1939 Frigidaire Cold Wall


Premium Member
Jul 15, 2018
Model Number
Master 6-39
Model Number: Master 6-39
Brand: Frigidaire
Age: More than 10 years

I got hold of this antique refrigerator for my art deco style cottage. I am completely in love with this appliance. The enamel finish is near perfect. It was running when I bought it (although it ran a bit on the cool side -- had to set thermostat to warmest setting to keep the box above freezing).

So I asked an electrician to replace the cord and he said when he started doing that, the insulation fell off. Everything he touched fell apart.

I ended up re-wiring myself (I'm a 66 year old woman, always had mechanical interest and ability). It would start and then shut off. I hired someone to help me and ultimately all electrical was replaced and the fridge carried on beautifully for a few days.

I started experimented with the thermostat (new) settings to see what temp corresponded with what setting. One day I shut off the thermostat and then on and the system wouldn't re-start.

Next day turned on and it ran a few seconds and shut off. Next the same.

Now it runs and initially the bottom of the freezer (primary coolant) gets real cold. As it continues to run, the bottom of the freezer loses cool. The tubes in the top of the freezer get very cold but that's it. The walls do not cool. If I leave it running, it will run hours but eventually shuts off without being cool.

The primary charge is R114 21 ounces. It is my understanding from the service manual that the cold walls are served by a secondary system charged with R12 although the label on the refrigerator does not mention R12. I've attached some diagrams that show there is a filter drier.

So what's running through my mind, not understanding refrigeration, is -- is there a leak? Or is the filter drier clogged? I just don't know how to proceed. I have no technical knowledge or equipment, and it seems that technicians these days regard old stuff as junk rather than treasures that are worth repairing and refurbishing. BTW I put all antique electrical fixtures in the cottage which I restored myself. The electricians thought they were "OK," and yet two of the modern fixtures they installed didn't work and had to be replaced -- you know, foreign made (junk). I am so enamored of these old refrigerators that I ask myself if I could start a small cottage business restoring them.

Anyhow, I need your help figuring out what to test on this refrigerator. If I can sort some of this out, I might be able to convince a refrigerator technician to come help. And I don't mind splurging $225 on a canister of R114 if need be. Thank you in advance.


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