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Author Topic: Bus Fridge Dead Need Help/Advice  (Read 4338 times)
rv_safetyman
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« on: December 26, 2010, 10:47:29 AM »

One of my Christmas presents was going out to the shop to get a bunch of pre-prepared food out of the bus fridge -only to find that it had tripped the breaker.  Fortunately the contents were still cold!

This is a Sears side by side unit with water and Ice in the Door (Pat loves that).  It is model 106.59292994.  It was purchased in March of 01.

I did some playing, and with everything unplugged, the breaker is fine.  As soon as you plug in the fridge the breaker immediately blows and it is dramatic.  I will probably try an extension cord from the shop just to double check the breaker.

I looked at the parts list and the motor/compressor is an integral unit.  There is a start relay/overload module and I will play with that as time permits.

So, the questions begin. 

The first question is, what is the likelihood that the compressor has shot craps?  It sure sounds like a stalled rotor situation.  As I say, the unit is approaching 10 years old and it has bounced around a bit over the past 5 years.  I don't recall using it that much while I was working on the bus, but it might have been in use most of the time.

The next question is, if the compressor is bad, should I have it repaired or replace the unit?  Newer units are probably more efficient, but I am pretty sure I would have to take this out through the windshield Angry.  It came in through the door, but I have built some jams and that might not allow it to come out that way.  May be able to take out a side window - will have to measure.

If the prevailing thought is to replace, installation is not a big deal, as it is not built in yet.

If the thought is to replace, any strong recommendations on manufacturer?

Thanks, Jim

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Jim Shepherd
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« Reply #1 on: December 26, 2010, 11:27:58 AM »

Jim,

While it does sound like a stalled compressor, I would not rule out other causes.  I would try bypassing the thermostat and circuit board and connecting the compressor directly to a 20-amp HACR circuit to see if it starts.

If the compressor is seized, it is almost a certainty that a whole new fridge will cost you less than a repair.  Sad but true; we live in an era of disposable appliances.  If it is just a hard start, changing the breaker to HACR type if it is not already, and/or a hard start kit might help.  Or the refrigerant level may need adjustment, which any HVACR tech should be able to do.

-Sean
http://OurOdyssey.BlogSpot.com
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« Reply #2 on: December 26, 2010, 12:13:09 PM »

Sounds like something has shorted, if it was a locked rotor, you would here a hum and then the overload safety on the compressor would open, the breaker tripping immediately is typical of a short.  Don't forget the defrost system also.  If the compressor mortor burned up, get a new one, it could have contaminated the whole freon system.
Ray D
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« Reply #3 on: December 26, 2010, 12:26:03 PM »

Jim  think your on right track  ck clean supply to unit first. Bob
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« Reply #4 on: December 26, 2010, 12:37:45 PM »

I agree with Ray.  A locked rotor is not going to give you the immediate trip.  More like a hard short someplace, shouldn't be too hard to find.
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« Reply #5 on: December 26, 2010, 02:56:27 PM »

Wow, thanks guys. 

The breaker is a Blue Sea - the type used in a marine panel.  I am sure that it does not have a delay feature.

You are giving me hope that it is not the compressor. 

In the next few days I will move it out from the wall and see what I can see.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
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« Reply #6 on: December 26, 2010, 04:10:42 PM »

The breaker is a Blue Sea - the type used in a marine panel.  I am sure that it does not have a delay feature.


Actually, Blue Sea breakers (which, IIRC, are actually made by AirPax) are the magnetic/hydraulic type and most have delays.  You need to look on the side of the breaker for the delay or the part number, which will specify the delay curve.  May or may not be correct for compressors.

-Sean
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« Reply #7 on: December 26, 2010, 05:43:28 PM »

Jim,
 I had about the same problem with my home fridge, which is similar to yours and about the same age. I checked every thing I could think of and I was convinced the compressor was locked up. I called the repair guy because the compressor was still under warranty. Turns out it was the start capacitor.  According the repair guy most manufacturers have started using a cheaper design that's not very reliable. (It doesn't look like any capacitor I've seen) Of course it wasn't covered by the warranty.

Ken
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« Reply #8 on: January 01, 2011, 05:27:26 PM »

I finally got a chance to take a look at the back of the fridge.  The connection to the motor/compressor was really burned up.  It came apart in many burned pieces.  It looks like it plugged onto the compressor which has three prongs.  

My parts manual shows the three prongs but it is not clear what plugs onto it.  I think it is a part that has the description:  "Start Device, Combination (start relay and overload)".

Will try to see if I can look at the part at the Sears repair facility.

The obvious question is:  did the part fail on its own, or did a bad motor/compressor cause it to fail.  Will probably try to get the part and see if it works.

Jim

Update.  I did some poking around and found the attached photo.  My start device did not look like the one shown.  As I say, mine came out in a bunch of charred pieces.




« Last Edit: January 01, 2011, 05:46:40 PM by rv_safetyman » Logged

Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
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« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2011, 12:54:56 AM »

If you have a ohms meter to check the comp. put the black lead to the body of comp. and touch each of the leads. If the meter goes to 0 ohms on any of the leads you have a short thus a bad comp.
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« Reply #10 on: January 02, 2011, 04:07:43 AM »

Jim,

You can buy a new generic start kit, which contains all the correct components, from your local HVAC supplier. I used to carry them on the service truck all the time. They come in a 1HP & below, and bigger than 1 HP. You refrigerator should use the smaller size, obviously. They will have install directions on them.

TOM
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« Reply #11 on: January 02, 2011, 05:17:13 AM »

...
The obvious question is:  did the part fail on its own, or did a bad motor/compressor cause it to fail.
...


Jim, I should already know this, but my memory is not the best:  Do you have a true sine wave inverter, or is yours MSW?

This would be exactly the kind of symptom I would expect to see over time on a MSW-powered compressor.

-Sean
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« Reply #12 on: January 02, 2011, 05:54:08 AM »

Jim,

A couple of things to add to good comments from others. One, I have had a number of electrical connections fry like that, I attribute it to the vibration.

Second the fridge or compressor should have a locked rotor amperage LRA listed somewhere. Typical running amperage for my Amana side by side is about 1.2 amps, and the locked rotor is about 15 as best as I remember. You should be able to hot wire the compressor and hang a clamp on ammeter just to check it's condition.

If the compressor is shot, then working on a fridge is a lot different in some ways than other AC systems. A new compressor can be had for about 400 bucks, you will need a vacuum pump to evacuate the system, silver solder and torch to put the new one in, and an accurate set of scales for weighing in the refrigerant. There should be a tag in the fridge that tells you exactly how much gas it takes. More than that amount and the fridge will not get cold!!!! If you choose to have someone else do it, you are likely looking at the best part of a 1000 bucks IF they will work on it while in the bus. Many will hesitate to do the soldering while the fridge is in the coach for fire danger.

And, please clean the coils, and keep them clean. It's so easy to gunk them up while any kind of dusty work is going on. Like computers, the cooling fan sucks in the dirt.
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« Reply #13 on: January 02, 2011, 06:26:14 AM »

Dumb observation! low voltage = heat=failure? of wire connector
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« Reply #14 on: January 02, 2011, 06:42:14 AM »

Thanks guys.

Tony, I will check with ohm meter before I buy the module.  Makes sense.

Sean, the inverter is full sine wave.

Tom, several folks have the module online - $30.  My part number is obsolete but the new modules have my number listed as being equivalent.

Richard, if the compressor is bad, I will get a new fridge.  Pat is not all that happy with the freezer width.  The unit is 10 years old and I would hope that the efficiency has gotten better over the years.  My fridge is not yet built in and I have a little bit of flexibility on space. Do not look forward to getting the beast out, or getting a new one in.

If the compressor is OK, I am worried about the pins on the compressor.  They look to have been damaged by the heat when the module failed.  Any thoughts on how to deal with that?  I had thought about cleaning and soldering on some electrical connections and then sort of "remote" the module.  If they are damaged, I can see that there would be a marginal connection and heat issues.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
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« Reply #15 on: January 02, 2011, 06:59:48 AM »

Do not try to solder to the pins, they are steel and will not take solder. The heat of soldering may also damage the insulator, it's made of glass and fused to the pins to seal the crankcase of the compressor. Break the seal and you will have a refrigerant leak.

Do the resistance tests, expect to find 1 1/2 to 2 ohms between common and the start and run pins. You should have infinity between all pins and the compressor case. If it passes these tests make up a test cord connected to the common and the run pins. Power it up and momentarly jump the start pin to the run pin and if the compressor is good it should start.

Note: remember you are working with line voltage here, be safe. Also do not leave power applyed for more than 15 seconds during the test unless the compressor starts or you will burn up the compressor as the overload protector is in the module.
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« Reply #16 on: January 02, 2011, 07:26:44 AM »

Wow, you guys are fantastic (I knew that going into this thread).  Thanks so much for the help.

Kevin, I have the wiring diagram, but it does not define the pin location vs the terminal.  I should be able to sort out the common with the ohm check,  but not sure how to determine which is the run and start pins. 

If I understand it, neutral and hot to the common and run (no connection for the ground?) and then use something like an insulated screwdriver to jump the run and start terminals.  I am not sure how to connect the wires to the terminals.  My guess is that I can use small vice grips (remembering that they are hot with 120V.

If you folks in CO see the lights dim, dial 911 Shocked

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
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« Reply #17 on: January 02, 2011, 07:36:09 AM »

Jim,
I have used auto style round male/female plugs (similar to spade plugs) for temporary connections on pins (use which ever closest matches your pin size) that way you have a wire to keep things away from each other and you can use a short wire to "jump" the start pin also.
FWIW (I ain't no appliance repairman or even an electrician by any means but I do manage to get dad's attn real quick when I get tired of waiting for his help and start playing on my own! Wink)
Grin  BK  Grin
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« Reply #18 on: January 02, 2011, 07:37:46 AM »

PS butt connectors of different gauges work good too! wire crimped in one end - open in the other!
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« Reply #19 on: January 02, 2011, 08:09:40 AM »

I thought this was going to be easy till I did a search and found the pin location is not standard between manufacturers. I was always lucky and found some kind of marking on the module. All the ones I worked on had a seprate overload protector located above the module (start relay).

Looking at your pictures the terminal layout is diffrent from what I have worked on, wish I could be more help.

Just for starters why dont you check all the pins to the compressor case, If you get anything but an infinity (open) reading the compressor is junk and the pin layout would be useless anyway.
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« Reply #20 on: January 02, 2011, 08:27:12 AM »

I never use wire nuts on a bus or RV I always used the Buchanan connector with caps they never come loose, they work better on 12v also than the butt connectors


good luck
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« Reply #21 on: January 02, 2011, 10:04:28 AM »

   I never use wire nuts on a bus or RV I always used the Buchanan connector with caps they never come loose, they work better on 12v also than the butt connectors

good luck 


Clifford, I had never heard of Buchanan connectors - they sound like a really useful component.  Do you mean like these?
http://www.drillspot.com/products/67872/Buchanan_B2-1_Wire_Connector

Thanks,  BH
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« Reply #22 on: January 02, 2011, 10:53:39 AM »

OK guys, got the trusty OHM meter out and there is no short of any of the terminals to the case.  Made real sure I had a good connection with the case.

I got between 2 and 5 ohms between ALL combinations of the three terminals. 

Not real fond of the thought of connecting and jumping (I  am a wuss when it comes to playing with 120V in a tight place).

If the OHM readings look good to you guys, I will order the module and go for it.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
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« Reply #23 on: January 02, 2011, 11:35:06 AM »

just fyi you  don't need to fool with the 120V in a tight place.  I use a stripped extension cord for my tests of this and that.  The male plug end is intact and the female end is bare.....I connect it where needed and then plug the male end in.....no shock risk.
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« Reply #24 on: January 02, 2011, 03:44:58 PM »

The readings look good. I guess you did nor find any markings on the module to indicate what terminals are Common, Start and Run.

The readings do not sound like they should trip a breaker instantly (did you say it tripped instantly, I do not remember)

If the trip was instant I would try a module and see what happens. Let us know how it goes.
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« Reply #25 on: January 02, 2011, 05:00:50 PM »

Thanks Kevin.  If you saw how badly the module failed (lots of heat/char/total destruction) you would not be surprised that the breaker activated so quickly. 

Now the next issue will be the pin/module connection.  As I say the pins do not look all that good.  I will clean them up with sandpaper, but should I put something on them?  I have di-electric grease, but I would love to coat them with something that assures FULL contact.  Is there such a thing as conductive epoxy or Locktite?

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
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Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
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« Reply #26 on: January 02, 2011, 07:12:23 PM »

Quote
(lots of heat/char/total destruction)

Glad that didn't end up transferring itself to the rest of the bus.
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« Reply #27 on: January 02, 2011, 07:23:04 PM »

I think cleaning the pins up real good with some fine emery cloth (not to much as you do not want to reduce the diameter) would do. The dielectric grease would not hurt if used lightly. I would be afraid of any conductive paste grounding out the pin to the compressor shell.

If the new module fits tightly you should be OK, after the startup it only passes a couple of amps so as long as the contacts are clean you should be fine

Let us know how it turns out, good luck
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« Reply #28 on: January 02, 2011, 08:40:54 PM »

Kevin, again thanks.  I will order the module tomorrow and will keep everyone posted.

Barn Owl, yes, my heart sank when I saw the very charred area.  This is the second time this kind of thing has happened in my bus.  My AquaHot  electric element had the wires connected to the terminals touched.  Big charred area there as well.  It apparently blew the breaker when I first hooked it up.  However, the terminals melted enough that when the breaker was closed, there was no problem.  For a couple of years, I wondered why I did not have electric heating of the boiler.  Assumed I had wired something wrong or had a bad relay.  Finally opened the cover to the element and saw the damage. Angry

Thank goodness that the breakers did their job in both cases

As most folks who know me know, I am a bit paranoid about fires.  We had a fire at the house many years ago.   Had to go right by the flames to get one of the girls out.  That is one of the reasons I wanted a fire suppression system in the bus and ended up designing my own and then offering to others.  At the trade shows, I hear a ton of horror stories and that only makes me more paranoid. 

Of course, I live in fear that the fire suppression guy will loose his bus to a fire Shocked Shocked

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
Blog:  http://rvsafetyman.blogspot.com/
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« Reply #29 on: January 10, 2011, 09:54:45 AM »

Is it fixed? Just curious.
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« Reply #30 on: January 10, 2011, 10:51:46 AM »

BK, thanks for asking.  Got bogged down with some other stuff and have not ordered the part.  That is on today's list of things to do. Smiley   Am ordering online, so it will probably be next week before I get the module installed.  Only marginally optimistic - there was a lot of heat damage in the area.

I always try to update the results of my efforts to solve a problem.  Probably don't always get it done.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
Evergreen, CO
’85 Eagle 10/Series 60/Eaton AutoShift 10 speed transmission
Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
Bus Project details: http://beltguy.com/Bus_Project/busproject.htm
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« Reply #31 on: January 10, 2011, 03:10:57 PM »

OK, I give up. What are Buchanan connectors??

I checked on the net and found plenty for sale but very little information.

In the photos they look like regular twist wire connectors that are crimped either inside or outside the "thimble"?
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« Reply #32 on: January 23, 2011, 06:22:32 PM »

Well, after some setbacks in ordering, I finally got the part late last week.  This is the part I ordered (seems to be a good company):

http://www.seneca-river-trading.com/ref-compressor-start-device-for-whirlpool-sears-8201799.html

Need to recap the situation before I give you the results.  Recall that I found the electrical components that mount to the motor/compressor to be completely destroyed.  It was as if they had been in terrible fire and came out as crumbly pieces. 

Base on this, coupled with my intimate relationship with Mr. Murphy, my optimism was in the basement.  It took me over an hour of filing the pins (in a confined area) just to get the melted metal off the pins.  After that effort, my hopes were really in the toilet.

I got everything cleaned up and the parts installed on the pins and then plugged the fridge in.  Nothing - I thought.  Turns out the compressor had started quietly and was running like a Swiss watch.  In a half hour the freezer was quite cold.  I checked the connections quite frequently with the infrared temperature gun and they were fine.

So, it looks like it is fixed.  For the near future, I will only run it when I am in the bus.  That charred area really got my attention.

For the past couple of years, when the compressor would start, you could hear the inverter "grunt".  When it started this time is was very smooth - no huge start load.  My guess is that the start part was going bad for quiet some time.

Thanks for all the input that helped me avoid having throw that dead animal out the windshield.

Jim
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Jim Shepherd
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Somewhere between a tin tent and a finished product
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« Reply #33 on: January 23, 2011, 07:41:24 PM »

Glad it worked out, thanks for posting the results. Good idea checking with the infared gun, if the terminals are cool you have good connections.
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