses. If it works that will pretty well confirm it is a fridge issue and not a electrical issue.
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Old 08-26-2010, 01:21 PM   #5
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You have probable already checked all of these suggestions but they are the only other things I can think of checking. The fuses in the convertor itself and the fuse box (mines under the sink). Whats the temp in the fridge set at -is it possible the temp control inside the fridge has become loose or placed on in the wrong posiiton? I know mine takes a number of hours for me to tell if it is actually working or not.
Good luck with it.
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Old 08-26-2010, 02:46 PM   #6
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Heating element

The heating element is probably bad. Inside the silver sheet metal cylinder on the right side of your access panel is the chimney, this also houses the heating element. It has a thin sheetmetal wrap to conceal the insulation under it. There will be 2 black wires running from the plastic distribution board to the heating element. This is something that is easy to replace yourself and not very expensive. Most heating elements can be purchased on line or at your local rv dealer. below are a couple of pictures to show you what they look like and where to find it.


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Old 08-26-2010, 02:49 PM   #7
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They are not very difficult to replace, and I think that is exactly what is wrong with your frige. The cost of a replacement element is around $25.00 and takes about 10 minutes to replace. It just slides up and out of its location. No tools are needed. The element going bad is a common problem with Dometic refrigerators.
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Old 08-26-2010, 03:51 PM   #8
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I'm not having any fridge problems right now, but I wouldn't mind knowing more about my fridge for future reference. So, Mark, I take it that heating element is *only* used when the fridge is running on 110 volt electricity? (But not on 12-volt power?) (I suppose the flame is providing any heat when on propane?)

Thanks for taking the time to explain!

Raya
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Old 08-26-2010, 05:57 PM   #9
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Raya, There are 2 heating elements, one is a 110 volt ac element and another 12 volt dc heating element. The 12 volt element never fails, but is not very efficient for using. The 110 volt ac heating element is only powered when the refrigerator is set to ac power. The most efficient and fastest way to cool your refrigerator is the propane setting. I have seen the propane side not work on several campers also, but the main reason is dirt or spider webs inside the combustion chamber where the pilot light is burning. If the refrigerator runs on either 12 volt or propane, the problem has always been the 110 ac heating element. The metal cylinder pictured above is where all 3 types of heating are applied to the amonia system. The propane is just a small pilot light under the cylinder, and most of the time there is an inspection cover that you can look into to ensure that the flame is lit. The heat just expands the amonia into gas like a compressor compresses freon in a standard residential refrigerator.

One other thing to look for on the rear of your refrigerator is the tubes or coils. There is a recall of certain models for leaking in the tubes where oil seeps out and runs down into the pilot light and burns your RV to the ground. The recall is mainly for double door models, but I always check mine for damage or leaks. I figure if there is a problem with one model, why not others? I deal with alot of different campers and RV's and have seen many with the sides burnt out from the refrigerator defect. Most people blamed it on traveling with the propane on, or wasp nests, when in fact it was the defective Dometic refrigerators.

Does that answer your question?

Mark
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Old 08-26-2010, 06:08 PM   #10
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Thanks, Mark - very helpful!

My fridge worked when I bought the camper, but I have not used it since then (had easy access to "real" refrigerator). I want to "dig in" and check it all out before I do use it. Yours looks nice and tidy; that's what I have in mind.

I have the Dometic 211 that came in many Boler 13s. It's a single-door, under counter, 3-way refrigerator/freezer.

Raya
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Old 08-26-2010, 06:11 PM   #11
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My Burro had the 211 that I sacrificed for air conditioning and heat. I figured the small refrigerator couldn't hold everything I had to take with me, and I would have to take a cooler anyway, so why not just use the cooler for everything and have ICE COLD A/C...
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Old 08-26-2010, 06:43 PM   #12
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I can see your point, depending on the situation and your preferences.

Where do you keep the cooler? I don't think I have a good place to put a top-opening unit so it's nice to have the front-opening fridge basically tucked out of the way.

(Side note: I have not been able to find good, *real* block ice in the US for some time now; of course you can make your own at home but that only works for shorter trips. It's a pet peeve of mine! Down with "fake blocks"! )

I'm okay without AC, but woe to the person who tries to take my fan away when it's hot and muggy!
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Old 08-27-2010, 06:11 AM   #13
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Thanks

Thanks to all for the responses to my fridge issues. What a great group! I'll check on my heating element today. Ken
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Old 08-27-2010, 08:58 AM   #14
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Good info Mark will file away for the day my fridge decides its not happy.

Raya re the blocks. I had the same problem on a recent trip down the coast. I found lots of ice cubes but few blocks. Its the reason I would never give up my fridge. Ice cubes in hot weather last less than a day. With the fridge I can keep the things that really need to stay cold (meat and dairy products and wine!) in it and put all the other not so important drinks in the cooler.
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Old 08-27-2010, 01:59 PM   #15
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Yep, and the most annoying thing is what I call "fake blocks." This is a new-and-unimproved way to make an ice block, whereby they take a bunch of cubes and form them into a block shape. Does not last anywhere near as long as a real block

I talked to a fellow from an ice company once. He explained how they make them, and how it takes orders of magnitude less time than it does to make real blocks, although he said that was not why they changed. Uh-huh.

If you get to places that still use ice commonly, such as Mexico and Central America, you find a glorious thing known as the ice plant. There you can buy good, clear, solid block ice in all kinds of sizes. You grab it with tongs and take it away. Once, in Central America, the "ice plant" consisted of a fairly rickety old wooden shed, and when I went inside the whole thing was one giant, beautiful, clear, block of ice inside! A fellow just cut off what you wanted with a saw. Sweet!
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Old 08-27-2010, 02:29 PM   #16
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Just an update. I was able to remove my AC heating element and have since talked to a local RV place that is ordering me a replacement. Unfortunately, they didn't have the part in stock. The technician I talked to also confirmed that the 120V element us usually the first thing to fail on the RV fridge.
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Old 07-23-2015, 05:39 PM   #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Shaffer View Post
The heating element is probably bad. Inside the silver sheet metal cylinder on the right side of your access panel is the chimney, this also houses the heating element. It has a thin sheetmetal wrap to conceal the insulation under it. There will be 2 black wires running from the plastic distribution board to the heating element. This is something that is easy to replace yourself and not very expensive. Most heating elements can be purchased on line or at your local rv dealer. below are a couple of pictures to show you what they look like and where to find it.
Can I revive an old thread. . Mark it sounds as if you know what you are doing. I have an old Dometic 211 in my 1980 Scamp, it cools GREAT on 110, so so on propane (although I just did a thorough cleaning so we shall see if it does better and nada on 12V.

You mentioned above that 12 V almost never goes out, what happens when it does, I cleaned the corroded wires coming in from the harness and still no improvement. Could the 12V element be bad? How can I test this.

Final note, I may have reversed the polarity on the wires when re-testing will this cause any noticible harm, or just cause it to not work?

Hope you get this and thanks. . .
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Old 07-25-2015, 08:27 PM   #18
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The polarity of the element should not matter, AC or DC. It is just a resistor and the wires are never color coded. A simple multimeter (tester) should tell you if it is open (burned out). Or, I would simply touch the heating element wires to your 12V battery to test if it heats up. I once even tested the 120 AC element the same way, but very carefully!
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Old 07-26-2015, 11:12 AM   #19
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Originally Posted by Paul O. View Post
The polarity of the element should not matter, AC or DC. It is just a resistor and the wires are never color coded. A simple multimeter (tester) should tell you if it is open (burned out). Or, I would simply touch the heating element wires to your 12V battery to test if it heats up. I once even tested the 120 AC element the same way, but very carefully!
I havent opened the box yet, im letting the element cool down from 120 use. from the diagram it looks as if there is only one element.

Also I assume I remove all the insulation packed in there to get to the elements??
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Dometic 311 wiring diagram.jpg  
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Old 07-26-2015, 12:57 PM   #20
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Well, there is more to it than I thought. That schematic helps. There are two different resistors inside the element, so the connection matters a lot. If you swapped the brown and red, you may have burnt out the 12 volt side with the 110 volts.

There is a little bit of glass insulation that you have to pull out carefully and replace later. Each side of the heating element should have continuity, tested with a meter. Then there is that 10 Ampere fuse in the grey wire line. Make sure it is good.
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