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Old 04-07-2016, 08:09   #1
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Adler-Barbour Cold Machine - not used in 20+ years

I have an A-B Cold Machine, model 12L, circa 1977, on my sailboat. For over 20 years we've shied away from using it due to concerns about power consumption and a mention from the prior owner that it may have been overheating and/or malfuntioning. Lately we're wishing that we had refrigeration on board, which has me wondering:
(1) if the best course is to try to get the existing machine back into service as opposed to starting anew.
(2) what I would need to do in terms of refrigerant and where to get it
(3) how to assess the functioning of the unit
(4) is it likely that I'll need a portable generator to power it?
(5) if I replace the unit, are there solutions that would allow me to use some or all of the existing installation?
==++
I have the original owner's manual and a service tee that is apparently used to check pressure.
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Old 04-07-2016, 08:48   #2
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Re: Adler-Barbour Cold Machine - not used in 20+ years

My vote.....move on and get something new. If this thing has sat for 20 years without use and no refrigerant it's toast. Or will make you hate refrigeration.

How large is your icebox and how much insulation is around it?


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Old 04-07-2016, 09:07   #3
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Re: Adler-Barbour Cold Machine - not used in 20+ years

The icebox is relatively large -- I haven't measured it carefully, but I'm guessing ~9 cubic feet. As for insulation, I haven't gotten inside the fiberglass liner, but I'm guessing there is little or no insulation. I've been thinking of lining the inside of it with 2" of something like Dow’s Tuff-R plank foam and covering that with stainless or fiberglass. Another option is to trying to get expanding foam inside the box by drilling a bunch of holes, but that seems far less straightforward. I welcome any feedback or guidance.
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Old 04-07-2016, 09:16   #4
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Re: Adler-Barbour Cold Machine - not used in 20+ years

9 cf?!!!

I'd double that insulation ... or more.

I will make whatever you get(even if it's ice), work even better, because of the insulation and because the actual size was reduced.
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Old 04-07-2016, 12:24   #5
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Re: Adler-Barbour Cold Machine - not used in 20+ years

First, insulation and a good door seal will be the major factor for power consumption. 99% of the factory ice boxes have little to no insulation. Having just built a new box in my boat I have some suggestions.

I cut, smashed and ripped the old box out, including a good bit of the cabinet that held it. To keep the original look and function I saved the pieces of the old box, insulated the cabinet where it had been, made the box smaller, glassed it back together, reinstalled the box into the cabinet and put the cabinets back together. It was a HUGE project. 20/20 hindsight it would have been much less work if I had kept the original box and lined it with new insulation and then built a new liner. Would have been a slightly smaller box but probably still large enough.

For new liner, forget stainless. Too expensive and too hard to work. You can buy 4X8 sheets of fiberglass panel at Home Depot or Lowes. Insulate the box, cut pieces from the 4X8 to fit the new walls, sides, etc (it is flexible so will probably fit into the opening) and glue them to the foam walls. This is one place where 5200 wil work but epoxy also. Don't use most glues as the solvent in the glue will dissolve the blue foam. Use thickened epoxy to make fillets to fill and seal the seams.

I'm guessing that this unit may use an older type of Freon that is now regulated as an ozone depleter. If the unit is still sealed and functional then it might be worth keeping. Have you tried turning it on to see if it cools at all?

My box is about 9 cu ft after insulating which includes a 1.5 cu ft freezer section. I went with the larger BD50 compressor and after cooling down use less than 50 amp hours/day in August in Florida with temps >90F. Winter in FL used half that. So far a single, low end, 135 Watt solar panel has been keeping the fridge going with power to spare.
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Old 04-07-2016, 12:39   #6
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Re: Adler-Barbour Cold Machine - not used in 20+ years

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Old 05-07-2016, 09:29   #7
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Re: Adler-Barbour Cold Machine - not used in 20+ years

Do a bench check. Probably needs recharging. Should be repairable by most shops that repair frigs and freezers. Probably way better built than what is out today. We have a Kelvinator that was installed in our family camp back in 1935 and still works quite well, some repairs notwithstanding. The A-B was a quality product and should still work, given some fussing.
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Old 05-07-2016, 10:26   #8
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Re: Adler-Barbour Cold Machine - not used in 20+ years

Our AB cold machine is probably that old & still works great. I'd try to get it working before dumping it.
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Old 05-07-2016, 13:48   #9
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Re: Adler-Barbour Cold Machine - not used in 20+ years

Have the same issue

Just purchased a new energy efficient bar fridge, it uses 226 kw/year (independent certification) This equals about 620 watts per day. Threw in a 2500 watt invertor and a 260 watt solar panel. Will let you know how this works.

My current on board unit is an old 110 volt that sucks power it does have 3" of insulation and holds ice for 2 days though.
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Old 05-07-2016, 16:38   #10
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Re: Adler-Barbour Cold Machine - not used in 20+ years

Age and non use are not necessarily bad in and of themselves but non maintenance could create issues, especially if it was overheating before. Personally, I'd try to find a good refrig man who was willing to chance rebuilding it on the cheap. Replacing seals, some wiring, brushes in the motor and running a lubricant throughout the system might free it up to allow it to work like new. Other replies suggested ways to improve your insulation but previous threads speak of great, inexpensive fixes (Home Depot style) along with improved wiring connections that reduced energy use to less than half. If I am not mistaken someone mentioned a guy that help them out with theirs that was based somewhere in Florida. Might do you well to search this out in previous threads here (certainly can't hurt) Someone here is bound to have the right thought for you. I used to install A/C units in automobiles and will tell you they are not that complex. Throwing out the old and getting new just because that was suggested as easiest does not mean it is best. Kinda like throwing out the baby with the bath water.
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Old 05-07-2016, 17:24   #11
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Adler-Barbour Cold Machine - not used in 20+ years

I had a super cold machine, that worked fine, just wasn't nearly enough to cool my box though, and I suspect that at 9 cu ft., it won't be enough to properly cool yours either, but if cool is all your after, then maybe. It's working fine on a friends boat, in a much smaller box, it got re-installed, not thrown away, these things may last a very long time.
Why not just turn it on and see what happens?

I believe the compressors are sealed though, not much you can do to them, I believe that is one reason they last so long, being sealed

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Old 06-07-2016, 10:56   #12
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Re: Adler-Barbour Cold Machine - not used in 20+ years

Your older unit uses R12 gas and it is expensive, there are blends that can replace R12,the best approach is to hire a fridge guy and have him vacuum out the old gas and charge with the new gas, this is after he would pressure up the unit to check for leaks. The older electronic modules have a history of failure and are expensive, the new modules are a huge improvement for several reasons, the compressors last forever, I have worked on these units that are more than 10 years old, a new compressor/module could be installed using the old evaporator, R PARTS.COM carries these parts.
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