I have a 1986 wilderness 23p TT. I know it's old but it still tows and goes and looks like new.My problem is the fridge died and I've been told it's the cooling unit and something that old its not worth replacing.We do most of are camping in campgrounds without hookups so a cheap 120v dorm unit is out of the question.Has any one herd of using dry and or regular ice to make a ice box out of the the fridge? I'm packing two 56 quart coolers and trying to cut down on extras
I wouldn't mess with converting the fridge...modern coolers are way better insulated.
Two options I see - you could get an aftermarket Amish cooling system for $500 that will make your fridge better than new, or keep an eye out on Craigslist for a fridge...I've seen folks parting out campers sell two-door units for $350-500.
Sure, ice was extensively used prior to the availability and popularity of absorbtion refrierators. Dry is is harder to find, but it works primarily to keep things frozen. You may want to go to a store every other day to replenish your ice. Most stores near campgrounds have ice at a reasonable price.
You can put a block of ice in a plastic tray to hold the water as it melts.
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Dave, I just went down that road myself with my truck camper. Not sure how much you know about RV fridges, but the cooling unit comes off the back of the fridge once it's removed from the cabinate and they are easily rebuilt by the pro's and you retain the original fridge.
While I was searching for a local repair here in Seattle area I came across an add in the Portland Craigs List, and it looks like you have a guy there in Portland who specializes in rebuilding RV Fridges. I printed the CL add and saved it in my RV files, his name is Larry, his phone number is 503-964-1263, and all his rebuilt units carry a 2 year warranty.
The CL add says he has lots of old units that can be traded or he'll rebuild your cooling unit and reinstall it. He also sells new units if you want to upgrade. Be sure and have the make and model number when you call him.
My situation was compounded by the fact my fridge would not fit out any of the openings in my truck camper anywhere, they built the camper around the fridge, so the only way to get mine fixed was to seperate the cooling unit from the back of the fridge and take it in to have it rebuilt, by RV Mobile in Everett WA, and then put it all back together inside the camper. I just intalled mine tonight and it's now cooling down and running for the first time in years. Yeah!
Believe it or not, some boondockers get by with a 120V dorm fridge. It usually requires some solar, a good battery bank, and an inverter, but it is a common alternative to an absorption fridge. To boot, you don't have to worry about being level, and a dorm fridge will get your beer cold in a hurry.
If you are that happy with the unit (as it sounds like you are) I would just get it replaced and keep camping
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I have a 1989 Wilderness and my original frig died last year. You could do the ice thing but I'd consider it a temporary expedient. The biggest problem would probably be containing the water. Personally, I wouldn't consider a 120v frig a realist alternative, too much infrastructure required to suit me.
I sort of second HJGyswyt's post. If you frig is in good condition you can replace the cooling unit for about half the price. I considered that, but finally decided mine was showing too much wear and I replaced it, even though I thought they were overpriced. We got mine out the door, but had to take the door framing off to do it.