Re-finishing the interior of an old fridge?

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Old 11-20-16, 08:39 AM
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Re-finishing the interior of an old fridge?

This is going to sound crazy, but bear with me...:

I have two fairly ancient G.E. TFX20DJC side-by-side fridge-freezers. My best guess is that they were manufactured in 1989, and they have been in continuous use since then. Amazing. 27-28 years! Furthermore, I know there must be quite a few of this series still in use, because spare parts web sites have a fair bit of inventory for them.

As an aside, I have bought more recent fridges and had the compressors fail within three years. I bet you have too. The point is that I'm not just being cheap here in my reluctance to simply replace the fridges: if modern fridges are so poor that you have to buy a new one every three years, it makes much better sense to repair the ones i have.

What the spare parts distributors do not have, and what GE itself does not have (I asked), is the plastic panels that form the internal walls of the fridge. Fair enough too.

And that's what i need: while the fridges are working fine, the internal panels / facia have suffered material fatigue: they've cracked in several places, looking ugly and making it difficult to clean.

I have tried melamine of the kind used for countertops, but it's hellish difficult to cut good edges without the right cutting tool, and I just don't have access to one. I have also tried softer melamine table mats, i.e. the things youi put under dinner plates to protect your table, but once chilled inside a fridge, they become brittle and crack under the slightest impact.

So: does anyone have any ideas for a material that I could use, white, that would retain durability at tempertures down to a few degrees below zero? And similarly, what adhesive?

Thanks all,
 
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Old 11-20-16, 09:14 AM
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A couple of things you might try, with no guarantee they will work

The box stores sell FRP (Fiberglass reinforced panel). You often see them in industrial/commercial restrooms as they are strong and easy to clean. So you might be able to cut pieces of that to fit.

Second idea is to use bondo and the fiberglass repair tape. Put the tape over the cracks, smooth on the bondo, and sand it smooth when set.

Third idea is to use white epoxy along with the mesh tape. Might be easier to get a smooth repair with painted on epoxy rather than bondo.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 09:39 AM
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I like the white epoxy and tape method.

The interior panels are usually only available for a short time after the model is discontinued. They are too big and fragile to handle and were a problem shipping.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 09:42 AM
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While your old fridges may refuse to die don't forget their energy consumption. Modern fridges are much more efficient so you may pay dearly to keep those old ones going.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 10:16 AM
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Paul,

Great - thanks!

I've just had a quick scout around online for FRP (of which i had never heard before, thanks) and i see it comes in a wide range of thicknesses, as thick as 3/8 inch (which wouldn't work because the shelves wouldn't then fit, they'd foul the door, etc.) but as thin as 1/32 inch, which would likely be fine. My working plan would be to glue it over the existing panels.... BUT....

I almost like the tape + Bondo idea better, for my purpose, because it would add barely any thickness - and because the damaged areas are fairly localized. And presumably, if it's primarily intended for auto use, we know that it's supposed to retain its integrity at sub-zero temperatures. I think I'll try that first, especially on the floor panel, where gravity will not be working against me (yes, i know i can turn the fridge on its side to do the walls, but let's try the easy part first....!)

Thanks again.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 10:20 AM
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Very good point. I should see if i can borrow an ammeter and find out how much juice the old girls are drinking....
 
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Old 11-20-16, 10:27 AM
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PJmax,

Thanks - which white epoxy would you use?

Panel availability: yes indeed. I was frankly amazed to see that there were so any parts available at all for a 28-year old fridge, let alone the scores that are available. I wonder how many of them are as old as the fridge! Presumably they last indefinitely, and the folks who have been storing them for decades do so where land is cheap -- but as you say, not cheap enough for bulky items like panels, that will be prohibitively expensive to ship, also.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 02:43 PM
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Many fridges interior are vacuum formed from ABS plastic. Look for adhesives and products that will stick to ABS. Surprisingly things like epoxy resin don't stick so well unless you heavily scratch the surface so it can get a mechanical bite. I've had good luck with JB Weld Plastic to fill in broken sections then I cover it with white tinted resin.
 
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Old 11-20-16, 03:41 PM
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Excellent! Thanks very much. Will do.
 
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