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Gas refrigerators- anybody have experience with them?

Post in 'It's a Gas!' started by EatenByLimestone, Oct 22, 2013.

  1. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I saw a couple on a friend's farm and he indicated he was probably going to scrap them. I'm thinking without any moving parts there's not much to go wrong... but it may be a "Hold my beer and watch this!" moment. I suppose the worse case scenario is I build some drawers into it and make a really cool tool cabinet.

    Matt

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  2. pen

    pen There are some who call me...mod. Staff Member

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    They can run forever seemingly. Just be wary of very old ones as some contained refrigerants that weren't so human healthy. Do a little research on the unit before you decide to bring it home IMO.

    pen
    jeff_t likes this.
  3. jeff_t

    jeff_t Minister of Fire

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    They can be pretty pricey, too. My dad and a couple of uncles had a camp in the middle of nowhere, and when they bought a fridge, I remember them complaining about the price. I know the unit it replaced was really, really old.

    One of these little guys makes a world of difference in evening temps out. Two D batteries last for weeks
    http://www.campingworld.com/shopping/item/fridge-airator/21016
  4. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    The cost would be next to nothing for the units if he wants to get rid of them. He plans on sending them to scrap. They are Servel Gas Refrigerators and are in an Art Deco style so they are probably from the 30s-50s. There was a recall on burners, but I understand that that was due to improper maintenance, rather than design. If I can't get the burner to work right, there are modern replacement burners out there.

    There are modern refrigerants that work in the older units. I have a late 20s monitor top running in the basement on it's original SO2 charge. I know some of the guys on the monitor top forum have been using other refrigerants in them with success. When I plugged the monitor top in and tested the draw I was pleasantly surprised to find it used less than 1 kwh a day. I have a running Kelvinator from the 50s (I think, by the styling) that I haven't run on the Kill-O-Watt yet, but it doesn't seem to have as much insulation in it so I'm not expecting it to be as miserly with energy usage. The Kelvinator runs on R12, which is considered safe.
  5. peakbagger

    peakbagger Minister of Fire

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    pen likes this.
  6. Prairie Pucker

    Prairie Pucker New Member

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    I grew up with a Servel in my folks' kitchen. Not the biggest fridge, but it quietly did the job year after year. No frills like an icemaker, of course. After 15 years we moved to a different house & put the Servel in the basement as a 2nd fridge and it worked for another 30 years without a problem. Finally concerns about CO led to it being turned off. Towards the end it had developed rust on the exterior cabinet from condensation on the inside and was being used as a pantry. No idea what its energy efficiency was, but I was always intrigued by the mechanical simplicity compared to today's units. If I were to use one today I'd probably install a CO detector nearby.

    PP
  7. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    It seems to me that it could be powered by a little homemade electric heater if need be, and then there would be absolutely no moving parts and it would be perfectly safe, probably cheap too as it probably wouldn't take a large heater.

    Matt
  8. CenterTree

    CenterTree Minister of Fire

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    We had a very old unit in our camp also. When I was "younger" I was there with my girlfriend (sight seeing ;))

    We turned on the fridge when we arrived at camp. We later fell asleep and by the grace of GOD I had awaken at around 4AM with my head buzzing.

    I tried to stand and fell over. I was so dizzy I barely knew what was what. I couldn't wake my girlfriend and had to actually carry her outside and shake her for many minutes. Scariest moments of my life!

    Thank God she finally awoke.

    Our headaches lasted for days. Terrible.

    Since then we replaced that unit with a NEWER propane fridge. Camp members haven't had any issues,
    but still to this day I ONLY take a Coleman cooler to camp filled with ice!!_g
    pen likes this.
  9. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I brought the first one home today and have the door almost apart. The bottom hinge screws don't want to play. I have Kroil soaking into the threads now and will probably apply heat tomorrow if I can't get them to budge. Maybe with a little bit of luck I'll be able to prime and paint the door tomorrow.

    If I can't get at least one safely working fridge out of the two I'll probably end up with 2 really cool tool chests. I will only have to make drawers in place of the racks.

    Matt
  10. EatenByLimestone

    EatenByLimestone Minister of Fire

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    I got the door finished tonight. It took a while, but life got in the way.

    Here it is in as found condition.

    [​IMG]

    Here is the rust I found inside the door.

    [​IMG]

    A little bit of loving and here it is primed.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    All painted up! There are some oopsies on the paint job, but this will go in the garage so it will get some scratches anyway.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]


    Next onto the body! I took some pics of it earlier.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    That last shot shows the entire cooling system. The burner on the very bottom of the left runs the entire system. The whole thing is mounted to a frame and held to the fridge by 7 or 8 bolts. I'll lift the entire assembly out at once with a block and tackle.

    Matt
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