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Old 16-10-2015, 09:23   #1
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Frigoboat troubleshooting

Hi all,

Have a 12 year old (boat relatively new to me) frigoboat air and keel cooled system that is not getting cold. Compressor runs (is warm when on ), have tried both air and keel modes, with neither can I get the box below 60 degrees. No frost anywhere. Some gurgling near evaporator.

Had a tech come out, he tested the charge--someone had way overcharged the unit in the past, he got it down to normal pressures. No change. Tech says "buy a new unit" or it'll cost $700-900 to troubleshoot and then who knows. Says could be a blockage in the lines, or a bad compressor. He would need to vacuum and then retest...

What other troubleshooting can I do before giving up and pulling trigger on new unit. Have tapped the capillary tubes, and on the evaporator plate, no change. Have not tried heat on the lines.

What else to check?

Thank you
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Old 16-10-2015, 09:55   #2
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

Try another technician.

One problem that I and other owners I know have had was moisture in the refrigerant, solved by installing dryers in the line. But the symptom of this problem was intermittent cooling, not wholesale failure to cool.

Good luck,
Dave
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Old 16-10-2015, 12:55   #3
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

The chance of finding a tech who understands the system you have is almost impossible. When you reported compressor gets warm and little cooling this points to one of four possibilities, Moisture in system, tech removed to much refrigerant, a bad ground connection causing an interruption of all three phases in compressor or refrigerant flow restriction/blockage.

Knowing more about your system would help. When you purchased boat how well did refrigeration work? Did compressor get warm before calling tech to look at it? Does your Frigoboat unit have a Speed controller and a red trouble light? Did original owner tell you anything about refrigerator?

I always assume when a service tech tells you to buy a new unit and says pressures are correct he as no idea of what is wrong with your unit.

Frigoboat units do have design faults that end up causing loss of refrigerant and eventually refrigerant flow troubles. Their failures start with leaking Line connector O-ring seaqls. When refrigerant is added small amounts of moisture mix with refrigerant. The operator can easily determine the difference between low on refrigerant and moisture in refrigerant by listening to gurgling refrigerant sound inside evaporator. If sound stops for a while and then starts again and evaporator has cold condensation on its surface this indicates moisture in refrigerant. If gurgling sound is steady for 15 minutes and no frost system is low on refrigerant.
Bad Ground between control module and battery that will reduce compressor speed so slow it can not maintain high pressure liquid at refrigerant flow control cap tube. Test to eliminate this ground would run a jumper wire direct from module to battery eliminating all boat ground wiring.

The most serious problem with Frigoboat systems operated at heavy loads in warm seawater I believe changes oil viscosity and when mixed with sludge acid causes reoccurring restriction or permanent refrigerant flow blockage.
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Old 16-10-2015, 14:57   #4
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

Richard, sounds like you have an issue with Frigoboat. Hard to give advice when there is such prejudice.
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Old 16-10-2015, 15:26   #5
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

OP,

Where are you located? I have an excellent Frigoboat technician in Sardinia, he may be able to advise you via email. I've found the Italians really know the system well and that it's an excellent product, but outside techs have been unable to diagnose issues in the past and have given me bad advice. I advise going directly to Frigoboat.

It sounds to me like you have moisture in the lines that's freezing up and creating a blockage, which will necessitate an evacuation/vaccum pump to remove the refrigerant and moisture completely. It's not a difficult or costly procedure, maybe $100 or so. Another possible issue is the electronic control module for the compressor that you can replace yourself for around $150. Purchase one directly from Frigoboat.

Ken
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Old 16-10-2015, 18:22   #6
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

Yes Anna Sail, I do have issues with many ice box conversion refrigerator companies Gleaser Bay, Friogoboat, E Z Kold, Adler Barbour, Rparts Kits and Technautics, just to mention a couple. I also consider attempts to use seawater as a condenser cooling medium on small 12/24 volt refrigeration units is an unfriendly poor choice. An Icebox conversion refrigerator selection needs to be based on many facts that allow one to pick the right unit for a particular application.

Poor choice may mean:
Can you can expect unit to leak refrigerant over time.
Seawater may leak into refrigerant.
Compressor may run at temperatures that cause oil to thicken.
Low voltage discharge into seawater may result in system failure.
Electrical circuits may not stand up to the marine environments.
Most refrigerant dryers are too small for in service repairs such as adding refrigerant.
Failure to prevent contaminates from interring refrigerant flow control device.

To form your own opinions about these icebox conversion units do an internet word group search. I found 200 thread items in my search of one manufacturer water cooled unit with many of these on this web forum.
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Old 17-10-2015, 05:39   #7
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Tsho.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anna Sail View Post
Richard, sounds like you have an issue with Frigoboat. Hard to give advice when there is such prejudice.
Prejudice is an unfavourable preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.
Richard’s expert opinion is based upon many decades of specific experience and expertise.

He then goes on to offer (3) simple & effective troubleshooting procedures (good advice).
1. Gurgling starts & stops = moisture.
2. Gurgling steady = low gas.
3. Bad ground jumper test.
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Old 17-10-2015, 06:19   #8
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

Quote:
Originally Posted by GordMay View Post
Greetings and welcome aboard the CF, Tsho.



Prejudice is an unfavourable preconceived opinion that is not based on reason or actual experience.
Richard’s expert opinion is based upon many decades of specific experience and expertise.

He then goes on to offer (3) simple & effective troubleshooting procedures (good advice).
1. Gurgling starts & stops = moisture.
2. Gurgling steady = low gas.
3. Bad ground jumper test.
+(a lot) Gordo!
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Old 18-10-2015, 09:53   #9
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

Thanks Everyone,

Today is my day to continue to troubleshoot, very much appreciate the thoughts so far.

To answer some of the original questions:

I don't believe the fridge worked well when I boat the boat. I've owned the boat a couple of years but have been working on other issues. Have not attempted to use it until now. So it likely has gone unused for 3 years. I believe it worked prior to that (the previous owners were meticulous)

The compressor always gets warm, before and after the tech came. The tech gauged the coolant and found that it was way overcharged, 140+ psi on the High side and 40+psi on the low side. He brought the pressure down to 'the correct range'. I forgot those numbers but believe it was 40psi on the high side and 5-8psi on the low side.

The unit does have a speed control unit, with trouble light, and a spill over unit with fan, in the fridge side of the box. It also has a selector switch for air vs keel cooling.

I did recall gurgling at some point. Now at the evaporator I hear more of what I would describing as a steady flow combined with what sounds like dripping. Less gurgling. Sound is steady. No frost anywhere.

I'm going to try jumping the ground later today.
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Old 18-10-2015, 11:21   #10
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

Tsho, If the figures quoted by tech of 140 high and 40 psi low are what he found it did confirm too much refrigerant or contaminated refrigerant. The good news is the system or compressor will not need to be replaced.

After reducing refrigerant volume correct pressures should be 90 to 120 psi on high pressure side depending on seawater keel cooler temperature. Low pressure with correct refrigerant volume on your capillary tube system and 134a refrigerant will be 4 to 8 psi depending on evaporator temperature. Pressure readings in the first 15 minutes after compressor start up are of no value.

Forty psi high and 4 to 8 psi low can not be correct after removing some refrigerant.
More information on how to achieve correct refrigerant charge can be found on my web site by clicking on Refrig Charge Kollmann Marine

Before calling another service engineer/tech from Hell read through the servicing info on my web site.
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Old 22-11-2015, 11:07   #11
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

The longest duration to a reply in history....too much work and travel.

Tackling this problem again. In attempting to run a fresh ground from the module to the battery negative terminal-- the terminal blade that is soldered onto the two prong plug that goes into the top of the module broke off. This was the ground connection, so I'm guessing this could indicate that the solder was weak, and that the module was getting weak ground.

I could solder a new ground terminal blade, but I wouldn't trust it. Can't find any parts for this module online. Likely next step would be to replace module?

Current module is E50960. Replaced by the E254412 or E50896? Current module looks like E50896.

Richard, do you sell modules, or still offer your refurb service?

I also cannot tell exactly how to remove the module from the tank mounting.

Thanks for any advice.
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Old 22-11-2015, 11:10   #12
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

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Old 22-11-2015, 12:06   #13
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

E50895 or the new E50896 are standard control modules for Danfoss/Secop BD35 and BD50 compressors.

E254412 is a standard control module for the 12v Danfoss BD3.0 and earlier compressor (E254424 is for the 24v version).

If you don't feel comfortable with sodering the terminal back on, then best to purchase a new module.
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Old 22-11-2015, 12:07   #14
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

Answered a few of my own questions:

Got the controller off, definitely the newer three pin E50896.
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Old 22-11-2015, 12:08   #15
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Re: Frigoboat troubleshooting

After our ongoing issues with our Figoboat freezer compressor unit (sometimes only one unit will turn on), it was decided to have the excellent Frigoboat tech in Sardinia build us a replacement double compressor unit. It was much cheaper to buy two single compressors and have him mount the two new units in the old double housing, giving us the working unit as a spare. Now we have a working unit with a three year warranty and a third compressor as a spare all for less than $1,200. We also retained all the modules, so we have three of them for spares.

Might be time for you to have a pro look at your unit instead of wasting time troubleshooting it yourself.
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