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Old 21-09-2018, 14:23   #1
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Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

I have an older Engel MR040 portable freezer refrigerator. It functioned flawlessly until 3 years ago. We powered up the unit after it having been off for about 3 months and it would not cool. When we shut the freezer down at the end of the previous season it was functioning well and keeping the freezer cold enough to keep ice cream in the Bahamas in August.

Since I discovered that the unit had died just as we were preparing to head out on our cruising season, I bought a replacement rather than deal with an out of warranty dead unit. The dead unit was placed in the box the new one came in and it has been sitting in my garage for 3 years.

I have a little time on my hands and a call to Engel basically told me that they were not interested in working on a unit that old. I was advised that the symptoms I described were an indication of a capillary blockage but since there were no service valves on the system the solution was to turn the unit upside down while it was operating to try and dislodge the obstruction. If that failed to restore cooling then it was time to buy another unit or run up some pretty heavy shop bills with no guarantee of success.

So all of the rotating, tapping and heating of the capillary has yielded nothing. I am basically at the can't spoil rotten fish stage so I am preparing to take more drastic measures. Has anybody installed a service valve on a SawaFuji swing compressor. If so where did you place the valves. There is a 1/4" tube in the center of compressor that has been crimped and soldered closed. Presumably this is the suction side of the compressor and it was used to charge the system initially. Is this the proper place to install a service valve? There is no way I can install a high side valve because the tubing is so small that I have neither the dexterity nor the eye sight nor the tools to tackle that job.

Any practical advice welcomed

Addison
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Old 23-09-2018, 20:21   #2
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

Quote:
Originally Posted by ajchan View Post
I have an older Engel MR040 portable freezer refrigerator. It functioned flawlessly until 3 years ago. We powered up the unit after it having been off for about 3 months and it would not cool. When we shut the freezer down at the end of the previous season it was functioning well and keeping the freezer cold enough to keep ice cream in the Bahamas in August.

Since I discovered that the unit had died just as we were preparing to head out on our cruising season, I bought a replacement rather than deal with an out of warranty dead unit. The dead unit was placed in the box the new one came in and it has been sitting in my garage for 3 years.

I have a little time on my hands and a call to Engel basically told me that they were not interested in working on a unit that old. I was advised that the symptoms I described were an indication of a capillary blockage but since there were no service valves on the system the solution was to turn the unit upside down while it was operating to try and dislodge the obstruction. If that failed to restore cooling then it was time to buy another unit or run up some pretty heavy shop bills with no guarantee of success.

So all of the rotating, tapping and heating of the capillary has yielded nothing. I am basically at the can't spoil rotten fish stage so I am preparing to take more drastic measures. Has anybody installed a service valve on a SawaFuji swing compressor. If so where did you place the valves. There is a 1/4" tube in the center of compressor that has been crimped and soldered closed. Presumably this is the suction side of the compressor and it was used to charge the system initially. Is this the proper place to install a service valve? There is no way I can install a high side valve because the tubing is so small that I have neither the dexterity nor the eye sight nor the tools to tackle that job.

Any practical advice welcomed

Addison
Because the unit was working well previously and the system has not been 'opened' I doubt that the capillary is blocked, more likely out of gas due to a gas leak, or a stuck open discharge valve in the compressor.

Yes, the crimped off 1/4" tube that exits the compressor case is the service point. Cut the pipe and fit a Schrader valve. But before you do that, break open the capillary tube at the condenser end to see if you get a small flow of gas 'backwards through the capillary to confirm if the capillary is / isn't blocked.

Better still, take the little fridge to a domestic fridge repaired, they are very simple and often quite repairable.

Cheers OzePete
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Old 24-09-2018, 07:16   #3
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

If compressor is vibrating at near 60 cycles per second and there is no cooling then it has lost refrigerant and considered too costly to repair.
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Old 24-09-2018, 07:28   #4
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

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Because the unit was working well previously and the system has not been 'opened' I doubt that the capillary is blocked, more likely out of gas due to a gas leak, or a stuck open discharge valve in the compressor.

Yes, the crimped off 1/4" tube that exits the compressor case is the service point. Cut the pipe and fit a Schrader valve. But before you do that, break open the capillary tube at the condenser end to see if you get a small flow of gas 'backwards through the capillary to confirm if the capillary is / isn't blocked.

Better still, take the little fridge to a domestic fridge repaired, they are very simple and often quite repairable.

Cheers OzePete
Thanks OzePete

What do you mean by crack open the capillary tube at the condenser? It is a very narrow pipe. Probably in the 1.5 mm range?

Thanks
Addison
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Old 24-09-2018, 07:37   #5
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

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If compressor is vibrating at near 60 cycles per second and there is no cooling then it has lost refrigerant and considered too costly to repair.
Hi Richard

The compressor appears to be working fine and further examination of the system looks like there may be a small leak where the capillary tube is connected to the filter drier. If this is the culprit I think I can make a repair to the cracked brazed connection.

I agree that commercial repair of the unit is uneconomic but rather than throw it away I thought I would give it a whirl. Can you offer any suggestions with regard to evacuation and recharge of this type of compressor? I know the gas charge is very tiny and I have no reliable way of measure gas at those weights so I was planning on simply adding gas a bit at a time until the plate starts to frost correctly.

Thanks
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Old 24-09-2018, 09:41   #6
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

The first step on this DIY project is to use a small tube cutter and not a saw it cut off the crimped area of servicing tube so a 1/4 inch servicing fitting can be installed. Then cap open tube to keep air and dust out. Next repair leak area and install new service fitting. Be sure to remove valve core in new service valve when soldering.

Adding correct amount of refrigerant can be done several ways. At this point you need the correct refrigerant and a way to add it from bottle into system for leak testing. As long as temperature is above 70 degrees F refrigerant bottle pressure is good for leak testing when using the leak test procedure on my web site.

It no leaks are found system can be run but first let out the mixture of air and refrigerant . Then add enough fresh refrigerant slowly over one hour to achieve frost covering 80 to 90% of evaporators surface areas after unit has run for 30 minutes or more. If frost on line after evaporator is moving toward compressor there is too much refrigerant in system.

The above procedures will allow you to repair and test systems operation but for future reliability the system will need true dehydrated to remove all moisture and air contaminates. If there is moisture in system now it will display frost after start up and then only cold condensation on evaporator.
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Old 24-09-2018, 11:01   #7
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

Thanks Richard. It will be tricky getting a tube cutter in there but I'm going to try. The Japanese are masters at cramming lots of parts into very little space.

Thanks for the leak check procedure. I will do that first before I vacuum the system.

Addison
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Old 24-09-2018, 12:48   #8
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

If you get it working, I would strongly suggest a deep vacuum held for a long time and maybe even heating of the compressor with a heat lamp or similar.
Other wise, I’m afraid that moisture in the oil may take its toll later.
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Old 24-09-2018, 13:02   #9
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

Thanks. I was planning on pulling a
Vacuum for a day or so.

Addison
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Old 24-09-2018, 15:37   #10
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

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Thanks. I was planning on pulling a
Vacuum for a day or so.

Addison
And replace the filter dryer, preferably with a Sporlan 032. Never just add gas to any fridge system after repairing a leak and evacuating, always best to replace filter dryer.

Cheers OzePete

Footnote: Replacing the filter dryer is 100% the correct practice as any 'hands on' refrigeration mechanic or engineer will confirm.
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Old 24-09-2018, 15:55   #11
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

I do not recommend the filter dryer replacement for a DIY project on this Engel system unless refrigerant flow restriction is confirmed first. Super Dehydration with vacuum pump will remove any moisture from dryer.
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Old 24-09-2018, 18:40   #12
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

I think I'm going to try and fix the leak and then pull a vacuum before recharging. If a drier is required it will become obvious down the road but for now the priority is to prove that the unit is not 100% dead.

Right now I'm trying to figure out how to shield the compressor from the heat of brazing. There is a piece of foam that is less than 2" away from where I have to install the servce valve.

Frankly I'm a little intimidated by the fine tube coming out of the filter drier.

Thanks All

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Old 24-09-2018, 19:21   #13
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

If the copper tube on the compressor is too close to weld (silver solder) you might consider soft soldering. This will require far less heat: (Click on pic to expand)

Click image for larger version

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Regards the cutting capillary for re-fit... Best to scar the capillary with a knife then break open. This way you prevent the capillary from closing or part closing. If welding into a filter dryer it is important to have the capillary as far inside the join as possible so as to prevent the tube blocking with molten solder while welding.

After welding in the capillary, always gently fold capillary back 180 degrees over the filter and anchor / tie with cable ties to prevent stress where the copper was welded and therefore softened.

Cheers OzePete
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Old 24-09-2018, 21:07   #14
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

Messing with capillary tube and filter/dryer can be a painful experience especially when it is not required.
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Old 24-09-2018, 21:29   #15
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Re: Servicing the Sawafuji Compressor in an Engel Cooler

OT I know, but I would like to take the opportunity to express my gratitude and admiration for the restrained tones maintained between you two in this discussion.

May it continue…
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