Vintage Drink Machine Repair and Restoration

Tips for installing a new cooling system in a vintage drink machine

If you buy a new compressor / cooling system in a vintage drink machine from us, we will do our best to support you by email. You can send us images to confirm you have things right. Below are some steps and tips to make it easier for you. If you have any questions, please contact us here

Should you do it yourself or hire a local refrigeration person?

To install it, some handyman or mechanical ability is required: For example, you will need to drill new holes in the base of your machine to secure it, obtain the bolts, and use self-tapping screws to secure the evaporator to the tub, attach the thermostat in the tub, run thermostat wire up and attach it to the back of the tub, etc.

If you are not comfortable with these, it is best to hire someone locally. Or if you in SC, you can bring it by and we will install it for you. We are not responsible for a customer or 3rd party damage to a system during installation.

No wiring is needed for the compressor, the units come prewired and ready to plugin. If your machine has lights or an electric coin mechanism that needs power, we will provide a hot wire you can use to connect the lights or electric coin mech. No refrigeration knowledge is needed, the units come precharge, tested and sealed.

Steps to Install your new cooling system

  • Step 1 Taking out the old system and cleaning up.
  • Unplug your machine before you do anything. Sometimes old drink machines have exposed wires and can be dangerous.
  • Do not apply to all: Take pictures if you have internal lights or an electric coin mechanism, of the wiring connections. Then disconnect these. This does not apply to all machines. Most early machines had mechanical only coin mechs. About 1/3 of the 1940s and 1950s early machines had internal lights.
  • Remove the modeling that covers the refrigeration lines between the upper tub ( where the drinks are ) and the compressor under it.
  • Next, unscrew the evaporator from the upper tub.
  • Then unscrew or unbolt the compressor base from the bottom of your machine. This last part can be the hardest if the bolts are rusty. You will often have to elevate the machine to get the bottom side of the bolt.
  • Then you can carefully slide out the old system once everything is free.
  • Now is a great time to clean up the bottom of the tub, reseal the condensation hole if needed, wipe it out. The same for the compressor area.
  • Step 2 Unboxing your new system
  • Be careful. Your system was tested before it was shipping and then carefully packed. Most issues come when unboxing.
  • You will need 2 people to unbox. One for the evaporator and one for the compressor.
  • Do NOT twist, stretch, or pinch the copper tubing. Be careful to not stress the joints. We are not responsible for customer damage.
  • Once you have lifted it out of the box, you can set it down and place the evaporator on the compressor gently.
  • Step 3 Getting your new unit orientated and ready
  • It is important both parts are installed in the right direction, but again, you can send us images and we will confirm you have it right b/f you screw it in. There are examples at the top of this page of installed systems that can help. In general, the evaporator needs to have the air pulled across the fins and come out toward the back wall and up.
  • Below are 2 examples of the orientation of the evaporator and condenser.

  • Step 4 Installing the compressor base plate
  • First, you should set both parts of the unit in your machine the way it will go. After you have it set, gently adjust bend the tubing to accommodate your machine’s orientation. Do not overbend or allow the tube to pinch or fold!
  • Once everything is set in place, find and mark the place where you will bolt the metal base plate to your machine’s bottom frame. Sometimes you have to adjust the base plate location to have a good area to bolt it down, noting where there is a space in the base plate for a bolt.
  • You will want to keep in mind the need to find a place on the base away from wires and tubes to drill, so you easily drill without damaging the lines or compressor. Once you have figured this out, mark the location where you want holes on the base plate, remove the compressor and drill the holes out in the base plate. Most people will use 2-4 bolts in the base plate.
  • Then put the compressor back into your machine, align it, and mark the drill locations by using your holes in the base plate to locate them on the frame.
  • Remove the compressor again, and drill the frame of your machine.
  • Put it back in and bolt it up.
  • Tips: use washers and lock washers, and be careful to not overtighten it and by doing so bending the base plate.
Bolting the base plate to your frame – 3 or 4 bolts are recommended to keep it secure from rattling.
  • Step 5 Installing the evaporator in the upper tub
  • Once you are sure you have the evaporator turned correctly, it can be simply screwed into the tub using self-tapping screws
  • Step 6 Installing the thermostat and wiring the light or coin mech ( if applicable)
  • If you have lights or an electric coin mech, you would wire these to the extra hot provided. If you do not, you can skip this.
  • Next, you will screw the thermostat mount in. Some people like to attach to the metal case around the evaporator, we prefer to install it off to the side as shown below. The wire for the thermostat needs to run to the back wall of the tub about 1/3 to 1/2 way up the back wall and attach it with a screw and metal or rubber loop to hold it there. This will put it in the cold airflow.
  • TIP: if you put a strip of insulation around the thermostat, it will force it to use the wire to regulate the temp. We use the insulation strips that adhere. This is not required, but if your unit to the max cold and turns off before it gets as cold as you wish, this could be a solution.
Screw the thermostat to the tub, and run the wire to the back wall in the cold airflow. This is a Vendo 39 with a wheel, so we can not put up as high on the wall as we would for a Vendo 81 or 110.
  • Step 7 Finish up
  • Carefully bend and mold the copper tubed to run from the top to the bottom through the correct place in the frame, along with the wires.
  • Reattach your trim molding and wire shield.
  • Zip tie up the wires to the copper tube to make it neat.
  • Step 8 Testing
  • Look everything over to be sure nothing is left in the area of the fan, run the power cord out the back and plug it in.
  • After a few minutes, the coils in the upper tube ( evaporator) will get cold. They may frost over. Note, the coils will frost when the door is open, but not so much when the door is closed. This is normal.
  • Set the thermostat to somewhere mid-range and let it run for 3 hours. Then see if the drinks are cold enough or too cold and adjust
  • To save power and lengthen the list of your new system, you can put the plug on a timer and only run it during hours when you need it, such as day time hours.

Additional notes and tips.

What you need to buy: Self-tapping metal screws, and 4 bolts, nuts, washers, zip ties, insulation strips (optional) and lock washers.

What you need: Drill, drill bits, screwdriver bits.

How long does it take? It takes about 3-4 hours if you going carefully. 

What’s the #1 thing to be aware of? By far it is to be careful that you do not twist the copper lines, pinch them, twist the joints, or of course, break them.  You can slowly bend them to fit, but you have to be careful and not rough.