Just a few thoughts on why to get rid of your OEM fridge: Propane fridges are great when operated on a level stationary surface, problem is in a mobile environment they are inefficient, time consuming, and downright dangerous. Ever wonder why you don't ever see a propane fridge in the galley on a vessel? The stock VW dometic draws upwards of 7 amps running on 12V which is inefficient and unacceptable. Many manufacturers (such as Norcold and Isotherm) offer modern compact units that draw only 1.5-3 Amps on 12V and can be operated at angles to 30 degrees. I have an auxilliary solar power system that easily handles this 12V load 24 hours a day, with no pilot light, no switches, no air pumping...no hassle! Also keep in mind that a top loader is more efficient than a front loader, and common sense can greatly decrease your refrigeration needs.
At the risk of starting a great row, I have to strongly disagree with the previous post. The only real problem with a properly maintained fridge, is that it draws too many amps to use while parked. I fail to see how this is a big deal. I just light mine (when I stop) while the burner is still warm from driving. The fridge itself will stay cold for several hours with no input (gas/110/12vdc) if you leave it full with the door closed just like a ice chest.
If you don't drive with the burner lit on l/p I fail to see any more danger with the l/p fridge than any other. I have worked with and on l/p fridges my whole life and have never found them to be problematic if (A)you understand how they work, and (B) You maintain them. The single biggest maintenence item is keeping it clean. Simply lighting the fridge on l/p every month for an hour or two keeps things in good working order. (I get a bit irritated at people who do nothing to thier westys for months on end, and then complain that somethings don't work as they should. A few minutes a month just keeping order makes our westy work perfectly every time. I discover a problem before I am on the road!)
I will concede to Powder Hippy that the fridge should be level (while stationary). Once again if you understand the way they work, they can be in almost any atitude while underway, but as with any fridge they should be bascily level while sitting. I can't speek for Norcold or any other brand, but I would bet that they cannot run significantly out of level while sitting stationary. I suggest that anyone who is interested read the link to R.V mobil's web site. They have far and away the best information on Amonia frigde systems for the layman.
As to the effeciency equation, I would argue that the burner on the fridge burns a tiny bit of propane. There are calculations elsewhere on this site, but in my bush cabin, my 2 full sized friges run almost 4 months on a 20 gallon tank. Some time I will light mine in the westy with a full tank of l/p and let it burn for however long it takes to run the tank out and then we will know. I suspect it will burn for weeks.
The only other issue is the simple fact that the stock fridge fits the space! Anything else becomes frankenvan. The simple elagance of the westy is it's effecient use of space.
Enough soap box!
PS. To answer Lewis Moon's original question; it is my understanding that the Dometic 182 from the early years will fit the later years. I don't believe there is any differnce in the dimensions, and to be honest I have never figured out any other differences. If this is not correct, please correct me.
I just ordered some parts for another Dometic from RVmobile in Everett, Wa. I spoke to the owner and he said that they WILL rebuild the cooling units on the Westy Fridges. He expressed concern that many of the other parts are no longer available, such as the knob etc. but if you shipped a fridge to him, they would do it. We didn't discuss cost, but I suspect that they won't be cheap, but if you are looking to keep the look, functionality of the original it would be a way to go.
RV Mobile Inc.
11715 HWY 99 S
Everett, WA 98204
These people have a very good reputation. It took me 5 months to get parts out of someone else. I got them in 20 hours from RVMOBILE.!
PS CAPT MIKE, You might consider moving this post to near the top of this thread as the thread is rather deep, AND I think it might be very useful to many,
I have a new (to me) 1982 Westy diesel I'm in the process of restoring. To date that's been all about the cooling system and brakes and a new engine from Jack Ewald, a builder in Ohio, who has a website: VWdieselparts. The engine, by the way, has been bulletproof and I'm very happy with it. http://www.vwdieselparts.com/
Now I'm turning my attention to the camping gear and thought to remove and replace the refrigerator with a GoWesty shelf-kit. But saw a link for replacement refrigerator called "Vitrifrigo" or "Truckfridge" and wonder if anyone has tried it:
Google westyventures and you'll find a link there showing an installation and recommendation for the unit.
[Moderator note: Link is http://www.westyventures.com/parts.html]
Last edited by Capt. Mike; 03-09-2010 at 05:44 PM. Reason: Insert links