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IH chest freezer not cooling down

2022 Arizona International Harvester Rendezvous

NobeyamaGP

Farmall Cub
Joined
May 26, 2020
Messages
6
Points
3
I recently got my grandmother's 1955 IH model A-7 chest freezer from my parents who got it after she died. It was used for a while in an unheated or cooled shed and then stored unplugged for several years before I got my own place and had room for it. I just got it cleaned up and painted and moved it in to place and found that it wasn't cooling down as cold as it should be. I unplugged it for a few hours, then put a thermometer and a bag of ice inside and after 2 days it only got down to about 45F. I looked underneath and I don't see anything obviously wrong. I tested the lid seal with a thick piece of paper and it seems to be sealing okay. Anyone have any ideas for what I could try? I'm guessing it may be low on refrigerant since the compressor does turn on and it does cool somewhat. How long should it take one of these freezers to get down to it's set point?

Here are some pics of the freezer.
20200524_170626-XL.jpg

20200524_170601-XL.jpg
 

gillis51

High Wheeler
Joined
Feb 3, 2010
Messages
1,121
Points
113
Location
Easton, MA
If it was tilted for an extended period of time some of the oil from the compressor could have gotten into the lines. Let it sit a few days then try again.
 

NobeyamaGP

Farmall Cub
Joined
May 26, 2020
Messages
6
Points
3
I did have it tilted on my trailer for a couple of days after I brought it down to my house, but then it was basically level for the last 3-4 days before we moved it inside. I think I will let it sit for a few days and try it again.
 

scout2000

Lives in an IH Dealership
Joined
Nov 2, 2011
Messages
5,778
Points
113
Location
DFW, TX
If it was tilted for an extended period of time some of the oil from the compressor could have gotten into the lines. Let it sit a few days then try again.

Thanks for this, AFAIK, this isn't just an IH thing, any time one transports a refrigerator and/or freezer, I've always understood that they need to be locked/tied down in an upright position, and never layed down.
 

scout2000

Lives in an IH Dealership
Joined
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Messages
5,778
Points
113
Location
DFW, TX
OP,

Great looking freezer, and welcome to BinderPlanet.

Fingers crossed that your freezer returns to normal operation in a couple of days.
 

NobeyamaGP

Farmall Cub
Joined
May 26, 2020
Messages
6
Points
3
I did have the freezer standing up on the trailer, I just have a small trailer without a jack so it was angled down on the front with the tongue on the ground for a couple of days until I got it picked up and leveled. Hopefully if the freezer sits for a few days, it will start working again.

Thanks for the compliment! I come from an IH family growing up with several Farmalls and a couple of 60's Loadstars as grain trucks. When my parents got this freezer and I discovered it was an IH too, I claimed it as soon as I had the space for it. I'm not going to give up on it so easily!
 

Dana Strong

Lives in an IH Dealership
Joined
Apr 4, 2008
Messages
6,909
Points
113
Location
Sunnyvale, Ca.
I'm guessing it may be low on refrigerant since the compressor does turn on and it does cool somewhat. How long should it take one of these freezers to get down to it's set point?
I would expect that unit to use R-12 and although it's possible for a leak to be so small that it would take 60 years to lose a few ounces, it's less likely than other problems. The first thing I would check is how often/what percentage of the time it is running and if it shuts off too soon. If you get a device like this Digital Power Meter, it can tell you when the compressor is on and what current it's drawing, the line voltage, the total power (KwH) it's used and how many hours/days it's been running since started. However you check, you may find that the temperature sensor is bad, not letting the compressor run long enough. If low on Freon, I'd expect it to be running too much without accomplishing anything.
BTW, I would have first checked the accessible internal wiring to be sure the insulation was still good and that no conductors appeared to be frayed, corroded, or loose. Sounds like the starter circuit is working properly, but the contacts in the old starters can go bad and can be replaced if necessary.
Do you generally understand how motors, etc. work?

Are you also aware of the Cardinal Rule of the website that We Need Pictures! You mentioned Farmalls and Loadstars; where are the pictures? :beer:
 

Greg R

Lives in an IH Dealership
Joined
Mar 23, 2002
Messages
5,513
Points
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Location
Lebanon, OR
unplugged it for a few hours, then put a thermometer and a bag of ice inside and after 2 days it only got down to about 45F.

1. Does it never shut off?
2. Or does it cycle on and off?

If it's 1, then either it's low on refrigerant or the cap tube/drier is restricted

If it's 2, you may need a new cold control.

Time to ask around for a "competent" refrigeration/appliance mechanic; someone who won't sell you new "green" refrigerants to replace whatever is in the freezer and is decent with diagnostics.
 

NobeyamaGP

Farmall Cub
Joined
May 26, 2020
Messages
6
Points
3
I would expect that unit to use R-12 and although it's possible for a leak to be so small that it would take 60 years to lose a few ounces, it's less likely than other problems. The first thing I would check is how often/what percentage of the time it is running and if it shuts off too soon. If you get a device like this Digital Power Meter, it can tell you when the compressor is on and what current it's drawing, the line voltage, the total power (KwH) it's used and how many hours/days it's been running since started. However you check, you may find that the temperature sensor is bad, not letting the compressor run long enough. If low on Freon, I'd expect it to be running too much without accomplishing anything.
BTW, I would have first checked the accessible internal wiring to be sure the insulation was still good and that no conductors appeared to be frayed, corroded, or loose. Sounds like the starter circuit is working properly, but the contacts in the old starters can go bad and can be replaced if necessary.
Do you generally understand how motors, etc. work?

Are you also aware of the Cardinal Rule of the website that We Need Pictures! You mentioned Farmalls and Loadstars; where are the pictures? :beer:
From what I could tell, granted that I wasn't in the room watching it all the time, the compressor never shut off the whole time it was plugged in. The power cord was dry rotten so we replaced it while we were painting it. I looked under the freezer last night to check compressor resistances and all of the other wiring seems to be in good shape with no missing insulation and no cracking. I have an idea how motors, etc. work, but I'm not definitely not an expert.

Here's what the compressor terminals looked like when I removed the cover. I cleaned the terminals while I was in there.
20200527_172412-XL.jpg


The only part that seemed a bit off was a black gooey substance on one of the wires coming from the starting relay. I don't really know if this is a warning sign or if it was caused by the compressor being on so much.
20200527_180602-XL.jpg


I don't have any pictures of my Dad's IH's, but I do have one of the Farmall M my Dad, my brother, and I restored for bushhogging duty at my new place.
20200418_142643-XL.jpg
 

NobeyamaGP

Farmall Cub
Joined
May 26, 2020
Messages
6
Points
3
1. Does it never shut off?
2. Or does it cycle on and off?

If it's 1, then either it's low on refrigerant or the cap tube/drier is restricted

If it's 2, you may need a new cold control.

Time to ask around for a "competent" refrigeration/appliance mechanic; someone who won't sell you new "green" refrigerants to replace whatever is in the freezer and is decent with diagnostics.
It seems to stay on constantly, though I'm not exactly in the room with it all the time. I'll need to track down one of those power meters Dana Strong mentioned, to know for sure.
 

NobeyamaGP

Farmall Cub
Joined
May 26, 2020
Messages
6
Points
3
If it helps, I did use an IR thermometer to measure the surface temperatures on the inside of the freezer before I got a thermometer in there. The right hand side had frost forming on the wall initially and was much cooler than the other 3 sides. After adding a bag of ice and a jug of water to try and help the cooling, I checked last night before I unplugged it to check the wiring and it was around 25F on the right hand side and about half way across the front, but the left wall and rear wall were around 45-50F. The freezer thermometer read 46F on the floor of the box. After I unplugged it to check the compressor wiring, I plugged it back in over night and this morning, the box was down to 45F again and frost had started forming on the same places as before.
 

gillis51

High Wheeler
Joined
Feb 3, 2010
Messages
1,121
Points
113
Location
Easton, MA
I did have the freezer standing up on the trailer, I just have a small trailer without a jack so it was angled down on the front with the tongue on the ground for a couple of days until I got it picked up and leveled. Hopefully if the freezer sits for a few days, it will start working again.

Thanks for the compliment! I come from an IH family growing up with several Farmalls and a couple of 60's Loadstars as grain trucks. When my parents got this freezer and I discovered it was an IH too, I claimed it as soon as I had the space for it. I'm not going to give up on it so easily!
Dont give up on it at all. Its a beauty. If you decide its too much for you to take on i am sure someone on this site would take it

I am not a facebook person but someone told me about a group on there that is just for antique fridges and freezers. Try that to see if anyone can offer some suggestions.

Good luck and keep us posted with your findings.
 

Greg R

Lives in an IH Dealership
Joined
Mar 23, 2002
Messages
5,513
Points
113
Location
Lebanon, OR
That frost on the wall is a great insight. Shooting from the hip; I'd say it was low on refrigerant charge. Generally there's no service connections so a temporary saddle tee is clamped on or a permanent one is brazed in to add refrigerant. Look around the compressor, at this age there could be one that was added years ago. Going on what appliance shops are experiencing in my area, the skilled guys are getting fewer and fewer. Not to long ago it was an easy fix, and might even have had the luck to find a leak unless it's really small and it was okay to periodically add refrigerant
 

Dana Strong

Lives in an IH Dealership
Joined
Apr 4, 2008
Messages
6,909
Points
113
Location
Sunnyvale, Ca.
Going on what appliance shops are experiencing in my area, the skilled guys are getting fewer and fewer. Not to long ago it was an easy fix, and might even have had the luck to find a leak unless it's really small and it was okay to periodically add refrigerant
I knew and occasionally helped a local who got into the business while on a Merchant Marine ship during WWII. He retired three times before finally quitting it all. Yes, people like that are disappearing. I still have stuff I got from him although I've been trying to reduce my clutter.
Somewhere I have an old leak detector that's sensitive enough to find a leak of a fraction of an ounce per year; I forget the exact value.
 
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