Refer…Ice Maker

When I bought the ’02 Winnebago Journey, I wasn’t really worried about the small stuff. But as you can imagine, it turned out that indeed, there was some small stuff wrong with it. After all, it was 14 years old at purchase, though it didn’t show it. And with only 70,000 miles on the odometer, it hadn’t seen much use either.

In any event, after moving in, I soon discovered that the ice maker wasn’t working. Took a little research, but I found that the water shutoff was under the sink. The tube travels from under the kitchen sink, where it’s spliced into the main supply tube, through the cabinetry, to the water valve in the outside refer compartment. OK, the shutoff was turned off at one point, so I turned it back on. But still no ice. It stayed that way for several weeks, as I don’t use ice much anyway, it’s just not a high priority.

But then my brother traveled with me for several days. He’s the type that likes an evening libation with ice. So we had to buy a 5 kilo bag of ice. Since that’s the only size the store had, we ended up tossing 2 kilos so the rest would fit in the freezer. After that, I decided that I should take a look online at replacements for it. Amazon has them at $140. They even list one with the exact same part number for $350! Yikes! But, eBay has them at $70 including shipping. Better, but, I didn’t have much to do, so I figured I’d take a look at it first, see if it’s something I can fix.

Since I knew it was just not working, there was no reason to test it inside the refer following the test procedure in the service manual so I removed the 4 bolts holding it, disconnected the 4 wire cable, and pried the thermal fuse device from under the holding clip…without turning off the refer. So I could work on it on the table.

Norcold Model N84XIM

Norcold Model N84XIM

The white cover on the near end just pries off, which revealed this (note – some of these pictures are ‘after modification’ shots):

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERANot much there to debug. I started by marking the location of the large white disk (turned out that wasn’t necessary), then tried carefully prying it off. No go. Thought I’d break it before getting it off. OK, so then I removed the three screws (two shown in the above picture) from the case and the back plate came off. Annnnddd some part fell out and dropped on the floor. Great. And here’s that part with the pliers on it. Let’s call it an actuator arm. I could see that the little molded in clip on the end of that shaft (between the jaws of my pliers) was broken. And the spring had fallen out too, so I figured they must be related somehow?

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It took quite some time just staring at it to figure out where the arm fit, and how the spring attached to it. But when I figured that out, it revealed that as the ice maker motor rotated the ice ejector’s fingers to push out the ice cubes, the broken pivot shaft of that arm sort of got walked out a bit from its hole and got jammed in the wrong place. Ahhh ha! I had a cause of the non-operation. So, now all I had to do was find a solution. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASee that spring? That’s where I discovered it belonged, and then the shaft with the broken piece slipped in that hole the loops of the spring surround. In order to see how things operated, I removed the two screws holding the motor and disengaged it from the gears so they would turn freely by turning that white central post. That post turns the ice ejecting fingers when the motor’s operating.

Once I’d figured out how that piece on the floor was suppose to be mounted, and figured out how the spring went in there, I put it all back together just to observe how it was suppose to work when the motor rotated. This pic shows how the spring is positioned before wiggling the actuator arm into that hole while slipping over the switch contact, and sliding the actuator arm’s slot onto the little pin on the underneath of that 2nd actuator shown here on the lower left…that’s the shutoff. The bale slips into the hole on the top of that cam (white plastic piece on the lower left), and when it’s pulled up by you, or pushed up by ice, it rotates that actuator which pulls the other actuator arm (see the picture following the next picture) away from the central shaft, which operates that switch…turning off the mechanism.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA This shot below shows the actuator arm in position. It would walk out of that hole after 3 or 4 rotational operations. It only moves around 20 degrees but that’s enough for it to work its way out of the pivot hole.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Took an hour of searching through my supplies of spare parts trying to find some way to keep that plastic arm in it’s hole but eventually, I came up with this repair idea, I’d just add a piece of metal to hold the arm in place:

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After a lengthy search, I found that thin piece of metal stock in one of my many parts bins, it’s 1.24″ X 0.3″. I didn’t measure the thickness, but it is thin. It’s strong too. Like spring steel. It already had a screw hole. It’s held at the correct height by a standoff and is screw and locking washer held in position over the top of the actuator arm, holding the arm down so it won’t drift out of its hole. When the motor rotates, it rotates that central shaft counter clockwise, and that cam on it pivots the actuator arm, perhaps 20 degrees. The actuator arm has tabs on the underneath that operate a double pole switch that, aside from OFF, operates in turn, the motor, the tray heater, the ejection fingers, and the water valve. All controlled by the actuator arm. So it’s kind of important that it stay in position. When it’s completed it’s cycle, the cam allows the spring to snap it back to ready position.

Found a ‘just right’ standoff of 5/8″, drilled the mounting hole for it in the ice maker case at 1.2″ from the right edge and 0.5″ from the bottom. Doesn’t need to be terribly accurate placement since I could position the metal tab in a wide arc over the actuator arm pivot point. The overhead clearance needed for the standoff and screw head was ~ 0.8″, and the case has 1.3″, plenty of room.  Used lock tight on the screws so they’ll stay in place.

After installing the custom holding tab over the actuator arm, it was time to test. Here’s the two drawings I used to test with:

Icemaker Schematic (1) Icemaker Wiring Diagram

I used the Norcold Service Manual, Publication No. 619394E (01-28-04) for instructions on the way to test it. It assumes the ice maker is still in the freezer and is cold so I had to adapt it a little as I am testing on the table, at room temperature. First I did the resistance measurements and those were fine. Than I used a power cord with a switch, soldering the bare ends to short pieces of 14 ga wire, insulated those connections, than poked the bare ends of those 14 ga wires into holes L & N (Line & Neutral) to apply power. (See picture #2 above and you’ll see holes just big enough for meter probes & 14 ga solid wire, with letters molded into the case near them). Since it was out of sync, as soon as I applied 120 Vac the motor started turning and it continued until it reached the end of the cycle, shutting off automatically. Than with my digital meter plugged into hole V, I shorted the terminals in holes T & H with a 14 ga jumper wire. This starts the cycle. Held the jumper there for 25 odd seconds (the book says 15 seconds but that didn’t work for me). The heater began to heat up (I could feel it, and also measured an increase to 1.6 Amp used by the heater with a clamp on ammeter), while the motor turned the ice ejector through its range of operation. The meter showed that after the ice dumping cycle, the mechanism turned off the tray heater and closed the switch that applied 120 V to the water valve connection for a refill. So all seemed good and passed the tests by Norcold.

Great success!

Some additional information. The 4 wire connection plugs into the side of the ice maker as shown in the diagram above. If your refer doesn’t have that wire bundle in the back of the refer, you can buy an entire kit, or buy the pieces from Amazon. The black wire has an in-line thermal fuse that’s clipped to the body of the ice maker and in the event the tray heater doesn’t shut off for any reason, the fuse opens, removing power. And probably saving your frozen foods. The chassis ground wire is because of the presence of both 120 Vac and water and it attaches to the metal parts of the ice maker.

It’s really a simple mechanism and personally I wouldn’t ever consider paying more then $60 for it. I feel a little bad for the people that may have paid $360 plus another $125 labor. They were ripped off, no question. Might not even have noticed it if they had other work done, until they had the chance to sit and look at the bill carefully.

This little job saved at least $60, and up to $350, (not to mention labor if I’d taken it to a shop) and I had some fun working on it. Even though it’s repaired and working, I’ll not install it until I have another guest that needs ice over the long term. It takes up more room in the freezer than I want to give up. Since my brothers visit, I bought an ice cube tray and now have cubes of ice for ice hungry visitors.

 

 

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