I installed my base plate with a relative of mine who has a mechanical background.
This plate was installed on our 2004 Honda Pilot. We ended up removing the front bumper and both lights in order to attach the base plate.
The directions that came with the plate were very helpful. We did have to do some minor drilling. We used lock-tite on all bolts and took our time. It took us apx. 2-3 hrs to install. Saved loads of $$$.
The baseplate was apx $350-$400. Gave my relative $100 for helping me install.
The wiring kit was included with the baseplate. Uhaul installed the wiring. Cost was apx. $50-$75.
I purchased the used Blue Ox from Craigslist, paid $325. Total cost, material and labor, less than $1000.
Local RV shop wanted over $3000. Savings $2000-$2500.
It really was not too difficult to complete. You can do it! Good luck.
We were in a similar dilemma. Our recent experience with a faulty cooling unit. We could not see going with Norcold's band-aid fix. Should we replace the refrig with your standard frig or replace the cooling unit??? Those were our choices.
We have a 2004 Itasca Meredian with the Norcold 1200. We decided to replace the cooling system with the Amish unit this past November. After the install we found that it got cold very quickly.
The original took over night to get to it's max temperature, on #9 our food and ice cream never got too cold or froze anything.
This new unit, set at #5 got to 4 degrees for the freezer and 45 degrees for the frig in a matter of 4-5 hrs.
Now we can use the original refrigerator, propane or electric, custom fit.
The new unit cost us $1200. I read where the garages wanted $3200 apx with a reconditioned unit. We put it in ourselves and it took about 8-9 hrs while taking our time. Plenty of You Tube videos to set you straight. Those videos were extremely helpful.
We taped/labeled our electrical connections and took lots of photos to help with reconnection.
This repair was not too difficult.
Just thought that this might help with your decision. Good luck!
I struggled with this decision as we boondock a lot. Finally decided to replace the NoCool fire bomb cooling unit with a Amish one. Counter top home refers will come in the door and they are a little larger than the 1200's, but by removing a window you can go much larger, BUT most are taller than the 1200 so you need to make more room and depending what's under the 1200 that can be difficult. To do it right you really need a Pure Sine Wave inverter with it's own battery bank. This is partly so you have two chargers recharging the batteries decreasing generator time when boondocking. Did not take long to come up with a lot more than $1200 (cost of a Amish one installed) and I was going to be near Elkhart.
I would not be afraid of buying a rig that came from the factory with a home refer, although most only have one inverter, but usually with plenty of batteries.
I have to agree with Ivylog. We just replaced our cooling unit ourselves and it was not too difficult. Follow the You Tube videos and good luck. While taking our time it took us apx 9 hrs to complete.
After we installed the new unit I turned the control to #5, left it over night. Did a temperature test in the morning and our freezer was 4 degrees and the frig was 38 degrees.
The stock unit, we had to always put it on #9 and the food was never that cold. Our ice cream would never freeze.
Heck, we would even throw the beers and water bottles in the freezer to try to get them a little colder.:)
I would call Dave from RV Cooling Unit Warehouse. He will ease your minds.
If you do it yourself or find a RV mechanic in your area then you could probably save yourself a lot of $$$.
You said that you put a fire extinguisher behind your 1200 Norcold frig?
Did you replace the cooling system?
I have the same frig and I just replaced my cooling system with a Amish brand.
Under a recall Norcold wanted our local dealer to install a sensor in order to shut the system down in the event of overheating/fire which I felt was a Band-Aid remedy.
We didn't install a Halon fire extinguisher but we did include a smoke detector back behind the frig.
I will be putting more extinguisher throughout the coach though.
The new Amish system, control on #5 brought our freezer temp to 4 degrees and our frig to 38 in about 4-5 hrs. The stock cooling system was on #9. It never froze our ice cream nor kept our food cold in the frig.
We installed it in November. All set for the Spring.
Oh, also saved lots of $$ by installing myself with a cousin of mine.
David from the Amish cooling system was awesome. He took numerous calls from me while installing on a Sunday.
I was impressed and would highly recommend him and his cooling system.
Also, for those of you that put a house refrigerator in. I know you saved $$$ by installing a house model but how do you boondock camp?