The Kitchenette

My 1982 Toyota Chinook needed a kitchen…

It’s been a life long goal of mine to design a CNC fabricable kitchenette.  I think that core infrastructure starts in the home.  If you were kicked out of civilization a kitchen would be one of your first and most frequently utilized tools.  Its fortunate that apartments are standardly equipped with a fridge and stove, but if you wanted to start living in strange places (like a gutted industrial sector) this would no longer be true.  Having a fully equipped portable unit that utilizes all available/affordable technologies would put the user at a supreme advantage.  The Chinook was a good place for a trial run.  This is a one-off with dimensions and other considerations that apply only to my car….but its a good place to start.

Chinook Kitchen CNC Design
From right to left you can see the fully assembled, then the exploded, then the CNC sheet layout.

I was able to scrap the old sink and stove that were already in my run down RV.  This was fortunate because any product that has RV or Marine in the name is automatically 10 times more expensive.  I couldn’t find any surface mount propane stoves for under $130.  Stainless steel basins can be found at home depot but they all cost around $50.

Chinook Kitchen CNC Stewart Losee

The Pump

I went with a ShurFlo pump which seems to be pretty standard for RVs.  I paid around $80 but Amazon changes prices constantly.  Now it appears to be $66.  This pump has a pressure sensor so when you turn on the tap it starts pumping.  It’s self priming which means there can be air in the lines.  If anything is leaking, it will turn on intermittently which ends up acting as a leak detector.  This pump has tons of pressure and could probably service a small home.  My sprayer is gonna be like a power washer.

The Filter

I went with the Dupont filter.  It seemed to have the cheapest replacement cartridges.  I know I’m not gonna replace these filters unless it’s cheap and easy…so this was a consideration.  The filter only runs to the brass tap so I can choose when I’m using it and hopefully increase the longevity.  Different parts of America have different water qualities, some of it tasting like sulfur or fracking.  Hopefully this will keep me a little healthier.

Plumbing Hardware

Home Depot is pretty well equipped but I would recommend using US Plastics.  I dream of having an all copper system, but since I’m a beginner I have to go with plastic.  I used 1/2″ ID tubing, then used these handy swiveling hose barb adapters that turn it to GHT (Garden Hose Thread).

swiveling hose barb with GHT
Swiveling hose barb with GHT connection.

I had a lot of trouble finding a splitter that was affordable.  Most of this is specialty hardware for lab and food manufacturing applications…so getting on the cheap consumer crap pricing scheme was made possible by GHT.  Amazon had way more options for these splitters.  The switch on every outlet will be good for trouble shooting and dismantling if there are problems.

Cheapo water splitter with control valves.
Cheapo water splitter with control valves.

Home Made Fridge?

Yeah, I’m working on that now.  These things called Thermo Electric Coolers (or generators) and small ceramic elements that get ice cold when you hook up a 12vdc current.

Peltier Thermoelectric Cooling unit
Peltier Thermoelectric Cooling unit

One side gets ice cold while the other side gets burning hot.  The faster you can dissipate the heat differential using computer heat sinks, the more efficiently it can work.

heat sink
Cheapo computer heat sink off amazon.

I went with this one because it was cheap and included thermal paste.  Separately the thermal paste is like $7…so I saved a little.  The thermal paste is applied to increase conductivity between the surface of the TEC and the surface of the heat sink.  The TEC draws about 100 watts so it will drain my auxiliary battery pretty quick if left on at full blast.  When the car is running there is an abundance of power so it’s not really a problem till I’m camping out.  There needs to be a controller thermostat.  I’ve read that PWMs can help moderate a TECs draw and output, so maybe an Arduino will be in order.   Maybe a sensor that can see a voltage spike and change modes when the car is running.

Fridge box under construction
Fridge box under construction

I was interested in making the standard fridge way more efficient.  Most fridges open like a door.  Cold air is like a liquid and will spill out the door when opened.  Many fridges try to correct this by opening like a drawer.  The vacated space behind the drawer draws air in and swirls it, mixing it, and some cold air gets lost.  I wanted a system that would not perturb the cold air pocket when you accessed the fridge.  I think the shape seen above does the trick.

This guy does a pretty good job explaining how to install a TEC.

Having access to Vacuum Panels would have been great.  These things claim to have a thermo-resistance (R-value) of R-50 per inch, over the pink foam’s R-5 per inch.  There’s not enough demand for these yet.  We’ve got so much energy to burn, there’s no need to develop better insulations at this point.  I went with the typical pink foam.

CNC Kitchen for Chinook
The kitchenette is nearing completion.
Chinook Kitchen mirror spice rack
A glamor shot of the mirror spice rack.

A More Universal Design

The design mantra of the decentralized-fabrication world is different than what most people are used to.  The goal is to alleviate the need for specialty components that need to be ordered from central manufacturers.  Hopefully, all the specialty goods, like plumbing fixtures and TEC units can fit in your hand while the majority of the material comes from locally manufactured milling boards, homogenous substrates, primed surfaces ready to receive structure and sophistication.

In the case of the kitchenette, many of these fixtures were made for appliances that are rare or out of production.   This goes against the mantra.  Decentralized-fabrication should parasite off of the centralized fabrication world.

A 5 gallon bucket, for example is a fairly ubiquitous object that has found its way to every corner of the world.  Maybe the wash basin should be made from that, instead of unique stainless steel basin.

The water tank I bought was about $60 after shipping, and also fairly rare.  Why not use a standard water drum, as used by those bottled water companies?

The stove, is no longer manufactured…and any stove of its kind costs around $130 while those standard Coleman stoves cost around $40 for the same thing.  The Coleman is very universal and could be adapted to this design.

The Assembly is done with notches, glue, and brad nails.  A better design would be assembled with notches, threaded rod, and bolts allowing the whole thing to be rigid but also flat-packable in the event that it would need to be further collapsed for easy transport or shipping.  Mix and match appliance bays would also be an option under this kind of design.  Switch the fridge from left to right, swap out a trash receptacle with a gray water storage, etc.

Even More Universal

Eventually I would like to design a tool chest on wheels.  A kitchen and a variety of other work stations could fit into this frame work.  The same basic structure could allow mix and match utility bays.  That’s a big idea.