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Old 30-09-2008, 01:05   #1
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Fridge system- which way is North?

I knew when I bought the boat that it had, at some time in its glorious past, had refrigeration. You have to go back at least two owners though...

I knew it was a 110 system and started a thread several months ago that resulted in me deciding that I would need a new system. At the time my sophistication level was such that I thought that I meant I needed a new everything. I am not much more sophisticated now- but I am getting there.

Anyway, I dug around and it looks like there is a complete system of some sort. It is not plugged in- but for all I know it could just work. Maybe it just needs a refill. Certainly it is not something designed for tropical efficiency...

What I am looking for here is advice/suggestions/whatever on how to go about figuring out what is here and evaluating what can be salvaged. Here are some things I know...

The compressor or pump (are these the same?) is located at the foot of the quarter berth. It has an ID tag that says Tecumseh on it but I was not able to get any more meaningful info. Tomorrow I will clean it off some and see if I can move the tube that is in the way. It has a dome shaped thing and a fan pointed at a little radiator. There is a standard plug dangling.

There are three tubes and a wire going into the ice box area. One tube and one wire goes into it on the side by the sink and two tubes go into it from the floor. Well, all three tubes pass through the wall seperating the sink from the ice box but the single tube and wire go through about halfway up the wall (about even with the bottom of the ice box) and the other two go in at floor level.

In the ice box there is a metal plate covering the entire bottom. It has a hole at each corner and appears to be solidly fixed in place. I tried sticking my fingers in the holes and putting some lift pressure but it doesn't budge. Is this a cold plate?

Any initial suggestions on how to evaluate what is here are great. Then tomorrow I will get pictures and post those.

Thanks,
J
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Old 30-09-2008, 16:17   #2
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Okay, so today I had a guy from my marina who did professional fridge work for a couple years and the harbor master over to look at this install. So far the consensus is that the system could not possible work, could never have worked, and, my personal theory, was installed by being from outer space.

I was wrong when I said three tubes went into the box. Two of them are for water and head aft. There is only one plumbing tube and one wire going into the box. There are two tubes leaving the compressor but one truncates in a... device... with only the wire exiting.

I am attaching pictures. Here is a key:

Refer compressor small - This is the actual compressor unit. As mentioned it is a Tecumseh, has a 110 power cord, and rust. Probably dead and/or not worth trying to use for power usage reasons... Thoughts?

Refer plumbing 2,3,4 - This series follows one of the tubes leaving the compressor. #1 was a wide view of all of them in a series but the number of attachments is limited. Anyway they come in numbered order from the compressor. The thing in #2 has a little window in the top so you could see whatever is inside I guess... The thing in #3 ends in that little wire that goes into the box itself. The picture isn't lit as well as I would like and if you don't look carefully it could look like it goes to that large black wire but that is an illusion. That wire goes to a battery charger and passes behind the weird aqua colored pellet thing.

Refer plumbing box side - This is the outside of the ice box- the side pointed at the motor.

Refer plumbing inside the box - This is what was under the steel thing that I had thought was the "floor" of the ice box. It did lift out- it was just jammed in pretty good.

Okay guys- what the heck is going on with this stuff?
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Old 30-09-2008, 16:46   #3
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Tecumseh Products Company | Compressors
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Old 30-09-2008, 17:34   #4
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I wouldn't attempt to comment on your system as that is not an area of my expertise but I can tell you that we had a domestic 110 volt system that was converted to 12 volt installed in our boat 8 years ago and it works flawlessly.

We did this on the advice of a professional industrial refrigeration installer, he simply used all the existing cooling plates, plumbing etc and replaced the compressor unit with a high efficiency Danfoss 12 volt unit, recharged it with new coolant and away it went.

It draws about 4 amps when running and we made sure the enclosure was well insulated and has good airflow across the cooling coils so it only runs about 50% of the time even in 80+ degree weather. We liveaboard full time and we only have to defrost about once per year. The total cost was less than half of a comparable marine system.

I suggest you talk to an commercial refrigeration installer, they are used to working with custom setups.
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Old 30-09-2008, 17:35   #5
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Its funny. I clicked that link thinking it might be something I hadn't seen and it opened a second window with the same thing I already had up. They make pumps and not, as far as I can tell, complete systems.

If you can point me to a website more specific than the homepage of a multi-national manufacturer you might get some "haha Jack is a jackass" points.

That is the company that makes the compressor- they do not make complete systems (that I know of) and the bulk of my concern is with the entire setup- the plumbing, etc...

And maybe most importantly... Don't be a dick.
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Old 30-09-2008, 17:36   #6
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Thank you Zep. Yours has a completed circuit for the coolant though right?
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Old 30-09-2008, 17:38   #7
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Yes it does, all the parts were there in the unit, he just had to swap out the compressor.
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Old 30-09-2008, 17:42   #8
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I should mention that the unit has both refrigerator and separate freezer sections running off the one compressor and set of plates and is about the size of an apartment fridge, domestic refrigeration cooling systems are extremely efficient.
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Old 30-09-2008, 18:37   #9
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Jack, I have to disagree with your buddies assement. The system is somewhat normal. You have a picture of a liquid line going into a sight glass, then a filter/drier. It then becomes a cap tube which is the pencil lead sized "wire" you see. That wire is hollow and meters the amount of refrigerant supplied to your evaporator coil. The larger line, which looks like a 5/8 diameter, is your suction line. It should go back to the compressor. I'd try to power the system and if it comes on, look in the glass window on the sight glass. You should see liquid form, then solid liquid w/ bubbles, then it should be clear, but full of liquid. If it does start and nothing changes in that window, shut it down as there isn't any refrigerant.
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Old 30-09-2008, 19:21   #10
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I think I agree with Rigamarole except I wouldn't power it up.

It hasn't been operated in years and I expect if you fire it up it will a) smoke b) bind c) leak d) all of the above. It needs to be assessed, especially the motor, seals replaced if necessary and charged.

The fridge guy who looked at it. Was he a marine fridge person?

I still think you have not positively traced the lines.

The tube coming from the compressor needs to be traced all the way to the box. The tube at teh bottom of the radiator needs to be traced as well.

In my mind there is a piece of the puzzle missing.
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Old 30-09-2008, 19:32   #11
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UPDATE:

A SECOND fridge guy happened to be around this afternoon and he came to visit. He said it is a small tube not a wire (boy did I feel dumb) and we actually plugged the bastard in. It acts like it is working although I am sure after all this time there is no or little freon.

The pump and fan operate smoothly and, in my opinion, quietly although the guy commented on it being noisy. I have it running now to see if any/how much cold builds up. He also said the cold plate was pretty small.

I am assuming it would need a recharge of material not available and be pretty inefficient. That said, I am wondering what parts I could salvage for re-use... Like, could I hook a modern compressor up to the same lines and re-use the tubing and cold plate?

Thanks,
J
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Old 30-09-2008, 20:05   #12
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You can probably use many of the same components, and maybe even just replace the compressor but, before I did anything more, I'd pressure test the system. No doubt the compressor seals have completly dried out and are shot after many years of nonuse so they'll leak and the system won't hold pressure. However, you can pressurize with air and at least test all the joints with soapy water. If the refigerant is gone and you plan to keep and repair the compressor, I wouldn't run it for more than a few seconds because the refrigerant carries the lubricating oil and without that the compressor will be kaput. Sounds to me like you have the makings of a working system for the cost of a new compressor, and if you go that path just make sure the new compressor uses a cheap refrigerant. I believe compressors on small units like this aren't usually repairable so you'll probably need a new one in any case. But why replace the whole system?
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Old 30-09-2008, 22:00   #13
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Great news Jack! - I knew there had to be two refrigerant lines. Good call getting a second opinion.

I am not a reefer guy (I know the theory and can identify the components) but bloodhound gives sound advice, I think.
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Old 01-10-2008, 06:42   #14
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There are no seals which "dry up" and need to be replaced in a hermetically sealed system which Jack has. Theoretically without a leak a refrigerant system will never loose it's charge. Even if it did, I'd have a mechanic put a charge of "hot shot" which is the drop-in replacement for r-12 refrigerant. But, Jack should know by now as he was running it when he last posted.
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Old 01-10-2008, 07:33   #15
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The system is an air cooled compress/evaporator system. Looks pretty old and probably not worth messing with. A new system can be had for ~$1000 plus.
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