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Old 30-01-2023, 12:55   #1
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Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

My boat is a 1978 Columbia 10.7. I have been refitting her over the last 5 years to get her ready for long term live-aboard and extended cruising. One aspect that has been bugging me is the icebox.

Insulation was mostly an afterthought back in the 70s. I don't remember a single airtight cooler from those days, similar to the Yeti. My icebox was originally built with a thermoelectric cooling plate that was supposed to chill the icebox when plugged into shore power. So, it didn't have any effect when underway. In either case, it didn't work anymore so I removed it.

On a hot 80+ day, a 20 lbs bag of ice may last 24 hours. Most of the ice will be gone by day 2. In my Yeti, 20 lbs of ice will last 7 days unless you are constantly opening and closing it and putting in and taking out items. But you will still have some ice after 5 days and items will be cold.

My goal is to build a new icebox with real insulation and eventually (in the future) add a Dometic or similar refrigerator compressor.

So, my original plan was to remove the top of the existing icebox, cut out the liner and any insulation and then replace it with modern insulation and liner. But as I reviewed the construction of the existing icebox I can see that the icebox is integral with other elements of the galley and pantry. The top of the icebox actually extends under the port side and aft pantries and drawers.

I don't see a way to remove the entire top (light blue) without disassembling the pantries above it (magenta and yellow). Another option would be to cut away the forward bulkhead (dark blue) of the icebox and "gut" it from the front. This would cause the least amount of disruption and probably allow me to rebuild and replace the icebox before launching this spring.

The alternative is to start from the top down, disassembling the entire aft end of the galley and two pantries.

Method #1: Gutting the icebox from the front would be faster and cheaper, but may be more difficult in some ways. Basically, I would have to work from the front and then slide the new icebox in and then replace the forward icebox bulkhead.

Method #2: Disassemble the whole icebox and pantry area. Would take longer and cost more, because I'd have to rebuild the galley and pantry, along with the icebox. There are also electrical wires embedded in this area, both AC and DC. The Pros of going this way is that I can redesign the galley and pantries to make them more useful and more appealing. If I went this way, I doubt that I would able to finish the whole thing before spring launch. If I went this way, I would also seriously consider taking apart the sink area as well.

I've included a photo of the galley with overlays showing how the components integrate with each other. These structures were originally installed without considering that you might want to replace one or another in the future.

Am I missing something? Is there an alternative that I am not considering?
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Old 30-01-2023, 13:04   #2
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

My boat (morgan 382) has nearly identical construction in that area. What others have done, and what I will do, is cut the top at the cabinets. In fact, others have cut a rectangle around the whole top, leaving a 1 or 2 inch border. It really doesn't matter after you re assemble and cover the seam with Formica or whatever countertop you choose.

You will want to replace the top with a new one with a better sealed and insulated lid anyway, so there is really no harm in cutting it up.
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Old 30-01-2023, 13:34   #3
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

When I built my first boat, I used a two part expanding foam for insulation. This was great for those hard to reach spots on the bottom and back.
These days, you can buy it at Home depot in a cartridge, just squirt it in there, let it set up and harden and then shape it to suit.
I would recommend a minimum of 4" insulation all around.
Don't forget the drain, be sure to make a loop in it.
I never had any problem keeping ice for a week with 4" of insulation.

On a long trip, I'd pack the icebox to the gills with ice and try not to open it for first few days....plan accordingly.....could get 2 weeks out of it...
Block ice works much better than cubes, if you can get a block in there.
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Old 30-01-2023, 17:14   #4
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigjim View Post
Is there an alternative that I am not considering?
How is the original box configured?
Does it have a curved outboard section that follows the hull?,
(The colored drawing shows a true rendition?)
Does it have a bunch of funny angles?
Are the fore-and-aft faces of the interior fairly flat, without ledges?
With the hatch(s) removed do you have good access to the interior?, or do you have to hang upside down to get to the outboard area under the pantry?
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Old 31-01-2023, 12:40   #5
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bowdrie View Post
How is the original box configured?
Does it have a curved outboard section that follows the hull?,
(The colored drawing shows a true rendition?)
Does it have a bunch of funny angles?
Are the fore-and-aft faces of the interior fairly flat, without ledges?
With the hatch(s) removed do you have good access to the interior?, or do you have to hang upside down to get to the outboard area under the pantry?
1. Yes, it curves to follow the hull.
2. The drawing is accurate for the forward section. The after section curves even more.
3. Yes and no. It simply follows the hull and has one shelf. The bottom angles toward the front where the drain is.
4. The fore and aft bulkheads are flat and straight.
5. It only has a small door a fraction of the size of the entire icebox.
6. I am tall and have long arms. I can reach all but the farthest area flat on my feet. If I lean into the door, I can reach the entire icebox.
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Old 31-01-2023, 14:41   #6
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

I just thought that given reasonable access and without complications that it may work to pre-cut foam panels, then fiberglass them.
The already glassed panels could be inserted into the box, and then it would only be necessary to seal the joints and glass tape over.
No matter which way you go it's not going to be an easy or quick job.
All methods have pros/cons.
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Old 31-01-2023, 15:38   #7
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

My Endeavour 43 has a similar layout to yours. I didn't want to remove the counter top so I cut out the side wall instead. This allowed me to preserve the counter top and gave me good access to rebuild the box. Yes, it would have been nice to upgrade the top load doors but in the long run it hasn't been a drawback.

Starting with a vapor barrier and foil/air bubble wall, I then used a combination of pink boards and foil backed boards. I dry fitted the the insulation,(6 inch floor, 4 inch sides), creating a jigsaw puzzle which allowed me to create a build scheduled for final fitting. A half side wall was installed halfway through the build which allowed access when installing prefabbed fiberglass panels (Home Depot) that I filleted with epoxy paste.

It definitely was a pain to do but the payoff was well worth the effort.

Good luck with your project which ever way you choose to build.
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Old 31-01-2023, 15:47   #8
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

A few more interior pics.

I installed a channel at the bottom of the divider wall so water could drain from the freezer side to the refer side. I use a cork to seal it off.

I also took the opportunity to install a light in the refer side of the unit.
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Old 02-02-2023, 10:29   #9
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

Quote:
Originally Posted by sea1ljs View Post
My Endeavour 43 has a similar layout to yours. I didn't want to remove the counter top so I cut out the side wall instead. This allowed me to preserve the counter top and gave me good access to rebuild the box. Yes, it would have been nice to upgrade the top load doors but in the long run it hasn't been a drawback.

Starting with a vapor barrier and foil/air bubble wall, I then used a combination of pink boards and foil backed boards. I dry fitted the the insulation,(6 inch floor, 4 inch sides), creating a jigsaw puzzle which allowed me to create a build scheduled for final fitting. A half side wall was installed halfway through the build which allowed access when installing prefabbed fiberglass panels (Home Depot) that I filleted with epoxy paste.
This is exactly the idea I was considering, although I was thinking I might try to build the box outside the boat and slide it in afterward and then replace the front. Working from the top will be hard to rebuild the icebox and require building it in place but cause less dislocation.

Of course once you start cutting into the wood, you never know what you will find or how it may affect your plans. The goal is to create a new more efficient icebox without disassembling the entire galley. If I was already retired and had plenty of time (and money), I would not hesitate to do that.

Thanks for all the photos and ideas.
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Old 02-02-2023, 13:40   #10
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

If you cut top down will one of the higher end cooler style refer units fit in the space. I did that before and fastened a cutting board to the surface worked good for the boat and the current owner loves it still. Could still offer storage under it as well. Just a easy idea maybe not the best.
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Old 02-02-2023, 14:13   #11
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigjim View Post
This is exactly the idea I was considering, although I was thinking I might try to build the box outside the boat and slide it in afterward and then replace the front. Working from the top will be hard to rebuild the icebox and require building it in place but cause less dislocation.

Of course once you start cutting into the wood, you never know what you will find or how it may affect your plans. The goal is to create a new more efficient icebox without disassembling the entire galley. If I was already retired and had plenty of time (and money), I would not hesitate to do that.

Thanks for all the photos and ideas.
The difficulty with working from the front is that one of the sides you need to insulate and build into a box is the side you removed.

I think it would be far easier to build it by removing the top. Don't remove the cabinets, but cut the top near the cabinets. Remove top. Cut everything out. Install foam insulation. Cut shower panels (from Home Depot) to fit. Epoxy the edges together. Reinstall the top, or build a better top if you want. Apply new formica.

Below are a couple threads showing that done in a similar galley.

https://www.morgan38.org/morgan38/in...7/#post-127823

https://www.morgan38.org/morgan38/in...1/#post-131930
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Old 02-02-2023, 15:39   #12
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

Trying to insert a pre-made liner in from the front and get everything to line up so that the heights are correct, and still have a good line-up for the top is a miserable job
Installing foam sections and covering with some kind of thin/soft plastic, (like bathroom/shower panels is likewise a fools errand.
In either case there will be air pockets which will cause condensation, and with any air leaks the condensation will never stop.
Also, said panels do not have the physical strength/rigidity to support refrigeration components which may be planned, and all seams are suspect to leakage over time.
The same for a layer or two of fiberglass cloth epoxied to the foam, it's not enough to support equipment or resist damage from dropped bottles or blocks of ice, but at least fiberglass can be repaired and/or reinforced as required.
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Old 03-03-2023, 14:21   #13
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

I am trying to glue FRP panels to the foam insulation inside the box. What is the best adhesive? Prior attempt failed as the clue I used did not hold over the winter.
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Old 03-03-2023, 16:00   #14
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

I gutted mine and put in a chest feeezer AC, runs of the inverter, energy start etc..very happy.
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Old 03-03-2023, 20:33   #15
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Re: Icebox dilemma: Gut or Rebuild?

Thanks! I will re-panel as I already have the compressor and evaporator.
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