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Old 10-13-2017, 09:28 AM   #1
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Dealing With Refrigerator Failure

RMD 8555 Refrigerator Failure on Gas

Yes, it is true, these refrigerators can fail. We had a recent failure and I wanted to explain the process I went through in an effort to educate owners who may face the same issues. For starters, I do not want sympathy. We are past that stage in the process. As my wife, Janet, is fond of saying; “Let it go, Paul”. I have done as she instructed.

On October 1, we were preparing to leave the Mississippi River Rendezvous and as the last step in the process, unplugged from shore power. Normally the refrigerator would switch to gas and immediately continue the cooling process, not this time. Instead we received the audio and flashing red alarm indicating it was not happy on gas. After spending about an hour troubleshooting it was obvious that we were not going to solve the problem. We did find the refrigerator would work fine on shore power and 12 volt in that troubleshooting process. We switched to 12 volt and started our planned 8 hour drive. It became apparent after a couple of hours that the 12 volt was working, but not doing any cooling of the now warm refrigerator. A quick change in plans put us into a campground that night with shore power and the chance to cool down over night. For the next day of travel we planned ahead and made sure we would not have to open the refrigerator during the day of travel, we were successful in that, but the refrigerator was not successful in keeping things cold. We could monitor temperatures and see the interior warm up as the day progressed. So in our case, the 12 volt was very successful in running off the dual batteries and charging from the tow vehicle alternator, but not keeping things cold.

Sparing you all the details we did arrange for a mobile service company at our destination. Although we have now returned home after two weeks, the gas operation is still not working. We are still working with obtaining a final replacement board that “may” bring the gas back into operation. We are not certain but we think we have spent near the amount of a brand new RMD 8555 in the repair process. Here are some observations, many apply to the RMD 8555, but may also apply to other Dometic models.
  • Replacement parts are “over the top” expensive.
  • Many service centers, mobile repair centers etc. do not stock any parts and are subject to availability from Dometic. Typically delivery is 3-5 working days.
  • The main circuit board that was replaced had zero stock at Dometic, fortunately one in stock at a regional distributor.
  • The eye brow circuit board, that we are still awaiting, was not in stock anywhere. It is currently on order at Dometic, they will be “building” one for our purposes. ETA is three weeks.
  • In looking for a brand new refrigerator, the door opening on the classic Escape eliminated just about every model from Dometic and Norcold. The two alternatives I did find that would fit the door and the cavity were the Dometic 2620 and the Norcold N3150. Neither was a comparable in cu ft or features to the RMD. After our experience with towing on 12 volt power to the refrigerator, it is apparent why most of the recent offerings from Dometic and Norcold are two way, only working with gas or shore power. The three way models add a 12 volt capability that has limited value. I found that, if available, three way may cost $500 more.

In conclusion, we enjoy our Escape trailer and the travels that we have done. There are costs associated with such travel. Some can be predicted such as new tires, batteries, propane and brake adjustments. Others cannot be planned; here is an example of one of those. I like to keep a positive attitude and accept that this is a small price to pay for many benefits we have obtained in our Escape travels. But be aware that issues with your refrigerator may be a drain on your pocketbook and on your time.
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2003 Toyota 4Runner V8 now 2012 Toyota Sequoia V8
Escape 19' 2010 now 2014 Escape 21'
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Old 10-13-2017, 10:09 AM   #2
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Our RMD8555 has also failed to work on gas, same as yours. It seems to be an electrical issue. Mobile tech coming out next week. On our last camping trip, we kept the bottom bin filled with cubed ice, at least the fridge part remained cool. Oh sigh........
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Old 10-13-2017, 11:34 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by fudge_brownie View Post
[LIST][*]Replacement parts are “over the top” expensive. [*]Many service centers, mobile repair centers etc. do not stock any parts and are subject to availability from Dometic. Typically delivery is 3-5 working days.[*]The main circuit board that was replaced had zero stock at Dometic, fortunately one in stock at a regional distributor.[*]The eye brow circuit board, that we are still awaiting, was not in stock anywhere. It is currently on order at Dometic, they will be “building” one for our purposes. ETA is three weeks.
Paul, sorry to hear about your difficulties. Mechanical failures I accept, don't like them but they happen. However Dometic's parts availability is quite shocking. Hard to believe that a company that size couldn't have such basic and important parts "ready to go".

Good luck on getting it going again.

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Old 10-13-2017, 12:44 PM   #4
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This is terrible. I really appreciated Reace's success in getting replacement fridges for a bunch of us, but it sounds like we shouldn't be too confident in timely or affordable Dometic support in the future . This has me thinking about enlarging the rear window to see if a different fridge would fit through there, same as Casita does. Easy to consider, sitting here in front of the computer.
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Old 10-13-2017, 12:51 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by Parker View Post
This is terrible. I really appreciated Reace's success in getting replacement fridges for a bunch of us, but it sounds like we shouldn't be too confident in timely or affordable Dometic support in the future . This has me thinking about enlarging the rear window to see if a different fridge would fit through there, same as Casita does. Easy to consider, sitting here in front of the computer.
If it helps, both Steve (FishTaco) and I got a much larger electric fridge in through the standard Classic curved door. Steve did so on a 19' and I in a 21'.
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Old 10-13-2017, 01:24 PM   #6
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If it helps, both Steve (FishTaco) and I got a much larger electric fridge in through the standard Classic curved door. Steve did so on a 19' and I in a 21'.
Absorption fridges?
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Old 10-13-2017, 01:26 PM   #7
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Please update what they charge for making that upper board some day. Others can make sure their local RV service center is in a ballpark. Makes me wonder what economics are behind not making spare parts. Once you get your new fridge working, I hope parts will be there for your investment in the event of any failure. Appreciate you taking the time to type up and share your info here. My friends have me going for a 12V 2.5Amp draw www.engelcoolers.com and Ditch the Dometic

Rv.net forum has a lot of info on the Amish retrofit system

News bit....

"Dometic produced 18,069 refrigerators for use in RVs and other mobile applications at the Industrial Parkway facility in Elkhart during the month of June, setting a record of units produced in a month."
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Old 10-13-2017, 01:27 PM   #8
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We had a friend switch to an Amish retrofit system after having many issues with his Dometic and realizing the retro unit was not much more than the Dometic parts. I note you live in WI and the folks he used, jc-refrigeration.com, are in IN so it might be reasonable for you to get there. He was able to schedule his unit for the work and was in and out in a few hours. He says they have never had another problem regardless of being in Southwest heat or the heat and humidity of the Southeast. I should note this is a retrofit of the cooling system only and uses the Dometic box.

There are probably other Amish retrofit companies to look at too as the Amish depend on gas refrigerators. I have found the Amish tend to do quality do-it-right and do-it-once work.

If anyone is familiar with Amish retro units please let us know your experience.
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Old 10-13-2017, 01:39 PM   #9
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Absorption fridges?
No 12v electric for Steve and I.

Point being that despite hearing about the limitations of the 22" wide door entry, perseverance paid off and could likely be just as successful getting another manufacturers absorption unit in as a replacement instead of going through rear window.

Just a thought.
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Old 10-13-2017, 02:10 PM   #10
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No 12v electric for Steve and I.

Point being that despite hearing about the limitations of the 22" wide door entry, perseverance paid off and could likely be just as successful getting another manufacturers absorption unit in as a replacement instead of going through rear window.

Just a thought.
And a good thought it is! I thought you were probably referring to compressor fridges. We have only the 90-95 watt solar panel installed in 2013 and like to boondock, so that makes power management a problem. It's good to have that option at least, if we want to do some upgrading.
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