Saturday, September 7, 2013

RV Maintenance - Appliances

Oven Maintenance

Our oven/stove unit is a Clare Magic Chef 747-4.  While our oven worked, it sometimes took a long time to get to temperature and the burner would go out before it got to temperature.  I took the burner assembly apart and cleaned up the burner tube. Next, I adjusted the thermocouple to make sure it was right in the pilot flame.  Then I brought it up to temperature, and it worked much better.  Since I had the oven heated up I thought I may as well make cookies!

Stove Maintenance

All the burners on our stove work fine so I didn't do much than regular cleaning.  Regular maintenance of the burners would be to make sure they are clean, and use a toothpick to clear any obstructions from the burner holes.

Hot Water Heater Maintenance

Our water heater is a 9-gallon National Travel Mite made by Traco Manufacturing in Calgary, AB. Most RV parts stores and dealers have never heard of it.  After doing some research it appeared that this company (or just the rights to the water heater) was bought out by Atwood so hopefully Atwood parts will fit it when we need to replace them.

While the pilot light lit no problem and remained lit, the main burner wouldn't always start and when it did it would take forever for the water to heat up, probably about two hours.  The burner tube is rusty and probably full of soot and spider webs, and the orifice is probably dirty too.  The air shutter was rusted off, so I used two metal hose clamps to make a new shutter.  If the burner receives too much air, it will roar like a jet engine.  Ours did sound like a jet engine until I made the new shutter for it.

This is the water heater with the collector box, combustion baffle and burner tube/pilot assembly disconnected from the gas control.  I used a flue brush to clean out the burner tube from both ends, and took out the orifice and soaked it in carburetor cleaner.  Next I adjusted the thermocouple to make sure it was centered in the pilot flame.  I also adjusted the pilot light as there was barely a flame until I turned it up a bit. The large grey screw on the front of the gas control is just a plug that hides the pilot light adjustment screw, so you have to completely remove that plug first.

Here it is all put back together.  Note the hammer in the corner.

The hammer is how I start this thing.  While the pilot is lit, when you turn the gas control to "on" the main burner doesn't light.  I think it's a stuck gas valve or something.  Anyway tapping the gas control with the hammer frees the valve and the main burner fires up.  I ran it to see how long it would take to get hot water, and this time after the maintenance it only took 20-30 minutes.

My mom, sister and I went on a trip in August in the Scamper and we all took hot showers back to back one night and had nice even-temperature hot water and never ran out.  At some point in the future we might replace the gas control, burner tube and pilot assembly.  The tank itself appears fine with no leaks.

One other thing I did to the hot water heater was I insulated the tank and hot water pipe.  I had some of that foil-type insulation in the shed so figured I may as well use it for something.  We now have warm water up to 24 hours after the hot water heater has been shot off.


Since our fridge is brand new (Norcold N300.3), it does not currently need any maintenance.  

In years to come however, the flame should be checked in the burner.  If the flame is burning poorly, if there is a yellow flame, or if the refrigerator isn’t operating properly in the gas mode it’s possible that the baffle inside the flue is covered with soot. Soot, rust and other debris can fall down and obstruct the burner assembly. When this happens it will be necessary to clean the flue and the burner assembly.

To do this, turn the refrigerator off and locate the burner. Directly above the burner is the flue. The baffle is inside the flue. Wear a pair of safety glasses and use an air compressor to blow air up into the flue. After the flue is clean, use the compressed air to remove any debris from the outside of the refrigerator compartment.

Now, turn the refrigerator on in the LP-gas mode to make sure it is working properly. Look for the bright blue flame. For a thorough cleaning of the flue and baffle it's quite a bit more complicated and is a topic for a future post as it is not something I have taught myself how to do yet.


Our furnace is a Hydroflame RC-16.  It is a radiant heater powered by propane.  This is the best type of furnace going for boondockers (dry campers) because it uses no electricity from the batteries (no fan, circuit board, etc.).  

Outside exhaust:

The following is maintenance that I performed on it:
  • Removed cover and vacuumed out area around furnace.
  • Cleaned the thermocouple with emery paper.
  • Used compressed air to blow dust and soot out of combustion chamber and flue.
  • Ran furnace and made sure thermostat cycled it on and off.
  • Ran furnace for three hours with a carbon monoxide detector to make sure there were no leaks.
It worked perfectly.

Since the instructions on starting it are difficult to read as they are posted on the inside of the furnace cover, I am posting them here.  That way if Jeff is ever without me on a trip he will know how to start it by pulling up this blog post on his phone.  One thing I might note though, is that although it says to hold the pilot button depressed for one minute, I've had to hold it up to three minutes - any less time and the pilot will go out.

That covers all of our appliances.  They are all working as they should with the exception of the hot water heater needing help from a hammer.

Below are links to all of my posts about the Scamper:


  1. maintaining the appliances are quite important in home improvement.

  2. Hi Cindy, my name is Walt and I live in Grants,NM. A friend of mine has a camper that has the exact same Hydro flame RC-16 furnace and I have been tasked with trying to get it operational for him. I have scoured the internet looking for info on this type and I came across your blog post. Do you have any instructions on how to pull the entire unit out of the wall. I have everything unscrewed and see nothing to hold it in place but is still being stubborn. Any information on this would be very helpful. My email is Thank u