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Old 19-12-2007, 15:21   #1
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Upgrade to Engine-Driven Refrigeration

Hi all;

Our new to us Westerly Fulmar has a home brewed refrigeration. It consists of an engine driven compressor tht, I am told, came from a ford LTD. It has two very large cold plates in the small, thinly insulated box. It apparently was good for 1 hour a day running down in the tropics. The compressor is a huge, r12 beast.

It has not been run for something like nine years. The electric controls seem to at least click when I energize the circuit. I think the owner said it did not work at some point, so he took the belt, driven from a Volvo 2002 18hp engine, off.

So I am trying to decide if it is even worth messing with. I imagine there are leaks, would it be safe to assume that the compressor and ??? would ahve leaks at this point? It all looks clean, since it has been on fresh water all of this time.

Could I put a new compressor on, and get somebody to pull down and charge the system? Most of the plumbing is copper pipe.

Chris
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Old 19-12-2007, 15:27   #2
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Don't know what your situation is (cruising plans, cruising kitty, and all that) but in your case I'd not mess with it. Just install a new Adler Barbour electric refrigeration system....you can find them less than $1,000....and they're bulletproof and efficient. You could wind up paying a refrigeration technician lotsa bucks, and still have an old, unreliable system.

Calder and others have come to the conclusion that electric refrigeration is the easiest and best way to go for small boats.

By the way, my AB system is over 20 years old and is still cranking along. Never any problem.

Bill
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Old 19-12-2007, 15:45   #3
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We ran with a Sea Frost engine driven unit for a few years and really got tired of running the engine to cool the box. It worked fine but we finally removed it, sold it to someone else and installed an Adler Barber. Never regretted it one bit.
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Old 19-12-2007, 17:08   #4
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We had an engine driven compressor (for 10 years) and had very few problems with it. Ran it an hour a day and charged the batteries at the same time. However, I had it mounted on an aux diesel engine. Not my main. You have to consider the # of hours that it puts on your main, over time. Even with a 12v fridge, you will need to recharge batteries constantly (unless you are plugged in, in a marina).

I do all of my own refrigeration work and worked on others while I was cruising. I would highly recommend scrapping all of the parts to that fridge. 90% certain that it will be suffering from moisture contamination and internal corrosion. Just not worth messing with. You will just have one part after another failing and old parts ruining new parts. It would be more expensive and stressful than just renewing the entite system (including copper pipes).
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Old 19-12-2007, 17:14   #5
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I fought with refrigeration on two boats for 14 years. Ultimately had excellent result with Norcold 110/12 dual voltage units. One of em is still running in my brother's garage long after both boats sold and gone.

I "think" that depending on the size you need, that an engine driven to pull it down, coupled with a 12 volt system to maintain the low temp in the box might be the best solution, but I had a helluva time with the engine driven ones leaking over time.

seer
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Old 19-12-2007, 17:41   #6
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I've got a Gunert, both the engine driven and electrical but it's R12 and has a leak. The electric unit still comes on with power but I need to upgrade both to R135. The Gunert folks say they can do it but I haven't got a quote yet. We've just been using it as an icebox for now since that's what it was originally. It's on the list, like everything else.
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Old 19-12-2007, 18:00   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CharlieCobra View Post
I've got a Gunert, both the engine driven and electrical but it's R12 and has a leak. The electric unit still comes on with power but I need to upgrade both to R135. The Gunert folks say they can do it but I haven't got a quote yet. We've just been using it as an icebox for now since that's what it was originally. It's on the list, like everything else.
It's no big deal switching to R134. You need to evacuate the R12 (with a vacuum pump) and add the proper oil for the R134 and recharge. You may have to change the fitting on your compressor or find a conversion hose.

I would recommend finding the leak and repairing it while you are recharging. You might want to get yourself one of these: Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices
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Old 19-12-2007, 18:34   #8
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Quote:
Just install a new Adler Barbour electric refrigeration system....you can find them less than $1,000....and they're bulletproof and efficient.
There are variations on a theme here but the Danfoss compressor has been around a very long time and still thrives after more than 20 years. There are a lot of modern add ons that do make it even better but engine driven fridges are more than 25 year old technology. Given a fridge consumes more energy on a boat that about every thing else combined - it's the Amp Hours! Just trash the whole setup, increase the insulation and replace it with a new compressor or start buying ice.
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Old 19-12-2007, 18:50   #9
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Originally Posted by Kanani View Post
It's no big deal switching to R134. You need to evacuate the R12 (with a vacuum pump) and add the proper oil for the R134 and recharge. You may have to change the fitting on your compressor or find a conversion hose.

I would recommend finding the leak and repairing it while you are recharging. You might want to get yourself one of these: Harbor Freight Tools - Quality Tools at the Lowest Prices
Thanks, that is now bookmarked and on the list.
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Old 30-12-2007, 16:46   #10
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Had a Gunert with R12 when we bought the boat, had it Evacuated and R134 recharged.. the guy that did the work said it would work for a couple years until the 134 started eating the seals out of the compressor.. for whatever its worth, it lasted two years, almost to the day.. took it all out and started over, by taking out the inside of the box, leaving the cabinet, down to the hull.. then laid compressed foam board in to get the new box.. I installed a "Cool Blue" from Technotics.
The system kicks on about once a day and starts drawing 4.5 amps and over an hour or so, drops down to 3 amps and then kicks off....
and the best thing about it.. It freezes Ice Cream..........
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Old 10-01-2008, 23:22   #11
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Propane refrigerant R-290

This is not what most people think when somebody says propane refrigeration system.

I felt this might be a good place to add a little known fact. Propane is an excellent refrigerant. I have used propane as a refrigerant instead of R12 for years in cars. It's actually too cold and on a humid day you freeze the coils and have to turn it off every once in a while to melt the ice that has formed. It's illegal here in the states to use it in cars I think mostly because refrigerant manufacturers have lobbied for it to be illegal. People are worried about the flamability. In a car this is absolutely crazy in my book, they are worried about one pound of propane in a sealed system when they have a 140 pound tank of gasoline in a rather flimsy container they don't worry about. Almost all refineries use propane in their air conditioning systems. It's even got R numbers so you can design a system using it. R-290.

I tend to get by without refrigeration on my boat but the last two boats I bought and still have, have it installed, but I haven't used it yet. I still haven't really started my big trip though so I may change and start using it. My first boat and years of backpacking have taught me to live without it. If I ever need to replace the refrigerant in my system I'm going to use propane, it's cheaper and much less damaging to the environment if it leaks. Any leak would most likely be slow and dissipate to be no fire danger. Also propane is not hard on the materials used in the seals of the systems. The operating pressures might need slight adjusting but probably not, it's very close to R-12 and R-22 which is used in many freezers and AC units. It's just a little colder at the same pressures.

As for car systems I just wish the regulating people the is the US would pull their head out and realize that freon which is terrible for the environment could be replaced with propane instead of using very high dollar new stuff that is ozone friendly. It normally requires slightly less pounds of propane to fill the system then freon. It is widely and cheaply available. They also skim over the fact that many common refrigerants are also flammable.

also see Homemade Refrigeration System With Propane Refrigerant.

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