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Thread: A/C in the coupes and Hawks

  1. #1
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    A/C in the coupes and Hawks

    I am a ways,well a long ways, from putting any creature comforts in my 53 Coupe but I thought it wise to be finding out what my options were other than add on air for A/C and utilizing the original Climitizer (sp?). I am not sure if I can save the fender vents since I havn't started fixing the fenders, need to finish the floor first, as well as rough in the engine install. I sent an inquiry to Vintage Air since they used their system in Jack Chisenhall's 200 MPH and I was never able to find one story that illustrated any of the interior of the car so I'd get an idea of how they resolved the problem. Here is the response I received. I guess there are not enough potential buyers in our market to build a specific kit.









    Marv,

    We do not offer anything made specifically for that vehicle and can only recommend a universal type kit.
    The interior as well as the majority of the car is totally custom designed for racing.
    Go to our online catalog and view pages 44 thru 51 to see which unit will fit best.
    Always try and go with the largest that will fit to ensure sufficient cooling capacity.

    The Gen II Compac on page 47 is probably the best fit for that vehicle but if you can go larger, the better.

    Page 101 provides a build sheet that will guide you into what all is required when putting together a complete universal type kit.

    Give our sales team a call if you have any questions or if you would like to place an order.

    Thank you,

    Roy Arreguin
    Sales
    Vintage Air, Inc.
    1.800.862.6658 Ext 108
    www.vintageair.com

  2. #2
    President Member thunderations's Avatar
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    I have installed aftermarket A/C in my 66 Daytona and just acquired a 55 President that is also a candidate for an A/C unit in the near future.
    My findings is that a simple under dash unit is the most efficient and least costly. There are similar units that have a portion of the unit dedicated to heat also, but by doing that the capacity of the A/C is reduced. Some may have outlets for defrosters too.
    If the original heater in your Studebaker is in working condition, or can be easily made to work, it is your best source of heat/defrost for the money spent.
    I found that using the alternator/generator mounting location to install the small, rotary A/C compressor was the neatest way to get that job done. Relocating the alternator was an easier task then finding space for the compressor and it's plumbing. By upgrading your generator to an alternator, it's pretty easy to find a location and build simple mounting/adjusting brackets as the alternator is much smaller. If your car doesn't have PS, that's a good place to locate the alternator, or maybe the compressor if running the hoses is not a problem.
    I haven't spent much time figuring out what the best scenario is for the 55 to get A/C, but thought I'd let you know what I have encountered and what has worked best in similar situations.
    Vintage Air is a great option, but usually a bit pricey and if they don't have a specific kit for the vehicle, it's still owner fabrication to make it work.
    Check out some of the A/C kits on ebay and some other places to see what's available and what you like. Some have dash units that even look vintage available.
    1966 Daytona (The First One)
    1950 Champion Convertible
    1950 Champion 4Dr
    1955 President 2 Dr Hardtop
    1957 Thunderbird

  3. #3
    President Member t walgamuth's Avatar
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    We used the vintage air in my CE. I had planned to use an old Sears under-dash unit I inherited from my dad but I could not figure out a good way to provide heat separately. I got the vintage air unit off ebay for cheap and bought a few misc parts IIRC from Vintage Air. The mounting brackets are simple angles made from sheet metal. The 53 dash is pretty simple so I bet the va unit will fit right in.
    Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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    President Member 5brown1's Avatar
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    Vintage Air in the Speedster
    Attached Images Attached Images

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    President Member Jerry Forrester's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 5brown1 View Post
    Vintage Air in the Speedster
    Vintage Air, Heat/Cool/Defrost Super Cooler in a '55 Coupe with a '62 GT dash.





    I had to do away with about 1/3 of the glove box for the heater and AC hoses and make an off set in the dash cross bar.
    Jerry Forrester
    Forrester's Chrome
    Douglasville, Georgia

  6. #6
    President Member bensherb's Avatar
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    Here's what'sin my '62. It fits nice and doesnt intrude on floor space.
    IMG_3347.jpgIMG_3344.jpg
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    Although I didn't include a copy of the response, I went back a second time to ask for pictures of the A/C install in the 200 MPH car
    and the response was that with all of the dash modifications and roll cage..............well, no pictures Maybe it was just butt ugly
    and they didn't want to admit it. Either that or it would have been a pain to have found an interior picture. I thought maybe I would
    find a magazine story on it, but....none.
    I am still chasing rust in the body, a couple of days ago I found rust in a couple of areas I would never have guessed to find it The fenders
    have had metal welded over the original vents, I have not ground the bondo off of them get to determine how bad they are. I hope to be able
    to make them operational just to prove I can do it. I have not pressure tested the defroster or heater core so I am not sure if they are serviceable.

    Thanks for all of the additional comments, pictures etc, lots of good info!

  8. #8
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    I had '53 C/K and installed Vintage Aire and it worked great in that it fit perfectly under the dash and did not alter leg room at all. The unit was heat and cold air and the unit worked just fine except...I could not get enough air across the front end of the car to be able to use the A/C. I increased the size of the front scoop, added an electric fan still the car cooling system was entirely too hot and car vapor locked. The radiator was new from Griffith. As a consequence the A/C portion of the system was useless. I would not again install the system in a '53 or '54. You may note that about the upper one third of the radiator is blocked from receiving good air flow. This was my experience. Chet Gorgas

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by chet445 View Post
    I had '53 C/K and installed Vintage Aire and it worked great in that it fit perfectly under the dash and did not alter leg room at all. The unit was heat and cold air and the unit worked just fine except...I could not get enough air across the front end of the car to be able to use the A/C. I increased the size of the front scoop, added an electric fan still the car cooling system was entirely too hot and car vapor locked. The radiator was new from Griffith. As a consequence the A/C portion of the system was useless. I would not again install the system in a '53 or '54. You may note that about the upper one third of the radiator is blocked from receiving good air flow. This was my experience. Chet Gorgas
    With those bodies, getting the air out of the engine compartment is a bigger problem than getting the air into it. Doing things like cutting away the rear part of the inner fenders helps. Of course modifications like hood louvers also help.
    Gary L.
    Wappinger, NY

    SDC member since 1968
    Studebaker enthusiast much longer

  10. #10
    President Member Colgate Studebaker's Avatar
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    Marv, I remember an article in Hot Rod magazine several years back on Jack's 200 mph run with the air blowing cold. I think there were pictures of the interior showing the rollcage and dash. If you go to Hot Rod's website and look up the archives you might find the article. Bill

  11. #11
    Silver Hawk Member JoeHall's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by chet445 View Post
    I had '53 C/K and installed Vintage Aire and it worked great in that it fit perfectly under the dash and did not alter leg room at all. The unit was heat and cold air and the unit worked just fine except...I could not get enough air across the front end of the car to be able to use the A/C. I increased the size of the front scoop, added an electric fan still the car cooling system was entirely too hot and car vapor locked. The radiator was new from Griffith. As a consequence the A/C portion of the system was useless. I would not again install the system in a '53 or '54. You may note that about the upper one third of the radiator is blocked from receiving good air flow. This was my experience. Chet Gorgas
    I prefer Hawks and, thank Goodess, they lend themselves well to AC. The grill is perfectly positioned for max flow. No problems with AC in a Hawk, long as it has a clean cooling system, with HD radiator.

  12. #12
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    Thanks Colgate, I have all the Hot Rod Magazines from the 50's forward, if push comes to shove I can pull them down and go through them manually

    Quote Originally Posted by Colgate Studebaker View Post
    Marv, I remember an article in Hot Rod magazine several years back on Jack's 200 mph run with the air blowing cold. I think there were pictures of the interior showing the rollcage and dash. If you go to Hot Rod's website and look up the archives you might find the article. Bill

  13. #13
    Speedster Member
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    Quote Originally Posted by chet445 View Post
    I had '53 C/K and installed Vintage Aire and it worked great in that it fit perfectly under the dash and did not alter leg room at all. The unit was heat and cold air and the unit worked just fine except...I could not get enough air across the front end of the car to be able to use the A/C. I increased the size of the front scoop, added an electric fan still the car cooling system was entirely too hot and car vapor locked. The radiator was new from Griffith. As a consequence the A/C portion of the system was useless. I would not again install the system in a '53 or '54. You may note that about the upper one third of the radiator is blocked from receiving good air flow. This was my experience. Chet Gorgas
    My '53 C/K has air and it is almost useless as well - temps tend to overheat with new double-pass crossflow radiator and large electric fan. In fact, the condensor reduces air across the radiator so much that even w/o AC running, it can get hot in stop/go traffic...I previously had the large HD mechanical fan with the small pulley, and while that could barely control temps (if I revved it up at a light to about 1500-2000rpm to increase airflow) w/o AC running, with AC running, there's no way.

    I haven't given up yet and want to pursue the louvered hood and other exhausting of intake air schemes to see what I can do to help the flow...
    -------------------
    Daddy always said, if yer gonna be dumb, you gotta be tough & I\'m one tough sumbiatch!

  14. #14
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    I'm in the same position at the start of my '54 Coupe build and have been researching the various AC options.

    Jack Chisenhall's Cool 200 appeared in a 1995 issue of Hot Rod and other magazines that year. Article photos showed a custom fabricated Hawk dash with four rectangular AC vents at the lower edge. At some point, I read that Vintage Air sold copies of this custom fiberglass Hawk dash and it was in their catalog for a few years and later dropped.

    If you want to keep the stock heater and defroster, a cool only evaporator can be added. Most of these evaporators hang under the dash like the GT Hawk unit, but there are multiple vendors that sell cool only evaporators than can be integrated into the dashboard. As others have said, the underdash unit is by far the easiest install and there are many options of period-correct looking units out there that aren't very expensive. Trying to integrate a cool only evaporator into the dashboard could prove to be a tough challenge given the lack of space under the dash and the size of the units available.

    Your other option is to replace your heater/defroster with a single HVAC unit, such as the Vintage Air units, as several have posted.

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