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I want to put A/C in my '65 Wagonaire: Vintage Air?

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  • Cool/Heat: I want to put A/C in my '65 Wagonaire: Vintage Air?

    We just returned home from the Northeast Zone Meet in CT. It was 2.5 hours each way in 95 degree heat - without air conditioning. Over the years, the lack of A/C has limited how far we're willing to go in the Wagonaire. Now it really is time to put in something that works well. I'm getting too old to sweat like that!

    My '65 Wagonaire with Chevy 283 engine was actually built with A/C, but some previous owner removed it, probably to put in a different car. I've collected parts at swap meets, have a York recip compressor and mounting bracket and an original "Mark IV" style evaporator. However, I'm willing to start from scratch with new units, as the old ones would need rebuilding anyway and would be less efficient.

    My first thought is to call Vintage Air and get a kit with all the parts. They make a replica of the old Mark IV evaporator unit which would look appropriate under the dash. I think the condenser can be about 20" wide x 12" high, maybe taller, based on some old brackets that are still in front of the radiator. There seems to be room behind the automatic transmission cooler to slip the condenser in. Does anyone know what size Sanden rotary compressor (508 vs 709) should be used on a Wagonaire with lots of glass?

    The pulley on the crankshaft has three grooves but they are only about 3/8" wide. The water pump pulley has two grooves. There is currently only one belt, which drives the water pump and alternator. No power steering. I may have to change the pulleys, too, to accommodate the wider belt used on the Sanden compressors.

    Photos below show old evaporator, old York compressor, and Vintage Air "Mark IV" evaporator.
    I'd welcome any advice and suggestions.

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    Gary Ash
    Dartmouth, Mass.

    '32 Indy car replica (in progress)
    ’41 Commander Land Cruiser
    '48 M5
    '65 Wagonaire Commander
    '63 Wagonaire Standard
    web site at http://www.studegarage.com

  • #2
    I installed a complete under dash kit, bought on eBay in my 66 Daytona. It was one of the most inexpensive kits available and works great. It's been keeping us cool since 2012 with no problems.
    I mounted the small rotary compressor where the alternator was and made a mount for the alternator to relocate it on top of the intake towards the right side. The original alternator wires were long enough to reach with no alterations. Sure makes for a neater installation then having the compressor on top and those hoses as focal points.
    I had to purchase pulleys to get the extra groove as mine has PS to contend with and was not an A/C car from the factory. Had to play with a number of belts to get the correct ones to serve all the purposes.
    Concourse judges don't like the way I have it, so not having it judged solved that problem and I drive away cool while they sweat.
    I'm not at home to take any pictures of it for you.
    I'm not sure that you couldn't use your original under dash unit with all the new components under the hood if that is a concern. I've done that with several other cars and it worked out well.
    Best of luck, stay cool
    sigpic1966 Daytona (The First One)
    1950 Champion Convertible
    1950 Champion 4Dr
    1955 President 2 Dr Hardtop
    1957 Thunderbird

    Comment


    • #3
      When Mr Helm was alive, a few years ago, he advertised in TW for a repro ac unit. I bought everything for him except the under dash unit. Works great! I think someone still advertises his stuff, but the under the dash unit is more modern and slimmer than factory. Since yours is a Canadian engine, his engine mount may not work, you will probably need one for a “Chevy”

      Mark

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      • #4
        I bought a couple of these adapter brackets a few years ago. They're available from other sources. I'm not sure what compressor I bought but it was off ebay pretty cheap. Still haven't installed it yet.
        https://originalair.com/york-sanden-adapter-kit
        Attached Files

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        • #5
          Gary, think Chevrolet, not Studebaker. Call Vintage or Classic Auto Air. They'll know exactly what you need. Every part needed to add AC to an old small block Chevy is available from a catalog.

          Comment


          • #6
            My first reaction would be to get rid of that dinosaur compressor. Vintage Air does have components for the Stude Engined cars, don't know about the GM ones, but I'm sure they have something that will work.
            64 GT Hawk (K7)
            1970 Avanti (R3)

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            • #7
              "My first reaction would be to get rid of that dinosaur compressor"

              Boy, ain't that the truth! Nothing clutters up a nice engine compartment like the old heavy compressor.
              When I hauled my 85 Omni to the junk yard 10 years ago, I'm sorry I didn't save all the A/C parts to add air to some other car.

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by 64V-K7 View Post
                My first reaction would be to get rid of that dinosaur compressor. Vintage Air does have components for the Stude Engined cars, don't know about the GM ones, but I'm sure they have something that will work.
                I would think Vintage would have everything one needs to put a new compressor on the 65 SBC including the necessary pulleys. The connections from the pump to the rest of the system is two hoses.

                I would think about any universal system made to fit an SBC with and underdash evaporator as shown in the OP would work well.

                I put a universal system in my 74 Avanti from Southern Air. They even had the compressor adapter to put the Sanden compressor on a serpentine belt setup. Vintage should have no problem with your setup.

                You would just need to talk to their tech service folks to be sure.

                As an aside, the universal kits require a special crimping tool which I purchased after I couldn't find anyone locally that was excited about doing mine for me. I paid about $100. https://www.mastercool.com/product/71550/

                I wouldn't put any of the old stuff back in a new install unless authenticity was paramount. Old parts can fail and they were sized for R-12 not the newer stuff.

                Bob
                Last edited by sweetolbob; 07-04-2018, 08:31 PM.
                , ,

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                • #9
                  Gary, our trip to the Enfield zone meet covered 811 miles in our '64 Daytona HT. We wouldn't have considered going without A/C at those temperatures. We travel mostly on the back roads or scenic routes. The A/C system results in a comfortable quiet ride with little to no wind whistling to interfere with conversation. If the weather isn't hot, the evaporator blower can be used for air circulation without compressor chilling, allowing "windows closed" driving, a nice bonus. A/C is a very wise addition to your ride.

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                  • #10
                    Don't forget to upgrade your front springs unless very new....might cause a little nose dive on quick stops....

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by 64V-K7 View Post
                      My first reaction would be to get rid of that dinosaur compressor. Vintage Air does have components for the Stude Engined cars, don't know about the GM ones, but I'm sure they have something that will work.
                      Add me to the list of "use a better compressor!" Also, I have met you and seen your notebook (drawings, pictures) on your racecar project. So, I feel a little intimidated in daring to offer you any advice. That said, I think you are on good footing to consult with Vintage Air. Since you are looking for performance and comfort, you should pay a lot of attention to the efficiency of "Heat Exchange Rate" as it is related to volume (space) and rate of exchange.

                      Many of years ago, I gathered the components (including an old York compressor) and installed them (or rather "cobbled") into my '60 Lark. To monitor the output, I kept a thermometer in one of the "output" vents. Fully charged Freon 12, the output temp was near freezing! That part was great! The problem was that the small twin squirrel cage fans in the under-dash aftermarket (Sears) unit didn't really circulate the cabin air enough to compensate for the lack of "tightness" of the enclosure. Overall, the system worked fine for me alone in the car, traveling on the open highway. However, if I had passengers, especially in the backseat, they would be not as comfortable. With your vehicle being a Station Wagon, you might even consider some kind of "cabin partition" if a suitable volume unit can't be found. (Just something to consider.)

                      Another problem was that the after-cooler installed in front of the radiator challenged the engine's cooling capacity. In heavy stop & go traffic, the engine temp would begin to creep up. I actually installed a spare "dimmer" switch near the gas pedal to use as a compressor switch for turning off the AC at lengthy traffic stops. So, in addition to installing a more efficient compressor, I would also suggest studying the efficiency of aftercoolers, placement, and the "volume capacity" of the heat exchanger fans. My understanding (could be wrong) is that the newer refrigerants do not have as good of a heat exchange rate as the old freon, but makes up for it in the air flow rate of higher volume fans.

                      On my Dodge Ram, the higher volume fan seems to be the case, but in addition to that, the aftercooler also has a separate fan and is not sharing the air with the engine radiator. Of course, on our Studebakers, we don't have that kind of spare space under the hood. Good luck with your project and keep us posted. If I ever put the Lark back on the road, you might teach me something to correct the imperfections I built into that old AC system.
                      John Clary
                      Greer, SC

                      SDC member since 1975

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                      • #12
                        Sorry for the confusion, but I actually had no intent to use the old York compressor - not efficient, not designed for R134a pressures. Also, the old under-dash evaporator and its valves are not worth installing, so I'll buy the new Mark IV replica box. Anyone want the old York compressor and under-dash box?

                        I started conversations with Vintage Air. Mostly, it's now a question of which mounts will be used for a Sanden compressor and whether the Sanden 508 is big enough for a Wagonaire with lots of glass and little insulation. The issue is how/where to have the compressor and alternator mounted and still get the hood closed. As soon as I can figure out which set of components is best, I'll put the order in. There will still be some work I need to do to cut the hoses to length and get the connectors crimped on at a local hydraulic hose shop, wiring, etc. Then the system has to be put on the vacuum pump for a few hours and filled with R134a, probably at a local auto A/C shop. A Sanden 508 compressor and clutch weight about 17 lbs, a condenser about 5-10 lbs, plus brackets, hoses, and drier, so it's not a lot more weight on the front end. The Mark IV under-dash box is 25-28 lbs.

                        I pulled the mounting bracket off the old York compressor, might be able to use it to mount the Sanden unit using a Sanden-to-York adapter plate offered by many companies. I'll have to attach the alternator belt tension arm someplace else, probably to the top holes on the Sanden compressor. There are a couple of idler pulleys with ball bearings, but the bearings (Nachi 6203NSL or 6203-2RS) are cheap and easily available. I was able to press out the old bearings using my 20 ton press and some sockets, made a good bang when they let loose after 50-some years.

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                        Last edited by garyash; 07-06-2018, 12:03 PM.
                        Gary Ash
                        Dartmouth, Mass.

                        '32 Indy car replica (in progress)
                        ’41 Commander Land Cruiser
                        '48 M5
                        '65 Wagonaire Commander
                        '63 Wagonaire Standard
                        web site at http://www.studegarage.com

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          As sweetolbob alluded to, a special crimper is necessary for A/C work. The ridges or rings on the fittings are annular or circumferential and the crimper must match. I can't recall the name of the system, off hand, but most A/C repair shops should have the correct tool. My experience is that it is best to stay away from hydraulic shops. The advice I was given by the A/C shop was to mount the fittings temporarily and then cut the hoses to suit and install. Once satisfied with the fit and routing, then mark the hose, fitting shell and tubing alignment. During crimping, the shell to tubing can sometimes rotate. throwing off your fit if not watched carefully. I used 2 pieces of masking tape, separated by a 1/16" gap to create a continuos line with a yellow paint pen. I'm using the Sanden 508 compressor and never have it on full cool. It should be adequate for the wagon.
                          By the way, if you looked over my "64 Daytona at Enfield, you might have wondered why I had the cowl air intake covered with vinyl and magnets. I anticipated that we would run into heavy rain on the Thursday and we did. That silly little drain tube from the cowl region is totally inadequate for torrential rainstorms and results in cab flooding and wet feet. At least your wagon doesn't have the other design flaw - the fuel filler location. I think the vent cover may have helped the A/C cooling by reducing cowl to cab air leakage.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            I've looked at many options for compressor mounts from Vintage Air, am now pretty sure I need to use the old York bracket and a York-to-Sanden adapter plate, as illustrated in Post #4 above. That puts the Sanden compressor just to the left of the alternator. I'll have to make a new alternator tension adjust arm, may have to modify the old York bracket a little. The fit is complicated by the fact I put on a 4-barrel carb with large diameter air cleaner housing. The Sanden unit is also a couple inches deeper than the old York F209. Vintage Air has lots of brackets but none that keep the compressor and alternator on the right side.

                            I found I had taken a photo a few years ago of someone else's '65 with A/C. Looks like the alternator is tilted more to the right than mine, has the tension arm bolted to the compressor. I can't figure a way to put anything on the left side of the engine because of the radiator hose and battery. Has anyone else swapped in a Sanden for a York in a '65 Studebaker? The parts lists for 1964 and earlier and for 1966 are different from 1965.

                            Here's my list of parts, so far. I think it covers everything except fan belts. I may need a new fan, as my current (noisy) one has 4 blades, may need a 5-bladed one. I'll also buy an A/C hose crimper, about $152. I'll need to do 10 crimps.

                            1965 Wagonaire air conditioning
                            Vintage Air
                            ITEM PART NUMBER AMT QTY EXTENDED
                            Compressor - Sanden 508 V-belt, std finish 047000-SUR $199.00 1 $199.00
                            compressor bracket - York to Sanden 15815-VUB $60.00 1 $60.00
                            hose kit w/ drier, 14 connectors 31700-VBD $115.00 1 $115.00
                            evaporator, Mark IV 672001-VHY $299.00 1 $299.00
                            condenser, 14" x 20" 03261-VUC $139.00 1 $139.00
                            sum $812.00
                            EDIT: I forgot the safety pressure switch for $14. I ordered the stuff from Summit Racing - their prices were about $1 to $2 higher per item, but I saved over $100 in shipping costs versus Vintage Air direct order. I also ordered a Mastercool 71550 crimper on Amazon. Progress reports to follow.

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                            Attached Files
                            Last edited by garyash; 07-09-2018, 03:22 PM.
                            Gary Ash
                            Dartmouth, Mass.

                            '32 Indy car replica (in progress)
                            ’41 Commander Land Cruiser
                            '48 M5
                            '65 Wagonaire Commander
                            '63 Wagonaire Standard
                            web site at http://www.studegarage.com

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Reread post #2. Putting the Sanden compressor where the alternator is and relocating the alternator where the compressor was allows you to use that big air cleaner. The alternator is very short. The space where the alternator is originally located is pretty long and the rotary compressor fits nicely.
                              Do what you want, but this system has proven to work and doesn't look like a bunch of modified, add on, brackets. Wish I was home to take a picture of it for you.
                              sigpic1966 Daytona (The First One)
                              1950 Champion Convertible
                              1950 Champion 4Dr
                              1955 President 2 Dr Hardtop
                              1957 Thunderbird

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