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Tuesday, February 13, 2018

MOTORHOME MODIFICATION - *F* - RV Fridge Stuff and Quilting

I am going to start off the new year with posting some of our motorhome modifications, a few at a time. I will post repairs, modifications, or neato things we have found for RVing.  I have lots of pics in my files so I will do them in alphabetical order.

Underneath that stuff, I will post my regular daily stuff..... kinda sorta fun, eh?


We have the side by side Dometic Fridge in our rig, model RM7030.  The longer we keep this fridge going, the better.  The poor thing is 22 years old ya know. Replacing an RV fridge this size is about $4,000.  It usually means removing a window and using a forklift to get it out!  No thank you. We will try to keep this one going at all costs.

Some folks are replacing the back cooling units with aftermarket ones when their fridges die.  Others 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 doesn't work so well when we like boondocking without hookups.  Or running an inverter and using up battery power on them.  That works for short spans but not days on end.  We will keep our propane one fully operational, if at all possible. 

Plus I like the look of ours, with matching wood panels on the doors.

Fridge fans:
We notice after a week or so, we do get frost building up on the inside fins in our fridge. For just weekend camping, this hasn't been a problem, but longer periods like vacation we do notice the frost building up. Not in the freezer, just on the fridge fins. (the freezer has a heating switch to keep it from getting buildup in humid areas)

We first bought two of the little FridgeMate fans that run on 2 D cell batteries, but they are not enough to really keep the frost off the fins, they just circulate the cold air for even temps within the box when setting on a shelf.  This is what we HAD .......

But now, Steve saw this cute little fridge fan on Ebay.   
It was $14.99 plus $2.60 shipping.
Seller is Richard Lockhart
597 Pickens Gap Road
Seymour, TN 37865

It came in the mail, fast shipping, and we installed it in 10 minutes.  Pretty easy. The hot lead wire attaches to the 12 volt fridge light wiring before the switch, so there is always 12 volt running to the fans.  Then the ground is a clip that does double duty.  It attaches to the fins of the fridge to hold the fan in place but also completes the 12 volt circuit.  It runs all of the time the fridge is on, with very little draw, one tenth of an amp.   When you turn the fridge off after the weekend of camping is over, the fan goes off.  We put it right where our frost builds up and it helps a lot--  It sure seems to move the air!

From the seller's website:

RV refrigerators are not frost-free. The longer they run, the more frost & ice accumulates on the fins. Frost comes from opening and closing the door, letting in warm air. The warm air has higher moisture content which results in frost & ice buildup on the fins. The buildup causes your refrigerator to think it is colder than it actually is. Frost also prevents the fins from extracting heat from inside the refrigerator box. The purpose of the fins is to EXTRACT HEAT from the refrigerator box as they are cooling down.

Life Expectancy: 30,000 hours; Rated Voltage: 12 VDC; Max Air Flow: 18.86 (CFM) CUBIC FEET per MINUTE; Max Current: 0.10A; Power: 1.20 watt; Fan Speed: 4800 RPM + or – 10%; Bearing type: Sleeve Bearing; Noise Level: 27.7 dBA; Comes with 22” of wire to hook to power supply.


Fridge Dinosaur Board repair:
We had replaced our control board in ours a number of years ago, about 2008 or 2009 maybe?  What is wonderful is that there is a company that makes aftermarket boards so you do not need to get the exact one from the manufacturer (think $$$)   The company is called Dinosaur Boards. If you have your model number, you can usually get a replacement for about half the cost of what the manufacturer or dealer wants for one.  Recently, I looked up what they cost now....  when we did ours it was about $115 and Steve did it so fast I didn't have time to even take a pic!  LOL Instructions come with it and it is pretty easy, a few screws and a few wire connections.

Imagine my surprise when I googled Dinosaur Boards and our model number, up came a link for WALMART!  Yes, you can get them through Walmart's on line ordering and have it shipped to the nearest Walmart store! Not too bad of a price increase after 9 or 10 years since we bought one! 

Fridge Maintenance and Orifice Repair:
This is from a repair we did a few years ago.....

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 interior fridge temps and that is not good.  We keep a fridge thermometer hanging inside to monitor it. 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. (see pics below as to where he cleaned).  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.  He also checked our "water column pressure" in the propane lines with a device.  It read just fine at 11 column inches.

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.

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. You have to have the exact one for your unit. 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 us.  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, by George, we got it!

Dometic Thermistor Control Clip:
Many people are confused by what this little plastic slidey thing is on your Dometic RV fridge (if you have one)   It controls the interior temp of the fridge section by sensing the coldness and if it needs to call for more cold action.  Sliding it up makes it colder and sliding it down makes it warmer. Opposite of what you think.  Some RV fridges have nice labels inside to tell you that, most do not.

 Fridge Door Prop Idea: 
When we unload our fridge, especially in the summer months, we do not want the doors to stay shut.  A moldy mess can start growing inside, even without any food in there.  We tried different ways to prop open our double doors. Leaving them wide open it seems they are always in the way if we walk in or out of the rig to get things while parked in the backyard. The best one we found is to fold up two dishtowels (which are right in the drawer by the fridge) and set them over the tops of the doors to keep them open just enough for air circulation.


I was really bummed the other day. I was trying to sew and my thread kept breaking! ARGGHHH  Like 8 times in a row, each time having to rip out the stitches from both top and bottom sides of the quilt while it's rolled up on the frame.  VERY frustrating!

I did all the normal stuff, new needle, check bobbin case for any lint, clean the tension disks, rethread it etc. It was breaking the thread and kinda shredding it just above the needle area within the machine's mechanism. Nothing helped.  So then I called on my Last Resort! ...Steveio!   

With the side cover totally off, and him carefully watching, (to learn about the operation of the machine as well) he watched the path of the thread within the bowels of the machine. 

He found a small part of an interior metal guide that was rubbing and rough, not smooth metal.  With a tiny bit of emery cloth and some diligent use of a fingernail file, he was able to smooth it out.

I am happy to report it is sewing along just fine now! Smoothly with no shredding or breaking of threads!   What a great guy, who doesn't know the first thing about sewing machines.  My Hero!

I am doing this fun "swirl with hooks" free motion pattern over the entire quilt with variegated thread that changes colors. It is all my own movements of the machine, nothing is pre-programmed or computerized.

My regular household sewing machine (called a "domestic machine") is mounted onto a frame where it can slide back and forth, forward and back, to sew the pretty patterns on the unrolling quilt.  Three rolls consisting of the quilt top, batting and backing let it advance under even tension towards the back of the frame. I go back and forth side to side, putting in the stitches, joining all three layers. Yes, the throat space of the domestic machine limits my movement to a certain depth, but it is all good because I can still be creative and keep my quilting costs down.  Many quilters just sew the top pieces and then send them out to a "long armer" to do the rest for them.  Too expensive for my meager budget!

A lot of quilters ask me about my frame setup.  Here are some pics. It was made by Handi Quilter and is sold in pieces. It's discontinued now, but you can find them on Craigslist or quilting groups sales pages. Here is a website that still sells them:

The poles telescope out wide enough for a king sized quilt.  The tracks and frames are mounted or clamped to an ordinary banquet table.  We bolted two tables together to make it even longer for my taste.

The sewing machine sets on a "carriage" which is the clear plastic device. It has roller wheels that ride on tracks so it moves side to side and back and forth.  The handles have a little button to start and stop the stitching, and the knob controls the speed of the stitching. You need to buy the handles that are brand specific to control your brand of domestic sewing machine.  The handles were originally U shape upright and held on the backside of the machine. We changed them to bicycle style handlebars and moved them to the front of the machine. Now I can sit down and stitch and see better where I am going.

The frame and banquet tables take up a whole wall in my sewing room. The bottoms of the tables are also reinforced with heavy 2x4's to keep it from bouncing or vibrating.

 Here it is all set up without any quilt loaded up on it.  
So you get the general idea of how it works. 
You can see where we bracketed another table to extend it wider.

Here is a You Tube I made 
for people who ask me how it works,
especially while sitting down. 

Maybe by the end of today
I will have the coffee quilt completed. 
It's a king sized about 104 x 104 
so it really fills up the rolls. 

Oh.... and just a bit to make you smile----
our youngest grandchild Claire is growing up so fast, 
she is now wearing pony tails! 

BEFORE                    AFTER 


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