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Old 06-04-2022, 09:50 PM   #1
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Collection of info about replacing the SDS2 stove with a Dometic D21

We just picked up our pre-owned 21NE in a private sale last weekend, and planning to go on a Tetons/Yellowstone/Glacier trip later this week. I’m learning a lot about the issues with the Suburban SDS2, and it has me convinced that of two things:
1) “Repairing” our current stove is not safe enough for continued use. Tightening nuts, adding star washers/loctite, inspecting broken aluminum fuel tubes, etc.
2) Replacing a defective SDS2 stove with another one but with steel fuel tubes is not enough.

There is so much info out there I thought I’d share what I’ve learned, in case others find it useful.

It doesn’t take much effort to find the threads about these stoves exploding and leaking gas, here’s two though:

https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...top-20509.html

https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...top-16249.html

Some other users have offered help to try to prevent similar issues, something I was planning to do:

https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...eak-20744.html

https://www.escapeforum.org/forums/f...ers-20683.html

A lot of what’s written in those threads and others have lots of complaints about Escape’s lack of transparency on the subject, and it doesn’t seem that they’ve contacted any owners yet. This seems, ummm, really crappy.

ETI put out a video a few months ago about replacement options for the SDS2 without mentioning why they are making a change:

https://youtu.be/DFMsI9qYdlw

You’d think they’d say something about them, oh, blowing up and injuring Escape owners.

Searching for a recall on the stove lead me to the following recently released items:

https://www.consumeraffairs.com/reca...ps-052622.html

https://static.nhtsa.gov/odi/rcl/202...2E035-4999.PDF

What I found interesting in these documents (maybe well known to you all already):
1. The NHTSA form states this is an issue with all Suburban SDS2 stoves (“Estimated percentage with defect: 100%”)
2. It’s an issue only with Escape Trailers
3. Someone (Suburban?) in that Consumer Affairs article is blaming Escape for this, saying the cause is “due to incorrect cooktop installation in the recreational vehicles.” Seems like a bold statement since the actual defect is a poor material choice for the tubes (aluminum vs steel).
4. Suburban will replace stoves with the same stove but with steel tubes, including reimbursing those that have already done this.
5. Planned dealer and owner notification isn’t until June 28.
6. There’s also a 2 year chronology in that NHTSA form that is frustrating to read, especially the part about Escape requesting more time to continue their internal review.

So I’m guessing there are a lot lawyers involved and that’s why Escape has been silent about it, which I think is ridiculous.

I’m not convinced the tubing material change is enough, if that’s all that’s being changed in the new model # 3332AST. There are the other known issues associated with loosening nuts on the valve stems, the housing or knobs melting if you use pans too large, etc.

That same YouTube video from Escape above says you can purchase their new standard 2 burner stove, the Dometic D21, from them for under USD $200. The cutout in the countertop is exactly the same, you just have to trim out the angled interior corners with a jigsaw. I can do that easily enough. I also saw that my 21NE has a flexible rubber propane hose going to the SDS2, so I’m hoping it’s easy enough to re-route to the new inlet on the D21. At that price, I doubt Escape is profiting off this. I’m also curious if what they are selling comes with the glass top, which I’ve seen listed for about $50-$60.

Since I have a trip coming up this week, I’d like to have this fixed before we go, and I’m getting my D21 off Amazon for $300. The $100 price difference from Escape is worth having it fixed sooner rather than later.

DOMETIC 9600014658 (50216G) Drop-in Two-Burner 12V Cooktop with Cast Iron Grate - Stainless Steel, Propane https://www.amazon.com/dp/B085WB8GPZ...ing=UTF8&psc=1

Nothing in that Amazon link says D21, but when I search for “9600014658 (50216G)” the first result is Dometic’s website for the D21-SEC. And I think the “G” after 50216 is for a glass cover. Amazon has an easy return process, so this seems low risk.

It should come on Monday, in time for a departure on Thursday. I’ll post some updates, including the install and what my SDS2 looks like when I take it out. Without taking out the old stove, I have noticed that the valve stems have different amounts of thread showing, so I’m pretty certain that I’ll have some issues. I’m resolved to replace it no matter what, though.
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Old 06-05-2022, 12:12 AM   #2
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Comparing SDS2 to D21

Here is a comparison of the two stoves in question:

SDS2

Length: 369 mm (14.531 in)
Width: 478 mm (18.813 in)
Height: 88 mm (3.448 in)

Cutout length: 358 mm (14.094 in)*
Cutout width: 466 mm (18.346 in)*
*Note: the cutout shape is not a perfect rectangle, and internal corners are beveled. See attached image.

Burner 1: 5,800 BTU
Burner 2: 5,800 BTU

Manual: https://www.dyersonline.com/amfile/file/download/file/3059/product/15445/

Dometic D21

Length: 372 mm (14.625 in)
Width: 467 mm (18.375 in)
Height: 103 mm (4.063 in)

Cutout length: 343 mm (13.504 in)
Cutout width: 454 mm (17.874 in)
Cutout height: 102 mm (4.016 in)

Burner 1: 7,200 BTU
Burner 2: 5,200 BTU

Manual: https://epi.dometic.com/externalassets/dometic-d21-drop-in-cooktop_9108917581_71289.pdf

I plan on just cutting out the corners like Escape shows in this video: https://youtu.be/DFMsI9qYdlw

I’ll see if I need some filler pieces (like the mention) since the SDS2’s cutout is just slightly larger than what’s needed for the D21.
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Old 06-05-2022, 05:32 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rainyescape View Post
We just picked up our pre-owned 21NE in a private sale last weekend, and planning to go on a Tetons/Yellowstone/Glacier trip later this week. I’m learning a lot about the issues with the Suburban SDS2, and it has me convinced that of two things:
1) “Repairing” our current stove is not safe enough for continued use. Tightening nuts, adding star washers/loctite, inspecting broken aluminum fuel tubes, etc.
2) Replacing a defective SDS2 stove with another one but with steel fuel tubes is not enough. . .
I'm curious about your second conclusion. Why are you rejecting the replacement SDS2-steel tube option?

I'm also curious why the NHTSA has concluded that (a) the SDS2 problem is peculiar to ETI's RVs. The installation of the cooktops would seem straightforward. Is there something about the placement of the cooktops in ETI trailers that causes excessive travel vibration, which owners do not encounter in other RVs? E.g. would using real wood frames for the galley counter transmit more road shock to the cooktop than the materials used in lower-quality RVs?

At this point we are pursuing the recall option: we have found an RV service center that will order a replacement from Suburban and install it for us. As I mentioned in the other thread, Suburban says they will not pay for installation labor. I think Escape should—but will they?
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Old 06-05-2022, 08:35 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by MrLynn View Post
I'm curious about your second conclusion. Why are you rejecting the replacement SDS2-steel tube option?
It seems like there have been other issues with the SDS2s that likely won’t be fixed, like the loose nuts on the valve stems. I’m also curious if the fitting/bushing at the end of the tube that goes in the burner will be redesigned, since that’s where a lot of the failures were occurring. A simple material change likely won’t change how the tubes are experiencing these vibration loads. You’d need a wholesale redesign of how the tubes are supported at both ends (or additional supports in between). Material change will get you higher allowable loads, but fatigue stress can be really damaging to even high strength materials. And the steel tubes are likely heavier than the aluminum ones, and even with higher allowable stress levels, higher mass could result in higher stress too. It might not be solving anything…

I just don’t trust the overall design and Suburbans poor craftsmanship, so I’d rather pick something that seems better built. I think the Dickenson marine stove is likely a better built stove than the Dometic, but the Dometic seems easier to install and procure quickly. I also don’t want to deal with the hassle associated with the recall!

To go the other way, I also don’t think you’d be wrong to take the replacement. It might be fine! But I also think you’d be smart to keep an eye on it, and make sure some of these other issues are not causing other problems again. The “fix” associated with the loosened valve stem nuts (adding a lock washer, loctite, etc) might still be needed on your new SDS2 stove.

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrLynn View Post
I'm also curious why the NHTSA has concluded that (a) the SDS2 problem is peculiar to ETI's RVs. The installation of the cooktops would seem straightforward. Is there something about the placement of the cooktops in ETI trailers that causes excessive travel vibration, which owners do not encounter in other RVs? E.g. would using real wood frames for the galley counter transmit more road shock to the cooktop than the materials used in lower-quality RVs?
I agree that it’s a very interesting conclusion. I assume Suburban has made more than the ~600 of them quoted in that form, and that other RV manufacturers have used them too. My searches found other forums that link back to this forum, so I’d bet they are in other RVs and have the same issues.

From what I’ve read, Escape’s RV’s handle road vibrations very well, which was one of the reasons we pursued getting one. I’d imagine this problem with the stove only gets worse in stick built trailers. Our Lance had issues with the stove, and I found valve stem nuts loose on it too.

I could see how a well built, stiff counter could transmit higher frequency loads into the stove, with frequency content that couples with the aluminum tubing, making it unique to Escape, but it seems to be happening in every model of Escape. You’d think things would be different enough at least in the 5th wheels.

I bet they recall all of them eventually, and maybe the Escape-only recall is just the opening countermeasure for the first batch of new stoves they produce.

Good luck on getting Escape to pay for the labor. They should, I think, but it doesn’t quite seem fair that they’d have to. This seems like a Suburban-only design flaw to me.
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Old 06-05-2022, 09:27 AM   #5
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Great Info Update!

Thanks for compiling all this info on the stove problem for us rainyescape.
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Old 06-06-2022, 11:47 PM   #6
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SDS2 Removal

I removed and replaced my SDS2 stove today. This first post I’ll mention a few things and add some pictures about the removal. A second, later post will be about the D21 install.

The SDS2 was very easy to remove. First I turned off the propane at the tanks, then detached the propane hose from the stove’s elbow (which is attached to the stove’s small regulator). I then loosened the screws in the corners of the stove, and had to hold the black knobs underneath while unscrewing until they were able to turn 90 degrees. This freed the stove.

I lifted it out, but only enough to tilt it up and lean it up against the galley back splash. It was then very easy to get at the 12 volt wires. It was at this point I realized I should cut the power, and I found the second from the top 15A fuse in the WFCO power distribution box (labeled “lights”) went to the stove sparker.

My cutout was 18-3/8” x 14-1/8” plus the oddly shaped corners.

Inspecting my stove before removing, I could tell something weird was going on with one of the knobs’ valve stems since it protruded a lot more than the other. See image below. After removing the stove, that entire line to the burner was very loose. This is one of the reasons I don’t trust the “just replace the aluminum tubes with steel ones” design fix - I think this is fundamentally a poorly designed stove in multiple areas. Perhaps loctite and star washers are enough, but I’d make sure to do that even with the new model before installing.
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Old 06-07-2022, 12:46 AM   #7
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D21 Install

If you missed it above, the D21 requires the corners of the counter to be cutout when replacing the SDS2. At first I thought about using the Escape video’s method (https://youtu.be/DFMsI9qYdlw) for trimming the corners out: just using painters tape as a straight edge to continue the straight sides of the existing cutout. But I decided that I’d rather have my corners be at the actual dimensions called out in the manual, 17.875” x 13.75”. So I moved my painters tape in about 1/8” on all edges to get the dimensions to match the manual exactly. In hindsight, I’m glad I did this, as the eventual install was snug and didn’t allow for any rattling. I used a battery powered router because I was worried a jigsaw might chip the Formica countertop. Lots of sawdust, which went everywhere in that small space.

I unpacked the new stove and looked it over, it seems to be good (but not great) quality, much better than the Suburban. The fuel lines to the burners are larger but (like the Suburban) without any supports midway along the line. But the knobs, valves, regulator, and everything else about it feels sturdy. I set the stove down into the cutout to make sure the propane line and 12V wires were routed okay. The flexible propane line in my new-ish 2021 21NE had enough slack to route to the new inlet at the rear of the stove, and the flared elbow fitting coming off the D21’s regulator was the same as the SDS2’s (in fact, the regulator is the exact same too).

I quickly realized though that the 12V hookups for the igniter were going to be a problem. The screws for the wire terminals are in a super tight spot - only enough room to get a small screwdriver in and turn with your fingers. Perhaps they expect you to take the bottom off the stove? Seemed like more of a hassle than I wanted to deal with. But getting the wires hooked up with that bottom cover on was quite a hassle too. I wound up setting the stove sideways in the cutout to make the wire connections and leaning over it from the side to carefully take the screws out and install the wires.

Before installing the stove fully, I plugged my fuse back in and tested the igniter. I then inserted the little corner metal brackets that just rest in the corners of the cutout (not sure what their purpose is) and inserted the stove. With those brackets in place, and the dimensions I used for trimming the corners, it is a solid, snug fit. Felt good!

Until I realized that the existing cutout dimensions side to side are basically the exact dimension between the two screw holes… Installing the short screws that came with the stove would not work, they’d just pull off the edge of the counter. See picture below showing the edge of the counter in the stove flange’s hole.

So I cut some small 1x3 boards, tacked them into place under the countertop where these 2 installation screws would go using a Brad nailer, then added some 1.5” screws to screw the new boards into the counter plywood. I made sure those boards were up against the body of the stove to make this an even more snug, secure fit, but there isn’t a lot of room there, and these new boards are likely at the lower tolerance limit for the required cutout dimensions. I carefully drilled holes through the hole in the stove flange into the edge of the counter and down into this new board. Then I found some longer screws that matched the ones that came with the stove and installed them down through the counter and into this new board I added (making sure to install the nylon washers that came with the stove’s screws). That explanation about these new boards might be tricky to follow, hopefully the pictures below help…

Anyway, I think that all worked okay, and is just to say that the install was not quite as straightforward as I had hoped. All in all it took about 2.5 hours to install, which is not horrible. I’d be curious what an RV shop would do about the holes lining up with the edge of the counter.

Turned on the propane, and after bleeding the air out of the lines (and some weird issues with the tank switch/regulator), everything lights and appears to be working great! The large burner puts out a lot of heat, so I’m excited to try it.

For what it’s worth, I know people are worried about the 4500 ft elevation limit with this stove. I live at 5,100 ft and it was working just fine. I also camp often at higher elevations. I don’t know why Dometic thinks elevation would be a concern, and these stoves are in plenty of other RV’s, so I’d think there’d be a stronger concern out in the community for their viability. Nothing in the manual about elevation limits. I was trying to figure out just what about it would change at elevation, and I’m curious if there is something about the regulator that depends on an exterior atmospheric pressure to ensure a proper downstream pressure. If so, this stove has the exact same regulator as the SDS2’s. Perhaps it’s a thermocouple issue, but I’m not sure how elevation/air pressure would change how that works.

Also, I plan on using a 10” pan… (gasp!) Again, nothing in the manual about pan size limitations, and it certainly seems like it would fit okay on the bigger left burner. I think those stickers that folks have been seeing on their ETI installed D21’s are leftovers from the SDS2’s, a sticker only ETI puts on because of the melting knob issue.

I took more photos than this, so if anyone has more questions or wants more photos, let me know!
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Old 06-07-2022, 07:24 AM   #8
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Excellent detailed write up n custom instal. Looks great
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Old 06-07-2022, 08:05 AM   #9
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I have a hypothesis about why it is just Escapes. If you read the SDS2 installation info it is supposed to be installed into a closed cabinet. What has happened in the Escapes is that the leaky tubes allowed propane to leak through the NOT-closed cabinet down into spaces below, and then instead of someone smelling propane, or the detector beeping, they lit the stove and had an explosion of the collected propane. It could be that it only happened when the heat shield came loose but the heat shield was barely attached and certainly wasn't leak-proof.

We've heard from one person that his replacement with the stainless tubes was still loose at the controls but the fix should be okay if the tube doesn't break so easily so the replacement might be a good option provided you also do the old fix.
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Old 06-07-2022, 08:19 AM   #10
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I'm going to go out and inspect mine today and report back later.
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Old 06-07-2022, 08:24 AM   #11
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I have a hypothesis about why it is just Escapes. If you read the SDS2 installation info it is supposed to be installed into a closed cabinet. What has happened in the Escapes is that the leaky tubes allowed propane to leak through the NOT-closed cabinet down into spaces below, and then instead of someone smelling propane, or the detector beeping, they lit the stove and had an explosion of the collected propane. It could be that it only happened when the heat shield came loose but the heat shield was barely attached and certainly wasn't leak-proof.
That’s a pretty good hypothesis. Escape’s cabinets, at least to me, seem pretty different than most trailers. I would think that you’d want a leaky cabinet, though, and one that is porous enough to let leaked propane to the detector. Having it all contained inside - either a single cabinet or an entire set of cabinets - seems bad no matter what. I’m not sure what Suburban’s definition of a “enclosed” cabinet is, since what is present in our Escapes should still be considered an enclosed cabinet to me, so I still don’t see how ETI did anything wrong with the install. It’s just a crap design!

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Originally Posted by Bobbie54 View Post
We've heard from one person that his replacement with the stainless tubes was still loose at the controls but the fix should be okay if the tube doesn't break so easily so the replacement might be a good option provided you also do the old fix.
That’s a shame that they didn’t fix the loosening valve stems in the new design. You are right, though, it should be okay if you also do the fix. Seems like something you’d want to do before you install right out of the box, and then keep an eye on for the rest of its life. I gotta say, though, that the D21 is overall a better built stove, and the extra $200 or $300 is worth it to me, especially just eliminating the anxiety associated with all these issues with the old stove.
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Old 06-07-2022, 09:21 AM   #12
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You might want to read THIS THREAD on the issues an Escape owner had with a D21 which turned out to be a design problem, the stove is not designed to be operated at "higher altitudes"

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Old 06-07-2022, 12:48 PM   #13
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Thanks for the info.

I was also going to cut the corners so the stove was centred in the opening as well…why not.

I was also thinking that I might use theses wall anchors I have if there was insignificant wood to screw into. As pictured below.

Our model 19 built in 2018 has cooper tubing running to the stove so the install will not be that simple.

As many have read…and I will use your picture…it is a simple assembly line problem where the black beauty cup was placed between the nut and the stove which resulted in the worker not being able to tighten the nut with a tool as there is no room. This results in a loose nut that can spin on the slippery black beauty cup. As you can see in your picture the left side is loose…soon to be followed by the right side.

Theses loose nuts allow the entire valve assembly it move up and down on every bump, hanging on the thin aluminum tubes. Of course the tubes being aluminum or even steal are not made to do this.

Make sure your new replacement stove has the black beauty cups over the nuts and not under.

I explained all this, with pictures to Escape one year ago as you can see on my photo time stamp…June 9th 2021. You are also right that Escape has not said a word on the subject in all of their propaganda. I have no faith in them pointing out future problems with their trailers in a timely manner. In fact if it was not for this forum I doubt we would be to this point of a recall.

Explaining this over and over again is the only thing we can do to get the word out to new people to the forum. If it saves a couple of kids that are standing by the counter from having their faces burnt off in an explosion, then it is worth it.
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Old 06-07-2022, 04:11 PM   #14
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I used wall anchors on my D21 replacement. It worked well. Click image for larger version

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Old 06-07-2022, 04:27 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by rainyescape View Post
That’s a pretty good hypothesis. Escape’s cabinets, at least to me, seem pretty different than most trailers. I would think that you’d want a leaky cabinet, though, and one that is porous enough to let leaked propane to the detector. Having it all contained inside - either a single cabinet or an entire set of cabinets - seems bad no matter what. I’m not sure what Suburban’s definition of a “enclosed” cabinet is, since what is present in our Escapes should still be considered an enclosed cabinet to me, so I still don’t see how ETI did anything wrong with the install. It’s just a crap design!
They say it should not be installed above another cabinet with air flow. I know there is airflow because I can look up from inside the cabinet and see light. (Can't recall the exact wording but it is easy to find.) Now, if that cabinet under it had the detector- no problems. But it's closed to the outside, propane sinks down into it, and kablooie.


Quote:
That’s a shame that they didn’t fix the loosening valve stems in the new design. You are right, though, it should be okay if you also do the fix. Seems like something you’d want to do before you install right out of the box, and then keep an eye on for the rest of its life. I gotta say, though, that the D21 is overall a better built stove, and the extra $200 or $300 is worth it to me, especially just eliminating the anxiety associated with all these issues with the old stove.
it may not be extra if I have to pay to have the Suburban replacement installed and can install the Dometic (myself ) or have my neighbor who has offered do it. But it sounds like to do that I have to buy the new one before I get the recall notice- so running out of time!
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Old 06-07-2022, 04:32 PM   #16
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Link to install info: warning is in a black box.

http://trekin.digital-digs.net/Share...%20SD2-SD3.pdf

So that may not be it although in the 17b the heater is right there. I don't think that's true in all models.
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Old 06-07-2022, 05:04 PM   #17
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Escape Will Pay for Installation of Replacement SDS2 Cooktop

I just received this email from Dustin at Escape Parts and Service, in response to my query about reimbursement for SDS2 cooktop replacement installation:

Quote:

We appreciate your patience as our management team discussed the reimbursement, though this is a recall and should be covered under the manufacturer Airxcel, Escape is going to provide up to $120 CAD or $100 USD towards the installation of the replacement cooktop, keep your receipt and submit it for a reimbursement.

Please get back to me at your earliest convenience.
I think this is fair, and a reasonable response. —LEJ
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Old 06-07-2022, 05:22 PM   #18
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Originally Posted by JStelly View Post
I used wall anchors on my D21 replacement. It worked well. Attachment 63130
Great thanks.

The reimbursement sounds good as well.
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Old 06-07-2022, 06:01 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by rainyescape View Post
It’s an issue only with Escape Trailers. Someone (Suburban?) in that Consumer Affairs article is blaming Escape for this, saying the cause is “due to incorrect cooktop installation in the recreational vehicles.” Seems like a bold statement since the actual defect is a poor material choice for the tubes (aluminum vs steel).
I agree, I don't think anyone here believe that the problem was caused by the way Escape installed the stove. It is a defective stove design, due to the selection of aluminum for the tubing leading to the burner.

The only reason the issue has only been reported in Escape trailers, is Suburban, basically makes it next to impossible to report the issue. You can't just report the issue to Suburban. You have to wait months for one of their 'Authorized Service Centers' to look at it. Only then will Suburban even log that the stove had a problem.

I'm fairly confident, like most Escape owners did initially, those owners of other trailers who had issues, simply dealt with the problem themselves, and Suburban of course has no record of other trailers where the stove was installed having an issue.
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Old 06-07-2022, 06:18 PM   #20
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Originally Posted by CharlesinGA View Post
You might want to read THIS THREAD on the issues an Escape owner had with a D21 which turned out to be a design problem, the stove is not designed to be operated at "higher altitudes"
From the OP of the thread: Remarkable. All this time to find that it is a defective part! As it had to be, given that the 4500 feet stuff was pure BS!
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