Shaking a propane refrigerator (or not)

Discussion in 'Refrigerators and Coolers' started by gcook12, Apr 5, 2021.

  1. gcook12

    gcook12 New Member

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    Sorry if this post sounds a little flaky but We have an old (85) starcraft galaxy that has a small propane refrigerator that does not work. I was told that sometimes the problem is that an orifice gets blocked and you can make them start working again my removing it turning it upside down and shaking it. Sounds a little unlikely to me but if it wont work I probably need to remove it anyway and make use of the space. I thought that I would give it a try by removing it, inverting it, and carrying it around for a few days/weeks in the back of my truck.

    Has anyone ever tried this with success?
     
  2. eoleson1

    eoleson1 Well-Known Member

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    Before you go shaking it up, what have you do so far to try and get it working?
     
  3. WrkrBee

    WrkrBee Un-Supported Member

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    I don't think gas refrigerators have an orifice, like compressor types.

    A gas refrigerator uses ammonia as the coolant, and water, ammonia and hydrogen gas to create a continuous cycle for the ammonia. The refrigerator has five main parts:
    • Generator - creates ammonia gas
    • Separator - separates the ammonia gas from water
    • Condenser - where hot ammonia gas is cooled and condensed to create liquid ammonia
    • Evaporator - where liquid ammonia converts to a gas to create cold temperatures inside the refrigerator
    • Absorber - absorbs the ammonia gas in water
    It works like this:
    1. Heat is applied to the ammonia and water solution in the generator. (The heat comes from burning gas, propane or kerosene.)
    2. As the mixture reaches the boiling point of ammonia, it flows into the separator.
    3. Ammonia gas flows upward into the condenser, dissipates heat and converts back to a liquid.
    4. The liquid ammonia makes its way to the evaporator where it mixes with hydrogen gas and evaporates, producing cold temperatures inside the refrigerator's cold box.
    5. The ammonia and hydrogen gases flow to the absorber where the water collected in the separator in step No. 2 mixes with the ammonia and hydrogen gases.
    6. The ammonia forms a solution with the water and releases the hydrogen gas, which flows back to the evaporator.
    7. The ammonia-and-water solution flows toward the generator to repeat the cycle.
     
  4. generok

    generok Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    What doesn't work? Does the flame not ignite or stay lit? Does it stay lit, but not cool down after 36 hours of continuous, level, operation?

    If the flame will not light, that is likely a LP issue. Either the flame orifice is clogged, the valve is bad, or there's no LP getting to the unit. If it lights, kind of lights, but won't stay lit, I place bets on old thermocouple.

    If it ligghts, but refuses to cool, that's more complicated. First, look around... there might be some yellow powder around, If so, yeah, you have issues. If not, and the flame lights, you still may have no ammonia in there.
     
  5. LjohnSaw

    LjohnSaw So many fish, so little time...

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    What I read a loooong while ago. IF (and a big IF) everything looks good: No yellow powder, no rust (both signs of a leak) and you have a flame but still does not cool - Take the refrigerator out and invert it (turn it upside down) and let it sit (I think it was 24 hours). No shaking required. This allows everything internally to recombine. Then set it back in place and make sure it is level before trying to run it. Light it up and let it cool 24 to 36 hours. These things are not great coolers - that is they do not have a lot of cooling power like your home fridge. Best to pre-cool the unit with a couple gallons of water frozen in your home freezer. That should cool it down in an hour or two.

    Now, if you suspect a clogged orifice, that would be for the propane flame. And, yes, mud dauber wasps or spiders are great at clogging them up! I found that my unit works twice as well with propane then on electricity. Also, a fan mod will improve it quite a bit.
     
  6. gcook12

    gcook12 New Member

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  7. gcook12

    gcook12 New Member

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    Sorry I took so long to reply. The f lol ame works fine no signs of corrosion it just doesn't cool. What made me suspect a blockage is one trip it cooled very well. I have not been all that careful to level it but will try that next.
     
  8. generok

    generok Well-Known Member Gold Supporting Member

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    All I can think of is if shaking it worked, then driving it around on the road is the most violent way I can think of to shake it... hence, I don't think shaking is going to do anything. Perhaps the upside down thing has some merit, I don't know though. But, in the full sense of not having some sort of horrible picture, of course take the fridge our of the rig before turning it upside down. ;)
     

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