Sunday, June 14, 2009

icebox conversion

When we bought Madrigal, the refridgeration system was something akin to a dorm fridge. The only difference was, it could be AC or DC. Could be. We never set it up to be both though, because we knew that we were going to want something different at some point. The fridge was in the place of an oven, and I was a little bitter that we could keep our foods cold, but not make anything like cobblers, pizza or bread. I later learned how to make all three of them in the pressure cooker. It's great how innovative you become when you no longer have an amenity you took advantage of.

Sometime mid-winter we decided to put the fridge on craigslist, because we wanted a good reason to convert our icebox and we thought there would be no better time than winter to make the first step. In the meantime, we converted our things down to an even smaller dorm fridge...this time, we could only fit a pint sized jug of milk, a couple of cans of soda, a slab of cheese and...well, not much else. We quickly learned how easy it was to be without refridgeration...well, at least I did. I think I had an easier time of it, but it was probably because Justin was doing more of the shopping than I was, and we had to go pick up food every couple of days! We would still buy meat, but we knew we had to make it the day we bought it and eat as fast as we could to finish everything.

Not long after, we realized the small little fridge we were borrowing was really a pain and taking up far too much space for too little we made the switch to a non-refridgerated boat. I really did like it a lot, but all the same things applied from when we had the baby fridge. Lots of shopping, lots of eating quickly, and more waste than we were used to...because really, that meat smells WEIRD. The advantage of all of this was that it was mid-winter in New England...and it was a cold winter. We'd make a pot of chili and it would stay good just as long as if we had a fridge because outside our door it was very, very cold. We had a bit of an issue with daytime heat under the shrinkwrap, but it still worked out well and we figured out our natural refridgeration system pretty quickly.

April came and we expected that the summer was starting to come upon us. We now realize that we were wrong as ever...but those few warm days in April had us fooled. Regardless, we had saved the money for the icebox conversion unit and bought the Norcold Icebox Conversion Unit off of Defender. It suggests using it for a 6 cubic foot space, but I think our icebox may be a bit on the large side - maybe even 7 or 8 cubic feet. We decided to give it a chance anyway, because everyone we know that has used them have enjoyed them.

The unit comes with an L shaped plate, and the instructions tell you clearly which ways you can and cannot put it. That left us with very little options, but we came up with a good place to put it that would even leave us with the slight possibility of having a "freezer" (even though this unit does not say that it will keep things frozen).

Once we figured out the positioning of the plate, we had to figure out where the compression unit would go...although I think Justin already knew where this would be. We had to clear out all of the space under the sink to fit it there, but it works just fine and we can still fit a decent amount of things under there without getting too close to the unit.

Justin drilled a hole in the icebox to get the hoses from the conversion unit to the plate, and spray foamed everything under the sink. He ran the wires for AC and DC and both work great. Sadly, I can't be more specific with any of the installation process because I didn't do it, but all in all it seemed to go pretty smoothly and fairly fast.


  1. Really enjoyed this post and the pictures are great....Had to add you to my ever growing list of blogs I need to folloe...all of a nautical nature of course....Allan

  2. Up here in Alaska where people camp a lot, they teach classes in cooking with a pressure cooker and with a Dutch oven. I haven't done much of it myself, but apparently you can bake just about anything in a Dutch oven over a stovetop or campfire. On a campfire you use one that the lid is flat, and put coals on top of it so the heat comes from both top and bottom. Trouble is they're usually cast iron, and so are heavy and prone to rust on a sailboat.