Seems like I spend more time tearing things apart than I do putting them back together. Now that we dumped a bunch of money into a new refer system, no more excuses. Besides, we don’t really need a finished ceiling to move aboard in August. We do need a place to keep food cold so the headliner project has taken a back seat for now.
The current box was constructed as a “passive spill-over” unit with a divider and a couple small holes to allow cold air to migrate from the freezer side to the fridge side. I’m building something similar in its place (only better insulated). Ours will have a thermostatically controlled fan mounted on the divider to move the cold air between the two sides instead of relying on convection currents to cool the fridge side.
I got the compressor and lines removed from the engine room and tore the giant Technautics holding plate out of the ice box. That thing was huge and it took up most of the freezer section. I’m not certain which previous owner installed (or worse yet paid someone to install) this refrigerator, but it was a big disaster.
First came the box liner built from 1/8″ PVC panels that you get at Home Depot. All the corners were siliconed together and permeated with food spills and mildew stains. Gag. Under the liner were several layers of glass-impregnated foam board glued together with more silicone. Good enough in theory, but each layer had a considerable air space between the next due to the silicone used to glue them together. That air space pretty much negates any gains from adding multiple layers in the first place. Not to mention the fact that the layer directly underneath the liner was completely saturated with water which further reduces its insulation value. So out came anywhere from 4″-8″ of foam from all around the inside of the box, mostly in little tiny pieces.
Underneath all that giant dusty itchy wet mess if insulation I found the original factory fiberglass “ice box” liner complete with a little drain to the bilge for the melt water. A throwback to the days when long distance cruisers had to cool their food with a big hunk of ice. Considerably better construction, and so difficult to remove that I had to cut it out with a Sawzall. A few more layers of that itchy glass foam insulation and I’m finally all the way down to the hull of the boat and the plywood that makes up the insides of the cabinetry. Whew, what a mess.
I took some measurements and drew up the interior dimensions of the existing opening so I know how much interior volume we have once I get it all re-insulated with the good stuff. The interior will be lined with several layers of glass cloth and epoxy which should make for a smooth and easy to clean surface. This should be a neat trick considering the curve and taper of the hull on that side of the boat as well as working with epoxy upside down through a small access hatch, but oh how I love an engineering challenge. If we had wanted to stick with boring and easy, we would’ve have kept the house in suburbia I suppose.