Engel Fridge Installation

I have found through the years that a freezer/fridge is an essential comfort accessory for vehicle dependent expedition travel.  While traveling in Mexico it can be difficult to find ice, and food is often spoiled, or damage from the water that has collected in the cooler.  For a minor weight penalty (over a traditional cooler with sufficient ice), a 120/12v swing motor fridge is a wonderful addition.
Since I typically only travel with one additional passenger, and the Tacoma is not driven daily, we elected to semi-permanently mount our 42L Engel fridge behind the driver’s seat.  I still have plenty of room to slide my seat back all the way to the stops.  This arrangement allows the passenger to access the fridge while in motion, and easy access from the driver’s side rear passenger door.
The mounting location also allows for the custom platform and drawer system that I have fabricated, which mounts behind the passenger seat.
 

Process

 
The first step was to remove the rear seat and the cup holder from the rear passenger compartment.  This is an easy job, with 6 bolts for the seat and 4 bolts for the cupholder.  There is an impressive amount of room available once the seat is removed.  In addition, by removing the rear seat, 54 lbs. of payload capacity is regained.
Tacoma Rear Seat Removed
Rear seat removed
It was necessary to fabricate custom brackets to mount the fridge securely and level to the floor.  In addition, I felt it important to utilize the existing seat holes to prevent additional drilling into the body.The weight of the fridge dictates it being firmly secured while in the passenger compartment.  A fridge should never be traveled off-highway without being secured.  These images show detail of the rearward bracket.
Rear Brackets for Engel Fridge
Rear Brackets for Engel Fridge
These images show the forward brackets with turnbuckle extensions in place for securing the front of the fridge.
Forward Brackets with Turnbuckel Extensions for Engel Fridge
Forward Brackets with Turnbuckle Extensions for Engel Fridge
Here is the rearward bracket installed using the factory seat holes.  Rubber isolators were also installed to provide additional support for the fridge and to prevent rattling.
Rearward Bracket Installed Engel Fridge
This shows the front mount installed, using the forward seat mounting hole and one of the cup holder mounting points.  The two legs pointing to the front seats are used to secure the turnbuckles.
Front Mount installed for Engel Fridge
This shows both brackets installed, ready to mount the fridge.  I also used shrink tubing on the ends of the turnbuckles to prevent damage to the fridge’s paint and to prevent rattling.
Forward and Rearward Brackets Installed in Tacoma for Engel Fridge
The rubber feet of the fridge rest on the 2″ wide section of the mounts.  Four turnbuckles firmly mount the fridge to the brackets.  The fridge does not rattle or move at all.
Engel Fridge Installed
Engel Fridge Installed in Tac oma
Within the last year, Engel has released a few innovative solutions for mounting the fridge line:
Transit Slide Lock: This is a great solution for applications like shown above, and would not require the extensive fabrication.
Engel Slide: This is a heavy duty slide solution, which provides significant benefit to wagon owners and fridges mounted in compartments.  I have seen this slide in action at SEMA, and there is no rattling.  It uses heavy duty sealed rollers bearings to bear the load.
 

Impressions

 
The goal was to make a solid mount for our Engel fridge that was also light weight.  We used the existing structure that the fridge provides to make the entire mount ridged, and it works.  After thousands of miles on our recent expedition into the Sierra Madre of Mexico, the mount and fridge are still solid.
Vendor:
Engel USA
900 Jupiter Park Drive
Jupiter, FL 33458
Phone: (561) 743-7419
Toll Free: 888-272-9838
Fax: (561) 743-7420
Payload Impact (1,395 For Stock Vehicle):
4%
Weight of fridge and mounts= 52.9 lbs. for fridge, 3.6 lbs. for mounts.
There is a payload bonus of 54 lbs. by removing the factory rear seats.
Installation Time:
Custom installation, several hours
Difficulty (Easy, Moderate, Difficult):
Moderate
Specialty Tools Required:
Welder, Metal Saw, Grinder
Vehicle:
Expeditions West 2004 Toyota Tacoma Double Cab TRD

Scott is the publisher and founder of Expedition Portal and Overland Journal. His travels by 4WD and adventure motorcycle span all seven continents and include three circumnavigations of the globe. He lives in Prescott, Arizona

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