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clarkey1984

1990 abbey Electrolux fridge failing???

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Hi all, the trusty cooling device in our old abbey appears to have died, I have searched for a model number on it but all it says on the front is Electrolux, it's your standard fit 240v/12v/gas unit circa 1990.

 

when we arrived at site on Saturday morning it did seem mighty slow to begin cooling, despite being plugged into ehu at home and icy cold before we left, however, it did begin to cool eventually, but  even with it turned up to the highest setting it just wasn't getting anywhere near as cold as it usually does, although the freezer compartment did initially ice up as you'd expect.

 

But I have just opened it to grab a nice cold can of abbot ale to find a tepid can of Greene kings finest and a pool of water in the bottom of the fridge where the aforementioned ice has begun it's transformation back to a liquid, nothing in the fridge is even remotely cold now.

 

We usually run it off the 240 supply, as despite it having a 12v option the battery powered side of it hasn't ever worked so far as I can remember, I have however run it off the gas before on occasion, so thought I'd switch to that just to see if I could get any life out of it, but with a half full bottle of gas and using a hob ring to ascertain that the gas supply is indeed good, no amount of frantic clicking of the sparky thing and holding in the gas dial (which I swear is how you light it?) Has done anything other than just a spark, she won't light.

 

The only possible thing I can attribute to this is the fact that the fridge is very very full, and I mean really ram jammed, there are 5 adults and my 5 year old (we also have a tent) so lots of things to keep cold, does a full fridge struggle more than a less full one? As we did add a few more bits to it from the supermarket about 4 hours ago.

 

I sleep in this van at home on occasion when I've got a 4am start so as not to wake the whole house up with an 0330 alarm, and with the fridge on half it usually has the ability to freeze my Muller fruit corners that I have 3 of for breakfast overnight, so not even a peep out of it is quite concerning.

 

Any advice as to what I can do, my first port of call will probably be empty it completely once we get home and then see if I can get any coolness out of it.

 

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Posted (edited)

A very full fridge will not work as well , if at all. There must be space around the items to allow circulation.

Secondly, when was the fridge serviced last? if not then get it serviced by  a mobile engineer.

At the age of your fridge I would expect to have to replace the burner assembly as it is probably very rusty, and the flue is probably blocked and the "spinner" in the flue may have dropped onto the burner, in which case it will never light on gas.

Also it is essential that he van is level, not almost, but level in both directions.

Edited by Brecon

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It's within 1.5 degrees side to side and bang on front to back, I've tried to get it perfect side to side but the pitch is sloped so no way of doing it, as once the legs on the low side are down there's no way of lowering the high side, short of letting the tyre down anyway, although I guess I could jack the low side up with the trolley jack I carry and wedge something under the wheel.

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8 hours ago, clarkey1984 said:

It's within 1.5 degrees side to side and bang on front to back, I've tried to get it perfect side to side but the pitch is sloped so no way of doing it, as once the legs on the low side are down there's no way of lowering the high side, short of letting the tyre down anyway, although I guess I could jack the low side up with the trolley jack I carry and wedge something under the wheel.

Levelling side to side is usually achieved with blocks or ramps under a wheel, but 1.5degrees should be near enough.

Anyway, a common problem with these old fridges is a partially blocked jet.

Any competent caravan mechanic can sort it for you. Can also be a DIY job (I will probably get lynched by the H&S brigade for pointing this out!).

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Electrolux fridges do not operate on 12v caravan battery power, so no surprise that it has never worked.

 

They should operate when towing if there is dedicated 12v feed from the towing vehicle battery but in my experience is rarely completely successful and would probably allow the contents to thaw. 

 

The high ambient temperatures currently being experienced and the inability to operate on gas may be other reasons for the problem.

 

When I had elderly Electrolux 3 way fridge in caravans I was able to light the jet, through a sight hole if I remember correctly, with a lit wax taper if the flint sparking gadget failed to light the jet.

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Sounds like the fridge needs a service by removing it and the gas jet cleaned and the 12v and 240v elements replaced .

 

 

Dave

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Got home today and on opening the door of the caravan I was nearly knocked over by the very overpowering smell of ammonia, smelt like the old hair dye you used to be able to get, and we all know what that means, fair to say the fridge is goosed then.

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25 minutes ago, clarkey1984 said:

Got home today and on opening the door of the caravan I was nearly knocked over by the very overpowering smell of ammonia, smelt like the old hair dye you used to be able to get, and we all know what that means, fair to say the fridge is goosed then.

Yes!

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I think my best option, owing to the fact we practically never use the gas side of the fridge, is to get my mate who's registered gas Safe to come and de plumb all the gas related side of it and replace it with a regular small household fridge, I don't want to spend a lot because realistically speaking the van is on its last legs, the front wall to floor joint has delaminated so badly which is pretty much unrepairable so far as I can make out, I did do my own repair a year or 2 ago which has improved the rigidity slightly but it's far from perfect, we've had it for nearly 7 years and paid 350 quid for it I think so it's paid for itself many times over in that time, but it's a 1990, it's just had enough.

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Yes the cooling fluid which is an ammonia  rust preventative and water mix has leaked and the cooling matrix is not replaceable on that age fridge.

 

Putting a domestic fridge in would work, but bear in mind that  they are compressor fridges so you will hear the compressor running and in a caravan that noise may become very loud , especially at night.

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Yep, it's completely had it, it's been on for 4 hours now, making a load of gurgling sounds, ice box is actually warmer than the ambient temperature (and warmer than before I put it on) and the outlet vent on the side of the van is stone cold, and we go away to a music festival on Friday morning, no ehu for 4 days, although I did at least get the gas to light, I didn't realise that the 12v and 240v switches have to be in the off position and the dial for the electronic side has to be on 0, lit on the 2nd click, I have heard claims of removing the unit and turning it upside down as a fix but that's probably an old wives tale, currently awaiting a reply from a friend who has three old tourers that they stripped out for use as kennels for pups as they do dog rescue and rehoming, praying they've kept a fridge that I can buy cheaply, as I'm rapidly running out of time, and payday isn't yet.

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Turning the absorption fridge (yours) isn't an old wife's tale. It's true. 

The liquid can get "stuck" in the bottom. Inverting the unit can clear it. 

Try it. It costs nothing, but wait an hour or so after turning it back the correct way before seeing if it has worked. 

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15 minutes ago, daveat92 said:

Turning the absorption fridge (yours) isn't an old wife's tale. It's true. 

The liquid can get "stuck" in the bottom. Inverting the unit can clear it. 

Try it. It costs nothing, but wait an hour or so after turning it back the correct way before seeing if it has worked. 

 

But if the coolant has leaked out (which it appears is the case) it it still won’t work if turned upside down because there is NO coolant in it! 

 

Andy

Edited by Mr Plodd

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21 minutes ago, daveat92 said:

Turning the absorption fridge (yours) isn't an old wife's tale. It's true. 

The liquid can get "stuck" in the bottom. Inverting the unit can clear it. 

Try it. It costs nothing, but wait an hour or so after turning it back the correct way before seeing if it has worked. 

 

This subject has come up numerous times and still the old information is provided.

Turning a fridge "sometimes" seem to work , but it will only be short term as the coolant is not "stuck" at the bottom, it is rust blocking the matrix, and turning can loosen it and move it for a short time.

 

There is absolutely no reason to "leave it hour" , that just prolongs the work time and does no good whatsoever.

 

If there is coolant in the system you should hear it gurgle down to the lowest point, turning back upright,,,again you can hear the coolant running back down, then just start it up as normal.

 

As I have already said, the "fix" is very temporary and certainly not a long term solution.

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4 minutes ago, Brecon said:

 

This subject has come up numerous times and still the old information is provided.

Turning a fridge "sometimes" seem to work , but it will only be short term as the coolant is not "stuck" at the bottom, it is rust blocking the matrix, and turning can loosen it and move it for a short time.

 

There is absolutely no reason to "leave it hour" , that just prolongs the work time and does no good whatsoever.

 

If there is coolant in the system you should hear it gurgle down to the lowest point, turning back upright,,,again you can hear the coolant running back down, then just start it up as normal.

 

As I have already said, the "fix" is very temporary and certainly not a long term solution.

 

:goodpost:

 

 

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Slight update on this, we were able to pick up a good 2nd hand household under counter fridge which is pretty much the exact same dimensions as the existing broken unit, however I'm quite sure that 500mm is wider than the doorway is, so getting the old unit out, and of course getting the new one in could well prove a challenge, im hoping that at least one of the windows is larger than that otherwise I'm at somewhat of a quandary.

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Posted (edited)

Don’t forget that a domestic type fridge will be of the compressor, rather than absorption type, and  it will only work on 230 volts, not gas or 12v ! 

 

Oh, and it will be noisy in comparison. 

 

Andy

Edited by Mr Plodd

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No worries Andy, I had already banked on only having a conventional 240v power source available, as truth be told I've hardly ever needed the gas side as we always have ehu, and on the odd occasion we don't is only overnight anyway, the majority of times we use the van is for music events normally so noise wouldn't really be noticeable, festival campsites are hardly ever quiet places haha.

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If my memory serves me well,  this is most likely an Electrolux RM212 as that was the fridge fitted to most vans of that era.

 

You should be able to get it re-gassed professionally,  but don’t try to do it yourself. As a callow youth, I ended up in A&E when I stupidly took a spanner to the cooling system of one and got an eyeful of pressurised ammonia. 

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29 minutes ago, robloasby said:

You should be able to get it re-gassed professionally,

It is impossible to re-gas a RM212.

There are only a few Dometic fridges (Electrolux is part of Dometic) which can have the cooling matrix changed and the 212 is not one of them.

None of the Thetford fridges can be re-gassed either.

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My under counter fridge idea fell flat at the first hurdle, negative negative, wheel arch in the way error, I knew I should have removed the old one before getting a replacement, but no matter, the local Curry's pc world had a little 500mm high table top one for a decent price so that's perfect.

 

I just built a little shelf out of some MDF and a frame work for it to sit on out of good old 1x1 timber, which luckily matches up with what's in that section of the van already so it all screwed and glued together without a hitch, then it was just a case of removing the little adjustable feet on the front of the fridge and replacing them with bolts that go through the front of the shelf to hold it all solidly in place, with locking nuts to set the correct height, then all I had to do was fab up a couple of brackets to bolt into the pre threaded holes at the bottom of the back end of the unit to get the rear of it nice and steady, there's a handy piece of battoning behind the lower air vent panel on the outside of the van to screw to, then i recycled the piece of ply out of the front door of the old one and chopped it up to box in and then painted it, just the bottom piece to do now as I made a measuring error and dont have enough left now.

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