Thursday, February 2, 2012

Putting a lid on it

With the construction of an insulated lid, Jason aboard
s/v hello world completes his freezer project.  I did not include the insulation of the freezer box itself here on Small Boat Projects, because I thought it was too big to be considered, well, Small.  Because Jason does everything right, even building just the lid is almost too big.  But boy, his fiberglass work is spectacular!  You gotta see it...

Our original fridge had two lids side by side. There was an air gap between the lids so there was never any reasonable way to seal the lids. The lids also were held open by those collapsible springs that always seem to collapse when my head or fingers were in the way. So we decided to build a new lid and ledge for the lid to sit on.

The original lid was covered in a laminate that matched the galley counter top. We stood no chance of finding a match for that laminate and were not going to re-laminate the entire galley. Instead, we decided to make the fridge lid out of a butcher block material. We found a eucalyptus butcher block counter top material from Wood Welded. It was not cheap but looks pretty cool and matches the teak interior well enough. We could only get the butcher block in 24"x36" sections - which cost $200 - so we made sure to use up the off cuts. I made a matching cutting block that drops into the sink.

The matching cutting board built from the off cuts from the fridge lid.

The R-value of hard wood is negligible so we had to insulate the underside of the lid. I used the same extruded polystyrene (XPS) insulation that I insulated the fridge with. XPS (or blue board) foam cuts and shapes really well. I was able to shape a reasonably complex piece out of the foam. After getting the shape I wanted, I fiberglassed over the foam with 10 oz. cloth.

The blue board insulation cut down to the shape of the lid insulation. The piece of foam that's cut out is where the gas spring attaches to the lid insulation. I dropped some marine ply in there so the screws were going into wood, not foam.

After fiberglassing and fixing some sanding mistakes with thickened epoxy. Our fridge is composed of approximately 35% thickened epoxy.

We also had to build a new ledge for the lid to rest on. Our new lid was a different depth than the original and I had cut away the original lid ledge in the early days of this project. I built the lid ledge with the same process as the lid insulation. I added a few more layers of fiberglass on the lid ledge since it had to withstand the weight of the lid and whatever else I drop on it.

Assembling the foam to create the lid ledge.

Fiberglassing the lid ledge.

Dry fitting the ledge along with the freezer bin.

Both the lid insulation and lid ledge were finished the same way I finished the interior of our fridge box. I mixed West Systems epoxy along with a white pigment and coated the bejeezus out of both pieces. After the 10+ coats of epoxy cured, I faired the surface down and sanded it smooth. Then I wet sanded it with every grit of paper I could find between 400 and 1200 grit. Then hit the pieces with rubbing compound followed by 3M Glaze and a shot of carnuba wax.

Working on the epoxy finish.

The last piece of the lid puzzle was how to hold up this lid that weighs 20lbs without dropping it on my fingers or head. I installed a gas spring on the lid to give an assist in lifting the lid and keeping it open while I rummage through the bottom of the fridge for the just the right can of beer. Calculating the dimensions of the gas spring was a bit more complicated than I originally planned on. It involved trigonometry, Excel spreadsheets, and a dash of wild ass guesses. In the end, the spring I used worked great. It lifts the lid with virtually no effort, holds it open, and lets you effortlessly close the lid.

The gas spring attachment to the lid insulation.

The gas spring attachment to the fridge box.

The lid insulation.

Actual food actually being cooled by our actually operational fridge!

I still haven't put a gasket on the lid. That's on my list, just haven't gotten to it yet. I will also add a blog shortly on the refrigeration system we chose and how we installed it.

Phew, good times right?

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