Dometic Refrigerator repair

Tom's RV Message Board: VAC Discussion List: Topics D - F: Dometic Refrigerator repair
By Joe DeLillo on Monday, March 06, 2000 - 05:37 am:

Hello Airstream lovers, I'm currently in the process of starting to restore my '59 Overlander. My first (and, I might add, my most difficult decision) is to decide on keeping my Dometic refrigerator which is original. The unit is a gas only unit, model #75A. My question is: does anyone still repair these units? I've heard that no parts are available for the burners on these units because they are ceramic. The burner on my unit seems to work OK , but I believe that the ammonia must need replenishing. If that's the case, I must have a leak in the system. The nostalgia of this white porcelain refrigerator makes me want to repair it or possibly retrofit a new style Dometic refrigerator to the preexisting stock refrigerator compartment. I know that some will call me crazy, but I want to keep this trailer as original as possible. I also need advice on the availability of the stock paint that was used on the walls and headliner. This paint is a "tricolor" spackle texture. The previous owners were smokers and I don't think the headliner will clean up as well as I would like. Any thoughts on these two problems will be greatly appreciated. I read these articles every night and enjoy them . I've restored small campers in the past and my profession is in electric and hydraulic tool repair. I've never seen this kind of support among collectors as I've read on this net. I hope with my previous and future restoration experience I can be of help to any Airstream owner out there.

Thank You,

Joe DeLillo

By D.A. Hughes on Monday, March 06, 2000 - 05:38 am:


A small point re. the ammonia filled portion. The liquid/gas inside is under some pressure and if you fracture the refrigerant piping anywhere a green/yellow gas/liquid will squirt out to 6 feet or so. This stuff is corrosive and nasty smelling, so don't break into the refrigerant system unless you're accustomed to dealing with such stuff - and do it outside. Best.

Peter Hughes

By Richard P. Kenan on Monday, March 06, 2000 - 06:19 am:


IMHO, if you have a leak in an old refrigerator, dump it. The refrigerant is ammonia (under fairly low pressure, 14-44 psi) and hydrogen (under considerable pressure, 325-350 psi) over water, with a little sodium chromate to negate the mildly corrosive effect of the ammonia solution. To get an idea of what's involved and how absorption refrigerators work, go to

which contains linke to "Troubleshooting and How Things Work," among others. They give a good description of the operation of these refrigerators. [Another "How Do They Work" kind of site is

I did not find this one as complete in its description]

Unless you're a professional refrigerator repair person, don't even think of trying to recharge it yourself. You can get replacement cooling units, but you'd still have a gas-only unit that's old and other parts may go soon.

Just my view - you have to make this decision in consultation with your pocketbook, since new fridges are not cheap.

- Dick

By JPPOLLY on Monday, March 06, 2000 - 06:20 am:

Joe, I also have a Dometic in my 64 GT and I am debating about what to do with it as well. One RV dealer said they could put rebuilt innards in it for $300. Has anyone gone this route?? I suspect there is a lot of dirt in the lines in my unit so I'm going to see if that is the main problem as a replacement 2 way is about $600 +. When I replaced the old regulator, I found one copper pigtail was completely solid with dirt.
Just Plain Polly
Western Slope of Rocky Mts.
1964 Globe Trotter

By Jim Dunmyer on Monday, March 06, 2000 - 06:21 am:

Go to for answers to all of your refrigerator questions.


By RJ & Krista Dial on Monday, March 06, 2000 - 06:30 am:

As to refrigerator repair, I've had two older Doemetics successfully repaired and a father-in-law who had new burner unit put in one. If the existing unit is special sized, or the door matches the cabinets, or the thought of $700 makes you pucker, there are shops that do nothing but fridge and appliance repair/installation. They keep the old trade-in units to come-up with parts for the antiques. There are universal burner units available, too. We found our shop in San Leandro, CA in the phone book under Rec Vehicle-Repairs.

The greatest source for places to get Airstream parts, supplies and things fixed is the Yellow Pages, followed by the internet search engine. I'm working on a source for that "Zolotone" interior finish you mentioned.

'65 Caravel