Replacing a fridge... any ideas &/or suggestions

Submitted: Friday, Feb 01, 2013 at 09:23
ThreadID: 128531 Views:7153 Replies:7 FollowUps:12
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High everyone,

Our CoolMatic fridge just "spat the dummy', and we would like to hear any suggestion and guidence to the options to consider.

We have a space between 550 to 610 wide and a hight up to 1430 with modification to existing top cupbpoard. We prefer the 12 v only option but are open to options. Current fridge is around 189 litre capacity and would like something around the same or a little larger.

Look forward to feedback as soon as possible... we will need to make a decision in the coming 10 days or so... namely by the 10th/11th Feb 2013.


Craig and Jan Watson
otherwise know as FUGLY
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Reply By: Innkeepers - Friday, Feb 01, 2013 at 20:00

Friday, Feb 01, 2013 at 20:00
Hi Craig n Jan,
We were faced with that exact same scenario about 4 years ago when our 190L Coolmatic stopped working altogether. After a lot of searching and measuring and head scratching, we found nothing that would fit and had the size we wanted without major changes to the woodwork.

We contacted a local fridge mechanic who looked at it for us and he advised us to try a replacement Black Box first before we looked into the compressor. His experience was that the earlier black box had a history of failures and the compressor rarely gave trouble.He was able to bypass the Black Box and get the compressor running as a test.

In light of the results of our fruitless search for a replacement fridge, we were prepared to replace both black box and compressor if we had to as the fridge cabinet was in perfect condition and required no modification to framework.

In the end the Black Box was the culprit as the fridgee had suspected and the repair including the replacement Black Box cost us around $400.00 which was more than acceptable to us four years ago....And it's still working well to this day.

Hope this helps in a little way.
Rick n Julie
AnswerID: 585330

Follow Up By: Fugly - Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 07:29

Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 07:29
Thanks for the prompt response, Rick n Julie,...

I will get the fridgee guy to have a look with that in mind... ours hasn't stopped altogether, and it may be a different scenario, but it worth a try. The freezer is working, but the fridge only get to 10 degrees below ambient temperature.

At present, he is saying that there is a leakage of refridgerant somewhere that is untraceable within the walls... let's see what he has to say.

Thanks again,

Craig and Jan
FollowupID: 854897

Reply By: Grumblebum & Dragon - Saturday, Feb 02, 2013 at 19:29

Saturday, Feb 02, 2013 at 19:29
Same experience, had to replace the black box, cost about $200 and relatively easy job provinding you have double jointed elbows and 15" fingers. In retrospect I should have just slid the fridge right out onto the floor of the van and done it the easy way. There is not much more to the fridge than the compressor and the black box. Probably cheaper to replace both than replace the entire fridge.


AnswerID: 585331

Follow Up By: Fugly - Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 07:33

Sunday, Feb 03, 2013 at 07:33
Thanks John...

Have a look at the reply I gave to "Rick n Julie"... it sounds like yours and their problem may be a little different, but I will get the fridgee to have a look.


Craig and Jan
FollowupID: 854898

Reply By: Boystoy - Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 20:08

Monday, Feb 04, 2013 at 20:08
Hi everyone,

It seems the faithful old Coolmatic 190 litre frig has a use-by date. We noticed ours playing up at the recent Rydal Muster. The freezer was over cold and the frig was a bit warmer than normal.
A day before our next trip, I started up the frig as normal, but found we had a freezer & a room-temperature storage cupboard.
I took frig & BT to a frig service company, who traced the fault yo an unrepairable gas leak within the cabinet.
Managed to find the only replacement that would fit in the existing cabinet was a 160 litre Waeco. Apparently, the 190 litre is no longer produced, and you either go to a 220 litre, or a smaller model.
Our departure was delayed by a day, but seeing it was only to be a relatively short trip, the frig was secured in the cabinet with four eye-hooks and a length of rope. This worked until we got home.
The Waeco has a 40mm clearance all the way around the cabinet opening, so how to mount? Fortunately my son has an engineering business, and made up for me four stainless steel angles 50 x 50 x 1.6mm.
After some considerable time in getting four 45 degree angles cut & ground, I used pop rivets and sikaflex to attach the angles to the frig. It was also necessary to sit the frig in a 20mm plywood base, then apply foam tape around the edge of the angles and screw them onto the cabinet.
Works well, and we really haven't really noticed the reduction in frig size.
The real nasty bit was the replacement cost of $1750.00!! Maybe if we had had the luxury of time, we could have shopped better, but its done now.
I have photos of the mounting of the Waeco, and if anyone is interested, I could post these, but at present they are still in the camera.
The old frig is waiting the next council cleanup, so if anyone needs a working compressor, its yours!

A Bushtracker (or BT) is a "Boys Toy"

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AnswerID: 585332

Follow Up By: Fugly - Tuesday, Feb 05, 2013 at 21:38

Tuesday, Feb 05, 2013 at 21:38
Hi Boys Toy...

Have you seen the response from surfy53 on this "thread" of info?


Craig Watson
FollowupID: 854899

Reply By: surfy53 - Tuesday, Feb 05, 2013 at 20:06

Tuesday, Feb 05, 2013 at 20:06
Hi Boystoy,
Do you have glass or wire shelves in that old fridge. We noticed over the Christmas break that our fridge compartment, with glass shelves, wasn't as cool as it should be. Having said that, the temperatures at the time were in the high 30's to low 40's.
I just thought that wire racks would allow an unrestricted flow of cool air throughout the fridge.
AnswerID: 585333

Follow Up By: Boystoy - Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 at 02:31

Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 at 02:31
Hi Chris,

We had wire shelves in the old Coolmatic, and glass in the new Waeco.
I installed a 100mm box fan under the top shelf in the coolmatic, which solved the problems of frozen tomatoes (if they got too close to the back).
No similar problems with the Waeco, bit my wife believes that the cold air does not circulate as well as the old frig. I am considering putting the fan in this unit to see if any difference.
Seems like glass shelves are the go in new fridges. Just bought a new frig for the farm & it also has glass shelves.

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FollowupID: 854900

Reply By: Fugly - Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 at 11:07

Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 at 11:07
Well guys,

We have made a final decision on the fridge... the CoolMatic HDC-221... it is the same width as the old CoolMatic (550 mm), but around 195 mm higher (or 175 to 180 mm if you dispense with the top cover of the fridge). It has a 171 litre fridge and a 41 litre freezer... a small gain of 22 litres over the old one.

It comes with a few complexities of fitting, with no real specific anchoring points. There is also very little access to the back of the fridge space in the van... it is (unusually) mounted across the rear of the van immediately to the right of the entrance door. The fridge only has side ventilation. I think I'll need to cut through the ply between the cupboard to its left and patch over afterwards. Never a dull moment is there!!!

The dispensing of the over head door and cupboard that is only 140 high x 500 wide and 660 deep is not too big a compromise to make.

There are no brackets provided and one has to be extremely careful to not drill through the side walls of the fridge. Now if I was a contortionist with 6 arms and 30 fingers that where 5 feet long!!!

I will try and remember to take a few photos in progress and get them onto the BOG site for all to see if they wish.

Thanks for the input,


Craig and Jan
Alias, FUGLY
AnswerID: 585334

Follow Up By: Fugly - Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 at 11:11

Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 at 11:11
... and perhaps a bit of superglue and a hook from the sky might just do the job???
FollowupID: 854901

Follow Up By: Turist - Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 at 19:01

Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 at 19:01
".......There are no brackets provided and one has to be extremely careful to not drill through the side walls of the fridge. Now if I was a contortionist with 6 arms and 30 fingers that where 5 feet long!!! ......"

Don't discount the use of Sikaflex for bonding mounting points to the surface of the fridge.
We used it extensively for holding down appliances on boats.
A strip of 50x50mm angle correctly bonded to a properly prepared surface is almost impossible to remove.
Check with the Sika rep for the correct product for your application.

"Do It While You Can"
Nobody is getting any younger.

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FollowupID: 854902

Follow Up By: Fugly - Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 at 22:31

Wednesday, Feb 06, 2013 at 22:31
Thanks Bob... Good thinking... and my son is crash repairs so can get the Sikaflex at a good price too!


FollowupID: 854903

Reply By: Fugly - Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 at 05:41

Tuesday, Mar 19, 2013 at 05:41
Hi everyone,

Well, here we are just over 6 weeks on, and we’re still dealing with the fitting in of the new fridge!!! We knew it had no real means of attachment and that we had to essentially "make it up as we go along", but it has been become a real challenge.

The “old fridge” just slid in on its base with angle aluminium siliconed around the sides, top and bottom to then screwed into the opening... not so simple with the new one!!! The fridge is not dissimilar to any standard home fridge in its “freedom” to just sit on the floor on “rear rollers and front legs”. It also has the capacity to lean at up to 30 degrees!!! (How the hell do you stop the fridge from moving about in that situation???)

The “mechanicals” in the back of the fridge sit on cross-members that protrude around 25-30 mm below the base and has two rollers amongst the cross-member with around 35 mm total protrusion. The front has two screw-in, “rise and fall” adjusters that are around 45 mm in height, adjustable to 50-55 mm... Thus, there is an auto “lean backward” angle of the fridge.

However, to attach the fridge into the opening one has to make a decision... do you want the body of the fridge “plum” with the opening, namely, vertical, like the old fridge was or to sit it at an angle??? We chose the former!!!

We have made up some spacers to “silicon” on the 40 x 25 white, angle aluminium with an accurate 3 mm thick “super silicon adhesive”, all flush with the vertical front body of the fridge... what a challenge.

Then there is the problem with the bottom itself with a space between the front, flat fridge base and the van opening of around 30 to 35 mm at the front (via the rear rollers and removal of the front screw adjusters). The outcome has been to sit the fridge on strategically placed and very stiff 30 mm foam at the front and some timber of appropriate thickness between the rear cross member and rollers and the opening. The front angle brackets are screwed to the opening with 10 stainless screws on both sides. The fridge is then screwed to the floor with some angle brackets at the back of the fridge to hold it in place. We will need to squeeze in through the side vent to do all this.

All-in-all, this has been one real challenge which we would not wish on our worst enemy... whoever that may be!!!

...and, to cap it all off, the top “clear plastic” shelf unit inside the door has a crack in it... already, and before use!!! Makes us feel a little conscious of the future of these things. Covered by warranty at the moment but after 12 months since purchase we will have to pay for this sort of thing!!! Some things just aren’t what they used to be!!!

We have taken some photos as we went along and we will hopefully find the time somewhere to add them for all to see.


Craig and Jan
Alias... Fugly
AnswerID: 585335

Follow Up By: muddywaters - Friday, Mar 22, 2013 at 02:41

Friday, Mar 22, 2013 at 02:41
3 days before leaving to go away last week our HDC 221 died. warranty is so bad and slow with Waeco [talking 4 weeks pull the fridge out and send it away] we chose to get it fixed ourselves through a local fridge guy. Found the compressor had siezed cost us 1K to get fixed locally but done in 4 days, 2days to get the parts up from Melbourne. Thought that was'nt to bad. The problem is when they see you have a caravan they think you are easy pickings.
We are away until late April on the Limestone Coast currently
bunkered down in the scrub at Cape Banks having everything blown away.
Regards Christine & Andrew
FollowupID: 854904

Reply By: Fugly - Friday, Apr 12, 2013 at 02:11

Friday, Apr 12, 2013 at 02:11
Hi everyone...

Well, as for the fitting in of the fridge unit... what an exercise!

We pulled out all the fridge shelving and fruit/veg basket to lighten the load a little (and not to break anything!!!) and fitted the fridge into the opening.... all OK and the angled aluminium fitted perfectly around the opening. Proceeded to screw it all into the opening and then went to open the fridge door to fit the shelves! The damned thing would not open far enough because the van door handle stopped the door from opening fully.

Remember that the fridge is mounted across the rear of the van, just inside the door.

OK!!! Let’s open the door! Still not enough opening and had to remove the upper and middle receiving door catches too!!! Finally, only just fitted the shelves in and re fitted the door catches.... phew!!!

Now of course, the fridge door won’t open ideally and makes continued contact with the door handle... damn!!!

I have now thought about refitting the fridge into the opening by “moving” the fridge as far to the left as the cabinetry will allow (approx 25mm), and bringing the whole assembly around 25 mm “out” by fitting some 25 mm square Mountain Ash to the Top, Left and Bottom of the fridge opening and an “L-shaped” angled piece 50x 50 x25 thick to the right hand side. This “mountain ash” should be “screwed and glued” to the opening from the inside. This should allow for the wider, if not complete opening of the fridge door. This exercise is a little way down the “To Do List”!

Anyway, the fridge works.... still having a few hassles ironing out the fridge settings, but that is another story.


Craig & Jan
Alias ... Fugly
AnswerID: 585336

Follow Up By: NIK `N` OFF - Friday, Apr 12, 2013 at 06:47

Friday, Apr 12, 2013 at 06:47
Sounds like you have way more patience than i do .......

I dread the day our fridge hits it's use by date, just about everything else can be retro fitted, but the fridge being built into a specific size is a worry. It would be another excuse to drive back to Bushtracker :-)
FollowupID: 854905

Follow Up By: Fugly - Friday, Apr 12, 2013 at 08:16

Friday, Apr 12, 2013 at 08:16
Hello Mick & Vickie,

...trouble is, it was the input by Bushtracker themselves that led me to making the decision to choose the HDC fridge over the RPD one...

Fortunately I had the BT at our house and could live without the “on board” fridge for a while... also have an Engel in the back of the Toyota LC when we did go away for a week to Adelaide.

Yorketown is a long way from the BT workshop too!!!

Thanks for your comment though.


Craig & Jan, alias Fugly
FollowupID: 854906

Follow Up By: NIK `N` OFF - Friday, Apr 12, 2013 at 19:28

Friday, Apr 12, 2013 at 19:28
"Yorketown is a long way from the BT workshop too!!! "

Not as far as Safety Bay, WA :-)))

As a point of interest, when we had our 07' BT built i asked and paid extra for the RPD 190lt [Black flush fitted] Waeco. Touch every piece of wood around lol ....., apart from replacing a thermostat, and the fan that blows over the compressor It has been an excellent fridge.
FollowupID: 854907

Follow Up By: Fugly - Saturday, Apr 13, 2013 at 07:41

Saturday, Apr 13, 2013 at 07:41
Hello again...

As I understand it, the RPD's now come as a "175" and a "215" version... therefore I believe any NEW RPD will either be smaller in size (1422 h x 629.5 w) or larger (1579 h x 629.5 w) than your RPD 190.

The space we had to deal with could just handle the width but we were limited to the "175" version due to the MAXIMUM HEIGHT being just enough to handle our 'modified' opening. Might have had problems that we are expriencing with the main door handle as well.

Also, like I have said, the discussion with Mr Bushtracker himself said not to use the RPD version if "going bush". Couldn't really get a "categorical" reason why though!!!

Any way, hope you never have to face the issue!!!


Craig and Jan

Alias... Fugly
FollowupID: 854908

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