SV Pilgrim - 1979 Morgan 382 - Homeport: Beaufort, NC

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Installing Ice Box Interior Panels - Part 1

Even after months of lying flat under 30+ pounds the forward interior panel, reclaimed from the original construction, maintained a stubborn, concave curve.  The curve would make installing the panel an epoxy coated clamping nightmare.   

Glassing a prefab, 1/8” thick FRP angle to the panel eliminated the curve.  We plan on installing an acrylic divider between the freezer and fridge sections of the box.  This angle will serve as the attachment point for the panel.

Attaching a 1/8" thick FRP angle to the forward ice box panel.

Clamping the panel into a flat plane took a bit of effort.  The angle was held in place by three screws driven into a scrap 2" X 4" on the opposite side of the panel.  These screws were later removed their holes filled with epoxy.

The using a combination of clamps and screws the fore and mid-ship panels went into place relatively easily. 

Clamping the mid-ship panel in place while epoxy along the top edge cures.

Unfortunately floor panel would pass through the either the top of aft openings as a single piece and had to be cut.

Dry fitting the two floor panels.

Giving in the Don Casey’s sage advice about refrigerator drains in This Old Boat (a fine resource which I frequently consult), I eliminated the drain.  After many sleepless nights spent pondering the best method for installing an ice box drain that would never leak and never require maintenance,* I gave up.  I pulled the ½” hose and back-filled the insulation.

The forward side of the floor panel fit neatly under and was held in position by the vertical forward panel... as if somebody planned it... a success story from my sleepless nights pondering ice box design.* Prior to applying fillets and cloth to the interior corners, it would be necessary to clamp the aft edge into the proper location.

Improvised clamps fabricated from a scrap 2" X 2"

Necessity is the mother of invention.  Using some scrap 2X2 lumber, I created “L” shaped pieces that hold the panels in place by temporarily screwing them into the rib along the hull.

Using a bit of creativity to clamp the interior panels.

These also served as an anchor point for pressing the forward panel into position.

Looking down through the counter top.

The inside corners received a fillet of epoxy thickened with cabosil followed by a strip of 3” wide, lightweight fiberglass cloth.  The butt joints in the floor and fore panels received a bead of thickened epoxy, a strip of the 3” fiberglass cloth, and finally a heavy spread of thickened epoxy. 
fillets and fiberglass cloth along the inside corners and seams.

The clamp along the fore panel prevented me from glassing the full length of the floor joint.  Glassing the upper section will be completed when the clamps are removed.

More images and notes from this on-going project as available in the Ice Box Rebuild Photo Album

*Ok, many sleepless nights may be an exaggeration.


  1. Jeff, how do you get the fillets so smooth in the corners? The only time I've done interior corner fillets, I made a huge mess. That is going to be an awesome icebox. It looks so well insulated.

  2. Rick, Thanks. My fillets have improved with practice.

    To fillet these corners (thickened epoxy covered with a single layer of light fiberglass cloth)...
    1: Brush a light coat of unthickened epoxy along the joint extending 3" out each face.
    2: Using epoxy thickened with cabosil to between a mayo and peanut butter consistency. I then apply it the full length of the joint using the flat edge of a black plastic, West Systems stirring stick (approx 1/2" wide with a radius on one end and a flat on the other). The initial application is only about getting enough material in the corner and not about aesthetics.
    3: Bridge the two outside edges of the flat end of the stir stick across the corner and run the full length of the joint. Use only the pressure necessary to keep the corners of the stick in contact with the walls (gentle). When the epoxy on the face of the stick builds and begins to curl off the sides, I stop and scrape the excess back into the mixing cup. I then start back along the joint with the clean stick.
    4: Clean the stir stick completely and then use the flat edge again to carefully remove blobs or beads of excess epoxy from the surfaces on either side of the fillet.

    At this point you should have a flat fillet running the length of the joint. Don't worry too much about the aesthetics at this point just be sure the corner is full and there are no major blobs on the side walls.

    5: Wet out a 3" X "length of joint" strip of fiberglass cloth on a work surface then transport the wet cloth to the joint.
    6: Apply the cloth along the joint using gloved hands. Once the cloth is in position, gently run a finger down the fillet to give it a concave surface.
    7: Now using either a gloved hand or a chip brush work the edges of the cloth flat and free of air bubbles.

    Aspects of this method the develop with practice... consistency of epoxy, how much epoxy to apply in step 2, how much pressure to use in step 3, and how much pressure to use in step 6.

    If the fillet is not to be covered with cloth then I use the round end of the stir stick or other appropriate sized radius to run the length of the joint in step 3.

    If the fillet is structural / non - cosmetic (i.e. tabbing then I use a larger stick (i.e. wooden stir stick for paint.) and leave the fillet flat across the top as in step 3.

    I was not satisfied with the inside corners in the ice box and added fairing filler to the fillets. I'm off to sand down the corners today. Will get some images posted soon.