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Old 31-10-2007, 12:39   #1
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Location: Guilford, CT
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Converting Ice Box to Freezer/Refrigerator

Our big project this winter is to upgrade from an ice box to a freezer and refrigerator. The existing box is as it came from the Cheoy Lee factory 35 years ago. They must have done a decent job of insulating for that era, since 6 blocks of ice and a couple bags of cubes will last us an entire week on the hook in the summer (80 to 95 degree temperatures).

The ice box is large (about 11 cubic feet).

Mostly we will be cruising temperate waters on one and two week trips and long weekends, with dreams of sailing south along the east cost of the USA and on through the Caribbean beginning in 2012.

Currently we have 2 group 27 gel batteries as a single house bank. We are on a mooring and charge exclusively from our alternator. This has been adequate for ships lighting and running a couple of fans.

The questions we currently research are:

1) Rip out the old ice box and start from scratch or add insulation to the inside of the existing box?
2) 12 volt or engine driven compressor?
3) Holding plate or evaporator?
4) Air cooled or fresh water cooled condenser? If air cooled what are some common locations for the compressor and condenser?
5) Which Brands are recommended for do it yourself installation? Which ones should we avoid?
6) How many more batteries will we need to add if 12 volt compressor is the best way to go

There must be many issues we have not considered yet.

Any advice from folks who have already traveled this path would be much appreciated.

John
s/v Callisto
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Old 31-10-2007, 13:24   #2
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You need to open up your fridge and take a look at the insulation. From another owner of a Cheoy Lee, you are going to find that you need to remove everything but the outer box and start over. This is really the only way to do this. You will also find that you need as much A/H out of your main battery system as you can fit, the more the better. Your new fridge will draw more than you would think. They are very efficient but still use lots of juice. Consider a wind generator or solar panels to keep things running. We have a wind gen, live in New England and we can run ours 24/7 all summer with no problem. Check out this link (scroll down to the bottom of the first page) and you will see what is involved. It took me 80 hours from start to finish to do this.

Renegade Cruisers • View topic - Invitation - Scott & Juli's on going project & dream
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Old 31-10-2007, 15:10   #3
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I concur with the previous post.
I went through much the same experience on 2 different boats, one built in '85, the other in '95. The insulation in older boats is almost always pathetic by today's standards.
In my current boat (a Dragonfly 1000 tri) I increased the box size by 40% due to using previously wasted space and by moving the compressor and condenser to a place which could properly breathe cool air, I DECREASED electrical use by nearly 50%.

Tear down was definitely worth it in both cases.

Steve B.
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Old 31-10-2007, 15:25   #4
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Great Scott!

If we tear everything out and start from scratch this info and especially your photos are going to be a big help.

70 hours sounds like a huge job for a weekend warrior like me. I expect it will give us the best result in the long run though. Looks like fun!

Did you cut the old box up for panels to line the new fridge or make the new box from scratch or what?

Did you build the fridge and reefer doors or buy them from a supplier? Our old doors weigh a ton. One fell closed on my wife and nearly broke her arm. I must find a lighter solution...

Taking the counter top off sounds a little frightening. I don't know why.

But your photos helped with that.

Thanks By Invitation for some very useful information.

Oops..not clear if that was your reefer or someone else's data you were sharing with us. Either way it was helpful.



Steve, where did you put the compressor??

John
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Old 31-10-2007, 17:16   #5
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On my cruising mono, I used a water cooled system and mounted the compressor in the engine room as it was rather unaffected by ambient air temp.
On my current boat, the compressor was moved to a place where an additional computer type fan supplied it with bilge air.

You can see the pictures of the result at:

Photos, Dragonfly 1000 Trimarans - User Forum

I didn't take any photos of the construction, but it's fairly generic. The pictures in the previous post are typical of what you will go through.

Steve B.

PS. The space and electrical savings in my earlier post were from dim memory. The ones on the Dragonfly forum are correct.
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Old 01-11-2007, 07:58   #6
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Got it Steve.

Don't need a lot of space for air cooled compressor but make sure space is well ventilated.

Nice installation.

Thanks

John
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Old 01-11-2007, 08:39   #7
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John,

The link to the post I gave you is our own Cheoy Lee 41. Forget about using the original anythinig from your current fridge except maybe the door, you will spend more time any money than it is worth. I made the interior box from FRP available at home depot. It's inexpensive stuff and easy to work with. I used fiberglass cloth to secure all the corners with west sytem epoxy then painted the interior with interthane white. My compressor is keel cooled so it made it possible to locate it anywhere without consideration of air flow for cooling. We also used the original main door with 4" of added insulation to it and new double seals as door gaskets. The two top doors are premade from glacier bay if I remember right. They are not cheap but work very well, light weight and seal very well. I highly advise having top opening access to keep the cold in as much as possible. One thing I would do differently if I did it again is to not have a spill over fan. I find that during the summer I get a fair amount of condensation freezing on the evaporator plate in the freezer which we must defrost monthly. I would separate the freezer and the fridge with a single plate of stainless steel and use insulation on the surface to adjust how much cooling I would want to transfer from the freezer to the fridge. This way I could cut down on the ice build up in the freezer and keep the system running more efficiently. If I remember right, with the 2 new doors the box cost me about one boat unit for all the materials, the compressor system was additional to that figure. If you use an evaporator plate system, use the largest plate you can possible fit in the freezer.

I must say that having a good working fridge on a boat all season is a real blessing.
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