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Vintage Air installation in a 1968 Satellite

Kern Dog

Life is full of turns. Build your car to handle.
FBBO Gold Member
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Summer time is coming and you know what that means for most of us. Car shows, road trips. cruising and other fun stuff in warmer weather where vinyl seats mean sweaty shirts and bad hair.
The hair part won't matter to some of you but the overall theme still rings true....cruising in an older car is great but does carry with it some concessions.
It doesn't have to be that way. Many of you have made it a point to make your classic as comfortable as you can.
This Plymouth is probably like your car. It is a well put together car that stops and steers well. It makes a bunch of power and has a good street vibe going for it. The owner has made some great choices in terms of drivetrain and overall engineering which should come as no surprise since he is a trained engineer by trade as well as being a fellow FBBO member.

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Follow along as I install a Vintage Air HVAC system in this Plymouth. I have some obstacles to deal with that I still haven't figured out yet but as with most build threads on these forums, I often see many helpful suggestions come up from fellow members that end up being a huge help for the installer.

This car has a 400 block based 451, a classic Mopar hot rodders stroker build using a 440 crank in a 400 block. This means it is a low deck, much like a 383. This affects little except the mounting for the alternator brackets. The car came to me with the standard two belt arrangement as is common for non A/C cars with power steering. The owner had aftermarket pullies for the water pump and crankshaft but he didn't trust them. I've read of and seen a few that cracked and fell apart...a situation that often results in a whole lot more damage when you shred a radiator, shroud, fan and maybe even send flying parts through the underside of the hood. First up was to pull the stock pullies and install refinished original A/C parts from my stash.
(The advantage of hoarding parts you almost tossed out)
 
Good to see those retired hands being put to good use. Thread - watched! :thumbsup:
 
There are a few choices for going with aftermarket A/C systems. When I decided to add A/C to my '70 Charger, I went with Classic Auto Air.

Installing Classic Auto Air in a '70 Charger

I made my choice based on the advice from a couple of other B body owners.
The owner of the Plymouth chose Vintage Air. I've heard of good and bad with both systems and I'm sure there may be some good points made for each.
Both use their own under dash evaporator unit that fits within the stock location taking up about 2/3 the space. The drawback of both is that they do not include outside air as a feature. The factory setup took air from the upper right cowl vent to blend with the system to assist in heating and cooling. Some say that this isn't an issue for them in hot weather and that the A/C actually blows colder without it. For heat and defrosting, it may take longer to clear foggy windows from making out with your chick....

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The kit uses an oval block off plate for the cowl vent.

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Also shown above is the wiring, some hardware and the heater control valve which blocks incoming coolant from the water pump....it comes into play when using the heater or the A/C.
 
I added VA to my 65 Belvedere. So, if I can answer any installation questions, I will be happy to help.
Mike
 
I am admittedly not fully versed in all of the nuances of A/C swaps. This will be my second one. The owner trusted me to do other work on the car that is already done with great results so this is the last of the project.
Experience helps you see obstacles before you get stuck in them and come up with some way around them. We all know this but it bears repeating because it really applies when doing something that deviates from stock. Often times, the "fix" is documented somewhere, it is just a matter of finding it. Other times, you're blazing a trail like Lewis and Clark and YOU will be the fix that helps someone else down the way.
The owner didn't buy this kit directly from Vintage Air. It was bought piecemeal through a few sources. Because of that, it is sort of custom and because of that, there are some things that will have to be figured out as I go.
One current sticking point is the "plumbing". I'll explain here then get back to a standard step-by-step installation as it gets done.
The press release picture that Vintage Air:

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The Vintage Air evaporator is about the same size as the Classic but the differences that I see are obvious. These units use two fittings for the heater core and two for the evaporator refrigerant to pass through the firewall. Classic has the fittings already on the unit as seen here with red caps on the lines for the refrigerant and copper for the heater core:

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The Vintage unit does not. It is the responsibility of the installer to find a way through the firewall. This can be a setback or an advantage depending on how you look at it. Some have routed the lines in the right wheelwell, over the suspension and through the front alignment cam access hole. This hides them and cleans up the look in the engine bay. You can't do that with the Classic unit pictured above. Classic may offer a different unit that allows this but I'm not sure. In the meantime, here is what you're facing if you choose a Vintage Air setup and want to route the lines in the engine bay:
First, you have to attach the black firewall plate that "locates" the evaporator against the back side of the firewall as well as providing structural support for it. With that in place, the evaporator gets "mocked up".
 
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If I keep my 1967 Coronet I will be adding vintage air this spring. Thanks for taking the time to document your process.
 
Seen below is the firewall plate in place. Yellow tape shows the two holes where the EVAP unit attaches.

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The four lines going through the firewall can either be done with grommets or with this:

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That manifold is billet aluminum and is a quality piece. It is a neat and tidy way to address the engine side but it complicates the plumbing on the interior. Look at the manifold plate location. It is in a spot that looks great and will allow the lines to run close to the fender apron. Take note of the position of the screw in the lower left port:

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Now, look at the inside:

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The screwdriver points to the self tapping screw. Here you can see the screw poking through. Somehow, the four lines need to connect. This has been done by someone before but is new to me. The heater hose lines are fairly easy...they hold less than 20 psi of pressure and simple heater hoses can bridge between the evap and manifold. The refrigerant lines though....They need to be fabbed, cut, crimped and must NOT leak. The space in there is tight so this looks to be the biggest challenge I will face.

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The basic kit came with a few fittings but not much. The owner ordered a hose and fitting kit that came with a bunch of stuff:

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Also the o-rings and oil.
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Mocking up, this will be the engine side. Heater hoses on bottom, A/C above.


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The fitting kit had these 90 degree ends…

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I’m thinking they might crowd the space underneath. The fittings on the EVAP are straight and a bit long too. I’m considering using hardware store fittings like these….



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…to keep from having sharp bends in the hoses. If I had a tube flaring kit of this size, I’d just cut these back and re-flare them.
One other thing before I return to the step-by-step: The interior side #6 refrigerant line HAS to be fabbed and fitted before final install of the EVAP unit. It is too tight to reach the fitting at the EVAP end once it is in place since the support bracket and firewall all crowd the area.
 
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On my non ac set up I took the firewall plate and slung it in the trash. I like the cleaner look a lot better of running the hoses outside of the inner fender and then through the cam adjuster plate. It’s a much much cleaner look. If I don’t do it this year, next year I’m going to mount my ac under my alternator and get it off of the top of my motor. This is how I currently have the ac compressor mounted but I now have the lighter hose on top of the Compressor replaced with one just like the darker hoses and the wire laying on the fuel pressure regulator goes to the AC compressor. I was in the middle of making adjustments on length of the top hoses. I’ve been working 6-7 days a week so I don’t know if I’ll get time to mount it under the alternator or not. I bought my own crimping tools which was a must. My sniper harness now goes through the heater hoses also.

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On my non ac set up I took the firewall plate and slung it in the trash. I like the cleaner look a lot better.
I get that, I've posed the option to the owner as well. The current plan is to use this plate but to paint it body color so it blends in. It could be left off, nothing is set in stone at this point. The advantage of using it is that it covers a few holes in the firewall including the original heater hose holes.
 
Really dumb question from the peanut gallery #1:
Is the factory heater box removed as a result of this installation?
 
The goal of the owner was to use as many factory parts on the engine side as possible for the sake of availability and durability. The factory A/C setup for these years used 4 fan belts. Two for the A/C compressor and alternator. This required the swap to an alternator with a double groove pulley.

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This arrangement uses the 2 grooves on the crank pulley closest to the timing cover. The mounting brackets for the alternator are different for the A/C vs non A/C as well as the year model. I used stuff I had here from parting out various cars over the years. I'm not familiar with the specifics of what stuff was used in what years but my stash consists of stuff from the late 60s to mid 70s. The third groove out is for the power steering pump. It stays in the same place whether you have A/C or not. The fourth groove is for the fan belt. It goes around the fan, idler and crank pulleys. Tension is adjusted with the idler.

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I struggled a bit with this arrangement with my installation in 2019. I thought it looked too busy. I wanted to use a 3 belt arrangement with the fan and power steering on the same belt. I couldn't find a water pump pulley the right depth/offset and the amount of belt contact to the water pump pulley looked inadequate, so I deferred to the factory setup. One great advantage....the factory setup allows you to use stock length belts which may be easier to get than some oddball size.

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With the alternator mounting......
It wasn't just a plug and play sort of thing. The owner bought a Bouchillon mounting kit that seemed complete. The spacers for the top bolt did not put the upper bracket square with the block. requiring some thinner ones from the stash.

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Really dumb question from the peanut gallery #1:
Is the factory heater box removed as a result of this installation?
Here lies a flaw in some instructions that I have complained about when others do it.
I skipped a simple, yet important detail.
Yes, the stock unit, whether A/C or not, gets removed, all firewall insulation gets removed too. Before final assembly, sound deadener mat will be applied up to the cowl.
The unit was out of the car when I picked it up.
 
First things first,like putting a tennis ball on that safety latch. Ask me how I know. Lol. Good luck Greg. View attachment 1588231


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Noggin hook!

surprised that thing survived Ralph Nader........he must be one of them short fokkers

My former tee pee dwelling friend called that the brain hook. He pulls it from every car. I leave mine. I rarely bump it.....the hair has it's own forcefield.

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