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Old 19-12-2013, 17:58   #1
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Frigoboat Horror (True) Story

We have nearly completed the galley reno on our yacht Distant Drummer, including new Corian counter tops, stainless steel, pull out main faucet and stainless drinking water faucet. Despite suggestions otherwise from several cruising friends and acquaintances, we took the recommendation of our refrigeration tech over the years and purchased a new Frigoboat keel-cooler system with a K50 compressor and 380AL Evaporator. Having added the additional insulation all around, we anticipated having a full fridge and separate freezer for our cruising lifestyle. We turned it on and it worked perfect-for 100 hours, knocking the freezer down to 12F and fridge to 40F, per factory settings. Then, after shutting the system down for 2 weeks while we travelled, we found upon our return it would not cool. Our tech arrived and determined it was leaking gas overboard through the keel-cooler. We hauled the boat again, and found the keel-cooler plate was gone. Yes, GONE. The only thing stopping water coming in was the core of the unit, thanks to the 5200. The boat could have sunk (exclusive of 2 auto bilge systems installed). The new compressor and evaporator were full of salt water-junk.
The components were removed and returned to the local distributor, and we commenced the warranty process. That was weeks ago, and we have gotten nothing but the runaround, and the Frigoboat rep sends us questions (wrong email address, which we had to tell them twice to fix) aimed only at trying to find a fault in the install to deny warranty. Here are some examples, cut and pasted from his emails: (photos to follow at end)

Was there another part or component, not supplied by Frigoboat, attached to the surface of the Keel Cooler that is visible in the picture?
No additional part attached to keel cooler.
Q. Where is the main part of the Keel Cooler, as shown in the photo, now? Is it still adhered to the hull exterior? It was not delivered with the other components to Peterson Marine.
To repeat earlier information, the main part of the keel cooler was gone when we hauled it. That means not there, missing, fallen off or other. And no , we did not collide with anything
Q.The picture shows the main part of the Keel Cooler adhered to the hull. How were the copper tubes fed into the boat's interior? Was there a separate hole for the tubing?
A.The keel cooler was professionally and properly installed at a local boat yard, per instructions. Your question about drilling a separate hole for the tubes is insulting, condescending and self serving. No one is as stupid as you must think I am.

This last one was the straw breaker. It would be impossible to install the keel cooler in one location and run the copper tubes thru another hole. So I get it, the old Washington two step. Well Rob, I don’t do that dance, so I responded “You refuse to call me, claim twice you sent questions to my wrong email and hide behind a receptionist. I've spent a business lifetime dealing with many people like you, unfortunately, and am escalating this above you.” Just issued Letters of Demand for the entire cost, including 2 hauls, to Coastal Climate Control in MD, Veco North America, LLC (same address) and to the CEO of Veco in Europe, Carlo Formenti. Can’t wait to get the lawyers letter threatening me, but guess what, you can’t be held liable for telling the truth. Meanwhile, we have to delay our cruising departure to the islands till we get a replacement system installed. OH, and we had an electrolysis expert come and chech the boat and marina-all OK, no current.
Do you want to know what we think of Coastal Climate Control and Frigoboat?
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Old 19-12-2013, 18:22   #2
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Re: FRIGOBOAT HORROR (TRUE) STORY

If your "electrolysis" expert actually used that term, you need to hire someone else. No qualified marine corrosion expert will use that term as it refers to chemical changes to an electrolyte, not what happens to the metal in an electrolyte.
Misuse of this term is a big red flag among qualified corrosion experts.

What you are looking at is either galvanic corrosion or stray current corrosion. It is highly unlikely that galvanic corrosion could do that kind of damage in a few weeks therefore you are almost certainly dealing with stray current corrosion. Get another expert.
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Old 19-12-2013, 18:32   #3
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Re: FRIGOBOAT HORROR (TRUE) STORY

Why would you get a fridge system where you have to drill a hole in the bottom of the boat and attach a chunk of metal to it?
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Old 19-12-2013, 18:48   #4
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Re: FRIGOBOAT HORROR (TRUE) STORY

+1 for stray current.
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Old 19-12-2013, 19:06   #5
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Not sure Id post this stuff until your situation is either accepted or denied. Slamming the company could potentially hamper you getting satisfaction. Im no expert.but something looks very wrong here. If it is stray current history could repeat itself. May not even be your.boat
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Old 19-12-2013, 19:08   #6
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Re: FRIGOBOAT HORROR (TRUE) STORY

Is your boat bonded? I suspect so, since you do not mention any zincs on the cooler. If so, was you keel cooler connected to your boat's negative bus?
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Old 19-12-2013, 19:12   #7
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Re: FRIGOBOAT HORROR (TRUE) STORY

The hole in the boat was already there- a useless salt water foot pump that we haven't used in 6 years of sailing and cruising the islands. Switched it out for the keel-cooler since you cannot 'undo' a hole in the hull, Also dislike the air cooled system we used to have due to high power consumption and condensate water in the bilge, and we like a DRY bilge. Seemed like a good idea at the time.
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Old 19-12-2013, 19:13   #8
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Re: FRIGOBOAT HORROR (TRUE) STORY

Sorry for your troubles, Capt Tom, but I have to say that I had a completely different experience.

I had a Frigoboat keel-cooled system installed on our new boat back in 2002, and it was having problems keeping the reefer cold enough. Rob Warren was kind enough to spend a couple of hours on the phone with me when I was trouble shooting the problem. He was polite, helpful and really knew his stuff. The problem turned out to be an installer error of omission which was easily fixed, and all was well.

It's hard for me to believe you were dealing with the same guy. Rob impressed me as someone who went above and beyond normal expectations to make sure I was a satisfied customer. I can't say enough about how good he was to work with.
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Old 19-12-2013, 19:21   #9
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Re: FRIGOBOAT HORROR (TRUE) STORY

boatpoker, the 'expert' handle was mine. This guy knew his stuff, and showed me how he measured for current & differentials in the water, dock, shore power, SSB etc. He advised the boat and surroundings were clean.
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Old 19-12-2013, 19:24   #10
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Re: FRIGOBOAT HORROR (TRUE) STORY

Bamboosailor, the boat is a Morgan, non bonded, since Charley didn't believe in bonding his boats. We grounded it to the Yanmar block, with all the other stuff. Several sailors have told me that was our mistake-attaching a wire to the keel-cooler just made it a battery, but that's what the install instructions stated.
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Old 19-12-2013, 19:28   #11
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Re: FRIGOBOAT HORROR (TRUE) STORY

Hud3, never did get to speak to him, couldn't get past the receptionist Gretchen who advised email only so there was a "record". I know when I'm being set up. Based on your experience, it does sound like a different person, but that's what happened. If we had treated customers like that our business ventures would have failed
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Old 19-12-2013, 19:29   #12
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Re: FRIGOBOAT HORROR (TRUE) STORY

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vasco View Post
Why would you get a fridge system where you have to drill a hole in the bottom of the boat and attach a chunk of metal to it?
Because it is a much more efficient way to run a refrigeration system. Instead of depending on hot air to cool the refrigerant, you have cool water.

Why are you relying on hot air, probably in an enclosed space with poor ventilation to cool your refrigerant??
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Old 19-12-2013, 19:34   #13
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Re: FRIGOBOAT HORROR (TRUE) STORY

electrolysis, or some other form of electrical damage, for sure. don't think frigoboat will warranty that....

just another reason to love air cooling for the fridge.
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Old 19-12-2013, 19:40   #14
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Re: FRIGOBOAT HORROR (TRUE) STORY

Quote:
Originally Posted by roverhi View Post
Because it is a much more efficient way to run a refrigeration system. Instead of depending on hot air to cool the refrigerant, you have cool water.
I gues you haven't heard of the Technautics CoolBlue unit that does't need water cooling up to 120-degs ambient temp..... We spend our lives on the water trying to keep the Sea water outside the hull...take away sea water cooling and you take away lots of drama from any system.
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Old 19-12-2013, 19:41   #15
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Re: FRIGOBOAT HORROR (TRUE) STORY

I have to think that in the install you created a electrolytic reaction.
Wonder if a failed control board or compressor could cause this. Given that the reaction is limited to the refer and hasn't shown up at other parts I would suspect the wiring or a component failure in the refer parts. That should not be hard to figure out. Probably need a sparky to document the wiring and the components. I really doubt this is external marina issue. More like a bond or ground in the wrong place or current leak from the install.
I would look at how you are Ac grounded and what is new install to that ground.
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