The 17 Buck A/C Unit…

Hot!!! Man, is that an under-statement!

The past week has been in and out of the 100’s like a Pynchonian simile (here)…

Damn, it’s been hot!

…So I had this customer come in to my (evil empire) work place the other day asking me if I’d ever heard of an “ice-box A/C unit”. I had never heard of such a thing but we, the customer and I, got into a heated (ha-ha) discussion about how one would go about making such a contraption. Anyway, inspired by the above record breaking temp’s in the Chesapeake Bay I went home on my day off and made one $17.00, 12 volt (off the grid) Ice-Box Air Conditioning Unit.

Here’s how I did it…


…First, I got a cheap, ok, it was free, cooler from work, an in-line bilge blower (far-right), two vents (left), a length of flexi-duct hose, a push-pull on-off switch and a drain plug…


… I installed the blower motor, the electrical wiring and the switch in a small group in the upper right corner of the cooler then I ran the 14 gauge wire out of the box.

...Add a vent.

…After that I cut an input air vent the same size as the blower output on the opposite side of the cooler, once again, in the upper right hand corner.


…I put a 12 volt cigarette lighter male-plug on the end of the wire and ran it into the cockpit.

...Fill'r with ice.

… Then all you have to do is fill it up with ice, run the ducting to your favorite place (in our case it’s the companion way entrance) and turn that sucker on!

Dena chill's out

We’ll see how it goes, so far it’s been pretty cool, a bit on the loud side, even though the fan motor is inside the cooler, but I think it’s brought the temperature down in the main saloon about 10 degrees and for now I think I’ll just go off and pat myself on the back for a project well done!



  1. You da man… James these are the things we were put on this earth for. My hats off to you and your customer . One added feature that can be used to upgrade this marvel of 1930’s technology is to get rid of the bag, put in 1/2 cup salt to the ice and watch that baby throw some sub-zero temps. at you. Cheers my friend & Aloha to you both

  2. Right on my brudda… Do you think dry ice would bring the temps down even more or is the reaction too inert to change the ambient temperature of the containment?

  3. Well Tom, you were right… The damn thing froze us out but the ice didn’t last very long…
    Thanks Zen, I guess you don’t really need anything like that in the B.A. or at least I never did, but here, it’s a big deal.

  4. James!

    How could you leave the evil empire??! I WILL be down there to see you. Look for Surprise, my c-Dory “compact sedan trawler”. Hope the Carefree life suits you for now. Sounds like a sweet deal. Let me know if you guys need to retreat to the country and chill on land.

    All the best


  5. Hey J.W.!
    I’m still with the evil empire (lower caps of course), part time until I get my fleet here in Annapolis put to bed for the winter, then I’ll go back to working full time at “e-e” for the winter… I got a plan…
    Throughout our travels over the last decade the most gracious gift that we’ve been offered, by the civilizations that we’ve made contact with on this planet, was the gift of their home! Thank you for the offer of a land retreat here in the North Eastern latitudes, it is truly a profound offer that we will most likely take you up on. we always pay our friends for the use of their homes by keeping them up late with tales from the sea… Let me know when your ready!

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