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PostPosted: January 12th, 2016, 5:46 pm 
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My fridge has died on me, and I am curious, how can I remove it from the coach? Looking at the numbers, it seems to large to fit through the rear entry door. Does anyone have experience here?

Thanks

FYI, my rig is a 1988 Chinook Concourse 18 plus. It has a Norcold 8663, 6.3 cubixc foot, 3-way fridge.


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PostPosted: January 12th, 2016, 7:53 pm 
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Location: Northern NJ
Depends on what you're replacing it with.

If with a duplicate size unit, then the out and in actions are normally done by removing a large side window.

If with a smaller fridge that actually fits through the rear door... say because of a radical remodeling... then the old unit is usually sliced into pieces for easier removal.

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PostPosted: January 13th, 2016, 6:56 am 
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Location: Santa Cruz
I’ve never cut an RV refrigerator in half, but I have removed/resealed both of my large windows. The passenger side was a breeze and took less than a couple hours from start to finish. But the drivers side? Well, I’ve removed/replaced engines in cars in less time than it took me to reseal the driver’s side. However, I had a few unique issues to deal with and it was my first ever RV window.

Are your windows well sealed, or are they original from 1988? If you take one out, you might find some things that you’ll be glad you found.

How long would it take to clean up all the dust after cutting a fridge in half? That stuff will get everywhere, but there are ways to mitigate the mess with dams and such.

Are you going to replace it with another enormous fridge? If so, then window removal will be required. So I guess this is the first question to ask yourself, as kdarling already pointed out.

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PostPosted: January 13th, 2016, 10:47 am 
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I take it you have no interest in repairing your existing fridge? While I love the idea of a modern unit, the complete change was more daunting than replacing the main board with an aftermarket.
The board i got from these guys has been rock solid and came with decent instructions.
http://www.dinosaurelectronics.com


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PostPosted: January 13th, 2016, 11:56 am 
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Joined: October 20th, 2015, 6:57 am
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Location: Northern NJ
Oh! Thanks for reminding me. The previous owner of mine pointed out a stored Dinosaur replacement board he'd never installed for the fridge (which currently runs all the time if I plug it in). I need to install that.

Re: cutting up the old fridge. Apparently they just pull the fridge out into the aisle a little bit, probably take off the doors, then saw off the exposed front section of the body. Then it can go out the back door in two tall, but thinner, pieces.

This avoids hitting any major parts.

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PostPosted: January 13th, 2016, 6:27 pm 
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Joined: July 31st, 2014, 1:01 am
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Location: 1999 Concourse
tdn2100 wrote:
My fridge has died on me, and I am curious, how can I remove it from the coach? Looking at the numbers, it seems to large to fit through the rear entry door. Does anyone have experience here?

Thanks

FYI, my rig is a 1988 Chinook Concourse 18 plus. It has a Norcold 8663, 6.3 cubixc foot, 3-way fridge.


My era Concourse came with a Dometic RM3663, but I imagine they are similar (sounds like same size). Mine would not fit out the back door. I believe that (as others have said) it will fit out the passenger side window (but check in case your windows are different), and I heard of one person who removed the passenger seat and got it out through the passenger door. I don't think my passenger door would open wide enough, but maybe your chassis would.

I removed my stock refrigerator. Since the new one I replaced it with would fit in through the back door, I was not motivated to remove a window for a refrigerator I was getting rid of. Therefore, I cut the refrigerator in half. It was easy, not particularly messy, and took about fifteen minutes. I then sold some of the internal drawers and bins (to someone with the same model refrigerator that didn't have them) and put the "two halves" on Craigslist for free pickup (since no-one here needed any of the other parts). Since it worked fine I figured someone might want to tape it back together and use it for a cabin/beer fridge or something. The next day someone came with a truck and took it away (both halves :mrgreen: ).

One thing to check into if you want to keep it, is that you may be able to remove it, lay it on the couch, and put in an Amish cooling unit. That is a whole new (supposedly better made) "guts" that you can put on. The body of the refrigerator is basically just a shell --- all the important bits are in the rear (cooling unit). Since '88 is a decade older than mine, I can't say whether you can get it out into the hallway enough to wiggle it over to the living room and lay it down for surgery, but you can likely tell.

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PostPosted: January 14th, 2016, 5:06 pm 
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tdn2100 wrote:
FYI, my rig is a 1988 Chinook Concourse 18 plus. It has a Norcold 8663, 6.3 cubixc foot, 3-way fridge.


I was faced with the same situation... repair or replace? My final decision was to replace any/all appliances, primarily for safety if for no other reason. The side benefits will be an updated, more efficient, dependable appliance. Consider the fact your rig is over 25 years old. Just sayin'...

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PostPosted: January 15th, 2016, 11:11 am 
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Just to tack on a bit to what Hoosier is saying. In past years, an absorption fridge (runs on propane and electricity) was the only practical choice for any rig that wanted to be able to unplug and dry camp. There was no practical way to generate enough electricity for a household fridge. Solar panels were new/expensive. Marine refrigeration is analagous, except a propane unit is not practical (safety reasons - you can't just leave a propane flame running). For years they had engine driven units in bigger/more complicated boats, and the rest of use used iceboxes (i.e. a box and ice).

In more recent times, boats have more and more begun to use 12-volt compressor driven refrigerators, re-charging battery banks with solar, engine alternator, etc. This has now spread (to a lesser extent) to RV's and trucks. (Although there is a separate "path" that larger RV's are taking which is a domestic 110 refrigerator, a large inverter, and a generator/tons of solar panels -- that's probably not most people's Chinook style.)

So anyway, now a realistic option exists, for the right person/camping style: The 12-volt compressor refrigerator. Common brands are Vitrifrigo, Isotherm, Nova Kool, Dometic/Waeco, and Norcold. These are completely different than running an absorption refrigerator on electricity. An absorption refrigerator is efficient on its native propane, but horribly *inefficient* on either 12 volt or 110 electricity. A major, MAJOR power hog. Just to note the difference.

Is a 12-volt (they also can run on 110) compressor refrigerator right for you? That depends. I think it's something to consider though, when faced with a major repair or replacement (or just because you want to, as I did).

The 12-volt refrigerator will require a battery bank and charging system that can support it. One may choose (as I did) to go a bit smaller than the big 6.x cubic foot model. (I did this for two reasons: #1 was to get that hallway blocking gigantic thing OUT; #2 was to be able to run on a bit less power than a larger unit would take.) I think Chinook's "niche" was to build a Class C for people who had been traveling in Class A's, but now wanted a smaller, more nimble unit, but didn't want to "give up" any of the conveniences (generator, large refrigerator, microwave, stove, AND oven, etc. etc.). That obviously was a great niche, and suited many people perfectly (I thank them as this gave me a nice choice of used Chinooks when I was ready :D).

For me, it was 10# of flour in a 5# sack. I felt more cramped than I had in my camper van (2.5# sack)! I wanted a roomy, simpler 5# sack, so that's the direction I have headed. I mostly boondock, and hate generators, so that drove my choices.

Anyway, there are things a compressor refrigerator does better, and things an absorption refrigerator does better. The former suited me better. Reasons for me were as follows:

1) I can power a compressor refrigerator with the solar and battery bank I wanted anyway.

2) I didn't want to worry about fires, hydrogen, ammonia, etc. (not saying one has to worry, but I did. OTOH, I don't worry about a properly installed propane system, whereas others do, so it all depends on the individual).

3) I don't camp on any slant that would bother an absorption refrigerator, but I often PARK on one that would (trailhead, side of the road, etc.). I didn't want to think about that.

4) I wanted to eliminate the large, leak-prone vents (especially the lower one) that an absorption unit requires.

5) I wanted a smaller "box" so my entryway would be roomy.

6) Side bonus: A unit that will fit in and out the rear door, when/if necessary.

On the other hand, absorption units have their plusses too:

1) Almost silent operation.

2) Can be run while boondocking (without generator use) even if you don't have an "improved" solar/battery system.

3) Already there and large, if that's what you want.

I like to run "mock ups" when making big decisions, so for the past 9 months I've been running a portable Dometic/Waeco 50 liter "cooler shaped" compressor refrigerator (originally bought for different purpose, so was already available to me). Set up a portable 200 watt solar panel system, and attached it to my already upgraded battery bank/wiring scheme. My other electrical loads are relatively minor. The Dometic has the same Danfoss 35 BD compressor as the refrigerator I'll be putting in the Chinook (4.6 cu. ft. Vitrifrigo). While the Vitrifrigo is larger than the Dometic, it will also be insulated better, so I expect it to use a bit more power, but not orders of magnitude more. One thing I like about the 4.6-er is that I can have a "high counter" above it, which gives me a nice "set down/staging" area just inside the door and across from the bathroom, which gets lots of use. (If you don't have a generator box there, then a similar sized refrigerator could fit under a standard counter height.)

I haven't had any problem supplying power to the refrigerator plus all my other needs, and my battery bank is back up to 100% most days. When there have been cloudy spells for a day or two, I've maybe gone 1-2 days only getting back up to 8x%, but then back up to 100% on the next sunny day (AGM batteries like to get back to 100% frequently). This winter has been mostly sunny (5 of 7 days, say), but also I'm in a canyon where the sun "sets" just after 2 p.m. I've had the refrigerator set on 31º. I plan on adding 200 watts or so to the roof (I had planned on more, but this experiment showed me I don't think I will need that much - one reason I have been running the mock up.)

Anyway, everyone's needs and experiences will be different, but I thought I'd mention the option, just in case it fits with your use case.

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PostPosted: January 15th, 2016, 11:44 am 
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Ditto what Blue-Go said.
I'll be running a Vitrifrigo (AC/DC) as well, just a tad smaller than BG's. More the size of what you see in a PleasureWay or Roadtrek. It will allow for a standard height countertop running all the way from the dinette seat back to the rear closet. This eliminates the old Dometic footprint by ALOT, while increasing the "airiness" feeling in the hallway.

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PostPosted: January 15th, 2016, 5:23 pm 
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Location: 1999 Concourse
HoosierB wrote:
This eliminates the old Dometic footprint by ALOT, while increasing the "airiness" feeling in the hallway.


I can't believe how much more I like my Chinook with that refrigerator out! The entry hall is (relatively) wide and beckoning, and I feel much closer to the outdoors (before I used to joke that I had to make an appointment to traverse that hallway and get outside). Plus there is a place to set things I want to remember to take with me or just brought in, keys, or what-have-you. Or a "bathroom counter extension" right across the hall. It's amazing the difference it makes.

I also mocked up an option like Hoosier speaks of (one longer regular height counter in the stove + fridge spots), and I did like that too. I ultimately decided I liked the "two" counters of different heights (stove height stays around the same and refrigerator area counter is more bar height), but they were both an improvement (also the latter arrangement allowed a somewhat larger refrigerator/freezer). In both cases (and I believe in Hoosier's case too), the counter is "held back" to around the depth of the stove one vs. the original refrigerator projecting into the hallway by 5" or so as compared to the stove and closet (at least on '97 and newer Concourses).

To each their own though, of course. I have a friend who loves every cubic inch of the large refrigerator and wouldn't give it up.

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