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Old 02-15-2017, 01:33 PM   #1
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Refrigerator Mods

This might be the last major modification. It's been on the "to do" list since we purchased our '19 some three years ago. On one of our first trips, to the Oregon Coast, we traveled through the Rouge Valley where it was hot. We found the refrigerator could not keep up and was over heating. Since then we've found the 'fridge has trouble when the ambient temperature is over about 90F. That's not good since we end up in places like this a lot. We have an older Dometic RM2510 'fridge.

Our 2011 '19 has side venting. Some time ago there was a long discussion on this forum on improving dismal 'fridge performance. I think Escape modified it's molds for roof venting about this time which should help. I don't know what other changes they made, if anyone knows I am curious to find out. A few years ago Reace put together a workshop in Bandon about improving 'fridge performance. He suggested putting in a baffle box to better force convection air flow across the coils. I don't remember if there was a definitive fix identified from the forum discussions. Escape does now offer a refrigerator fan option. From prior trailers and this forum I have some idea on what can be done. I decided to do several things.

First, put in a Baffle Box behind the 'fridge to force flow though the 'fridge coils instead of behind them. Per the installation manual this is needed and the curve of the Escape makes for quite a gap to fill.

Second, insulate as possible around the 'fridge box. I thought there was dead space on the sides and top. Extra insulation can't help but improve performance. It will also close the top and sides from the back, keeping hot air from circulating around the 'fridge.

Third, add fans for forced circulation. I've heard this can really help.

Here we go.
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Old 02-15-2017, 01:36 PM   #2
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I pulled the refrigerator using a hydraulic lift table. It's hard to get more than one person at the 'fridge at a time and it is heavy for one person. The lift table made removal possible. I simply pivoted it and set it on the bed (after moving the mattress).

This is what the opening looks like without the 'fridge.


I pulled a little bit of the easily removed wall board from the side walls as seen above. This in anticipation of putting in 3/4” rigid foam insulation. After a lot of careful measuring I put in the framework for the baffle box. In this picture the rigid foam for the top and sides is cut and placed. Turns out there's 3/4” space on the sides and 1 3/4” on the top. That should help just by itself.


I decided to insulate the baffle box. Can't hurt. So I fixed the bottom box face in place and put in temporary top faces (coreplast) using expanding foam to insulate.


This was a marvelous idea. However, I found the expanding foam did not set-up. It seems to need air around it to set. Either I didn't wait long enough or it wasn't going to set. So, I pulled off the temporary faces and scraped out the half set foam. A nasty sticky job.


After squaring up the edges I pressed a chunk of 2” rigid foam in place. Then with a large knife and wood rasp formed it flat.


Finally installed the upper face. Note there is a cut out for the 120V 'fridge plug.


You can see the foam pressed into the side walls here. The baffle box fills about 2” of space at the bottom and maybe 1” at the top. It's a very tight fit to the back of the 'fridge when installed.
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Old 02-15-2017, 01:37 PM   #3
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The fans fit over the top vent of the 'fridge. I debated how much room to leave around the fans for better operation without the fans running. I finally opted for none. I think leaving room would allow air to circulate through the fan, out the top vent, back in the opening in the top vent, back through the fan. Not what we want, we want the fan to pull air from the lower vent. So I opted to cover the opening with fans. Turns out three 140mm fans fit well. I came up with 12v computer case fans from NewEgg. Put these into a wood/aluminum frame to fit behind the upper vent.




The top picture shows the side facing out. This allows fans to be changed without pulling the refrigerator. I also put in a baffle to smooth the flow into the fans.


The tab on the back side fits between the 'fridge box and the top insulation. The next picture shows where the fans fit and how the tab sits up against the top insulation.


It's hard to get a good picture from the outside since the trailer is in storage. Here's the best I can do, before the outside vent goes back on.


The combination of the baffle box, insulation and fans should improve performance a lot.
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Old 02-15-2017, 01:38 PM   #4
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The final part is a fan control. We boondock now and again so battery power is precious and to be conserved. I looked around the Internet and didn't find a straight fan control. Thought about putting one together using an Arduino but didn't want to be testing it on the road. Finally settled on an ARPrv controller. It's main function is to protect the 'fridge from overheating. I wasn't looking for this function but it also controls fan(s) using a temperature sensor on the 'fridge coils.

Our Dometic RM2510 is a manual model. Not manual enough to require matches but still requires action to start. For ours it has an automatic spark, but a button must be held to start the pilot light on propane. To use the ARP on our 'fridge required a “thermocouple interrupter” and added relay. This allow the ARP to disconnect the thermocouple circuit if it detects overheating. That cuts the propane flow and stops the overheating, but once cooled off the button mentioned above must be pushed to restart the 'fridge. I believe the thermocouple is inactive when using 120V power, so the ARP has no control. But this is just an added protection for emergency overheating. I think mainly if not level and using propane. So it shouldn't kick in unless there's an emergency, I can live with that.

The ARP could be wired to cut 12V control power to the 'fridge on overheating. This would give protection under 120V operation. However, using propane the little light would not flash telling you the pilot was off. I opted to have the light.

The fan control should work well. The temperature sensor on the coil works and the ARP has control of the fans. I did put in a switch to turn the fans on manually though, just because I'm paranoid. Here's the ARP installed in the outside 'fridge access door. Again hard to get a good picture because of the wall.


A bit of work but should help the 'fridge a lot. Won't know for sure till we find some warm weather though. I'll try to report back after that.

Thanks.
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Old 02-15-2017, 02:02 PM   #5
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Nice work Hugh and thanks for the pictures, helps a lot for others to see.....
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Old 02-15-2017, 02:27 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by currinh View Post
This might be the last major modification. It's been on the "to do" list since we purchased our '19 some three years ago. On one of our first trips, to the Oregon Coast, we traveled through the Rouge Valley where it was hot. We found the refrigerator could not keep up and was over heating. Since then we've found the 'fridge has trouble when the ambient temperature is over about 90F. That's not good since we end up in places like this a lot. We have an older Dometic RM2510 'fridge.

Our 2011 '19 has side venting. Some time ago there was a long discussion on this forum on improving dismal 'fridge performance. I think Escape modified it's molds for roof venting about this time which should help. I don't know what other changes they made, if anyone knows I am curious to find out. A few years ago Reace put together a workshop in Bandon about improving 'fridge performance. He suggested putting in a baffle box to better force convection air flow across the coils. I don't remember if there was a definitive fix identified from the forum discussions. Escape does now offer a refrigerator fan option. From prior trailers and this forum I have some idea on what can be done. I decided to do several things.

First, put in a Baffle Box behind the 'fridge to force flow though the 'fridge coils instead of behind them. Per the installation manual this is needed and the curve of the Escape makes for quite a gap to fill.

Second, insulate as possible around the 'fridge box. I thought there was dead space on the sides and top. Extra insulation can't help but improve performance. It will also close the top and sides from the back, keeping hot air from circulating around the 'fridge.

Third, add fans for forced circulation. I've heard this can really help.

Here we go.
Hi Currinh . What you have done should really improve your Refrigerator's performance . Back in the refrigerator mods fix , kind of what we all came up with . As for the baffle , Reace ending up saying it didn't improve much . We have the 4.3 with roof venting . After you read the installation recommendations from Dometic .you are right the spacing is too much behind the refrigerators . So as one improvement ,can't hurt . After 2 trips with summer temps over 100 and great performance now with our refrigerator . I believe the most important improvements are the insulation including top and bottom . Fans to push hot air up and out . That you can also control . Before I added my fan control's our fan never came on . We also have a little computer fan in refrigerator besides the 2 outside , which all I can control as needed. . I think there are so many variables in installations . Good work and I am sure you helped your situation . We run on 4 dots . Pat
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Old 02-15-2017, 02:33 PM   #7
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Tremendous job, Hugh. I think the biggest thing that popped out at me was that you had no insulation in the fridge enclosure. My understanding is they added insulation to the newer ones due to all the issues. My bet is that will make the biggest difference to your fridge performance. Can't wait to hear back on your field results.
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Old 02-15-2017, 04:13 PM   #8
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Super work. I agree with Greg, the biggest performance boost will probably be from insulating the enclosure.
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Old 02-17-2017, 09:50 AM   #9
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Hugh, you've done an incredible amount of work, well documented. Scary stuff for anyone buying an older 19, for sure. I too have pulled my fridge, added insulation, manual fan control, and narrowed the baffle. Feeling lucky my vent is on the roof.
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Old 02-18-2017, 09:08 AM   #10
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Loved this post. I am having issue with my RM2510 in our 19'. Looks like some great info and mods in the very near future.

Thanks for the documentation.
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