Monday, May 25, 2015

dc fridge conversion - isolde part 5

Measure three times and cut once, experienced carpenters would say. Mistakes from oversight or under thought is very costl. And in this case will lead to perpetual sorrow, as there is no second chance if I mess up the factory cabinetry. This is why I am taking a lot of time to plan out the conversion. Most of the implementation details only come to light as the work progresses. I often step back and sit down to stare at the challenge and ponder on alternate approaches to the best solutions.

I encounter some issues in reversing the door swing direction. The hinge side of the door seal keep wanting to fold because the predrilled holes for the hinges are located more inboard than the ones on the right side, though not by much. Also by reversing the door the spring force of the light switch tends to work against the magnetic door seal causing the top right corner to be less securely sealed. This would not be an issue once I install the latching handle which would be right where the light switch is.

training the door seal for opens-to-left configuration - i compress the seal to accelerate the memory into the rubber seal

documenting the wiring before removing the audio amplifier

this is a heavy amplifier - i am saving 6 pounds and 3 ounces and cut the power consumption by about half; with the lighter new fridge the total weight saving would just about the weight of an average size automotive battery

I reach for one of my not so good modular AC power cord to prep for the battery charger that I am installing. I cut off the plug end to hard wire it into the duplex outlet. Well it is a very bad power cord made by unethical manufacturer. Each of the three wires only have a few of hair thin copper strands. I have seen a power cord like this went up in smoke when someone unwittingly grabbed it to use with a $30,000 high speed digital storage scope.

this definitely will not pass UL tests

this one is of high quality
i was out spreading expended coffee grind on the garden soil by the banana plants and i came across this tiny Oregon frog; it is the size of a US quarter so i gently capture her for an photo op; i put her in this big bowl to increase my chance of getting a photo before she disappears into her habitat

sweet little lady you made my day - be off, merry, and fruitful

i cut a support shelf for the fridge out of a piece of 3/4" plywood

The new fridge is nearly 2 inches less in width than the old so it does not just slips in the cavity and be done. There are a metal rail on each side that requires a face frame of sort for it to mount on. Because of the rabbit joints, the face frame would be easiest to construct if one repurpose the original frame. On both the top and the bottom of the fridge there are steel trim pieces to cover the hinges and a door support on the right bottom. The dimensions of them must be taken into account to achieve refined execution.

since i don't know the precise height of the shelf i cut the supports on the two sides with 3/16" plywood scrap; two notches needs to be cut with a router to accommodate the door hinge and the lower door support (a guide and support for the door against the latch handle on top wanting to exert downward force on the door in the close posiiton)

staring at the fire extinguishers i was able to figure out how to mount it (by flipping the stainless steel strap 180-degree) without the support block on the bottom so the weight of the unit does not rest on the gauge; i dislike the need for the plywood support because over time it will compress the carpet

i temporarily wire up the fridge to experience the sound level as well as vibration; it is very quiet being in the cabinet and no vibration at all even though it is not yet secured with fasteners and the 4 rubber feet are removed to maximize precious storage space (thinking like Westfalia's designer would)

the intuition is to think that this ventilation port at the right side of the kitchenette is needed for the fridge to vent the heat it creates; however I realize there is more than adequate vent holes all along the back of the kitchenette cabinet; by blocking this vent port the sound of the compressor and cooling fan is further muffled especially when you are sleeping in the lower berth; my plan is to place a piece of heavy foam behind the ventilation grill

while sipping wine and ponder on the project, i realize there is one important check i nearly forget - does the increase projection of the new refrigerator interferes with the articulation of the rear dinning table? Notice Westfalia took great care to set the table height exactly at the same level of the lower ridge of of the fascia of the the gas burners - no accidental bumping into the gas knobs

it is just perfect - no possibility of interference; but beware they can always make better fools to foil your well laid plan

kicking back with a glass of wine listening to Die tote Stadt helps with one's ideas

i cannot stop listening to this lately, especially Gluck das mir Verblieb; Erich Wolfgang Korngold composed this work (with his father) at at age of 23!

here is the beautifully written (even for me just learning the elemental German language) lyrics of Gluck das mir Verblieb

I sketched up the treatment of the lower storage. To attempt to make a door or a drawer that matches the Westfalia cabinet would be a major undertaking with low chance of success. For now my idea is to create a front fascia out of a piece of plywood painted grey. Instead of a door I will cut a rectangular access with corners the same radius as the factory cabinet doors. I can reuse the edge molding saved from the frame that I am repurposing. I think I will keep the steel bottom grate more so for appearance and to reduce the expanse of the bottom fascia. I will also use 4 screws with the plastic decoration caps to finish up the factory look.


  1. Very nice Vince - I'm enjoying following your progress on this project - this is a super upgrade for the Vanagon Westfalia!

  2. Thanks, John. It has been a slow go right now. I am spending copious time dealing with the support rails and shelf for the fridge. I guess I am not a very good carpenter. I have only one chance to modify the factory face frame. The front steel rail frame of the fridge and many features, like screw heads, raised contours, all have to be taken into account for a precise mounting. With the feet removed the bottom of the fridge is not a smooth plane. Doing a project like this reinforces why I never want to build my own camper.