Vintage Drink Machine Repair and Restoration

“Runs Great, it just needs a little Freon”

Earlier today, I saw this ad, “great condition, just needs to be recharged with a little freon”   

We see with machines listed on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, or eBay.   Often used by someone who is trying to get a “American Pickers” price for something that is not cooling, and likely not worth what they hope it is.   “Its not cooling”, they say, “but if you just add a little freon it will run great.  Just needs recharging.  It won’t cost you that much, you can do it yourself.” 

I would like to give some of my thoughts to this. 

“It runs fine, does not get that cold, it just needs

Here are a couple of things to consider. 

First freon does not fix the issues I see present in most 70 year old cooling systems. 
In fact, I would say 75% of the cooling systems we take out have plenty of freon!   

What I see are frozen fans, kinked lines, rusted out systems, locked up compressors, power cords eaten by mice, burned-out electrical terminals, wires with the coating rotting off, and the like.    Yesterday I took one that had had mouse who came to his death many years ago while exploring the cooling system.   Most of these older machines should not be plugged into the wiring is inspected. 

If there a freon that can fix all these issues, I would like to get some.  After all, if freon can free a locked up fan or make a burned out capacitor start again, who would not want to get some?  Tongue in cheek, the point is most sellers are not diagnosing the cooling system issues and assuming it just needs a “little juice”.   Which leads me to the second point. 

Second, cooling systems are sealed.  

They do not consume freon like a car consumes gasoline.   If a system is low on freon, then it must have leaked.  And that leak must be fixed.  Then the system must be vacuumed and refilled and tested again.   The old R12 freon used is not cheap, if your state allows it at all,  which means you have to consider changing to the newer 134a freon.    If the leak is tiny enough, it can take some time for it get low again, much a like tiny leak in a car tire.  Just it will eventually push out.      

Third, by the time you replace the fans, thermostat, wiring, fix that leak etc, you still have a 70 year compressor.  

It may run 6 days, 6 weeks, or 6 years.   This is why we do not recommend fixing old compressors, unless it is something basic like a thermostat.    We can not warranty them, and most of customers are not local. They would have to ship the machines back to us.   We recommend putting in a new cooling system.