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Thread: Travel Trailer Electrical Upgrade

  1. #101
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    Spent a whole afternoon tinkering on the fridge. Some good progress was made, but in the process the scope of the project became unavoidably expanded. Probably another 2-3 weekend days to completion. Satisfied with the work so far. Among the bottlenecks is the fact that the new ignitor and flame sensor do not fit the existing holes in the bracket... close, but not close enough. I tried to "trim" one by chucking it up in a hand drill and turning it against a file. Close, no cigar, not going to ruin a serviceable part trying to make it something it's not. Will try drilling the hole out 1 size larger, see if that works.

    Got most of the tin back together, new fiberglass insulation in the flue, new ignitor board installed, and new heater element connected. Discovered the rust on the front was worse than thought... had to strip EVERY piece of front trim.... will have to be sanded, primered and painted... going to lose original factory label in the process too, it appears. Damn. Will try to save if possible, but not at risk of needing to re-do the paint again in 5 years.
    Last edited by bruss01; 04-10-2017 at 12:12 PM.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

  2. #102
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    Once i started really looking and scraping loose paint it was horrifying how much rust there actually is. Fortunately it appears to all be surface rust... nothing too deep. This week will be spent doing a lot of scraping and sanding.










    Light socket corroded too. Ordered a pair. Going to replace 1 with 2 and use LED replacements.

    Last edited by bruss01; 04-10-2017 at 12:08 PM.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

  3. #103
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    Wow, that is a lot of rust. You might want to treat it after sanding it down before you paint it to prevent any other rust from occurring down the road.


    edit: since you are replacing the lights with LED ones, you might want to either make sure the lights are up front aiming backwards, or build a small reflector for them to aim the light away from the door. This way you don't get blinded every time you open the door. LED bulbs might not put out as much useable light as incandescent bulbs, but they are tremendously more harsh to your eyes if you look directly at them.
    Last edited by 91CavGT; 04-10-2017 at 12:33 PM.
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

  4. #104
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    Two steps forward and one step (and two weeks) back. Add in "and three more trips to the hardware store" and you just described about every one of my projects lol
    Everything marked, everything 'membered. You wait, you'll see.

  5. #105
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    Quote Originally Posted by marked View Post
    Two steps forward and one step (and two weeks) back. Add in "and three more trips to the hardware store" and you just described about every one of my projects lol
    You aren't the only one!
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

  6. #106
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    Cav, I think i am ok without shrouding the lights... they go in a recessed pocket plus my head is above the interior fridge ceiling so I'd have to be pretty bent over to actually put peepers on them... good thought though. If the glare proves me wrong I will remember your suggestion. You can sort of see the recess for the light in the 2nd rust pic above below. It's in the center of the ceiling.

    What would you suggest to "treat" the metal? I was going to sand it and apply Rustoleum primer before painting. If there's a better option I am open to ideas.

    Marked, i always figure the trips to the hardware store are going to run about double what I think should be needed if i know what I'm doing and triple if I don't. Usually that means triple...

    Good thing about all those trips is it gives me a great training opportunity with Major. He's getting a chance to work on his public manners more now that he has turned 2 and is maturing out of the "puppy" phase. He's getting good at heeling and was in a down/stay for quite a while in the paint aisle while I pondered over color choice. He knows they give out cookies there and loves meeting the public, so he has a blast going even though I insist on his best behavior. A rowdy game of tug once we get home helps him unwind all that pent up energy from having to be "good".

    Reason we spent so much time in the paint aisle is I was trying to find as close a match as possible to the original color - which is halfway between olive drab and UPS brown. No joy, so my nearest other option was to try to find a complimentary color, which ended up being more of a matte brown - hope it doesn't look too out-of-sync with the rest of the interior. At least I can guarantee it will look better than rusted poop - which is were we're starting from.
    Last edited by bruss01; 04-11-2017 at 02:11 PM.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

  7. #107
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    Years ago I used a product called Por 15 to treat bare metal before starting the primer and paint step. I don't know if anything better has come along, but it worked for me back when.
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

  8. #108
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    Here's the burner assembly. I ran it through a heated ultrasonic bath, first using Simple Green (overnight) then denatured alcohol (2 days). The black you see is not dirt, it's discoloration that didn't come off in the ultrasonic or even with scrubbing afterward.




    Deep inside is the gas orifice. I believed it was non-removable, but after the assembly dried out it just basically fell out. It's a little thimble-shaped piece of metal with a very precise hole in the center. You don't want to poke anything into that hole unless you have the proper tool for the job (heat/ac places sell a kit of very precisely gauged sticks for cleaning them out). I am inclined to think my ultrasonic bath has done all the cleaning needed. The thimble seems bright and shiny as the day it was new. BTW I have looked all over for replacements, and apparently there are none to be had. So I've got to be sure to take good care of this wee beastie - without it, the fridge is DOA.






    I gave the same treatment to my old ignitor and flame sensor. You can see here the comparison after cleaning of the old vs the new. The ignitor is just a tad discolored, but the flame sensor is really dark. A bit of super-fine grit sandpaper or steel wool may clean it up all right. You can tell it's older than the ignitor by the metal base. I'll keep the old units around as spares in case I break one of the new ones. This little adventure has taught me something I never knew before... I always assumed the flame sensor was heat-activated like a thermostat. But it's not... it's basically just a metal rod that allows a small amount of current to flow when the flame comes on - apparently the flame itself conducts a bit of electricity due to ions in the flame or something (haven't found a clear, concise explanation I like for this yet). So it's important that it be clean, otherwise the ignitor board will think the flame's gone out, and it will turn off the gas (to prevent explosion). This can cause a flame that comes on and goes out intermittently - that's what I believe is my fridge's primary problem at the moment. Hopefully a cleaning and/or replacement will get it back in working order. I'm updating the ignitor board as well because if I'm in it this deep, why not, and the old one is the same age as the control board that already failed and got replaced.






    I will be installing some 140mm extra large computer-type permanent magnet fans at the exhaust vent in the trailer roof to improve air movement past the heat-exchange coils, instead of relying on passive "hot air rises" air movement. This should increase cooling efficiency during hot weather. A couple of considerations were that I don't want to have fans running when it is not hot and the fridge doesn't need it because it wastes battery and also because it then takes the burner longer to bring the system up to temp if it's cool out. To help manage this, I obtained a couple of small heat sensors. One is mounted to the cooling fins and is triggered when the cooling fins reach 130 degrees (meaning the system is on and at the high range of it's normal operating temp). The other is an ambient air sensor and triggers any time the ambient temp goes over 85 degrees. By incorporating both of these into my refrigeration system, I feel like I have the bases covered without having the fans run just all the time. One manual switch will be mounted in the panel above the fridge, to allow me to enable/disable the cooling boost, and the automatic sensors to make sure it only activates the fans when extra cooling is needed. I found these sensors at RVCoolingUnit.com where I bought my replacement cooling unit four years ago, after I first bought the trailer.

    http://rvcoolingunit.com/




    ETA:

    Had a closer look at the burner assembly and the new ignitor & flame sensor... and an "aha!" moment. The new ignitor and flame sensor are built different than the old ones, yet so similar a casual glance belies the difference. The metal tab on the old ones has a flare that extrudes away from the bracket, toward the flame... the new ones are exactly opposite. A few minutes on my lunch break today I had time to rummage around and try some drill bits (had to go up 2 sizes) and get the bracket on the drill press. Eureka! The new sensor/ignitor fit perfectly now - and the old ones still fit as well. The absence of my drill press vise resulted in a small blood-offering to the Project Gods who (now appeased) will hopefully bless my further endeavors on this fridge. Now I can mount the burner assembly and finish the remaining tin (burner housing basically). A few small parts are in the shipping channel on their way here, and by the weekend I should be ready to rock and roll with this baby.

    On Saturday I hope to paint the trim (going to be wet between now and then, hopefully I can find a dry place to do the sanding).
    Last edited by bruss01; 04-12-2017 at 02:23 PM.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

  9. #109
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    Looks good!
    Prepare for the worst, hope for the best

  10. #110
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    Absorbtion (ammonia evaporation) refrigerators have pro's and cons. They are more complicated and more maintenence-intensive than standard (freon or other compressible refrigerants) refrigerators. They have valves and burners, a corrosive coolant, and a whole electric/electronic control system to boot. They must be run on a reasonably level surface because they are based on liquid finding its own level instead of being pumped.... and if the coolant goes stagnant due to being off-level it will "cook" and create sediment that can clog up the works. That makes them a bit of a tempermental beast.

    Their saving grace is that they are incredibly energy efficient, requiring just a wee trickle of propane and a tiny bit of electricity to work the controls. This frugality of resources makes them a preffered choice for off-grid applications. With a bit of care they can be kept in good working order a surprisingly long time. Their chief enemies are lack of use, misuse, and neglect. This one has suffered all 3 by previous owners who didn't know better or didn't care. Giving the old girl such a thourough re-furbishing I hope we have a few years of trouble-free service.

    http://www.rvdoctor.com/2001/02/rv-a...n-cooling.html
    Last edited by bruss01; 04-11-2017 at 09:56 PM.
    In a crazy world, it's the crazy man who can get by - and it's about to get cray-cray up in here.

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