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Old 09-20-2020, 03:31 PM   #1
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Fury, a Dynamax Freightliner Columbia Grand Sport GT Part 2

Project to Support 12VDC electric fridges in Fury

We, the owners, decided to run with portable electric compressor fridges powered via dual voltage electricity, 120VAC or 12VDC, in order to provide refrigeration for our frozen and chilled food while on road. We have a fully functioning Dometic propane fridge and are taking no chances with operations that could ruin it. Until we install the ARP device, we only use the Dometic when stationary and perfectly leveled (within 1.50 of vertical).

We’ve obtained two such electric fridges, an Alpicool 20 L and an Aspenora 48L.




The 12VDC power cords come with typical, but high quality, “cigarette lighter power plugs” and 120VAC power packs. We can also use a larger Coleman thermo-electric cooler with dual voltage.

Part of the project is to add SAE power plugs to their 12VDC power cords. The fridges then can be powered by the much more capable SAE power receptacles added to Fury by this project



These cords now have two power receptacle plugs.
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Old 09-20-2020, 03:44 PM   #2
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Adding 12VCD power receptacles to Fury, support the fridges

Fury was built with no internal 12VDC power receptacles, save the dash 12VDC cigarette lighter

receptacle provided by Freightliner Truck

A successful project added 12VDC power to the instrument panel cover & at the pax position next to the engine shroud at the floor.

The project adds an old style “cigarette lighter power receptacle” to the front and rear walls of the forward dinette pedestal and an SAE power receptacle to its front wall. The Aspenora 48L is planned to sit here. Any of the fridges will fit here.

A follow-on project will add an SAE power receptacle to the front of the cabinet where the Dometic fridge is located. This will support the Alpicool fridge which presently has only 120VAC available there.
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Old 09-20-2020, 04:03 PM   #3
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Sourcing the 12VDC power

Steve (Steve Nash of Steve’s RV Service) and I located 12VDC power cables in the rear pedestal of the dinette in October 2019 as one of the items worked during the 2 weeks in his shop.


Steve added about 5’ of red and black wire & solderless connectors to the native red and black cables, then routed the new wires to the front pedestal via the factory provided wire loom tunnel along the outside wall between the two dinette pedestals.

Front inside wall of forward pedestal.

Brannon Hutchinson and Johnathan at Custom RV Service in Red Bay, carefully repositioned these extra wires back in the same place at the forward pedestal. They removed the pedestals when they replaced Fury’s carpet.
This work is described in the posts of the original thread, same title. When I needed the wires for this project, they were exactly where I expected them to be. That is fine craftsmanship, in my opinion.
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Old 09-20-2020, 04:13 PM   #4
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Installing 12VDC buss bar and fuse panel

These days, a project like this is sure to involve Amazon. Since I’m in a high-risk group regarding the virus, I no longer run around to various auto or electrical supply shops to source parts, if I can possibly avoid that. I sourced the power buss bar and a new type of solderless connector from Amazon.


The receptacles I had obtained from various sources over the last 3 years.

I built a panel to support the buss bar and installed on the vertical struts on the forward wall of the forward pedestal.



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Old 09-20-2020, 04:26 PM   #5
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Finding Ground connection

Due to interruptions, Steve said the red cable is positive and the black negative. Actually, as I found out through troubleshooting, both of those cables carry unswitched 12VDC positive power. This image shows 2 wires to buss, but black was actually positive, so that hook up didn't work.

When I discovered the real situation, I was able to find a grounded cable to use and complete the circuit to the power buss. I selected green insulated wire for the ground. The green ground wire is visible.
Since I had 2 different positive sources, I ran both of them to the buss positive input.
After finding a ground, this is the wiring.
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Old 09-20-2020, 04:29 PM   #6
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Installing 12VDC “cigarette lighter power receptacles” & SAE receptacle

I used circular hole saws for the larger holes on the forward wall and a straight hole saw bit for the smallest hole needed on the aft wall of the forward pedestal. Measuring and drilling/sawing the holes took about an hour including cleanup. Installation was straightforward and only took about half an hour.
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Old 09-20-2020, 04:34 PM   #7
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Wiring power to receptacles

Forward wall of forward dinette pedestal showing “cigarette lighter power receptacle” wiring on left and SAE receptacle on right with red & black wires going to power buss.



The rear section of the forward dinette pedestal “cigarette lighter power receptacle” will primarily be used to carry a dual USB outlet plug for powering compatible devices. It can be used to power any 12VDC device with a matching plug. This will allow recharging devices from native 12VDC & avoid inverter power losses when not on shore or genset power. The red & black paired wires leading down & out of the photo carries power to the rear section.

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Old 09-20-2020, 04:36 PM   #8
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Electrical test and closeout

I repowered the 12VDC circuits.

First, I went outside to the lower compartments and I put the marine power switch to ON.

Back in the cabin; I put Coach 12VDC master switch to ON. I tested each receptacle and got nominal VDC voltages at the terminals with positive and negative electricity as it should be.

So, I signed off the results as road worthy.
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Old 09-20-2020, 04:47 PM   #9
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Project’s Finished Results

Forward wall of forward pedestal showing 2 12VDC receptacles and 120VAC receptacles.



Aft wall of forward pedestal showing 1 12VDC receptacle, landline phone jack, and Aqua-Hot cozy.






Intended use is: device charging and fridges will run on 12VDC power when main engine is running or Fury is in No Shore Power or NO genset power condition. When 120VAC power is available, devices and fridges will run on AC power. This will tend to unload the inverter and also its battery charging circuits.

Total cost of labor and parts is estimated $175. Plus, about 15 to 20 hours of Wolf’s time for sourcing parts, fabrication, and installation which is, of course, provided at no charge to Fury.
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Old 09-21-2020, 03:43 PM   #10
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Hmm...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wolf Alaska View Post
Due to interruptions, Steve said the red cable is positive and the black negative. Actually, as I found out through troubleshooting, both of those cables carry unswitched 12VDC positive power.

This image shows 2 wires to buss, but black was actually positive, so that hook up didn't work.

When I discovered the real situation, I was able to find a grounded cable to use and complete the circuit to the power buss. I selected green insulated wire for the ground. The green ground wire is visible.

Since I had 2 different positive sources, I ran both of them to the buss positive input.

After finding a ground, this is the wiring.
I'm not sure that tying the two positive cables to the same bus is a good idea. They probably come from two different fuses. Now that you've tied them together:
1) If there's a short or overload in an appliance plugged into your adapter, both fuses will blow and you will have twice as many components out of service.
2) It is possible that a certain amount of load-sharing takes place, e.g., you are pulling nearly 15 amps through each of the two cables. But the single ground wire is carrying all that current back. It could be heavily overloaded and get hot.
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Old 09-22-2020, 06:53 AM   #11
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Why???

That is a lot of very good looking work. Help me understand what the problem is with running the propane refrig while in motion?? 😳
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Old 09-22-2020, 08:37 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pdqparalegal1 View Post
That is a lot of very good looking work. Help me understand what the problem is with running the propane refrig while in motion?? 😳
Seems like no one wanted this question. Not surprising as its been a debate in the RV world for years. There is nothing wrong with going down the road with the fridge running off propane...except some people (and I confess to being one of them) do not like the idea of having an open flame dependent on a tank cut off (that I have never seen demonstrated) in the event of getting hit, Departing the black top or some other incident or accident. I have had some bad experiences with open flames in aircraft so the whole concept makes me antsy even though its a "proven" technology.

The second issue is the comparative inefficiency of propane relative to electrical heat for fridge operation; the use of a more difficult to replace fuel especially if you are heading for a cold weather boondocking.

Those seem to be the ones that come up
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:44 AM   #13
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Dynamax - no bunk support

I don't have any other suggestions beyond those already submitted, but a comment...I didn't know who made the Dynamax & when I found out it was Forest River unfortunately...this was no surprise.

I own a Salem 30KQBSS...I have had to construct supports & seal up the vent hood so it actually vented outside, reattach a bottom to a hinged door storage and most recently repair a shelf that fell down...the reason for these failures...their use of STAPLES (they look like upholstery staples) instead of screws.

Best of luck securing your bunk support.

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Old 09-23-2020, 10:00 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Retired Canucks View Post
I don't have any other suggestions beyond those already submitted, but a comment...I didn't know who made the Dynamax & when I found out it was Forest River unfortunately...this was no surprise.

I own a Salem 30KQBSS...I have had to construct supports & seal up the vent hood so it actually vented outside, reattach a bottom to a hinged door storage and most recently repair a shelf that fell down...the reason for these failures...their use of STAPLES (they look like upholstery staples) instead of screws.

Best of luck securing your bunk support.

Ed & Connie
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I think this was posted in the wrong thread.

1. This thread is not about bunk support
2. This thread is about a Dynamax that was built prior to Forest River ownership. So the comment about "well its built by Forest River" did not apply and is really not all that relevant anyway in that we have always been an independent division of Forest River. And even then, a blanket statement like that is still not relevant in that we have about 100 different divisions at even more price points. So tough to compare the build of a stick and tin travel trailer to an M2 Freightliner Super C.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:47 PM   #15
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Discuss need to use portable fridges

This thread provides interested forum members with some information that shows how I was able to install additional 12VDC sources into a Dynamax truck-based motor coach.

As stated in post #1, we decided not to run with Dometic propane fridge in operation. While on the road, we use 12VDC compressor fridges. We also have a Coleman thermo-electric cooler which we used with great success on the trip to DEL last year.

Prior to purchasing Fury, we planned to replace its fridge with a 12VDC only 10 Cu. Ft. dual door Dometic compressor fridge. After buying Fury, we found that the coach has a 48-gallon propane tank and that the fridge is the only appliance using propane + it is fully operational. It’s obvious that a full tank should be able to run the existing fridge for many months. So, we decided to keep the existing Dometic fridge. We want it to last a long time.

We learned from research conducted by Paul Unmack, PE-CSE, Member of Escapees #116483, that propane refrigerators can be quickly damaged if operated in an off-level condition.

The damaging off-level condition can occur while on road.

Use of propane fridges while in motion is a hotly debated topic in the RV world. I prefer that this thread not become another of the many threads where folks weigh in with their opinion as to how to operate highly technical propane fridges without a full knowledge of the technology involved.

I’m going to provide, in a following post, links to published articles and to Paul Unmack’s web site. Anyone interested in learning the technology and how real-world conditions affect propane fridge operation may find the links to be helpful.

Here's a photo of a Coleman Thermo-electric Cooler at the forward side of the dinette. The Aspenora 48L will likely sit here.
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Old 09-23-2020, 09:57 PM   #16
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Technical information about propane fridges

“the absorption refrigerator has a boiler that maintains a constant temperature during normal operation. … the typical RV refrigerator boiler should never get much over 400 degrees Fahrenheit. When the boiler overheats, the cooling unit quits producing refrigerant... If the boiler overheats, irreversible damage occurs to the internal components of the refrigerator cooling unit.” Paul Unmack

“All your heat source for your refrigerator does is boil the ammonia to separate it from the water. Just like a percolator coffeepot, there is a percolator tube within the boiler assembly. When the ammonia is turned to gas by boiling, the remaining liquid water is forced up the percolator tube. At the top of the percolator tube, the water drops down by gravity and the ammonia gas rises.” Paul Unmack

The water returning to the boiler keeps the boiler from overheating. The ammonia goes on to the evaporator to cool the inside spaces of the fridge.

If the circulation stops, the boiler will overheat. An off-level condition will stop the percolation and circulation will stop. Then no ammonia will be evaporated and go on to cool the fridge.

If circulation stops, the fridge’s temperature controller will call for more cooling which means more heat to the boiler. Without the circulation, the added heat only makes things worse. This is when fridges are damaged.

Leveling the fridge: the percolator tube must be within 1 ½ degrees of vertical for percolation to occur. We determine level by measuring the floor of the freezer compartment. If the floor checks out as level then the percolator tube will be vertical.

I learned from Paul Unmack that the off-level condition can occur on the road.
• Running on a cambered road
• Running up or down a grade, particularly a long grade
• Parking in an unlevel spot This could be on the side of the road, in a parking lot for lunch, or perhaps to lend assistance to a disabled vehicle’s operator
If your propane fridge is running, all of the above and similar conditions can ruin the fridge. It won’t matter whether the fridge is running on electricity or propane, the off-level condition will kill it either way.

Here is the link to Paul Unmack’s web site https://www.arprv.com/

Here is a link to 7 articles published on the Escapees RV Club’s web site https://www.escapees.com/?s=rv+refrigerator
It worked OK for me. You may need to paste the link into your browser or search engine. The articles are available.

I hope the forum will find this information to be useful. I’ve used up much more forum space than I wanted to about the propane fridge topic. I have not been able to sum it up in five words like I wanted to do.

This is the best I could think of. “Don’t operate a propane fridge unless it is level." Nine words.

But this may be better:

“Install ARP device”. 3 words !
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Old 09-24-2020, 08:55 AM   #17
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ARP is definitely a great idea. I do believe it has improved cooling + safety. Get some 8 conductor wire to run the display inside, it is very useful. I use the inverter when traveling for safe fridge operation.
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Old 10-21-2020, 01:40 PM   #18
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Install SAE 12VDC receptacle at Dometic fridge position - evaluation

Previously posted on 9-20-2020, post #2:

“A follow-on project will add an SAE power receptacle to the front cabinet where the Dometic fridge is located. This will support the Alpicool fridge which presently has only 120VAC available there.“

12VDC fuse panel on left side. 120VAC breaker panel on right

On 10-11-2020, I inspected the work access in front of the Dometic propane fridge. It is on the port or driver’s side of the coach and not on a slide out

GC400GT

I shut off shore power to Fury by unplugging it from the 30 amp RV receptacle in 712. I also checked that coach batteries main switch OFF, chassis switch OFF, main marine switch OFF, and 120VAC breakers in panel shown, OFF. I used a fluorescence trouble light powered by an extension cord from the wall receptacle. This was the only power available and it was not on the coach circuitry.



12VDC fuse panel has 3 unused positions, #’s 16, 17, & 18.

I removed the panel’s screws and tugged on it to see if there was enough slack in the 12VDC wires to allow me to pull the panel out and access the wire lugs.

The Technicians at Dynamax, under the management of the great Dwayne Crittenton, left ample slack in the wiring. I could pull it out to a horizonal position and easily access lug for fuse #16.


From right to left, view of lugs for fuses: #16, #17, & #18.

I carefully felt behind the panel and found that there was no wiring run behind the portion of the wood between the 12VDC panel and the 120VAC breaker panel. The area could be drilled and there was plenty of room behind the wood to facilitate the installation of the SAE receptacle.


The SAE device protrudes about 2” behind the back side of the wood paneling.

Now, it was time to gather tools. The hole saw I needed was stored in a cabinet at the VPF.
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Old 10-21-2020, 04:47 PM   #19
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Install SAE 12VDC receptacle at Dometic fridge position

On 10-13-2020, I returned with tools and supplies including my Porter-Cable cordless drill. Again, I shut off shore power, battery power, and switched the AC breakers to OFF. I worked from the trouble light and 712 area lights which shine through the windows and help quite a bit.

I pulled out the 12VDC panel for access to the fuse lugs & negative buss. I used large rubber band to gently gather the wires at the panel’s back to keep them out of the way of the hole saw. Then I drilled the hole.


I carefully checked that all wires behind the paneling were out of the way, then drilled the hole.

I used a small 120VAC vacuum running of the plug on the trouble light to remove the drilling debris. A crevice tool allowed me to clean behind the panel, too.

Next, trimmed the red & black wires on the extension to correct length and terminated the red wire with a slide on solderless terminal (green, 12-14 gauge). The black wire only needed 3/8” insulation stripped for insertion into the negative buss.

I was on a telcon with a fellow RVer while doing the final steps and failed to photo the panel before reinstallation, but it looked beautiful ! My word.

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Old 10-21-2020, 05:00 PM   #20
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Project completion

I was ready to make the electrical tests and wrap up this project. I installed a blue 15 amp fuse into the slot for #16 fuse. Plugged shore cable into the 30 amp RV receptacle in 712. Power ON at the marine switch. Inside the coach, power ON at the coach battery cutoff, AC power breakers ON. I left the chassis battery switch OFF.


This foto taken immediately before final electrical test, 15 amp fuse in position #16 not yet inserted. Electrical test was 4.0


Completed installation



Closeup of installed SAE receptacle

Thanks to Dynamax design and installation I was able to DIY this project. I planned to ask Brannon at Custom RV to do this if necessary. He and Johnathan installed the whole coach surge protector and power monitor module behind this paneling in February 2020. I knew he could access it.

Since my time is provided at no charge to Fury, the net cost of this project is $12.04 including tax.

Now the Alpicool 12VDC/120VAC fridge can run on either 12VDC in this position thanks to the new SAE receptacle or use the 120VAC power available right around the corner from the inverter/shore power/diesel genset supplied 120VAC receptacle.
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Wolf Alaska

Fury, Dynamax Freightliner Columbia Grand Sport GT GC400GT
Papa Bear, Jeep Commander Overland
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