Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opinion

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AZhitman
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Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opinion

Postby AZhitman » Wed Apr 25, 2012 10:47 pm

Around this time every year, we park our classic Datsuns for the summer, since driving in Arizona with no air conditioning is a good way to wind up in the hospital. So I got to thinking, since we're planning on keeping ALL of our classics, why not consider retrofitting A/C into them?

I'm aware that there are companies out there that build auto A/C systems to retrofit into older cars - Most are designed for popular models, like Mustangs, Chevelles, Camaros, etc. Even the least-expensive systems are $1000, and that's not including the hours of labor I'll invest modifying something to work with my cars.

However, I got to thinking - Why couldn't I just find a donor car equipped with A/C and remove everything - ALL the necessary components - and retrofit that into my car? I'm thinking a small modern car will have a small, efficient compressor, and I'd just have to build a bracket off the engine to attach it (and add another pulley).

Anyhow, is this even feasible? I don't know enough about auto A/C to undertake something like this without advice, so if anyone knows a lot about auto A/C and can offer some feedback, I'd love to learn.


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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby Jesda » Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:02 pm

Did Datsuns from that era come with AC? I wonder if air conditioning would put a heavy load on the engine and sap more power than its worth?

Even my turbo Saab, with 160-170hp (probably less by now), feels bogged down by AC. My brother's old G20 felt like it lost 40hp by turning the compressor on.

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby AZhitman » Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:10 pm

Good question.

The only ones that came with A/C as an option (in our fleet) are the Z (but she now has an RB25), the 510 and the 620KC (but it's not been restored yet). It'd be foolish on my 60-hp Bluebird or Pickup. It's also a dumb idea on the Roadster (for obvious reasons)...

The wagon has almost 2x its original HP, so I don't worry too much about it, and the 510 will have about 40 more hp than stock... but yeah - definitely something I'd need to to consider.

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby KrAzy24DE » Wed Apr 25, 2012 11:36 pm

Shouldn't be to bad.. Custom bracket for ac compressor, also need expansion valve, drier,evaporator, and condesor to work..you could sway outside the Datsun Nissan and look into other manufacture for parts.. honestly I think the biggest problem will be the blend box.. Yours will only have a heater core... Your gonna have to come up with something to put a evap. In there... You might have to try vintage air for that..

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby FlatBlackIan » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:06 am

^^ yep

I agree that the evap core onder the dash will be the hardest piece. I would stray away from extremely new stuff as they use computers to control everything, and many of the compressors are continuously variable. An R134a setup from the late 90s would be best. Easy to come buy, and minimal electronic wizardry to make it work. All you really need in the cabin is an on/off switch. The switch will energize the clutch. Use a high pressure switch to disable the clutch when adaquate pressure is reached, and either a delay timer, or a gapped reconnect switch to restart it once the pressure falls below a certain point. This way it will cycle and keep things cool.

Most compressors in that era already incorporate a high pressure release valve so you dont blow yourself up.

Use the largest condensor you can fit to avoid heat soak. A larger condensor will also mean colder AC on really hot days.

Once its all installed you will have to play around with charges untill you find the right number. This is not something to do at home. If you dont properly evacuate the system, it will never work right. Make friends with a n AC shop somewhere. Once the system is sucked down to a vacuum, it will just be trial and error to get the fill correct.

All in all its a big project, but by no means impossible.

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby numbnuts240 » Thu Apr 26, 2012 7:35 am

if you decide to add a/c to the z, i still have my a/c condensor off the rb that i'm not using.

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby krash » Thu Apr 26, 2012 8:55 am

Sounds like a cool idea! Maybe just restrict it to the ones that you'll be driving around more often. For the lower powered cars maybe a compressor from an older 1.6L Civic would work? I dunno much about A/C stuff, but those civics have cute little motors, so I'm sure you're classics can handle that compressor if the civics can.

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby Razi » Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:29 am

I forgot when Datsun started to switch over to pulleys with multiple ribs instead of having one large groove, but I'd imagine the pulley from a Civic won't work with the belts on your engines, but you could probably get a new pulley made no problem.

Did the old setups bump up the idle to 1k rpm when the A/C was turned on?
Our cars have electronic wizardry to do all that, but I don't know how they did it with the old engines.
I'd take a look at how the A/C was setup on the older Datsuns to get more ideas on how it messed with the idle and stuff.

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby Florida240sx » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:26 pm

Image

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby Florida240sx » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:43 pm

Just been on a few sites and found some kits for ya Greg. All electric, comes with evap, controls, etc. hoses etc. Shoot me a PM.

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby AZhitman » Thu Apr 26, 2012 3:44 pm

I already have a Thermador.

FL - Just post 'em up, hopefully it'll help someone else as well.

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby Florida240sx » Thu Apr 26, 2012 4:10 pm

there is one company there in Az, the other popular is in texas.
http://www.vintageair.com/index.asp
http://www.nostalgicairparts.com/
Jay leno uses vintage air.
Seems pretty straightforward. Just need to get a unit to match your volume size. There is a chart on one of them to compare volume size to what you need to match your application.

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby AZhitman » Thu Apr 26, 2012 10:13 pm

<sigh>

Love ya homey, but I've seen all that...

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby frapjap » Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:07 am

Hey Greg, saw this on the local CL and thought of your dilemma. I realize that it isn't perfect, but its likely a good start considering the vehicles you own and the engine size(s). Damned good price, too.

http://boston.craigslist.org/gbs/pts/2976959840.html
'99-05 Miata complete Air cnditioner, A/C - $200 (Boston)

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Date: 2012-04-24, 3:48PM EDT
Reply to: [email protected] [Errors when replying to ads?]
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


I just removed the complete A/C system from my 2000 Miata with 48K miles. Race cars don't need Air Conditioning, right?

The system worked perfectly prior to careful removal and everything is available down to bolts and hardware:

A/C compressor
A/C condenser with dryer
All piping
Under dash evaporator in box with mounting hardware
I'll even throw in the P/S and A/C V-belt and all bolts and nuts you need

In short, install this into your car, add R134a and you have air conditioning. I am asking $200 or best offer. Would consider selling separately. Let me know if any details or pictures are needed.
Image

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby Dattebayo » Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:19 am

As I see it, the only real hurdles would be to make the belt type the same for the compressor, and that the target RPM is achieved at idle...

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby AZhitman » Fri Apr 27, 2012 8:10 pm

^ That's what I'm thinking as well, but as stated above, I don't know enough about it to know for sure.

Adding another "groove" to the pulley isn't too bad - I can find another single-groove pulley the same diameter and weld it onto my current pulley.

Bumping the idle would be another challenge, but it's no big deal to bump the base idle a couple hundred rpm's in the summer and call it good.

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby Florida240sx » Fri Apr 27, 2012 10:00 pm

I jumped on forums and other sites reading about. All pointed to those 2 manufacturers. They have a tech line to call and talk to. I went to school for ase and did engine and suspension, turbo, etc. Touched briefly on a/c.
After today being 94 degrees and I have a new altima with a/c and it took it a good 20minutes to counteract the Florida weather.
And yes az I know my ducktape and crazy solutions, but hey they worked :)
But I know you want nice clean and worry free installation on yours.
Did you check on the one site? It had list of sellers in your area. Don't know the time frame from you, to perhaps talk to them in person 1 on 1 and see the product.

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby elwesso » Sun Apr 29, 2012 6:10 am

My biggest concern would be where you could mount the evap and blowers inside the cabin if it never came with provisions for that?

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby KrAzy24DE » Mon Apr 30, 2012 11:57 pm

Belt type shouldn't be a issue and neither should compressor speed.. For belt type in not sure what the older Datsuns have but should be a vrib...i would use a semi modern pump with a pressure and clutch switch built into the comp.. That'll take care of compressor speed(high side ac line pressure).. Usually most of the pumps are easy to disassemble... You could take the front pully from the clutch unit and modify to a vrib type belt..

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby AZhitman » Tue May 01, 2012 12:09 am

The cars we'd be doing use a solid v-groove belt.

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby Oatmealman » Tue May 01, 2012 8:41 am

r-12 system converted over to 134a? seems like that would resolve the belt issues.as far as the evap setup a simple plastic or fiberglass box with a blower motor and ports to the vents would work.

This shouldn't be very difficult at all.

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby cgsheen » Tue May 15, 2012 12:18 am

Sorry, delete me... :facepalm:

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby szh » Tue May 15, 2012 10:15 am

cgsheen wrote:Sorry, delete me... :facepalm:
First post for someone who joined NICO in 2009? Wow! :confused:

Z

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Re: Adding A/C to a classic / antique car... Need expert opi

Postby hudy » Fri May 18, 2012 6:53 pm

I agree that the evap core onder the dash will be the hardest piece. I would stray away from extremely new stuff as they use computers to control everything, and many of the compressors are continuously variable. An R134a setup from the late 90s would be best. Easy to come buy, and minimal electronic wizardry to make it work. All you really need in the cabin is an on/off switch. The switch will energize the clutch. Use a high pressure switch to disable the clutch when adaquate pressure is reached, and either a delay timer, or a gapped reconnect switch to restart it once the pressure falls below a certain point. This way it will cycle and keep things cool.

In the 90's when they were importing Land Rover Defender 90's they had to install a/c at the dealer. The units were independent of the heater system and had their own blower motor and vent system. It hung under the length of the dash. This http://www.roversnorth.com/c-136-air-co ... -kits.aspx is the kit. Seems like something like this would work for the inside. Obviously the kit in the link is a little pricey, but might be an option as far as the evap and ducting/blower motor.

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