Vanagon – Dometic fridge fooling again

You have to know by now that if diddled with the fridge or as long as I’ve owned it. And this is an ‘82 vintage 182b , first installed in my old white 82 ( originally diesel ) westy. It’s been in the Syncro now for 11 years.

Last time I posted about fridge out and played with mods was back in 2017

Couple of things about what I did then, and subsequently changed… the bank of squirrel cage fans were replaced by two smallish muffin fans directly under the upper row of fins.

And I found the right stuff , thermal mastic, and re-did the fins to pipe and plate arrangement on the evaporator inside the fridge. Funny about the mastic. I asked at local rv store and they practically gave me their last tube for free. They have no need for the stuff anymore.

Anyway, fridge worked well after all that. I didn’t do any measurements like I did way back in 2010, but I’d guess I had same performance. A delta T of 22-23C below ambient is I think as good as you can do with these fridges in the van.

But last summer the fridge started to not perform as well. It would light fine, and cool, but not cool as much. So last week I pulled the fridge again.

Opened the combustion chamber, found more rusty dust then I’d expected, and I pulled the gas jet and found it fouled. Sorry, not a good pic but you can sort of see the dirt on the jet.

Ultrasonic cleaning for 15 minutes in that CRL ( calcium , rust, lime) stuff and it now looks like this.

Other things I did were:

Re lag the exhaust pipe ( I do think this lowers the behind the fridge temp

Installed a new thermo probe for a new fan controller. inkbird, replacing the no name previous one. I think it’s a nice mod to be able to adjust the temp that the behind the fridge fan(s) come on.

Added copper strips to bridge the gap between the two aluminum plates I added to the fins last time. My idea is to make a continuous shroud back there to better direct the air flow over fins. I used copper as I had a roll and the two banks of fins are on different planes from each other making a rigid panel bridging them difficult. Stuck them on with double sided tape ( supposedly thermal tape) then covered up with some sticky back foam reflective stuff.

And the results? Fridge lights easily and cools down as fast as it ever did. I’m really pleased by how fast its cooling. The behind the fridge fan noise I think is reduced, but never was loud to begin with. I can’t recall the cut in temp for the stock thermo switch , maybe 50-55C? I’ve been trying a lower set point, 38C. So far, at home tests with sun in side of van and ambient temp s of around 25-27C , the fin temp is staying around 39-42C with fans running.

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