Thread Number: 79841  /  Tag: Refrigerators
1965 GE Fridge Stopped Cooling...Thoughts?
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Post# 1037411   7/7/2019 at 11:12 by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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Well, it looks like our '65 GE non-frost free fridge may have finally given up the ghost. We returned last night from a week's vacation and found the fridge section warm and most of the ice in the freezer melted. I had noticed significant frost build up in the freezer (always this time of year despite a good gasket) and a portion of the evap before leaving but figured I'd defrost when we got back.

After letting it sit all night empty and off, I switched it on this morning. It ran for half an hour, the freezer section starting to cool, then the compressor stopped as though it were switched off. Thermal trip?

Thoughts on troubleshooting? Would a weak charge result in such a situation, or am I looking at compressor replacement?

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Post# 1037431 , Reply# 1   7/7/2019 at 17:45 by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        

sure sounds like an inop condenser fan.

Post# 1037447 , Reply# 2   7/7/2019 at 21:55 by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

rp2813's profile picture

Yes, if the compressor kicked in and managed to start cooling, it sounds like the forced draft condenser fan may have failed.  Replacements are readily available on ebay if not at a parts store. 


I hope that's all it is, because that is a beautiful refrigerator.

Post# 1037471 , Reply# 3   7/8/2019 at 04:37 by arbilab (Ft Worth TX (Ridglea))        

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Confirm fans first.  Then consider charge.  Air guy I worked with (not trying to sell me anything) told me, bad news to open a sealed system (non-ported).  Smallest contaminant can block expansion orifice.

Post# 1037488 , Reply# 4   7/8/2019 at 09:26 by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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Thanks guys, I think you might be on to something. I didn't notice whether the fan was running or not during the short time it tried to cool, but after the advice above, I pulled the toe-kick and placed a fan blowing inward yesterday. I checked a short time later and the fridge was once again running. Came in from outside a couple hours later and still running, interior cooling, and warm air discharging from the condenser fan. (intermittent?)

I'll check today after work to see if all is well. Probably a good idea to replace that fan and give it a good cleaning, though pulling the fridge will be a bear given the upper cabs are supported by legs that rest on it. I'll cross my fingers that's all it needs!

Post# 1037545 , Reply# 5   7/8/2019 at 20:04 by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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Okay...after 24 hours of running, looks like 23F in the freezer and mid 40's for the fridge. Next step is to support the cabinets so I can pull the fridge out and see what's going on in back. Hopefully it's just a tired fan is keeping it from its full potential.

Post# 1037586 , Reply# 6   7/9/2019 at 08:15 by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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I managed to get the fridge pulled out last night and went over it. Condenser fan is running fine now, no major dust build up, but that poor compressor is working overtime. The best it can do is mid-20F's in the freezer and mid-40's in the fridge section. Freezer walls are ice cold.

But, look at the evaporator. Right half iced, left half 'warm'. Is this indicative of low charge?

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Post# 1037587 , Reply# 7   7/9/2019 at 08:27 by turquoisedude (Ogden & St-Liboire (where??), QC, Canada)        

turquoisedude's profile picture
It could also be the compressor itself, Cory. That poor ol' 64 Frost-Guard I had suffered from a weak one - it was not uncommon with GE's of this vintage, alas.

Yours is the style and colour I dream of finding one day. Working, of course... LOL

Post# 1037596 , Reply# 8   7/9/2019 at 12:26 by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

cadman's profile picture
Hey Paul, yeah, you could be right. I guess there's only one way to find out.... I've got enough HVAC equipment here to be dangerous, and a spare can of R-12. Just need to order a line tap valve. Hmm.

Post# 1037986 , Reply# 9   7/12/2019 at 11:48 by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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Not to keep everyone in the dark, but I picked up a piercing valve after work yesterday and started my investigation. Despite my recovery machine running, and running, and running, I only managed to extract half a pound of freon out of the poor GE. Obviously a leak somewhere, but I suspect it's been going on for years and things reached the tipping point with summer temps and frosted (insulated) coils.

So, 2 new cans of genuine R-12 are on the way (had one on hand which I used last night). Stay tuned to this station for updates!

Post# 1038034 , Reply# 10   7/13/2019 at 07:49 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
1965 GE Combination Refergerator

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Hi Cory, Unfortunately it looks like you have a sealed system problem. 


The evaporator coil in the FF section should frost all the way across, but if it was just low on R-12 the freezer would be well below zero probably -10 or colder if the compressor was OK.


Note : check the service manuel for this fridge as it should only have about 12 Oz of R-12 in it, you can not go by the model tag on GEs of this era for charge amount of refrigerant, all their tags say something like ; Not more Than 3 Lbs R-12, this does not mean that it was supposed to use anyway near this amount.


This fridge has a charge port built on the compressor, if you don't have the proper charging adaptor for GEs you should braze an access valve on the suction line near the compressor, NEVER use a clamp-on valve on a home style Fridge, they leak and the fridge wont work long.


John L.

Post# 1038047 , Reply# 11   7/13/2019 at 11:00 by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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John, thanks for the heads-up on the nameplate charge. I'm flying blind on this one. There's a '58 manual in the Ephemera library, think that'd be close enough for this '65 manual-defrost fridge?

I currently have 12oz of charge in it and the compressor is cutting out on thermal overload after a few minutes. So either 12oz is too much, or the compressor is just worn out.

Post# 1038064 , Reply# 12   7/13/2019 at 15:49 by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
check start relay

start relay might not be dropping out start winding after startup every time-causing the overload to trip after a short run.Check the current draw if you have an ammeter-IIRC,my '80 GE fridge(with similar compressor and fan) pulls ~2.4 amps typically.I had a small fridge once,~1/10 hp compressor,that had shorted motor winding:would start to cool then trip off-was pulling ~6A instead of the normal ~1.5..

Post# 1038203 , Reply# 13   7/14/2019 at 13:23 by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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Looks like the start function is working correctly...was worth a shot.
But just for kicks I downloaded the '58 GE manual and found a model quite similar to this one. Looks like tripping thermal overload isn't unusual in some conditions, like starting from ambient in a warm environment, so I set up a small fan to assist and crossed my fingers.

It did eventually settle down (no more trips). And current draw was close to nameplate (~4.3A). I suspect 14 oz is where this fridge should be for charge (based on the '58 manual for comparable size), and I've got 12oz in there.

Bottom Line: Charge made no difference. Fridge cools to ~45F, freezer in low 20's as before. Compressor runs continuously to maintain it. Pretty sure it's shot. Damn.

Post# 1038210 , Reply# 14   7/14/2019 at 14:28 by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
current draw...

...seems quite high too me-but I am not real familiar with 60s GEs-all my slightly later GEs are typically under 3amps,even my big '77 kelvy is 4 amps(rated 6 max) and it is a powerful fridge.Fridges that I have had that were low on charge sounded like they were running unloaded with a hissing sound from evap.

Post# 1038226 , Reply# 15   7/14/2019 at 15:37 by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
1974 similar

I have a junk(interior rusted out,grabbed for parts and sheetmetal salvage) 1974 GE fridge with the same evaporator and 4.3A rating and it says 6.25 oz charge used on that one.I might see if it runs and note current draw :)

Post# 1038263 , Reply# 16   7/14/2019 at 20:50 by sfh074 ( )        
Do we know ....

what the high side pressure is? What are gauges reading?

Post# 1038326 , Reply# 17   7/15/2019 at 12:03 by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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Unfortunately, no easy to way measure the high side without another piercing tap, so it's anyone's guess.

What I'm wondering, has anyone successfully substituted a modern compressor in an old fridge like this, and how did you go about selecting one?

Of course, I could try to find another fridge of this vintage but that's still a gamble (and tougher still with RH hinge and turquoise). I also had the thought of buying a 'late model' basic fridge of this size off Craigslist and trying to swap the sealed-system parts over, but that's not ideal with this evaporator layout.

Service info is scant to say the least on this one: Model: TB14(SACG)

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Post# 1038330 , Reply# 18   7/15/2019 at 13:13 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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Cory - I have some mid-60's service information for GE fridges. Let's connect offline on getting you access to it.

I wonder if the route that someone recently went on getting their Frost-Guard GE up and running with a Panasonic compressor would be a path you'd be venturing towards?


Post# 1038334 , Reply# 19   7/15/2019 at 13:26 by RP2813 (Sannazay)        

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I think John L. revived a GE with an Embraco compressor.  Other experts here have also suggested Embraco.

Post# 1038348 , Reply# 20   7/15/2019 at 14:17 by swestoyz (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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I'm certainly not putting myself on an expert throne but rather suggesting that there are options out there beyond stock GE that others have tried.

My bet is that Cory will figure out something with the aid of the experts here.

Post# 1038362 , Reply# 21   7/15/2019 at 18:34 by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
ran the junk 1974 fridge...

...pulled 3.6 amps including the fan running-start relay said"1/4 HP"on it,pretty big compressor for a manual defrost :)

Post# 1038363 , Reply# 22   7/15/2019 at 19:24 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Replacement Compressor

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I would use a 1/4-1/3 HP R-134 A refrigerant compressor in the 800-1000 BTU range, I would just grab one from a newer larger ref, be sure to get one with a running capacitor and while you are doing so grab the Hi Efficiency condenser fan motor, avoid Mexican built Tecumseh compressors, about any other is OK.


You will have to build a mounting frame to support the compressor, I would charge with 6oz of R-134A and add an extra oz or two after the ref runs a few days if needed to cause the ref evaporator to frost all the way across.


John L.

Post# 1038402 , Reply# 23   7/16/2019 at 07:33 by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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John, exactly what I was looking for, thanks!

Swestoyz came through with service info on this one yesterday and there's a final check that can be done to rule out the compressor, but it involves insulating the fridge evap and comparing direct temps. I may try that for kicks, but will keep an eye out at the local Menards for a similar sized basic fridge for parts. Gotta keep this vintage boxes going!

Post# 1038412 , Reply# 24   7/16/2019 at 08:51 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Compressor For A 65 GE CD Ref

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Hi Cory, the replacement compressor needs to be powerful, I would use one from at least a 22 CF newer ref if not a 25CF SXS.

GE used a more powerful compressor on their refs than most companies, if you undersized it it will not get the FF evaporator cold enough to ever cause the thermostat to shut off.

[ I made the mistake of having my brother Jeff install a replacement compressor in a GE ref like this that was only 700 BTUs and it never worked correctly ]

John L.

Post# 1038420 , Reply# 25   7/16/2019 at 10:57 by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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John, what do you think of this WP? Battered and ugly but they claim it works.

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Post# 1038458 , Reply# 26   7/16/2019 at 19:41 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Beat-Up WP SXS

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Hi Cory, that's about a 22 CF model and should have a suitable compressor for your GE, Most likely an Embraco. 


John L.

Post# 1038551 , Reply# 27   7/17/2019 at 18:29 by cfz2882 (Belle Fourche,SD)        
I have a couple compressors if needed

1-compressor from the 1974-probably exact or almost exact replacement.
2-Tecumseh compressor,R134,from 1994 vintage "JetSpray"orange juice machine chassis in working order.

Post# 1038699 , Reply# 28   7/19/2019 at 08:23 by cadman (Cedar Falls, IA)        

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Boy was it hot yesterday, a real scorcher. Of course I paid a visit to the beatup WP (which was an Estate rebrand) after work. Sitting there in that hot pole building on a pallet, it was running nice and quietly with the interior ice cold. Once home, I gave it a quick once-over and see it has a Panasonic compressor. Though all is/was working, so I'm not real worried (yet).

My initial thought is leave condensor/evap etc. as-is on the GE and install this compressor as a direct replacement (with an additional filter/drier inline). For R134A compatibility, what about the residual oil in the old GE coils? Not sure how effective flushing would be with the cap tube still installed, and then what to use? Or shouldn't I worry about that? (Looks like the old compressor has an oil cooling tube under it which I'd think would contain the bulk of the oil).

Brendan, thanks for the offer on the compressors, I'll keep that in mind should this Panasonic not pan out.

Any other advice on the conversion? It'll be a few days before I get to it, but I'll read-up in the meantime.

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