A buddy of mine just bought a 95 Ford Ranger. The owner said it was working fine, but a week before he sold it, it gradually stopped cooling, and the last day it worked it blew the rubber hose portion of the high side line. Since all the refrigerant was gone anyway, I pulled the orifice tube out and saw this. Is this the black death everyone is talking about?
NO, it is not. It does seem to be a seriously contaminated system. The 'brown' material is a bit troubling. If this material is indeed brown and this is not simply the gold and brown background showing thru. The 'brown' material normally indicates a possible high moisture content.....Ford uses a 'steel' case accumulator and this could be the cause. It is possible the 'desiccant' pack ruptured...but there does not seem to be sufficient material to back that up.
What ever the cause...the system should be flushed completely....air dried....and serviced properly. By flushing...this means all parts. If the compressor is to be replaced...great....if not, then remove the compressor and flush with lubricant till the darn thing is clean. The same for all hoses, condenser, and evaporator. Get it clean...clean. Replace the orifice tube, accumulator. If the lines have mufflers or filters....replace them. Lube it up properly.....evacuate the system....and recharge. Prefer to use a recharge machine...but his has been harped on enough. It is simply almost impossible for a DIY'er to properly charge a system utilizing cans of refrigerant. The charge rate is one of the most important aspects of the repair....must be done correctly.
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The lumps kinda look like dessicant to me.
Cleaned up image. Has a few metal flakes also.
Its not "black death"; the issue that created the term is rarely seen any more. Its now become an urban legend and moniker for all "cooked" and oil burnout type A/C system failures. Call it what you want; it is a sign of system "death".
The metal flakes (larger pieces without many obvious fines) indicate trouble, something mechanical is obviously coming apart; keep in mind you are looking at a secondary screen as the condenser is a primary filter for most of the debris. Of course this could be a guts of a previous compressor or the one before that.
The brown "goo" can be cause from burnt oils, wrong oils, sealer (or other additives), or a myriad of other physical and chemical reactions that can be created inside a system. something just as simple as air in the system can cause this. Since it blew a high side line it may have been pushing high head pressure, overheating the compressor, cooking the oils, and packing the condenser with debris for a while. The fact that it is fairly "dry" looking also indicates there was not much (if any) good lubricant still circulating within the system.
The OT provides a "snapshot" of what the system looks like, that this same brown "mud" also resides in many other corners, crevices, and traps within all the components of the system.
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