Finishing the AC Installation

Don't let anyone tell you that installing an AC unit is "inexpensive". In South Central Texas however... its pretty much required. So, you just have to bite the bullet and (if you want to be comfortable) fork over the cash and do it right.

This month I purchased the rest of the parts (with the exception of the control module) for the Vintage Air AC/Heat/Defrost unit. When you list everything involved you wind up with about $750 for the basic unit plus, the condenser, dryer, compressor, and all the fittings and and hoses. The total will be just about $1200 for a quality unit... which is just about what I spent on this one. Now you could do it cheaper by sourcing a unit from a wrecking yard but as far as I'm concerned there are some things you just need to buy new. OK.. I'm off my soap box now so lets look at the install..

Here is the completed installation. Before I crimped the lines I removed the condenser and all fittings so the radiator support could be blacked out. This isn't necessary but was done at the factory (as kind of an after thought) so the space behind the grill would appear black instead of body color. I must mention that it helps if you have a club member who owns a shop and will lend you the crimping tool. These tools are expensive and most will have to farm out the crimping procedure to a local AC specialist. Many thanks to Gary for the loan of the tool.

A while back I mentioned I used a compressor mount from Bouchillon Performance which sticks the compressor down where the power steering unit would normally go. This is fine if you're dealing with a car that has power steering there are other options. Having the compressor located here allows the lines to run under the battery tray to the radiator support. This gives you a very clean appearing installation.

The lines are pretty will hidden with the battery tray installed. From there the smaller line (#8) goes to the condenser and the larger one (#10) goes all the way to the evaporator.

Here is the other side showing where the lines go. You'll notice the #6 line exiting the condenser at the bottom. That line goes to the dryer and eventually to the evaporator.

Here is the passenger's side of the radiator support. The #10 and #6 lines re-enter the engine compartment on their way to the evaporator. Originally I planned on running these lines through the fender and then the wheel well to keep them out of the engine compartment. That would require mounting the dryer in this location and there just wasn't enough room to do this and have the installation come out clean and neat. So the decision was made to mount the dryer in the engine compartment and just run the lines down the passenger's fender and into the air box. Although they won't be hidden they will be out of the way. The idea was to keep the engine free of ancillary equipment that wouldn't have been there originally... and the factory AC compressor mounted in the stock location would have been very obtrusive. They were large and heavy. Even mounting a modern Sanden compressor up top would have taken away from the simplicity of the engine installation.

The dryer fits here very nicely. The low pressure switch can be seen at the top. This switch is not "required" but really is a necessary safety precaution since it will save your compressor if a leak allows the pressure to drop below specified levels.

From the radiator support/dryer the lines run down the fender to just below the hood hinge where they go through the firewall into the air box. A couple strong tight fitting grommets will keep engine compartment heat and gasses out of the interior. Later I will add a clamp or two to keep these lines neat and in place.

From the inside you can see how the lines come through the air box and fit to the evaporator. The evaporator is still in the mock up stage and I still have to make a cover for the air box with appropriate grommets to seal the interior from unwanted outside air, but you get the idea.

Finally here is a shot of the complete radiator support so you can see how the lines are run. I apologize if the description of this installation seems a bit simplistic to some readers, but some people are very intimidated by the thought of adding AC to their ride and this explanation is intended to (hopefully) make things a bit easier to understand.

Now... to back step a little....

Before the AC install was started both front fenders were installed and had their gaps aligned. They are now installed permanently and finish body work will start soon. The drivers side required a little hammer and dolly work to get one section fitted but other than that things fit fine.

The passenger's side fit perfectly with little effort. The way to align body panels is to start with the doors and move forward. This allows you to align everything with the one section of the body that is not adjustable... the rear quarters.

That's it for this month.....check back often for more updates...

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