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Old 08-15-2017, 06:46 AM   #41
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The Interblog amusement factory keeps chugging along here with new ideas and antics. To catch up where we are on this thread, we had two successful years of transporting frozen food 3,000 miles in our Yeti, but 2014 was a bit more successful than 2016, and so there was room for additional improvement in our approach.

To that end, for 2017 I decided that, rather than trying to keep the food frozen using either loose cube ice or chunks of dry ice, I'd simply freeze lock, stock, and barrel into two 30-pound solid blocks of ice that I could lower to -10 F before placing them in the cooler (which, itself, will be pre-cooled).

Here's a money shot of the first of two twin blocks, and a mildly entertaining account of how we developed the Yeti mold and the strategy:

YETI COOLER PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT, PART 1: SOLIDIFICATION

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Old 08-15-2017, 08:41 AM   #42
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Fantastic solution. You two never ceases to amaze with your organization, creativity, skill sets and the ability to document in a comprehensive style.

It's fun to watch the ideas evolve and come to fruition.

Maybe a casual person would think all this effort is crazy but loving organization myself, I think it's genius.

We only use coolers (no fridge yet) and camping in warmer times can be quite challenging.

There is:
The moving the coolers around the trailer as the sun moves.
The division of drinks versus food in separate cooler's.
The division of food needing COLD temperatures to remain viable versus apples, snacks and various accoutrements. It's quite the balancing act.

Keep up the great work!
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Old 08-15-2017, 09:01 AM   #43
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I like your blog! thanks!!
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Old 08-15-2017, 09:26 AM   #44
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Originally Posted by Hittenstiehl View Post
...

Maybe a casual person would think all this effort is crazy but loving organization myself, I think it's genius.
...
A casual person wouldn't be planning to boondock in a location that is a 50-mile round-trip to the nearest grocery store, to the effect that these little tweaks become extra-important.


Thanks for the compliments.
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Old 08-15-2017, 09:42 AM   #45
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Great solution! One trick I learned when we made some similar custom blocks of ice using cheap aluminum baking pans . . .

Once you have a block of ice ready to go into the cooler, if it is a little too large, just warm up a cast iron fry pan, and use this to melt the too-large surface of the ice. Obviously, your added food inside the block might negate the utility of this technique, but one can really make a plain block of ice fit great inside even a tapered cooler.

I think you can still buy 50 pound blocks of ice, and using an ice pick and the hot fry pan, you can also make quick custom blocks. Putting the frozen food inside the block of ice is simply genius!



Thanks again for the tip.

Peter

PS -- Adding a plug for Pelican coolers made in the USA, and comparable to the Yeti [mfg. in Philippines] according to the reviews, some of which say the Pelican latches more securely FWIW. For example:

https://www.amazon.com/Pelican-50-03...ican+ice+chest
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Old 08-15-2017, 11:30 AM   #46
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For small servings, I recently put them in food saver bags first, and then used the Pyrex dish to shape from there. I did enough for 2 servings in each bag. I used a 7x5 rectangular 3 cup dish for shaping and put approx 2 cups in each bag.

I was to fit 12 packages into my tiny freezer section.
Using the food saver bag, I could boil to heat up if boondocking or use my instant pot or microwave for reheating if I had power. In the future, I will probably make vegetables like puréed butternut squash in a "ice pop" shape for single serving selections. This works great to with premade green smoothies and eat them as ice pops. I rinse and recycle the bag.

This worked great on our 2 week trip and really cut down on dish washing. For silverware, I used thicker plastic and put them in a small closed container and the wash when I have hookups

Katy
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Old 08-15-2017, 01:50 PM   #47
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...Adding a plug for Pelican coolers made in the USA, and comparable to the Yeti [mfg. in Philippines] according to the reviews, some of which say the Pelican latches more securely FWIW....
If I had my druthers, I'd have a Cabela's cooler, but we bought our Yeti before there was any competing product on the market, and it's a $400 cooler, so we decided to just live with it. The proverbial investment had already been made.
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Old 08-15-2017, 01:57 PM   #48
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By the way, that idea was entirely mine. Only someone saddled with the title of chief cook and bottle washer could be so motivated to find a workaround like that, eh? I have a genius engineer husband who overshadows me most of the time, and I'm perfectly OK with that, but occasionally I do manage to generate a mental paradigm break-through of my own. My husband assisted greatly with the plywood mold construction, but the rest of it was all me.
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Old 08-15-2017, 02:19 PM   #49
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A family we know does a lot of tent camping and are pros at making up frozen dinners in ziplock bags, which they then stack and freeze inside a mold, like bugsbunny's Pyrex baking dish, so that each entire frozen mini-block fits into a super cooler like yours, 4-6 at a time. No ice around the bags like yours, thus somewhat less cooling power, but pretty efficient, as they don't have to let one large block thaw to access the bags. For most family meals they just take out one mini-block at a time. Less cooking from scratch and fewer pots to clean.

Thanks again for the ideas. Well done indeed!

Peter

PS will check out the Cabela coolers. Thx
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Old 08-15-2017, 06:01 PM   #50
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We use DRY ICE, works great
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Old 08-16-2017, 06:23 AM   #51
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We use DRY ICE, works great
I tried that last year, and I was underwhelmed with its performance (our cooler hitch carrier was specifically designed to allow the use of dry ice). It sublimated more quickly than I expected, and of course on the road, it's very difficult to replace. In eastern Canada, it's impossible to replace (I didn't even try to track any down - we were driving up to 750 miles per day and didn't have the time to go on the hunt).

The internet says, "dry ice will sublimate at a rate of five to ten pounds every 24 hours in a typical ice chest". Well, shoot - I don't know how to deal with that kind of rapidity of loss. There might be a method by which one could extend the effectiveness of it, at least using it to lower the temperature of co-located water ice to extend the lifespan of the water ice. But I haven't investigated that at this point.
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Old 08-16-2017, 06:41 AM   #52
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If the dry ice is available in fairly thin blocks, which I think it is, you could size your water/ice block to permit a layer of dry ice on top as the last thing you put in the cooler before leaving. More bang for the weight with dry ice, but hard to replace on the road as you say.

A user here reported on a trip last year using dry ice in a similar combo function, and a search for "dry ice" in the blue box above would probably locate her posts in a few threads including a follow-up report. Will look later when I get back home.

Cheers,

Peter
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Old 08-16-2017, 02:18 PM   #53
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For long trips we pack our freezable food into containers (zip lock or rigid plastic) and freeze them before our planned departure date.

The day before leaving, we then pack all of those pre-frozen items into our Yeti and fill the voids with cold water.

We put dry Ice on top of everything and it will turn the entire cooler into a solid frozen mass! This block of frozen items easily stays solid for several days before needing any attention.

We have an ice pick handy and chip out the food we plan to eat for the next few days. This allows time for the food to thaw in the fridge.

Using this method, we usually go 2 -3 days before adding water to what's left and then more dry ice to freeze everything solid again. We then repeat as necessary.

We've been able to stretch our meat supply out to 3 weeks before needing to purchase new.
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Old 08-16-2017, 02:23 PM   #54
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If the dry ice has too much water to freeze solid, don't you risk damaging the cooler from the water expanding as it freezes? I forget the percentage of expansion, but it is on the order of 5-10% I think.

When we freeze up custom ice blocks using aluminum baking pans [Post #45], the amount of expansion is remarkable, but of course the pan contains all water to start.

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Old 08-16-2017, 03:02 PM   #55
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We don't fill it all the way to the top to begin with due to the expansion issue.

As time progresses and we use our frozen items, the total volume in the cooler decreases proportionally.
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Old 08-16-2017, 08:30 PM   #56
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Ah the circle of life (or AS forum posts)

We were one of the early adopters of some of the finer points of InterBlog's post 3 years ago when purchasing our first Airstream. At that point I had not heard of Yetis and had no understanding of the Big Deal about them.

Once Interblog and Protagonist explained how significantly different these were, I did more research about food transport from the Yeti website, and from the Boat Galley blog.

Since then we have done 2 successful trips to Yellowstone for 10 days with a pair of Yetis. A 45 for frozen, and a 105 for fresh food.

We pre-chill the 45 per the Yeti website instructions, add commercially vacuum packed and frozen steaks, BBQ meats, Italian sausage, and sliced turkey. This we transport with dry ice which is suitable for keeping it frozen about 5 days. At that point we add block ice to keep cold enough for use the remainder of the trip.

We create block ice per the Boat Galley website directions, and 2 pans of ice fit perfectly in the bottom of the 105. We also use ventilated plastic baskets to keep food in the "refrigerator" cooler from getting soggy in the ice.

I would add that this year I purchased 5 different Salad-In-A-Bag of lettuce, cole slaw, and baby spinach. Unopened, they stayed good the whole trip. Once opened use in 1-2 days. We were able to have salad every day on a 10 day trip.

We also have a smaller cooler/cooler bag we use with re-freezable blue ice packs for day trips in the car. These easily re-freeze overnight in the AS freezer. I have the blue zippered bag from Trader Joes, a bargain at about $6.

I would like to thank InterBlog for bringing all of this great information to light, and to all of the other posters with their tips. Your efforts have made a big difference in my family's vacation meals!
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Old 08-17-2017, 04:04 AM   #57
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Thanks Piggy Bank for the reminder that it was your posts last year about making custom blocks of ice that sent us down that road, as referenced in my earlier posts here.

A great technique, as are InterBlog's many ideas.

Thanks y'all!

Peter
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Old 08-17-2017, 05:23 AM   #58
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I do not believe that will be a problem. I have a cargo tray that weighs 40 pounds and has a 400-pound load capacity; some are heavier, not many are lighter. But an extended Interstate has a trailer tongue weight capacity of 500 pounds, and even with the Yeti cooler you won't be loading it to anywhere near that value.

Also, weight is weight. Trailer tongue weight and receiver-mounted accessory weight is all just weight, and it makes NO difference in the van's handling whether the weight is tongue weight or cargo tray weight. In fact, since there is no "pull" component to the cargo tray load on the receiver, unlike a trailer, the Interstate should be very well-behaved with that weight in the back. The ride in the back seat will even be less bouncy! As long as your total weight doesn't exceed 11,030 pounds, and your rear axle weight doesn't exceed 7720 pounds, you're golden.

All you have to watch out for are:
1 - your "departure angle" will be reduced because of the additional overhang. You could end up dragging the cargo tray on the pavement if you start up too steep a slope; and
2 - you'll want a cargo tray that's narrower than the width of the van so that you don't increase your tail-swing.

Suggestion, add DOT red-and-white reflective tape to your Yeti cooler, to improve visibility from the rear and sides, especially if you'll be on the road before dawn, after dusk, or in inclement weather. Some other drivers might not realize the tray is back there, and the reflectors help improve the visibility. Could help reduce the number of near-misses you'll experience.
There's no free lunch. 400/lbs added at the end of a lever extending from the Steer Axle IS noticeable in vehicle dynamics (and cargo weight is not quite the same as a trailer tongue [another lever]). It does add to the difficulties of rear axle traction. (The discussion is, "polar moment of inertia", as well as, "tire slip angle"). In a general sense (and as with a pickup truck bed) one wants to add weight either on or ahead of the axle.

So, while axle load is likely okay, weight bias to port or starboard exaggerates steering in that direction. I can load a 53' flatbeds with [11] 4,400-lb pallets and tell if the steering is "off" when but two of those are 2" off centerline. What happens at 70-mph is serious stuff.

Get the individual wheel weights. (A Cat Scale is at +/- 40-lbs). Without the carrier and load, to start (as the conversion van won't be equal side to side). When satisfied, take a picture of the load when effects are minimized for future reference, and notes on details.

That said, the concern is hitch-carrier strength. And the fit to the hitch receiver. I bring this up as I see a great many of these cargo platforms in my 10,000-miles/month job. It's rare to see one not shaking or vibrating. Flopping.

I have a high opinion of those here on this forum and of the Sprinter itself in regards this. Im trying to highlight, not criticize. I'm saying I'd want the device built like a Navy destroyer. I'll wonder aloud that maybe the platform should exhibit the slightest tilt towards the vehicle while at rest. Etc.

I believe it would be a good test to have an observer in another vehicle look for other than steady motions. At 70-mph +. That there not be any movement -- at all -- separate from the movement of the Sprinter itself. (Yes, I've read other threads/posts on the subject; I very much like the idea of a cover to prevent "prying eyes").

Ratcheting (retractable) 1" winch straps for load securement. No movement in any direction. Northern Tool has a decent selection ($29.99/pr). As well, "edge protectors" and/or "strap sleeves" to keep webbing from fraying. (We oftentimes devised wood overlay for the top of the load to spread the pressure of strapping something to the bed. Could really crank the straps, then).

Conspicuity tape an excellent suggestion. Rear and sides of the carrier itself. (3M makes several quality grades).

It's a great thread!!

.
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Old 08-17-2017, 06:00 AM   #59
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It really is coming up on three years since I hatched this thread!

A few comments on the comments:

(1) I've wondered what could be done to help transmit the "coldness" of dry ice to a water ice block. Such as, could I leave a slot in a frozen block, put dry ice in there at the last minute (because of the rapid sublimation) and have that do some good? An experiment for another trip, perhaps.

I had not considered freezing the water WITH the dry ice. That, too, would need to be done in lifts, or else the packages would float like apples bobbing in a County Fair tank. Even with vacuum packaging, I've noticed that many still want to float.

(2) My husband LB_3 has also been interested in the potential of brine ice to augment the water ice, in order to keep temps down. I've been less enthused about this possibility because of the risks to the food. The water that's in there now is potable fresh water - if a bag becomes accidentally punctured, maybe the food gets a little soggy, but it's fully edible. Brine melt incursion would totally ruin the food. It's too much risk for too little reward, is my initial thought.

(3) I'm liking the Foodsaver more and more as I find new applications for it. I vacuum-packed some Prasek's sausage (a Texas original, made in El Campo, just on the other side of the greater Houston metro) to take on our upcoming trip, because I love to introduce family and friends to uniquely American things (also on the list this year is St. Arnold's Raspberry AF craft beer, the first time in 30 years I'm fixin' to take an alcohol product INTO Canada instead of out of it... that, of course, doesn't get frozen, just put into the Vitrifrigo).

The Foodsaver is a good countermeasure to our roaring humidity. You can forget about opening a Sam's Club-sized bag of Amy's organic white cheddar popcorn and having it stay fresh around here. No matter how carefully it's wrapped, it will get mushy. I can vacuum-pack individual servings and avoid this outcome. The vacuum packing process crushes the popcorn a little, but when individual bags are opened back up, it's 100% fine.

(4) There's also some potential to increase Yeti insulation from the outside. I'm still experimenting with the best approach there, but here's an initial report in which I talk about applying the Insul-Bright fabric for this purpose:

YETI COOLER PERFORMANCE ENHANCEMENT, PART 2: OUTER LIMITS
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Old 08-17-2017, 07:35 AM   #60
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My solution to keep my fresh food from becoming water logged in the cooler is a simple rack I made for the bottom of the cooler. The rack consists of a piece of 2x4, two pieces of 5/4`s 6 inch decking board, and the metal rack is from a closet organizer kit from Lowes. If using dry ice it is placed under the rack, food goes onto the rack (vacuum sealed or in sealed tuperware containers) and regular ice tops everything off. Starting on day two of the trip I drain any water daily. I always pre cool the cooler and freeze as much of the food as possible ahead of time. I have also filled 1 gallon containers with water and frozen them for shorter trips. Empty bleach bottles are my choice of vessels for that method. Simply fill the bottle 2/3 full and freeze with the cap off. Once frozen solid screw the cap on and you have leak proof solid ice blocks. Click image for larger version

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