Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Ice Box. How I plan to convert an Ice Box to a Refrigerator.

I've been thinking, nay, pouring over the many options there are for my tiny kitchen in my tiny Bungalow. What I know is this. When my bungalow was built in 1930, there was no electricity. The cookstove was woodburning (or coal) and vented to a chimney. This part of Knoxville wasn't really Knoxville. The Gay Street bridge was not yet complete. There were a few farms around and a few small communities. There were still guys delivering Ice. My bungalow would have been on a main-enough thoroughfare that an ice truck would have delivered. My house would have had an Ice box - at least at first when it was new.

Now I want a period kitchen. I do. But I have come to terms with the fact that I cook far too well and often for this to be a practical thing. It would be doable if I did not also work and was not also a single parent. If I was Sally-homemaker... I'd push for authenticity and we'd see how long it would last. Alas, convenience will win out and I'm just not *that* eccentric.

But I'll still get my ice box. Ice boxes are still available for sale by people who use them as armoirs, liquor cabinets, and storage. They seem to be running about $300 for something nice on Craigslist. Much higher at Antique shops. I'm more of a Craigslist girl. Besides, if I got something too perfect, I'd feel bad about what I was going to do to it...

Who else has ice boxes? Boaters. Boating people have Ice boxes that they often use with ice blocks and they often convert (retrofit) them into condenser type refrigerators. I'm using the term "often" loosely here, but they do it more often then, say, people converting oak, tin-lined ice boxes into refrigerators for their kitchens. I may be a member of a very small and exclusive club here... So, going with boaters, there are companies that sell retrofitting refrigeration kits. These kits are "remote operation". That means that I would have the "guts" of the fridge someplace other than in the kitchen. Someplace well vented and cool. Like the basement. That keeps the noise and the heat out of the kitchen!

I will have to make some modifications to the old ice box. I plan on it being a refrigerator only (I have an upright freezer I will keep in the basement for frozen foods). Chances are I will need to bolster the insulation a little, drill a hole and install weatherstripping in addition to the retrofit kit.

I'm looking at an ice box tonight!

Here's an article on insulating refrigerators:
And a place that sells conversion units:

These guys make conversions but put the ice box up on wheels:

Has anyone ever done this? Comments? Suggestions? Admonishments?


  1. I had one in a place I lived in where the ice box was built-in, and the compressor was in the basement, under the stairs. It was pretty efficient, and held a pile of food. You want to be sure the lines are flexible or the ice box is solidly fixed-a broken or punctured line is a holy pain in the hind end to deal with when that oil gets out and all over the place.

  2. Aquarijen, how goes the project? I'm looking CL as well to do this is my cabin. Found tons on the marine-conersion, but wasn't sure how well it'd work in a larger home sized icebox. Have you gotten started yet? I don't want to pour a ton of money into something that is possibly over my head. :/