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Old 08-07-2020, 10:29   #1
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Frigoboat woes

I have posted this same question on the Beneteau owners forum but I thought I would try here for some tips as well. I have been trying to get my Frigoboat ice box refrigeration with an air cooled compressor working again with not a lot of success. With some online help and troubleshooting, it looks like the problem is a blockage in the cap tube. From the symptoms, a likely culprit seemed to be a wax buildup and we removed the plate and applied a warm rag to the cap tube. Like a miracle, there was the happy gurgling of flowing refrigerant and the plate frosted over completely. It ran normally all day and it seemed like our problems were over. The next morning, the plate was cold but not frosted and the compressor was again running continuously. We jiggled the cap tube a bit and the refrigeration started to run, then stopped again. Is the problem more likely to be moisture? I am not sure if the system has been opened but it doesn't look like it and we have the classic situation of the system working really well, then just not working and the boat was left closed up in the heat without the refrigeration running. I am willing to be a bit more aggressive with the heat on the cap tube if that would help or am I completely off base? I don't have access to a technician so I am dearly hoping that I am not going to have to purge and dry the system. I will be stretching my technical ability and I don't have a vacuum pump and a tank of nitrogen handy. The system is on a Beneteau 323 if that helps.
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Old 08-07-2020, 17:07   #2
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Re: Frigoboat woes

If this is just a small amount of moisture or sludge it can be captured by a $10
filter/dryer installed in high pressure liquid line going to cap tube. There is no way to be sure this will work but because it seam to move blockage at times it is worth trying. Frigoboat uses quick connect line connectors that can be opened without loss of refrigerant and they sell a filter charged with refrigerant intended to solve this kind of problem. Unfortunately their fix is expensive. The alternative with maybe a better chance of success is dehydrate system with a vacuum pump for several hours at less than 300 microns keeping complete system near 100 degrees F. And installing an additional oversize 032 or 050 filter/dryer in liquid line before recharging with refrigerant.
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Old 08-07-2020, 19:01   #3
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Re: Frigoboat woes

Without access to a vacuum pump, I will see if I can find the filter. I hope that works
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Old 08-07-2020, 19:31   #4
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Re: Frigoboat woes

See the excellent guide from Coastal Climate Control

Try gently bending the section of tubing where the cap tube begins so that it is vertical and hope that gravity will keep the debris in the system from getting stuck at the start of the cap tube.

If that doesn’t work, call Coastal Climate. They may have other suggestions and can certainly sell you repair parts.

https://www.coastalclimatecontrol.co...%20Diagram.pdf

Here is a guide to adding coolant. https://www.coastalclimatecontrol.co...guidelines.pdf

Also, if your system is five years+ old you need to replace the o-rings or you are likely to start loosing gas. Spares are often taped to the compressor but otherwise you can get them from Coastal Climate. This is easy to do.
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Old 08-07-2020, 20:15   #5
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Re: Frigoboat woes

I had a look at the Coastal climate site and there is a load of useful information. Thanks. The system is way past 5 years old and I am not sure if the original owner ever changed the seals.
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Old 09-07-2020, 06:56   #6
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Re: Frigoboat woes

Coastal Climate does sell the quick change filter/dryer and it is a good idea to buy new special material Orings from them if you do not need them now you will at some point.

What no one will tell you is restrictions of cap tube systems, other than moisture ice, on water cooled Frigoboat systems are caused by long term over heating of compressor. In warm climates all marine Hermetically sealed compressors require air cooling. Frigoboat keel cooler systems in tropical waters especially when large box heat loads create high demand Frigoboat compressors need air cooling. Signs of restricted refrigerant flow not traced to moisture freezing of water cooled systems is caused by extended operation in warm seawater or refrigeration is operated when boat is out of water. Miner contamination from over heating compressor oil can sometimes be collected by addition of filter but when cap tube is blocked it is recommended evaporator be replaced that includes capillary tube and eventually the complete system. Twenty years ago when I produced my 12/24 volt book I recommended adding a fan to cool compressor in warm seawater climates. Frigoboat now offers a secondary fan air cooled condenser to assist in cooling compressor when compressor is in heavy heat load conditions.
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Old 09-07-2020, 07:41   #7
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Re: Frigoboat woes

Mine is actually air cooled but it stopped working after we had a long string of really hot days, just like the weather we are having now. The design to vent to compressor is quite poor and I have seen that other owners of boats like mine have modified the venting, something I put off. I am not the original owner although the system is original so i don't know the past service history either. I am located in Canada, so ordering parts from the US can be pretty slow these days. I am going to see if I can find the parts here first. Thanks for your very knowledgeable input. I may be back looking for tips on a replacement if the filter drier doesn't work.
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Old 09-07-2020, 07:57   #8
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Re: Frigoboat woes

The reports of problems with plugged cap tubes on Fridgeboat systems are so numerous, a friend had to replace their evaporator for example, damaged the first one He bought bending it and I assume had to buy another.
Why isn’t a receiver drier not part of the original fitment? And can’t one most likely save themselves a lot of trouble by fitting one prior to having an issue? Especially if it can be done without opening the system requiring a complete evacuation?
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Old 09-07-2020, 08:21   #9
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Re: Frigoboat woes

It wasn't hard to find lots of others reporting the same problem. I wish I had known. Beneteau should have vented the compressor a lot better as well. Live and learn. I have learned something about refrigeration anyway.
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Old 13-07-2020, 08:43   #10
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Re: Frigoboat woes

Well, I took a hair dryer on low heat to the cap tube and when we left the boat Sunday, everything was working fine. fingers crossed it will still be that way Friday when we head back. I am going to go ahead and order the pre-charged Frigoboat filter-drier as well. If anyone has any experience with the installation, their advice would be welcome.
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