Tuesday, September 26, 2017

The Refrigerator Saga.....

September 26, 2017
The story begins when we returned to the Kittiwake around September 5.  We had left her for about 5 weeks to go home and take care of some business, prepare for a longer time on the boat.  When we left, the boat was plugged into electricity, so we left the dehumidifier and the refrigerator/freezer running.  I had left just a few things, plus some meat in the freezer, so that I wouldn’t have to immediately run to the store upon our return.  Coming into the salon, we immediately were assaulted by a nasty odor.  Turns out the refrigerator had stopped working at some point, leaving the things inside to thaw and start to rot.   Retch!  Cleaned that up, started to fiddle with the refrigerator and electrical panel switches to see if we could get it going again.  No soap.   I tried to find a repair person who could check out the unit, but no one was available in the near future.  Dan felt that it might be a simple matter of the refrigerant having leaked out.  But, Dan was invested in other issues, so I made the executive decision to just buy a new refrigerator.  The previous owner had maintained excellent documentation, so I called the place where he had bought the refrigerator 12 years ago.  They had one that would fit in the cabinet!  Yay!!
Getting the old refrigerator (1) out of the cabinet and (2) out of the boat was quite an ordeal.  The cabinet was very tight, and getting the unit out of the main door was made possible only by removing the track and frame of the sliding door!  So, out the door, into the truck, and away I went.  I got very general directions for the local recycle center – after cruising up and down the 2 lane highway no less than 4 times, and after asking 3 or 4 very nice people, I finally found it.  There was no sign and no sight of the place from the road.  Weighing the truck first with and then without the refrigerator, they then paid me $7.20!  Woot woot!
The place where I could purchase the new refrigerator was about an hour’s drive away.  The nice young man there loaded the new unit on the truck, and charged me only $1,700+ !!  Returning to the boat, we wrestled the new unit inside and into the cabinet.  It was just slightly taller than the old unit so that last quarter inch that had to go into the cabinet had to be just forced.  Yay!!  I was so excited!  At least that one issue was resolved with nothing but a little time and a few ‘boat bucks’!  No more working out of an ice chest!!  We had to leave the refrigerator sitting for a day to allow the oil and whatever to collect back in the base – it had been shipped on its side, and that was my instruction.  Hard for me, since I am not a patient person at all.
Next morning, I joyfully went on a grocery shopping spree, buying things for breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.  I bought a few frozen things for times when I wanted just a quick easy dinner.  After waiting about 20 hours (that’s close enough to a day, isn’t it??), I fired up that new fridge and loaded it with all my purchases. 
Fast forward until the next day….opened the freezer to get something and realized everything was thawed.  I was just sick.  We cycled the power to the fridge off, waited a few minutes, then on again.  It did start up again and the ice cube tray I put in the freezer as a test froze in a couple of hours.  This bit of delightfulness repeated itself over and over in the next days.  It would run for a day or two, then quit.  Cycle the power, get it going again…..  Until one day, it wouldn’t restart.  That was, I thought, a bit of bad/good news.  An intermittent problem is very difficult to solve.  Now, at least, we had a hard failure.  This was just as the weekend started, so no technical support until Monday.  Got out some ice chests, put groceries on ice.

Now, while I’m mostly dealing with the refrigerator fiasco, Dan and our friend, Mike Steele, were hard at work on the electrical system on the boat.  Because of that, we weren’t sure if the refrigerator problem was because of a fault with the refrigerator or with an electrical problem on the boat.
Shall I make a very long story short?  It was the boat’s electrical system causing the issue with the refrigerator.  They had installed a new and more powerful inverter and had put it in a different location than the last one.  That meant running very large new cables to and from the inverter plus rewiring the entire electrical panel for the boat.  They never actually found exactly what the problem was, but during some reworking of the electrical panel and outlets, the problem did get resolved.  Imagine my excitement.  After running the kitchen from two ice chests for about a week, plus walking around this large refrigerator that was in the middle of the floor for several days, it was time to put it back in the cabinet and back into service! 
You would think the refrigerator saga was at an end, right?  Wrong.  The guys wrestled the refrigerator back into the cabinet, and IT WOULDN’T TURN ON!!!!!  They checked the voltage from the panel and at the outlet, after having to remove the refrigerator AGAIN.  Voltage was fine in both places.  But, there was some wiring and a very small circuit board at the bottom of the back of the unit – in the wrestling of the fridge into the cabinet, that little circuit board had been broken.  Of course, this happened after business hours and the availability of that part couldn’t be ascertained until the following day. 
Thankfully, the following day, today, I called the local store where we bought the refrigerator, and they had the part we needed.  Phew.  So, I drove back to the place, actually hedged my bets and bought TWO of the circuit boards, only $11 each.  After installing it and carefully following the circuitry picture provided by the vendor, we now have a working refrigerator….knock wood.

More on other maintenance issues in another issue!

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