the battle of the fridge

I’m guessing that my doing a ‘day by day’ summary of my trip will quickly become tedious for even the most excited reader.  For this reason I’m going to break up my coast-to-coast trip report with a discussions about the Caribou Lite’s systems.

One item on the camper I’ve had some challenge is the fridge.  Two things specifically –

  • temperature setting
  • pilot staying lit while driving

Temperature regulation –

The outside temp plays a big role in interior temperature of the fridge.  During this last trip I saw a wide range of weather with the outside temp being in the low 20s to the low 80s.  The Dometic RM 2193 unit is on the basic side with no thermostat.  In propane mode you have three settings: high, medium, low.  In 12V there is only ‘on or off’.  In 110V mode you can set the fridge from ‘7’ (most cold) to ‘0’ (least cold).

When the outside temp is near, or below freezing, on ‘low’ the fridge will get down to the low 20s or event the teens overnight … freezing food in the fridge.  In cold outside temps I found it best to turn the fridge off.

12V mode will kill a battery VERY fast, even when the truck is running.  In 12V mode the heating unit is using 12-14 amps each hour.  The camper’s current battery is a Group 24 with, best case brand new and with no concern about ‘abusing’ the battery, between 60 and 70 amp hours capacity.   Running in 12V mode, which I did a few times, the battery will be at 50% in about four hours. If the temps outside are are above 40 degrees in 12V mode the fridge will only hold the fridge temp steady: so if the fridge is 50 degrees the fridge will remain 50 degrees (if you don’t open the door).

110V mode there is more adjustment and I found that setting the fridge at around the 2/3 setting at night, when it was near/below freezing, the fridge would remain just above freezing overnight.  Once I got up and began accessing the fridge (ie, making breakfast) I needed to turn the fridge up to ‘7’, the highest, setting to keep the fridge around 40 degrees.

All these adjustments must be made outside the camper from the back side of the fridge.

arrow points to the lower fridge vent.  this cover must be removed to adjust the fridge settings.

arrow points to the lower fridge vent. this cover must be removed to adjust the fridge settings.

Pilot not staying lit –

This is really the problem.  95% of the time when I stopped the truck I found the fridge pilot light had blown out … meaning the fridge was not being cooled.  This is not the biggest of deals when the outside temps are less than 40 degrees.  When it is 70 degrees outside you begin to worry about the mayonnaise.

'the fridge' and the temp monitor.  note the temp ... pilot light blown out.

‘the fridge’ and the temp monitor. note the temp … pilot light blown out.

Speed I am traveling is only part of the issue.  Even when traveling below 60 MPH, as required when pulling a trailer in California, the fridge will still get blown out … and at other times not.  Being passed by many semi-trucks or panel trucks or RVs, the fridge is on the left side of the camper, seems to be likely to blow out the pilot light.  But, there were a couple of times when traveling at 70-75 MPH the pilot didn’t blow out … and this is with heavy cross, side, or tailwinds.

I am now in the process of seeing if a can make an ‘air dam’ that will keep the ‘wind’ of truck speed and passing vehicles not hit the pilot light AND not constrict air flow.

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6 thoughts on “the battle of the fridge

  1. Your adventures seem like real fun. Especially with the Roamin’ Chariot, Very flexible.
    Hmm, I have a chance to purchase an 8 foot long Roamin Chariot. ?? Do you know how to tell what year they were manufactured?

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    • Dan: they company went out of business around 2008/9. the campers started being built in the late 60s or early 70s from my understanding. they two guys that built mine bought the company from the founder around 1990.

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      • I just recently received information from an RC seller. He had a documented 2004 unit with serial RCK04031. He was the 2nd owner. The original owner verified the manufactured year as 2004. So, perhaps the first 2 digits are the year.

        Thanks for the info. I’ll be following you as I refurbish the RC that i just purchased in Tacoma. Maybe have something to show the world in a several months.

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      • Thanks for taking the time to get me informed.
        I bought mine just last week. I’ve been looking at these online and in-person for about a year. I have seen some real rough units. This 8 footer is a blank canvas inside. Would have preferred one for a Ranger or a Gen 1 Tacoma. But, haven’t seen many of those that i could get to fast enough. Mine is very bare, glass is good, no dents or skin tears. But not beat up or damaged. Just very plain. It’s an open box inside with the bed platform to slide out. From the old brochures I have read, It could have been the pop-up shell model.

        I think it needs: carpet, floor covering replaced, seat cushions, back cushions mattress, replacement curtains, corner cabinet(s?), maybe some electrical upgrade/add on, door lock mechanism repaired/replaced (No key!), something to cover the bottom, at least 1 leak at the left corner near the hinge to find and fix, reseal seams for defense, side slider access to the wheel well areas, removable table,12V LEDs, possibly extra battery, shore power 120V connection, possibly corner lifts, plat cat etc. etc., etc.

        I’m coming from renting small trailers for lots of $ each year. Using this as the “upgrade” and flexibility. So, that I can go when I want without having to reserve a unit maybe 3 months in advance. I’m adding my own creature comforts. Plan on copying a lot of good RC ideas that i see in Pics – your included. I Wanted the RC for the very basic design, light weight, and maybe simplest systems. Possibly could move to something like a Caribou after I refine my wants or get tired of this.

        The interest for these RCs seems to be very high, People coming from 100s of miles. So, I figure if I refurbish it some without tearing it up, and otherwise take care of it, even after using it for fun, I’ll still even out on the $ part.

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