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Old 28-05-2019, 09:01   #1
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AB ColdMachine compressor won't start

I have an old AdlerBarbour ColdMachine. Not sure of the number as I can't find it on the unit. Was cooling fine but would occasionally not start the compressor. I found that letting the unit "rest" a bit and then turning back on would fix things for a while. When it won't start, the symptoms are: The t-stat calls for cold, the fan on the condenser starts, the unit beeps, and attempts to start the compressor. Current spikes over 7 amps for a second or two, then current drops to 1/2 amp with only the fan running. In about 5 - 10 seconds, the process restarts, but the compressor never actually starts. Voltage min as measured at the terminals on the compressor controller is 13.2 VDC. Measured with Fluke 87-V using min-max feature, so is an accurate min voltage reading and so not a low voltage problem. My research leads me to believe it's a compressor controller problem. R-parts sells a replacement controller but I'm just not positive what compressor I have. The compressor has D25A-3012 stamped on the top of the dome. Does this make it a BD2.5?

Am I on the right path here?
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Old 28-05-2019, 09:06   #2
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Re: AB ColdMachine compressor won't start

Before you do anything, run a temporary heavy gauge wire with new spade terminals on it and try that.
If your close to the engine, the starter wire is usually a good place to draw the power from temporarily.
Do you have the troubleshooting LED?
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Old 28-05-2019, 10:34   #3
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Re: AB ColdMachine compressor won't start

Richard Kollmann is our resident AB expert.
Kollmann Marine


Adler/Barbour Troubleshooting
Adler/Barbour Troubleshooting (and Waeco 50, 80, and 90 series)

“One blink – Low Voltage
1.) 99% OF TIME WHEN THE MODULE BLINKS THIS, IT IS DEFINITELY LOW VOLTAGE. I have never seen a scenario where this is not the case.

2.) If you’re getting this code, then most likely your unit is trying to start, there will be a slight shutter, then it will stop, and continue to do this.

3.) Watch the voltage AT THE INPUT OF THE UNIT AS IT’S STARTING AND STOPPING. You will see a significant drop in voltage. The low voltage cut off is 10.4VDC, but you will probably never see it get this low on your meter because of buffers etc installed in the meter. If you see a drop of over 1VDC you have a problem. You will need to track down the boats wiring, find your loose connection/corrosion that’s causing the high resistance. You may even have a weak cell in the battery.

4.) If you feel the voltage is sufficient, then the only other problem may be the Danfoss module. However, I have never seen the module fail like this, and it’s an expensive part to replace, for it continue to do the same thing.

ANOTHER THING I’VE FOUND WITH WORKING WITH THESE, IS IF THE UNIT GETS LOW VOLTAGE FOR A PERIOD OF TIME, THE MODULE FAILS. I HAVEN’T BEEN ABLE TO GET DANFOSS TO SAY YE OR NE IF THE LOW VOLTAGE CAUSED IT, BUT THAT’S WHAT USUALLY HAPPENS.”


Installation & Operating Manual
http://liveantares.com/wp-content/up...lerbarbour.pdf
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Old 28-05-2019, 12:04   #4
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Re: AB ColdMachine compressor won't start

Saltyhog, When you hear the failed boot up single beep sound it indicates your Danfoss control module is over twenty years old along with the BD 2 or BD2.5 or BD3 that all use a four pin connector at compressor. If your unit is 12 volts all 4 pin modules will power those compressors. The trouble LED installed on 4 pin modules will only indicate a low voltage spike during attempted compressor start. Currant three pin compressors provide six separate troubleshooting codes. I can test your module at no charge but the 200 replacements I bought are all gone now. Yes wwwRparts does have the 4 pin non Danfoss modules, when they run out, EBay for used ones are all that is left.
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Old 28-05-2019, 19:16   #5
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Re: AB ColdMachine compressor won't start

Richard Kollmann, thanks for the reply. Yes, definitely a 4 pin compressor and module. Its also at least 20 years old. Probably closer to 30. I’m pretty sure it’s not a drooping voltage problem. I used 6 gauge to the fridge when I rewired the boat. The old wiring was considerably undersized, and I suspect that this may have damaged the controller module over time. I’ll buy a new ( non Danfoss ) module from parts and hopefully this fixes things.
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Old 21-06-2019, 17:38   #6
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Re: AB ColdMachine compressor won't start

Just to follow up... I replaced the compressor module and she’s running like a champ. Many Thanks to Richard Kollman. I suspect that the old (14 AWG) supply wiring is what caused the module to fail. There is a significant slug of current when the compressor starts. I think the start up voltage drop on the 14 gauge is hard on the module. New cable is 6 AWG, so should be good now.
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Old 23-06-2019, 04:38   #7
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Re: AB ColdMachine compressor won't start

I had a similar situation recently on a 4 pin adler barbour. Was not functioning for 5 years then i bought Richards book. Finally filled after vacuuming down this season and it's been brilliant, evaporator plate frosts over, will freeze a bottle of water in a few hours! Then i got the beep after a trip to Cape.

I jumped thermostat, nothing. Pulled fan ground, nothing. Checked fuse and one plastic leg was totally melted. I checked on my fluke and had perfect continuity and i did not have spare so i cleaned it up and reinstalled.

Then checked continuity at the 4 pins. None were shorted to ground, and all were minimal resistance to each other except the top pin was 3.9 ohms. In a video i saw said 5 was max and his were all 0.8 or something.

Anyways i plugged it all back together and it works fine. I'll check the wiring gauge but it looks pretty good. Will also fit a new fuse.

I was getting the beep with fan running, attempting to start reading 14.6V with engine running and 13.3 with compressor attempted starts reading at compressor. My house bank is 2' from compressor so I'll fit some heavy gage wire and see if that fixes voltage drop. My wiring needs to come clear across the boat since panel is on other side.
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Old 23-06-2019, 06:58   #8
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Re: AB ColdMachine compressor won't start

For over thirty years and dozen different models of the Danfoss electronic control modules failures are common. Danfoss was not responsible for the installation application in boats but they did give us clues about future failures by indicating the following bad practices:

1. To voiding refrigerator power wiring through multiple connections to battery.
a. Thirty years ago it was pointed out that the pulsation of actual current in this circuit needs the battery’s mass compasatance to dampen out feed back in two pole brushless motor circuit.
b. Today the newer variable speed BD compressor modules are still exposed to dirty power from trenchant voltages generated by other parts of boats wiring when connected through secondary circuit breaker buss or multiple ground connections.

2. Installing a voltage only trouble LED source terminals on earlier modules and an expanded LED code system on newer models only a few system manufacturers install the one dollar LED on their new systems.
a. The flashing LED single code on older 4 pin modules also produced a electronic beep sound only indicated starting voltage was out of an expectable range.
b. New model three pin compressors trouble LED codes now identify five common troubles once understood can detect other problems narrowing down the hours and cost of troubleshooting.

3. Danfoss assumed those responsible for printed instructions and actual installation information of refrigeration would follow the marine ABYC recommended standards although they may not cover all the unique characteristics of each boats wiring.
a. Choosing the correct gage s ize and length for one of these Danfoss BD powered refrigeration systems is important. Stranded rather than solid tin plated wire will produce a better quality of current over time.
b. If you compare the different system manufacturers wire sizes and even Danfoss recommendations for a Danfoss BD powered refrigerator’ correct wiring sizing are different for the same size compressor.
c. Too small or too short of refrigerator power wiring allows voltage dropping volts that if duration time is short can not be detected with a volt meter but the control module’s sensitive boot up test circuit will and prevent compressor from running.
d. The biggest error in defining refrigeration wire sizes is in total length in distance of power wiring. The total length of this wire is the complete trip from battery positive to module and the round trip back to battery ground terminal.
e. The basic Danfoss designed system speciation sheets defines system fuse protection old four pin connectors were fused at 10 amps with fuse mounted on module which meant power wire size was protect from overheating by a source fuse or breaker near battery.
Newer variable speed compressors do not have fuse protection at module so they must rely on a circuit breaker or preferred fuse near battery. Many compressor start up problems begin at the fuse holders or because of poor quality circuit breakers, fuse holders, switches, and wire terminals. If you want reliable Danfoss powered refrigeration stay away from low cost hardware. I found one boat manufacturer using panel switches costing only 70 cents each. Inexpensive circuit breaker contacts are not designed to be operated frequently as on and off switches. Even quality OFF-ON circuit breaker switch contact points used on aircraft are service hours limited. Because voltage and amperages are the major cause of compressor not starting it is a good idea to carry a circuit breaker with alligator clip jumper wires to bypass possible trouble area as a test
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Old 23-06-2019, 08:04   #9
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Re: AB ColdMachine compressor won't start

Thanks Richard, your book and knowledge have been very helpful in getting a good understanding of my system.

I just checked and my wiring from panel to compressor is 14AWG sheathed Ancor boat wire in the white wrap, red/black together. My batteries are on port side, as is compressor. So 2AWG cable from positive bus is maybe 17' to panel on starboard side. Then from panel goes back 17' to compressor, ground obviously returns back to panel and then 17' back to neg bus via 2AWG cable to battery.

Seems crazy to have it make such a long round trip but needed for circuit breaker.

I could ground the compressor to neg bus bar and save quite a bit of distance. And I know it wouldn't be kosher but if I freed up the ground, I could crimp both wires together as my positive and label it well so there was no misunderstanding. Doing so would probably greatly reduce voltage drop.

Or I could wire directly to POS & NEG bus bars about 3' away with inline fuse and then use 14 AWG from panel for a solenoid? Is that allowed? I figure the solenoid could seriously reduce round trip wire length and solenoid would allow me to control from breaker.
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Old 23-06-2019, 09:05   #10
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Re: AB ColdMachine compressor won't start

sailah, Compressor Voltage drop of too short or too small is unlikely a problem with size 2 cable and a 12 amp Max compressor starting load. So you would not include it in the round trip wire length calibration for refrigerator.
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Old 01-07-2019, 19:43   #11
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Re: AB ColdMachine compressor won't start

So i was wrong, cable was 10/2 from panel to fridge. I recrimped new ring terminals on both red & black and used both for pos. Then i ran new 10g cable from compressor to neg bus about 3'. Replaced melted fuse. Working fine now.

Probably overkill and i didnt like using both cables for pos but figured my fix would be obvious to new owner of they looked at what i did. I'll label it too.

I will check voltage drop next time im on boat too see if it improved but i cut 30' of run from cable so that had to help.
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