When we wake up in Sidney, we discover ourselves surrounded by Prevost tour buses. The front bumper on one of the buses appears to be falling off and is propped up by a toolbox. The buses resemble the fancy rides driven by the helpful guys we met in Wisconsin two years ago. Those drivers helped us fix our coach airlines that got burned by hot tar. No Prevosts were parked in Sidney when we arrived so they must have pulled in during the wee hours before dawn. Since they were all buttoned up when we depart, their identities and the sagging bumper will remain a mystery.
Before we hit the road, I rummage in the fridge for the makings of a yogurt parfait. What I find is warm, lumpy yogurt. What?! After our last cooling disaster in Utah, we now keep a thermostat in the fridge to report anomalies to us. Right now that guage reads 60F. Guess we will be eating out until we get parked in Wisconsin and can toss the bad food. Thank goodness the beer and wine are OK!
We have researched solutions to our Norcold problem. Because the failures are intermittent and unpredictable, we hoped that the cooler would work long enough for us to decide what to do about it. Last year we were sure we wanted to replace it with a residential model. After talking with other RVers who made that switch, we became less sure of this option.
What To Do?
Residential units use a lot of amps of power. As a result, our house batteries will probably not be able to power a residential unit all night much less for several days boondocking. We received a suggestion that we turn off the fridge at night while parked without electric hookups, add ice to cool down our food overnight, then in the morning restart the fridge while running the engine or generator for power. I fear that I am not capable of successfully implementing a complicated process like that.
Other friends have replaced their RV fridge with a newer model of the existing unit. Since that option for us will cost about $5000 and does not add any cooling storage we are hoping to discover a less costly idea. Leave it to Stormy to so thoroughly search the internet that he finds a new option – Amish Cooling Unit replacements.
He learns that JC Refrigeration builds upgrade replacement cooling coil units for both Norcold and Dometic RV refrigerators. We read all their reviews on various forums and are impressed with this option. All this reading makes me realize that our current unit can be a ticking time bomb due to the materials used in its construction. Many websites warn of explosions caused by hydrogen gas leaks from the cooling coil units on a dual system fridge.
Our Options Summarized
|Remove old unit and replace with residential refridgerator||$5000 once Storm gets through adding inverter power and batteries||Lots more room inside. No more need to defrost. Modern look.||Can't boondock - no more free overnight stays in parking lots 🙁
Cabinets must be re-worked to fit larger model, windows removed to get the unit inside the RV.
|Install new Norcold unit replacement unit||$5000||Not sure there are any except it does have the shelves that keep the food in while traveling.||Still small inside. Still scary if you read the online reviews of how cheaply these units are constructed|
|Install new Amish Cooling unit on our existing fridge||$1500 (installed) - unit fits through RV Door and Storm can install himself if our old one dies before October||According to all the reviews that we read, finally we will have a RV freezer that stays cold enough to store ice cream. No more lost grocery $$ to overheated fridge. Better coil construction much less likely to explode!||Still the same small size inside, but hey, we need to eat less anyway!|
Unless we experience a total failure before October, we plan to stop on the way back east to have this work done. The folks at JC Refrigeration claim they can get the job done in 3 hours tops. The good reviews that they have collected back this claim up. Fingers crossed that we don’t lose another load of food or burst into flames before then. (Note: Storm assures me that all of the recall work to prevent an explosion has been done on our unit – I hope that is enough to save us!)
On the Road – Oh No!
With empty stomachs, we head east toward our next planned stop at the Cabela’s parking lot in Mitchell, SD. We can munch on PB&J sandwiches until we park. We know from past experience that there are plenty of restaurants within walking distance of that store. Just minutes after we join the light traffic on I-80, our second surprise of this journey startles me.
Like a cobra uncoiling from its basket to the sounds of exotic music, a lengthening crack slithers its way across my side of the windshield. Eyes bulging, I watch it grow several inches before my shriek alerts Storm to this development. As I make a frantic call to our insurance company, Storm keeps us rolling toward Wisconsin.
When we arrive there, we put the RV and ourselves in maintenance mode. We hope we can somehow get our planned repairs done before anything else goes wrong! Spoiler alert – not a chance in the world of that happening!
PS – if you have ideas, comments or suggestions about the best solution to our refrigerator problems please comment on this post. We would love to hear from you!