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1990 Robinair R12 recovery machine - how does it work?


m-mman
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I recently picked up this neat machine. It is a Robinair R-12 recovery and recycle machine Model 17300.  It is dated 1990 but I can find no documentation about how it works. 

 

Ideally it would suck R12 from an A/C system and store it in the tank on the back. (the recovery phase) The vacuum pump does work and it does both draw a vacuum and blow air into the storage tank. If it draws too much vacuum (like a closed valve) it automatically shuts off the pump. (so no overheating) 

This much makes sense and to me indicates that it is functioning. 

 

But there is another switch labeled "RECYCLING SYSTEM". When pushed it turns off the pump, a light comes on, and perhaps it activates a solenoid somewhere. But then what???

 

I would think that in this mode it would allow the refrigerant to be drawn out of the tank by the low side suction of the A/C system (just like charging from a can) but when applying suction to the ports (from my evacuation pump) I can detect no suction at the tank fittings. 

 

Maybe some filter is plugged? Maybe I dont have it otherwise set properly? 

It seems to have been designed for operation by somebody without much training. So I thought that perhaps even I could figure it out. 

 

Has anybody used one of these? 

Does anybody have a book or manual that would explain it?

Recovery 1.jpg

recovery 2.jpg

recovery 3.jpg

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I used to own and use one of these in the 90s.

 

You generally use them in conjunction with a regular charging station connected to the vehicles A/C system.

When operating in recovery mode I would take the yellow hose from the charging station vacuum pump and connect it to the port on the recovery machine [near the red handled valve in your picture] then slowly open the centre hand wheel on the charging station to allow refrigerant to flow from the vehicle through the charging station and into the recovery unit. Then press the start switch and let it run. That would take some time depending on how much gas was in the vehicles system. When the pressure in the vehicles system was low enough the machine would stop.

To operate in recycle mode it requires a reasonable amount of reclaimed gas in its own storage tank to allow it to operate in that mode - ie weight 

In recycle mode you do not need to have it connected to anything it will just circulate the gas within itself. From memory the filters needed to be changed frequently .

Hope this is helpful.

 

 

 

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Hummmmm. . . . So with a full tank it circulates the refrigerant through some filters(?) or driers(?) and returns it (cleaned) to the tank for future reuse? 

 

The current information I have found about the reuse of recovered refrigerant is that it can only be put back in the system it was taken out of (or the same customer), It doesn't seem to promote saving/accumulating it for consistent reuse.  As harmful as refrigerant is supposed to be, I would think that reuse would be a good thing to do. 

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Correct-  Though the cylinder does not need to be completely full  just enough to allow the function to operate , the gauge above the filter monitor should indicate the approximate level of gas in the cylinder. ie in the green section.

From memory the carrier that the bottle sits on had a  load cell arrangement . ie if not enough gas [weight] it would not allow the recycling function  to be switched on.

Here in Australia the Federal government banned the use of R12 around 1996 and we switched to R134a over a period of time  after that. Up until about 1998 we were allowed to reclaim and recycle R12. Then it was banned.   Are you guys still allowed to use R12? Also here there were no restrictions at that time on what vehicle you used the reclaimed gas. In my experience most cars came in when they were already too low in gas to reclaim a decent amount of gas. So it took a lot cars to get a  amount to recycle . Also cars that suffered compressor failure had all sorts of things  that would contaminate the gas so it was best not to let that gas into the recovery machine.

 

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Long story short, in the USA R12 can still be bought and sold (and a license is technically required) and the smaller NOS cans are regularly sold at swap meets and on local sales forums (Craigslist) Of course any release to the atmosphere is still forbidden. 

 

Yeah, You would be correct about how much refrigerant would actually remain in a damaged automobile system.

Major refrigerant jobs like an industrial freezer or building A/C is where serious recycling seems to occur. 50 pound type systems. 

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From my work, if the filters are clean and the material coming out of a car is R12, it can be reused after being recycled in any vehicle. 

 

The machine I believe is supposed to have a sensor that if it detects a refrigerant with contamination like propane, it would turn the machine off so it would not take any gas out of the vehicle or it would put the contaminated gas into a separate tank for proper disposal.  

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The refrigerant identifier (for both type of refrigerant and impurities like Propane) is a separate tool on some older recovery systems. Sometimes there was an optional interconnect cable to cut off the recovery machine. Neutronics was a major manufacturer of them.

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