Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.

Henry David Thoreau

Tales of a Warm Refrigerator

Sunday June 14 to Thursday June 18, 2015                                                                                  Previous post link:
Big Meadows Campground                                                                                                                             Sunrise in the Big Meadow                 
Shenandoah National Park, Virginia




SUNDAY JUNE 14 cont.


It’s only 8:00 in the morning, when I return from  my wonderful morning in the meadow (see link above for most recent post).   I eat some breakfast – raw oats, heritage flakes, sliced banana, ground flax seed and blueberries.  It’s a great day and perfect temperature for cleaning off the solar panels.




Then just right for sitting around and reading. David’s reading Idylls of the King by Tennyson.  Don’t ask me why.  I’m reading the place appropriate Shenandoah:A Story of Conservation and Betrayal.




We don’t actually get much reading done.  We’re too busy watching the actions going on around us.  I don’t mean our fellow campers.  They are all out and about.  We’ve left the park to them today.  I mean the permanent residents of the campground.

For instance, while we are sitting in our new loungers a red start flies in and out of the tree just in front of us.  And then two of them do. 



They hardly stop for an instant so these pictures aren’t the best.  But aren’t they stunning?




While they are “out and about”, David sneaks a picture of their nest which is in the tree directly in front of our chairs.  Talk about a front row seat.



But they aren’t the only ones busy today.  A wren has a juicy morsel in another tree by our patio.


The Brown Thrasher is looking for things in the grass.




Not sure why after looking so carefully around this chipmunk decides to sneak up on our patio.  He seems totally surprised to see us there.  Wish I could have gotten the look on his face when he looked up.  Shock and then zoom he’s gone.   Really too funny!



Here he is on the patio just beyond the awning screen which we took down in order to see the birds better.





Unfortunately that was the best part of this day.  We have been having off and on trouble with our refrigerator keeping things cold.  The freezer is fine, the fridge not so much.   We’ve called Norcold and been told basically that they don’t talk with end users only with certified Norcold technicians.  Emphasis on the word CERTIFIED.  Without internet or a phone it’s pretty tough to find such an animal. 

At dinner time we find the fridge is now at 50 degrees.  We have an N code.  We clear the N code.  We get another N code.  The manual says this will turn off the fridge and lock it.  The only way to get the N Code cleared is ….you guessed it….by a CERTIFIED Norcold technician.   We’re going to lose all our food and we are in excess of 20 miles from the closest grocery so I go up to the lodge and search on the Norcold website for certified in our area while David hastily packs up Winnona for a trip to Charlottesville where we can plug into electricity and save the food while we hunt.



MONDAY June 15

We’re in town, we have internet and phone.  Monday morning I’m up early and calling the 4 places I found within 75 miles of Charlottesville.  Two are business and two are mobile techs.   The first business has no idea what I’m talking about.  They sell horse trailers.  Why are they on the Norcold website.  They have no idea.  Strike one.  So I call a mobile tech.  He’s 65 miles away and can’t come until Friday.  Nope, it’s 95 degrees down here in the foot hills.  The other tech is even further away so I break down and call the dealer.  Charlie Obaugh RV in Staunton.   They can take us at 10:30am and they do have a certified tech.

David takes Winnona over.  The tech checks everything out, AC voltage DC voltage to the board, burner flame, igniter, function of the solenoid, condition of the cooling unit which shows no sign of leaks.  He also does the service reset on the main board to clear the N code and shows David how to do it.  In short he can’t find anything wrong.  For this we are charged $40 but of course it was a 166 mile round trip and cost us more in gas to go over the mountain to the valley and back.  But it’s working better it seems so in the afternoon we come back up to Big Meadows where we still have our site waiting for us.





David has removed the thermister from the refrigerator at the technician’s suggestion to make it run at max.  Other than that he has no idea what to do.  That seems to be working and the food is cold enough though not down in the 35 to 40 range it really needs to be.  We’re hoping things will get better. 

In the meantime we enjoy watching this quartet wander around the campground.












We’re smiling at dinner.  The refrigerator is still working.  But of course, skeptic that I am, I’m not convinced it’s fixed.  Nobody did anything so I’m afraid that whatever is wrong, is still wrong.







I really do hate being right about something when I’d rather not be?  Well 24 hours on LP and the refrigerator is back to its tricks. It’s not cooling properly.   David has days and days of notes on this situation.  He’s recorded Temperatures and what else we were using and well those of you who know him can imagine the charts and lists that were created. 

He was checking with AM Solar to see if to see if the DC voltage when running the microwave might have dropped below the lower limit needed by the refrigerator DC circuit.  After checking our meters and their history we find it did not.

I keep repeating that the real clue here is that everything works fine on AC power and the freezer works fine on LP but not the refrigerator.  The problem is obviously something about the refrigerator and LP.

David goes down the mountain for his velcade shot.  I stay here with the refrigerator and make sure I use nothing all day long.  Nada, no electric, no solar, no LP.  Easy to do actually in the beautiful weather.

BUT when David returns, the refrigerator goes to N code again even without the thermister.  So, we reset it twice again and put it on AC on the batteries.  We sure can’t do that for long.  I’m pulling my hair out.

We can’t leave the refrigerator on AC over night or we’ll drain the batteries too low. 




In the morning, we find the temperature has climbed again, the n code is back. I clear it on the panel, it comes back, David clears it again.  The food that was re-chilled with electricity is heating up with LP. Norcold still won’t talk to us. I’m fed up with the whole thing and pitch a fit insisting that we are just going to stop collecting data and  replace everything we can.  If that doesn’t work I don’t have a clue.

So it’s back up to the lodge to use the internet where  I hunt around trying to find the specific thermister, burner/orifice kit and the igniter that this Norcold N822 needs and that I can get my hands on TODAY. Well of course Amazon has them all but there’s no delivering them today. Prime is now not over night which might be OK but 2 days which actually means 3 days I find out. If you order on Tuesday, they deliver on Friday. Two business days to get it to you. Nope. I call Charlie Obaugh back. They have one of the three.

David stays with Winnona and fixes her slide topper anti-flap bracket and puts a 3rd seal on the top of the front windshield where we have had a small leak. I take Ruby back down the mountain to Staunton and pick up the burner/orifice. Takes about 3 hours to get there and back driving 35 miles an hour on the Skyline Drive to the Route 33 exit and down into the valley. Cost of the part $48 (cost of the part from Amazon $30.50 + tax)



In 30 minutes, after days of calls and data collection and notes and two trips to Staunton not to mention a MOUNTAIN of  aggravation, David puts on the new burner/orifice and we are back in business. Everything is COLD again.

Yes the technician said the flame looked good. David thought it did too. But once he puts the new one on, he can see there is a BIG difference and I sure wish I’d thought to take before and after flame pictures for you. My advice after all of this is that if your refrigerator working on AC but is not cooling on LP and your freezer is,  just replace the burner/orifice no matter how the flame looks. It’s an inexpensive fix and could save you a lot of time and irritation.


Disconnect the burner from the burner tube feeder line which goes from the solenoid to the burner/orifice assembly.  Take the burner/orifice off, connect the new one on, reconnect them.  Test with soapy water and you’ve done it.   And you don’t have to be a CERTIFIED Norcold technician.




Not much difference other than color here but the larger openings clearly made all the problems.



Finally a sound sleep under a new moon without refrigerator worries.  
And most importantly, it stays fixed!! 
Definitely a happy ending to my tale.







  1. David sure is a talented guy and is wonderfully thorough on his data collection. We were so lucky we never had any major problems when we traveled. It would be tough to full time and not have repair skills under your belt! But one can always learn from others. I bet a lot of people will appreciate this post today!

  2. So glad that resolved...I can totally imagine your irritation and Dad's notes, numbers and graphs. Sounds like way too much driving and phone calls, but you got it done-well done! Now you're back to much better activities...bird watching, deer watching and chippy watching...I bet that little guy's face was a riot when he came upon you!

  3. All's well that ends well. I can commiserate with your frustrations.

  4. What a hassle. I hate hearing "has to be a certified tech." Which it seems that David, almost, is. Sure glad you had local entertainment to make the days better. And now a cold fridge.

  5. Makes you wonder why they didn't just replace that part when you took it in the first time even though the flame looked okay. Well, at least it's fixed! Good to know this is an easy repair if we should ever have similar problems.

  6. What a small nightmare! That was a lot of driving but so glad you figured out what was wrong and were able to solve it yourselves. Much cheaper (even with the driving) than a new frig!! With your camping so much without power, you definitely need this type frig.

  7. Ugh.....all that hassle.....Glad it's fixed and aren't you lucky that David could do the replacement rather than having to drive to Staunton (again). See you this week-


  8. I had a Dometic (if I remember correctly) in my 5th wheel and had on-and-off problems with it the entire time I owned the RV. Three things make me so glad I will never own another RV - emptying tanks, Dometic, and Thetford.

  9. There is actually a big difference in the size of the burner slots in your picture (even though your picture is a little fuzzy) and we had exactly the same problem with our Norcold this past winter while we were in Mexico. The size of those holes corrode and get larger over time to the point where the air/fuel mixture isn't right. People who are normally plugged into electric don't have this problem, so it's not really very common. But us boondockers who use their fridge on propane almost all the time have to be aware of it. I'd be asking for my $40 back from that RV dealer. Their technician should have caught that.

  10. Well alrighty...glad the fridge is back to rights and you can get on with the important stuff;o)) The birds, chipmunks and fawns are just precious!! They really make me smile:o)))

  11. yep if the norcold locks up all it takes is a magnet run over the outside and the switch resets saving all your food till you can seek out the "certified" folks...

  12. Have not had the propane problems but have had to drive to a dealer to have the code cleared. Man that made me mad. Like David the guy taught me how to do it but really that is ridiculous. I did not know about the magnet trick. Our problem was the thermistor.

  13. glad you finally got your fridge fixed.....I wish I had such luck with my leak that's giving me fits and sleepless nights....

  14. Good fix! I think I'm going to order that part to keep with all my other spare parts. Then I know my fridge will never need it. It's only the things you don't have parts for that Mr. Murphy attacks... ;c)

  15. Glad you got your fridge problem fixed! Thanks for sharing your "fix" with us -- I just read your post to Eric and told him to remember it just in case we ever have the same problem. RV'ing is always a learning curve, it seems. We just had a crazy water leak (turned into a geyser inside our trailer!) and it turned out to be a simple fix, but required several days of troubleshooting and a very inconvenient trip to the RV repair shop. Love your bird photos.

  16. All's well that ends well I suppose. It's wonderful that David is so handy and willing to tackle these things.

    Love the wealth of wildlife at your site!

  17. So glad that David is handy enough, and you were patient enough to get it done. Fridge problems are no fun! Lovely fawns you have visiting!

  18. We must admit to a bit of luck in that of all the parts we were going to replace had they had them, the only one they actually had in stock was the one we needed! That was very 'cool'! Also note that it matters which fin of the cooling fins inside the fridge that you attach the thermister to. Norcold will look this up for you and give it over the phone based on your model number. You don't have to be certified for that! Thanks to Sherry for making the second trip over to the dealer!

  19. I had to laugh when you were trying to read with all the bird activity. We always enjoy that problem. :)

    Are those fawns the product of more than one mother? They sure are cute.

    I'm glad you finally got the problem resolved. It was a hassle, but considering it's on a motor home, you got by cheap! I think the older refrigerators were made better. Our Norcold was less than 4 years old when it died. We had the dreaded yellow/green powdery leak which sealed it's fate. We're much happier with our residential refrigerator, but I know you need to be able to use the propane. Good job David.

  20. I love the color of that Trasher - looks like peanut butter :-) And is there anything sweeter than fawns? Except maybe a working refrigerator :-)))) I too am not a fan of "we didn't find anything wrong". Clearly the issue is the not finding, as obviously something is wrong! I'm happy we don't have a propane frig with all the hassles I see, but if something goes wrong with our residential it's going to be a bigger fix I'm sure :-(

  21. The fridge is a nuisance. Fortunately all that animal company is compensation!

  22. Sorry about all the trouble with the fridge, ugh - glad it's back working now. Really glad you were as close to home as you were. What fun critter visitors you had - they are lovely - all of them, but those sweet little fawns :) AND, a beautiful moon shot!

  23. I can relate to your frustrations. We have been there and it drove Steve nuts!
    Glad David was able to figure it out without being Norcold certified! I wish you the best that it will continue to cool your food all the time.


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