Norcold Fridge - not start on LP

Discussion in 'Propane - Got Gas' started by bucketheadmn, Aug 1, 2018.

  1. bucketheadmn

    bucketheadmn New Member

    Jul 10, 2017
    I have a Norcold Fridge in my 2000 Bayside. It works great on AC when we have power at a campsite. We are going to start using sites without power and would like to be able to use the fridge on LP. Tried turning it on today and nothing.......

    I found the directions and I am holding in the safety valve and pushing the ignite button a bunch of times, but no flame or anything that I can see through the little peep hole. Is it possible that the igniter is shot? Could I use a aim and flame lighter and try lighting it that way? I am not sure the last time the fridge used LP - we have had it for a year and never tried before. Anything else I should try?

  2. phoodieman

    phoodieman Active Member

    May 18, 2009
    Hutto, Texas
    It takes a little time for the gas to actually reach appliances after the gas is cut on. Does the stove light? You might try that to get the gas further down the line. I had a Norcold and it took a lot of tries to get it to cut on.

  3. PopUpSteve

    PopUpSteve Administrator

    Dec 22, 2002
    Malvern, PA
    Yup, took me over a minute to light mine last time out. Sometimes I find it's best to light the stove for minute first, just to get the propane running through the system.
  4. bucketheadmn

    bucketheadmn New Member

    Jul 10, 2017
    Yep - stove works, both inside and outside ones. Heater works as well as I just tested that today - I started the heater and let it run for a few minutes before trying to start the fridge. I did try starting it multiple times over a 10 minute period thinking that it might take a bit for the propane to get down there. I will try holding down the safety valve a bit longer.
  5. CoolCanuck

    CoolCanuck New Member

    Ha. This thread is timely, as I'm facing the same issue.

    Mine is a '97 Sunridge with the Norcold 323. Looks like it hasn't run in years. We took out the trailer last year, just after purchasing it and enjoyed our time in it. Both the inside/outside stoves, as well as the heater worked great. We didn't bother with the fridge, until now.

    A couple of days ago, I started looking at it more closely. Tried it on AC and it SOMEWHAT did its' job. Though it has been super hot in these parts lately. Haven't tried DC yet, but am not expecting much performance there.

    Did notice quite a bit of rust & corrosion on the fittings, tubes and steel parts. Then I started doing a bit of googling' and found out that there was that recall way back when. The one with the cracking swivel-nut on the Pressure Tap. And lo and behold, mine is cracked quite severely. Called Norcold and yes, mine has never been done. Recall here in Canada was dated Jan1,1999. Norcold is still honouring this and is sending the required part to my dealer. Don't know if it will be the entire T-fitting or just the nut. Hope it will be the entire fitting.

    I have removed the burner nozzle, took a heck of a lot of rust out of it.

    Fortunately, I have a few excellent Ultrasonic cleaners, so I put the tubes, fittings, manual shutoff valve and burner assembly etc. in to them and cleaned them all up. Then, I carefully removed the rust that was blocking the tiny hole of the Orifice. I know one shouldn't do this, but, as I now repair clocks for a living, I have all of the required tools (i.e.- micro reamers) to do so, without enlarging the orifice.

    I brushed out the slots in the burner tube, then used an X-acto knife to clean them up further. Used a small wire brush in my arsenal of tools to brush out the inside and remove what felt like another bucket of rust.

    One of the brass fittings had corroded itself on the aluminum burner tube (dah- didn't they ever think of electrolytic corrosion due to the dissimilar metals?). Then used a bit of specialized penetrant oil to loosen it and must say that it is now fine.

    I also found remnants of what appeared to be an inlet filter inside the large brass fitting of the manual shutoff valve (almost appeared to be like a cigarette filter, possibly trimmed down to size) . This is plausible, as it is inside the large fitting and going in the proper direction with the gas flow. Unfortunately, I can not find an Inlet filter on the schematic. Neither 3 of our local dealers Service guys, nor a Norcold rep, can confirm its’ existence.

    To me, having worked in the Aerospace sector for many, many years, a filter would make sense, as it will protect both the Manual Shutoff valve and the Orifice/burner from detritus that could be in the LP Tanks and/or lines going to the fridge.

    SO, my Question to you is:
    Can anyone confirm the existence (or lack of) of such a filter in the Manual Shut-off valve?

    While waiting for the new Pressure Tap (or fitting) to arrive, I will replace it with one that I have in my stash for testing purposes. Hoping to be able to give my fridge a try-out in the next day or so. Today, I opened the LP tank valves and ensured that I have gas flow coming out of the feed-tube (up to where it goes into the Manual shut-off valve) and that the gas is “clean” with no residue in it. So far so good.

    (In case anyone is wondering, I’m a trained Metrologist and used to work with various ultra-low to extremely high pressure gas / hydraulic components etc., so I feel that I am amply qualified to do this.)

    I still have my own old tubing benders, flaring tools and test equipment, as well as loads and loads of AN/MS etc. fittings.

    I am considering trying to find a sintered metal filter that could fit inside the fitting. This would provide ample protection from foreign particles (i.e.- rust & aluminum corrosion from the tubes), whilst still allowing for ample gas flow to the burner.

    Hope this helps and will let you know how I make out (or if the trailer burned down to the ground).
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2018
  6. bucketheadmn

    bucketheadmn New Member

    Jul 10, 2017
    Well I tried again last night - no go. Tried for like 10 minutes and no gas got to the fridge at all. I could actually see the spark from the igniter, so there has to be a blockage somewhere in the gas line.

    I am wondering if it is possible to take apart and clean the gas line or the parts the gas should be coming out of. Or if I am kinda SOL here since I do not have specialty tools or anything. Do not want to pay anyone to fix it as it is not the end of the world - would just be nice to use when no power available.
  7. shuang2

    shuang2 Well-Known Member

    Apr 20, 2010
  8. rabird

    rabird Howdy!

    Mar 3, 2006
  9. CoolCanuck

    CoolCanuck New Member

    I got Mine working tonight. Be Aware that the nozzle hole for the burner tube (the tiny one) is not round - it is rectangular in shape.

    Also, to check out the fridge gas system, do the following:

    1. Shutoff the gas at the bottle. Undo the large nut going to the lower arm of the manual shut-off valve. Make sure that the valve is "OFF". As always, use TWO wrenches, one on each fitting. most are 1/2, 9/16, 7/16 or 15/32 inch. IF needed, you can use an adjustable wrench, provided it is tightened correctly on the fitting. then have someone turn on the gas valve at the bottle. Listen for gas. it may take a few seconds to get there, depending on how full the line is. if you hear gas after a reasonable amount of time, that's good. Your line is clear enough to allow gas through. Close the tank valve. If you didn't hear gas escaping, then you know it's in the line before that position. Follow the line back to the front and check the previous fitting. If you don,t hear gas until you get back to the tank, then you just proved that the tank is empty. :).

    2. Tighten the large fitting again and then remove the small fitting at the top of the valve. Repeat the above test, but you should not hear gas until you open the manual shutoff valve.
    3. Proceed to the next fitting in line and repeat.
    4. In this way you can readily check each line segment and fitting to ensure that it is clear, or, to verify that it is the culprit.
    5. You can check the orifice by removing it from the burner tube carefully. Hold it up to the light. You should see a bit of light through the hole. NOTE: the hole is NOT round. It is rectangular. If clogged, a very fine brass brush should remove most of the gunk.
    Then attach the orifice fitting to the pressure tap fitting (that's the one with the recall). Repeat the test, you should be able to hear the gas coming out of the tiny hole.
    6. Ensure that the slits in the burner tube are clear, clean and free. A small wire brush and a #11 X-acto blade will help here. When done, reinstall the orifice/nozzle fitting tightly. Note that the burner nozzle only fits into the metal bracket one way...with the slits facing up.

    That's basically what I did, with the added benefit of some special tools. You can do it all manually, just takes a bit more elbow grease and time.

    Reread my post above.

    ****** Can anyone answer my question from Post#5 above? *****
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2018
  10. CoolCanuck

    CoolCanuck New Member

    Also, and this is VERY IMPORTANT:
    If at any time you are not comfortable doing something, or if you "feel Lost", please remember:
    What you are dealing with here is GAS, Propane Gas. If you have a leak, gas ignites, you WILL in all LIKELIHOOD have a FIRE or an EXPLOSION.
    Gas fires or explosions KILL.
    Also, as I have no control over what/how you are doing things, I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR YOUR ACTIONS AND ANY UN-INTENDED CONSEQUENCES.

    After you have proven that you have gas to the fridge you must then do a LEAK CHECK.
    Get yourself a small bottle of Leak Check Fluid at Home Depot, Lowes etc. The ones with a small dabber/brush applicator are best for you. Don't use a sprayer.
    EDIT: Don't use Ammoniated or Chlorinated detergent based leak fluid (aka- do it yourself stuff using dishwashing liquid), as these can cause brass stress cracking issues. This is mentioned in various Coleman Owners Manuals as well.

    Go over EVERY FITTING joint that you took apart, one or two (if they're close together) at a time. Turn on the gas at the bottle/regulator and go to those fittings. If you see bubbles forming (not the ones incurred whilst applying the stuff), then you have a leaking joint. Ensure that the fittings were not cross-threaded, (hard to do here, but, it does happen) and tighten them a bit more. Almost all of the joints that you will have loosened / removed above are Flare Joints. These seat and seal on the corresponding angles to form a tight seal.

    1. The joint surfaces are clean and nick free
    2. Do not, under any circumstances, use sealant, Teflon tape or anything else on a Flare Fitting. These sealants/tapes are only used on pipe fittings (like on the little elbows on the Manual Shut-off and the Selector valves, the brass ones that go into the Aluminum housing.

    You should also closely inspect the aluminum gas lines for nicks, cracks and pinholes (especially the latter at any bends/angles in the line). Depending on the person that made the bends, there are large variations here that vary with the competence of that individual. The lines get stretched, sometimes kinked when bending (or 'Manhandling' them) to fit.

    You may want to go over the other fittings & lines in the system with the Leak Check while you're at it. You never know who monkeyed around with it before you. I found two underneath, going to the inside and outside stove burners. They leaked, but not much. And remember, leaking Propane will Kill. Slowly or suddenly...sometimes with a big bang that you'll likely never even hear.

    Only after you have proven that NOTHING Leaks in the gas system, up to the burner Orifice (which, by its' function, must discharge the gas), can you prepare to light the fridge. I would turn off the gas again and remove as much as possible of the Leak Check fluid from the fittings. Its' sticky and will grab dust/dirt/grime in the future if left on.

    You can now prepare to light the fridge. Get yourself a fire extinguisher (better yet, two). Hopefully these are not time expired and are functioning (yea, it sucks when you go to use one and only a dribble comes out... ask me how I know ;) ;) ).

    Turn on the gas, follow the instructions and light the fridge. You said you had a good spark from the igniter. Ensure that the bottom cover with the swivel viewing window is installed. As propane is heavier than the air, it will "fall down" and mix with the surrounding air and not provide a "dense enough" propane mixture for you to ignite. I tried mine first without the cover and it wouldn't light. After I installed it, it lit just fine.

    So... hopefully you get it going.
    Last edited: Aug 6, 2018
  11. CoolCanuck

    CoolCanuck New Member

    So, based on my Post #5 above, I've done some more digging and have found that this Part did actually exist at one point in the past.

    From a post here:

    "I have an older parts manual for the fridge that shows a gas filter (part # 617555) that sits in one of the brass fittings at the manual shut off valve. After checking with some of the local RV dealers it seems that this part number is no longer a good number. Some say that it might only be available in the complete valve assembly.
    Has anyone replaced one and if so what did you use? Is it wise to use the fridge with the filter removed? Mine is gummed up with an oily residue and was causing me some issues."

    Guess I'll have to call Norcold...

    Update on my 323 Fridge:
    I've been running it on both AC and Propane.
    AC during the night. Ambient temps down to 14-16 Celsius (57-60F). Fridge is 4C (39F). Nice.
    Daytime running on AC- ambient up to around 34C (93F), fridge around 14-16C (57-60F). Not that good.
    Daytime running on Propane with the same ambient temp was around 20-22C (68-72F). Not all all good for keeping things cool.
    Both heaters are warming up quite a bit, propane is burning with a nice clean blue flame.

    So, needless to say, I'm not happy with the lack of performance of this unit.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2018

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