Auto Service World
Feature   August 1, 2000   by Rick Cogbill

A Chilly Mystery

Now, I've seen dramatics before (just watch my staff when a Hyundai drives in), but this was ridiculous. "Clem," I said, "if you drink any more water out of my cooler, I'll have to charge extra for sh...

Now, I’ve seen dramatics before (just watch my staff when a Hyundai drives in), but this was ridiculous. “Clem,” I said, “if you drink any more water out of my cooler, I’ll have to charge extra for shop supplies!”

Clem unsuctioned his lips from the spigot and gasped incoherently. “Gotta … fix … air conditioning … dying … heat …”.

To be fair, it was a hot 34C outside. Clem’s dude ranch didn’t have any shade in the pasture where Clem had been haying. He nearly suffocated bringing in his 1988 Ford F250 for an A/C check. I went into the shop for a weather report.

The boys had the gauges attached and the motor running. I noticed that the compressor was engaged all the time. “How’s the temperature, Beanie?” Tooner hollered out to our illustrious apprentice.

One look in the cab was sufficient; Beanie had the seat reclined, his shades on, and was sipping a long cool one. “Huh,” muttered Tooner, “not exactly what we wanted.”

Basil scratched his ear. “I’m not surprised, with pressure readings like that,” he said, pointing to the gauges.

The low side was up around 80psi, while the high side hovered at 250psi.

“I’ve sucked this baby down twice and refilled it; I get the same readings every time!” said Tooner. “I’m getting suspicious.”

“About what?” I asked.

“Somebody’s been here before,” he growled. “Note the new compressor and receiver/drier.”

“Yes, I agree,” added Basil. “We’re not the first to pass this way.”

After interrogating Clem, the truth finally came out. A buddy “who used to do refrigeration” had been in there. Now it was up to us to fix the mess.

“New compressors come fully charged with oil,” I said. “Maybe there’s too much in the system.”

No, Tooner had flushed the system and then added the right amount of oil.

Basil closed his eyes and ran his hands along the hoses, murmuring softly as he went. “One must expect the unexpected in such cases,” he explained. Suddenly he stopped at the evaporator inlet pipe. “Ah, I detect a disturbance in the Force; check out the orifice tube.”

Tooner protested (a futile gesture when it comes to Basil’s pronouncements). “If the orifice tube was plugged, the low side would drop out of sight; instead it reads too high!”

Basil opened one eye and looked sideways at Tooner. “I didn’t say it was plugged; I said check it out.”

And it wasn’t plugged; it wasn’t even there! Somebody had removed it. After putting in the correct tube, we recharged the system. Now the low side dropped to 25-30psi, the compressor cycled properly, and we could finally chill out.

“How’s it now, Bean?” Tooner inquired. In the cab Beanie was shivering in his Hawaiian shirt, as he cleared snow off the dash.

Tooner grinned. “Looks like it’s ‘Der Friezen Yer Heine’!”

We all stood outside and waved as Clem headed back to the ranch, cool as a cucumber. All except Beanie, that is. Wrapped in a blanket, with his feet in a bucket of warm water, he was getting ready for the next A/C test.

About The Writer

Rick Cogbill is a freelance writer living in the Okanagan valley of Southern British Columbia. A licensed technician with over 24 years in the automotive repair industry, including ten years as a shop owner, Cogbill creates his comic scenarios with Slim, Basil, Tooner, and The Bean out of actual case histories from his shop. “What you have just read is true,” drawls Slim Shambles. “Only the names have been changed to protect my hide!”

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