Devils Tower

Devils Tower

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Have you ever met that funny reefer man?

Not the same kinda reefer you're thinking of.....or what Cab Calloway is singing about.

This kinda refer...

Interior is in decent shape.  Needs cleaning, but that can wait.

1963 Dometic refer, original equipment

Giant freezer capable of holding two single ice trays.

I have been dreading getting this thing going.  I knew I had to find out if it worked.  The previous owners said everything worked.  Funny, so far nothing has.  I figured as much.

The dreaded test.  
I rigged up a propane tank and regulator to the refer, to start my test.  I used a digital thermometer that had the humidity gauge and temp.  I got it fired up pretty quick and it ran for 8 hours.  The temp only dropped to 50 degrees Fahrenheit.  Not too good.  So, I did some reading and found the service manual online.  The internet is a beautiful thing. 
I laid in bed pondering this for a while.  I had pretty much decided to buy a new fridge, just to expedite things.  I started thinking about the design of the ammonia absorption fridge and came to the conclusion that if it is heating, it should be cooling.  I jumped up out of bed at midnight and went out and cleaned the orifices and adjusted the flame height.  I reset my timer and stuck the thermometer back in the fridge and went back to bed.
  I laid in bed all night wondering if the trailer would burst into flames and all of my work thus far would have been in vain.

 I have the old bunsen burner style gas valve, so I was a little unfamiliar with this setup.  I jumped up first thing in the morning to check the thermometer.  What would it read?  The same? Worse?
How does 32 degrees grab you?  I left it on max for 24 hours just to see what happened when the noon sun started warming things up.  It never budged.
I win.

I noticed a propane smell in the cabinets while I was running the refer.  That scares me.  So I started looking at the simple things like the area around the flue.  On newer Rv's they have a roof mount vent to get rid of the spent gasses.  This one has a shelf right above the flue that keeps all of the propane inside the trailer.  Not good.
  I spent a few hours caulking all the seams around the back of the refer cabinet to ensure that no fumes could get into the cabinets and closets.  I added a sheet metal drip pan below the fridge to keep out the rain and to help seal up the giant void left behind by the manufacturer.  I then decided to order up a small efficient computer fan to help move air across the cooling fins and to help push the fumes out of the cavity.  This is not a new idea, but a fairly cheap way to help alleviate a couple of issues.
I was able to find a vendor on ebay selling 12V adapters that matched the requirements of the fan.  I think I paid 4 bucks for this adapter.  It is designed for CCTV cameras, but I don't care.

I bought a couple of high volume fans from a computer parts house. I think this one ran a whopping 8 bucks.  I bought 2 of these as well. Word of advice.....don't start these fans while they are teetering on the back of your refrigerator coils.  The blades explode on impact.  Glad I bought two.
I made some stand offs out of stainless fuel line tubing I had laying around.  I made them about 1.250" long.  I would have made them longer, but the #8 screws maxed out at 3.00".  I am sure I could have found some if I had ventured into town on Monday, at some speciality hardware company, but I am pretty lazy.

I had an old 5 Amp breaker laying around, so I installed it just in case. I really need about a 2 amp, but I will have to look for one.  I just fabbed up a hokey bracket to mount my breaker in.  Kinda cheesy, but you can't really see it.

It draws quite a bit of air across the coils.  I added the provisional wiring for another fan, since I already had it.  I may add another fan if I can find one local.


  1. Your fan would be much more effective if it was mounted where it could draw or blow more air directly through the coils at the top of your image.


    1. Tom, I totally agree. The problem is space. I had originally designed it with one fan mounted on the back of the upper louvered door to pull air out of the cavity and the other to sort of push it up to the cooling fins. But, because I am a tard, I dropped the other fan while it was running and it turned into a grenade. I left the wiring, but I probably won't get back to it until this next fall. The main concern was having some moment to expel the spent gasses. The cooling was an additional benefit.