1956 Amana Stor-Mor - Fix it, or forget it?

DHalstead

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2014
Messages
3
Location
Nashville, TN
Back Story
After looking into buying a deep-freeze for the garage, my wife and I were quickly reminded of how disgusted we are with quality of appliances now-a-days (and most other products for that matter). So, we decided to take a gamble and purchase a 1956 Amana Stor-Mor Refrigerator/Freezer for $300. It had been stored (and continuously used) in a work-shop for the past 30+ years. Plus, we love old things, and it was a chance to preserve a classic, American appliance.

Condition
I planned on some minor repair, as it could use a good sanding and re-painting, and the gaskets are showing some age -- but aside from that, it's in amazingly good shape, and has all the original parts.
After getting it home, it ran flawlessly for nearly a year -- then, over the course of one week, it's cooling declined until it no longer cooled at all.

Diagnosis (according to
appliance technician)
The compressor is still working, but corrosion where the coil connects to the compressor is the cause. Welding cannot be used to fix the issue because welding cannot be performed when it's that close to the compressor.

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Remedy (according to appliance technician)
Some repairs would need to occur and the compressor would need to be replaced. However, a modern compressor wouldn't work because modern refrigerant requires more pressure -- which could put too much strain on the existing, 59 year-old coils. Therefore, a compatible compressor would need to be researched/purchased along with an appropriate, vintage friendly refrigerant. The technician was sent by our home insurance, and stated that he didn't feel comfortable repairing such an old appliance. I have located a technician who has worked on classic appliances and who's willing to make any needed repairs -- however, he has not yet inspected the refrigerator -- and his highest estimate for the repair was $600.

Question
Amazingly enough, our home insurance is sending us $500 to go towards the repair or replacement of the refrigerator.
So, what is your recommendation?


  • Use the $500, and pay the difference, towards getting this classic up and running again.
  • ​Use the $500 to purchase a newer/used refrigerator (I know a contractor who has several he can't install in new houses because nobody wants white anymore).


If there's anything regarding the repair that is incorrect, should be considered, or something that I should look into further, please let me know.

Thank you in advance.


Here are some images of what the refrigerator looks like in perfect condition. The one I have doesn't look nearly this good, but I'm certain that I can get it relatively close.
I'm also, unfortunately, missing two of the drawers that can be seen in the image.

 

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rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
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Messages
36,502
Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
DHalstead said:
compressor is still working, but corrosion where the coil connects to the compressor is the cause.
Sorry, that's not true unless the corrosion has caused a leak. If there's a leak it can be repaired.

DHalstead said:
Welding cannot be used to fix the issue because welding cannot be performed when it's that close to the compressor.
Again, not true. I've often had to braze right on the compressor. A good refrigeration tech would have no problems brazing in that area.

DHalstead said:
However, a modern compressor wouldn't work because modern refrigerant requires more pressure.
Once again, a false statement. That machine uses R12 and runs at a higher pressure than the current R134a. If the compressor is still good, a drop-in refrigerant like "Hot Shot" can be used to recharge the system and is compatible with R12 and R134a. It also runs with the same or less pressure.

DHalstead said:
If there's anything regarding the repair that is incorrect, should be considered, or something that I should look into further, please let me know.
The appliance technician doesn't feel comfortable working on that machine, not because it's old, because he doesn't know how and has limited refrigeration skills. JMO
 

DHalstead

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2014
Messages
3
Location
Nashville, TN
Thank You Sir

Sorry, that's not true unless the corrosion has caused a leak. If there's a leak it can be repaired.
My apologies, I should have been more clear on that. The section with the connection did appear very loose and (according to the technician) was the most likely cause for the leak. I'm guessing that it had been that way for some time and, after transporting it for 10 miles, the connection loosened and it began a slow leak that took nearly a year to completely lose the refrigerant. Then again, that's just a wild guess and I'm a complete amateur with refrigerators.

I've often had to braze right on the compressor. A good refrigeration tech would have no problems brazing in that area.
That's great to know, thank you! With that being the case, it shouldn't cost nearly as much to fix since the compressor is still running and wouldn't need replacing. The more experienced tech that I spoke with on the phone (who's comfortable with older models) had mentioned that there might be some welding that would need to be done. So, hopefully he won't have any issues doing that.

If the compressor is still good, a drop-in refrigerant like "Hot Shot" can be used to recharge the system and is compatible with R12 and R134a. It also runs with the same or less pressure.
Also great to know. Would this also hold true for other, replacements -- like HC-12a/ES-12a and Freeze 12?

The appliance technician doesn't feel comfortable working on that machine, not because it's old, because he doesn't know how and has limited refrigeration skills. JMO
Thank you again. This was one of the main concerns I was having. The gentleman that inspected it was a jack-of-a-trades repair technician that was sent by the insurance company. He was extremely nice, and was genuinely trying -- but it seemed like carpentry and structural damage might have been more his style. Which is what lead me to come here and seek out your advice.


I greatly appreciate the invaluable information. This has strongly reaffirmed my desire to preserve and restore this classic appliance.

Thank you.
 

rickgburton

Appliance Tech - Moderator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 11, 2006
Messages
36,502
Location
Murray, Utah 84107, United States
DHalstead said:
Would this also hold true for other, replacements -- like HC-12a/ES-12a and Freeze 12?
Because of it's flammability, it is illegal in the United States to replace R12 with HC-12a, also called ES-12a and OZ-12a.
 

DHalstead

Premium Member
Joined
Nov 13, 2014
Messages
3
Location
Nashville, TN
Because of it's flammability, it is illegal in the United States to replace R12 with HC-12a, also called ES-12a and OZ-12a.
Wow -- didn't realize that since I found it for sale online. That's certainly good to know.

You have my utmost appreciation for all the information and help you've so graciously provided -- Thank you very much.
 
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