Constructing a New Galley:  Page 2
This page was last updated on 30 January 2002

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Constructing a New Icebox

One of the many faults of the original galley--at least as far as our plans for the boat were concerned-- was its poorly insulated icebox.  IN addition, I didn't like the silly design with the side-opening door and cockpit-mounted ice hatch.  So, in the early stages of the project, I removed the old icebox and filled in the cockpit ice hatch with fiberglass.  Many months later, I moved forward with building the new icebox.

Like the old, the new icebox will be mounted to port of the companionway, occupying more or less the same footprint as the old.  Since I had shortened the starboard settee to make way for a real stove, I wanted to keep the port settee long enough to be used as a berth.  So, measuring six feet from the forward bulkhead, I placed a line on the settee to show the forwardmost extent of the new icebox.  

Heavy, effective insulation was key to the success and planning of the new icebox, and I factored in a minimum of 4" all the way around.  To better accommodate the insulation at the bottom side of the icebox, and to make more room, I first cut out a portion of the settee.  This would allow the insulation to sit directly against the hull and create the deepest icebox possible.  While there are upper limits for size on any icebox for efficiency, I still wanted as large a box as possible so that I could fit plenty of ice and still leave room for food and drink.  To allow for the thickness of the insulation, I left a 4" border around the edges of the cutout for the insulation to sit on.

Using the line on the settee and the existing engine box as a guide, I measured for a new bulkhead.  In preparation for securing the new bulkhead, I attached some wooden cleats to the settee and engine box in the proper position with stainless steel screws. 

Next, I made a pattern of the hull side using a tick strip, marking the measurements on a scrap of plywood that I attached to the cleats.  Back in the shop, I transferred the marks to a sheet of 1/2" cherry plywood, and cut the piece out.  I brought it to the boat, and installed it against the cleats, although I had to make a few modifications to my cut to get it to fit.  Once I was satisfied with the position, I tabbed the bulkhead to the hull with several layers of glass and epoxy, after grinding the paint off the inside of the hull.

With this done, I screwed some cleats to the inside of the bulkhead and the sort-of-bulkhead at the rear of the compartment as needed to support the future countertop.  Then, I began cutting my chosen insulation to fit inside.  

I used two thicknesses of 2" Homosote, or polyisocyanurate, for a total of 4" all around, which has a total R value of 28.8 (7.2 per inch).  The foam has a foil backing on each side.  This should provide very good insulating qualities.  To install the foam, I simply measured and cut as necessary, using a regular handsaw and utility knife.  The pieces feature staggered joints at the corners, to help seal the gaps, and are installed with only a friction fit.  I installed 4" in the bottom of the cutout in the settee, and stuffed the remainder of the edges of this space with additional insulation.  On the hull side of the icebox, I was able to bend the sheets of insulation to match the curvature of the hull.  I figured this would give me the maximum amount of room in the icebox, as opposed to a stepped portion against the hull.  The foam bent easily into shape, and stayed in place with no problem.   

To line the icebox and protect the insulation, I cut pieces of 1/4" plywood to the proper size and shape, covering each interior surface--sides and bottom.  This was a real pain and took a fair bit of time, and was not in the least bit satisfying.  However, it had to be done.  I didn't take any pictures of this process because I hated it so.  The reason it was such a pain was that none of the surfaces of the icebox were really square to each other.  This is because the lousy little bulkhead beneath the cockpit was so skewed out of whack and completely un-square to the centerline of the hull.  (Installed that way from the factory).  This meant that I had to deal with oblique angles and other difficulties when covering the inside of the box.  Not fun.

I also found it was  difficult to bend the plywood into shape to cover the insulation; the curve is too tight.  To allow the plywood to curve properly, I cut a series of saw kerfs in the bottom surface on my table saw, keeping the blade so that it cut about halfway through the material.  I cut these kerfs every 1/2" or so along the back.  With these cut, the piece bent beautifully into place--it's kind of like a tambour door on a roll top desk.

Once all the pieces were cut to fit properly--it took a bit of trial and error--and dry fit, I installed them permanently with 3M 101 (polysulfide), sticking them to the insulation.  With any leftover caulking, I filled some of the seams between the panels.  I used friction fit sticks to hold the pieces in position as necessary, although the fit was generally tight enough that little of this was needed.

The next day, I was able to remove the sticks holding things temporarily in place.  The next step was to mix up a batch of epoxy thickened with cabosil to a thick, putty-like consistency.  With my finger, I pressed this mixture into all the seams in the icebox, filling any voids and creating a small fillet.  Not only does this step help create a water-and vapor-tight box, it also will make laying fiberglass cloth into the corners easier.

Next, I wet out two layers of fiberglass cloth strips with unthickened epoxy and laid them into each corner of the box, pressing the cloth into the corners as tightly as possible with a plastic resin roller and a paintbrush.  When this was complete, I installed precut layers of fiberglass cloth on all surfaces--two layers for the three vertical surfaces, and two layers plus one layer of 24 oz. roving on the bottom and curved (outboard) side.  This was fun (not!), reaching deep into the box to wet out and smooth the material.  I was glad when the job was over.  The entire job, including creating the fillets and laminating the sides, took about two to three hours.  The point of all this work is to not only seal the box against moisture leakage--in or out--and to make it vapor tight, but also to make it strong enough inside to resist the impact if I should ever drop a block of ice onto the bottom or something; that's why I added the heavy roving to the bottom, the surface most likely to receive the most abuse.

After the resin had a chance to cure for a day or so, I sanded it with 80 grit paper to smooth any rough edges and provide a little tooth for the paint.  It's always fun to sand in a deep, constricted space like this.

Next, after cleaning the sanding dust with a vacuum and acetone, I applied a coat of Brightside primer.  When the primer dried, I applied three coats of Brightside white to all icebox surfaces.



For the countertop, I cut two pieces of merranti plywood to size.  I had to use two pieces because of the constricted space around the icebox--there was not room to maneuver a larger piece into place.

With the insulation and liners installed, I could now determine the size of the icebox hatch.  I tried to make the lid as large as possible to give me the best access to the icebox when complete.  After double checking my measurements, I cut the opening with my saw.

I first cut as large a hole as possible out of the inboard section of the two-piece plywood top--one side of the seam is forming the edge of the hatch--since getting ice into the icebox will be a tight squeeze because of the position and height of the cabinetry.  With this done, I trimmed the resulting rectangular hatch slightly to allow for 1/4" solid cherry moldings on all sides, which I will install a little later on to trim out the hatch.  I cut two layers of the same 2" foam insulation I used in the icebox and glued them to the hatch and the other top piece (which will be stationary).  After letting the glue kick, I shaped the edges and corners of the foam a little to round them over; this will allow the fiberglass that will be installed to lay more easily over the foam.

After searching through my fiberglass supply, I found a couple pieces of roving and mat that I thought I could use to cover the foam on the hatch and stationary portion of the top.  I did not have any of the lightweight cloth that I used on the chest itself, and, since I was anxious to get this part of the project completed, I decided to use materials on hand.  I cut a layer of roving and a layer of mat to fit each piece, and began the wetting out process with epoxy resin.  Big mistake.

I soon discovered that the roving was way too heavy to lay down over the corners of the foam, and after valiantly trying for several minutes to get it to work, I realized it was a lost cause and discarded the sloppy, now resin-soaked material.  Bummer.  I made plans to go get some more lightweight cloth the next day.

Armed with the proper material, the laminating went quickly and smoothly.  I laminated two layers of the 6 oz. cloth over the foam on both pieces, and set them aside to kick.  When the resin cured, I sanded the rough areas to prepare the pieces for painting with more of the white Brightside that I used in the icebox.

When the paint was dry, I applied more white Formica to the hatch and two pieces of the countertop.  Because of the tight clearance above the counter in the boat, I had decided not to try to secure the top with screws; rather, I used 5200, laying down heavy beads of it on the bearing surfaces.  I wedged the top in place at strategic locations from above to hold it until the 5200 cured.  

With the countertop installed, I moved on to installing trim around the icebox and countertop.  I left the portion next to the hull open for the time being, because it will become an important route for wiring (which was not installed at the time of icebox construction).  Installed a fiddle along the forward side of the countertop to hide the plywood edge and allow small items to be stored on the countertop when underway.

To install the  icebox lid, I installed some hardwood cleats along the sides of the opening to support the top.  I left some clearance for some gasket material that will be installed later.  With a little fine tuning on the size of the hatch, it fit tightly into the opening.  In the center of the lid, I routed a space for a small flush pull ring, one that I had on hand.  (I can already tell it's too small, so I expect that I'll be replacing it sooner than later.  For now, at least, it lets me open the lid...) 

iceboxsurround.JPG (164768 bytes)Just before launching the boat, after wiring had been installed, I finally built some trim pieces and surrounds to hide the inside of the hull and the aft bulkhead behind the icebox.  I made these removable for access to the wiring runs behind.

Glissando, Pearson  Triton #381

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