Thread Number: 75161  /  Tag: Refrigerators
I had a pretty interesting Friday on a routine no-cool call for a reach in fridge...
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Post# 989751   4/7/2018 at 11:33 by Superocd (PNW)        

So I was called out to a nursing home for a no-cool call for a reach in.

This reach in is not just any reach in, but a FOUR SECTION (in a split-door configuration, so eight separate doors). And it wasn't just any four section, as rare as those are, but it was an older McCall. They had a matching four-section freezer plus a split-door, single section warming cabinet, all the same vintage. I couldn't find any data plate on the fridge whatsoever, which on a McCall this old would be on the Bakelite door threshold. One thing I know for sure is that it was most definitely manufactured at their original plant in Hudson, NY before the Kolpak acquisition sometime in the mid 70s, where production moved to a little hole in the wall of a town, Parsons, TN.

I get a ladder and undid the diffuser to get access to the compressor, which was heavier than I'll get out. Holy moly, I didn't expect that diffuser panel to be so heavy. Probably why the matching freezer was missing it's diffuser panel, it was excruciatingly heavy, somebody cleaned the condenser and never put it back up. This was back in the day where thicknesses of sheet metals were never an issue.

Upon taking a peak up there, this thing had TWO compressors/condensers! And the condensers were CLEAN with just a light dusting. As I suspected, the evaporators were separate inside with their own temp control. What a unicorn!

So, the system on the left was not running. Upon some probing and after vetting the start and run capacitors, I found that I had an open winding which sent it into locked rotor. Sure enough, after power was, click hummmmmmm, click, silence.

The one on the right was running but it had to maintain temp for both sections, which were NOT divided (this fridge is two dual section units, conjoined into one massive unit). Temp was 55 or so, according to the vintage Cooper guage dial on both ends of this fridge. Both units had what looked to be the original Tecumseh rotary compressors.

The conversation boiled down to either replacing the unit, much as I'd hate to see a rare beast go to waste, or changing out the sealed system. In the case of changing out the sealed system, it was best to do both for a clean slate. The foodservice manager said that they've tried to decommission it before but never did due to its size (no kidding). It would literally cost more to pull it out of the kitchen than it would just to fix it (it's landlocked by the dishroom), so the retrofit job it was after waiting to hear back from the facility manager. I asked her how old the building was to get an idea on how old the fridge was. She told me that the place first opened as an asylum in 1954 but was reopened as a nursing home in 1982.

They have a small external walkin just outside the fire exit that they are using in lieu of the out-of-commission McCall until it is fixed. Being that there was no information on the unit other than the data plate on the compressor, I had to size the replacement system to the best of my ability. Fortunately, I have a few photos of McCall (among many other makes) double and triple-section units (and their respective data plates) as a starting point. It seems as if this unit was custom fabricated being that manufacturers typically only offered three-section units as their biggest (and still do).

As with any retrofit, I always ensure the evaporators/condensers get replaced at the same time unless the customer cannot afford the cost or if they are in it for the short term (usually my TurboAir customers). The lineset gets replaced too, being that it's relatively cheap insurance and not too difficult as most units have straightforward runs from the condensing unit down into the cabinet to the evaporator shroud. The job on this McCall is pretty straightforward and will basically be a new unit in an old box. The cost is higher up front for a complete redo but it is the best thing to do to avoid problems down the road, at least for a several years. Will the new sealed system last as long as the old Tecumseh pair? Unlikely, though I pushed for higher spec to get as much service out of the new unit as long as possible, especially being that this fridge is more or less a permanent fixture to the building due to its size, which begs the question, I wonder how they got that thing in there?

By the way, during my presence in the kitchen, I saw the following: the old-logo Hobart meat slicer and a pair of old-looking Garland gas ranges with a griddle on the side of each. then there was a Groen jacketed kettle, and a windowless Blodgett convection oven. At the end of the Garland line was a one-section McCall passthrough warming cabinet, which looks identical to their fridge and freezer line, same 1950s vintage. Dish machine was a Hobart C-line conveyor machine. Not the elusive and possibly extinct Colt Autosan I've never seen before, but a good machine nonetheless, heavy external scale buildup be darned. I never saw so many round-logo NSF "script-lettered" labeled equipment together in one place (the original NSF logo from its inception in 1944, that logo was discontinued sometime in the late '70s). They did take pride in their equipment though. Even the range was clean, if not a bit dull.

I wonder what lurked in the laundry?

Post# 989883 , Reply# 1   4/8/2018 at 08:53 by mikael3 (Atlanta)        

Do you suppose they would let you take some pictures? 

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