This morning my kitchen smelled like a toxic chemical dump. WTF? Really nasty rubber chemical burning dioxin yada yada.
I followed it to the back of the fridge. The compressor was trying to start and not having any of it. I removed the starter relay and starter cap and diassembled. Plastic was burned inside right next to a thermistor chip about the size of a nickel. Thermistor chip was shattered (due to heat and age) and the chips and debris were causing its spring loaded holder arms to short. Thermistor is used as a primitive but generally reliable relay. Closed circuit when cold, open when hot. Starts the run capacitor/starter windings when energized, heats up to open circuit within a quarter of a sec, then blocks current to the starter windings. Thermistor was broken up into three large pieces and a bunch of dust. Realized I had to get a new starter relay at the very least to save a fridge full of food until the part could be had.
Studied up on the web what was happening and a blog described the exact same predicament. A TRUE Macgyver hero on the board suggested his own fix that worked for him. It should have been obvious but I just wasn't thinking in Macgyver mode (no coffee yet). Just clean out the arc causing debris and reinsert the largest of the broken pieces of thermistor between the holder arms. A thermistor piece has pretty much the same resistance curve as the whole. Voila!!! It worked beautifully. I'll only run it while in the house so that I can keep an eye on it and unplug it while sleeping. It would probably run trouble free for another 5 years like this but until I can get the replacement relay or, more likely, replace this 10 year old Gibson, my food wont spoil!!!!