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New life for old Engel


  • VenterJ
    VenterJ on


    Words & images Johan Venter

    When I arrived at a friend’s house recently, I noticed that his old 40-litre Engel camp freezer was standing next to his dustbin on the sidewalk. He told me that it had stopped working some time ago and that it was just cluttering up his garage; but, (having known me for umpteen years) he said that I was welcome to see if I had any use for it. So, onto my bakkie it went!

    Inquiries at the agents confirmed that it had had its day – the compressor was gone, and no spares were available because of its age. I got the same story at two more places.

    Then I was referred to Fred Stegman of B Cool Air-conditioning in Wierda Park. He, too, said that spares were a problem, but that he would see what he could do.

    Three weeks later, Fred phoned to tell me that the Engel could be collected. I tried it out, on mains power, and it froze a two-litre bottle of water solid in about 18 hours. Aaaah! Joybells! My Engel was alive and well!

    Now for the steroids… The first thing I noticed was that the lid’s rubber seal was no longer sealing properly. This was remedied by taping a 10 x 3 mm strip of white sealing tape onto the casing below the seal.

    Next, I glued a piece of polystyrene to the outside bottom of the case. I also covered the sides, as well as the lid, with silvered bubble ceiling insulation. This was done by using thin double-sided tape. Another piece of ceiling insulation went under the lid, on top of the wire basket.

    After testing again, I noticed at least a 20% improvement in the working of the freezer. I used the ceiling insulation as it is a lot cheaper than a freezer-blanket, and also much thinner. Furthermore, it reflects radiated heat back into the environment, which a blanket does not do.

    Creating a cold space is similar to creating a vacuum: the colder the space, the higher the energy pressure from outside. So, in essence, you are not so much trying to keep the cold in, as trying to keep the heat out. For this reason, the shiny foil must face outward in order to reflect radiated heat. The air-filled bubbles also separate the outer metal box from direct contact with the air, and do not support convection. This further increases efficiency.

    Care should be taken not to cover the rear of the freezer in any way. Air must flow freely around the coils in order to dissipate heat.

    Opening the lid is usually done too fast. This causes the lid to suck cold air out of the box. To minimise this turbulence, I placed a piece of insulating foil between the lid and the top of the basket. This barrier can easily be slid away sideways with minimal disturbance of the cold air in the freezer. A piece of thin transparent Perspex should also work well, as this allows you to see where stuff is packed, which (in turn) will reduce open time.

    Sourcing a small amount of the ceiling insulation may be a problem. Folks in Pretoria or Centurion can contact me as I have a roll of the stuff left over from a previous project.

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