I’m still procrastinating over the fresh water tank size. I found a second possibility that might work. The problem is where to put the fittings and the elbows that have to fit either inside the metal galley cabinet, or through its wall on the right.

Here’s the safe bet. This is Ronco’s 11-gallon model, which if I stand it upright I can have about 2 inches in the front for fittings. My pump only needs 4-1/2 inches of clearance between the tank and the sink, and its motor will nestle to the right of the drain assembly just fine. I just need to make sure I can get my hands in there too.

And here’s a 12-gallon model that might not fit in the front unless I drill a clearance hole on the inner cabinet door wall. Or, just run the connections into the refrigerator’s space. But if I do that, the cabinet’s right wall is 1-1/8″ thick, counting its inner and outer panels. So that means those fittings might also require nipples. And the more connections you add, the more points of failure there are.

What to do? It was a tough decision based on imperfect information, but I went with the 11-gallon option and got that order sent off on Monday morning. The extra gallon just wasn’t worth the risk of an uncomfortable fit. I specified the outlet port to be on the front corner, because the RETROvan slopes that way.

As part of that decision process I refitted wall panel D2 over the plumbing box and noticed something was a bit off. The faucet’s chrome trim rings weren’t making good contact with the aluminum wall panel, so I removed everything and rebuilt the sides of plumbing box. When I took the box out I found that the bottom Kreg pocket screws weren’t even making contact with the spacer because of the notch I formed to miss the rivets. So I replaced that joint with two steel corner brackets using six screws each.

This rebuild only took an hour or so, but now I won’t lose any sleep wondering whether the faucet might someday jar loose. I also closed up the mis-measured 1/4″ gap at the back and secured the right side of the box tightly to its vertical rib and left the left side of the box float a bit, while secured by longer sheet metal screws. And now it all fits perfectly. The nipples poke out at just the right length and the faucet is sturdy.

I spent the rest of the day struggling to polish all the handprints and scratches off a few more aluminum panels. I had washed the bonnets with some success, but I also bought some new terrycloth ones. Ultimately I decided to order ten microfiber bonnets since they seem to work best for the final phase, soaked in Klean Strip lacquer thinner.

This process is not going well because of the black oxidation layer that forms and immediately re-coats the metal. So now I have a choice. I can either spend a inordinate amount of time and energy trying to get it off — or, I can call it a feature and shoot for a consistent “pewter” look.

Our goal is to stage everything back together by Tuesday for our kids’ Thanksgiving visit. That means the sink won’t be usable, but that’s okay. And hopefully while they’re here they can participate in some of the construction. Specifically I’m thinking about laminating and trimming the shelves, countertop and dinette table as a family project. Or maybe some RETROpod work. We’ll see…

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