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Unread 10-27-2012, 08:00 PM   #1
Sean "Puffy" Coals
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Default Puff Daddy makes a Smokin' Fridge

I haven't seen a fridge thread lately and I have the opportunity/need to get one of my own, so here's my journey:

I bought a mini-fridge when we moved in to my in-laws apartment. I always knew I wanted to have it around to use for something, but that was before I got into smoking... back when I had money. Anyway, I decided to turn it into a multi-purpose brining/curing/dry aging fridge.

I called my meat guy and got a decent deal on pork bellies, but I have to get the whole case bacause it's a special order- luckily, my boss agreed to split it with me, so it was off to the in-laws' house to pick up the fridge.



It looked pretty good until I opened it up.







:y uck::yuc k:

Come to find out it had come unplugged at some point and the frost from the freezer ran all thru it. The in-laws had tried to soak up the water with paper towels, but then forgot to take them out... oops.

So, a bottle of Bathroom Cleaner (mold & mildew formula) and a bunch of elbow grease later, it finally looked like something you might be able to store food in.







I set the pieces up so they can dry/air-out overnight. Tomorrow I'll try to get some more done, but I have a few questions:

1) Has anyone ever tried to disconnect the freezer shelf on one of these? It makes more of a mess than it's worth and I figure I can clamp off the little copper tubes that supply it and caulk over the holes.

2) Can anyone recommend a decent Thermo/hygro with a probe or bubble? I was planning on cutting a hole straight thru the door and attaching the face of the hygro to the inside with some silicone but then I found this


I'm thinking I could just drill a small hole thru and mount the screen on the outside of the door.

3) I was thinking about taking the inside panel off the door and replacing it with a flat panel of plastic to give me more room on the shelves. I might not need it, but I'd rather be safe.

Questions? Comments? Ideas?

Thanks for reading! I will post pics of whatever I get done tomorrow.
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Last edited by Sean "Puffy" Coals; 10-27-2012 at 09:33 PM..
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Unread 10-27-2012, 10:53 PM   #2
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You might notice there is no fan or other refrigeration in there! That freezer plate is all that is cooling that box.... Taking it out , crimping it or otherwise disabling it will make it just a cabinet with no cooling.

A few small computer fans hooked to a power supply will help make it suitable for dry aging and such, if it can still maintain temps below 40 with them running
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Unread 10-28-2012, 02:42 AM   #3
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Nice.. I'll be looking to see how it comes out!

A little tip especially if you're going to use it for dry aging meat... Clean it again! Seeing the mold that was perviously in there for who knows how long makes me nervous. If it were me I'd use a 10% bleach solution for the 2nd clean. Just my 2 cents.


I've been wanting to do this myself...
Cheers
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Unread 10-28-2012, 10:09 AM   #4
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That little guy has no circulation so it's not suitable for curing. It's great for beer or soda. Pick up a used fridge for $20 and be happy.
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Unread 10-28-2012, 02:32 PM   #5
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I would not cut out the freezer section..
if you want to use it to cure and air dry meats etc.. which normally needs temps in between 50 and 65 F.. I suggest following:

buy a line voltage switching thermostat something like this..
http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/COL...158?Pid=search
(check the current rating on your fridge to select the correct switching amperage of the thermo) and mount it inside the unit.. drill a hole in the fridge and route the 2 cables connected to the thermostat to the outside - apply some silicone around the cables to plug the hole.. - connect the line voltage supply cable to a powerplug and the switched line after the thermostat to the powercable to the fridge.. now set the original thermostat in the fridge to the coldest position and leave it like that - now your temp will be regulated by the newly installed Thermostat..

for air circulation install a fan somewhere in the fridge and you're in businesss..
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Unread 10-28-2012, 02:40 PM   #6
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I also drilled a small hole in the front door and jammed in an Instant meat thermometer like this, so I do not have to open the door all the time to check the temp..

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Unread 10-28-2012, 03:25 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hook_Line_and_Sinker View Post
You might notice there is no fan or other refrigeration in there! That freezer plate is all that is cooling that box.... Taking it out , crimping it or otherwise disabling it will make it just a cabinet with no cooling.

A few small computer fans hooked to a power supply will help make it suitable for dry aging and such, if it can still maintain temps below 40 with them running
It's funny- just after I posted this last night I realized that exact same thing. I thought to myself "this is going to be the first thing someone points out."

I think i'm going to leave it as is for now as my only other option is to mount it against the back wall and that seems like more trouble than it's worth.
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Unread 10-28-2012, 03:33 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Phrasty View Post
Nice.. I'll be looking to see how it comes out!

A little tip especially if you're going to use it for dry aging meat... Clean it again! Seeing the mold that was perviously in there for who knows how long makes me nervous. If it were me I'd use a 10% bleach solution for the 2nd clean. Just my 2 cents.


I've been wanting to do this myself...
Cheers
Hey Phrasty! How you doin, bro?

Yeah, the Tilex mold & mildew I used to clean it has some bleach in it also. I'm probably going to wipe it out again before I put anything in it anyway tho.

I can't wait to see the Phrasty Phridge! Definitely have to post some pics when you get to it.
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Unread 10-28-2012, 03:36 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GARNAAL View Post
I would not cut out the freezer section..
if you want to use it to cure and air dry meats etc.. which normally needs temps in between 50 and 65 F.. I suggest following:

buy a line voltage switching thermostat something like this..
http://www.grainger.com/Grainger/COL...158?Pid=search
(check the current rating on your fridge to select the correct switching amperage of the thermo) and mount it inside the unit.. drill a hole in the fridge and route the 2 cables connected to the thermostat to the outside - apply some silicone around the cables to plug the hole.. - connect the line voltage supply cable to a powerplug and the switched line after the thermostat to the powercable to the fridge.. now set the original thermostat in the fridge to the coldest position and leave it like that - now your temp will be regulated by the newly installed Thermostat..

for air circulation install a fan somewhere in the fridge and you're in businesss..
That's a little out of my area of expertese. Good idea, tho! I'm probably just going to mark the existing "thermo" with some base-line temps once I get it running: "Hi" & "Low" just aren't preceise enough for me.

Also, that's what I want to do with the digital Thermo/Hydro- drill a hold in the door, put the probe inside & seal it up. The display would be mounted to the outside of the door so I could check both Temp and humidity without opening the door.

I'm also going to mount a small fan in the bottom, in front of where the motor is to circulate air. Additional moisture may be provided by a reservoir and wicking sponge from an old humidifier.
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Unread 10-28-2012, 04:03 PM   #10
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OK - I suggested the new Thermostat install, because I think using the existing one will cool down the unit too much to airdry meats (which I do a lot.. which normally takes 50-65 F temps..)

for curing you probably will need the lower temps in the 30's..

anyway -
try it out first and see how cold that unit gets when you run it with a fan in it..
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Unread 10-28-2012, 04:15 PM   #11
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I do have a question for all the Mad Scientists out there- How can I connect a small computer fan to the existing power cord? I'm guessing I need something to reduce the power...?
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Unread 10-28-2012, 06:31 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sean "Puffy" Coals View Post
I do have a question for all the Mad Scientists out there- How can I connect a small computer fan to the existing power cord? I'm guessing I need something to reduce the power...?
You should just find an old wall wort ( those power supplies used for everything these days that plug into the wall and have a small cord that plugs into the calculator or what ever it was for). Find one that shows 12 v dc and get a 12 v dc computer fan. The power cord has two wires, hook the wires to the fan and if it runs backwards reverse them and you are good to go. The small wire will fit through the door gasket and not cause much if any leakage. You can probably run a few of them off the same cord.
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Unread 11-04-2012, 06:24 PM   #13
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I wasn't able to get much done since I couldn't remove the freezer shelf. All I could do was wait for the thermo/hygro to arrive.

GOOD NEWS, EVERYONE! The thermo/hygro arrived!



The probe/bulb was a bit bigger than I thought it would be, so I had to cut a bigger hole. No prob, tho.



I drilled a couple holes, and cut the middle out with my rotary tool. I fed the probe thru and covered the hole on the outside of the door with a piece of clear tape.



I squeezed some clear silicone into the hole from the inside. I used more tape to hold the wire down so it didn't move and create an air pocket.



I set the door aside to allow the silicone to cure. Then I turned my attention to the humidifier- this is when I had a revelation: why not use the motor & switch from the humidifier too? After some controlled demolition, I had struck gold!



A motor, plastic vented cover, 2 speed switch and an LED light to indicate then the fan is on.

My current plans are to mount the fan to the wall of the fridge, in front of where the compressor is using some long screws and large washers to stabilize it. Luckily, the motor also has some rubber bushings attached to it that will help reduce the vibration as well.



I'm gonna mount the switch on the outside of the shell, with the LED somewhere near it.



Ill drill a hole in the bottom corner, near the motor, feed the power cord thru and attach to the compressor's power cord.



The motor has a transformer built into it already. Since the humidifier plugs into the wall, there shouldn't be a problem wiring it to the fridge's power cord. I'm doing it this way to save from having to run extension cords because there's only 1 outlet where the fridge will go, and the freezer is already plugged in there. Plus I like the idea of it being more self-contained.

Comment away! Thanks for looking!!!
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Unread 11-06-2012, 04:42 AM   #14
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So, I stopped by the Depot yesterday after work and picked up the hardware I needed. I was able to get quite a bit done:



Bolts attached to the shell and motor test fitted.



Hard to see, but I got the lining & insulation cut out and the switch installed.



Switch & LED installed (exterior).



Attached the suction cup probe holder thingy to the inside of the door using a little dab of silicone.



Fan motor wired into the compressor power cord (blue wire nuts). I cut the positive and negative and connected the fan wiring - this way the fan will keep running even if the compressor isn't.

Before I went any further I decided to fire it up to make sure everything worked properly and that the motor didn't vibrate too much. Everything worked perfectly! Nothing caught fire or exploded. The LED went on when the fan was turned on. Compressor clicked right on and started cooling down the coil... what a relief.

Picking up the bellies tomorrow- it won't be completely finished, but it will at least be close enough to use for the curing.

Thanks for reading!
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Unread 11-06-2012, 06:39 AM   #15
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I must have misjudged the size of the fridge. The one I pictured was the evaporation type which would be too small for a belly. The one in the picture seems to be a compressor driven unit. Big difference. And, would you explain air drying at 50-65 degrees?
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