Confusing but simple tech problems

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DonTom

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Might be too late if there's only a nub of the cleaning rod in there but if you were to use a section of the rod that didn't swivel and threaded the brush onto that, then you could rotate the rod and brush at the end, which will allow the bristles to move and change orientation so you could pull it out. I've used rifle, pistol and shotgun brushes on all manner of engine exhaust and breather ports, and as long as you can rotate the brush via the rod they don't become "one way".

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
I will probably play around with it a bit more tomorrow, with various tools but I think it is hopeless.

-Don- Auburn, CA
 

Old_Crow

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Sorry I suggested it. I've used them for years in various automotive applications and never broken one. Mark and Lynx are right, if you can get it spinning, it'll probably come out. Those battery terminal brushes for the top post batteries work the same way, you have to turn them as you push and pull them through the terminal, or push them all the way through before you pull them back(I know you can't do that on the fridge).
 

Ex-Calif

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One thing I've learned in 45 years of wrenching is that there is always a way.

I am presuming this "tube" is in close proximity to the water jacket. Probably don't want to penetrate the tube...

My dad taught me, like a doctor, the first rule of wrenching is do no (more) harm...

Wrenching is just puzzle solving.
 

DonTom

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Sorry I suggested it. I've used them for years in various automotive applications and never broken one. Mark and Lynx are right, if you can get it spinning, it'll probably come out. Those battery terminal brushes for the top post batteries work the same way, you have to turn them as you push and pull them through the terminal, or push them all the way through before you pull them back(I know you can't do that on the fridge).
Don't worry, I am not blaming you. There was a lot of stupidly involved on my part to let this happen. I wasn't expecting it to be so difficult to remove and how these type of brushes are designed for one way--the wrong way. They probably would be the perfect fix if the rod was on the opposite end. The rod was thin and cheap and so it broke under the pressure of trying to remove. The thing wouldn't even rotate (and I could only try clockwise as the rod will unscrew). There is very little room to work there, which is one of the big problems.

But if I cannot get it out (and I doubt if I can) I will just use propane. If propane didn't work, I could replace the refrigerator with a new one for about the same price as the battery I just purchased. The problem there is I don't want to spend too much money on such an old RV (the 300 AH Lith battery can always be used in my next RV, unlike the refrigerator).

-Don- Auburn, CA
 

DonTom

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Don, no that outlet for my converter is not a GFI outlet. At least there's no buttons on it.
Many GFI protected outlets have no buttons. They are often wired to other GFI outlets that do have the buttons. My RV is that way. My outside outlet has no buttons but if there is a ground fault the outlet in the bathroom shuts it off.

But I discovered in my RV every outlet is GFI protected in one way or another EXCEPT for the refrigerator. So I wonder if that is the norm. Perhaps when they switch to AC from propane it causes too many false trips so GFI isn't used there. GFI isn't perfect in the real world. That is the only reason I can think of for there to be no GFI at the refrigerator. And the user wouldn't even know it tripped as with my refrigerator, there is no indication if it is running on propane or 120 VAC.

-Don- Auburn, CA
 

DonTom

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There are also brushes made for round tubes other than gun barrels, aka "bottle brushes" or "pipe brushes".
Yes, I know and I purchased a bunch of those also at the same time. I even used them before I tried the gun brushes. They went in and out just fine. But they were a bit too soft, I thought. The gun brushes are stronger & tougher so I thought I would try those also, which was a big mistake.

-Don- Auburn, CA
 

Ex-Calif

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I salvaged quite a few items from my cabover camper. Yes a fridge is pretty specific.

I tend to take a break from things like this, take a deep long breath and think, "What would McGiver do?" - LOL...
 

DonTom

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Here is an update. I just took a good look at it (last night it was getting a bit dark when I was working on it and then I never took a good look).

The rod did NOT break. In fact, the rod is quite tough, but is still in perfect like new condition.

That happened was the sleeve that goes over the brush came off the brush inside the tube. The sleeve is still on the rod that I removed! The top of the brush looks like it is near the top of the tube. Less than a half inch from the top. I tried pushing the sleeve over the brush and there is some hold, but it keeps slipping off. I am trying to come up with ways to make it hold tighter. But I am now thinking it is possible to remove.

-Don- Auburn, CA
 

Ex-Calif

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Can you make a hook out of some pretty stiff steel wire or rod? That's what I would be trying - something like a crochet hook.

Another thought is something like a crossbow folding broadhead. That is something that goes in beyond the stuck brush and expands and will only come out if the brush comes too...

And if you have limited but straight access you could make the shaft really long. I've attached vice grips to stuff like that. The jaw of the vice grips gives me something to tap on with a hammer and coax things along.

Just spit balling here...
 

DonTom

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Here is another update. It looks like nothing really broke at all. I took one of the new brushes apart to take a good look at how the sleeve works. The sleeve screws into the brush as if reverse thread. But the rod screws into the other end of the sleeve in the normal direction. So too much turning in either direction will either remove the sleeve or the rod with the brush stuck inside the tube.

However, I am having no luck getting the rod (with sleeve screwed onto the rod) into the brush. The main problem is I cannot see what I am doing. I am now trying to use the new sleeve I just took out from a different brush and trying to screw it back on. It does hold a little, but not enough to get the brush out.

-Don- Auburn, CA
 
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DonTom

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Still no luck, I played around with it for another hour or so today.

The manual makes it look like it could be possible to remove the entire assembly but even if so I don't think it is worth the trouble.

My old manual is much better than this one, on-line. Page six, figure six shows a bit more detail on my older manual (doesn't cover as many models, which makes it much better).

While I am somewhat tempted to take it all apart, I don't think I should chance trying such without clear instructions. But if I can get the complete tube out of the refrigerator, it should be fairly easy to find a way to get the brush out.

I will try for another hour tomorrow to get that brush out. That will be the final attempt, most likely. If I can't get it out soon, I will be happy if I can get it all back together well enough to work only on propane. The brush is now at the very bottom of the tube. That is the only chance I have to get enough pressure on the rod to get it screwed back on to the rod. I put some permanent lock-tite on the rod to hold the top of the sleeve on to the bottom of the rod so I can use some pressure as I turn CCW to get it on the reverse threaded brush without the top of the sleeve unscrewing from the rod. I can get it on, but with not quite enough hold to force the brush all the way out. A few times, I managed to get the brush up to the same old place it got stuck at to begin with. I think my tube is distorted there as that was the same place (or very near it) distance down the tube as the new 120 VAC heater element got stuck at.

But that fact that I can get it to hold somewhat tight gives me some hope it is possible to get all the way out. I am tempted to use some permanent lock-tite on the bottom of the sleeve and leave it overnight screwed on the top of the wire brush and then perhaps be able to use more force and see what happens. I figure I have nothing to loose.

-Don- Auburn, CA
 

Mark_K5LXP

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I can't really envision the area you have to work with but my general observation on it would be there's no reason you have to extract the brush intact. If you could get a rod in there, say about 1/3 the diameter of the tube and bash the he11 out of that brush, the bristles will deform and no longer offer a reverse barb on the inside of the tube. Then maybe a coat hanger/fish tape with a hook on the end could fetch it out.

Thinking about it a second if you could find a thin wall tube that would slip fit inside the heater tube and push it to the bottom, the brush should go inside the inserted tube and become captive inside of it.

Mark B.
Albuquerque, NM
 
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DonTom

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I GOT THE BRUSH OUT!!!!

But a MUCH different way than I expected. I discovered a couple of important things while working on it:

1. The tube is OPEN at the bottom just below where I thought the brush was stuck after I pushed the brush to the very bottom, trying to get the rod screwed on (never did). When the brush was stuck at the bottom, it was really the metal "floor" that make it seem stuck in the tube. It wasn't stuck in the tube at all after I once pushed it to the very bottom.

2. You can feel and see the bottom of the tube with a flashlight (flashlight needed to see even with daylight). It's way in the rear of the "protective cover" behind where the HV igniter is located.

It was easy to pull out the brush with a long nose when I once discovered what was really happening.

Old heater element fits back in easily. In fact, is quite loose even when all the way in.

New heater element still does not fit. I will try a new OEM next.

-Don- Auburn, CA
 
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DonTom

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I can't leave well enough alone. I have my new heater element stuck in the tube, but less than a half inch from where I need to get it.

I used 100 grit sand paper on the heater element and brushes (no gun brushes!!!) in the tube to get it in this far.

I am not sure if that is good or bad news.

My new battery just arrived, the refrigerator will have to wait!

-Don- Auburn, CA
 

DonTom

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When I ran the generator that time when my refrigerator heater element decided to short to the tube (and frame), it burnt a trace from J8 (AC heater element) to K2 (AC / propane select relay) on the refrigerator control board. I repaired that about an hour ago and wanted to try it out (outside with a flashlight again).

My RV refrigerator now works on both propane and 120 VAC (draws 2.1 amps at 120 VAC).

The only issue now is the smoke. Quite a bit of it. As I expected. From all that penetrating oil I used that got onto the insulation. I wonder how long it will take to burn that out. 20 minutes didn't seem to make any difference at all. But I assume if I leave it on long enough, the smoke will be gone for good.

Other than that, it's working, in both modes, but I didn't actually wait long enough let the freezer and refrigerator actually get cold. But it lit up on propane and the 120 VAC element is drawing the current and the housing is warm. The only issue now is the smoke, which should take care of itself in time.

-Don- Auburn, CA
 
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