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Old 13-04-2015, 06:49   #1
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Older Frigoboat Not Cooling - Decisions

My boat has a 22 year old Frigoboat refrigeration setup. Separate fridge and freezer boxes with separate raw water cooled compressors and evaporator plates for each. I confirmed this unfortunately is an R-12 system manufactured right before the changeover to R134a in the early 90s. Physically the system components don’t look their age – there’s not a spec of rust or corrosion – but they’re certainly beyond their life expectancy. Until I de-winterized the boat, everything had been working OK upon decommissioning last fall, although it did struggle to keep a 4 cu ft box below 40 degrees on hot days when its twin will freeze water solid in a few hours.

When I turned the fridge unit back on for the first time after a cold winter, the compressor and water pump both ran and raw water was flowing but the unit wasn’t cooling. Luckily the freezer unit was working fine. In reading some of Richard Kollmann’s and other previous posts it sounds like I have either a refrigerant leak or a blockage of refrigerant flow. I turned the system on and off several times and also tried tapping the accessible portions of the refrigerant lines in the hope it would knock any blockage loose. Didn't work. It looks like the next troubleshooting tactic is taking a heat gun to the lines – but my optimism that this issue can be resolved without professional help is fading. Should I make a service call, a technician will probably either tell me the system is obsolete and not worth repairing or will want 3-400 dollars for a repair.

If it comes to replacement, as much as there are disadvantages to the dual box/dual compressor setup, I’d want to keep it and perhaps even keep the existing freezer unit as long as it continues to work. For replacement of the fridge, I’d like to go to air-cooled, with something like an Isotherm 2501. We plan to move aboard in a few months, so dependable refrigeration is a must!

Thoughts? What would you do if you were in my situation?
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Old 13-04-2015, 07:03   #2
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Re: Older Frigoboat Not Cooling - Decisions

22 years is a long time for a fridge to work on a boat. Especially with R22 I would be reluctant to spend a lot of time/money on repairs. On the other hand, a new system will set you back close to a grand. Guess it will depend on available boat bucks.

I ditched the 15 year old system on my boat and went with a new, air cooled Frigoboat and am very happy with it. I have a single box 9-10 cu ft including about 2 cu ft of freezer section. Mid summer in Florida with temps running >90 F every day the max I used was a bit over 50 amp hours/day. Living on board and going in and out a lot would probably move that up a little.

I've been happy with the Frigoboat so far but several other good brands out there.
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Old 13-04-2015, 07:11   #3
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Older Frigoboat Not Cooling - Decisions

Is your capillary tube clogged ? When our Frigoboat units have been shutdown for a while and then run but won't cool I usually find that is the issue...if you can't hear the gases bubbling or gurgling in/near the plate I'd start there.....easy to fix with a warm rag and some patience....new filter dryers should cut down on recurrence.....I'd be hesitant to use a heat gun on the soldered copper lines and near your walls/fridge insulation.

We have a dual box/compressor with keel coolers and we have been pretty happy with them once we got what seems to be the "five year" maintenance done (new filter dryers, system vacc'd and pressure tested, recharge, one unit needed a new controller). I like the dual set up especially since if you lose one unit you have a backup and our fridge can run cold enough on one side to be a temporary "freezer".

Hope that helps,

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Old 13-04-2015, 08:33   #4
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Re: Older Frigoboat Not Cooling - Decisions

I see no reason to replace based on age as there are many units as old as 30 years still running. It is not easy to tell if these Danfoss BD compressors are running, it turned on and left running for 20 minutes and compressor still is cold then compressor is not running. Frigoboat has always used line connectors that are prone to leaks. I believe that model Frigoboat had a line filter correctly installed to protect against cap tube blockage. The only systems today that has blockage troubles are Keel Cooler units from Frigoboat.

If you have good confirmation compressor is running then I would suspect loss of refrigerant at Service fitting or at line connector O rings. If compressor is not running it is an electrical problem detected by Danfoss control module Low voltage spike, water pump relay drawing too much current, someone has tampered with refrigerant or control module has failed. If you believe module is bad I can test it for you at no charge and lone a new one to you for 30days, even if it is returned damaged by a bad compressor.

Troubleshooting 4 pin modules consists of the following:

1. Place jumper wire across thermostat terminals, Compressor still does not run.

2. Disconnect black fan wire from electronic module, Compressor runs replace fan. Compressor still does not run after fan ground wire is disconnected. If one of the 10 transistors in this fan fail it can cause module to prevent compressor from running.

3. Run correct size and correct polarity fused jumper wires direct from a fully charged battery to module in order to bypass all boat’s wiring. Volt meter readings are of no value, Compressor still does not run electronic module needs to be tested on another unit.

I closed my shop but after seeing what is being charged by boat refrigeration companies who will test modules charging $50 and charging as high as $385 for new 4 pin modules, I decided to test and sell modules for a fraction of what is currently being charged.

If your shipping address is in the US I will test your module on my Danfoss compressor refrigeration test stand. This test stand will run at max compressor load for a one hour. I will then return your module to you for a shipping and handling charge of $20. Ship module with return address and a personal check for $20 to:
Richard Kollmann
2430 Sugarloaf LN
Ft. Lauderdale FL 33312

New replacement Module

If you wish to purchase a new or serviceable unit from me later I currently have the following four pin modules:

Four pin modules for BD2, BD2.5 and BD3 twelve volt compressors only:

No used modules available at this time.

New module non Danfoss With improved cooling. $150 plus $15 shipping.

Modules will only be shipped to addresses in the US. If you want to purchase a new replacement module send personal check for $165 and return address to:

Richard Kollmann
2430 Sugarloaf LN
Ft. Lauderdale FL 33312


Because your unit is old and if it needs a new electronic module there is a risk that something is wrong that caused module to fail so most companies will refuse warranty of these modules. This is my electronic module warranty:
Any new module I sell can be returned for full credit without question within 30 days . Because of my own risk involved for the next 11 months I will return only 50% of the new units purchase price if module is returned within the first year.

Richard Kollmann
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Old 13-04-2015, 10:32   #5
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Re: Older Frigoboat Not Cooling - Decisions

My opinion that the compressor is indeed running is based on the fact that it does get warm after about 20 minutes and I do feel a slight vibration when I place a hand on top of the unit. This is what leads me to believe it's a refrigerant flow or leakage problem.

I don't doubt that these units can go to 30+ years old as I've known a few home refrigerators to have beat that record. I'd be more inclined to service this unit and keep it going if it wasn't R-12. I plan to call a few refrigeration techs to see about service, but I'm suspecting they either won't want to touch R-12 or will want over $100 per hour plus travel time just to come look at the thing.
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Old 14-04-2015, 08:47   #6
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Re: Older Frigoboat Not Cooling - Decisions

4arch, Unfortunately mobile refrigeration design flaws present and past that allowed refrigerant flow restrictions and refrigerant leaks are expensive to correct. Small pleasure boat refrigeration suffered a major setback when special interest groups had such an influence on our pocket books. A common occurrence as reported by motaman 9 in this thread is that others have problems on similar units to yours. The solution to refrigerant loss or flow problems do result in a catch 22 situation as you now know. Do you hire a $90 an hour technician maybe from Hell who will spend 4 to 6 hours attempting to correct and service unit or do the work yourself in violation to EPA regulations. A third option for repair that will probably be recommended by repair person after the first hour and travel cost will be to replace complete system.
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Old 14-04-2015, 08:57   #7
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Re: Older Frigoboat Not Cooling - Decisions

If keeping your boat 10+ more years, change all,.. no kidding

If above 44', 2 units

Cooling keel kit better than a buzzing fan
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Old 14-04-2015, 09:40   #8
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Re: Older Frigoboat Not Cooling - Decisions

Do you have a sight glass?
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