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Old 04-28-2021, 12:32 AM   #1
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Name: Hannah
Trailer: Boler
British Columbia
Posts: 11
To fridge or not to fridge...

Hello, im looking for a little advice!
I have a 1973 13 foot boler that I have recently purchased. I am trying to decide if I should purchase a fridge for it. Right now it has an ice box, which I thought wouldn't be too bad, I mean no matter what we will always have to have a cooler, so I figured a second cooler inside the trailer wouldn't be a bad thing. But after our first camping trip out I realized that the ice box was virtually useless, the ice blocks melted one day into our trip, and even before the ice had melted it was hardly very cool in there. Im thinking about buying a fridge, but they are not very cheap, and due to the size restrictions ill pretty much always have to pack a cooler as well. Am I better off creating storage in the area and sticking with a cooler and not wasting money on the fridge? or is the fridge a good idea?

thanks!
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Old 04-28-2021, 04:27 AM   #2
Raz
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Vermont
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Most ice you buy is shavings, made to melt quickly. Even the block ice is compressed cubes.
I bought a plastic shoe box at the dollar store and make my own block. Also I partially fill 1/2 gallon containers and then after frozen, I fill to the top. These go in my fridge for drinking water. I have a Coleman extreme cooler that keeps my block ice frozen for atleast 3 days. I'm told Yeti coolers will go twice that. On the road look for block ice at a tackle and bait shop. Walmart bag ice is cheap and the ice machine is usually by the self check out.

As far as a fridge, they are expensive. A 3 way propane fridge will run $600 new plus installation. On propane they run a very long time. A 12 v. Compressor fridge is about the same cost but requires a way to charge the battery. A dorm fridge is cheap but requires shore power. Good luck.
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Old 04-28-2021, 05:39 AM   #3
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Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
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Depending on your tow vehicle, I prefer supplementing your ice box with a truck type 12V compressor fridge in the tow vehicle.

Installing a traditional RV fridge means cutting and hacking the outside of your Boler to provide adequate venting. And RV fridges are not cheap.

Dorm style 120V fridges are cheap but require shore power. No thanks!

To below on coolers I have two Walmart off brand Yeti style coolers, about $100 each. The unique thing about Yeti is the name, not the design. I’ve got the 55 qt Lifetime cooler, $97... Great value IMHO. Maybe not as good as a Yeti, but pretty close
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Old 04-28-2021, 06:51 AM   #4
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Trailer: 2008 Scamp 13 S1
Arizona
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Door #1: Ice Chest
I wrestled with the same issue. Problem is the only fridge that fits in that space is still far too small for our family. We usually cook outside, so it’s convenient to use an ice chest we can keep outside near our camp kitchen.

We ended up using the on-board ice box for dry storage of bread, chips, and other non-perishables that animals like to get into. (We plugged up the drain tube after ants got in to attack a strawberry pie we had stored in there… ) We have a 70 qt. Coleman Xtreme ice chest for cold storage, which gave us the best compromise of size, weight, performance, and price for our typical 3-5 day outings.

We use 20# bags of ice cubes from Costco, cheap at $2. They melt faster than a block, but melting equals cooling (physics 101), so I found cubes keep the food colder than a block. We get about 4 days from a bag. Important thing is not to pour off the water, since it’s close to 32*F and can still absorb a lot of heat. (The drain tube is one reason the icebox is so inefficient.) Use bins to keep sensitive items out of the soup.

Door #2: 3-way RV Fridge
On the other hand, for longer trips with one or two people, a small fridge might be enough, and you don’t have to keep looking for ice. A 3-way allows the most flexibility: AC when you have hookups, LP when you don’t, and DC while towing (maybe).

Whether you can run on 12V while towing depends on a number of factors, including the output of your alternator and the gauge of the wire that sends power to the trailer. Some tow vehicles simply cannot do it, especially smaller and newer electronics-laden models. Others can do it if you re-wire the charge line with a heavier gauge.

The alternatives are (1) tow with the fridge on propane (generally considered safe, but there is a small risk, and it must be turned off to refuel, on ferries, and in some tunnels and bridges); or (2) freeze small blocks of ice and put them in the fridge while towing, leaving the door closed and the fridge off.

Most of the smaller RV fridges are 3-way. I strongly recommend one with manual controls, no electronic control panel with lights and buttons, which not only consumes precious battery power but worse, won’t run at all if your battery is dead. Used is a good possibility- the size you need is common in tent trailers and truck campers. Yes, you do have to cut two fairly large holes in the shell. For safety the back of the fridge must be tightly sealed to the shell to prevent exhaust from LP operation getting into the cabin.

Door #3: 12V Compressor Fridge
A 12V compressor fridge does not require large holes in the shell. It’s much more efficient than a 3-way on 12V, but it still may require upgrading your battery and charging capability, often with solar. The come in chest (more efficient) and built-in styles. They are expensive, too, and there's not much of a used salvage market.
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Old 04-28-2021, 07:08 AM   #5
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Name: You can't call me Al
Trailer: Scamp
Massachusetts
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I also decided to go with coolers after about 2 months of looking at the refrigerator types, sizes, places to mount etc.


Here's my progress report if you're interested:
https://www.fiberglassrv.com/forums/...ess-95254.html


These coolers are VERY expensive at US$250 each, but they get excellent reviews, so I'm hopeful they will allow us to have fresh produce and cold snacks using just ice.
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Old 04-28-2021, 08:11 AM   #6
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Minnesota
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We had a 16 Scamp and now have a 19. The 16 had the smaller 1.9 cu ft fridge. It was ok but not much capacity so we also used a cooler for longer trips. Our current 19 has the much bigger 6 point something cu ft fridge which has been great for us as we use our trailer for long periods (like 6 months) volunteering as campground hosts. These newer 2 way fridges draw dc power even when on propane in order for their electronics to run. These fridges are better used for electric hookups or with supplemental solar to keep the battery up.

All that said, for a nice little boler like yours, Id probably keep the original ice box as storage and go with a good cooler.
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Old 04-28-2021, 09:56 AM   #7
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Name: Bob
Trailer: Boler 1300
British Columbia
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Hi Hannah,

The fridge in our boler was toast when we got it so I made the decision to use the space for more storage and go with a portable cooler. I don't reget it at all though I am thinking this year of purchasing a smaller portable 12v/110v compressor style to supplement the cooler.

It'll ride in the vehicle when we travel and plug into the trailer when we're parked. By my calculations my solar panel/battery combination should be good to keep it running.
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Old 04-28-2021, 10:11 AM   #8
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Name: Michael
Trailer: Trail Cruiser
Alberta
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Although I have never used one myself, I have seen folks using 12 volt coolers that plug into a cigarette lighter, either inside the tug or trailer. It can also use shore power when available. With sufficient solar power would this be an option?
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Old 04-28-2021, 10:22 AM   #9
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Just be aware that inexpensive 12V coolers typically use thermoelectric technology rather than a compressor. They are less efficient and can often cool no more than 30 degrees below ambient. You want a compressor unit.

A chest style is more efficient (because cold air is retained when you open the lid) but somewhat less convenient.
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Old 04-28-2021, 11:21 AM   #10
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Name: Jann
Trailer: Casita
Colorado
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hannahzaharik View Post
Hello, im looking for a little advice!
I have a 1973 13 foot boler that I have recently purchased. I am trying to decide if I should purchase a fridge for it. Right now it has an ice box, which I thought wouldn't be too bad, I mean no matter what we will always have to have a cooler, so I figured a second cooler inside the trailer wouldn't be a bad thing. But after our first camping trip out I realized that the ice box was virtually useless, the ice blocks melted one day into our trip, and even before the ice had melted it was hardly very cool in there. Im thinking about buying a fridge, but they are not very cheap, and due to the size restrictions ill pretty much always have to pack a cooler as well. Am I better off creating storage in the area and sticking with a cooler and not wasting money on the fridge? or is the fridge a good idea?

thanks!
Depends if you want to be buying ice all the time. In some places there may not be a store close and then driving to buy ice plus the cost over time could pay for a fridge. I prefer a fridge and we carry an ice chest when we go for longer periods of time. I freeze foods in water proof seal bags, freeze water in plastic milk jugs or any other jug that you can freeze, pack the ice chest with all the frozen stuff put ice cubes in to fill in spots. This keeps us going for about 5 days and we use the food in the ice chest first. When the ice is about gone we transfer any food to the fridge that is left in the ice chest. We keep milk and stuff we use all the time in the fridge. We never buy ice as we make it at home. I would not be without a fridge though.
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Old 04-28-2021, 07:26 PM   #11
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Trailer: 93 "Lil" Bigfoot 13.5'
Utah
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Hannah I have a 93 13.5' "Lil" Bigfoot. I just bought and installed a Dometic 3 way; RM 2193. I replaced a Dometic fridge the P.O. had put in (It was portable with wheels, it quit ). I liked the old fridge so I put in a new one. It cost $600.00 plus shipping from Kansa to Utah.
I have a Yeti medium size cooler. $200.+. I freeze Costco (empty) plastic (chocolate covered almonds) bottles, approx. a quart. 6"x6"x6".+-
I just returned from a trip to Capital Reef N.P. and surrounding area. The high temp was below 60 degrees for 5 days. The fridge was running on propane. 12v while traveling I had to turn the temperature of fridge warmer because it was freezing things like eggs, Yogurt and chicken breasts. Ambient temp correlation.
I haven't had this happen before, but, I had 6 blocks of ice in the Yeti and a 10lb bag of cubes. when the cubes melted, water in the bottom of the cooler was refrozen. I had the cooler surrounded with a shipping blanket. All the bottles were still frozen when we got home 5 days later, slight melt. I like the Yeti.
If I got a new trailer, I would want a fridge and coolers; I have a Coleman as well, for Ice and beer
My sister and husband have a boler. fridge doesn't work, they aren't going to fix it. they use it as a pantry. I use the clothes closet by the entry door as a pantry, it has 3 shelves.
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Old 04-28-2021, 08:08 PM   #12
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Name: Hannah
Trailer: Boler
British Columbia
Posts: 11
Thanks for all of the advice everyone! I think I have some thinking to do, I'm still torn on the idea. it seems so convenient to have a fridge! but also is a little bit of convenience worth the big bill? For now I've got my cooler and my ice blocks I make at home, and ill just have to keep my eye on craigslist and market place if I change my mind!
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Old 04-28-2021, 08:23 PM   #13
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Name: Dave W
Trailer: Trillium 4500 - 1977, 1978 (2), 1300 - 1977, 1973, and a 1972
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It has been a couple of years since I purchased any fridges, and I understand that both trailers, and trailer parts have increased in price due to COVID, but I never paid much more than $100 for an absorption fridge. I have purchased at least five of them, (two RM36 and three RM211 fridges). All of them worked on 120 VAC. I didn’t test them on propane. Kijiji is your friend.

I also sold one of the RM211 fridges for ..... yup $100. Never going to get rich that way.
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Old 04-29-2021, 06:57 AM   #14
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Name: George
Trailer: 1997 16' Scamp
Michigan
Posts: 75
Fridge or no fridge

Hi
I read many different replies that show the diversity of camping. We use our Scamp for about 4-5 wks each winter in a warm southern state. I use it for a week each spring and fall as I commission our sailboat which is about 200 miles from our home. We use it occasionally at summer motorcycle or classic trailer rallies. Once we went on a 4 month National Parks tour across the nation. Camping at a site without electricity is a rare exception with us. We look for showers and pump-outs as well which generally means electricity. We have a small dorm type fridge. It vents inside the trailer which has not caused us any problems in the 8 yrs we have owned the trailer. I did install an air conditioner after an unusually hot week at Badlands Nat Park a few yrs ago but have only turned it on 3-4 times in the yrs since. The fridge is small making a trip to a store necessary every 3 days or so. We welcome the "road trip" as a pleasant change in routine. We travelled for yrs on our boat with an icebox. I have bragged that with 3 trips to the Bahamas, we spent more on ice than on fuel. I installed a 12v compressor type chest fridge in the boat about 10 yrs ago. We personally much prefer the fridge over an icebox.
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Old 04-29-2021, 07:36 AM   #15
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Name: bill
Trailer: 2013 Escape 19; 1977 Trillium 1300
The Mountains of North Carolina
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My favorite National Park campgrounds all gave one trait in common: no hookups: Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Colorado National Monument, almost every campsite in Yellowstone, Mt Pisgah CG on Blue Ridge Parkway, Denali, etc.

Being tethered to shore power greatly reduces choices. In Yellowstone, the only CG with hookups in the park is a glorified parking lot. Meanwhile the rest of the campgrounds have spacious sites.

There are typically CGs near the National Parks with hookups. I find them ver inconvenient, sites on top of each other and expensive. Until you have waited two hours at an entrance gate you won’t appreciate the advantage of staying inside the park. And with the senior pass, camping inside the parks is 50% off.
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Old 04-29-2021, 10:33 AM   #16
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Name: George
Trailer: 1997 16' Scamp
Michigan
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favorite National Park campgrounds have no hook-ups

It's true that most Nat parks have no electricity in the regular campgrounds. We stayed at Yellowstone, no elect and paid for showers at the lodge. Badlands Nat Park has no elect other than at the "parking lot" sites across from the store. When visiting Texas, we stay at the state parks with electricity and spend a week or less at The badlands without power. We purchase ice and showers at the store. Diversity is a wonderful thing and one size doesn't fit all. People camping in a Scamp or similar trailer should be among the first to recognize that most all other trailer campers desire more space and amenities. As for being one with nature, back packing in the mountains was the best but age seems to change what can be called fun.
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Old 04-29-2021, 06:14 PM   #17
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Trailer: Bigfoot 25B21RB
California
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Originally Posted by Mike_L View Post
Although I have never used one myself, I have seen folks using 12 volt coolers that plug into a cigarette lighter, either inside the tug or trailer. It can also use shore power when available. With sufficient solar power would this be an option?
last summer our fridge died. Had to replace the coolent unit upon our return.

A friend loaned us a 12 volt cooler that pluged into our 12 volt outlet (cigarette lighter). We placed it under our dinette table and it allowed us to complete the final month of our camping trip. Not as good as a refrigerator ... but it kept the milk and eggs cold.

Whatever you end up doing -- do add 1-2 12 volt outlets to your dinnette area and around your bed. Never know when you will need one.

Regarding a refrigerator ... definately put one into your trailer. You really need to keep your everyday items cold. We have an ice chest in the car, which we do fill on route to our training area. The ice lasts all day and most of the morning.
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Old 04-29-2021, 07:07 PM   #18
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re: Yeti class coolers. There's a brand Canyon, that IMHO are every bit as rugged and efficient as Yeti, at about half the price. the full sized ones are certified Grizzly bear proof if you use locks in the provided places. I usually use the big one primarily for bottled and canned beverages but this last 4 day trip, our fridge wouldn't run on propane, so we had to take all our food out of the RV fridge and put it in the big Canyon. that and 20 lbs of ice kept us for the first 3 days, on the 4th day I got another 20 lbs, and that lasted several more days after we got home.. i was putting more beverages in to chill when we used them, but it wasn't particularly hot out, in fact it was in the 50s much of the time, and 40s at night.
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Old 04-29-2021, 09:18 PM   #19
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Name: Bing
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Thumbs up Ice box

Back when T-Rex roamed the earth I bought a tent camper with a small refridge in it. Of course it didn't work after trying many fixes. Bought a ice box that was same size and slid it into place. 10# block barely made 24 hours. Added 2" of pink foam all the way around it, little less under it, and stretched 10# block of ice out to 2-1/2 days! Could hardly believe it. At 80+ degrees at that.
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Old 04-29-2021, 11:03 PM   #20
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Trailer: Escape 21, behind an '02 F250 7.3 diesel tug
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Originally Posted by Bing M. View Post
Back when T-Rex roamed the earth I bought a tent camper with a small refridge in it. Of course it didn't work after trying many fixes. Bought a ice box that was same size and slid it into place. 10# block barely made 24 hours. Added 2" of pink foam all the way around it, little less under it, and stretched 10# block of ice out to 2-1/2 days! Could hardly believe it. At 80+ degrees at that.
our 1972 VW bus ('breadbox') conversion camper that we had in the 80s had a ice box, we almost never used, it would take the better part of a block of ice to get the box cold, even if you filled it with already cold food, and there just wasn't much room left over after said block. it also had an aluminum water tank you pressurized with a bicycle pump, and a excellent 2 burner propane stove and a somewhat scary tiny heater that we decided was unreliable and dangerous and disconnected. there was no 'house' battery, just the VW engine battery under the back seat.

the popup tent trailer we had in the early 2000s had a little 2-way absorption fridge, that was pretty marginal in warm water and had an annoying habit of blowing out on windy days.

our Casita had a similar small Absorption fridge but it worked a little better, still, barely adequate.

the big RMD8555 fridge/freezer in our Escape was wonderful until it stopped working on propane this year and I don't know what to do to diagnose it (tried the obvious things, quickly getting beyond my comfort zone). local mobile RV repair guy (who gets /much/ better reviews than the big RV repair place on the westside) said its really hard to get parts for these (and he's an authorized Dometic fridge service guy), he could look at it but he's booked solid for the next month+
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