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Old 07-21-2010, 12:06 AM   #1
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Fixing a 50 year old refrigerator


I have a 40-60 year old refrigerator. It still works. solid build, great handle makes sure it never is open a crack.

I would like to fix it so it works as good as a new one. Is this possible?

The walls are 2x as thick as a modern one and filled with fiberglass so if I rip it out and foam up the whole thing I will have MORE FOAM than a new fridge! New seals-- even double seals since I have almost double the space - will make the box better than a modern one plus I get the great lock shut handle.

Now, its possible the freon is missing a bit... however it works ok-- so I'm not sure it has leaked much... I know there are modern gas replacements but do they work better or worse to put in? have modern compressors gotten better? I don't expect electric motors to have gotten much better and I wouldn't be surprised if the compressor itself hasn't gotten much better. downside is that a new compressor unit costs almost as much as a new fridge (and is 1 unit instead of two) - disposable economy...

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Old 07-21-2010, 01:10 AM   #2
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Fixing a 50 year old refrigerator


A new refrigerator will be MUCH more efficient and cost less to run. You're throwing money away fixing the old one.

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Old 07-21-2010, 10:53 AM   #3
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Fixing a 50 year old refrigerator


Some older fridges are worth $$ as antiques
Any coke fridge that old is worth $$
Other then that I would buy a new fridge
They use a lot less power
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Old 07-21-2010, 11:05 AM   #4
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Fixing a 50 year old refrigerator


I LIKE how you're thinking, but the guys are right.... UNLESS you're willing to rebuild and put in new, efficient parts, and just keep the shell.
THEN it'd be worthwhile, though pricey. (and an awful lot of retrofitting)

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Old 07-21-2010, 01:33 PM   #5
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Fixing a 50 year old refrigerator


I figured on blanket responses; but WHY is a new one so much better? Like I said I can fix up the box to do better than a modern one and it would cost very little and be a fun project.

I doubt the electric motor needs much if anything. my only concern is the compressor and gas parts of it and if the new stuff is so much better that its not worth it. Actually, if I could get those cheap I would replace them (and do some testing so I could get some actual numbers) because its not actually difficult to put those in - I HAVE the pump and some of the stuff to do work on it from fixing a car air conditioner unit. This is a fridge, there is NO freezer part of it it just has a simple radiator on both sides.
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Old 07-21-2010, 01:56 PM   #6
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Fixing a 50 year old refrigerator


Since it still works, can't you just bump up the freon? (if you can FIND any...)

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Old 07-21-2010, 02:15 PM   #7
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Fixing a 50 year old refrigerator


We bought a 26 cu ft fridge to replace an 18 cu ft fridge - 12 years old
The new fridge - 50% bigger, uses 10% less power
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Old 07-21-2010, 02:53 PM   #8
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Since it still works, can't you just bump up the freon? (if you can FIND any...)

DM
I managed to find some info on a freon replacement gas info out there created specifically for old systems but i didn't find anything other than that.
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Old 07-21-2010, 03:05 PM   #9
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Fixing a 50 year old refrigerator


Put a "wanted' ad on craigslist for freon. Lots of people still have cans they don't know what to do with....
(I know I do! I have 3 cans somewhere in the shed)

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Old 07-21-2010, 03:06 PM   #10
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We replaced an early 90s late 80s fridge/freezer with a newer one in 2000 and it was better but then the main difference that I could see was that the new one was energystar and had about 1/2 thicker insulation everywhere and the door seals were better as well as triple walled.

Recently, around last year we replaced a door seal and that made a huge difference on it as well. This old old one I'm talking about is at my parents cabin so I'm not so big on spending money but when i'm up there hobby projects are nice. This is why I'm putting in some effort on it.

#1 rule in insulation is plugging air flow (leaks) and a repair guy I talked with briefly said the biggest problem is door seals and many people's old fridges just need a seal - if they even notice that its wasting power before something else breaks - and they don't make them to last anymore with only 3 companies making the stuff he said you can't buy a long lasting repairable one; they expect you to replace the whole thing and few to notice the seals before it just wearing out. This is also why I'm interested in how I can make an old worthless fridge work better because the new ones are not built to last according to the repair guy.

I think it would be worth telling people if I find that this is the case and that old old fridges can meet or beat new ones while lasting if somebody puts in some labor. If its not possible, then I suppose less so since everybody assumes newer is better. But WHAT IF OLD is better? or close? money is low but time is high these days so it could help if true...
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:16 PM   #11
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Fixing a 50 year old refrigerator


at 50 or 60 years old your refrigerator may use ammonia for the refrigerant. I remember when my parents refrigerator sprung a leak it drove all of us out of the house.
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:24 PM   #12
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Fixing a 50 year old refrigerator


The door lock is a danger to small children who may accidentally lock themselves in. That may be a consideration in a seasonal cabin that is not occupied year-round.
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:31 PM   #13
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The door lock is a danger to small children who may accidentally lock themselves in. That may be a consideration in a seasonal cabin that is not occupied year-round.
GREAT IDEA! THANKS!
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Old 07-21-2010, 08:38 PM   #14
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at 50 or 60 years old your refrigerator may use ammonia for the refrigerant. I remember when my parents refrigerator sprung a leak it drove all of us out of the house.
I will have to check that out! Ammonia ones are supposed to work better according to a physics prof friend of mine; commercial places use them today and I believe the Einstein fridge used it as well. This could get interesting... Anyhow I guess I will have to bother him... he is the one that suggested maybe I could fix up this old one and get close to a modern one; he's all theory, I was hoping I'd find some experience in this forum to give me the other side of the problem.

If I do something cool with it I'll publish the info somewhere or he will.

thank you all!
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Old 07-24-2010, 04:03 AM   #15
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Fixing a 50 year old refrigerator


Don't mess with the sealed system. you'll only end up destroying this refrig. if you were low on refrigerent the frost will not go completely around the evap and you'll also have no/poor refrigeration. w/o a certification from EPA you're not even allowed to have R12 let alone use it. these are criticaly charged and nothing like a car a/c.. if there are no wet spots on exterior the insulation is still good. if you try to take it apart and pull it out you'll probably start breaking the jamb strips-now what. if you try to double up on door seal-1, the door won't close, 2-you'll throw it out of whack...if this unit still works ok...check the wiring[brittle/cracked?] and replace as needed but must have proper tools and correct wiring and know exactly how to do it or leave it alone. the one thing you could do is; paint it and attach a ground wire from frame to a good earth ground[these were before Ralph Nader and product safety- only had 2 prong cord]. hope i didn't rain on your parade but why mess with perfection.

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