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Old 01-04-2005, 07:50 PM   #1
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? Building an icebox

Ok, here's my crazy thought of the week. We haven't really gotten into the habit of using our fridge much, because it doesn't really keep anything in the safe zone. So we use a cooler with ice in it instead. I was talking to a lady who used to camp in the old days, and in their little camper they had an icebox, which you filled the top with ice and it kept the box below cool. Plus it had a drain so everything didn't get soaked as the ice melted (like it does in the cooler).

Now this seems like a great idea to me. I was thinking maybe I could build one to replace the fridge. What would I need? A metal box with an area on top to hold the ice and a drain tube, insulation all around the outside, and an insulated door on the front. Probably a top opening to make it easy to dump ice in. I have a plan for a very simple one in a set of teardrop trailer plans I bought. I would just want to build something a little bigger since I have a bigger hole to fill.

I wonder how well something like this would work? Did older AS have iceboxes before they had fridges?
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Old 01-04-2005, 08:33 PM   #2
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Stephanie,

Depending on how big you are thinking you might actually be able to use one of the larger ice chests mounted on end as an ice box. I have seen some pretty large ones. One that we have is pretty nicely squared off inside too. They typically have a drain plug on one end that can work with a hose. You could maybe mount a removable water tank or bottle underneath the ice chest to catch the run-off. I suppose that you could just let it drain out on the ground too. I would bet you could find some nice metal racks that you could get to fit in as shelves. Check out kitchen cooling racks or BBQ grills and the Storables store for racks. Perhaps you could add a slide-out plastic bin of some sort in the top for the ice and run a tube down to the drain hole in the bottom.

Otherwise you basically just need a well insulated box that is suitably water proof on the inside to handle some dampness. I would think you could use some sort of melamine paneling or metal on the inside and maybe wood paneling on the outside. Maybe an all aluminum box would be kind of cool. You could glue a layer of rigid foam insulation (readily available from Home Depot or Lowes) between the two layers - perhaps 2" thick would be a good choice. Add a door that also has an insulation sandwich and a latch that stays closed when you are moving.

I can remember when I was a kid it wasn't until I was perhaps 8 years old that my grandmother had electricity hooked up to her house. Before that she had one of the old fashioned wood ice boxes. It had a nice wood cabinet and a galvenized steel liner. There was a place to put in a 50lb block of ice which I think would be about a 1' cube. Who knows what they used for insulation in those days. As I recall it worked pretty well but it could not, of course, keep frozen foods frozen.

Malcolm
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Old 01-04-2005, 09:25 PM   #3
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Here is one for sale: http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/ws/eB...tem=4516770784

Doesn't look like the bidding is hot and heavy.

Here is a source for new ones: http://www.formcoinc.com/ice.html
Can't really tell if they retail or just OEM.

Mark
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Old 01-04-2005, 09:36 PM   #4
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Our '59 Tradewind had an icebox. It also ran on 120 volts when in the campground.

You can buy a cheap 120 volt refrigerator, put a drain tray in the bottom with a hose through the floor, and you'll be in business.

Our 1959 Frigidaire still works!
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Old 01-04-2005, 10:50 PM   #5
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Well, my backup plans are to either have the fridge serviced, like Shari did, and see if that makes it work like new, or to just give in and buy a new fridge. Only problem with servicing the old fridge is that we've already spent a couple hundred on it, and it still doesn't work, so after a while you have to decide what your level of pain is - if I've spent $300 and it still doesn't work, should I spend $300 more and hope it works when we get done, or cut my losses and buy a new one.

Problem with a new one is that they use 12v or 120v power, and so on a trip to the mountains for a week (like at the astronomy party) we'd not be able to use it without draining the batteries, and so we'd be back to using a cooler again. Right now I like the fact that none of my appliances use 12v power, so the battery will last a week when it is only being used for lights in the evening.

And since we're using a cooler anyway, I was thinking of this as a really nice cooler.

Thanks for the links. I didn't know anyone still made stuff like that.

I guess I'll go nosing around HD one of these weekends and see what kind of materials I can find. The plans I have use aluminum. I guess we all know how to work with that stuff!
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Old 01-04-2005, 11:21 PM   #6
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? Building an icebox

Greetings Stephanie!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Stefrobrts
Problem with a new one is that they use 12v or 120v power, and so on a trip to the mountains for a week (like at the astronomy party) we'd not be able to use it without draining the batteries, and so we'd be back to using a cooler again. Right now I like the fact that none of my appliances use 12v power, so the battery will last a week when it is only being used for lights in the evening.
I have been considering similar options for the day when the original Dometic in my Minuet needs to be replaced. I know that for my use it will receive a Dometic 3-Way as I have had exceptionally good luck with several of these refrigerators in the past. Since I don't want to put a full solar installation on the Minuet, I am considering a smaller panel that I can mount to an easel stand and place beside the trailer for battery charging when dry-camped (not a regular part of my routine - - probably three or four nights per year). I have been considering the 5 WATT Battery Saver Pro or the 15 WATT Battery Saver Pro . I don't expect these small panels to be as efficient as the panels mounted on the roof of my Overlander, but my goal is to compensate for the additional drain of the AES controls as well as to partially compensate for the 12-volt drain while running on the road with the refrigerator on 12-volt. I don't really expect problems as I have had two coaches with this type refrigerator with a single battery and no solar.

Good luck with your research!

Kevin
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Old 01-05-2005, 02:57 PM   #7
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Stephanie,

Do you know about RV Refrigerator Specialists in Everett, WA? Check out their website:

http://www.rvmobile.com/

They say some things on the site about helping people trouble shoot their own refrigerators.

You mention 12v and 120v but what about propane powered refrigeration? Does you current unit work on electricity only?

Malcolm
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Old 01-05-2005, 03:29 PM   #8
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My current unit is propane only. Newer models require 12v or 120v hookup to run their circuit boards or whatever it is they have.

Looks like since we will be replacing the Hydroflame with a new heater, Dave wants to replace the fridge with a new fridge and be done with it. He says don't think too hard, find something that will work, and go with it. We'll deal with the boondocking issues later. Guess I can't argue with that.
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Old 01-05-2005, 05:27 PM   #9
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Stef,
FWIW the orginal fridge in my AS has been replaced with a more modern model that runs on 120v or LP. It requires a 12 volt feed for the control board, but I have run it for over 2 weeks on LP with out draining the battery completely....had to keep the barley pops cold! If you want an ice box...plan on using dry ice if you can find a supplier, much colder than regular ice and no water mess Many, many, many moons ago I had a pickup camper with a small fridge, I used to keep the extra food in cooler with dry ice and it worked just fine, I would buy a block of dry ice every friday....

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Old 01-05-2005, 05:56 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by malconium
Stephanie,

Depending on how big you are thinking you might actually be able to use one of the larger ice chests mounted on end as an ice box. I have seen some pretty large ones. One that we have is pretty nicely squared off inside too. They typically have a drain plug on one end that can work with a hose. You could maybe mount a removable water tank or bottle underneath the ice chest to catch the run-off. I suppose that you could just let it drain out on the ground too. I would bet you could find some nice metal racks that you could get to fit in as shelves. Check out kitchen cooling racks or BBQ grills and the Storables store for racks. Perhaps you could add a slide-out plastic bin of some sort in the top for the ice and run a tube down to the drain hole in the bottom.

Otherwise you basically just need a well insulated box that is suitably water proof on the inside to handle some dampness. I would think you could use some sort of melamine paneling or metal on the inside and maybe wood paneling on the outside. Maybe an all aluminum box would be kind of cool. You could glue a layer of rigid foam insulation (readily available from Home Depot or Lowes) between the two layers - perhaps 2" thick would be a good choice. Add a door that also has an insulation sandwich and a latch that stays closed when you are moving.

I can remember when I was a kid it wasn't until I was perhaps 8 years old that my grandmother had electricity hooked up to her house. Before that she had one of the old fashioned wood ice boxes. It had a nice wood cabinet and a galvenized steel liner. There was a place to put in a 50lb block of ice which I think would be about a 1' cube. Who knows what they used for insulation in those days. As I recall it worked pretty well but it could not, of course, keep frozen foods frozen.

Malcolm
Just to help,
A refrigerator while on propane, will consume a very small amount of 12V. power, just enough to keep the electronic circuits powered.
It is not a large drain on the batterie(s), more like the memory on a automobile computer or radio. it should run a couple of weeks at least.
You might want to check on the specks of the new units as far as power draw, you might be pleasently suprised.
Also, don't be too quick to scrap the present one till you do a little checking.
sometimes it is a simple and inexpensive fix.
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