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Old 16-06-2017, 08:40   #16
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

One item which has not been brought up, but has been extensively covered in other threads is the dreaded "worked fine for years, but won't run right after a layup" clog in the capillary tube.

If the capillary tube fix works, it's a big red flag waving to tell you to apply the "add filter dryer and filter to the tube and keep it away from the compressor before your system entirely packs it in" fix.

I didn't and had to entirely tear it out; my configuration wouldn't allow me to replace the evaporator (too big to go down the door hole I'd left when I built it; search Flying Pig or my name and anything refrigeration in 2012-2013 to see discussions), or I'd have gone back with what I had, which performed brilliantly - until it didn't at all.

That said, I've had to replace the controller on my new system, so that MIGHT be the issue - but that was not the alarm code I got.

Good luck; I sincerely hope you are not dealing with a clog which will never get better without the added hardware fix above...
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Old 23-07-2017, 16:55   #17
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

OK, news. So on my friends boat, that was a situation with no compressor start ever. Bang, nothing, three flashes. Replaced the electronic module and it started right away. However, it took forever to cool down the box and only top half of the evaporator frosted over. Adding freon as we speak. The freon must have gone somewhere, so the coupler rings will have to be replaced. Meanwhile I will know if everything else works properly. Fortunately, I have a nice two stage evac pump.
On my own boat, still working, occasionally does the three flash thing. Meanwhile noticed that from the compressor start up it takes up to 4 minutes befor I get a more or less steady hiss at the orifice. It originally started hissing after 10 seconds or so. Also, the sound is unsteady, pulsing, where it used to have just slight fluctuation. I would conclude that the freon is low here too, but the evaporator frosts over everywhere.
Another puzzle: on my friend's larger icebox I installed the 200F evaporator, my boat uses the 160F, smaller and strangely more expensive unit. They are also very differently put together. The 160F doesn't have any exposed capillary tube near the evaporator, instead a single, apparently coaxial tube goes in and near the entry point, molded in the aluminum sheet is a kind of narrowing of the channel, followed by a tiny meander, kind of freon obstacle course. Anyone would know what and why the differences?
Anyone can describe the sounds at the orifice or capillary when the unit just cuts in ? When does it start hissing, steady or crunchy hiss?
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Old 24-07-2017, 11:23   #18
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

And thank you for all your responses and advice. My friend's fridge now works, I added freon during few 'compressor on' cycles, little bit at a time until the the evaporator frosts over everywhere. Also, the hiss at the orifice turned more steady. I was hypothesizing that low freon would lower the high side pressure, so some gas as well as liquid would be reaching the orifice, making the hissing sound unsteady. Anyone cares to confirm that this is what happens? It would add an easy diagnostic check to our troubleshooting. So now we shall see.
One more question. Is it OK to add freon with the fluorescent leak detecting die to the Danfoss compressor system? I can't see how it could be anything but the darn O-rings in the couplers, but there is lot to learn here.
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Old 27-07-2017, 08:43   #19
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

Your Frigoboat manual should say, in bold letters, to only use pure R135a in its systems. Any added ingredient (die, oil, leak-detection goo, etc.) will either clog in the capillary tube, or settle at the lowest point in your system (for example the keel cooler) creating a new problem.

If you lost refrigerant, which the low frost line and hiss sound are evidence of, then you need to find the leak and fix it, or continue to forever add refrigerant at regular intervals, depending on how large the leak is. To find the leak: check the fittings for an oily residue and if found, then replace the O-ring (spares were originally taped to the compressor); check the copper tube and evaporator plate for holes, soapy water works well here or a sniffer.

Whatever you do, please, do not put leak detection fluid into your system. This is not a car air-conditioning system with a wide orifice (for which such things were made), this is a capillary tube system with a micro bore.
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Old 27-07-2017, 09:45   #20
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

I trust you meant 134a; I've never heard of 135a

Meanwhile the o-rings are a simple fix. You have the gear. Open each quick-connect and replace the o-rings; new systems come with replacements included in a small plastic bag.

Then evacuate the system and leave your gauges on with the suction (center) line closed and see if your vacuum goes away. If it didn't, you've solved your problem; it will take only a few ounces of 134a to fill it and you're off and running again.

If your vacuum bleeds off, you have a leak in one of the copper pieces; the quick-connects, with new O-rings are extremely unlikely to leak...
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Old 27-07-2017, 09:45   #21
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

Thanks Anna sail. I hope the R135a was a typo, otherwise I have been putting R134a. As in my fridge, when I dried it out a year ago (after replacing the darn rings). I was going to add the much recommended drier, but that would add extra patent connector (bulky and prone to o-ring problems). Decided to do without and see what happens.
On that note: anyone has experience with adding and can recommend a specific model of filter/drier? I don't have tools or skills to solder one in, so in case my frigo will pack it in again, I would have to take it somewhere to have it done. Else I use one with those with the bulky couplers.
No additives. Right. In fact I drove all over town looking for a can of R134a that didn't have any additives listed or making any outrageous claims about how much cooler your car A/C will be if you use their product. Lol. But fluorescent die sounded that was likely to be added in very small quantity and what do I know about its chemical or physical properties. Was hoping.
Yes, I have been an avid follower of all the Danfoss chatter and read the directions by the gurus. Some of it might have even stuck, just don't remember about the die. Good info Anna Sail.
When my fridge stop cooling a year ago, one of the connectors was slick with oil and had some obvious corrosion. That was easy. But my friends unit is only few months old and the couplers look pristine. I added freon knowing that I may have to do some more work on the unit, but after solving the larger problem of the compressor not starting at all by replacing the control module, I wanted to know that low freon is my only other problem. But the mystery of the disappearing freon remains, hence my florescent die question. I may have to borrow a sniffer. Any comments on that?
I have ordered a new control module for my fridge, coming in today.
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Old 27-07-2017, 09:49   #22
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

Pix of me replacing O-ring in the first couple of lines here:

Pictures: Flying Pig Shakedown 2013-2014/Refrigeration FINISH/Attempt To Salvage Frigoboat
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Old 27-07-2017, 10:09   #23
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

Yes, that was a typo, R134a.

Think about it, if you don't feel any oily residue around the couplings, this means they are not leaking. So, please, don't change the o-rings if they aren't the problem. You may accidentally let a dust particle in, which would create a new problem.

Regarding the filter-drier: I would strongly recommend installing a Frigoboat filter-drier over any other you may find, if that's the solution to your problem. These come pre-charged, with quick discount fittings, a plug and play solution. Available from any Frigoboat dealer, maybe one with an on-line catalog to make life even easier.
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Old 13-08-2017, 05:46   #24
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

Thanks again for all the help, my adventures as a refrigeration technician wannabe continues. As I said, my friend's fridge works and has been working for few weeks now after replacing the e-module and recharging. Please don't write to point out that I have not solved his problem. I know, I am only so happy to know that his e-module was defective and i will deal with the disappearing freon later.
My own unit, which it turns out I repaired exactly two years ago, is another story and here is the joke. After much pointless deliberation, I bought the e-module and decided to replace it. It came in two weeks ago, I put it on the shelf and ever since then the old unit performed without a hitch or hiccup. Yesterday it acted up again, yes, three flashes and all so I finally got around to replacing it. When I turned the fridge on, it cooled the box down, a bit slowly, without any flashes from the scary LED. The evaporator was iced over with about 1/4" of frost and ice from before so I turned it off and let it defrost. I dried the box out and turn the fridge back on. Now it was cooling the box down quickly, but at 50deg F, the hiss stopped, the current draw went from 4.2A to 1.8A and the box started to warm up. Same thing it did two years ago: ice formed and clogged the capillary/orifice. Rubbing the spot on the condenser melted the ice and it started working but quickly stopped again. So now I guess I will install the darn drier after evacuating. And may end up replacing the whole system in the end. Any comments welcome.
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Old 13-08-2017, 06:34   #25
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

I'm so sorry to hear that. It sounds just like what eventually killed our system.

Fortunately, unless you've somehow burned up the stuff in circulation, your problem starts and ends with the cap tube, and a new evap, along with the insertion of a significant filter-drier likely will be your solution.
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Old 13-08-2017, 06:49   #26
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

Thanks Skipgundlach, I just ordered the Frigoboat filter drier. Since rubbing the spot (long enough to heat it by friction) on the evaporator where the capillary ends makes the blockage go away, I don't think it is debris, should be just freezing moisture, so the drier may help. (I have the 160 size evaporator and it has molded in this meander pattern where the capillary exits into the plate, that's where I apply the friction heating.) I will give it a go. Don't have the money to replace thw whole setup.
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Old 13-08-2017, 07:02   #27
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

The fact that you can make it go again, once the filter drier is installed, may cure your issue (catch the moisture).

But you'll have to evacuate for a (I used a full day) long time to assure that as much as possible any contaminants are removed. Once there, if you have gauges, and know how to avoid contamination when hooking them up, just allow the high and low sides to become equal - prolly about 35PSI or so - and give it a whirl with the lines still attached, but closed.

If you need more or less, adjust while still connected, once it's run and stabilized.

If you DON'T have gauges, put in 30 seconds worth of gas, and run until frost appears. If it goes beyond the plate, bleed a bit. If not, add some more - rinse, repeat, essentially, over what may turn into several days. But keep the supply line that you started with pristine by purging it before you start, and bleed if needed (valve on the can closed unless adding) by loosening the connection at the can; any gas will escape there, keeping the tube pristine, and in adding, the same - never take the can or tube off until you've got it sorted.

But I think you'll probably win; if you can get it going by a slight warming, it's not yet terminal, methinks.
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Old 13-08-2017, 07:03   #28
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

PS while you've got the system open, install new O-rings at the insertion point for your F-D...
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Old 13-08-2017, 07:13   #29
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

It looks like you had a combination of problems , one being the controller and the other being the moisture in your system . I hope you don't get the three flash again with this new controller , fingers crossed , but the thing that confuses me is the moisture ? How did it get into your system ? Unless you did not have the system properly dried out before recharging last time . If you have acces to a micron gauge , try to get the system to 500 microns of vacuum or more and then hold it there for a few hours . This way you will be able to get the moisture out of the oil. This may take running the vacuum pump for many hours possibly overnight to be sure . If your boat is warm put a fan on the pump , they get very hot . Also be sure to put fresh oil in the pump before you start as that oil is hydroscopic as well. Good luck
Keep us posted .

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Old 13-08-2017, 10:03   #30
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Re: Frigoboat fridge Danfoss 35 three flashes

Thanks John. Yeah, it's a mystery. I went back to my photos of the last repair and it turned out it was exactly two years ago. I bought a decent two stage pump (Robinaire?) for the project and left it running for 12hrs while keeping the box with some lightbulbs at 130degF. The advice here suggested even such procedure may or may not be good enough because the oil tends to hold on to the moisture really well. It lasted two years. But the puzzle is why it worked well all that time without ever plugging up and only plugged up yesterday after I defrosted the evaporator.
I started it up again this afternoon and got no three flashes, but predictably, once the temperature dropped to 52degF, the hiss started to change to these strangled ululations and chirps and stopped shortly thereafter. It is good to note the current draw counterintuitively drops at that point, roughly from 4A to 2A or less.
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