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Post Info TOPIC: Portable Fridges - A lesson learnt.


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Portable Fridges - A lesson learnt.


Yes, i dont want to come off as an Engal "fan boy".... It is purely based on 20 years of taking notice and friends that own Engals, asking questions and experiencing it first hand.
In all honesty, its probably unfair to bring the new models into the mix, and they haven't had the years to prove themselves yet either.... so who knows there.

It was more just me being retrospective and all the years i have spent worrying, adjusting, checking, buying portable fridges...... when as it seems by all my long time friends accounts, had i just bought an Engal 20 odd years ago.... i could have spent my time worrying about other issues ;)

Although, it was pretty sad that the Waeco unit we worked on last Friday, was Brand New!!! out of the store 50minutes!

When you're spending $1000.... I'd expect the unit just works!! no questions asked, no conditions to meet. Plug it in and it goes!

My findings have also come from a Refrigeration Mechanic friend.... he has worked on Waeco's and Engals..... generally cracked pipes after a big long bash through the center.
I haven't heard much on compressor replacements.... in either unit.

 

P.S. One of the Classic storys i read online, was the common issue with the latch handle on the CF-50/CF-60.... A guy made comment that when he walked into the place where he had purchased the Waeco to tell them of his problem, the standard reply was "We have never heard of that happening before....", then the guy reached under the front counter and passed him a new latch handle!!!!

Clearly out of a box that had plenty of handles in it!!!!



-- Edited by SaltyDog on Sunday 3rd of March 2013 04:07:54 PM



-- Edited by SaltyDog on Sunday 3rd of March 2013 04:12:04 PM

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I have a Waeco CF60, must be coming up to 10 years since new.

$800 new with every accessory avail at the time. During my logging career it travelled in the back of the ute exposed to all kinds of weather. It started to play up after awhile with the setting panel exposed, so I eventually made a cover for the panel but it continued to live in the back of the ute 24/7.

Only a week ago, the fridge started to run flat out. The fridge was getting cold....real cold. It was suggested professionally it was the thermister and around $170-180 to fix.

With most things needing repair, I like to have a go at it myself.

Seeing as the settings panel is the only part that has given trouble since owning the fridge, I started there. The LED's are virtually imposable to see in sunlight. With the fridge running inside, you could see the temp LED's were running through as if you had a finger on the temp button. I pulled the circuit board out and there was oxidation around the soldered contacts. The buttons in the cover were sticking so a little scrap of each one cured this.

The fridge now works perfect.

I've had a really good run out of the fridge, especially considering what it has been through.

Don't get me wrong, I'm not denying the issues the Waeco's are renowned for, but on a dollar value, I can't complain.

I bought a little old yellow/green 15lt Engel off Ebay approx 5 years ago and the plastic casing is falling apart from around this fridge while it continues to work flawlessly.

A fleet owner of interstate trucks told me he had plenty of deceased MT17 Engels in the corner of his shed.

Al.



-- Edited by AL H on Sunday 3rd of March 2013 05:33:06 PM

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Thats about it Legendts.....

In the sub $900 price bracket, be prepared to see a lot of new players, especially with cloned and copied units coming out of china.
They are more or less the same, run the same compressor, same electrics.
Its a price point they know will attract certain buyers... and produce turn over.

No one seems to have come out to beat Engal.... and i suspect if they did, it would cost a packet!

And that's about it at the end of the day.... the only reason you don't buy an Engal, is the price......... But at what cost... in the long run :)

 

3 weeks ago, i went and helped a mate butcher 3 cows, there was meat everywhere, he ended up dragging out both his old Engals, one a 50 litre, the other an 80 or 120 (it was squre in shape (like a Waeco CF-120)

He had them both in freezer mode for his bags of meat... They were old as the hills, and worked perfectly. Knocked around, dented, covers that were just about hanging off them...... I asked him when he bought them, he said he bought the 120litre when he was an apprentice and he bought it second hand of his boss!! So god knows how old it is....

It got dragged out from a dusty corner in his shed and was a freezer in no time!!! Still strong, lid latched rock solid.... 



-- Edited by SaltyDog on Sunday 3rd of March 2013 05:41:39 PM

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In my experiences the bigest weakness in Engel is the swing compressor failing & too expensive to repair. Had to bin 3 of them., Waecos bigest failing is poor insulation ( I have a CR80 in the van & had to modify the thermostat now good) Also have a CF40 Waeco no problems at all. Had a CDF40 where the foam insulation became water logged when using it as a freezer. This one i dismantled & used to refrigerate a Evacool fiberglass esky. This was the best thing ive ever done, far better insulation & is a great fridge. Its in Techies corner under EvaKool Project. Also stuff on Waeco CF-35/CF40.



-- Edited by DeBe on Sunday 3rd of March 2013 07:20:43 PM

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Ok, here we go... the old Waeco vs Engal...... Mmmmmm not really, but if it comes to that, i don't care, its all helpful information in my eyes.

I was going to start a thread on Waeco fridges and their faults, as there are many. But i've decided to take a broader look at my lifespan with Portable Fridges and perhaps the lesson i have learnt... and the money i could of saved, IN THE LONG RUN!!!!

The story begins.......

22 years ago i did my first Solo trip (with GF) up FNQ, i borrowed a car fridge from a mates father, it was just one of the inductive things, but i thought "this is going to be great".

It lasted 3 days!!! From home in SW Vic to Cairns.... It just died. Great i thought, how typical, i borrow something and now not only DON'T i have a fridge, but i have to buy my friends father a new one, plus buy myself one!!!

So into a Cairns 4WD and Camping shop i go... i remember all the beautiful but expensive Engal fridges, they were around $945 or $1045 at the time (yep, prices haven't moved much). I gulp at the prices and settled for what i thought was the best value for money, a Chescold 50litre 3-way for $535 or $600.

The purchase hurt, as i was on a budget and only 3 days into my month long holiday!!!!

Being a sparky, i bought the correct cable and wired it up to my vehicle battery (yes yes..... you can see whats coming).

Great i thought, i have this enormous fridge, i can fit all this stuff in it.... how good is this!!!

Well after some driving and parking, believe it or not, my battery was almost flat!!! Not to mention the fridge was more like a cooler, than a fridge.

It was VERY susceptible to direct sunlight, even through vehicle windows, so i had to use a towel to protect and shade it.

I opted for the 50Litre at the substitute of side wall thickness... Yep, i went for "Bang for Buck".... big mistake.

When i got to my destination (Port Douglas) it went inside and was plugged into 240volts... unit worked great.

On leaving Port Douglas, we were driving pretty much all day, making our way home down the east coast, i thought this should be enough driving to keep the battery charged.....

NOPE!!!!!

So i stopped at the next town and bought the LPG gas fitting for the fridge, that suited my small LPG bottle (2Kg i think)

It wasn't my first option, but there i was, running the unit on gas, in the vehicle!!!!

(before everyone jumps up and down... i know, i know... and believe it or not, i left it parked at the Movie World car park on a 38 degree day, on the hot black bitumen, with the gas fridge running, while i went into Movie World... i remember looking back at my van thinking to myself, i expected to see a huge "Ka Boom" coming from the car park today!!!)

All was well, and i ran with this system for the next 15 years!!! But always being in awe of those with Engals, Waecos and their icy cold beer!!!! Their ease of use, digital displays, slide out racks... you name it. 

Finally the Chescold just didn't preform like it used too and it got retired, amazingly still in near new condition.

In the market for a new fridge replacement, i looked at the Engals and cried at the prices, even though i have friends that have owned them for 25 years, they are beat up, tossed in utes, used as fridges in the home over summer, in the shed... just used and used like a cattle dog! And they still preform!

My budget stretched to a second hand Waeco CF-40 (with temp bar display).

First thing i noticed when plugging it in after making the purchase, is it was cold in around 15minutes!!! Wow, the Chescold would never do that!!!

Then all the little niggles started, the error light.... after lots of reading, i find out how sensitive these units are to voltage.

Adjust the Voltage Cut-Off and things are a little better. Although the problem was never properly resolved until i wired it in directly from the Battery.

Since then its been happy days... It used to last over night, all day and over night on my "cranking" battery, with enough juice left to start the vehicle.

This time span has been reigned in as the Battery is not preforming like it once was..... Recently i suffered an issue where the CF-40 started to freeze everything.

Once again turning to the internet, i find a massive problem with a $10 part, the thermistor (or whatever it is) it sits on the Evap to measure cabinet temps.... apparently its very common for this unit to go "closed circuit" or "open circuit", i can't remember which, and the compressor just runs 24/7. And some posters have claimed they need to replace the unit around every 2 years!!!

After bench testing my unit, i find i had a different issue and resolved it. But not before reading some Waeco horror storys!!!

In the last 6 months, 2 of my mates have purchased Waeco CF-50's... digital thermos, door hinges longways.....

One of these mates only bought his Waeco last Friday from Rays Tent City.... He rang me soon after saying it didn't come with a manual and he can't work out how to make it cool below 10 degrees??? I asked him to come around to my workshop, as i was there.

I find the touch pad button didn't even work! The temp "down" arrow, didn't do a thing!!! Plus it didn't even come with leads (12volts or 240volt) he had to go buy a 12volt lead to get it going.

After suggesting he just take the unit back for a full refund, he decided we take a quick look at it.

Had the control panel out in 20 seconds, took the pcb off and it showed just how dodgy these units are!!! OMG, the pushing of the buttons, replies on some bits of foam jammed in the right place!!!! After some stuffing about, we had it working correctly, at this point in time i made comment to my mate, how bad the lid sits in positions and how the latch hardly even works..... 

We compared it to mine which a rock solid seal and very confident latching connection.

The CF-50's lid was like an after thought that a child installed. After some more reading online... you guessed, another common problem!

So my mate pulled the handle apart and rebuilt it, it now works better, but where the rear lugs locate, is still a floppy affair at best!! Yet another common problem.

So re-assembled, we go about running the unit!! yep you guessed it, it would not work in cigi lighter without the engine running!!!

So we took it into the workshop, i found a 240v lead and we tested in their..... Yep, the controls now work, the lid works better and the temp was pulling down.

Ok, so back out in the vehicles, first in my vehicle where my waeco would sit.... yep, it works, but not like it does on 240v

Back in his vehicle... no go out of cigi lighter with engine off... so i left him with a wiring kit to install.

Mind you... we are now 2 hours in on a so called Brand New unit!!! we have had it apart, rebuilt the latch and did a lot of testing.

On top of this, i read all about the bent and twisted lids on the Waeco CF-50 and CF-60 and Waeco just telling the owners, its from mis use, you'll just have to buy another lid.

 

I used to have a saying "Buy Cheap, Buy Twice".... i have now modified that saying "Buy Right and only Cry Once"

 

Its at this point i want look back at my time driving and camping and road trips and times i've used and or needed a portable fridge..... its at this point i wonder how much easier my life would have been had a bought a Engal 22 years ago!!!!

 

Today there are many new players in the mobile fridge/freezer market.

Engal seem to be like Porchse or Kenworth.... nothing much has changed in design, it just works, so leave it alone!

Waeco has been copied in China and is now available in many other flavours, notably in Oz its the 37 or 40litre unit, as seen by Ironman and alike.

Evecool

Primus

All these fridges claim to be better than each other for some reason or another..... 

Most use the Danfoss compressor, only Engal use the "swing" motor.

Even though there is lots of choice, there seems to be only 2 options;

An Engal or One of the others!

 

I am not here to pick sides, i don't work for anyone, i am just an average end user that enjoys going away to unpowered remote areas (my idea of camping is not parking next to someone, or hundreds in a park)

 

And i can't help thinking.... the premium of buying an Engal 22 years ago would have been well and truly forgotten by now!!!

You see a lot of threads asking if Waeco/Evecool/Primus/etc are as good as Engal.... you don't see many threads asking the if buying an Engal is a good idea.

 

Thats my storey anyway.... hopefully it might help someone... at the very least i hope it gave you a laugh.

Please add your story if you have one...... Good, Bad or otherwise....

Personally i'd love to know how the Stainless Steel Primus units go..... i have heard its lots of chinese parts... but who knows.

Knowing what i know now, if i had a $1000 to spend a fridge/freeze solution again... i think i'd strongly look for an Engal and join the ranks of people that just have a fridge that works!

And thats coming from someone that owns a Waeco!

I am happy with it, but it doesn't fill me with confidence, i'm constantly checking it to see whats going on when in the vehicle.

 

 

 



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Thanks for the story on your experience SD, will certainly take that on board as I was thinking of buying one of the brands but found it very confusing......sounds like if you can afford one go Engel as you would be better off in the long run.

I wonder what others experience with these items have been in comparison...

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I used to work for a major auto parts distributer and we would have crates filled with warranty claims from some well known manufacturers. Never saw an Engel returned !!!!

I would rather gowithout than purchase something cheap and nasty, although this is not allways reflected in the selling price.

Engel is like the Sony of tv's....

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Another vote for Engal. Never fails to work even if not used regularly. Mine is an older version and can be tricky to set up so it doesn't freeze but the newer ones I see have temperature gauges. Expensive? Guess it is all relevant but no issues equals no worries when you least want them.

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Thanks AL, i'm sure there are many very happy Waeco users, i dont mean to sound like i am beating up on them..... Great to see your unit could take the work it got.
I'm sure each fridge over time has had it faults, Engal included.

If you are interested, the "Thermistor Replacement" is covered on the net if you search.
Apparently splitting the cases is the hardest part, and getting the new thermistor to the Evap through the insulation.
After reading about the repair myself, id almost be happy leaving it someone that has done it a few times before.... its not so much hard, as fiddly and frustrating.

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Engel for me every time . Wouldn't look at another brand .

Mate has a Waeco . It's OK , but has been in once for a warranty repair . He had to take it 120kms

away to get it done . 240km round trip.

Then go back and pick it up when it was ready . 480 kms all up . Was in West Qld. somewhere when it broke down .



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I got an Engel from the salesman when we purchased our new Jayco Van in 1999.  Cost round $1000.

It lives in the back of the Patrol when on the road & behind the bar as a bar fridge when home.

It has rarely been turned off over the 13 yrs except for cleaning & repainting when minor surface rust on the lid was removed.

The power supply was replaced after a lightning strike in 2005.  Insurance job, but I recon that I could have replaced the diode bridge for a few bucks instead of the $400 insurance charge.

The motor clunks a bit when going over very rough tracks.   Must have a look at the mounts one day.

 

I reckon that it was a great buy.   But my Daughter is very happy with her Waeco!



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I must admit, my mates Waeco CF-50 he just purchased is very quite, my older CF-40 you can hear the compressor kick in and the very faint high pitched ring. The new CF-50 was almost silent, i had to put my ear directly on the vent to hear it......

Then again, sometimes Waeco's have another reason for near silent running!!! ;) ;) ;)

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Hey Salty, it's all cool. Facts are facts. If the Techs see more Waeco's being piffed, well it's just that....a fact.

Just my experience with one Waeco and one Engel.

Considering the CF60 is based off the same platform as the 40 and 50 and the low consumption and not letting a gumpy (but straight) lid get to me, I have been very impressed with it's performance and reliability considering what it has been through.

Who knows, it maybe an Engel next, or dependant on my budget at the time. I have never been the type to cheer one brand with most things as I tend to think you are only short changing yourself in the long run.

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Agreed mate... and that is what this thread was meant to all about.....
Not really a Waeco vs Engal thing, as i am well aware people have had a great and wonderful journey with each.

More just about your personal storys.
We could contest all day about which is better.... and still never get anywhere. I only know what i've been through and all fairness, i have not owned or lived with an Engal (although my friends have).
I hope i get the run out of my Waeco that you have out of yours!!!
Recent events have concerned me, but i've also learnt what to look out for too.... No doubt with the Engals, its another learning curve.

The biggest lesson was to suck it up and buy the right thing the first time around :)
As i lived in a false economy for a long time.

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I have had a couple of fridges over the years, never had an engel or a waeco. My first was a cheap chinese job, only lasted 5 years and 80000km in aust outback being abused. Worked out about $100 a year. I wasnt prepared to complain about that for the joy it helped give me. I now have a fridgemate, run continuos for the last 3 years now, only problem has been the cheap plugs which have been replaced by anderson plugs. I wont ever buy an engel or waeco
cheers
blaze

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Well I must belucky.

 

Chescold lasted over 22 years if I recall,, sold it for $100 bucks last year,,, no probs.

18 litre Waeco bought in 2003 still going strong and 50 litre in 2007 still good,, occasionally needs to be turned off and on to clear the low voltage light (don't know why as never had low voltage).

Maybe the new stock is a problem???



-- Edited by Baz421 on Monday 4th of March 2013 11:30:22 AM

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We bought an Aussi made Chescold 50lt about 25 years ago and gets lots of use.  It is still running (mainly on gas) still chills and if I turn it full on can freeze things (don't do that much though).  Only problem was the piezo igniter failed and I was told the part was no longer available due to its age (and the fact that they are now not made in Oz?).  Cut a hole in the back screen and light it with a match now, no worries.



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I have had a cdf 55 waeco for about 5 years and it has been great , except for a few corosion problems on the circuit board. The only other problem is its freezing my beer!I usually set it on -2c, whin draws about 2.5 amps.Had an old engel many years ago , and it was great too. Bill

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Well I was lucky I got my 40 lt Waco free with my 4x4 but its cost me $100 in 7 years and I picked up Engels 60lts second hand 1year old in 2001 and it still going. So they both great if you can pick them up cheap or it would be back to the old hot ice box.



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Wow, never seen so many replies in such a short time. I bought a waeco CF 35 five years ago. In the first two years it was in the repair shop three times (totalling nine weeks) with freezing & error problems. The old story, things don't break down when not being used. Every thing was eventually replaced except the compressor.  It has gone ok since.

A couple of weeks ago a local camping store had the engel MT35 on special, $1100 fridge & cover. I thought I'd check with the local engel repairer to see if they still had minimal electronics. He told me they were still the basic reliable engel. I told him the history of my waeco. He told me he removes all the electronics from the waeco & fits a danfoss thermostat, to make them a reliable unit (cost $160)

I bought the engel for the 4WD & will move the waeco to the van & use it for short trips instead of the van fridge. If the waeco fails again I'll get it modified.

Cheers Pete

 

 



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I to are a Engle fan have 2 X 40 Lt engles. The first one is 3 years ond and lives 24/7 in the pajero and the other only travels in the back of pajero right next to the the older one is just over 12 months old. When traveling we use on as a fridge and the other as a freezer. Both run of 12 volts or of the 240 Volts when we stay at the caravan park. I now have 2X120 watt solar panels on the roof of the caravan to keep my house battery charged when we free camp as the HD second battery in the pajero will only run both the engle's for about 24 Hrs befour they will shut down ( low voltage ).

I have one 200 Amp 12 Volt battery in the caravan and this alone with the solar panells will run every thing in the caravan including the water presure pump and also a small ( 330 Watt ) inverter for my vast reciever .I also have led lighting. This system now will and does run both the caravan and both my engles.

I also have repaired ( at work, I'm i electronics teck ) several of the engle and also a few of the Primus 2 way fridges . All problems have been cased by miss use.

One primus fridge that comes to mind is that a owner some how managed to plug in 240 Volts in to the 12 Volt inlet......OUTCH.. A new digital controler , new 240 Volt 12 Volt inverter and also a new motor controler modual and the fridge lived for a nother day.

Some of the Engle fridges have a fuse that would fail on the inverter board ( old model ) !!


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Have 2 Engels running non-stop for 3 Years now on 12Volt in the back of my Ute.
Only issue at present is one of the Leads(12V) is a bit dodgey where it plugs into the back of the Fridge......but I suspect that would be my doing, with other equipment occasionally making contact with it has probably loosened/weakened the connection.
Otherwise they work great.

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Well here goes 

i have a 52ltr Bushman fridge freezer had it about 6years never had a problem as yet,power usage wise is suppose to be better than the engal and the waeco it is a great fridge freezer  I was told the guts of it is good enough to run a full size house fridge ,I just hope it keeps up the good work ,I run it in the back of the Prado  and it has never flattened  the crank battery,I dont think Waeco and Engle are on there own.

Lance C



-- Edited by Olley46 on Thursday 7th of March 2013 09:09:10 AM

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Like the look of the Bushman, especially the tie down brackets. 

(edit .. A job for me to make a pair for the Engel)

 

Would like to see

- security head screws on the handle/tie down bracket.

- Padlock capability on the lid latches.

 

Love the high rise lid

(can get them for Engles too .. Don't know if Waeco have that option but I would expect so).

 

Good power consumption on 12v.

Would look closely at them if the Engel ever dies ... If the price is right.



-- Edited by Cupie on Thursday 7th of March 2013 03:11:34 PM



-- Edited by Cupie on Thursday 7th of March 2013 03:13:04 PM

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A lesson learnt wish we had read this page before buying our waeco C F 40

we had our waeco for about 12 months when it had a problem with turning

off just when you have all the frozen food in it What a wastefuriousfuriousfurious

Has been in the repair shop for 2 mths finally being sent back to the

factory not happyconfuseconfuseconfuse



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I have to do some more bench tests with my CF-40, 240volts its fine, on 12volt its a real battery killer!!!!!
Even when on the lowest setting and in a cover and kept in the shade.



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Olley46 wrote:

Well here goes 

i have a 52ltr Bushman fridge freezer had it about 6years never had a problem as yet,power usage wise is suppose to be better than the engal and the waeco it is a great fridge freezer  I was told the guts of it is good enough to run a full size house fridge ,I just hope it keeps up the good work ,I run it in the back of the Prado  and it has never flattened  the crank battery,I dont think Waeco and Engle are on there own.

Lance C

 

Those Bushmans look really good!!!!

I like it..... 

 

http://www.bushman.com.au/sites/bushman.com.au/files/images/bushman_brochure_081010.pdf



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Well maybe not the place to ask, perhaps in your other thread?

But -18c is considered freezer temp across the board, doesn't matter what make model, domestic or portable.
Health Regulations state (if you are running a food business) that all freezers must measure morning and night at below -18c
Fridge's at below 4c

If you have a Waeco that only has the old 6 LED bar display, then i have no idea what you set it too, no doubt you set it too the 6 green bars, as that is the coldest it will go (apparently)



-- Edited by SaltyDog on Friday 8th of March 2013 03:02:30 PM

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Hi!!!! I see this is the place to ask question's about our waeco could you tell us what

temperture to set it on for freezing it is a waeco c.f.40 it is a way at waeco factory

at the moment ... We took it in to be repaired on the 2/1/13 and are still waiting

We was running it on -18 in the car as that was what we was told to do

but if other forum traveller's could tell me what to run it on would love to hear from youconfuseconfuseconfuse



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Cupie wrote:

Like the look of the Bushman, especially the tie down brackets. 

(edit .. A job for me to make a pair for the Engel)

 

Would like to see

- security head screws on the handle/tie down bracket.

- Padlock capability on the lid latches.

 

Love the high rise lid

(can get them for Engles too .. Don't know if Waeco have that option but I would expect so).

 

Good power consumption on 12v.

Would look closely at them if the Engel ever dies ... If the price is right.



-- Edited by Cupie on Thursday 7th of March 2013 03:11:34 PM



-- Edited by Cupie on Thursday 7th of March 2013 03:13:04 PM


The Bushman fridge freezer with the high lid , the spacer , and the low lid ,when I bought mine was $1080.00 for the lot 52 ltr I think they are around  an extra  $100.00  now.add another $15.00 I just looked up there price

Lance C



-- Edited by Olley46 on Friday 8th of March 2013 09:45:24 PM

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