RETRO Icebox remodel - Fiberglass RV

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Old 12-10-2007, 12:36 PM   #1
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Name: B
Trailer: 1973 13 ft Compact II
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I bought a '73 Compact II with the original icebox torn out and an ugly electric dorm one installed. I have a friend trying to restore the original RETRO icebox but it doesn't seem to have any insulation on it. How are they insulated? He says there's not enough room to put any rigid insulation boards...the only thing he can think of is to stuff as much fiberglass rolled insulation as room allows on the sides and back. Does anyone have any ideas for making sure the ice will stay insulated and keep my food cold in this little retro icebox? Hmmmmmmm...
I'm sure these iceboxes are all pretty much the same style and had some insulation.
I'd love to have your feedback so my buddy can move along with the restoration!
bbuehler [at]

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Old 12-10-2007, 12:44 PM   #2
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Trailer: 1975 13 ft Trillium
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there might just be some sort of aftermarket spray in "foamy type" stuff that he might be able to add.

I'm no 'K ler expert, but I think that the insulation might have been a soft wool like batting stuck on some sort of sheeting (cardboard??)

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Old 12-10-2007, 12:54 PM   #3
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The ones I've seen were just insulated with styrofoam (maybe 2 inches thick max). Fiberglass insulation should help - but I wouldn't "stuff in as much as room allows". As with nearly all insulation - what WE think of as the insulation isn't really what is doing the job of keeping the cold in (or out). The "insulation" just serves to prevent the movement of air around. It's the air itself that actually has all the insulating value. Styrofoam and pink foam work because they're full of air. Same with fiberglass insulation - it just stops air currents from moving around.

Probably the best thing you can do however is to make sure the door seal is working properly. You can add all the insulation you want in the back, but if the door leaks it won't do any good.

That being said - I personally like the little dorm fridges. They keep things nice and cold (when you can plug in). I use a conventional cooler full of an ice/water slurry for pop and other drinks. The fridge is just for food (meat, eggs, milk etc).

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Old 12-10-2007, 05:16 PM   #4
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I agree that excessive compression of fiberglass insulating batts is bad - their peak effectiveness per unit thickness of space occupied may be at something more packed that the usual home between-the-studs installation, but it certainly is not when packed tightly.

Injected cure-in-place foam could be quite effective, but I would be concerned about both removability later, and distortion of the icebox due to the pressure of the expanding foam. There are low-expansion foams made to address the second problem.

My obsessive comment of the day: the stuff made of white beads pressed together is expanded polystyrene foam, but it's not Styrofoam. Any expanded polystyrene foam can work; the extruded boards (such as real Styrofoam, or the pink stuff from another manufacturer) are better mechanically than the bead stuff (they don't fall apart) and have a bit higher insulating value for the same thickness.
1979 Boler B1700RGH, pulled by 2004 Toyota Sienna LE 2WD
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Old 12-11-2007, 08:43 AM   #5
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...... the point(s) made about NOT overstuffing the insulation are VERY valid, I neglected to put that in with my response!!
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Old 12-12-2007, 07:36 AM   #6
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My sister's Compact Jr. icebox was originally covered with maybe an inch of styrofoam-type insulation, molded into shape. She was complaining about it not staying cold long enough, so this winter I pulled it out, sprayed it with contact adhesive, and covered it with pink fiberglass insulation about an inch thick, left over from a home improvement project. Then I wrapped it in brown paper, mostly to make it easier to slide back into its hole (which worked great).

Since the camping season is over for her, we won't know whether it's effective until next summer. But I'm optimistic.

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