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Goodbye Norcold, hello Frigidaire

Page 3 - Preparing for the new fridge

Exactly how you prepare your space for your new fridge will obviously depend on the dimensions of whatever residential fridge you select. What I discovered when fridge shopping was finding a replacement that wasn't too tall, it took a bit of hunting. For our particular coach, I had to find a replacement where the box itself wasn't more than about 66-67" tall. (You get all kinds of fridge dimensions in the specifications - box height with hinges, without hinges, depth with doors, without doors, with doors but less handles, etc., it's enough to drive you nuts!)

We now have the new fridge in the coach (less doors) and we're removing all of the Norcold mounting brackets from the walls, flush mounting the AC outlet, removing the sub floor, dressing the existing wiring to the rear of the opening (near the sidewall), capping the gas line (if not done so already) and permanently mounting it up and out of the way.

Then the carpentry begins!

Once you have your opening dimensions figured out, you will most likely need to cut the top and bottom of the face frame to make it a taller opening. Note that you can only cut the frames down so much (at least on our floor plan.) Always on the lookout for a tool that would be a useful addition to the shop, I bought a Rockwell VersaCut plunge trim saw. I was absolutely impressed with how easy it was to make a plunge cut - you can conveniently set the plunge depth (3/4" in our case) and the base plate has start/stop lines (or where to start and stop your plunge.) Cut the bottom face frame after you install a new floor (see below), cut the top at any time.

I made a new floor from 1/2" birch plywood. You will need a cleat on the backside of the lower face frame for the front edge of the new plywood floor to rest on. Screw the new floor to the front cleat and put a couple of screws on the sides near the front. We were afraid to put any screws at the rear of the new plywood floor - didn't know what was lurking out of sight that we might have damaged.

After we installed the new floor, trimmed the top/bottom face frames (and previously dressed all wiring and plumbing out of the way) it was time to slide in the new fridge and see how it looked.

More pictures


Norcold brackets and sheet metal to remove

Remove all of the old Norcold brackets and whatever other sheet metal you find in the opening. I saw no reason to remove the plastic seal strips you see stapled to the walls


Removing the old floor

Use a recip saw with a shorty metal cutting blade to quickly cut the old floor in half and use a pry bar to lift up and then pull the two halves out



The old LP (gas) line plugged off, secured and out of the way

The white straps you see were cut from a milk jug and stapled to the wood rails. Not very high-tech but it worked for the time being. When we return home, I'll pull the fridge and use cable clamps and screws for the LP line as a permanent solution


Getting ready to cut the bottom face frame

The cut line is marked. Use a hand saw to make the vertical cuts


First cut made

There was VERY little dust from the sawing thanks to the vacuum and the very efficient dust collector on the VersaCut. Also the VersaCut has a forward projecting laser light that was very accurate - it helped to cut a straight line


New floor details

We thought it would be a good idea to drill three two inch vent holes on the bottom and top


Top vent holes


Recess the AC outlet

It might be necessary to recess the electric outlet. We were lucky that there was dead space behind the Luan. (The top-left plate of the outlet is broken, hence the screw and large washer)


Test fit

We didn't want to jam the fridge to the back sidewall, so we pulled it out a tad and added another cleat on the outside of the lower face frame to support the entire roller wheel. It was also time to test where we wanted to store the box of red and white wine ;-)


The added front for the roller wheel

And the added front cleat. Again we are using poplar wood. Do not use a soft wood like pine for the cleats

We're getting close to project completion! Major challenges met and overcome. The next page will wrap up the job. We need to seal off the upper vent, foam insulate the vent covers, screw the base of the fridge to the new floor, add wood trim, and we decided to move the defrost drain tube from the bottom pan, extend it and lead it outside. We also need to figure out how to secure the fridge doors while we're on the move. This had me puzzled for a while and the solution turned out to be very simple, inexpensive and effective!

Page 1 - Introduction
Page 2 - Tools I used, removing the Norcold
Page 3 - This page
Page 4 - Project wrap-up