Some time back I had replaced the original rusting fridge vent for a stainless one with a 12volt socket incorporated. This was obviously an upgrade, but since I had installed my solar panels we have not had to use electric hook up and this will be the case for the foreseeable future. The knock on effect of this is that we don’t have a 240volt option for charging phones tablets etc. So the single socket we were relying on in the stainless vent just wasn’t enough. It looked nice, but function was more important now.
Seeing the Campervan Culture ‘multi socket fridge vent it looked like it would answer all of my prayers. The grey is a good match for the later Westy interior in the Atlantic, and installation was pretty straight forward, daisy chaining one socket on to the next with the main feed from the leisure battery (fused at 20A) .
So here is my installed unit with a splash of red from my braided USB cables courtesy of the Pound shop (they were £1 before you ask 😉 ). We have only done a couple of weekend getaways since installation, but it’s already come in really handy!
Knowing I had the extra space below the new Waeco Fridge , and not wanting it to just get used as a lazy storage area where things would get crammed and look messy, I decided to make a drawer. This was always my intention, but rather than be prescriptive and methodical from the outset, this had to be fluid in its design. Basically the slide out chopping board established the height the fridge needed to sit in the aperture available. It wasn’t until I had fitted the fridge that i knew the depth i had to play with for the drawer. The ‘hole’ has been handy to store some tools for the last month or so, but items like these that should only get used occasionally, are far more suited to a less accessible area, freeing up this space for things that get used in a daily basis.
So the draw….Initially I was thinking of a drawer on rails. In fact i brought two pairs of rails, one for the chopping board which are utilized and effective at present, and the second set for the drawer. However, the slide out action of those particular rails is such that they only extend about 30cm out. For a drawer that has a depth that goes back far further than that it didn’t seem like an effective use of space if you can only access the front portion of the draw. There are other rail systems that extend out double the length of the rail, but these tend to be quite deep in design and would take up quite a lot of the already limited space, making the draw a lot narrower.
So the solution was a far simpler one than having to mess around with rails. We found a very low profile storage box that had an insert for the top portion allowing small items to be segregated. Things like fuses, light bulbs, remotes for devices etc. The bottom part was shallow, granted, but this would be for our tablets, blue tooth speakers etc. We brought the box from Rymans, and if I am honest it was a bit of a stab in the dark in terms of the size . I’ve got a pretty good eye for judging space and to me it looked too deep, which actually turned out to be the case. However, when the lid was taken off it fitted perfectly. So we lost the lid, which probably would have become a bit of a hindrance anyway.
So the basic elements can be seen here.
It doesn’t get much more complicated than this and it took me best part of an hour to construct. The drawer handle had been brought at the same time as the handle for the slide out chopping board. The white thing in the photo above is the aluminum sheet with its protective film on (which was a slice of a larger sheet that a friend got me for another project). All that was required to complete the construction was a small spacer to bridge the gap between the internal tray plastics, and the extruded strengthening elements surrounding it. This came in the form of a piece of hardwood that I found in my wood-store. Two holes were drilled in the Aluminum, wood and plastic tray to marry up with the holes on the handle. The screws for the handle needed cutting down a fraction, but all in all it was a really simple process.
This was all knocked together without having access to my van as it was in storage so I wasn’t 100% sure it was going to fit. I had used the original Westy fridge as a reference as this was in my garage, and a few photos of my fridge install from my phone. However, I was relieved to find that the drawer fit perfectly
At present the drawer is no more than a push under tray with a suitably matching front fascia on. I will most likely stay in place during transit, but I have acquired some very small, high power magnets. I plan to stick a couple of these on the back top edge of the aluminum drawer fascia, and a small countersunk head, ferrous metal screw at the corresponding edge of the framework on the lower fridge support. This should allow the drawer to locate shut with a nice crisp click
The moment I saw one of these fuel filler caps I knew I had to have one. It replaces a very bland component on the van with something that is far more eye catching and appropriate for such a high spec camper.
This was not inexpensive by any stretch of the imagination. Quote Brickwerks website:
“This is not a cheap “stick on” kit, its designed for a T3, and sold exclusively by us in the UK. We wanted a kit that was easy and straightforward to fit using the best design and highest quality parts.”
My main reason for upgrading my fridge was due to the fact I had established a very effective Solar Install. It seemed silly not to take advantage of all of that free energy to power a compressor fridge. This type of technology is far more effective than the stock fridge at doing it’s job. It actually has a dedicated freezer draw which is great for Ice Lollys on a hot day 😉 .
Anyways, on to the installation: I wanted this to sit just below the slide out chopping board as I wanted to maximize the depth of the draw I am going to fit below it. So after some careful measurements i set to positioning a couple of pieces of angle aluminum to sit the shelf on. The shelf was then made by two pieces of marine ply. The first was the full width and depth required to seat the fridge on. The second was a slimmer piece with two holes drilled into them where the two front feet of the fridge will locate. This will stop the fridge from sliding about as there are no real fixings as such everything is having to be bespokely made. The two pieces were glued and screwed together and painted grey.
After this i needed to find something that would provide padding either side of the fridge to wedge it in place. I wanted this to be something that wasn’t going to get affected by damp or humidity, but provide a nice gentle compression on either side of the fridge. After some time i decided that kneeling pads would be just the right depth to bridge the gap (the sort of thing you get for gardening). These cost me £1 each from Wilko . These were sprayed black at the front and they were screwed to the inside of the fridge compartment (two screws at the front and 1 at the back. each screw head had a large washer on it to pull the padding in and I tightened the screws up enough so that they sunk in and didn’t catch the fridge when being slotted in. The heads were also covered with a piece of insulation tape to be ion the safe side.
Here you can see the fridge in place:
From here on it was just about trimming the surrounding area. I brought angle aluminum from B & Q and cut and drilled to size. I had to make some bespoke brackets to mount the whole lotso it wasn’t straight forward. However, i’m pretty happy with the end result
This has then been connected directly to the leisure battery with a 5 amp fuse in line. I really need to get an additional fuse board fitted as there are way too many connectors tacked on to the battery at the moment. I will seek to have this done professionally to get things tidied up
PS. There is a gap either side of the fridge of about 5mm. The finished photo here doesn’t show that and is a little miss leading. I feel this is enough of a gap to let air circulate and stop any rattles through vibrations
Anyways, here is the finished article after the lower draw is fitted.
My decision to change the stock 3 way fridge for a 2 way electric model meant that I would have a lot more space to take advantage of in the same space. I saw a post on social media where somebody had put in a pull out chopping board, and although it was not executed very well the idea stayed with me.
So I set to looking for the components to full fill my ambition. My wife and I went to IKEA one weekend and I saw a chopping board that was made of bamboo. I knew it would be too big for the aperture it needed to fit, but I was fully aware that I would be very lucky to find something that would fit perfectly without modification. A few days later we went to the local B & Q store to get the rest of the components.
Over the course of about four days I sawed drilled and screwed these items into something that looked like it would work.
And this is the end result.
I think this will prove very useful. In a van that has very limited space, it’s things like this that will make all of the difference. Just need to get the fridge installed now. Watch this space 😉