Filed Under (Boater's Galley Companion) by Debbie on 05-07-2007

Our Newport 30 sailboat has a wonderful galley with a stove and refrigerator. The fridge was originally an icebox.  It works well as an icebox but I love it as a fridge.

My hubby said recently, “Well, we’ve worked on every system on this boat.”

I said, “Don’t say that! There are lots we haven’t worked on.”

He then began counting off all the things we’ve fixed up, replace, repaired, rewired, removed or installed. The fridge was one of those items he listed. I pointed out that connecting a wire, which had come undone, didn’t qualify, as ‘fixing’ and he shouldn’t count that system. Sadly, Neptune has big ears…and they swiveled in our direction.

We took a cruise to Government Island on the Columbia River for the weekend. I didn’t understand at the time why the fridge didn’t seem to get as cold as before. However, the next trip to the boat, I understood plenty. All the must keep cold stuff was ruined and the beer was warm… I cast the evil eye in my hubby’s direction. I think I heard Neptune chuckle. Thus began the search for help. Of course the first stop was fellow members of our club for their knowledge and thoughts. Most seemed to feel we could get the system ‘re-charged’ and we got the same name from pretty much everyone. Off went the call and we (meaning my hubby) left a message on the guys voice mail. Okay, stop laughing, some guys actually do return calls…just not this guy.

Then we began the Internet search. Finally I, meaning me, found the company that manufactured our old system and gave my hubby the phone number. After many anal-retentive questions we (meaning my hubby) discovered the old system couldn’t be ‘re-charged’. Drat’s! Now we’re looking at new systems, with new bigger prices.

I told my hubby, “It works fine as an icebox…let’s wait until next year to fix it.” After all, we’d just gotten the bottom done, replaced the wood stove and repaired the cook stove. I was ready to call it for this season.

Doggedly determined to fix it, he persevered. He discovered that we could replace with a new fridge for a large amount of money or we could replace with a like unit for less than half of the new system. The new fridge would work for 10+ years and a replacement would work for about six years. He was leaning towards the new and improved. I pointed out that we’d probably sell the boat before the less expensive like unit wore out. Lo and Behold! He found like unit at the local boat supply store, in an open box and being the shrewd and savvy man he is…got them to take less than they were asking for it…. He was quite pleased to cart our new Norcold icebox conversion system down the dock to the boat. Thus began the dreaded installation process.

Since it is the same as the last one we were lucky in that all the drilled holes were done. Although, I have to say there would have only been five holes that would have been drilled if we were doing this conversion fresh. Icebox compressor

The instructions Norcold included with the conversion system are an easy to follow step-by-step paper. The most difficult part was placing the compressor for the unit. My hubby is a well-fed man; the compartment for the compressor was extremely small. Which of course means I had to screw the compressor in place. At 50+ years it is difficult to be a contortionist with or without a screwdriver. I had bruises up my side and fiberglass in my hands but the darned thing went in with out a hitch.

line hook up

The cold plate goes into the icebox and is screwed into place, as is the thermostat. There are a couple of copper tubes that connect to the compressor and electric lines to hook-up but everything is easy. The people at Norcold were friendly and helpful.
inside box

The Norcold icebox conversion system is easy to install, it’s kind of a ‘tab A in slot B’ sort of set-up. The system fired right up and I’m happy to say, I’ve got cold beer again! It works on both shore power and 12 volt and once again the galley goddess reins supreme!

If you are thinking about more than blocks of ice for your galley and aren’t traveling in the tropics, then this system might be for you. I did learn one important lesson…don’t turn the unit off. It needs to run continuously to work correctly. I shut ours down for the winter….ooops…..

We’re off again tomorrow to cruise the Columbia River, I hope Neptune’s ears are tuned elsewhere!  If you found this helpful, please remember I have a real estate license and if you’re going to buy or sell I’d love to refer a local agent for an interview.  It costs you nothing and if you use them, they pay me a percentage which helps me keep this blog on the web.  Again, our little Norcold ice box conversion was easy and really helps take us from camping to ‘living’ when on the sailboat!

5 Comments posted on "A Simple Boat Refrigerator"
Jenny on July 9th, 2007 at 1:59 pm #

This sounds like it’s for me!

[…] If you have an ice box you might want to think about a conversion. You can see mine here: A Simple Boat Refrigerator It works great, works on shore power or 12 volt and best of all wasn’t expensive and I put it in […]

Ericson 25+ Sailboat on November 10th, 2008 at 3:48 pm #

[…] galley will surprise you. There is a nice sized ice box (see how to convert it here) a stove and sink. The stove originally was a recessed Kenyon two burner alcohol unit with a […]

Rickie Hulsey on December 17th, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

Thank you! I must have surfed over 30 internet, search links which only enticed you with a tease of verbiage that they could instruct you on how to convert an ice box into a refrigerator but as I stated only a tease. Each site, all male blogs, insisting they knew how to accomplish this feat but no instructions on how it was/is done. So, this female was overjoyed to find that another female finally provided the information I needed. Thank you again, and I would refer you as a realtor, should I ever sell.

Debbie on December 18th, 2012 at 9:03 pm #

Thanks Rickie! Hope the info helps, these are really easy to install and work great! Albeit we’re not in the tropics I love this little unit.

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