Thread Number: 78710  /  Tag: Refrigerators
1937 Frigidaire Deluxe - Compressor Problem....
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Post# 1027034   3/14/2019 at 11:28 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Hi Folks. I've been catching up on back-burner projects lately.  One of then is this well worn 1937 Frigidaire. I can't remember if I posted about finding it here or not; so forgive me if the first part of this post is a repeat. 


This was found locally to me, sold as nonfunctioning. The seller had a most lamentable story about how he had been rooked out of a lot of money on it.  The fridge had been advertised as "restored" but in reality all they had done is spliced in a new cord.... poorly at that.


This is where it gets nefarious. The fridge did work and cool when the previous owner bought it. He moved it to a lake house they visit on the weekends. The next week the fridge was running, but loud, and not cooling. The seller would not give him any consideration as to the supposed "restored" state of the machine, and he was further unable to get any local appliance repair people to inspect it.


He chose to cut his loss and sell it as-is. 


What I found was that a hack job had been done to cover up a pre-existing problem. Apparently, the compressor had been bumped hard on the bottom. Probably a moving dolly incident. That hit had shifted the terminal studs in seals and caused the oil and refrigerant to leak out of the compressor.  The prior seller had installed a line-piercing tap to add refrigerant to the unit. (So much for using the proper tools.) He charged in refrigerant and (maybe?) some oil - and sold the fridge as "Restored."


When I investigated it, the compressor had a vary painful sounding "squeak" to it from running dry. Fearing the worst, I thought that there's nothing to lose. So, I drew in about a cup of AB 150 refrigerant oil, and made a test charge.  Miraculously it ran quietly and cooled excellently! Talk about a tough-as-nails compressor design.


A fellow collector had given me a set of add-on external terminal seal repair bushings, which I intended to try to use to repair the terminal leak.  Unfortunately, on this first-design Meter-Miser, the terminals are installed from the outside, inwards. The nut is on the inside of the compressor. Scratch that idea.


So, if the compressor has to be opened up to fix the leak, I decided to search for some metal-glass seals, such as what GE invented when they came up with the Monitor Top design.  I was able to locate some small size ones on eBay, military surplus. They were smaller and as such required making a bushing to support them.


I drilled out a 3/8 fine thread bolt, and soldered the terminal into it. Then, threaded the original terminal ports on the compressor to accept these new seals.


Sadly, disaster struck the compressor as I had to leave town for an unexpected work trip. During this time, there were hot and cool weather swings, and apparently water condensed on the parts - in spite of my best efforts to wrap them.


I had to fully take apart the compressor mechanical parts (what I had hoped to avoid) and clean off surface rust. I did bake out the competed compressor overnight wit heat and vacuum. In the end, it works, but I hope that the moisture ingress hasn't caused permanent damage. Time will tell!


The videos tell the story. This is a link to Part 1. See the end screen, or video description area for the links to the next parts along through the process. 





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Post# 1027035 , Reply# 1   3/14/2019 at 11:29 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        
More pictures

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Post# 1027053 , Reply# 2   3/14/2019 at 13:18 by Supersuds (Knoxville, Tenn.)        

supersuds's profile picture
Iíve watched all the videos and (spoiler alert) what a happy outcome! You do such a meticulous job. So interesting to see an original Meter Miser not only taken apart but put back together again. It proves it can be done.

I guess the design is the Norge Rollator in a more compact, lightweight, and probably more efficient form?

One thing...I was a little confused by the comment that the Meter Misers took so much high-grade machining that Frigidaire decided to stop making them? Didnít they stay in production for decades? Maybe I misunderstood.

Anyway, congrats on another great save, David!

Post# 1027084 , Reply# 3   3/14/2019 at 20:54 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Hi John, thanks for the kind words! 


I had a lot of other life obligations today but was able to let the Frigidaire run for the day. It is running well, but the start relay is not consistent and I plan to replace the internal parts of it with an RO81.


Aside from that, I did clean up the trim and get the fridge back together. I just love the art-deco styling of these! Pictures attached, as well as  a video:

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Post# 1027157 , Reply# 4   3/15/2019 at 21:47 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        
Start-relay restuffing.....

So, the start relay has been acting up. It was leaving the start winding engaged too long, and making chattering sounds. Sounded like the start circuit was kicking in and out over and over for a few moments at each start.


I reluctantly gutted the relay and installed the parts of an RO81 device.


The original relay had two elements, one which would engage the start winding when the run winding was drawing a high amount of current; and then a second set of contacts which will disable the start circuit after a short time regardless of the current draw.  It also had an overload cutout.


The RO81 is a simple "timed" start relay using a PTC device. It gives the start winding a pulse of about 2 seconds at each start without sensing the current from the run winding. In the photo with the RO81 disassembled, the round piece which resembles a watch battery is the PTC timing device. Believe it or not.....


This cured the rough sounding startups. I have left it plugged in tonight to see how it fares!

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Post# 1027233 , Reply# 5   3/16/2019 at 19:19 by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        

very cool-both the fridge and the repair:)

Post# 1027240 , Reply# 6   3/16/2019 at 21:16 by turbokinetic (Northport, Alabama USA)        

Thanks Brendan!


By the way, it's still working like a top, and has gotten quieter as it has been in operation. Not sure if the oil is distributed more evenly, or as the cabinet cooled off and the temperatures stabilized it got quieter. Also, as a plus, there is no puddle of oil under it, nor refrigerant cloud around it! 





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