Some have decided to replace their Norcold with a domestic refrigerator which is understandable given the potential fire issues associated with the cheap OEM cooling unit. I've had little luck getting pictures and specifics that document a domestic conversion. Cabinet work, AC power feed and cost remain important details. Domestic refrigerators will also lose their warranty if put into mobile service. For us, we decided to replace our cooling unit.
In Jan of 2011 the Norcold 1200 LRIM installed in our bus crapped out. Although the cooling unit didn't fall within the first recall it still developed a dangerous leak. Recently Norcold has extended their recall pretty much to all cooling units. That to include a recall to the original recall group making the first cooling unit group a double recall.
This has been a very dangerous situation because it can result in a devastating fire. Norcold's advice is to unplug the refrigerator immediately and stop using it. Short of replacing the entire cooling unit with a properly designed one, you're SOL as they say.
Norcold's cooling unit shown above rusted through right at the cartridge heaters. The OEM insulation sleeve didn't include a sheet metal casing. The failure point isn't visible until you cut away the insulation right above the propane burner. Notice the dull yellow sodium chromate rust inhibitor that has leaked out. This leak can cause a combustion event of devastating proportions.
A cargo strap is a big help when trying to slide out a heavy (270 Lbs) refrigerator. Doors were removed first. A platform was made which greatly helps by eliminating any lifting. Don't use casters as they may crack tiles.
If you use the Pines RV Refrigeration cooling unit, you'll need to drop the AC outlet about 4". The Pines unit has another tier of cooling tubing that hits the outlet.
Keep the refrigerator on its platform and tip it horizontal to access the rear and install the new cooling unit. It just clears the ceiling. You can lay on your back and slide under to access the freezer compartments and install the 8 screws needed to hold the cooling unit in place.
The Pines RV Refrigeration cooling unit appears to be well made and they claim to use thicker walled tubing. It will set you back about $1K and has a 5 year warranty. It took us some 15+ hours to effect repairs and I'd rate this a difficult job. If you reverse the brackets you can mount the fans over the left coil tier. It's a bit like a puzzle. As previously mentioned, you'll need to drop the AC outlet down about 4 inches to clear the extra coil. Also the plastic drip pan needed to be relocated and our burner box needed some tweaking to accommodate the gas nozzle.
Larger photos w/captions are below: Pulling Refrigerator Failed OEM Cooling Unit Mounting Space New Cooling Unit Installed
A document covering the details for the gas absorption cooling unit's combustion event is HERE
Norcold's service manual is HERE
. Concluding Remarks:
It's really frustrating that Norcold can't make a reliable cooling unit. It's down right maddening their irresponsible design has left so many people with an imminent fire danger which can just happen at any time. I certainly would like to see a class action lawsuit against Norcold to allow innocent owners of their product recover the costs of repairs. I also question whether the recall procedure and bandaid really solves the root cause of the problem. My advice is to check your refrigerator very carefully on an ongoing basis. Good luck!