Newbie in Idaho

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mbhales

New member
Joined
Aug 12, 2018
Posts
3
Location
Nampa, ID
Hi all, my name is Mike and I just bought a 1984 Fleetwood Wilderness 31 ft. 5th wheel.
My wife and I (and our four fur-babies) are going to live in it while we renovate the old family farm house we are buying. We expect to be in it full time for three or four months.

First off, I have absolutely no idea what size batteries I need. It came with one single automotive battery that wouldn't hold a charge and barely ran the landing gear. I want to put it back to the double configuration it is supposed to have. We will be on shore power most of the time. I'm thinking a couple of  Duracell BCI Group 31M batteries from Batteries Plus would be sufficient for what we want to do, but could be way off. (Cost is the major factor right now, and we'll likely sell the RV once the house remodel is done.) It has a 30-AMP service connection and I am not sure what shape the electrical system is in other than the battery was charged while driving, most of the driving and cabin lights lights worked, and it appears to have an inverter system. I have yet to try the water pump, furnace, tanks, etc. but was assured everything but the fridge worked.

Second, the Norcold 8310EG2 fridge is kaput. The heater gets hot, it gurgles like crazy when i plug it into 110 volts (bypassing all other wiring) but no cooling happens. It is out of the RV on the floor of my garage. I'm looking at getting a rebuilt cooling unit from http://www.rvcool.com/ as suggested in another thread here, but wondering if there are other options.

Any help and advice would be greatly appreciated.

PS: I have a 2009 Ford F25 with the 5.4L gas V8. I pulled the rig from Salmon, Id to Nampa with little trouble, but it seems under-powered for regular use for touring or even weekend jaunts. Trailer weighs around 7,000 lbs as near as I can tell.
 

darsben

Well-known member
Joined
May 30, 2018
Posts
2,194
Location
Central NY in summer beautiful Casa Grande AZ in w
Welcome.

Before you replace the cooling unit and since you will be in it and not moving plus hooked up to shore power have you thought of a residential fridge? A lot aof new rigs are coming with residential fridges
Also when plugged in do you get an ammonia smell or see any yellow powder? Either indicates a bad cooling unit
 

mbhales

New member
Joined
Aug 12, 2018
Posts
3
Location
Nampa, ID
Thanks for the welcome and advice!

No smell and no yellow powder, but it was sitting outside when I picked it up so it might have been weathered off. The previous owner had it upside down trying to get it to work. I am going to try the side/top/side/bottom rotation I've read about to "burp" the blockage out of it, but what I've read so far indicates that the gurgling noise means it is shot. (I don't know if it is due to over-heating or what, but it's worth one last try.) Even replacing the cooling unit ($525 + freight) is no guarantee it will work.

Yes, we thought about a residential unit. In fact, we have a giant side-by-side that will be our main storage (outside on a pallet). It would be much more convenient to have one in the cabin for daily use. But thinking of resale I'd like it to be close to original. However, it looks like it wouldn't be worth it as far as return on investment goes so I might find an apartment-size that will fit. I doubt I could get more than a couple thousand for it and already have $2,500 into it.

Another thought is to demo the whole thing when I'm done living in it and make an equipment hauler out of it. Maybe I can sell of some of the components to break even on it.

What are your thoughts on the batteries I'm considering? If I were going to keep it I'd go with the AGM type, but cost-wise and for what I'm going to be doing I think the wet cells will serve the purpose.
 

Gary RV_Wizard

Site Team
Joined
Feb 2, 2005
Posts
73,508
Location
At our Silver Springs FL home
The Duracell 31M is a decent choice for a deep cycle battery, but why two of them if you expect to have shore power 24/7?  Seems like a waste of money.  And are you sure the trailer originally had two batteries - most units of that vintage had a single Group 24 battery.  You only need the battery to help smooth out the converter power (assuming the converter/charger is original) and for back-up during an otage, so little reason to spend an extra $125 on a second one.

The new cooling unit should make that old fridge work - the only other components is the circuit board and that clearly works  ok.  However, the $525 could buy you a dorm or apartment size residential fridge that will cool better and more reliably and have more interior volume, plus it probably won't need defrosting either. The downside is modifying the cabinetry to fit it in.

I'd bet you can fit a 9-10 cubic foot residential in the space the old one occupied. Maybe somethng like this:
https://www.homedepot.com/p/Magic-Chef-9-9-cu-ft-Top-Freezer-Refrigerator-in-Stainless-HVDR1040S/205429605

As far as keeping it original for value, I think you are deluding yourself.  A 35 year old trailer has long since reached its price floor and the only thing that matters is whether everything is in working condition or not.
 

mbhales

New member
Joined
Aug 12, 2018
Posts
3
Location
Nampa, ID
Yep, but I already picked up the batteries. The rig has a battery compartment on each side, with the LP gas tanks in the middle, so it appears to have always had two batteries. The Converter appears to be working, and checking out all the other appliances now. At least the AC works!

The only down side I see is not having gas-powered refrigeration, but for now I won't need it. Might just plug that gas outlet for now and see what I end up doing later.
 
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