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Old 09-05-2020, 12:40 PM   #1
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Norcold 1200 cooling unit problems? Help!

I have a 2006 journey withe the original fridge. It worked fine for as long as I owned it. It quit and I brought it to Camping World and they said it needed period. To the tune of $1750 plus $500 dollars labor. A new one (15 years newer was about $3200 at the time).
Another repair shop said it was the ac control board but may still be the cooling unit. I replaced the control card. No change.

The general consensus from all I've read/ heard is that running on LP will provide superior performance.
My experience is the opposite. The only way I can get what I think is the correct temperature is running on shore power I get about 5 degrees in the freezer and 39 the fridge, That is running on temp setting 9. of a range of 1-9. I imagine that is not the spec but something I am more than happy to live with.
Another tech said it was possibly being caused by a defective recall uinit that was installed to fix a design flaw that caused the fridge to go on fire and burn down the coach. I really doubt that is the problem but he makes a living at this?.




I think I can get a cooling unit for somewhere around $1300 and muddle through it with a friend.
After all this I guess it's a very simple question. Is there any way to say the cooling unit is defective without actually replacing it? That is really the issue.

Besides the cost and delay as I said earlier it does work on shore power. That seems to me that the cooling unit must work.

Clearly, I don't really know what I'm doing but having been messing with this for ages and just need to get it done.


This has got me frustrated and worn out.
Any thought would be really greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Wayne
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Old 09-05-2020, 01:17 PM   #2
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If the fridge works on 110v but not Propane, than this limits the number of things that could be the problem. And, in my mind, means they cooling unit is working.

Instead of looking for someone to repair a Norcold fridge, I'd start looking for someone to repair the Propane system on my Norcold fridge. It's a simple propane system and should be accessable from the lower fridge vent on the side of the RV.

It can be as simple as insects (mud daubers) and spiders building a nest in the wrong place - to more complex things like a gas regulator, a thermocouple flame sensor to a igniter.

I would guess that a great many of independent RV Service Techs in St. George, UT could dog this down pretty easily for you.

There are a number of videos on YouTube with suggestions, as well. Here's one that I'm not in total agreement with - the first part is pretty good, the propane regulator/oil in the line stuff he mentions is questionable to me. But hey, it's free and stuff does get in the burner/flu and causes issue.

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Old 09-05-2020, 04:33 PM   #3
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Thanks, and I am glad to hear you think that it's not the cooling unit. It does make me wonder that as there could be a number of things and you are the repair shop and say it's the cooling unit and get the ok for the repair. Might you start trouble shooting then? Or am I just being skeptical?
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Old 09-05-2020, 05:14 PM   #4
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What Creative says is very good thinking. I do not feel it is the cooling unit for the following reason.
The electrical and the propane do one thing in different ways as they both heat a portion of the cooling unit. So if it works on one, it should work on the other but only if the parts in that other (Propane) section work right.
So what has to work on propane that is not involved when on electrical?
One biggie is that the flame has to have better venting to work well while the electrical does not. Think campfire and not getting air?
So that leaves me to suggest looking carefully at what YOU can to sort it out and there are now lots more info on frigs with lots of good info on troubleshooting.
I think this sia one good manual that I would trust but do look it over carefully for being the correct one for your exact model and also keep in mind that some options may not exactly match what you have.
In other words, don't trust me to have the right info listed if it doesn't look to match!!!
Assuming the right manual, I might want to start on pages 19-28 for looking at venting and cleaning the burner to get good flame. But there are also many who do a mod and put a fan on this type frig to get better airflow as something like the AC unit outside our house which works far better if it gets more airflow.
While about it, I might also want to look at the thermistor as there is a pretty simple test using ice water, just to make sure it is reading the temp right as needing a setting of nine is not normal and thermistors do test to age out and drift off.

Not a mind bender but it does take a dedicated person to look it over carefully and take the time, rather than simply throw parts at it.
Best of luck!
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Old 09-05-2020, 05:23 PM   #5
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Norcold 1200 woes update...

This is from earlier. Since then I've redefined my problem more clearly.
Ther is a problem with the propane working but just not very well. All of the youtubes I've been able to find have addressed it not working. Mine, after a day, only can manage to get the fridge down to abut 55 with the thermister removed.

It works, but not well enough to keep things from going bad. Just bad slower.
I've heard people say that something might be clogged either the line or elsewhere.

like I said most help on line addresses it not working.


You folks have been grerat, thanks, Wayne



Quote:
Originally Posted by Out West View Post
I have a 2006 journey withe the original fridge. It worked fine for as long as I owned it. It quit and I brought it to Camping World and they said it needed period. To the tune of $1750 plus $500 dollars labor. A new one (15 years newer was about $3200 at the time).
Another repair shop said it was the ac control board but may still be the cooling unit. I replaced the control card. No change.

The general consensus from all I've read/ heard is that running on LP will provide superior performance.
My experience is the opposite. The only way I can get what I think is the correct temperature is running on shore power I get about 5 degrees in the freezer and 39 the fridge, That is running on temp setting 9. of a range of 1-9. I imagine that is not the spec but something I am more than happy to live with.
Another tech said it was possibly being caused by a defective recall uinit that was installed to fix a design flaw that caused the fridge to go on fire and burn down the coach. I really doubt that is the problem but he makes a living at this?.




I think I can get a cooling unit for somewhere around $1300 and muddle through it with a friend.
After all this I guess it's a very simple question. Is there any way to say the cooling unit is defective without actually replacing it? That is really the issue.

Besides the cost and delay as I said earlier it does work on shore power. That seems to me that the cooling unit must work.

Clearly, I don't really know what I'm doing but having been messing with this for ages and just need to get it done.


This has got me frustrated and worn out.
Any thought would be really greatly appreciated.
Thanks, Wayne
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Old 09-05-2020, 06:32 PM   #6
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I'll just address a couple problems I've found with Norcold and Dometic refers that you can check yourself. First, take the grill off the outside access to the refer. Remove the cover that prevents viewing the flame (if any). Is the flame nice? Does it look like this?


Here's what the flame should look like:


If not, then it's a problem in the gas supply. If it does look proper, than what I'd say is that perhaps the gas is turning off when it shouldn't. And what usually causes that is this device...the white ceramic device in the center of this picture with the red wire going to it.



Remove that item and check for cracks in the ceramic. This device is dual purpose. 1) Works as the spark ignition; 2) the heat from the flame causes the circuit board to sense a voltage on the wires going to the spark ignition that indicates the gas is burning and so keeps the gas valve ON. If there's a crack in the ceramic, the signal (already very very small) isn't strong enough so the circuit board will shut off the valve.

Since you've already replaced the control board, your problem is probably not the board but could be a loose wiring terminal. When you installed the new control board, did you gently squeeze the female terminals so they would be tighter fit on the male terminals on the board? Because a loose terminal can cause the same symptoms as a cracked electrode does. So make sure they are ALL tight. Including the HV wires terminal.

Finally, one thing of note: Ignore that old saw about absorption refers working better on gas than electric or visa versa. In a properly designed refer, they are going to function virtually the same. So if the refer does have an operational difference, that points to a problem somewhere.
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Old 09-06-2020, 05:20 AM   #7
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I had a cooling problem with my 07 Norcold 1200 while on a month long trip. Had to turn it into a true ice box for about two weeks.

Anyway from what the two different tech. folks said my unit was toast. It seems the coolant, over a period of time can crystallize and cause the frig. to not work correctly. Both said replacement recommended

Once home I connected JC Refrigeration https://jc-refrigeration.com/
and as I use my frig almost 100% electric I had them ship me the HVAC 120v replacement cooling unit. I have yet to install, that will happen later this week.

I felt, for me, this was the best way to go.
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Old 09-06-2020, 09:31 AM   #8
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For any lurkers on this thread, what be_happy is talking about does happen to absorption refers but generally to much older units than his '07. Generally on units that have sat for months or years. Or units that were left ON for some period of time on a hill. Older refers would plug up on 3 degree grades, newer refers 8 degree. It's usually unnecessary to replace the coiling coils as there are tricks to get the crystals back into solution.

The cure, depending on circumstances, is often to use a technique that sets up vibration in the coils. I run a rubber mallet up and down the coils every time I happen to pass the RV. With the refer plugged in and set for cooling. This can take hours, but it can and does restore operation in many cases. This method just recently worked to restore operation of the refer in a '77 Class A in a friends RV that had sat for over a decade.

The other method is to remove the refer from it's cubby hole and turn it upside down in the kitchen. Let it sit for 4 hours and then turn it 90 degrees. Four hours later, another 90 degrees. Do this all day and let it sit on it's head all night. Than rotation for another day. After 24 - 48 hours, or longer, doesn't matter, just as long as it's on it's head most of the time, generally if it's a 'crystal' problem, it should be working afterwards.

An absorption refer that is totally bad has an odor of ammonia in or around the refer, or there is yellow residue on the coils. Those situations call for replacement. Everything else can be repaired.
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Old 09-06-2020, 01:56 PM   #9
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Thanks very much for the thoughts Idid check your pictures against what I have and I can't see the very top of the flamr without remove a fair bit of sheet metal. But I think I can see most and it is all blue. I you are the first person that shared the opinion that it doesn't matter ac or lp should work equally well. It makes perfect sense. If the engineering team that worked on it would or should have said if this works better than that might have said that needs more work. Possibly in a better world?
Thanks, Wayne
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Old 09-06-2020, 02:10 PM   #10
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Thanks, I think all ac is the easier path but I lean towards more off road.
Wayne
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Old 09-07-2020, 04:59 AM   #11
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Jim, Thanks one would have never thought of doing that. Great piece of knowledge
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Old 09-09-2020, 08:24 PM   #12
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Definitely sounds like a gas burner problem. If the electrical heating elements cool the refer properly, then the cooling unit is fine. Just need more flame and heat from the propane.

I replaced my cooling unit 2 months after the original 12m warranty was up. It developed a floating clog that stopped all cooling 9 out of 10 times, I know, I tested it every way possible for a month. Tried new thermistors, new motherboard, no luck. Finally bit the bullet, and replaced the cooling unit.

Got 8 years great use out of that, until the replacement unit developed a leak in a coolant tube. Hissing, sputtering, lucky I was on electric at the time.

Last November, I priced a new Norcold cooling unit, and a JC Refrigeration compressor cooling unit. JC's unit was cheaper, and more desirable from many standpoints. Easy to install, got rid of all the propane stuff, and it runs great!

I tested it and fine tuned settings and the interior fan, got freezer down to -10, refer was 28, settled on freezer at 10, refer at 37, setting on 3. Moved setting to #4 in 118 degree AZ heat! Uses 66w of power at about a 50% duty cycle, runs well off my 1000w msw inverter for boondocking. No more worries of leveling the coach, and it keeps cooling and making ice as we travel. Very happy with the result, and it comes with a 3 year warranty that can be extended to 6 years for a nominal fee.
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Old 09-10-2020, 09:53 AM   #13
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If you see yellow dust at the bottom of the outside access point you have an ammonia leak which can be deadly. On our Norcold the problem was the contacts on the refrigerator door where it meets the refrigerator frame we’re rusty. I scraped off the rust and it’s been working fine for 9 months
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Old 09-13-2020, 02:30 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Out West View Post
Thanks, I think all ac is the easier path but I lean towards more off road.
Wayne
Wayne, I tend not to get into this topic. I am TOTALLY against the traditional RV fridge. Many have replaced their poorly functioning or broken absorption fridge with a standard household unit. Some need a pure sine wave inverter but many will work with the modified sine wave inverter that is more common in RV's. It seems the Samsung makes units that many RVers have put in their rigs and are very pleased with. My rig came with a residential fridge and we are very pleased with it. We can even set the freezer temp to well below 0*. Can't do that with the old RV fridge.
I've been the 'fix-it' route and replaced the absorption coil in my old rig. I would replace the fridge before doing that again.
Happy trails,
Rick Y
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Old 09-13-2020, 03:59 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jerichorick View Post
Some need a pure sine wave inverter but many will work with the modified sine wave inverter that is more common in RV's.
Hey Rick, MSW was only common 10 or more years ago, virtually all newer RVs come with PSW inverter’s now.

Today’s PSW inverter costs about the same as a MSW inverter did 8 or 10 years ago.
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Old 09-14-2020, 07:41 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creativepart View Post
Hey Rick, MSW was only common 10 or more years ago, virtually all newer RVs come with PSW inverter’s now.

Today’s PSW inverter costs about the same as a MSW inverter did 8 or 10 years ago.
Thanks for this info. Many of the folks on the forums have older rigs and my reflex is to respond thinking in terms of MSW. I'll pay more attention to specs when I respond.
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