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View Full Version : Appliance failure is stroke of good luck!



TrickyDick
07-22-2013, 01:11 PM
Hey,

My wine refrigerator has died, sort of. Won't keep my wife's wine at her preferred temp. Luckily I bought a warranty and its is being replaced. The old unit should work PERFECT for making into a dry cure chamber!! I'll need to validate that the old unit can still maintain proper temps for sausage aging, and it already has built in fans. All I need is an exhaust fan and a humidity controller!
I have a rough idea for the dry cure cabinet design. So knows, maybe it can even be recharged at restored to full operation so I could hang bacon, etc inside. Ill post up as the project continues.
Yee Haw!!

TD

scripts22
07-22-2013, 02:45 PM
Pure Genius!

Mayn
07-22-2013, 02:55 PM
Tricky. I am an havc/r guy. If the compressor runs than yes, it may just need a shot of refrigerant and it will be fine. It could be a control issue as well. But in sure it can be fixed either way.

TrickyDick
07-22-2013, 03:09 PM
GREAT! I have some propane issues that maybe you can help with if you'd care to. In FL, there are precious few propane guys, and of the three that I've had out to help, none have provided an ideal solution.

Anyway, the compressor does run. It just doesn't ever hit its programmed temp. I won't get a chance to diagnose until the new unit arrives. Then I need to find a home for the sausage cure chamber and what additional mods its going to need.

If I have any more questions I know where to turn!

TD

Tricky. I am an havc/r guy. If the compressor runs than yes, it may just need a shot of refrigerant and it will be fine. It could be a control issue as well. But in sure it can be fixed either way.

Mayn
07-22-2013, 03:17 PM
Ok. Then your cooler is more than Likely just low on charge. If its 134a you can get some at a auto store usually. The hard part will be finding a way to connect it to the cooler to fill it up. Need to have the right port. I've heard of ppl buying refrigerant on eBay as well. By the thing is if it's gone, must be leaking somewhere. What up with the propane?


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RickB
07-22-2013, 04:21 PM
Guys a wine cooler uses about 3-4 oz of 134a. If you have a leak its toast. You do NOT want to be hanging meat in a ref unit with a leak. Nuff said. Toss it! Trust me I have worked on dozens of them. Been in the appliance buis for 25 years. The advice you are getting is bad!

Mayn
07-22-2013, 04:34 PM
It really depends on how big a unit it is. Ya if its a $150 one I'm sure it's junk. But if its anything like his kitchen it might be huge.


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Mayn
07-22-2013, 04:40 PM
Of course fix the leak.


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TrickyDick
07-22-2013, 07:08 PM
Thanks guys.

The thing is with the cooler, is that the only thing wrong is my wife says the wine isn't cold enough. It's a dual temp zone, and maybe its set to impossible settings like too much differential between the two zones. I don't know if it does or does not have a leak.

If it can chill into the 50's it'll probably work fine for dry cure chamber. I'm not sure yet if I'm going to be able to use it without testing its ability to hold temps for extended periods. Worst case I could use the insulated chamber for fermentation but adding a heater and humidifier, or connect the chamber to my old Bradley smoke generator with cold smoke adaptor.

I appreciate the advice. Ill post more about it once I discover more about why its not working so well. I wonder of the coils just need cleaning, or if it even has a refill port or what type of refrigerant it might take if its low. I had built a kegerator for serving homebrew and hit a coil drilling the sidewall, and was able to convince a local repair shop to try to fix. It's been working for 7 years in my hot FL garage, until I decided to sell it when I put in the commercial taps. Wish I had kept it..

Anyway. Ill let you know what happens to the old cooler.

TD

TrickyDick
07-26-2013, 06:58 AM
Put my thermometer inside and has been holding steady at about mid 50's.
ordered a humidity and temp controller and humidifier. Now just waiting for replacement to get here so I can get started!

TD

TrickyDick
08-27-2013, 05:30 PM
So the replacement fridge/cooler arrived. I can begin conversion! I have some concerns about using the same space for doing sausage and homebrewing out of concern of cross contamination. I am thinking that I might omit the beneficial mold starter component of sausage making and just use the culture material for what is INSIDE the casing.

Been seeing a lot of HIGH END commercial stuff on Triple D lately, making me wonder if there are surplus items ever available...

Anyway, I think my first thing will be a pseudo dry cure fast ferment pepperoni and do a quick version of the classic, and from there try to go to a long dry cure pepperoni style salami. I'm also highly interested in guiacanale(think I spelled it wrong) and also some coppa dry cure cuts.


TD

TentHunter
08-27-2013, 05:35 PM
Watching...

TrickyDick
08-28-2013, 06:30 AM
Hmm.

So as it turns out, our old wine fridge, which was replaced by the warranty company WITHOUT sending a technician to investigate or attempt repair, may in actuality be perfectly fine. We had recently had it placed into a build-in location and it appears it may not have been getting adequate airflow because in sitting overnight, there was a puddle of water that appeared in the morning. I assume it was frozen condenser coils from insufficient airflow.

SO.. I'm not entirely sure I want to hack up a perfectly good wine fridge just yet. I'm thinking that its own temp controls probably work fine now, and it has fans to circulate air already inside. It seems a shame to hack it all up. Alternate uses could be for storing wine (one for red and one for white) but I don't have a convenient place to put a second wine fridge, and my wife wants it gone. Another option might be as a controlled fermentation space for homebrew.

It is possible that I may even be able to use this for BOTH purposes depending on how I proceed, since it is unlikely it will be in continuous use for either hobby.

Maybe over the long weekend ill get a chance to more closely inspect the innards of the wine fridge to see how best to proceed.

TD

TrickyDick
09-27-2013, 10:34 AM
Update.

Temporarily on hold. Turns out the wine fridge is still good and I can't bring myself to tear it up.
Looking for a fridge to press into dry age chamber duty. Have all the guts and parts needed to retrofit it aside from a trip to local Home Depot.
Also I've become concerned about where to locate the chamber so as to avoid cross contamination with my home brew with funky bacteria,
The freezer I'm using for temperature control of beer fermentation is a likely candidate for the dry cure chamber conversion but for now, until I finish building the glycol chilled plastic conical conversion setup, I can't give up the freezer.

TD

TrickyDick
02-09-2014, 06:25 AM
Update #2

Have secured another fridge to use. It's an upright side by side type.
One I finish my plastic conical project (www.plasticconical.com) for beer making, I'll be able to use the fridge for sausages, and will begin the conversion.
Had a talk with a restaurant equipment dealer. He said he recently installed an alto shaam brand in a commercial location for this at a cost of 7k for the unit. He said it can smoke/cold smoke and requires very little smoke. Said when the door opens, it's like a puff of cigarette smoke that comes out, which sounds nothing like the MAK.
Anyway, I'm planning to use my Bradley smoke generator with cold smoke adapter. Also want to put in some shutter type air vents like on a weber grill for controlling the air in and out of the fridge. It seems to be an older fridge with the coils on the outside on the back.

TD

TentHunter
02-15-2014, 07:20 AM
Still watching...

TrickyDick
04-15-2014, 12:00 PM
I may have to abandon this project.

I was doing some research on the side by side fridges. From what I found out, the freezer half is the part that the cold air goes into, and the freezer half diverts some cold air into the fridge part. In order to operate the entire volume at the same temperature, you would need to remove the partition between the two sides. Once you've done this, you eliminate the seal for the doors. Some folks have been able to seal the doors to each other, but seems like this would not be highly reliable for tight control of humidity. A second option would be to carve out as much of the center partition as possible, but leave the front edge to permit the doors to seal properly. The downside to this is that you would then have a hard time getting your smoke sticks into the unit. I suppose you could install a closet clother hanger bar and hang the meat from heavy duty hangers. Another pitfall is that some units have coolant lines running in the center partition. I need to look up a repair manual online for my unit to see how my fridge is constructed. The fridge is now doing duty as overflow freezer, and the fridge half is packed full of craft beer. It's going to be hard to give up a nice beer fridge for sausage making.

TD

RickB
04-15-2014, 02:47 PM
I may have to abandon this project.

I was doing some research on the side by side fridges. From what I found out, the freezer half is the part that the cold air goes into, and the freezer half diverts some cold air into the fridge part. In order to operate the entire volume at the same temperature, you would need to remove the partition between the two sides. Once you've done this, you eliminate the seal for the doors. Some folks have been able to seal the doors to each other, but seems like this would not be highly reliable for tight control of humidity. A second option would be to carve out as much of the center partition as possible, but leave the front edge to permit the doors to seal properly. The downside to this is that you would then have a hard time getting your smoke sticks into the unit. I suppose you could install a closet clother hanger bar and hang the meat from heavy duty hangers. Another pitfall is that some units have coolant lines running in the center partition. I need to look up a repair manual online for my unit to see how my fridge is constructed. The fridge is now doing duty as overflow freezer, and the fridge half is packed full of craft beer. It's going to be hard to give up a nice beer fridge for sausage making.

TD

You right, trying to chop up a modern ref is not going to work. But you have options. I believe Whirlpool makes a dedicated fresh food unit which has no freezer compartment. Add a good temp control and a humidifier and you have the perfect cure cabinet. Do your smoking elsewhere.

TrickyDick
01-22-2015, 08:10 AM
I've got a plan in development for making a smaller fridge only 4.5-5.5 cu ft dry cure chamber in 2015. This has been back burner for a while now. I found a couple folks who are making micro-computer controlled chambers with some success, and can monitor time-temp-RH graphs, which is a big plus. I'd like to also be able to do double duty cold smoke chamber as I don't have the 2 star. But, that would probably take second seat to getting the dry cure part completed. Have most of the necessary parts already expect fridge. Stay tuned..

TD

TrickyDick
02-23-2015, 10:10 AM
Last post here.

I have the new mini-fridge unit, and most of all other equipment needed to make this work. Planning to begin build soon. No timeframe to complete. However, I found two Berkshire hog farmers/breeders nearby. I dropped off some spent grains from my homebrewing efforts today and met one of the farmers. He used to process on site but his partner who managed most of that left to go back to his regular job. He is using a outside processor now, who he mentioned is also a Berkshire farmer/breeder. Picked up a couple extra racks and meat probes and planning another Bacon cook soon. This should turn out to be a good resource for other meat for when the dry-cure chamber is finished.

TD