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Old 06-17-2018, 03:25 PM   #1
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1910 Rockwood 3Way Fridge - Propane problems only

I bought this 1910 brand new a few years ago from the dealer and have been keeping it in tip-top shape. The fridge cools great on shore power or battery and I have several thermostats to go along with this data.

When I switch to propane the pilot light *DOES* come on, the stack *DOES* get warm, but the fridge slowly warms up and eventually reaches ambient temperature. I have left it this way for days in the garage to test it and it equalizes with outside temperature within 8 hours. When camping, roughly overnight our fridge loses all of its cooling we have generated from pre-cooling the fridge on shore power, driving to the campsite on battery, and then switching to propane at the campsite.

I have blown out the stack and followed the service steps in the manual that came with the purchase from the dealer - which are really very simple. There wasn't even any soot on the little twisty thing (sorry, not bothering with correct terminology).

Frankly, I don't even know how to debug this problem. If the pilot light didn't work, I'd say there was some sort of problem with propane getting to the unit, but that's clearly not the problem. What are the steps for debugging here? What are my options?

Thanks!
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Old 06-18-2018, 01:32 AM   #2
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Are you certain that the fridge is staying on as you are camping without electricity?

Even on propane, you need enough battery to operate the refrigerators electronic ignition. That was always a limiting factor when we camped off grid.
The fridge would look like it was operating because it didn't take much battery power to light the led light, but not enough battery to ignite the propane.

We eventually started using the fridge like a big cooler and put either frozen bottles of water or cold pack in the freezer and fridge portions.
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Old 06-18-2018, 07:06 AM   #3
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I am certain that the camper has battery power, if that's what you're asking. I have added solar panels to the popup and have a DC voltmeter that I've also added to it and recessed into the paneling. I'd run the thing entirely on battery if I could but it drains the battery in 1 evening using the fridge.

Best I can tell, the fridge is cooled to max temperature at 120v at home before leaving (which I can get it down to about 39F). I put icepacks into it, put some food into it. When driving to the campsite, it's on battery supplied by the vehicle as well as some solar backup. Fridge holds at 39 no problem. When I get to the campsite, I need to get it off the battery or I'm going to lose my battery (even with solar refilling it). So I switch to propane. This is what I've done for 6 years of camping with no problem.

This year, however, the propane just doesn't cool. If I let that propane run overnight, I wake to a fridge that is now equal to ambient (say, 60F).

My question merely is - how does one troubleshoot this? Are there things I can do or is the entire thing shot? Can I clean or replace subcomponents or am I looking at an entirely new fridge? It seems there should be some easy tests I should be able to do to see what's going on and I can't figure that part out. Was hoping some experts here could help shed some light on that.
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Old 06-18-2018, 07:18 AM   #4
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Attaching some images. Perhaps this helps?

First image is of the venting area from the side of the popup. I removed the vent (which normally gets quite hot when the fridge is running) because the fridge instructions had me clean out that pipe on the right-hand-side of the image (easy, no soot at all, totally clean). I read online people saying that sometimes spiders get in there and block it - nope, blew compressed air through there, no problem at all.

When the pilot light is running (bottom right of 2nd image) the stack (silver vertical tube in 2nd image running vertical to 1st image up that tube mentioned above) there is a little bit of heat coming out of there but . . . well, it's frankly like the propane system itself isn't sending propane into the unit. I'd say there was some sort of blockage or something but the pilot light works and the propane works throughout the camper - the gas grill, the stove, the hot water heater, the furnace. This is literally the only thing that doesn't work.

In the 2nd image I have pulled away that little "cup" on the bottom which shields the pilot light in case you're wondering.
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Old 06-18-2018, 08:59 PM   #5
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I may be pointing out the obvious since you say you've been doing this for several seasons, but doesn't the big gray knob need to be off of "OFF"? Not sure about the switches in the picture.
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Old 06-18-2018, 10:51 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dobbs View Post
I may be pointing out the obvious since you say you've been doing this for several seasons, but doesn't the big gray knob need to be off of "OFF"? Not sure about the switches in the picture.
Yeah. I set it to high for the pilot and then leave it there. It cools a few degrees and then holds there for a day or so.

Thanks for the reply though
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Old 06-19-2018, 06:12 AM   #7
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I am far from an expert and have had my share of propane fridge problems. Works fine on battery and shore power, but the minute I use propane, the temps plummet. I was told by a repair guy to allow more air circulation around the back of the fridge. Next time out dry camping I removed the vent cover. Wow what a difference! I bought a solar powered small fan to keep the air moving from now on. Good Luck.
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Old 06-19-2018, 10:34 AM   #8
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Since you state you can see a flame remove and clean the burner orifice with alcohol or brake cleaner. Sometimes one can see the burner flame and the orifice can be partially clogged with dust, oily residue etc. DO NOT put anything through orifice like tooth pick, wire, drill bit, etc. It would be advisable to remove gas line between burner and gas valve and clean it as well. Also check for LP pressure at the refrigerator. Should be at least 11" hg.
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Old 06-19-2018, 10:39 AM   #9
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1910 Rockwood 3Way Fridge

Forgot to mention that the twisty thing is called the Baffle.
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Old 06-19-2018, 11:46 AM   #10
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I agree with rvdoctor, many times propane will leave a paraffin like deposit in the gas line near the burner and on the orifice over time.
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