Obsolescence- finding parts

December 9, 2008 by · 12 Comments
Filed under: Op-Ed, Service Issues 

I wrote a blog post about cleaning the Norcold burner on my RV.net blog. On the refrigerator I was working on at that time (a Norcold 662), I needed to simply replace the burner.
I grabbed a new burner off the shelf, installed it, and everything was good to go.
I then went to re-order that burner, and found out that Norcold now considers anything over 10 years old to be obsolete.
Now- our current travel trailer is a 1977 model- just over 30 years old. It’s still in good shape (though it does suffer a bit from the ‘shoe makers children’ syndrome)- but I can still buy

1977 Airstream

1977 Airstream

factory parts for it, though a door lock is a mind numbing $500+, simply because it is hand machined, but I can still buy one.
On the Norcold burner, there is a new burner that will fit right in. The only difference is the original uses a compression connection, with a ferrule and copper sealing ring, and the new one uses a flare connection. A modification to a flare connection should not be at all hard, and it really wouldn’t be hard for Norcold to come up with a retrofit kit- a more reasonable one than the $200+ kit they have for the 900 series. All the kit would need would be the burner and a new tube (soft aluminum). I just cannot see telling a customer that their perfectly good 1996 refrigerator is not repairable because I cannot get a $30 part, and they have to spend $1200-1500 for a new one. On the other hand- I take a bit of liability on my shoulders by modifying a part like this, so…..

Even though I grew up in a very affluent period (relatively), a large reason was my parents remembering and observing the old adage- “Use it up, wear it out, make it do, do without”

I’ve also been running in to range parts being not available (safety valves and thermostats)- this time due to mercury content. While I understand this a bit more, it still isn’t easy to deal with.

Ah, well….

–Chris