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  #1  
Old 10-15-2007
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Charging an Adler Barbour Refrigerator

I have an Adler-Barbour refrigerator in my boat which doesn't cool, but the pump still works (at least it sounds like it's still working). I'm thinking it needs refrigerant. I don't have the manual for it. Is recharging the refrigerant something I can do myself?
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Old 10-15-2007
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I would recommend you hire a refrigeration mechanic who is familiar with 12v systems. Pressures are critical for proper operation. If you are low or have no refrigerant you also have a leak which will have to be addressed as well. Call Alder-Barbour and they will advise you of refrigeration mechanics in the DC area.
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Old 10-15-2007
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you need to find out first if the compressor is running. you need guages to do that. But first ck and make sure it's condenser pump works (if it's water cooled) If it's air cooled it will have a fan behind the coils. Many boat units us R-134. If it needs refridgerant it means it leaked out. So the leak needs to be found.
Then the only way to replace the refrigerant is to use a vac pump. and weigh in the right amount of new refrigerant. If you don't have the gauges and equipment it may just be cheaper to get a HVACR person to ck it. Which I happen to be but I'm not close to DC.
good luck.
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Old 10-15-2007
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Denise is spot on. You may need more than coolant and running your unit without coolant can be damaging as well. If you have lost coolant, there is a leak...you need a pro to find it and fix it with a sniffer and then replace the coolant with the right type and proper amount. And that is if you ONLY need coolant.
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Old 10-15-2007
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Max, portable ac/refrig systems are not terribly complicated and you can search for "mainstream engineering" and pass the EPA609 test for about $25, which will legally qualify you to troubleshoot, buy, sell, R-12 and R134a. The course is free--it is only the certification that costs money.

These systems can be elusive about what the real problem is, and refilling them without being sure of the problem can be a big waste. You'll need a manifold gauge set (about $50, specific to each gas type and not to be mixed) plus some type of leak detection ($25-150) equipment, plus the gas (about $50#/r12, $14/#/R134a) and a vacuum pump (another $200). It is not just a matter of "refilling" allow system, that often allows air and moisture contmaination to eat the system out from the interior.

It AIN'T rocket science, it IS every bit as multi-dimensional and complex as tirmming a sailboat for max speed.

A good AC shop can be damn hard to find noth of Texas or Florida, if you go to one--demand a long warrantee. If they are not willing to give it, they are not certain of what they are doing, either.

I'm EPA 609 certified, and I can tell you that STILL doesn't mean you can always spot the problem the first or second time around.
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Old 10-16-2007
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Unhappy Adler-Barbour Woes

Good luck. We bought our boat a year ago and after numerous DIY attempts plus 4 months with a tech intermittently working on it our system is still non-operational. The compressor runs and all that but there were leaks found in the system and A/B (now WAECO) has been not too helpful in being able to provide a replacement evaporator. I've all but given up and continue to keep the local ice house in business.
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Old 10-16-2007
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There's an art to leak detection. It is not difficult--unless the installer has done a lousy job (many leaks) and run the plumbing in places that are impossible to reach or eyeball.

Many repairmen will use a sniffer (leak detector) while a system is running and there is airflow in the area. The folks who make sniffers, one and all, say that's the wrong way to use them they can only be used in still air--when the system is pressurized but OFF.

Many ways to screw up an AC repair job, at a certain point it actually pays to scrap it and install something newere, better, with a warrantee from a professional. (Well, if you can find one. Odds are he's too busy making the big bucks off supermarket reefer displays to run out of boats.)

Assuming you can get access to the joints, there are only a few ways to detect leaks:
1-Pressurize the system, run it. Slobber UV-dye soap water over all the joints liberally, they will blow bublbes if they are "grossly" leaking.
2-Buy a sniffer, with or without airflow suction on it. This is a hand-sized box with a wand and a bare diode on the end of the wand. When the bare diode is passed into refrigerant gasses, the box beeps, something like a geiger counter. You've got to adjust the sensitivity (zero it out) and keep the tip unconaminated by oils or dirt, and they only work in STILL AIR. But, they can detect leaks of as little as 1/4oz to 1/2 oz of refrigerant per year--that means real slow leaks.
3-Charge the system with oil that has UV dye in it. Run it at full pressure for a while, shut dow, examine with a black light (and yellow goggles, necessary for the contrast) to see where the dye came out.
4-Most expensive, an ultrasonic sniffer. Like the other sniffer, but it has a tiny microphone and literally hears the ultrasonic "pheeee" of escaping high pressure gas--of any kind. Like any other sniffer, you have to run the business end very close to, but not touching, the suspecting leaks. Sometimes at a rate of 2cm per minute--patient work.

But the leaks CAN be found, unless some genius has made the system so inaccessible that monkeys with three elbows and double joints can't get in there to check it.

Last edited by hellosailor; 10-16-2007 at 07:59 PM.
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