Help me insulate my icebox, Campster/Compact type. - Fiberglass RV


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Old 08-07-2012, 11:13 AM   #1
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Help me insulate my icebox, Campster/Compact type.

I took a close look at the icebox. The problem with removing/insulating/replacing is in part that it is 42 year old styrofoam-insulated, and in part that the housing for it appears to be cracked in one place (might be hard to replace without a problem.) And also reattachment of the drain hose could present a problem.

The two inside photos show a lot of space to insulate sides, I imagine there is also room for a couple of inches of insulation at the top. LOTS of room in back.

The photo with the heater shows the wall space adjacent- I could conceivably put an access door through there to help do the insulation and then build in a shelf or something like Steve did for Cory. I don't really need the space but it wouldn't hurt. Or I can remove the wooden shelf and microwave also to get more access to the icebox.

So, best approach? I'm thinking remove the shelf, remove the microwave (which needs some stabilization anyway as it keeps slipping back) and feed pieces of Reflectix up and over the top to insulate the top. Then use regular house insulation in the sides and tack more reflectix on the bottom to insulate and also keep the insulation where it belongs.

Then I'm thinking putting a sliding tray in where the wood shelf is so stuff is more accessible (there used to be two drawers but I sacrificed them to make room for the microwave and just installed part of one back as a tray. Trouble is I rarely use the stuff in the tray as it is hard to get to. I think if I can find one I'd put the tray back without its front end and use a sliding wire tray inside it. The drain hose does not currently leak so I don't want to mess with it.

I can keep two 10 lb blocks of ice for two full days so getting just a couple more days would be enough.

Any advice?

I can't figure out anyway to caption the photos but one shows the space at the top of the icebox, one shows the crack, two show the space inside the walls. Wiring is to 12 V lights on one and to 110 V light on the other.

Bobbie
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Old 08-07-2012, 07:58 PM   #2
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Bobbie, I am not familiar with your type of trailer and cannot make out as much as would like with the pics. But I can tell you insulating the icebox did help me. I used 2 sheets of household insulation foam. Each sheet was about an inch and a half.
Measured and glued them together like a sandwich. then glued the back and slid them in place. Then when all was attached I got some thinsulate and glued the back of that and wraped around sides and back of the box. then cut a piece to fit the top and bottom. I did not remove the Ice box. It was tough to manuver by hand through tiny spaces. It works for me. I do not use dry ice. But blocks of ice frozen water with salt in big square bottles, so little drainage if any. The decision is personal depending on your use. Good luck. Nice trailer!
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Old 08-07-2012, 08:07 PM   #3
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I just added insulation to an ice box in an over head camper I have.
I added one inch ridged foam insulation to the interior walls of the cabinet the ice box is in.
I repaired a crack in the ice tray with silicone. Just sand the area your going to repair very well.
The rigid foam is available in 4x8 sheets at any building supply store. It also comes in different thicknesses. If you need an inch buy the 1/2" board and sandwich it
John.
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Old 08-07-2012, 08:54 PM   #4
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The real problem looks like getting to the top of the icebox. I was thinking about just drilling a couple of holes and squeezing some Great Stuff foam in there. It expands to fill spaces (a lot.) First I would insulate the sides and try to weave a piece of insulation over the top. Then add the foam. I am not sure I want to mess with the back as if I knock the drain loose it could be hard to fix. And any added insulation is going to help. I'll have a little more room to work when I pull out the microwave and that shelf, though.

I thought about doing a fridge but I'd have to build some kind of support for it as it isn't designed just to mount through a hole in the front.
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Old 08-08-2012, 08:45 AM   #5
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Bobbie, I know you're familiar with how I did it on Cory's trailer. It wasn't a big deal to take the icebox out, and it made it so easy to wrap it in insulation. The fiberglass insulation compressed to fit through the hole when I reinstalled the icebox, and the brown paper over the insulation kept it from being damaged as it slid through.

The drain hose you could connect to the icebox before you reinstalled it.

I would be very uneasy about using spray-in expanding foam, for fear of permanently "gluing" the icebox in place.
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:59 AM   #6
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I also need to add some insulation to my fridge. Is there a big advantage to using household insulation foam over heat/sound insulation such as this?
I know its been mentioned here before that foil/bubble type insulation has some fire hazard issues but Is there a big down side to using something like the Solarguard that Home Depot sells. The later appears to be " 1/4 in. of fiberglass core bonded to two layers of 99% pure aluminum" with a class A/1 fire rating.
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Old 08-08-2012, 11:27 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Hilby View Post
Bobbie, I know you're familiar with how I did it on Cory's trailer. It wasn't a big deal to take the icebox out, and it made it so easy to wrap it in insulation. The fiberglass insulation compressed to fit through the hole when I reinstalled the icebox, and the brown paper over the insulation kept it from being damaged as it slid through.

The drain hose you could connect to the icebox before you reinstalled it.

I would be very uneasy about using spray-in expanding foam, for fear of permanently "gluing" the icebox in place.
You must have had more room around the icebox opening, Steve, I don't think insulation would compress enough to put a wrapped icebox back through that hole. Plus someone else suggested not using fiberglass insulation. Have you seen any problems with it? (It's been a couple of years, hasn't it?) Did you also insulate the back of the icebox?

I just discovered denim insulation, they make it in rolls and as water heater blankets such as this It would be safe in the trailer, maybe not quite as insulating but I don't need much. Easier to poke up around the icebox. For that matter I could probably wrap it with quilt batting.

The spray on foam comes off pretty easily, that would not worry me. It will easily just break off. I could see that being a problem glueing other insulation on, though.

I also think if the icebox removes easily, I could install the insulation around it and then replace it (rather than wrapping the icebox itself) if there isn't room. I might try that. I'm still worried about losing the drain hose, though. If it pulls off and is loose behind the cabinetry I might not easily get it back.
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Old 08-08-2012, 05:27 PM   #8
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I wonder if cellulose insulation might work. I have no experience with it but I know it it sold in bags. While typically it is blown, it can also be poured. If you have access to the top you might be able to fill around the ice box. My understanding is it can be messy and dusty. Another thought is packing peanuts. Raz
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:03 PM   #9
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The problem with peanuts or cellulose is that the whole area behind the icebox is open, too. (Not that it couldn't use insulation.)

I'm thinking the best way might be the combo method- pull the icebox out but glue the sheet insulation in place and then replace it (glue to walls and ceiling, not to icebox.) Though it still leaves me in fear of losing the drain connection or ending up with leaks in it. But I may try just stuffing first. The denim idea made me think of just using an old comforter or sleeping bag.

On the other hand, once I pull out the icebox I might put in a fridge. PLENTY of air space for ventilation behind it so that no longer worries me (as long as it isn't a freezer.)
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:17 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bobbie Mayer View Post
The problem with peanuts or cellulose is that the whole area behind the icebox is open, too. (Not that it couldn't use insulation.)

I'm thinking the best way might be the combo method- pull the icebox out but glue the sheet insulation in place and then replace it (glue to walls and ceiling, not to icebox.) Though it still leaves me in fear of losing the drain connection or ending up with leaks in it. But I may try just stuffing first. The denim idea made me think of just using an old comforter or sleeping bag.

On the other hand, once I pull out the icebox I might put in a fridge. PLENTY of air space for ventilation behind it so that no longer worries me (as long as it isn't a freezer.)
I think you should go camping and think about it.
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Old 08-08-2012, 06:47 PM   #11
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Good idea, except the next trip is the one on which, last year, I ran out of ice and couldn't find blocks. Thus the reason to try to solve the problem first!
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Old 08-08-2012, 07:45 PM   #12
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Foam varies in R factor or U factor depending on type (U factor is the reciprocal of the R factor) . The inexpensive white bead board is only about R3 / Inch - Blue Styrofoam is R5 / Inch and the foil faced foams go from R6.5 t0 R7.5 / Inch. Also certain foams age or deteriorate faster , are more sunlight resistant ,are affected by high temperatures differently, absorb moisture differently have better puncture resistance,and have different fire ratings . Foil faced , high R factor, 1 inch foam costs about $15.00 to $20.00 for a 4 ft.x 8ft.sheet.
(R factor is good- the higher the better)
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Old 08-08-2012, 10:18 PM   #13
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I used about an inch of fiberglass insulation, mounted with spray adhesive. I then covered it with brown paper (I had a nice roll of 36" wide brown paper handy), held in place with masking tape. The hole the icebox mounted in was perhaps half an inch bigger than the unwrapped icebox, so there was some compression of the insulation required to get it into place.

I insulated top,bottom, back, and both sides. I mounted a corkboard to the door for Sis to pin postcards to, and I suppose that helped insulate the door a little
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Old 08-09-2012, 09:44 AM   #14
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Oh, great idea on the corkboard. Thanks, Steve. I'm still mulling things over as the extreme cooler for extra ice blocks seems the simplest answer. I'd like to take the trailer to Fresno this winter and do some work inside (where I have a garage) and then I could do whatever else I decide instead of rushing it now. I also would like to reconfigure the bed(s) and the poptop fabric needs replacement so I do have a bunch to do.
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Old 08-09-2012, 11:57 AM   #15
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Well, I've decided on two things. One, I ordered a smallish Coleman Xtreme cooler to use to keep two extra blocks of ice in. I only need 1-2 days more. I measured the ice block (I have one in the freezer as I bought three and could only fit two in the Campster last trip) and looked up the cooler dimensions.I went small as they are more efficient if full and two extra is all I can foresee needing. It is short so it will slide under the Campster at the campground where it should stay shaded and fairly cool and I'll only open it to get the blocks out. I'll see how that does.

Second, I'll try getting at least minimal extra insulation around the icebox without removing it. Anything would be an improvement. But if I have spare ice it really won't matter as two blocks lasts me a regular weekend.
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Old 08-28-2012, 02:31 PM   #16
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Update on the icebox/ice saver experiment.

I started out by putting a block of ice (about 20 lbs) in the Campster on Wednesday afternoon. Thursday morning I bought three ten pound blocks and put two in the ice chest and one in the icebox. Left for camping. It wasn't very hot- high was about 75 on Saturday.

Sunday at about 11 am I dumped the excess water from the ice chest. When I got home about 3 I weighed the ice from the ice chest (which I never used.) Of the 20 lbs, 14 lbs remained. ( I did not verify that they weighed 10 lbs each to start.) I'd opened the ice chest about four times.

A little of the original ice in the icebox remained (so I know it wasn't as hot as usual, plus I had more than the usual 20 lbs.)

So... I'm not sure how well this is going to work in hotter weather. The ice in the chest definitely melted more slowly than the ice in the icebox. The difference would probably have been larger if it had been hot and sunny as the trailer would have been warmer whereas the ice chest was out of the sun. And if I'd been more concerned I would not have opened the icebox at all until I needed the ice (which usually is on the third day.)

I can think of some improvements; the best would be to find a container or containers that were just about the size of the ice chest and freeze the starting ice myself so that it fills the ice chest (no air space). I don't know whether that will be easy or not. Second, of course, is don't open the chest to check on the ice!

So not 100% a success; we'll see how it does in hotter weather but probably not before next summer.
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Old 08-28-2012, 08:29 PM   #17
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This is just a thought(and maybe you tried it and I just missed it in reading) have you tried cleaning a gallon jug,fill almost full of water & freeze for several days then put the top back on & take on your trip. We use to have a "ice box" in our pop up and that seemed to work real good for us.An added befitwas that when the ice melted we had water from home & not a big mess to clean up from the drip pan.

We still do this today,but now we use store bought water(16oz size)because that will fit in our home freezer.It does help with the amount of ice that we need for the sodes,etc. and again as it melts we have ice water.

Happy camping
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Old 08-28-2012, 08:42 PM   #18
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We have always done the same with milk jugs. Works great!
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Old 08-28-2012, 08:56 PM   #19
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Freezing something at home is beside the point- the problem is the icebox only holds so much, and that much melts too fast for a three day trip (works okay for two days but if it is warm, not for longer.) So it doesn't matter how I get the intial blocks of ice; the problem is what to do when they melt.

But a note on the frozen jugs, yes, they work, and they actually melt more slowly, but that means they cool less effectively. The icebox stays colder if the ice is melting freely, not in a container, because it melts faster that way. I want blocks of ice. This past trip I froze a rubber washpan of ice and it did fit the icebox, sort of, but I don't think two of them would have fit in the ice chest for extra ice. I like frozen bottles in a cold-drink chest, but I usually like max cooling in the icebox.

(And I know someone is going to say that melting ice is 32 F (0 C) no matter how fast it melts. Yes, this is true, but the amount of heat that it draws from the atmosphere (in this case the icebox) is greater if the ice is melting faster. If the icebox and ice came to equilibrium and ice remained unmelted, it would be 32 F, but that doesn't happen in our relatively inefficient iceboxes.)

And the ice chest would be more efficient if the ice in it left little room for air.
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Old 08-29-2012, 07:28 PM   #20
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Did you think of using a hot water tank insulating wrap. I have used this in my trailer to help keep it cooler in hot weather. The wrap is thin but still insulates pretty good.
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