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Thursday, August 16, 2012

Fixing Dometic RV Refrigerator and RV Moving Day

It's a booming, thundering, lightening and raining morning here at High Cliff State Park.  The dogs are huddled up close to me, and I am sipping my coffee and munching on an everything bagel.

I was posting to the folks on our Safari Yahoo Group,  http://autos.groups.yahoo.com/group/SafariCoaches/  about how Steve fixed our propane portion of our Dometic RM7030 fridge.  They suggested it would be a good blog post with photos, so here it is!

We have the side by side Dometic Fridge in our rig, with matching door panels to the cabinetry.  The longer we keep this fridge going, the better.  The poor thing is 16 years old ya know.  Replacing an RV fridge this size is about $4,000.   Some folks are replacing them with regular household fridges, but then you need have a constant source of electricity all of the time to run them.    That don't work so well when we like boondocking without hookups.

Our fridge is able to operate on both electric and propane.   The electric portion was working fine, so we knew the cooling unit was operating correctly.   But the propane portion has been warming up lately.  We have been up in the 50's for fridge temps and that is not good.  We have had the opportunity to use electric hookups for the last month or so, our food has been safe.  Knowing we were going to need it to operate on propane soon, we decided to start some diagnostic repairs.

First... Steve cleaned the burner tip of some crud.  He also cleared out the flue as much as he could.  Our model doesn't have a lot of access to get to the flue, but he checked that the baffle was free too.  That didn't seem to help much.

Second... we thought perhaps the last time our propane was filled, the attendant didn't turn off our valves and perhaps damaged the regulator. We noticed it had been taking longer to boil water on the stove, so it might be part of the problem.  We replaced the regulator.  $30.  That didn't seem to help much.

Third... it was during those horribly hot weeks of 90+ degree weather. We thought perhaps the enclosure was needing more air circulation, so Steve added a 4" 12 volt blower fan up under the top fridge vent on the roof.   He wired in a switch down inside so we can control it when we want it on.  That didn't seem to help much either.

(P.S. Added later---- I forgot to also mention that Steveio had also checked our "water column pressure" in the propane lines with a device, which read just fine at 11 column inches)

Fourth....   We were running out of "fixes" so we downloaded the service manual for our model fridge.  The last thing it said to do was to change the orifice.   Our manual said to get a #73 orifice.  We checked the local RV dealer.  No go.  They would have to find it first and order it out and it may take a few weeks.   So we went on Ebay and found one and had it shipped to Steve's office in the shop here at the park.  2 days and it was here! $22.50 and free shipping.

The orifice is a tiny brass fitting with a ceramic diaphragm thingie inside that helps control the amount of propane that flows into the burner.  Okayyyyyy at least that is my understanding.

Sooooo here is how he changed it.
First, turn off the propane and the fridge power button before you start! 



(this photo was taken later while it was operating for demonstration purposes)

Now replace the shroud piece and the cover, turn on the gas and purge the line a bit by running your stove burners for a few minutes.  Then turn on the propane portion of the fridge and let it ignite.

and... of course....  **IT WORKED**!!!!    The fridge is nice and cool now in the green safe range of 32-40 for the last 4 days and I think, by George, we got it!

Speaking of things working, if you are a regular blog reader, you know I have HATED my convection oven/micro combo that came in our rig.  We have owned this motorhome for 6 years and it NEVER worked right.  It was noisy and tinny sounding.  It would bake unevenly, make my muffins tilt in all directions and bake cakes with crusty tops and raw batter middles, half raw pizza on one side and burnt on the other. All recipes took twice as long to bake and never worked out right. It would never brown up things nice, and was basically a pain in the butt!

Well, for some reason a few months ago, it suddenly changed.  It does not make such a funny tinny rattle sound when operating, and it now BAKES EVENLY!!!   Here is a pan of scalloped potatoes and ham that baked up perfectly.  All potatoe slices were done to the right amount, and the top browned evenly across the whole pan!   SUCCESS!

Of course, we can only use it when on electric hookups  or while running the generator, 
so I am still keeping my portable Coleman Instastart Portable Propane Oven for boondocking. 

On my last blog, I mentioned using the on board Splendide washer/dryer and having the water pump out into a bucket, then also into plastic tub when it's more than five gallons.  Here are photos of my setup... and how I used it for washing the dogs once the water was in the tub.  I had a rubber door mat to set the dog on so we didn't get all muddy and full of leaves while washing.   Oh, and I reversed my numbers on the last blog, sorry!  It uses about 5 gallons for the wash cycle and 6 gallons for the rinse. 

I did up two loads of laundry, which was enough to wash two dogs!  LOL 

When each load was done, I removed about half the clothes that can hang on hangers and let the rest stay inside the machine to dry.   I found our smaller window awnings are perfect for hanging clothes on, with the hanger tips in the grooves of the awning.  Easier than stringing a line up to dry!

  And two clean doggers were laying on the awning mat to dry off and stay outta the dirt----

Back to today:
I didn't have to drive Steve over on his commute to the shop, because today is a Moving Day!   He drove over in the Tracker and has it in the lot there.  We need to be moved off the campsite by 3pm, and he is working till 4.  I am going to drive the motorhome over to the dump station area and wait for him when he is done with work.  There is a big parking area to wait in, and we can refill our fresh water tank too.  Then we will hook up the Tracker there and head on out.

We are going up to St. Mary's hospital in Green Bay tonight and we have permission to park in their lot.  Tomorrow Steve will have his scoping surgery (out patient)  but because he will be having a spinal block from the waist down, we will just hang out there again tomorrow night in the lot to recover.

The Packer Game is tonight at 7pm, a home game, just a mile or two from the hospital.  Any Green Bay Native knows that means traffic is NUTS for about 2-3 hours before the game starts.

So we will bide our time and arrive in Green Bay from the roads on the east side, and head on over to the hospital after the start of the game and settle in at the hospital parking lot.  We can watch the game on Steveio's newest toy, an LED tv.  

We decided we liked the loveseat positioned best against the driver's side wall, but we have to crane our necks around to see the tv up there in the cabinet.  (don't matter to me, I don't "watch" much, just listen while I knit or weave)   We will still leave that old tv in the cabinet up there, because it doubles as our backup camera screen, and all my recording DVD units and player are all hooked to that one.   This one can either set back in the box behind the loveseat during transit, or else lay flat on the bed on a blanket.

I think it was a good treat for the upcoming Recovering Steveio with his knee, and he deserves it for watching the Packer Game tonight too!



  1. Glad you got the fridge fixed and as a freeby, now the convection oven works too. I wonder if something was loose and slid over into right position? Sometimes you never know what happened. Hope everything goes smoothly on Friday.

  2. I betcha a dollar that "Billy Bob Cherry Chocolate Cake" would cook perfectly in that convection oven.

    Can't wait to see y'all down the road a piece.

  3. Karen I'm curious if you noticed a change in the flame size or color after installing the new burner orifice. I haven't mastered the convection oven in my Trek and kinda gave up after bad results. My friends said its because I'm a bachelor. I'll try baking a Billy Bob Chocolate Cake and see how that goes!

    1. I don't think there was a lot of change, but I will ask Steve tonight
      I might bake a Billy Bob Chocolate Cake first, and then post both the recipe and my results!

  4. Thanks for another helpful, entertaining and thoroughly fun post! I always look forward to them. Our best to steve on his surgery tomorrow.


  5. Ha,ha. Love reclaiming the wash water to wash the dogs. (what's that saying about throwing the baby out with the bath water....)

  6. I can't for the life of me see why the cost of an RV fridge should be so much more than a residential unit, even though it's set to run on propane as well as electric. I would expect it to cost more, but that is ridiculous.

  7. Hi , I signed this as anom; can't figure out the rest of the choices. Gail

  8. When I use my splendide, that's how I dry hangable items also. A lot less wrinkles that way. :)

  9. Kevin does the same thing whenever we have a problem. Work through all the internet suggestions as well as the manual and he has almost always been able to fix the problem. Good thing our guys are mechanically minded! We have just a gas stove and oven in our unit and wouldn't trade them, love being able to use the stove anywhere. Wishing Steve the best and a speedy recovery.

    Kevin and Ruth

  10. THanks for sharing all that info -- it's valuable stuff. You never know when you'll need it, so it helps all of us to share when we come across fixes & such. I'm saving this post, but hope to never have to use it!! I had to buy a new fridge last year -- ouch.

  11. So, should we start calling Steve "Chester"? (I've just dated myself!).

    He done really good on the fridge repair, nothing better than saving 4 grand! :c)

    You done really good, too on the write up.

  12. Great idea for hanging laundry to dry. Eldy hates it when I hang stuff all over inside the rig. Two and a half years on the road, now why didn't we think of that! And we have TWO drying racks in the basement bay. Geesh! Keep those great housekeeping tips coming. Great to have you guys on board! :-)

  13. I'm so impressed with the clarity of steps and labeled pictures!

    Good job. (And I was an English teacher!)



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