Ice Box Upgrade

sailboat ice box

Between a marathon of coding the last few weeks, I added a 1/2″ of insulation to the ice chamber of my ice box.

Whew! I’m glad that’s over. For the last three weeks my work hours got bumped up to forty hours per week, up from twenty, in order to launch this open source project.

I love the work I do, but I can never go back to forty hours per week again. It’s one thing to work that hard for a ‘good reason’, or because one has accepted it as the way things are, which I think describes the mentality of most people. It’s another thing to know you don’t have to work that hard. To know that the quality of your life does not depend on working forty hours, when only twenty will do.

I’m ruined. I like being productive, but it does not trump other needs in my life like sailing, or walking in the woods, or being creative for the sake of being creative. Or blogging for that matter, which explains why this website has been so quiet.

To offset my programming marathon and just ‘unplug’, I decided to upgrade the insulation in my ice box. No programming necessary. The extra hours I’ve been working allowed me to purchase a gallon of epoxy, and I plan get some serious value out of it this summer, starting with my ice box. Last year I modified the ice box to separate an ice chamber from the food. I fiberglassed in a half-inch of insulation on each side of the ice chamber. It now holds less ice, but the ice lasts much longer. And also important, the chamber is still big enough to fit an ice block purchased at the store.

sailboat cooler

This is what the ice box looked like before the recent addition of insulation. A plastic separator divides the ice chamber from the food chamber.

The inspiration for this project manifested because my ice maker died. I had purchased the ice maker as an experiment. A $100 Band-Aid to my refrigeration issue. I was able to turn in my warranty and get my money back, but now I was back to square one.

My options are as follows: 1) I get a new ice maker and carry on, 2) I retrofit a condenser and refrigeration unit inside the ice box to turn it into a refrigerator, or 3) I buy an external refrigerator or Yeti cooler and stow it elsewhere on the boat. This last option is complicated by the fact that I have a small boat and a distinct lack of real estate for another bulky item aboard. Furthermore, I can’t think of an efficient alternative use for the space now occupied by the ice box. The second option is attractive, except that it would take up half or more of the space in my tiny ice box, and without an upgrade in insulation (taking up more space in the ice box) it wouldn’t be very efficient.

That brings me back to option number one: the ice maker. Thus, insulating the part of the ice box walls that touch the ice should make the system I have been rocking for the last year that much more efficient. Overall I’ve been pretty happy with that system. The entire ice box is insulated on the outside, but adding insulation directly to the ice chamber seemed like a good way to get the most bang for my effort. It’s only been a couple weeks, but I’m already encouraged by the results.

Oh, and the first ice maker died because I was running the generator on ‘eco mode’. When the condenser would kick on, it would load down the generator to the point that it would almost stall. The generator would immediately rev up, and I theorize this caused repeated voltage spikes which eventually fried the condenser circuitry. Since the condenser is just a welded metal ball, there was no opening it and no fixing it. The solution is to run the generator at full throttle or ‘normal mode’ to prevent another mishap.


Using cardboard, I was able to create a stencil for cutting out the insulation and the 1/8" plywood.

Using cardboard, I was able to create a stencil for cutting out the insulation and the 1/8″ plywood.



A better view of the insulation and cardboard stencil. Using a permanent marker, I marked out the area where I need to ground off the gelcoat in order to get to the fiberglass underneath.

A better view of the insulation and cardboard stencil. Using a permanent marker, I marked out the area where I need to ground off the gelcoat in order to get to the fiberglass underneath.



I got double duty from my pizza box. While eating the pizza I was able to use the cardboard for a stencil.

I got double duty from my pizza box. While eating the pizza I was able to use the cardboard for a stencil.



After cutting out 1/8" plywood, I used a single layer of 6oz cloth to seal it.

After cutting out 1/8″ plywood, I used a single layer of 6oz cloth to seal it.



The first piece of insulation and plywood is glassed into the ice box.

The first piece of insulation and plywood is glassed into the ice box.



The second and third pieces of plywood and insulation have been fabricated and are ready to be fiberglassed into place.

The second and third pieces of plywood and insulation have been fabricated and are ready to be fiberglassed into place.



The lid-pieces are finally mounted and the whole thing has been fiberglassed into place.

The lid-pieces are finally mounted and the whole thing has been fiberglassed into place.



I wrapped a piece of insulation in foil and put it on the bottom. This will be treated as disposable, but adds some cheap insulation between the base of the ice box.

I wrapped a piece of insulation in foil and put it on the bottom. This will be treated as disposable, but adds some cheap insulation between the base of the ice box.


Related posts:

James Island Marine State Park
Downsizing
Nomadic Families
Comments
One Response to “Ice Box Upgrade”
  1. Stormy says:

    I’m getting a yeti, I’ll let you know how it goes. Btw I just found a half gallon of really good whiskey in my bilge, your ice maker is sounding pretty good right now. My cocktails don’t make that oso nice clinking sound. Ok now I’m parched, gotta run.

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