Edward J. Thomas - World War II

Tue. May 1 - Hitler has died according to sources.

Wed. May 2 - Germany surrenders its troops in Italy and the next day, May 3 Soviet troops end the last of the German resistance in Berlin and Hamburg is captured by the British.

Below letter written by Harry Thomas

May 3, 1945 Thursday
Dear Eddie:

I have been so busy answering the mink mail, working on the refrigerator,
and preparing the mink for the whelping season, that I have not had much
spare time for writing. The one thing I have to be thankful for is that
I was not required to work overtime at Hudson's at the same time.

As I probably told you before, we tried to get three different companies
to fix up our old box in the basement. None of them seemed too anxious
to have anything to do with it. The Frigidaire Factory Branch in Detroit
finally said that they would do the job for $165-- Overhaul the compressor,
put in new coils, expansion valve. This seemed so exhorbitant, considering
the amount that we paid for it in the first place, that I figured that
I might as well play around with it just to see what made it tick. I
didn't really think that I could make it work again but figured that the
experience gained would be worth the effort. The trouble with the
compressor, as you may recall, was that it could be moved back and forth
within one revolution of the pulley wheel but would come up against
something solid and stop. After getting through mating the mink on a
Sunday late in March, I went down in the basement and commenced the project. Since the compressor was unable to turn over, the gas in the coils in the box coald not be pumped out into the storage tank in the compressor unit. I therefore loosened one of the tubing connections to the box and immediately retreated to the outdoors due to the heavy concentration of gas that rushed out. Needless to say, it was necessary to remove the cats to the
upstairs rooms before I loosened the connection. After aboat two hours I was able to go back down. I disconnected the inlet and outlet tubes to the box, removed the four bolts holding the compressor down, and lifted the compressor out. In about a half an hour I had the compressor apart and the cause of the breakdown solved. Instead of corrosion, as all of service men had hinted at, the intake valve of the two pistons of the compressor had popped out, one of them jamming up between the top of the piston and the cylinder head, preventing the piston to complete its upward stroke. This is the reason the compressor could not turn more than a part of one revolution. The intake valve on the other piston had been completely broken up into small pieces and had fallen through the hole in the piston into the crankcase. This failure could have resulted from the compressor pumping oil or liquld gas, both ot which would cause a severe strain on the working parts of the compressor. (This information was obtained from the books I got from the Main library on the subject.) 0il pumping was probably the reason in this case since the coils inside the box were not installed properly in that they did not provide for oil drainage back to the compressor. (Oil gets into the coils due to the fact it mixes with the gas inside the compressor and is pumped along with the gas into the condenser, then to the liquid storage cylinder and finally to the expansion valve and into the coils of the box.) Since the coils in the box were lower than the compressor, it trapped quite
a bit of oil. When this oil level got high enough,the pressure of the
gas would sent a surge of oil out of the coils into the compressor and
cause the compressor to temporary pump oil, causing it to knock and
stall the motor. Eventually, some part of the compressor breaks down;
and in this case, it was the intake valves in the top of the pistons.

My main worry was in obtaining parts and also in putting gas back into
the system when I got it back together again. In the meantime, I kept
studying the six books I got from the library. These books along with
the advice of a couple of fellows at Hudsons, who had some experience
in the business, enabled me to finish the job.

About a couple of weeks after taking the compressor apart, I went down
to the Frigidaire factory (the same placed that wanted $165) with a list
of parts that I needed. I was surprised to find the man in the service
parts department very helpful after I told him I was working on my own
refrigerator. I got two new pistons, piston rings, piston pins, gaskets,
a gallon of refrigerator oil, and a bottle containing 10 lb. of sulphur
dioxide liquid. I also got two pressure gages, which are necessary when
adding gas to the system. On another trip down there, I got some additional
parts--exhaust valve plate, one connecting rod, and some fittings. They
also told me how much oil the unit needed and gave me some pointers on
putting in the gas, etc. In the meantime I purchased a 100 feet of 1/2 copper tubing from a hardware store on Jefferson.

I pulled out the old coils in the box and put in the new tubing in place
starting at the top of the box and ending up about half way down. As you
will remember, with the coils at the bottom the box would be cold at the
bottom and warm at the top. With the coils at the top, the whole box
is uniform in temperatu.re. I finally got the compressor back together
with the new parts. All this was done during a period of several days and
not without ditficulty since it was all new to me and I had to refer continually to my books. to know what to do next. One thing the books warned against was moisture getting into the system causing corrosion and sticking of the valves and other parts. (Water and sulphur dioxide combine to form sulphurous acid which is very destructive to metal parts.) To insure against moisture in the compressor, the books recommended baking the compressor at about 200° F. for about 8 hours. This I did by putting the whole compressor in the kitchen oven. I then added the correct quantity of refrigerator oil and installed the compressor back into the unit. The next step was to take all the air out of the entire system. This was done by shutting off the valve between the compressor and tne condenser and allowing the compressor to run and pump all the air out through the presaure gage fitting at the top of the compressor. An almost perfect vacuum can be
obtained in this way. The next step was to check for leaks. If the vacuum reading on the vacuum gage, which is attached to the suction side of the compressor, goes down after the compressor is shut off, air is leaking into the system. It took me several hours to eliminate all the leaks. The only thing left to do was to put in the gas. In accordance with the instructions given me by frigidaire, I connected the bottle with a 1/4" copper line to the pressure gage fitting on top of the compressor, opened up the valve on the compressor and the bottle, and with the bottle upside down allowed 6 lb. of the liquid sulphur dioxide to be sucked into the system by the high vacuum. After disconnecting the bottle, the only thing thing remaining to do was to start up the motor. This I did fearfully as did Dr. frankenstein when he threw the switch which brought life into the corpse of his monster. After the motor ran for a few seconds, the expansion valve in the box began to hiss and to my great surprise the coils began frosting up. I immediately called Mom down to see this history-making event, and the both of us kept feeling the coils and congratulating ourselves on the success of the enterprise and making derogatory remarks about the service men who wanted $165 for the job.

I continued making adjustments to the expansion valve and the presaure
switch on the unit for the next week before it operated the way we wanted it I also forgot to mention that I added 3 1/2 in. of rock wool insulation all around the sides and bottom of the box. The total cost of all the material was about $65. This includes the $10 spent for the extra insulation on the box, which Frigidaire did not include in their price of $165. Not counting the insulation, the cost was $55 which means that we saved $110 in doing the
Job ourselves.

The box maintains a uniform temperature of 33 to 35°. We timed the running time of the compressor last Sunday for two hours. It ran only 11 minutes during this time. This shows what extra insulation can do since it used to run almost one half of the time before. I estimated the cost of running the box roughly at 4¢ per day. I have shut off the box in the garage and am putting all the mink meat in the basement box now.

I meant to write some more news about the mink but have devoted so much
space to the refrigerator that I will have to save it for later. The
mink kits are starting to come in and are starting to squeal. The weather
was summery all during the breeding season, but since the end of the
breeding season the weather has been cold and damp. It was drizzling
all day today and it wouldn't surprise me if I saw snow on the ground in
the morning.

It looks like the war in Europe will over about the time you get back
in Detroit.

So long, Harry

P.S. Received two letters from you during the past week and all of us enjoyed reading about your interesting experiences.

Sat. May 5 - Japanese kamikazes destroy and sink 17 United States ships near Okinawa. Japan loses 131 planes.

Mon. May 7 - Germany surrenders at Reims, France and on Tue. May 8 it is Victory in Europe as President Truman and Prime Minister Churchill call it V-E Day.

Wed. May 9 has Germany surrendering the Channel Islands and Britian reclaims the only home land occupied by Germany.

V-E Day - May 8, 1945

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