Vanagon Fridge Syndrome -- won't run on LP


howzbayou

New member
also, it always works best to diligently follow the procedures outlined earlier in this thread... Run the fridge on AC all night before your trip, switch to battery for the ride, when you stop to camp level the van and turn on the stove for a few minutes to heat the pipes, then switch to lp and light er up...any deviation from this plan usually means problems for me!...
 
Ok, I think I've read all of the old postings on this topic and they have been very helpful --thank you to everyone who contributes to this site!! However, while I have successfully pinpointed my initial problem -- I have not been able to find the long term solution to it. My fridge on my 87 westy will now light (after cleaning everything out and installing the air pump upgrade/replacement assembly from Go Westy and following all the start-up procedures outlined here) but it will only stay lit if we take the outer vent flue off. I decided to try this idea after reading another string but it failed to offer a solution as to what to do next. It is a wonderful solution for our short term problem as we are leaving town this weekend but as for a long term solution .... Is this just something that just needs replacing (though it seems to be in relatively good shape), or can we continue to use it without the vent as long as we cover it during transport and when not in use, or do we have a more fundamental problem? Thank you for any advice you can give.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
The fridge flue is a double-wall system where the air supply comes down one flue channel and exhausts back out the other. This is addressed in "Fridge flue problems" topic and there is a tech bulletin addressing that subject on the Tech Drawings link.
 

charris420

New member
Thanks to all for the amazing information. Just got my first westy, an '81. Loving it so far.

The PO said that he rarely used the fridge, so I was expecting major problems. I was able to get it up and running on AC, but as suspected, not on LP. So I let it "charge" on AC for a bit and then followed Capt. Mike's 20pt procedure for fridge maintanence. Ran through the "lighting" procedure a couple times and *poof* on came the pilot light. She is out there purring right now. I was actually amazed that the procedure worked so well.

Cameron
 

jerepowers

New member
I just wanted to report that following replacing the LP tank and regulator, which is admittedly a $350 fix, I have found it much, MUCH easier to get the fridge to light on propane.

My tank and regulator were having issues, so it may have affected this. But whereas lighting the fridge, even after running it on 110v, was always a hassle, it now lights up in just a few seconds with a quick gas prime, a few pumps and one or two pops of the ignition.

It still is stubborn if completely cold, but I have managed to light it relatively easy after running it on 12-volt for a few hours and then going to gas.

I don't know if it was rust in the tank, moisture in the tank, plain age or what, but the new tank has now made the fridge light the way you would have expected it to in the first place.
 

icarus

Moderator
I suspect (with no evidence to the contrary) that the problem was with the regulator rather than the tank. Regulators get hinky over time, and often they can send improper pressure, and in some cases cast off thier lubricant into the gas lines. This can cause no end of trouble.

It is probably a good idea to do a manometer test (gas pressure) now and again to confirm that the pressure is right. 11-13"w.c.

Icarus
 

apophis13

New member
When I got my 84 westy the fridge did not work on LP and even then it was not very cold on LP, 12V or AC. After reading various articles in the web, I pulled the fridge out, cleaned the combustion area to a shine with a dremel (to make a good spark ground) and I turned the fridge over clockwise several times to fully move the cooling fluid around, remove air pockets and disperse any deposits in the even they had collected.

After doing this my fridge fires spark and lights in any weather first time and has for at least 5 years. Only once blowing out while driving due to high side winds.

and now if its not above 90, my fridge stays at 40* or below and if its cooler its gotten down to 21*.

The only mods I did were change the cooling fan to a normal 12V computer fan and added a remote tempo gauge. The fan is slightly louder but runs for shorter bursts. I also have a battery operated fan inside from an RV store that creates internal "turbulance" and runs for ~30 days on a pair of D batteries

Other things that helped was to always park with the fridge on the non-sun side (sun needs to face the sliding door side)
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Starting fridge conversion

reece1.davies@virgin.net

Junior Member

:( Hi there, we have a 1976 2.0l auto Westfalia Bay window which we bought last December and have been out and about in several times since then and it's great. Unfortunately we were so excited when we bought it we forgot to ask how to switch the fridge on! - we can't find the past owner either as he left the country. Now I've read lots of interesting things on this excellent site about them not working and turning them upside down and all that but I was wondering if one of you kind souls could tell us how you are supposed to switch it on lol. It's an ex Australia van with dual voltage 12V/220V and a hook up outside and it's also on LPG. We like LPG the best as the VW has been converted so it's more economical and a bit more environmentally friendly but also the tank fills from the LPG tank that supplies the engine so it's cheaper than buying cylinders. If anyone could help by giving me the start up routine I'd be very grateful :)
 
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Capt. Mike

Moderator
The '76 did not have an LP or 3-way fridge from the factory. Yours is an aftermarket conversion and thus not supported with factory documentation. You can get the factory manual from various vendors listed on the site as to starting the factory 3-way on the Vanagons; they may be similar. There are also a couple of RV fridge shops listed in the Mechanics forum.
 

vwhappy

New member
20pt

Where can I find this 20pt procedure for maintanence? Searched a bit around the site and Capt Mike's home page. No luck. Am I missing it? Preparing for a big trip and would love to get it in tip top shape. Also not lighting on LP. Maybe I can get it.
Thanks
 
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bhontz

New member
Is burner flame sufficient?

I have pulled my Dometic fridge as I have not been able to light the fridge on LP since purchase of my 87 Westy this past August. The fridge operates fine on AC (have not tried DC). I have the fridge connected to a bbq propane bottle and i've confirmed gas flow down into the burner and through the burner jet. I've cleaned the jet with acetone and by passing some fine wire through the jet hole.

Note that I have attached a photo to this thread. The burner will light with the piezo first time and everytime if I have the chamber "open" or unscrewed as per the photo. The flame burns blue (which I think looks ok - not yellow) but only as high as to just touch the thermocouple (about 1/2" high at most). When lit, I can't really see the flame through the window, which means I really can not see it from the eye port within the fridge. If I attempt to bolt the chamber up with the burner lit the flame will go out (noting that the chamber gets cooler). The burner will not light with the chamber bolted up (pops, but will not remain lit, again, i can tell by feeling the chamber - doesn't heat up). I do not have compressed air but I can blow down the two vent pipes and air seems to pass through cleanly on both sides.

Any ideas of what i can do next? Is the burner flame sufficient or too small -- perhaps i am not cleaning out the jet enough and as a result the flame isn't as signficant as it should be?

Thank you in advance!
 

Attachments

Capt. Mike

Moderator
It sounds like you are not getting correct supply air through the flue, or too much air from leakage. See the "Flue problems . . ." topic this forum.
 

kraushaar

New member
Another Fridge Question: Electronic LP Gas Ignitor

I've looked at the posts on the Fridge forum but it appears that electronic ignitors were only for the 1991 campers. I currently have a 1991 Camper with 67000 miles. It has been garaged when not in use.
According to the Camper supplement manual, the Fridge model is Dometic RM 182B EGI (e.g. electronic gas ignitor?). It also has a push button for the flame failure safety device.
Both AC and DC seem to work fine but LP won't light. Specifically, after lighting the stove to bleed the LP system,
turning the thermostat control knob to MAX (also tried MIN),
turning on the gas ON/OFF knob to On,
and pressing the LP gas operation button,
the electronic gas ignitor doesn't seem to be working as the Indicator light for igniting the gas (not the indicator light on water/battery panel) does not flash (it's just lit- no flashing) and there is no ticking noise.

[Moderator note: See dealer's parts fiche (Guideline #8)for part numbers. All '91s used the same Mod 182 fridges as earlier years since they were made in 1990.]

It seems to be an electronic ignitor problem but could it be a problem with dust, flame safety device button, etc?
If it is electronic ignitor problem does the fridge need to be removed? Are replacement electronic ignitors available?
 
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jmunro55

New member
Here's my analysis of the reasons why the fridge does not light easily:

First, the combustion chamber is very small. When you turn on the gas and attempt to light it, the gas, together with air in the chamber lights but immediately burns up all the oxygen in the chamber. As a result, further attampts to light it will fail unless more oxygen gets into the chamber. The pump is very poor. As there is no one-way valve the pump mostly just moves the gasses in the chamber back and to. A one way air valve should help the situation.
Once the burner is lit and running, the heat generated rises up the flue and pulls air in from outside which allows it to keep going. running on A/C or DC for a while should heat up the system so that switching to gas is more likely to work. My fridge doesnt seem to work on A/C or DC so I have not been able to try this. -jim munro
 

drayson_c

New member
Hey Mate, My fridge in my 1991 is suffering the same problem. I have replaced the air pump(with the go westy) check valve assembly, cleaned the burner box, put in a new electrode ignitor, and tried replacing the electric ignitor with a go westy aftermarket one (my rv fridge guy said the original is fine). As soon as I press the LP button in the fridge, the light stays solid red and is not blinking like it should. Did you find a solution to this problem with yours (post #55) on 05/03/2010. Thanks Kraushaar and anyone else who can help me.
 

drayson_c

New member
Hey Mate, My fridge in my 1991 is suffering the same problem. I have replaced the air pump(with the go westy) check valve assembly, cleaned the burner box, put in a new electrode ignitor, and tried replacing the electric ignitor with a go westy aftermarket one (my rv fridge guy said the original is fine). As soon as I press the LP button in the fridge, the light stays solid red and is not blinking like it should. Did you find a solution to this problem with yours (post #55) on 05/03/2010. Thanks Kraushaar and anyone else who can help me.
Hey Capt Mike and all, I wasn't sure in some of the previous responses, who they were directed to. I have cleaned my flue and burner box, and when the fridge mechanic bench tested my fridge he could get the fridge to light. The electronic ignitor is working fine. When I put the fridge back into the van, and tried to light on lp, as soon as I push the lp button in, the red light stays lit instead of blinking like it should. I am beginning to think i have a dead short somewhere in the fridge wiring, as my battery tends to leak down over time and be be dead and it is basically a brand new batt. I just bought this van 2 months ago, so I am not super familiar with it or its history yet. Any one have any similar experience to this with the "red light staying lit problem"? Thanks Carson
 

drayson_c

New member
It sounds like you are not getting correct supply air through the flue, or too much air from leakage. See the "Flue problems . . ." topic this forum.
Hey Capt, The fridge works on the bench. Things only change when it is plugged into the van fridge wiring harness. As soon as the LP button is pressed, the red light is permanently on and not flashing as it should be. I am beginning to think it is a short to ground somewhere, as the fridge did not do this when we hooked it up on the bench. Any thoughts or experience with this anyone? Thanks
 

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