After building out the main galley cabinets last month, which include the area in the top that will house the sink and the gas cook-top and the convection microwave, the last cabinet to be built out is the fridge cabinet. I still have to make the top for the main cabinet and cut in the sink and cooktop (I have the sink but dont yet have the cooktop). The fridge space has changed a couple of times. I was originally going to build my own fridge but upon investigating the costs but the maths didnt stack too well, about $1500 for a standard condenser system, about $3500 for a Eutectic system, then another $2400 if using the higher R rating multi panel or about $1200 for standard polyurethane foam sheets, so anything from $2700 for a basic unit to $5900 for a more efficient system then I have to make it all, glass it all in and fair the inside cavity, make the lids air tight and procure wire baskets to fit….it was looking all to hard. Many do it, and all credit to them, but there has to be better ways. Then I seriously considered domestic (home) side by side under counter bar fridge and freezer pair which would be less than $1000 then I could invest in a serious inverter as they would run 240v and a deeper battery and solar array with the change. They may not last long, but very cheap and easy to replace. But in the end I found a deal on a reco model sent back to the factory by a production boat builder for a warranty repair before being sent to the end customer. $1630 for an Isotherm 200 litre (50 litre freezer, 150 litre fridge) under bench model. About the only feature not ideal is that the front opening doors as they can spill cold out, but they are much easier to use and provided you dont have the doors open too often or too long, they are manageable. The unit uses the danfoss 50 compressor which is the larger of the 2 most common and they are ubiquitous so service should be ok just about anywhere.

So once I had the fridge choice settled it was just a matter of making sure it fit into the space I had assigned for a fridge. It does quite easily in fact because the unit is physically smaller than the space I was going to need to build my 220 litre top loading unit I had planned on (80 freezer/140 fridge) I have changed the position of the rubbish bin to between the fridge and the electrical cabinet in the port hull. It will pull out of the stairwell wall into the stair well and is a wire frame that a rubbish bag sits in and pulls out on pot runners in a similar way to the mechanism of the pantry and is from the same manufacturer. The door will be made from the piece that is cut out to form the opening. So long as I cut neatly it will just be a matter of back filling each edge and attaching the door to the fitted mechanism.

In order to fit the fridge I needed to build a frame into the space that will house the front flange that is built into the fridge that creates the inbuilt flush finish and to build a floor into the cavity so that the weight of the fridge is not sitting on the 3 wiring conduits I glassed into the space when I thought I was making my own fridge over them. There is room under the standard bench top height for a floor, so I ran some 25mm ply rails onto which I can screw a plywood floor (or I could glue it). I may also put some foam under the floor to stop hot air from rising up into the cavity and making the fridge work harder (when building my own fridge it was always the plan to have the most insulation foam on the bottom as this is where it is most needed). There is also plenty of room around the 2 sides to also add a generous layer of foam to stop heat getting in from the sides. The only area that is tight and has no room for additional insulation is the back bulkhead. Hopefully heat does not enter the cavity from the bedroom or visa versa and the fridge does not send heat through the bulkhead to the bedroom.

Setting the position the fridge will sit also allowed me set the corner of the cabinet that curves around into the stairwell. I am a big fan of symmetry but was not able to have the fronts and curves of the 2 corners at the same depth as I needed a little more space for the fridge front. It is close though only 50mm difference but it messes with me knowing it is there. I also plan on a swing up bench top to fill the space over the stairwell to transform the galley into a full wrap around bench top for use when entertaining and a bigger galley is needed. It limits access into the port hull (the owners hull!) but there is another bathroom in the starboard hull anyway so if ever in use so it wont matter that they cannot use the main bathroom while the full galley is in use. When not in use the bench top will be clipped against the stairwell wall and out of the way. I initially thought the set back corner at the fridge side would mess with my hinged top but because of the curved corners it was always going to need to be set back from the front edge anyway so now it is set back about 20mm more on the aft side and will taper in 20mm over the 600mm width of the stairwell and will meet some of the curve on the fridge side by 10mm and none of these differences are enough to make it look out of place or be unfriendly to work with when it is finished and the full galley is needed.

I used the same corner method of the quarter pvc pipe, having been successful on the other side of the stairwell and having done it once, it was very easy to do again and took me a fraction of the time. I started with the kickboard quarter pipe, glassed it in and then the cabinet corner, but because the return for the fridge space is so close to the corner I decided to glass that to the pvc pipe before I glassed the pvc pipe corner into the cabinet. This gave me a face I could clamp to steady the curved panel while the glue and glass set. I made the return out of 25mm ply so that it was strong and thick enough to screw into to secure the fridge front flange to. Once this corner was set I completed the frame around 3 of the 4 sides by running the same 25mm ply around to create the full frame. I have not done the top of the frame yet as I want to dry fit the fridge first to be absolutely sure I dont make the opening too tight.

I have finally run out of 30mm duflex, I never actually had any, I have managed to make every bench top in the boat out of off cuts from the 30mm duflex that surrounded the bulkheads in the pre cut kit. I managed to make the fridge top out of the last off-cut that came out of the window cut-outs in the main saloon bulkhead, as I did with the nav cabinet made out of the other window out cut. As materials run out you find you lose time gluing smaller bits together to make larger bits. (I always try and use the smallest offcut I can find as you never know when you might need a larger bit and cutting small bits out of large bits means you may rue that decision later when you find a piece you cut out of last week is just a little bit small and would fit had you not cut it down). And as you get to the last dregs of material you end up cutting and gluing (you need to cut a clean edge so the join is neat) and the frustration of trying to find shapes that fit the space you need to fill to complete the larger panel you are trying to create. I dont much care that there are a lot of joins in the bench tops, as they will be laminated and you wont ever see the joins but you must keep the top face as close to flat as possible to avoid having to fair it. And once the panel was made to shape slightly oversize and then cut back to exact size, the edges needed to be de-cored and back filled and sanded smooth and square. I have just the main galley top to make and a small vanity top in the main bathroom. I will have to buy some 30mm panel to make those tops, or I could glue a rail edge of 15mm to a 15mm panel to make up the same thickness top to match the rest of the boat. This is probably what I will do as I dont want to buy another 30mm panel and have some 15mm coming and as the main galley top will have a larger portion of it cut away for the sink and hotplate then making it up from 15mm panel will work out fine. But these are the things you do when you have time but are on a tight budget. I get a lot of satisfaction from knowing I am wasting the very minimum in throwing the smallest amount of offcut out.

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Paul