Is my 3 Way Fridge Working

Submitted: Sunday, Aug 10, 2003 at 17:29
ThreadID: 6480 Views:3231 Replies:9 FollowUps:1
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I recently bought a used camper trailer (circa 1985) and finally got around to setting it up and checking things out more thoroughly. The fridge (Dometic) doesn't seem to be working, but I'm not sure. How long should it take for the cooling fins on the inside to get cold? How can I check if the gas pilot has lit or not (don't want to go up with a boom!). Does the coolant of these systems need periodic replacement? If it isn't working, is there anything I can do other than to take it to service tech? The fridge is getting 240V to the back of the unit (but I don't know if any current is being drawn). No noise is audible either on gas or 240V. Haven't been able to hook up to 12V yet. Should I expect service costs to be rediculously expensive? (Sigh . . . so many questions, so little knowledge!)
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Reply By: Member - DOZER- Sunday, Aug 10, 2003 at 17:53

Sunday, Aug 10, 2003 at 17:53
These fridges are silent running.
Put it on 240 for a day, and make sure the fridge is level both ways or it wont work well at all. The stuff inside is amonia. If it is /has been leaking, you will smell it in the fridge as a pungent odour. Also the plastic will turn a yellow colour.
Andrew
ps there should be a small telltale on the bottom of the fridge near the piazzo lighter that glows blue when there is a flame on Gas
You will find the gas is colder due to the heat it generates.
Andrewwheredayathinkwer mike?
AnswerID: 27356

Reply By: Mixo - Sunday, Aug 10, 2003 at 21:02

Sunday, Aug 10, 2003 at 21:02
Usual things include.....roll the fridge over onto one side, then the other, then back etc.....to stir up the fluid in the system. Then get the fridge quite level (even check it with a bubble level - better still, get a stick on bubble level from the camping store so that you can always check it). As mentioned above, these things have no moving parts at all, and run completely silent and often run for ever on the initial gas charge. 12 and 240 elements often last a few years only, and may cost something like $100 plus labour to replace (might pay to do both at once). The gas system could last forever.
Gas runs best of all. Do the above, get the gas running (there must be a pilot viewing window), turn the temp to max and leave it for a few hours....if its ok, it will get quite cold.Gotta have red sand on those boots !
AnswerID: 27382

Reply By: Bob - Sunday, Aug 10, 2003 at 23:03

Sunday, Aug 10, 2003 at 23:03
Alan, I guess it's a bit late to tell you this now, but a friend told me that the first thing to check when buying an old caravan is the fridge as they are quite expensive to replace or repair. Replacement cost is more than $1500 which is probably what you paid for a 19 year old camper. My caravan is 25 years old and I sometimes think if the fridge dies I'll probably update the van! By the way the fridge is still going as well as when it was new so follow the advice you've been given - must be quite level - I always level the van with a spirit level (little round one) and they do take a couple of hours to cool down. A wet finger touching the freezer will quickly tell if it's working - much before the fins become cool by the way.
AnswerID: 27397

Reply By: Bob - Sunday, Aug 10, 2003 at 23:04

Sunday, Aug 10, 2003 at 23:04
Alan, I guess it's a bit late to tell you this now, but a friend told me that the first thing to check when buying an old caravan is the fridge as they are quite expensive to replace or repair. Replacement cost is more than $1500 which is probably what you paid for a 19 year old camper. My caravan is 25 years old and I sometimes think if the fridge dies I'll probably update the van! By the way the fridge is still going as well as when it was new so follow the advice you've been given - must be quite level - I always level the van with a spirit level (little round one) and they do take a couple of hours to cool down. A wet finger touching the freezer will quickly tell if it's working - much before the fins become cool by the way.
AnswerID: 27398

Reply By: Bob - Sunday, Aug 10, 2003 at 23:05

Sunday, Aug 10, 2003 at 23:05
Alan, I guess it's a bit late to tell you this now, but a friend told me that the first thing to check when buying an old caravan is the fridge as they are quite expensive to replace or repair. Replacement cost is more than $1500 which is probably what you paid for a 19 year old camper. My caravan is 25 years old and I sometimes think if the fridge dies I'll probably update the van! By the way the fridge is still going as well as when it was new so follow the advice you've been given - must be quite level - I always level the van with a spirit level (little round one) and they do take a couple of hours to cool down. A wet finger touching the freezer will quickly tell if it's working - much before the fins become cool by the way.
AnswerID: 27399

Reply By: Mixo - Monday, Aug 11, 2003 at 12:06

Monday, Aug 11, 2003 at 12:06
Mine is in dry dock at present for a 240 element. A new top loading Chescold 3 way fridge - freezer (40L - green plastic body these days) is close to $1000. Not sure what the front loaders cost (as commonly used in vans) but who wants to lose all that cold air when you crack a coldie ?Gotta have red sand on those boots !
AnswerID: 27434

Reply By: crowie - Monday, Aug 11, 2003 at 13:52

Monday, Aug 11, 2003 at 13:52
alanW

I have a Finch 3 way (Electrolux). I was told by the authorised repairer that there are tso main problems.
(1) Insects getting into the gas pipes and blocking them
(2) If they sit around for a long period of time without being used the coolant will jell. In this case replacing the coolant is considerable and sometimes not worth the expense depending on the age and value of the unit.

I put my hand over the pilot light vent to make sure the unit is working although in my case I can olso make a visual check. You won't hear anything, doesn't matter what sytem you are using to power it.

If testing it is better to fill it up, say with 2 litre containers of water and run it. If there is nothing in them they don't seem to feel that cold.

My advise to anyone with a '3 Way' is to keep theem going, their good for keeping the tinnies cold out in the shed. I also run mine in the back of the truck every three weeks or so to make sure the deep cycle battery gets a drain.
AnswerID: 27441

Follow Up By: AlanW - Monday, Aug 11, 2003 at 17:25

Monday, Aug 11, 2003 at 17:25
Thankyou all for such quick responses! The gas exhaust vent didn't seem to be releasing any heat. Don't know if I can see teh pilot light point as the fridge is in a corner - maybe if I go under the van I will be able to see something through the flyscreen ventilation hole in the floor.
0
FollowupID: 18907

Reply By: Member - Al & Mrs Al (Vic) - Tuesday, Aug 12, 2003 at 13:52

Tuesday, Aug 12, 2003 at 13:52
Hi Alan,

probably a bit late to reply, but in the latest edition of Caravan and Motorhome Mag
{Sept edition No#51 pg 81} there is a section about servicing 3 way fridges.

Lyn1927 Oldsmobile Tourer

Corrugations...what are they?
AnswerID: 27590

Reply By: Glenno - Thursday, Aug 14, 2003 at 16:24

Thursday, Aug 14, 2003 at 16:24
I have a 90L 3way in my old Jayco Finch. I found it worked much better after i installed two small 12V fans in the cavity between the rear of the fridge and the wall. As we never caravan near 240V i picked up an old Solar cell (measures about 20cm * 20cm) for $25 and this generates enough electricty to power the fans through the heat of the day. Drop the cell on the roof of the van before jacking it up and it works a treat.

Now I have no dramas keeping the thing running between 0deg and -5deg full of beer and steak in the heat of a summers day.

Cheers,
AnswerID: 27901

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