Dometic CFX Installation in a Palomino Bronco 1500

Once we decided on the Dometic CFX 65DZ refrigerator the task of installing it was moved to the top of my to-do list. If you missed out you can check out the reasons we choose to go with the Dometic CFX 65DZ and why we love it, here. The Dometic CFX installation was another crucial remodeling project that makes our full-time nomadic lives possible.

Removing the old Dometic 3-Way Fridge

Caution is needed when adjusting the propane lines in a truck camper.
I put tape over the handles so I wouldn’t accidentally open the tanks back up while I was removing the propane line from the fridge.

First I had to remove the old factory installed Dometic 3-way fridge. Safety is most important so I first shut off the propane gas on my rig at the tanks. I placed some tape over the valves so I couldn’t easily open them back up. It was now time to start the removal of the old fridge. I took out 2 screws from the control panel at the top of the fridge. This allowed me to pull it away from the rest of the unit giving me access to the hinges. Removing 2 more screws located in the top hinge from the fridge allowed the door to be lifted off.

Disconnecting the Three Connections

The back of the old factory installed 3-way fridge
The back of the old factory installed 3-way fridge has to vent to the outside. This is apparently a place where bugs come to die.

I then moved to the outside of the camper and removed both vent covers. Unplugging both the AC and DC power connections behind the lower cover was next. I then unscrewed the propane connection from the unit.

Sliding the Unit Out

The old Dometic 3-way Fridge
This was our very nice looking factory 3-way fridge. Unfortunately, it was a power hog.

It was now time to go back inside the camper and take out the 6 screws located around the edges of the fridge. Once those were removed the fridge slid out easily. It was a marginally heavy unit but more awkward than anything, especially in the confined space of the Palomino Bronco 1500. Jennifer had to help me get it through the camper door and down the steps.

A Craigslist Sale

I stored it in my garage and Jennifer listed it on Craigslist. It sold in 2 days. So, there is a market for these old 3-ways as some people love them. So if you have something similar take it slow in the removal process and keep up with all the pieces because these seem to be easily resold for a few hundred bucks. It was really nice to recoup some of the cost of the new Dometic CFX 65DZ.

Filling in the Holes in the Palomino Bronco 1500

Two holes after factory fridge removal
Once the old fridge was out we were left with two large holes in the camper’s sidewall.

Once the unit was out. I had to clean up all the old insulation, along with an amazing amount of dead flies. I am so happy this unit is gone and there is no place left for flies to come in, hide, and die. The Installation of the Dometic CFX 65 DZ is a nice upgrade as it doesn’t need to be vented or drained to the outside. I, therefore, needed to plug the drain port and fill in the two large vent holes in the camper’s side wall. We thought about putting a new window in the top vent hole but quickly decided that having the new fridge in direct sunlight was probably not the best way to keep it cool.

Using Our Old Hinged Wall

This next step is where some of you out there trying to do something similar may have to get creative. We had decided to remove the hinged back wall from our Palomino Bronco 1500 and had that entire piece to use for filling the holes left by the fridge removal (You can check out the remodel of the back wall here). I took those piece and cut them to fill the holes. I had to reinforce the edges of the new pieces with 1″ x 1″ pieces of wood.

Attaching the New Panels

Renovation for the new Dometic CFX installation
The patchwork on the inside of the camper that was needed to fill in the holes was an eyesore.

I then installed the finished panels in the holes and used liquid nails on the seams to lock the new pieces into place. I also used some thin luan wood pieces to screw the new piece of material to the surrounding side wall on the inside of the camper. For some reason, the new panels that I made from the back wall are slightly thinner than the sidewalls so a few small washers were needed to close the gap as well. Once these panels were in and secure I put ProFlex RV sealant around all the edges to make sure we didn’t have any moisture getting into the camper.

Covering the Seam

Camper patched and sealed after fridge removal
The outside of the camper all sealed up and watertight.

I only had one piece from the hinged back wall piece that was large enough to fill the holes so I used it to fill in the bottom section and then used two pieces tacked together with a central board ran up the middle of the inside to fill the second hole. Again I covered all of the seems with ProFlex sealant, but the result was less than pretty so I decided to put the old vent cover back in place. It obviously doesn’t vent, but it covers up the mess nicely.

Patching the Drain Holes

The last patch up job was two drain holes located under the old fridge area. I combined the holes with my jigsaw so that it was easier to cut one piece out of the back wall section to fill both. I used liquid nails and sealant on this piece as well.

Re-engineering the Area – Dometic CFX Installation

Once the outside was taken care of I moved to the inside and started to design what the new area would look like. I had two choices when it came to mounting the new fridge. I could have sat it parallel to the counter or perpendicular. To install it parallel I would have had to move the internal bathroom wall over a foot towards the back-end of the camper. We thought this would make the bathroom area very cramped so we choose to do it perpendicularly.

Capping the Propane

First thing I did was to get a brass cap for the propane line. I left the line in just in case I needed it in the future. I used a Rectorseal 5 with a brass cap to properly seal the line. Once the sealant had dried I tested the line with soapy water to ensure that there wasn’t a leak.

Removal of the Old Fridge Frame

The next step was unscrewing the table top that sat over the old fridge area. I had to cut away the old sealant to get the table top off. I then had to decide where to mount the electrical outlet. There was an old electrical outlet that the 3-way fridge was plugged into. This was very low in the space and since I had removed the access from the outside it would have been very hard to use and troubleshoot if it had issues. There was also an outlet that was on the side wall of the old fridge’s framing facing into the kitchen. I wanted to shorten this wall to make access to the new top loading fridge easier. This way we could also use the top of the fridge as more table space.

More Rewiring

I choose to remove the lower electrical outlet and turn the electrical outlet that was facing into the kitchen area 90-degrees and have it face into the camper. This would give me an option for shore power for the fridge as well as other appliances. I also choose to mount a 12V cigarette lighter right next to this outlet as the primary way of powering the new Dometic Fridge which is very friendly to my Solar System. You can get more details on that in our post about why we choose the Dometic CFX 65DZ post.

The New Layout Around the Fridge

Building out the space for the Dometic CFX installation
The area framed out and taking shape.

By choosing to mount these outlets above the fridge area I would have space on the backside of the fridge for the existing wiring, the propane line and still have space for needed airflow around the fridge. I also was left with space to the left of the outlets and above the outlets for small shelves that were ideal for cooking supplies & spices.

Dometic CFX Installation

The user manual for the Dometic CFX 65DZ stresses the importance of making sure that the fridge has ample space around it so that it can effectively vent the heat it builds up. For this reason, it can’t be installed in a traditional manner. I decided that I could use some aluminum angle to create a box to keep the fridge from sliding around.

The Aluminum Enclosure

My next step was to decide where this aluminum enclosure would be mounted in the space and how low I could cut the old wall. Once this was decided I proceeded to shorten the wall between the fridge area and the kitchen. I then cut and mounted the two side aluminum pieces. I used 1 x 2 pieces of wood to reinforce the sidewalls. This gave me the structure needed to mount the two aluminum rails. I used machine screws with wingnuts in each of the corners to bolt the front and back aluminum pieces onto the side rails. A key feature in this design is that the beam on the front side of the fridge is easily removable allowing the Dometic 65DZ to be easily pulled out if needed.

Adding Shelving and Facia Boards

Next, I framed in the new shelving and outlet area with strips of 1/2″ plywood. I then wired the new outlets and cut new facia boards for the remaining wall area in the kitchen as well as the new shelving area. The foe wood fascia boards were scraps left over from the bathroom remodel project. I didn’t have enough to fill the space behind the fridge. Since it wasn’t going to be visible I chose to use a piece of luan board I had painted black in this area to cover up the electrical wires and propane lines. I used screws for this panel so it is easily removed if I need to get to these things.

Extending the Bottom Shelf for the Dometic CFX Installation

Finishing touches on the Dometic CFX installation
The space finished out and ready for the Dometic CFX 65DZ.

The new fridge is longer than the old 3-way fridge was deep. I extended the base of this area with a 1/2″ piece of plywood and surfaced it with some lightweight vinyl tile pieces to make it look nice. I only made this piece long enough to catch the “feet” of the fridge. The Dometic CFX 65DZ sits on 4 round feet. This is all that needs to be supported evenly during the Installation of the Dometic CFX 65DZ for it to work properly.

Foam on the Aluminum

Before I slid the new fridge into place I decided to put strips of foam weather sealant on the front and back aluminum rails. This keeps the fridge from being damaged by the aluminum rails. Once the fridge was in place I put on the front side aluminum rail. Attaching the rail with the bolts and wing nuts to lock it in place. To keep the fridge from sliding from front to back I drilled two holes in the back aluminum rail near the corners. I then used some thin rope fed through these holes to tie the fridge off in the back. This can’t be seen without looking for it. It is just another way of keeping the unit from sliding around.

Once the fridge was in place I plugged it in and tested the 12V feed as well as the shore power feed. The last thing I did was to put some of the weather sealant foam on the outside of the front aluminum rail and around the corner to keep it safe… mostly for Jennifer. She hates sharp corners. They are her kryptonite.

Conclusion

Complete Dometic CFX installation
The Installation of the Dometic CFX Dometic CFX 65DZ is done and ready for the full-time nomadic life.

In my opinion, this fridge is light years better than the factory installed 3-way fridge. It uses 80 percent less power than the 3-way did and it auto defaults to shore power when it senses it. It doesn’t need to be vented through the camper wall so it eliminates several large entry points for bugs. Another nice feature is that we can open the fridge even when the roof is down. If you are wanting to create a solar system that can maintain a fridge and do not have space for 6 batteries than I suggest taking a look at the amazing Dometic CFX 65DZ or one of the other models in the CFX line.

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