While checking my engine oil the other day I noticed rust on the bottom of a part of my refrigeration system. It's a eutectic unit driven from the engine. The rusty part is the small tank with the glass window on top to check for bubbles (can't remember it's name !).
I need to dismantle the system to get some new hoses made up for the compressor and also check on this rust. I know there is all sorts of regulations that apply to working on this equipment and wondered if anyone could tell me A. Where one drains the system from and B. what is the best method to contain the drained fluid. The system is around 20 years old but I have no idea what refridgerent is in it, but would assume it's the old eco unfreindly variety.
Being an older system, more than likely it's a R12 system (it IS illegal to release R12 into the atmosphere) and that requires a recovery system and a licensed tech to operated it. You can no longer buy R12 without that license. Can you say 'HEAVY FINES' if you get caught?
Besides, releasing R12 can be hazzardous to your health. If the engine is running or there is an open flame source (as in making coffee on the stove or running a propane heater), phosgene gas is the result of burning R12 and it is a severe respiratory irritant. If liquid R12 comes in contact with skin or eyes, especially the eyes, it can burn. IMHO, it's just not worth the risks to save, well maybe more than a few, bucks.
Even if you can find someone to recover the R12, you still would have to round up all the parts, evacuate the system and then refill the system with 134a and the proper lubricant. That cylinder you mentioned is the drier and that will have to be replaced as well because of the moisture and the non-compatible oil the R12 system uses. Doing that will require specialized equipment, vacuum pump, gages and the expertise to know what to do with them. The average sailor is just not equiped with that kind of expensive epuipment.
You might want to look into the newer 134a systems, they have come down in price over the years and it may be cheaper and a more reliable option than rebuilding your old system.