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Old 01-12-2014, 13:48   #1
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Boat: Maine Cat 41
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Failed Frigoboat Refrigerator - Salt Crystals forming around Holding Plate?

Hi All,

Wondering if anyone could help diagnose what may be going on here. We left our boat for about 6 months in Costa Rica and when we came back the Frigoboat keel-cooled systems were no longer cooling either the refrigerator or the freezer. I've done some reading of old threads and it sounds like there are a number of reasons that this could be happening but I've never seen any explanation for what I'm seeing in our refrigerator.

Attaching pics of what I'm describing here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/3ys2bm2jsq...%20PM.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/zr5vg00b8a...%20PM.jpg?dl=0

Is it possible that what I'm seeing is salt being pumped back up through the system from a failed keel-cooler? If so, what are the implications?

Thanks for any help..
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Old 01-12-2014, 17:33   #2
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Re: Failed Frigoboat Refrigerator - Salt Crystals forming around Holding Plate?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MC41 View Post
Hi All,

Wondering if anyone could help diagnose what may be going on here. We left our boat for about 6 months in Costa Rica and when we came back the Frigoboat keel-cooled systems were no longer cooling either the refrigerator or the freezer. I've done some reading of old threads and it sounds like there are a number of reasons that this could be happening but I've never seen any explanation for what I'm seeing in our refrigerator.

Attaching pics of what I'm describing here:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/3ys2bm2jsq...%20PM.jpg?dl=0
https://www.dropbox.com/s/zr5vg00b8a...%20PM.jpg?dl=0

Is it possible that what I'm seeing is salt being pumped back up through the system from a failed keel-cooler? If so, what are the implications?

Thanks for any help..
Could not open your pictures. It is unlikely salt crystals have anything to do with your refrigerant system or keel coolers. Salt crystals form in tropics even on windows100 ft above sea level as daily temperature changes occur.

So there are two identical Frigoboat keel cooler systems and neither unitís evaporator gets even a little cold? This sounds like a boat electrical problem and odds are that both systems do not fail at the same time. One of the weak points with Frigoboat units are their line connecter O ring seals.

I suggest you start troubleshooting at the Positive and Ground wires for both units checking for good clean connections. Batteries must be fully charged. Any electrical wiring connections common to the two units are in question. Voltmeter readings of little value except to indicate static voltage. The microprocessor in Danfoss control module can see a low voltage spike your meter will not see and prevent compressor from running, common spikes are caused by resistance connections in circuit breakers or wire connections.

To rule out refrigerant loss and confirm each compressor is running turn on one unit at a time for 20 minutes to see if compressor gets slightly warm. It compressor gets warm it is running and refrigerant volume or flow is in question when there is no cooling.

Frigoboat adds gadgets to their system like electronic thermostats or speed controllers that can cause compressor not to run. These add on items are easily disconnected from control unit. if necessary.
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Old 01-12-2014, 17:50   #3
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Re: Failed Frigoboat Refrigerator - Salt Crystals forming around Holding Plate?

Hi Richard,

Thanks for the information. As I stare at it more, I'm beginning to think that the crystals I'm seeing are actually from the material inside the holding plate leaking out and crystallizing? I suspect this calls for a new holding plate?

We had a visit today from the refrigeration tech recommended by the marina where we are slipped. Here's the outcome:

He was able to get the freezer unit (evaporator plate) running again. He added some refrigerant to the system. Although too much, apparently. After bleeding some out we got normal running of the freezer system.

After being unable to get the refrigerator system running despite topping off refrigerant he vacuumed the refrigerator circuit, refilled with r134a, and then tried again. Same problem. Essentially, the compressor runs for a little, then eventually slows down and stops. While doing this it shows 4 green LED blinks. The manual provided by TempTech (the thermostat provider) doesn't offer any information as to what 4 green blinks might mean. 4 red would be overload, compressor not able to maintain 1850 RPM, which does sort of sound like what's happening...

Thanks for any insights..
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Old 01-12-2014, 17:56   #4
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Re: Failed Frigoboat Refrigerator - Salt Crystals forming around Holding Plate?



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Old 01-12-2014, 21:14   #5
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Re: Failed Frigoboat Refrigerator - Salt Crystals forming around Holding Plate?

Still no pictures.

The first thing these technicians from hell do is screw up the precise amount of refrigerant needed for best performance. Unlike standard condensers Keel cooler systems lack the capacity to store excess liquid refrigerant so a few grams too much will at some point increase compressor heat and amperage from higher pressures when operated in tropical waters. If this condition continues long enough in tropical climates complete system I believe will be destroyed do to quality of compressor oil.

It is not just good enough to reduce refrigerant charge to keep compressor running the amperage draw must be in a safe range. Do you have a way to read each unitís amperage draw separately?

I did not know Frigoboat used holding plates with solution inside, are you sure they are Frigoboat plates? If soluton in plates has leaked plate will have a frost line only below the frozen liquid level. What are the ages of these units?
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Old 01-12-2014, 21:43   #6
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Re: Failed Frigoboat Refrigerator - Salt Crystals forming around Holding Plate?




Sorry having some trouble with hosting. Hopefully this works!

The units are both original to the boat from 2006 and as far as I know have not been serviced in any way by the previous owner. They seemed to be getting "weaker" as we moved into warmer waters, running more and having trouble keeping the boxes at a good temp. Failure seemed imminent on our last cruise as frost was only visible part of the way up the holding plate and the refrig temp was way too high.

I'm not sure if the holding plate itself is Frigoboat branded but I definitely have a holding plate system in the Refrig and an evap plate in the freezer. They are run with TempTech controllers from GreatWater systems in Maine. I can't say much good about these controllers as on auto mode they seem to run the compressor almost constantly and produce temperatures in the box that are far too low. In manual mode it is sometimes possible to dial in a level of compressor run that is acceptable but it takes a lot of fiddling.

Re: testing amperage I do have a multimeter onboard. I'm not much of an electrician but if the procedure is fairly simple I bet I could figure it out.

Thanks again for all the help so far,

MC41
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Old 02-12-2014, 10:05   #7
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Re: Failed Frigoboat Refrigerator - Salt Crystals forming around Holding Plate?

The best way to respond is by identifying problems of each system separately.

REFRIGERATOR SYSTEM

Picture of corner of holding plate does appear to be leaking eutectic solution at what I assume is the bottom corner. The loss of a portion or all of solution destroys refrigeration units performance. You indicated that when frozen only the lower part of plate has frost on it if this is true plate needs to be removed. If the boat is equipped with alternative energy solar or wind you may want to consider another hold over plate. My advice is to install a standard large evaporator plate with capillary tube and line connectors supplied by Frigoboat to match present line connectors.

Frigoboat keel cooler design is unconventional so standard methods of installing correct amounts of refrigerant do not apply. Follow Frigoboatís manual or refrigerant servicing section on my web site. What ever you do avoid amperages above those listed by for Danfoss BD model compressors. Compressor not reaching 1850 Rpm quick enough or compressor 3 LED flash both indicate overload probably too much refrigerant will cause this. To confirm this to be the problem follow procedures on my web site at Kollmann Marine

FREEZER SYSTEM

We do not know what the local tech did to get freezer system to start cooling except add refrigerant. On standard Evaporators refrigerant charge can easily be checked visually by areas covered with frost. Refrigerant charge is in the Ballpark if 90% of evaporatorís surface area is covered with frost and no frost outside refrigerated area on line returning to compressor.


I never recommend those thermostats but if you can live with manually controlling box temperature and get by with added energy consumption keep using them.
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Old 03-12-2014, 16:55   #8
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Re: Failed Frigoboat Refrigerator - Salt Crystals forming around Holding Plate?

Thanks for the help Richard. We'll have to figure this out when we get to Shelter Bay in Panama in a couple of weeks. Apparently parts and service are much easier to come by there than here in Costa Rica.

What would you suggest as a better solution to control the Frigoboat compressors?

Also, do you have a tutorial anywhere online on how to get running amperage from a Danfoss compressor? Is it as simple as connecting a multimeter's probes to the + and - leads on the compressor while it is running?

Thanks!
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