RM8551 Fridge Reinstall - Escape Trailer Owners Community
Journey with Confidence RV GPS App RV Trip Planner RV LIFE Campground Reviews RV Maintenance Take a Speed Test Free 7 Day Trial ×

Go Back   Escape Trailer Owners Community > Escape Tech > Modifications and Alterations
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 11-23-2021, 12:55 AM   #1
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Surrey, British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19'
Posts: 264
RM8551 Fridge Reinstall

This past October I removed and reinstalled my RM8551 fridge, making numerous changes to hopefully improve fridge performance in warm weather. I thought I would share my thoughts and experience with the forum. I certainly would not have attempted this project without having studied what all the previous posters have done. All of the changes I made were inspired by others who have posted their projects on the forum, and also those who have added comments and suggestions. My turn to repay the favour!

Edit: I apologize for the length of these posts. You can always just scroll past if you are not a fridge fanatic! Cheers.

I think like most Escape owners that have (or had) the RM8551 (4.3 cu ft) and RML8555 (6.7) fridges, I wasn’t always happy with cooling performance in warm weather. I think the most annoying feature is that once the fridge does warm up it takes so long to cool down again. When on propane, I am never sure if the problem is purely weather related, or if it is time to check and try to clean the propane burner.

I have read all the fridge discussions on the forum related to the RM8551 and larger RML8555, ever since the discussion of the ETI baffle back in 2014. I knew I had the ETI baffle in my factory build. I saw the many discussions of people removing their fridge to insulate and perform other performance mods, but was always afraid to try this for myself. I am not as handy (or as courageous) as the others who do extensive mods on their Escapes. This year, I read some of the new threads, and reviewed most of the old threads describing fridge mods. I decided that I should go for it.

My fridge is the original ETI factory install. It has the ETI baffle, one external (rear) fan which rarely comes on, and no insulation. Since it is a 4.3, I have the microwave cabinet above the fridge, no microwave but it is used as our pantry. We do notice quite a bit of heat in the cabinets above the fridge on warm days.

Here is a brief list of the mods I included in my project :
- Remove the ETI baffle and insulate between the baffle and fibreglass shell with reflectix and rigid foam (to help prevent heat buildup around the cooling fins)
- Build a chimney to vent the burner exhaust separately (to keep hot burner exhaust away from condenser fins and hopefully improve condenser heat venting)
- Insulate the cavity behind the fridge with reflectix (to keep heat generated by the fridge out of the trailer interior - especially away from the microwave cabinet)
- Insulate the inner cavity around fridge walls with rigid foam (to reduce warm ambient air from heating up the fridge)
- Install a new thermostat for the external fan that will switch the fan on more frequently (to help cool condenser fins)

I will add more specific comments and photos (hopefully) about each item in additional posts. Much has already been documented on this forum on this topic, both describing problems and fixes. I have tried to focus on what I did that was different from others who attempted similar fixes, and problems I bumped into.

After a few quick tests, I am confident my fridge will work better than it did before, but it will take some warm weather camping trips next year to confirm the results.
__________________
Kirk & Shelley
2014 19'
Surrey, Beautiful BC, Canada
KirkB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2021, 01:01 AM   #2
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Surrey, British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19'
Posts: 264
Fridge removal

General comments:
- I donít think I realized until after the fridge was out, that most of the insulation projects I had seen on the forum from were working on the larger 6.7 cu ft fridge. It is a long reach from the inner fridge cavity up towards the upper roof vent on the 4.3 fridge, so it was tougher working back there than I had anticipated. I wanted to avoid removing and reinstalling and sealing the upper vent. Besides, it was rainy for much of the time I was working on this project. So I did all the work while sitting in the fridge cavity.
- There was not enough room to use my caulking gun to caulk some corners behind the fridge. I got a smaller squeeze tube of sealer to replace a lot of the foam that I removed.

Fridge removal:
- Disconnecting the power and propane connections was straightforward.
- I built a stand to slide the fridge onto during the removal. This kept the fridge level and supported.
- Trim pieces - they are attached to the wall with very fine brads from a nailer. They pulled off fairly easily. I straightened the brads and was able to gently push the trim pieces back into place (or close enough) after the fridge was reinstalled.
- The fridge was quite tight fitting where the 2 upper screws hold it in place. When pushing on the fridge from the rear during removal, the front of the fridge lifted up rather than forward. I removed the eyebrow panel to avoid breaking it, and give me some leverage to push the fridge down before giving it another push from the rear. I could push on the upper part of the fridge while replacing it, that was easier than the removal.
Attached Thumbnails
IMG_2016.jpg   IMG_2018.jpg   IMG_2028.jpg  
__________________
Kirk & Shelley
2014 19'
Surrey, Beautiful BC, Canada
KirkB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2021, 01:10 AM   #3
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Surrey, British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19'
Posts: 264
Baffle insulation and replacement:

- I removed the original baffle, and cleaned up the glue as best as I could.
- For insulation, I used a layer of reflectix on the outside facing the shell, then filled the rest of the cavity with sheets of 1/2 inch Foamular.
- I read up on reflective insulation before starting, and found that it needs an air gap, so glued pieces of 1/2 inch rigid foam to the fibreglass shell before attaching the reflectix.
- I had to cut the new baffle panel into horizontal sections to get it into position. There is a rubber gasket at the rear of the fridge cavity which is narrower opening than the rear baffle wall. I unscrewed one side of the gasket to get some more space to get the new baffle into the rear of the fridge..
- I built and dry fitted my chimney to the baffle wall, then removed it before attaching the new baffle wall.

Photos prior to baffle reflectix install. I installed reflectix in the upper rear cavity before reinstalling the baffle to give me more room to reach the top of the rear cavity.
Attached Thumbnails
IMG_2023.jpg   IMG_2029.jpg   IMG_2032.jpg  
__________________
Kirk & Shelley
2014 19'
Surrey, Beautiful BC, Canada
KirkB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2021, 01:17 AM   #4
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Surrey, British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19'
Posts: 264
Chimney for burner exhaust:
- I studied Ron in BCís baffle and fins, but I have never done anything with sheet metal. I found 4 x 4 flashing (already bent) at Home Depot, and used it to make a chimney with 4 sides to direct burner exhaust up to the upper vent.
- The chimney has a cutout to fit over the condenser fins, so I also created a shield to help deflect exhaust from the T pipe up into the chimney, and hung it on the condenser fins.
- I designed the chimney to be built in pieces and screwed onto the new baffle wall, once the baffle is installed.
Attached Thumbnails
IMG_2037.jpg   IMG_2039.jpg   IMG_2040.jpg   IMG_2056.jpg   IMG_2057.jpg  

IMG_2042.jpg   IMG_2041.jpg   IMG_2058.jpg  
__________________
Kirk & Shelley
2014 19'
Surrey, Beautiful BC, Canada
KirkB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2021, 01:28 AM   #5
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Surrey, British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19'
Posts: 264
Insulation behind the fridge:
- My main objective was to keep the heat generated by the fridge away from the cabinets above the fridge. I decided I would insulate the other walls too. I am not totally convinced that insulation back here will improve venting.
- I glued reflectix to the walls with PL300. The caulking gun was awkward to use behind the fridge, so I applied the PL300 to a wall scraper and smeared it on the walls where needed. I did use some staples at the beginning, but the glue set up pretty quick, so was likely not needed.
- I used reflectix tape around edges and in corners. I found that the tape does not stick to the silicone corner caulking I used.

This photo is before the new baffle panel was installed. I wanted to finish the work up top while there was a bit more space.

I have always wondered if the curved wall behind the microwave affects the venting. My guess is that the wider channel at the top will cause the warm air to stall and collect up there. I wasn't going to worry about that since I had a rectangular chimney for burner exhaust.
Attached Thumbnails
IMG_2034.jpg  
__________________
Kirk & Shelley
2014 19'
Surrey, Beautiful BC, Canada
KirkB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2021, 01:34 AM   #6
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Surrey, British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19'
Posts: 264
Inner cavity insulation:
- I used 1/2 inch Foamular panels. I did not bother with reflectix here, we are keeping heat from the trailer away from the fridge, and not much room for an air gap.
- I got 3 1/2 inch panels on each side of the fridge - 1 1/2 inches on each side, and the same amount above the fridge. I also filled the area behind the microwave cabinet.
- I was able to friction fit panels (no glue) except for the first panel behind the microwave glued to the rear wall. The panels above the fridge rested on the side wall panels.
- I taped the panels to the framing to make it airtight.

The photos show the first 1/2 inch panel. I was able to add 2 more panels in front of the wooden panel.
Attached Thumbnails
IMG_2026.jpg   IMG_2027.jpg  
__________________
Kirk & Shelley
2014 19'
Surrey, Beautiful BC, Canada
KirkB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2021, 01:42 AM   #7
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2013
Location: Surrey, British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19'
Posts: 264
Fan temperature control:

- I disconnected the leads from the existing temperature switch. It did not come on often enough to be useful.
- I found and bought some 40 degree Celsius switches to replace the existing fan switch. I found a pack of 10.
- I wasn’t sure of the best place to mount the switch, so I just mounted 4 of them on the condenser fins, spread out from left to right. The right side is next to the burner. I wired up each of them so I could decide which one to permanently activate after trying them out. A wire from each switch along with a hot 12V wire runs down to the lower vent, along with the wire leading back to the fan. My theory is that the condenser will be hottest next to the right side at the burner end, and cooler at the other end. A switch at the right end may cause the fan to run too frequently, at the left end not often enough. I want the fridge to cool, but not get awakened in the middle of the night by a fan. I will find out which is best after a warm weather trip or two, then make a permanent connection. I hope I don’t need a manual switch to manage the fan on a daily basis in warm weather.
- In my limited cool weather testing with 2 of the switches, the fan will come on for a few minutes, then stop. This happened a few times before the fridge has reached the chill point. This makes me confident that the fan will keep the fins cool if it comes on when needed. Hopefully it only comes on during initial cool down, and after opening the door or adding something warm to get chilled when extra cooling is needed.
- My neighbour just got a new 21NE model Escape this fall. They called me over one day to ask me what that noise was coming from their fridge. It was the rear external fan that was coming on, even on a cool day ( < 20C/70F) when they were loading the fridge before camping. It shut off before we were finished chatting. So I know the new models need to run the fan, even in cool weather. Hopefully, I can replicate this on my fridge.

There, that's it. I wish I took some photos of the finished insulation, but was rushed on the last day to get things wrapped up.
Attached Thumbnails
IMG_2052 (1).jpg   IMG_2053 (1).jpg   IMG_2051.jpg  
__________________
Kirk & Shelley
2014 19'
Surrey, Beautiful BC, Canada
KirkB is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2021, 04:41 AM   #8
Senior Member
 
cpaharley2008's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Central, Pennsylvania
Trailer: Escape#5 2022 E19
Posts: 26,268
You have been busy.......
__________________
Jim
Sometime life gets in the way of living.......
cpaharley2008 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2021, 10:19 AM   #9
Senior Member
 
MyronL's Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2013
Location: ..., New Mexico
Trailer: 2013 Esc19/'14 Silvrado
Posts: 4,193
Very nice work.
__________________
Myron
"A billion here, a billion there...add it all up and before you know it you're talking real money." Everett Dirkson
MyronL is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2021, 10:41 AM   #10
Senior Member
 
Ron in BC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2014
Location: North Van., British Columbia
Trailer: 2014 Escape 19, sold; 2019 Escape 21, Sept. 2019
Posts: 8,937
Looks like the project has gone well. Nice work.

If you end up in a site that has the fridge wall facing the sun you can feel good about knowing that you've greatlly reduce the effect of the sun. And getting that hot exhaust up and out is good also.

Ron
Ron in BC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 11-23-2021, 01:18 PM   #11
Senior Member
 
fudge_brownie's Avatar
 
Join Date: Nov 2008
Location: Janesville, WI, Wisconsin
Trailer: Escape 19 (sold) Escape 21 2014
Posts: 1,891
Been there, got the T-shirt.

Nice job. Having done what you did, but three years ago, it is interesting to read how everyone has adapted the process to fit their skills. You adapted very well. Like you, I found Home Depot a source for sheet metal and fabricated a large duct along the fins on the fridge back. Picked up a rivet gun and learned a new skill.

My refrigerator is the RMD 8555, almost identical installation by Escape and the same mechanicals. After the three years the effort was worthwhile. Still waiting for a test above 95 degrees.

This still is a crappy refrigerator: fragile plastic shelves, weak hinges, prone to mustache board failure, frequent icing on cooling fins, a door latch system made in hell, problems at elevation, the list goes on. Recently the compressor fridge has made an appearance as an alternative to fit through the door. But make it work as long as possible.
__________________
Paul and Janet Braun
2003 Toyota 4Runner V8 now 2012 Toyota Sequoia V8
Escape 19' 2010 now 2014 Escape 21'
fudge_brownie is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




» Featured Campgrounds

Reviews provided by

Disclaimer:

This website is not affiliated with or endorsed by Escape Trailer Industries or any of its affiliates. This is an independent, unofficial site.


All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:38 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2024, vBulletin Solutions, Inc.
Copyright 2023 Social Knowledge, LLC All Rights Reserved.