Monster in the Galley -
September 5, 2002
Monster foam begins taking over our galley.
When we first got our boat, we noticed that the lettuce froze in the refrigerator. "Not good," said Eileen, her plans for a Caesar salad thoroughly wilted. She turned the thermostat down. Then the beer wasn't cold enough. "Not good," said David. He pushed the thermostat back up.
After eight years of fighting for control of the thermostat, we finally decided to do something about our fridge's erratic behaviour. We had already repositioned the freezer plates and constructed a baffle inside the refrigerator box. The warm spots were near the bottom, however, where it should be the coldest. "Must be the insulation," David speculated. "While we're on the hard and have access to power tools, we might as well fix it."
Unfortunately, the fridge is built into the galley counter and enclosed by nice teak panelling. "We'll have to cut a hole in that teak to get access to the insulation," David announced. Eileen spends a lot of time maintaining the teak on the boat. She knows David's skill level with power tools. "Actually, I don't really mind if the lettuce freezes," she confessed. But David had a mission. "I'm sure John will have the perfect tool for the job."
John, the boatyard owner, has an amazing array of tools he will lend out to do-it-yourselfers. A couple of days ago, David returned from John's workshop with an innocent looking gizmo called a "roto-zip". It resembled a power drill except the bit was designed to cut along its edge. "You can adjust it to cut a predetermined depth," he said. "You can start and finish the cut anywhere you want." Eileen looked sceptical. "In that case, let's start and finish the hole where no one will see it," she suggested.
We decided to perform our surgery behind the stove, which meant removing it from its gimballed mounts. "Great," Eileen commented, "Now both our fridge AND stove are out of commission." David started the roto-zip. It shrieked like a dentist's drill gone berserk. Eileen held the nozzle of our vacuum cleaner close to the cutting edge, but the air was still filled with sawdust. David plunged blindly onwards. Halfway through, he admitted, "Maybe I should have practised a bit first."
A couple of minutes later he turned the screaming machine off. The dust settled. There was a hole in the teak panelling that could have been caused by a shrapnel grenade. Tears began flowing down Eileen's cheeks. "Don't worry," David soothed. "No one will notice once we put the stove back in place."
We peered into the gaping hole. There was a huge void between the fridge box and the inside of the hull. "Holy mackerel," David exclaimed. "A family of five could live in that amount of space!" He borrowed John's truck to go to the local building supply store. He returned with a roll of foil-lined bubble insulation, a four by eight sheet of polyurethane foam board, some weather-stripping tape, and several different cans of polyurethane foam. "I wasn't sure what kind of foam to buy - minimum or maximum expanding, one-part or two-part - so I got some of each," he explained.
David lined the inside of the hull with foil and cut the foam board into several pieces to fit the contours of the cavern between the hull and fridge. "We'll use the spray foam to fill all the gaps," he said. He put on latex gloves, attached a nozzle to one of the cans of foam, and pushed the button on top of the can. In a sudden fit of flatulence, sticky yellow foam exploded from the end of the nozzle. Foam covered David's hair and dripped down his glasses. Some managed to get into the hole. "Maybe I should have practised a bit first," he said. Eight cans of foam later, all the empty spaces appeared to be filled.
David stood up and surveyed his work. "That wasn't so hard," he commented. Eileen said, "Hey, what's that coming out of that crack!" Foam was oozing out from under the edge of the panelling. Then big gobs began mushrooming out of the hole we had cut. It was growing fast. We felt like we were trapped in a "B" horror movie from the 1950's. "Kill it!" Eileen cried. "We can't," David yelled back. "It's got a life of its own!" We scrambled back to give it room.
After about an hour, the mounds of foam in the galley stopped advancing. "I think it's safe now," David suggested. "After it's good and hard, we can cut away all the excess." Eileen looked warily at the misshapen yellow mass. "I'm going to be kept awake tonight thinking that stuff might still be alive," she said. "Not me," David replied. "I'll be dreaming of ice cold beer."
Cheers, David & Eileen