1988 Bigfoot TF-20 named Gladys - Page 6 - Fiberglass RV
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Old 06-24-2018, 07:42 PM   #101
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To Do LIst is getting short

Laura and I have been keeping a note book about the projects we want to complete to make Gladys better and improve out camping adventures. Well, this weekend we spent some time reviewing our list to find that most of those issues we hoped to resolve have been reduced to mostly simple task similar the repair the license plate light.

Oh sure, we have and interior ceiling light that we're going to have to repair but it isn't a priority because all of the other lights are working just fine. Oh, I'm thinking about replacing the wall switches that control the bathroom light and fan, but those switches are working just fine for now and that's just a "want to" and not something needed.

However, we're doing our final test on the refrigerator this evening so see if my cleaning the rear of the cabinet and repairing a few of the electrical connections that looked sketchy, but I'm thinking that it may simply be time for a new fridge. After all, this refrigerator is 30 years old and has been repair twice already. We have those receipts that total over $2,500 and we don't believe that it would be prudent to repair this old unit again. So, we'll check it again in the morning but we may be camping with a Yeti until the budget allows for a new unit.

Looking forward to our next adventure! Happy camping y'all!


bill (not laura)
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Old 06-25-2018, 06:36 AM   #102
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Update on Refrigerator

The temperature of the interior of the fridge this morning is 58°. The freezer seems to be working because there is ice inside the freezer. I don't hold out any hope that the refrigerator unit is going to get any colder but Laura thinks that we should maintain a "wait and see" position because she remains optimistic that it'll work. That's ok with me since we won't be buying a new box anytime soon. I've found a replacement unit, based on size, from Dometic (RML 8555-part of their 8 Series) but it'll be at least a few months before we can afford the $1,375 price tag.

Funny thing about this issue is that the fridge performs the same regardless of the source of power, electric or LP. I think the thermostat is the problem but am unwilling put any more money to repair a refrigerator that is this old.

So, we wait...

bill (not laura)
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Old 06-25-2018, 07:15 AM   #103
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Ohm it out and or bypass it.
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Old 06-25-2018, 04:51 PM   #104
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Home | JC Refrigeration

Bill, time for road trip. Take it to northern Indiana, and have the Amash rebuild it.
They will do it right on site.
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Old 06-25-2018, 06:35 PM   #105
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mszabo View Post
Ohm it out and or bypass it.
What does this mean?
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Old 06-25-2018, 06:49 PM   #106
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Go to utube, they will show you how to test your thermostat.
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Old 06-26-2018, 06:45 AM   #107
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Originally Posted by mszabo View Post
Go to utube, they will show you how to test your thermostat.
We have a Dometic RM 2601 that is so old and none of the diagnostic videos address capillary tube thermostats. I know the area where the thermostat is located because of the protective plastic cover over the electric components of the unit and I can trace the capillary tube into that mess of stuff. It's a tangled jumble of parts and stuff. The wire leads for the power supply are pretty hot, almost too hot to touch, when I was running our last test. Of course, that plastic shroud didn't help to allow any of that heat escape...I reasoned that the thermostat was malfunctioning and causing the wiring to over heat. That's another reason we have decided to not use this unit until we can resolve the issues. I keep finding online information on the thermistor repair, which we don't have, and am frustrated by the lack of information about older units like our unit. I'm not really surprised.


The receipts we have from previous owners suggest that the cooling unit was replaced twice, judging by the prices, but I believe that this thing is simply DOA based on age.
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Old 06-26-2018, 07:05 AM   #108
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Manual won’t download properly, sorry
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Old 06-26-2018, 07:28 AM   #109
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Manual won’t download properly, sorry
I found a video! I haven't had the time to watch it since I'm at work, but this could be something. This video begins with the question regarding the seemingly normal function of the freezer but the refrigerator is failing. The implication is that the capillary tube may be blocked and causing the malfunction. I'm going to get to this video over lunch and see if there is anything that I can resolve. Update: This video is short and instructs on how to check the heat element wattage for proper operation of the unit using a multi-meter. Not what I was hoping for but I can try that...

Oh, by the way, I have all the owner manuals for our camper so I can look in there for information. However, most of these documents present a schematic that can be more confusing that helpful.

Thanks for the suggestion and motivation for moving forward. The replacement unit I've found is $1,325 and I'll enjoy avoiding that if possible!


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Old 07-26-2018, 08:10 AM   #110
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Next step in refrigerator diagnostics

Well, I've cleaned out the rear access area of the refrigerator as well as I can. I did not disassemble anything, except the heat shields, and I have vacuumed and checked all the connections. Everything seems to be clean and working correctly; just working badly.

So, after careful consideration, Laura and I have decided to invest $20 in a fridge fan to improve the circulation inside the box and evaluate if this change may improve the effectiveness of fridge unit. I shopped on Amazon and bought this fan and installed it last night. The attached picture is not correct because the actual fan that was received has the air exiting the fan housing horizontally and not vertically as pictured.

Following the general idea of "pre-cooling" the fridge, I put the "blue ice" freezer packs into the refrigerator to assist with cooling down the fridge, as part of this test. I set the Dometic controls to electric and maximum cooling.

The inside of the camper was reading about 85° last night because that was the ambient temperature yesterday. This morning, the inside of the fridge was at 34°! This is the first time that we have been able to get the fridge temp below 48°, ever. It'll be interesting to see what happens throughout the day today because the forecast is for another day of warm temps with a high of 85°. I'll check the thermostat at lunch today and again at dinner to see how things work out. I have left the "blue ice" freezer packs inside the fridge to simulate food. Both of the freezer packs have thawed out and are cold but no longer frozen.

It is significant to note that the new fan is virtually silent and moves so little air that I couldn't hear the thing running and had to pull it our and aim it at my face to confirm that it was blowing. Time will confirm if we've invested our $20 wisely or if our Dometic fridge is shot. Waiting...

bill (with Laura's input)
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Old 07-26-2018, 09:08 AM   #111
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I didn't go back too far, but what exactly is the issue with the fridge? Is the 48 empty, just testing it in the driveway?

What's actually been going on with it?

I have that same fan. It's not going to take the temp from 48 to 34, I guarantee that. It helps quite a bit, but not that much.

The fridge doesn't work so well empty. I guess it should still get below 48, but empty is tough.

My fridge, which has either the worst installation in history, or I'm starting to finally accept may just be fading, can only hold a safe temp during 80+ weather if the overnight lows allow it to recover. Lows in the 50s or lower. At that point, it recovers overnight and if I'm very careful with opening the door during the day, it just, just holds a safe temp. If the lows are only in the 60s or higher, the food's getting moved to a cooler.
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Old 07-26-2018, 10:45 AM   #112
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update on fridge temp

Well, I went home at lunch and checked the temperature of the refrigerator and it was at 39° with all the windows closed and the a/c off. I figure that's not bad with the temperature in our driveway at home at about 83°. I did open the roof vent and the windows in the main living area to ameliorate the test conditions and I'll check the fridge temp again at 5:00 pm just to see how things have progressed.

bill (not laura, but she's watching too)
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Old 07-26-2018, 10:55 AM   #113
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Quote:
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I didn't go back too far, but what exactly is the issue with the fridge? Is the 48 empty, just testing it in the driveway?

What's actually been going on with it?

I have that same fan. It's not going to take the temp from 48 to 34, I guarantee that. It helps quite a bit, but not that much.

The fridge doesn't work so well empty. I guess it should still get below 48, but empty is tough.

My fridge, which has either the worst installation in history, or I'm starting to finally accept may just be fading, can only hold a safe temp during 80+ weather if the overnight lows allow it to recover. Lows in the 50s or lower. At that point, it recovers overnight and if I'm very careful with opening the door during the day, it just, just holds a safe temp. If the lows are only in the 60s or higher, the food's getting moved to a cooler.
Zach: Our refrigerator just doesn't seem to work very well. If I have to worry about maintaining safe temperatures for our food, I won't even bother with the refrigerator. I've actually considered removing the stock unit and retaining the "hole" for storage of a cooler.

We bought a nice Yeti when we removed the dorm fridge from our old Scamp. Now we use the Yeti to transport food from the house to the camp site. However, the Dometic unit has not been able to hold temps in the safe zone for food storage. I would clarify that safe holding temps for me would require a holding temperature in the 30's, preferably between 34° and 38°.

To be clear, we have not normally pre-chilled the refrigerator prior to camping so we have been expecting the fridge to play catch up once we arrive at camp. I have learned that this plan will almost never work effectively so we're testing options that are cheaper than a all-out fridge replacement. If this test continues to prove out, we may find ourselves traveling with the fridge filled with frozen water bottles that we will swap to the cooler with our camp food to the fridge when we arrive at our destination. Currently, for this test, I have place two "blue ice" blocks inside the refrigerator on the shelves to help chill the fridge down to a safe temperature with the goal of the having the unit maintain that temp once achieved through the deployment of the blocks.

Thanx for stopping by...

bill (not laura)
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Old 07-26-2018, 12:32 PM   #114
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Depends on temps. My fridge works great with 70s during the day and 40s at night. In fact frozen food is more of a concern then. I sometimes turn it off at night to avoid frozen veggies. It will cool (play catch-up) in the right conditions, but 80s+ aren't the right conditions if your fridge is borderline like mine.

You can scan my "fridge performance survey" thread if you want some idea of all the things that can be wrong with the installation...though the roof-vent ones seem to do better.

Bigfoot did not follow the Dometic installation instructions. Well, some of them. But not most of them. I've been modifying my fridge compartment as well as I can to meet the requirements, but so far only minimal improvement. The biggest improvement was an exhaust fan to get the hot air out of the upper vent. Second biggest improvement was insulating around the fridge, so that when it does recover overnight, it holds those temps longer.

But my fridge would not work for someone concerned with holding the temps you describe. It was up at 60 the last two afternoons. Back down into the 30s overnight.

It's going to take more than an internal fan to get it right, that's for sure. With all the work and frustration I've gone through with mine, if I just did weekend camp trips, I'd have ditched the fridge last summer. But I spend a lot of time in my camper, and don't like living out of a cooler for long.

There are definitely some things you can try with your fridge, and if the cooling unit has been replaced that many times, it seems clear that either someone was using it in a way that damaged it (off-level, etc), or the installation was never quite right, and people with more money than time just replaced the most expensive part rather than actually trouble-shooting the real issue.
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Old 07-27-2018, 05:32 AM   #115
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and finally

The temperature for the refrigerator at 5:00 pm yesterday afternoon was 45° and it was 88° in the driveway in the afternoon sun. This morning's temp is 71° in our driveway and the temperature in the refrigerator is 40°. Now that the "blue ice" packs have completely thawed and are not contributing to the efforts of the fridge, it is much more likely that this unit will not hold the food within the safe temperature range of below 40°.

We may be able to improve this performance in a minimal way by packing the freezer with food/water, but, I don't think this unit is safe to use with the way it's performing. Laura and I will have to discuss this issue and determine what is the best course of action for us.

bill (not laura)
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Old 07-27-2018, 06:14 AM   #116
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But my fridge would not work for someone concerned with holding the temps you describe. It was up at 60 the last two afternoons. Back down into the 30s overnight.
I have an extensive history in the food service industry and I couldn't be satisfied with those temperatures. It's just not safe. Thanks again for your input.

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Old 07-27-2018, 08:43 AM   #117
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Well good luck. I still figure there's something going on with the fridge compartment and venting that would help you out, but having been down that road myself, I know it takes a lot of time and patience.

There's only so much going on with a fridge, and a cooling unit being replaced twice in that fridge makes me think it was never the actual issue.
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Old 07-30-2018, 06:18 AM   #118
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Next step in resolving the fridge issues

Ok, we've discussed another option for using the Dometic fridge in Glady. Instead of dumping a load of cash on a new refrigerator, Laura has the idea that we could employ the "blue ice" blocks that we bought for our cooler to supplement the refrigerator throughout a camping trip.

The first part of this idea was to verify that the blue blocks would fit into the space within the freezer. That worked well and we left one block inside the freezer and one block inside the refrigerator. The plan is to swap those two blocks every 12-24 hours, thereby using the freezer to re-freeze the block. Then, we'll place the frozen block into the refrigerator compartment to supplement the fridge space for cooling. Add to that the fridge fan and we may be able to keep the temperature low enough to use, hopefully 40° of below.

We'll be running this test this week to analyze the effectiveness of this arrangement. We already know the freezer can refreeze the blue blocks, so, time will tell. We set up this test and the first 12 hours dropped the temperature of the fridge from over 80° to 52°. Stay tuned!

bill (not laura)
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Old 07-31-2018, 05:50 AM   #119
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Day 1 & Day 2 of new test

On Sunday, I checked the temperature of the refrigerator after holding the "blue ice" blocks for almost 24 hours. The starting temperature for this test, a base-line is what I'll call it, it 54°.

Monday, at 5:00 pm, the temperature was 52° and I swapped the blocks between the freezer and the fridge. Confirmation that the freezer is working well enough to re-freeze the used block.

I've decided that 5:00 pm will be the test time when I'll check the temperature of the refrigerator; this will be the warmest part of each day and naturally, the most critical period of need. Afternoon is when most of our cooking would be done and when we would need to have safe food available. It's also the time when I arrive home from work, consistently, and I can check it before going into our home.

I'm hoping to see another 2° drop today as the system of testing has been determined and the machinery is in place (ice blocks) for the test to run efficiently. We may have a drop of much more than 2° because the ambient temps today will be much lower accompanied by rain. We'll see...

bill (not laura)
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Old 08-01-2018, 04:31 PM   #120
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Day 3 & Day 4-Fantastic!

I'm very excited by this news. Our test looks very good.

Day three showed a 3° drop from 50° to 47° but day four dropped to 40°!

Holy smokes! That's excellent! Of course we'll continue to monitor this progress but it's appears that we have a working solution to our refrigeration problem. Even in high summer heat of something like 90° I think we could switch from a 24 hour rotation of the blue ice freezer packs to a 12 hour rotation and use the a/c to supplement the ambient air temp and reach workable temps in the refrigerator! I call that AWESOME!

bill (not laura)
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