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Old 01-01-2019, 03:26 PM   #1
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Name: Bob
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Empty space where the refrigerator was

Hi folks

I'm looking at the empty hole where the refrigerator used to be in my '73 boler and thinking of options. I'm in the process of redoing things now that I finally have all the old paint removed and mildew dealt with. Of course.

My thought is to leave the old Norcold unit out (I think it's the original AC/DC). It was working at least on 110 but not sure how well. I also have a 3 way Dometic that I salvaged from a friends pop up trailer and it seems to be in good shape but I don't really want to add the needed vents and re-plumb the propane.

So my thinking is to just reconfigure the refrigerator portion of the cabinet for storage and use a portable 12v/110 unit. We aren't currently looking to do any long trips with the trailer so think this might be the best option. We also do longer vehicle only trips and the portable unit would be nice to have for those road trips.

Would love to get input from folks who might have been in a similar situation and choices.

Will definitely be posting pics as I go forward in sprucing up our new cottage on wheels.

Thanks in advance folks!!
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Old 01-01-2019, 04:14 PM   #2
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I believe those units are only capable of cooling 36 degrees F below ambient. So, if you're in the Okanagan in summer, and it's 35 C ( 95 F ), it will be almost 60 F in your cooler.

Best check the specs of any electric cooler you consider.


And, of course, where's the electricity going to come from?
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Old 01-01-2019, 04:46 PM   #3
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Definitely will keep an eye on the specs Glenn. Thanks for the heads up. Going to do the solar boler thing so I should be able to size things appropriately. Also currently plan to keep things local to Vancouver Island and short trips so.... It's a learning curve, right?
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Old 01-01-2019, 04:59 PM   #4
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We freeze everything that will freeze before loading the trailer. Have a propane 5.0 cu. ft. fridge with a good size freezer. We fill it up with a frozen chicken ( halved ), steaks, burgers, dogs.

If your trips are not long, you could get away with cooler and ice and pre-frozen food.


Solar can be a problem when you live in a rain forest.
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Old 01-01-2019, 05:07 PM   #5
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The electric coolers, those that can cool or warm, are inexpensive but as Glenn says only cool x degrees from ambient temperature. We pulled our 120v dorm fridge out of the Campster because of less than satisfactory experience and went the 12v approach for a while. It worked ok for a weekend, usually starting with help from a frozen 12 liter bottle of water. I never tried to run it off the solar panel because I concluded that it would kill the battery.

We have now upgraded to a compressor cooler, aka truck fridge. The one we found for less than $500 will run about 14 hours off the built in lithium battery and has shut off controls so it shuts off before killing your external battery. It can be used to freeze but I set ours at 38 degrees.

The only problem is that it is a chest and gets in the way in such a small trailer. We move it into the truck or a pop up while camped.

BTW, we put a microwave and additional storage where the fridge was.
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Old 01-01-2019, 06:10 PM   #6
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Georgia
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I would seriously take a good look at the 12V/110V fridge/freezers that are being used in the overlanding world. I have had a couple of Engel fridge freezers and they draw about 1.5 amps at most. With a relatively small solar panel you can run one indefinitely and a 12V battery will generally run one for 3-4 days. The main brands are Engel, ARB, Snomaster and National Luna and they run around $700 for a 35 quart unit - $900 for a 45 quart and $1100 for a 60 quart. The Snomaster has a twin compartment fridge freezer where either side or both can be used as fridge or freezer. They all top load and can be mounted on a slide out tray that would pull out f the cabinet. That's what I was going to do in my Boler.


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Old 01-01-2019, 07:42 PM   #7
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Definitely liking the idea of a portable 12v/110V compressor style unit. I'm a fan of paying more money once for a good product rather than on a regular basis to replace something that doesn't do the job. I like the idea of having a pullout shelf where the old unit was. Not sure I have the cabinet depth but I'll certainly give it a look.

Well so far it sounds like I'm not out in left field with my thinking Was thinking I might fab an aluminum frame with some shelves and slide it in where the refrigerator was. Then it could be removed if at some future date I (or someone else) want to switch it back. Oh yeah, the creative juices are flowing now!!
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Old 01-02-2019, 12:55 AM   #8
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We use our boler primarily for winter get aways so it usually sits in one spot for a bit of time.
Thought this may be something you could consider. If you look closely at the right rear quarter of the boler in the pic there sits a small apartment fridge.
Travels in our minivan and did a great job for us. We still have our small fridge in the boler but because of its capacity we were always making trips to the grocer, this solved that. They are very light and I found easy to handle.
I have often thought of pulling that small fridge and doing some kind of storage unit so will be watching to see what you come up with.
fred
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Old 01-02-2019, 02:45 AM   #9
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I presume that small apartment fridge is connected to AC power at camp.
What do you do without hookups?
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Old 01-02-2019, 09:08 AM   #10
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Leave it at home, Glenn.

It's a perfectly good solution, but with a limited application. Great if you're staying a week or more at a park with power.

If not, I agree with the solutions mentioned. For short trips or limited budget, a good quality ice chest works for us. Like others, we bring frozen meat and cook as it thaws.

For extended travel and/or camping without power, a 12V compressor fridge with solar is ideal. They do make front-loading models for convenience and an OEM appearance, but top-load is a lot more efficient. The sliding tray sounds like a good plan.

EDIT- Cancel my earlier comment about the 3-way- I see now you don't have the vents, which means this originally came with an icebox. (I don't think the Norcold was OEM, BTW.) I would rather cough up for a good DC compressor/solar system than hack holes in the fiberglass for a type of fridge that is fussy, sometimes ineffective, and always inefficient.
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Old 01-02-2019, 10:27 AM   #11
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Do you have a link for the "bag" that your cooler resides in? I have a new Grizzly 40 I got for xmas & wouldn't mind adding the xtra insulation the bag provides.
Richard/Macon, GA
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Old 01-02-2019, 10:41 AM   #12
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In my Hunter Compact Jr, rather then installing Dometic 3-way, I wish I had done this:

A good quality ice chest and a 12V compressor fridge with solar is ideal. The sliding tray sounds like a good plan.

My 3-way is very finicky to operate in temperature extremes and the flame often blows out in windy conditions. I always bring a cooler in anticipation of refrigerator/temperature problems. I am contemplating the 12v compresser fridge as a future modification/improvement.
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Old 01-02-2019, 11:09 AM   #13
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Jon - Ah yes the cooler!! That would have been original I imagine. I'm definitely getting the vibe that I'm on the right track.
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Old 01-02-2019, 11:45 AM   #14
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The Engel 35 external dimensions are 25.5 x 14.3 x 16 tall so if you get some heavy duty drawer slides from Mcmaster-Carr you can Fab up a tray that would slide out of the cabinet a d allow access to the top loading fridge/freezer. I think it would fit in the Boler cabinet. The fridge will run off shore power if you're plugged in and battery of you're boondocking. Once you have one of these you'll never go back to a cooler.
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Old 01-02-2019, 05:31 PM   #15
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Did a quick measure up and it looks like I won't have enough cabinet space to put a 12/110 v unit in but I'm pretty sure I have another spot that one will fit into.

Thanks everyone for your input and help.

Will certainly post the pics when I get it sorted.
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Old 01-02-2019, 05:41 PM   #16
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Jack Walter's Engel is a good solution. See post #6. I don't see them in his picture, but compressor refrigerators typically have air vents which must be unobstructed. So insulate everything else. Good luck.
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Old 01-02-2019, 06:31 PM   #17
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Name: Gordon
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I have a pair of the ARB 50Qt. units.

I run each one off of a dedicated battery. Well, kind of dedicated, these batteries also power the boat loader on the truck. It, obviously, does not get used every day.

During the hottest part of the summer, the one that I didn't open often lasted 7 days. The other 4. That was with no solar panel, no re-charging.

The temperature was in excess of 100 F during the day and stayed pretty warm all night.
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Old 01-02-2019, 06:58 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Glenn Baglo View Post
What do you do without hookups?
That doesn't happen in my world but we still have the stock 2way in the trailer
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Old 01-02-2019, 10:26 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rjg433 View Post
Do you have a link for the "bag" that your cooler resides in? I have a new Grizzly 40 I got for xmas & wouldn't mind adding the xtra insulation the bag provides.
Richard/Macon, GA
you can make your own iinsulating cover using the foam from Yoga mats. Just cut to size then add some adhesive at the edges, tape together while the adhesive cures. Yoga mats are made with EVA foam which is a closed cell foam with good R value for its thickness. You can buy the mats at any sporting goods store and also at places such as Walmart.


Clear acrylic adhesive caulking works for assembly. Or one of the faster setting adhesives that come in tubes from the hardware stores or E6000. EVA foam glues quite nicely with adhesives that have some flexible stretch to them.


The sleeping pad mats that have reflective on one side are made with EVA foam so those are another insulation option for creating a cover for an ice chest.
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Old 01-09-2019, 02:47 PM   #20
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Name: Jim
Trailer: Boler
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I installed a 3 way Dometic in our 74 Boler. It has a far larger capacity than the original. The cost for the new propane connection was less than $100. The fridge hung out of the front of the cabinet by 3-4" so I built a trim piece, very easy. I did not have to add any more vents, but cutting the fibreglass and riveting the vents in place is easy. Fridge works great with all three power supplies.
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