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AC car - conversion to new AC - advise

euroz06

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Hi all,

68 charger, 383, original AC car. My car had a restoration about 10 years ago, during that time all systems were restored (including AC system - all hoses are almost new). Recently the connector on the condensor failed, so im thinking about upgrading the compressor to a new sanden unit (i live in miami, and at idle-intraffic, my ac don't work too well). I see that condensors are about $200-300 and compressor is about $200 (classic industries - vintage air parts), about $500 in total. But then I also see an upgrade kit on "original air" for $1350, and it comes with a whole bunch of parts... all my hoses, connectors are newer parts, so I'm trying to see if I still need a kit or just the compresor and the condensor? below is what is listed for the conversion kit.

  • Rotary Compressor & Clutch Assembly
  • Compressor Mount Kit designed for the Mopar Big Block V8 engines***
  • Modern high performance "Parallel Flow" condenser that installs as stock
  • Modern high performance evaporator that installs as stock
  • Reproduction Liquid Hose with 134a Charge Port
  • Reproduction Liquid Line
  • Suction Hose (from compressor to evaporator)*
  • Discharge Hose (from compressor to top fitting on condenser)*
  • Replacement Filter/Drier
  • Reproduction Condenser Mount Bushings (4-piece set)
  • Replacement Expansion Valve and Refrigerant Tape
  • Thermostat
  • O-ring/Oil Tube Kit
  • Installation Instructions
 
Last edited:
Regarding parts, I'd say that most vendors make great products. In terms of evaporator units, I'd go with Classic Auto Air because of how they have the extensions on the evaporator for the A/C lines and heater hoses.
 
IMG_7464 2.JPG

IMG_7465.JPG

*in second pic u can see where the weld failed.

so here is whats my under hood looks like. You can see the lines on the left, including a newer style drier, newer style lines. Though as I am looking at the kit, it does appear that the lines going to compressor are routed different and have a different fitting. So can get away with getting compressor, condensor, line from compressor to condensor and charge line? I assume i would also need a bracket... but would I need Replacement Filter/Drier, Reproduction Condenser Mount Bushings (4-piece set), Replacement Expansion Valve, Thermostat?
 
I would replace the condenser and drier. Charge it up and check performance before replacing more parts. If fitting was compromised, refrigerant likely leaked causing your poor cooling.
 
I would replace the condenser and drier. Charge it up and check performance before replacing more parts. If fitting was compromised, refrigerant likely leaked causing your poor cooling.
it was the weld that failed on the condenser. Before this, all worked well (well, the compressor leaked a bit out of the clutch, but i refilled it once a year and all was well). I did have cooling issues at idle, and my belts would flap with AC on at idle (there is no more adjustment that can be made on the alternator and the belts are the right size/its tight when car is off). Considering i live in a very hot climate, I'd rather have uncompromized AC.

So the big question is which parts I need to upgrade, and which ones i don't. It seems like the drier/filter are newer (replaced during resto/6k miles ago), same goes for all the other lines and fittings.
 
it was the weld that failed on the condenser. Before this, all worked well (well, the compressor leaked a bit out of the clutch, but i refilled it once a year and all was well). I did have cooling issues at idle, and my belts would flap with AC on at idle (there is no more adjustment that can be made on the alternator and the belts are the right size/its tight when car is off). Considering i live in a very hot climate, I'd rather have uncompromized AC.

So the big question is which parts I need to upgrade, and which ones i don't. It seems like the drier/filter are newer (replaced during resto/6k miles ago), same goes for all the other lines and fittings.
Any time the receiver/drier is exposed to the atmosphere it will absorb water (doing its job) so, replacement is needed. They can only hold so much moisture. Water will freeze and stop refrigerant flow when inside the system.
Mike
 
That original system under the hood looks so good. If it were mine I would replace the condenser with one as original as possible along with the dryer. If the compressor is leaking around the seal, I would address that problem too. You might as well, because I have seen 40 plus year old cars still running R12 and not leaking. As far as the belts flapping some, that's sort of hard to eliminate as they are not sold in matched pairs anymore. The old R12 systems converted to R134 still work great.
In the end, that's just my opinion, but it's your car and your call.
 
Go with a complete system that comes from CAA or Vintage.
The original R-12 system used different hoses with out barriers that the new ones have and used different oil and o-ring, seals. Different capacity and pressures.
Otherwise you will likely not be happy with thre performance of a patch upi system and will be chasing leaks and problems.
Do it right and you will do it once. Wiull cost less and perform better in the long run.
 
If the original system works as it should it gets freezing cold.
Therefore, IMHO the best thing to do would be rebuilding your factory system.
 
i just order a complete under hood kit from Bouchillion performance for $835 for my 73 Small block Charger. im slowly putting it all together
 
That original system under the hood looks so good.
I agree with JH. Your car looks so good under the hood I wouldn't change it. (And I'm not a purist, I'll butcher anything.) Get some new parts, and if you haven't already, convert to 134A. JMO
 
That original system under the hood looks so good. If it were mine I would replace the condenser with one as original as possible along with the dryer. If the compressor is leaking around the seal, I would address that problem too. You might as well, because I have seen 40 plus year old cars still running R12 and not leaking. As far as the belts flapping some, that's sort of hard to eliminate as they are not sold in matched pairs anymore. The old R12 systems converted to R134 still work great.
In the end, that's just my opinion, but it's your car and your call.
The factory A/C in my '69 GTX was restored with NOS parts 20 years ago, and converted to R134. I had it recharged last year when it failed to blow cold, problem solved. It still blew ice cold when I started it up a few weeks ago on an unexpected warm day. The factory A/C GTX I owned in the 90s went seven years without having to be recharged, and blew cold the whole time. I'm a fan of stock systems, but they've served me well.
 
I would upgrade to Sanden compressor, and buy a new condenser and drier from Vintage Air. Because of the way the condenser is made, you need to buy one 2" wider than your rad opening. So, in your case, 28". The Sanden compressor will run fine with one belt, so no more flapping second belt. I don't like how the replacement kits run all the hoses out through the hole in the inner fender, to come in the side of the cowl. And then, there is an ugly cover plate to go on the firewall, to cover where all the original lines entered. If at all possible, keep your original lines. Pictures of 24" condenser on my 22" opening on my '64 Polara. If you get a Sanden compreesor, also get the lines manifold for the top of it.

P6130008.JPG


P4080003.JPG
 
so would any of you be able to tell me what I would need to build my own kits?
im seeing 3 vendors: classicautoair, classicindustries, and original air.
Classicautoair has a kit that is almost $2k, and contains all the pieces for inside the car. All insides on my car are new/restored. They did respond to me that for my needs, id need compressor, condenser, mounting brackets, two hoses that come off compressor and new filter dryer. Sounds along the lines of what I was thinking.
Original air sells a stage 3 kit, its 1350, and besides what classiautoair said, and also includes evaporator (which i don't believe i need), and has a bunch of other lines, o rings and thermostat (would i need all that if my parts look in good condition/restored?). I'm sort of leaning on this kit, minus the evaporator... 66-70 Charger/Satellite A/C Performance Upgrade Kit Big Block STAGE-3
Classicindustries also has a $2k kit, but doesn't list whats included, but in the picture i see it also has parts for interior. If im looking at single items on their site, their pricing seems the best, but im now confused which parts I would need (they also have several options for sanden units, 508 and 507).

Appreciate the advice.

Back story on my AC. When I got the car, it had 400 miles after full resto, all looked original/brand new. I tested AC system and it had a leak at the condenser (exactly where it broke off now), so i had it welded, but was told its a matter of time before it brakes (it lasted 7 years, so im happy). Then after fixing that, it turned out that the clutch in the original compressor was broken, so instead of repairing it, i bought a new unit. That first unit was defective. Exchanged it. Second new unit was leaking a bit at the cluch, was told its normal, just refill ac once a year.. ok. Then all seemed well, except condensate would leak into the cabin. no the tubes weren't clogged. After a few years of driving with condensate leaking inside, I finally decided to pull the AC/Heaterbox out to inspect the problem. The box and everything inside appeared fully restored/new, except the drain pan, which was full of rust holes... i guess someone was lazy on restoration, they sanded it and painted it, but it looked like swiss cheese... So after all that, AC was working well, no issues, no leaks, except the belts. I originally had a single belt alternator, and with AC on, it would flop at idle and in gear, and it would also smell burned when at highway speeds. So I've decided to upgrade the alternator to the one with two belt pulley. I ordered from a reputable shop a high output alternator. I installed that, and all was well, except, since it was a high output, i had to run an additional thick cable to the battery (per manufacturer), which in turn caused my alt meter gauge and engine pressure gauge to stop working properly... So i've arranged with them to just install a dual pulley on my original alternator (since it was new after restoration). So now i have two belts, and they both flap at idle with AC on (regular idle speed, not in gear, ac off is about 1000rpm, in gear about 750, with AC on i'd say 650ish, so in gear they would flop even more). I think the low rpm in gear with ac on is also the reason why it doesn't work so well in traffic (at 650 rpm, its not making enough power). So i think, the original style AC is a heavy duty unit, so if i go with modern unit, my rpm's won't drop as much when its engaged, and ill get rid of my belt slap problem, and my in-traffic AC problems. Plus, i won't loose 1/3 of my power with AC on, and will be able to cruise on the highway without a worry.
 
i ordered all mine from Bouchillon performance and it was half the price of everyone else
 
Hi all,

68 charger, 383, original AC car. My car had a restoration about 10 years ago, during that time all systems were restored (including AC system - all hoses are almost new). Recently the connector on the condensor failed, so im thinking about upgrading the compressor to a new sanden unit (i live in miami, and at idle-intraffic, my ac don't work too well). I see that condensors are about $200-300 and compressor is about $200 (classic industries - vintage air parts), about $500 in total. But then I also see an upgrade kit on "original air" for $1350, and it comes with a whole bunch of parts... all my hoses, connectors are newer parts, so I'm trying to see if I still need a kit or just the compresor and the condensor? below is what is listed for the conversion kit.

  • Rotary Compressor & Clutch Assembly
  • Compressor Mount Kit designed for the Mopar Big Block V8 engines***
  • Modern high performance "Parallel Flow" condenser that installs as stock
  • Modern high performance evaporator that installs as stock
  • Reproduction Liquid Hose with 134a Charge Port
  • Reproduction Liquid Line
  • Suction Hose (from compressor to evaporator)*
  • Discharge Hose (from compressor to top fitting on condenser)*
  • Replacement Filter/Drier
  • Reproduction Condenser Mount Bushings (4-piece set)
  • Replacement Expansion Valve and Refrigerant Tape
  • Thermostat
  • O-ring/Oil Tube Kit
  • Installation Instructions
Call vintage air they will work with you on exactlly what you want. I had them clean and test my evaporator. Then I bought all new firewall foward new. Rotary compressor & mounts. Condensor hoses, TEV, etc. In the car its all rebuilt a/c heater box and original controlls. They only part I had to resource was they heater control valve on the firewall. Warning: it cost as much as the entire upgrade!

IMG_1219.jpeg
 
I think im ready to pull the trigger with classicair/original air (same company turns out).
I do have a question about the thermostat that comes with the kit. I don't believe the original system came with one. If so, how do I install this one (the instructions that come with the kit are vague).
 
I think im ready to pull the trigger with classicair/original air (same company turns out).
I do have a question about the thermostat that comes with the kit. I don't believe the original system came with one. If so, how do I install this one (the instructions that come with the kit are vague).
I used Vintage air, but I used a bulkhead connector further back towards the firewall. I didn't care for bringing it through the adjuster hole. I also used black nylon hose covering over the rubber hoses, I hate showing rubber hoses connected to a 10k engine. I also used Autoplumb AN hoses for the radiator. Not cheap, but that cheap metal flex hosing looks worse to me than factory style rubber hose. I went with CVF serpentine drive, so the Sanden compressor is on the passenger side.

mockup bulkhead.jpg


dressed_front_wires.jpg
 
I think im ready to pull the trigger with classicair/original air (same company turns out).
I do have a question about the thermostat that comes with the kit. I don't believe the original system came with one. If so, how do I install this one (the instructions that come with the kit are vague).
i just spoke to Classic auto air... they are in the middle of moving everything to Coppell, tx location from the original air location in Florida.. so call them first to make sure there isnt going to be any delays in your order.. If you call original air you probably wont get anyone.. Call Classic auto air.. that's what i had to do to get a human and he explained all this too me
 
yes, thank you. I spoke to them and placed an order for stage 1 and a condenser. They said its about 3 weeks.

does anyone have info on how to set up the thermostat for the ac?
 
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