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Old 19-10-2013, 17:14   #1
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Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

Can anyone recommend a reputable Frigoboat expert in the Rockland or Westchester County New York area?

Our Frigoboat Freezer with Keel Cooler worked perfectly until last week when we had a fairly reputable diver clean the bottom. Now the compressor runs but the evaporator doesn't get cold. He was just leaving as we pulled up on launch. I remember his words 'there was lots of hairy stuff on a grill down there - took a while to scrape it off'. What are the chances that he put a hole in the keel cooler and all the refrigerant leaked out?

And now what? I guess the first step is to confirm we have a leak and second is to confirm it's in the keel cooler. Is it likely the whole system is trashed or do we just get the keel cooler replaced and recharge the system?

I would like to have a Frigoboat expert take a look. Any recommendations would be appreciated.

Thanks
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Old 19-10-2013, 17:42   #2
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

IMHO, you ought to try to get a witness and talk with the diver personally.
Without telling the diver, ask innocently where that "grill" was and what he had to do to clean it.
If it's punched out, you've got some proof.
Good luck.

BTW, I'm not a lawyer, but I saw one once at a Holiday Inn...
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Old 20-10-2013, 07:53   #3
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

It is unlikely that exterior cleaning of Keel cooler will cause it to leak. If you have confirmed compressor is running then and only then would you believe it is a refrigerant problem. If amperage of this unit is less than 3 amps or compressor is not warm after a 30 minute running time problem is refrigerant loss or lack of flow. If compressor is confirmed not to be running problem is electrical.

If keel cooler was damaged to a point where seawater is now in complete system you should remove the complete system and replace it, not just the keel cooler.
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Old 20-10-2013, 08:41   #4
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

SO49: It it is highly unlikely that your Frigoboat Keel Cooler has been damaged by a diver cleaning it. The actual condensing tube is made of cupro-nickel, which is very tough and durable, and even whacking it with a hammer would hardly put a dent in it.

Rather than assuming what the problem might be, or seeking advice here, I suggest you follow the troubleshooting guidelines at Coastal Cool-Aids If you still can't locate the problem, please contact us at info@frigoboat.com and we'll be happy to help you.

Good luck,
Frigoboat Info
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Old 20-10-2013, 08:42   #5
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

That web address should have been: Coastal Cool-Aids
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Old 20-10-2013, 12:50   #6
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

Thank you, SeniorMechanico, Richard Kollman and Frigoboat. I met a lovely and very helpful lady at the boat show">Annapolis Boat Show at the Frigoboat booth that gave me the information on the coastalcoolaids.com website and the troubleshooting guide.

Following the guide I determined that the Frigoboat freezer compressor was on and drawing about 5 amps (110 volts). I felt the compressor and it was definitely running. Although I only ran it for about 10 minutes if did get slightly warm - not hot.

I checked the evaporator in the freezer and it was slightly cool - no frost on anything. The thermostat was switched to freezer (versus refrig) and turned way up - I also tried it in a middle position.

Based on the troubleshooting guide I'm now up to 'Possible lack of refrigerant. Find and fix leak, evaculate system, and recharge.'

The boat is a 2004 Jeanneau SO49 built in France. The boat is still in the water but based upon my intimate knowlege of the boat's bottom and a picture I took a few years ago the keel cooler installed on this boat does not look at all like the sintered bronze units you sell now - it's more of a squared longish rectangle. I'll attach a picture.

The freezer has been running very nicely for 8 years with no change in performance until we had the bottom cleaned ten days ago. Immediately thereafter it failed. At first there was a little bit of ice on the line entering the evaporator and now nothing.


Regards, Jeff - SO49
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Old 20-10-2013, 12:57   #7
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

I agree that it is unlikely that a diver caused the keel cooler to leak. But the unit does draw more than 3 amps, maybe 5 or so when it first starts up after a power outage. The smart controller takes a half dozen cycles to learn how fast to run the compressor to achieve the required cooling. Only then will it drop, usually to 3 amps, but not always if you have poor insulation.

David
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Old 20-10-2013, 14:18   #8
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

Hopefully you mean that the system is drawing 5 amps at 12v DC, and not 110v as you have stated.
The Keel Cooler is the same model, just slightly different dimensions to the current models.
Was the freezer turned off for any length of time before re-starting it after having the bottom cleaned?
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Old 20-10-2013, 18:51   #9
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

Sorry, I meant 12 volts DC. Yes, the freezer had been off for a week before the bottom was cleaned. When we got to the boat as the diver was leaving we turned the freezer on and left it on until we left the following day. There was just no frost at all. The separate refrigerator unit and all other electrical equipment worked fine. We even ran the generator for a few hours to make sure the batteries were fully charged.

So what's the next step?
BTW - Here's a good picture inside the hull of the keelcooler.
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Old 24-10-2013, 19:06   #10
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

This sounds suspiciously familiar - a failure after a layup.

Maybe only a shot of 134a after finding the leak. But...

Check out my thread here Another Frigoboat Cooling Problem , and my final report to come shortly...
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Old 24-10-2013, 19:57   #11
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

And here's the end of the story:

Frigoboat - The Smoking Gun (or compressor)
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Old 11-11-2013, 20:33   #12
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

An Update:

I've been having some private conversations with Frigoboat and we've tried a few things with no success yet. An initial thought was that there was a waxy blockage at the evaporator. So we tried a hair drier to melt it. We were able to get some frost on the plates each time we tried it but within a few minutes that stopped. Tried the hair drier five times with no lasting success.

The boat is being hauled for the winter next week and I'll be able to inspect the keel cooler.

Standby.
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Old 12-11-2013, 05:28   #13
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

Did Frigoboat say where the wax may have come from as there is no wax in oil or 134a refrigerant?

What has been the maintenance history of this unit?

Has anyone added or serviced refrigerant ever?

When heating with hair dryer generated refrigerant flow why did Frigoboat Believe?
blockage was wax and not caused by moisture in system?

Have you ever run this keel cool system when boat was out of the water or in a tropical waters?
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Old 12-11-2013, 07:17   #14
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

I would not use a hair dryer for a blockage. A hot wash cloth compress around the tube works much better. You will hear the refrigerant start to flow. Also, it usually takes multiple applications of the hot compress to completely clear up the blockage. My system would do this twice a year until I installed a filter/drier. No problems since.

I also had an unexpected leak as the connection fittings can and do loosen up over time. Make sure all connections are tight.
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Old 12-11-2013, 07:33   #15
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Re: Frigoboat Expert in Haverstraw, NY - Keel Cooler Damaged

I don't know about this one, but my installation had it such that it was impossible to see, let alone reach with a washcloth, my capillary tube.

That one should need to do this process at all is disappointing, and if it's a fact of life for the tiny passages, the failure to include a filter-dryer in the system is mendacious about the character of these systems at best.

Note that I was VERY pleased with my system - until it broke, irretrievably, in the opinion of multiple consultants - and, with a prevention method included, I'd comfortably recommend those interested in the Frigoboat Keel Cooler system.

Note that my replacement system's filter-dryer is well over double the volume of the combined filter-dryer (cap tube filter, which required cutting into the pressure tube and silver-soldering for installation) and quick-connect filter-dryer that Frigoboat Info supplied to my current technician in the attempt to save our system.

And, for that, I give plaudits to the customer service that FI is supplying. He went well out of his way to assist me in my troubleshooting, despite my failure to resolve the problem we had; aside from offering a free replacement, there's little more which could have been done from a distance, I think. Thanks, Rob.

Sorry you're experiencing the problem, and hope that the addition of a filter will resolve it. At this point, since you can at least get flow happening, perhaps you can trap/filter out the contaminants and you'll be up and running.

Good luck.

L8R

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