My main troubleshooting philosophy has always been that in order to figure out what is wrong with an appliance or system, you need to understand how it works.
LP Appliances in RVs all- with the exception of the stove top burners- have some sort of flame detection and safety circuit, which senses whether a flame is burning, and shuts off the flow of gas if it isn’t. Through the years, there have been 4 major types of systems- all of which are still in use.
Another of my old RV.net blog posts which was lost- Winegard has a new Razar antenna which has good performance, but it will be some time before any model catches up to the venerable Sensar, in both ultimate performance and installed customer base.
This is a post I wrote in 2008 for the RV.net blog- they have removed all old posts, and while it was written a while ago, it’s still relevant, so I am reprinting it here.
Tune up your Rooftop Air Conditioner
In some parts of the country, the heat is already here- in other parts, it’s well on its way, so I thought it might be good to talk about giving your rooftop air conditioner a basic tuneup.
A couple of things to remember about roof top RV air conditioners- all air conditioners work by removing heat (actually, all refrigeration works that way- as do heat pumps), and RV air conditioner- as they come from the factory- are hermetically sealed, and they only hold about 1 pound of refrigerant (at this time, R-22 is the refrigerant used when I first wrote this, now R-410A is the refrigerant of choice). The point of this is that with less than 1 pound of refrigerant and a sealed system, 99% of the time, “not enough cooling” complaints are due to air flow issues, and not lack of “Freon®”
Luckily, the average fix for this is easy- clean the coils! Let’s take a look at how to do this…. Read more
In my last post about Kwikee steps,I told about a repair kit for Kwikee step motors, that has since been discontinued. But… all is not lost- a quick trip to the local auto parts store let me fix a set of steps for a fraction of the cost of replacing the motor.
In fact, the parts cost a bit under $9, and saved having to buy an over $100 (if you buy a Kwikee brand motor), or around $60 (if you buy one from an auto parts store).
If your Kwikee steps simply get jammed, and you are getting power to them (you can hear the box click when you open or close the door, and the under step light is going on and off), quite often it is just these small plastic parts that are bad- not the whole motor. The symptoms of failure for these parts are that the step will get stuck in the extended or retracted position, yet the step is still getting power.
Let’s take a look at how to replace them…
As I have said in the past I’m a huge fan of Dinosaur brand replacement circuit boards. The only problem I have had was with the new Norcold “N” series- they have very complex circuit boards, along with many different models, so I doubted that Dinosaur would ever come out with an N series replacement board.
Thankfully, I was wrong.
This new board replaces the following Norcold part numbers:
621267, 621667.001, 621268, 621268.001, 621269, 621269.001,
621270, 621270.001, 621271, 621271.001, 619360, 619361, 632168.001
You can read more about it at the Dinosaur website
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
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.
Last week, my RV.Net blog post was on TV in your RV, and upcoming changes, including digital and Satellite HD reception. A couple of things to keep in mind- the standard Winegard Sensar “Batwing” antenna will work just fine for Digital television- no need to buy a special “digital” or “HD” antenna.
There is a difference between Digital and HD. If you are going to buy a digital converter box for your RV, if you have an “HD capable” television, you will need to buy a high definition converter box. If, however, you have a standard tube type “SDTV”, one of the cheap , err…. inexpensive converter boxes will do just fine.
There is a good comparison of “Coupon Eligable converter boxes” at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_CECB_units
Well, I’ve been writing about the ongoing Dometic recall in this post and this post, and today I had an unwelcome finding- working on a refrigerator I had done the recall on nearly a year ago, but the cooling unit failed in the area concerned with the recall.
Called to order a new cooling unit, and was told that Dometic is no longer replacing failed cooling units out of the warranty period.
Needless to say, I am not a happy camper.
Sometimes I run in to patterns of failure on different items- bad batches from the manufacturers, faulty designs, etc. The past few weeks I have run in to 2 different items that have been giving me problems.
The first is a fairly simple thing, but one that has potentially very bad consequences.. and that is a vent lid (yep- about the simplest thing there is). Read more