The Joys of RV Life, Norcold Edition

The first time I set off in my new-to-me Funmover Motorhome, I had no experience with the world of Recreational Vehicles. Apart from the prior two months I had spent fixing all of the problems that I’d found with my new home, that is. (water damage, wiring problems, broken bits and bobs.)  It wasn’t a great start either, because before day one was over, I was parked on the side of the road with a tire about to come apart, and finding that my Sprint cell phone network didn’t work at all in Winnemucca, NV.

On day two, the front panel on my Norcold refrigerator started flashing lights at me, and it became an expensive ice chest for the rest of that first expedition.  Research led to a procedure to reset the circuit board that involved a jumper wire and repetitive disassembly, a minor PITA.  In the end it turned out that the flue for the propane burner was dirty, which degraded the cooling unit’s output and the electronics were smart enough to shut down to prevent a fire. The service manual calls for annual cleaning, which requires removing the unit from the wall, a royal PITA.

Fortunately, that series of warning lights has not returned, despite not having repeated the flue cleaning in four years. But now I’ve got bags of ice in my fridge again, and this time the solution is elusive. It works fine on AC power but will not stay lit on propane, which is a problem camping on the Texas beach. The igniter/flame sensor unit tells the control board that the flame is on, which stops the spark firing and keeps the gas solenoid open. But in my case, the spark keeps firing after the flame is lit, and the board shuts off the gas. I cleaned the parts and checked the gap, then bought a new ignitor, but the problem remains. All signs point to a failed control board. I removed the board yesterday to clean and inspect it, and there are no signs of failure… no burned capacitors or cracked traces. I suppose that the relay that controls the gas valve could have died, not receiving the fire signal from the igniter… Whatever, it looks like I need to order a $200 part and wait for it to arrive.

In the meantime, I’m looking on the bright side and clearing the junk out of the fridge. The dry ice I got the first day lasted 36 hours, but it did freeze a beer I had too close… frozen beer exploded all around my living room when I absentmindedly opened it. That was great.

Running the generator for two hours at a time a couple of time s a day extends the thawing period. Last night I cooked the pork shoulder that was in the freezer and today I cooked the remainder of my bacon. Not a week for a low-cal diet, it seems.

I should be grateful really. Many people with a different Norcold model had their homes burned to the ground due to a design flaw.

UPDATE: I ordered a new control board from The Norcold Guy and it resolved the problem.  Fast shipping, good quality 👍👍.

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