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Old 29-12-2013, 10:57   #1
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DIY replace dead AB compressor unit?

I have a dead Alder Barbour supercold machine on this boat we've just bought. It is water cooled, not sure how old but probably new around 2000, it's all rusted up and the electronics are just hanging loose, as if someone tried but failed to find the fault. What I need to know is, can I just buy a new unit, and pipe it up myself or do I need an expert with specialist tools to do this. It doesn't look too difficult a job but I don't know anything about the stuff that flows through the system that does the cooling. If I break into the pipe work and loose some of the coolant can I top it up? Is there a way of doing it so I don't. I read that the AB comes charged and that it has connections that are sealed until you begin to connect them to the pipe work.
There's also another compressor unit, also dead, make unknown which is piped to a large top loading fridge, in the galley and a much smaller one on deck, the AB seems to be piped to the smaller one.
Could I somehow use a new AB to run both fridges, or do I need two new units.

I'm sick of lugging ice out to the boat, currently moored in Puerto Rico, and soon to be cruising the Caribbean, so will need a suitable solution to keep the G&Ts cold.

Thanks for any input guys.
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Old 29-12-2013, 11:17   #2
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Re: DIY replace dead AB compressor unit?

You can buy a new fridge unit that is an easy DIY install. Everything is straight plug and play. Basic kit is a compressor unit, evaporator unit to go into the box and a control unit.

Installation consists of bolt the compressor unit down and run power, bot the evaporator inside the box, run the copper lines from the evaporator to the compressor, screw the fittings together, attaché the control module, turn on and cool.

BUT, a few details. If you don't have a well insulated box you will suck a LOT of power. Before investing in a new unit I would very carefully check the existing box for cooling efficiency. Since you are currently hauling ice to the boat I guess you have some idea of how long a block lasts before melting.

Also, make sure you run good, heavy duty wiring to the compressor. These units like good voltage.

Several companies make units like this. Seafrost, Frigoboat, Technautics are a few that come to mind.

Trying to patch together your old system could be a huge pain if you aren't very knowledgeable on the subject. For one thing, the capacity of the compressor and evaporator should be closely matched to get reliable results. If you have to pay someone to fix it you may end up spending more to fix an old system than the cost of a new one.
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Old 29-12-2013, 11:20   #3
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Re: DIY replace dead AB compressor unit?

Another suggestion. Most new units are air cooled but you can get various water cooled options including keel coolers, through hull coolers, etc. I went with air cooled for simplicity and even in a very hot August in FL was pretty happy with the overall power draw.
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Old 29-12-2013, 11:59   #4
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Re: DIY replace dead AB compressor unit?

E Mail pictures of what you have and do not remove unit if still installed in boat. Do not worry about rust unit may be easy to fix by you.
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Old 29-12-2013, 12:04   #5
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Re: DIY replace dead AB compressor unit?

what skipmac says.

I'm not particularly handy but I was able to remove an old engine drive compressor and replace it with an adler barbour. in the end it will be less trouble and maybe even cheaper than trying to resurrect your old unit. mine is now nine years old and still running fine. they give you excellent instructions - just read them first.

I also vote for air cooling. I'm in florida/Bahamas and have had great success with air cooling. just don't allow the hot exhaust air to find it's way back into the inlet cooling air (I vent my exhaust into the engine room). also be sure to wire the unit direct to your battery bank, as ab suggests, with at least 10 ga wire, as ab suggests (with a fuse in between, of course). water cooling is a pain to hook up and subject to salt water corrosion. it may also need an electric pump, another device to worry about. and as has been pointed out in other places, when you are on the hard, how do you run your compressor?

and as skipmac says, add as much insulation as you can. it makes all the difference. we also found that our box was much too big. it was 6cf for the fridge and 3cf for the freezer. can't use it all. we reduced it to 3.5cf for the fridge and 1cf for the freezer and it cut compressor run time in half. but the size you make your box will depend on where you are cruising and the availability of fresh foods ashore. for us we're never more than a few days from a market so don't have a great need to store lots of cold food.
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Old 29-12-2013, 12:08   #6
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Re: DIY replace dead AB compressor unit?

Alright. I see you've got Richard Kollman on the case.

He is the expert and if it can be fixed he can tell you how to do it.

Pay attention!
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Old 29-12-2013, 12:49   #7
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Again, what skipmac says. Richard Kollman is the refrigeration guru. Probably fixed or installed half the units that came through fort lauderdale in the past forty years.

There are two adler barbour units; the coldmachine is air cooled only, the super coldmachine is air cooled and has tubing for water cooling which will allow you to add water cooling to supplement the air cooling by adding a pump, hoses, and throughhulls. I bought the super coldmachine thinking I might need it. I don't. Could have saved $100 or more by going with the regular coldmachine. And as richard kollman pointed out in a previous post, the additional cooling provided by the water circuit is minimal. In retrospect I should have spent the money on the larger evaporator box.....
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Old 29-12-2013, 12:57   #8
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Re: DIY replace dead AB compressor unit?

Thanks guys for your advice, and having Richard Kollman on my thread is like a direct line to God, I've read his posts here and seems what he doesn't know isn't worth knowing. Richard, I'll be back on the boat tomorrow Monday 30th and will take those photos and post here.
As to insulation and the ice melt time, its lasts about 12 hours but then the fridge is not full by any means, just juice, milk and maybe a few veg, oh and a bottle or two of vino. Temp. down here is around 30 degrees.
As to the air/water cooling this one has been plumbed into the freshwater system. I didn't see that suggested in the installation manual I downloaded, was all sea water fed, so don;t know if that's kosher.

And I'm ready to pay attention skipmac
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Old 29-12-2013, 14:26   #9
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Re: DIY replace dead AB compressor unit?

"As to the air/water cooling this one has been plumbed into the freshwater system. I didn't see that suggested in the installation manual I downloaded, was all sea water fed, so don;t know if that's kosher."

Although I would recommend going with an air-cooled compressor, IMO the second best option is fresh water cooled. I have a sea water cooled compressor, and I would not go that way again. Sea water cooled compressors are subject to a clogged intake strainer and cannot be operated when hauled out. Fresh water cooling is not subject to either of those problems, but it is still more complicated with a water pump and the associated hoses. It also requires you to accurately monitor the level of water in the tank to avoid the water pump getting air locked.
So if you can resurrect your existing compressor, I recommend you stay with the fresh water system. If you have to replace the compressor then I'd go air-cooled.

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Old 29-12-2013, 14:31   #10
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Sounds like you may not have enough insulation. 12 hours isn't much for a block of ice.

Water cooling through the fresh water tank has to be lot's better than sea water cooling with all the corrosion and throughhull problems...
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Old 29-12-2013, 14:40   #11
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Re: DIY replace dead AB compressor unit?

Onestepcsy37, That's not a big lock of ice, it's a bag of ice cubes.
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Old 29-12-2013, 15:29   #12
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Re: DIY replace dead AB compressor unit?

Mobile refrigeration system’s efficiency will depend on the temperature relationship between cooling medium temperature air or water used in disposing of all process heat. Because in marine applications heat disposal mediums used in HVACR systems are not constant standard day temperatures of 69 or 70 degrees F which are used as a base line figure in expressing a units performance. It is a fact that water absorbs heat better than air under the right conditions. Under most ambient air and water temperatures a properly installed small BD compressor air cooled system will maintain correct refrigerant pressures that out performing water cooled units with far better reliability. If Danfoss does not recommend water cooling of these systems that should tell boaters something.

Reports from boaters traveling south below Latitude 26N in the winter to the tropics and again heading north in the spring are:

Reports from Adler Barbour CU200 systems designed with air cooling and supplemental water cooling claim not to use water pump on warm days except when cruising in water temperatures ranging from 60 to 75 degrees F. With water pump running when water temperatures are above or below this range energy efficiency is not better than air cooling alone.

Systems like Grunert and EZkold can select between air or water cooling they again mostly do not use the water cooled option in warm seawater climates because of higher daily amperage consumption with pump running over fan running.

Standard water pumped condensing units without an air cooled condenser like some Frigoboat and Isotherm models are less reliable and less efficient do to added amperage of pump and other water coolingtroubles.

Standard pump water cooling with holdover plates are less efficient do to compressor and pump running times.

Isotherm’s through hull condenser coil units can be energy efficient in moving water but complaints of frequent coil cleaning under boat is a problem.

Frigoboats Keel coolers are reported to handle most seawater temperatures but recently I believe frigoboat is now suggesting addition of their keel cooler a fan condensing unit for use in very warm tropical waters.


The real benefit in with the BD variable speed compressor is ability to lower their running Rpm to achieve a system’s best coefficient of performance. Cool Blue has demonstrated major energy reduction of around 50% in small boxes running compressor at minimum Btu output speed. Advantage of Cool Blue machines is instead of a low refrigerant flow control range capillary tube it uses a variable refrigerant receiver tank supplying a thermo expansion valve direct liquid to maximize Btu flow control when needed by a large holding plate. Disadvantage of Cool Blue is its energy efficiency is limited to cool climates or small boxes. This system is best when alternative surplus electrical energy is available from sun, water, or wind.
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Old 29-12-2013, 16:20   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shantycrew View Post
Onestepcsy37, That's not a big lock of ice, it's a bag of ice cubes.
Never mind...
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Old 31-12-2013, 12:12   #14
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Re: DIY replace dead AB compressor unit?

Hi Richard, I have some photos of the AB super cold machine. They are in an album on my profile page this is the link Cruisers & Sailing Forums - shantycrew's Album: Alder barbour super cold machine I'm not sure how to post them to the thread so if I can't make that happen you'll see them there.
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Old 31-12-2013, 12:22   #15
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Re: DIY replace dead AB compressor unit?

When I started to investigate what the problem could be I found the red wire on terminal two had corroded away. I was unable to make a proper fix for this. I tried to solder it direct on to the connector but the iron I was using was not up to the job. I finally bridged it with a very small wire and a small crocodile clip that made the board live, and with no LED flashing alarms. But I'm wondering if this wire is insufficient and is causing a volt drop, as I read that there's a surge on start up and if the machine doesn't see the right voltage it wont start. Just a thought
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