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Rodknock Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:23 am

Is it possible to recharge the air conditioning on my '86 Westy myself? Is the stuff available at the local auto parts store to do it?

Volksaholic Fri Jun 01, 2007 5:52 am

Here's a link to a thread I started regarding rehabilitating my Vanagon A/C... I was given lots of good advice and a little bit of crap for being paranoid! :)

WARNING: This turned into a 3 page thread... read at your own risk!
http://www.thesamba.com/vw/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2...p;start=40

What I took away from it is that Red-Tek seems like the sensible way to go... it's cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and comes highly recommended by folks on this forum that seem to know what they're talking about:

http://www.redtek.com/products_refr.html#

I bought the Refrigerant Recharge Kit that comes with the hoses and adapters. Dogpilot says he put in 5 cans of the stuff, but the Red-Tek sales person insists that the Vanagon calls for 3 so I bought one can of refrigerant in addition to the kit and figured I'd buy another one or two if it seems like it needs it. I haven't completed the recharge yet because I want to have a real shop suck out the system and check it for leaks. I hope to get that done within the next week because it's supposed to be in the mid 90's this weekend. If I like it the Subaru is going to get the same treatment.

Rodknock Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:03 am

Holy cow, that is a long thread! My AC has already been converted over to the 134 stuff, and I had it charged last summer and it cooled the van very well, but this spring it is not cooling at all so I think the refrigerant leaked out since the rest of the system appears to be working fine. Does this stuff leak out in one year? My Westy sits for 2 weeks at a time during winter, so maybe non-use causes the refrigerant to leak out?

r39o Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:15 am

Vanagons with their long rubber hoses are known for needed recharges every year or two. Nothing new. Whether R134 acts like the old R12 or how long the Redtek stuff will stay in, I dunno....

Volksaholic Fri Jun 01, 2007 10:48 am

If you read the thread a couple folks say that the R134 runs at a higher pressure than R12 (which the Vanagon system was designed for) and is prone to blowing out seals & such. One of the advantages of Red-Tek is supposed to be that it runs at a lower pressure and the refill kit includes a can of their LeakStop product (Dogpilot says he used their ProSeal... I don't know how much difference there is). Now I'm not qualified to know whether the above information is accurate... it's just what I was told in the previous thread and some independent research I did. IIRC, Terry Kay pointed out that the lower pressure will load the engine less when the A/C is running... makes sense to me.

If I might ask, what did the recharge cost you last year? I called a local outfit that was quoting me 5 lbs(?) of R12 at $50/lb + $30 or $50 for labor (I can't recall which)... roughly $300 to refill with R12 if the system was still tight. Red-Tek charged me about $70 for the refill hardware, refrigerant, and LeakStop. Granted... the $300 would include labor and I assume it would have covered evacuating and pressure/vacuum testing the system, but still think I'll be ahead when it's all said and done.

Rodknock Fri Jun 01, 2007 12:21 pm

My last HFC 134 A recharge cost $63 (materials) and $83 (labor). I believe that included a leak check. I think I'll have it leak checked again, and then make a decision on what to put in there. One year per charge does not seem right. Any other vehicle I've owned lasted many years between recharges, so I would expect at least 2-3 years, but maybe I'm expecting too much. Maybe running the air in winter a few times would help keep the seals tight.

Funny thing when I look in the folders I keep on cars we have, the Honda Civic folder is nearly empty and has only one bill in it from tires, the Westy looks like a big thick book :lol: .

hoserbug Fri Jun 01, 2007 12:56 pm

How much a can is the Red-Tek and where do you get it?

Thanks..

Volksaholic Fri Jun 01, 2007 1:39 pm

Quote: How much a can is the Red-Tek and where do you get it? Check the link above... they have a contact number you can call and order directly from them. That's what I did.

Quote: My last HFC 134 A recharge cost $63 (materials) and $83 (labor). I believe that included a leak check.
Funny thing... if the shop had only quoted me $150 I might have had them recharge the system. When I was quoted nearly $300 I started researching options! :)

Andrew A. Libby Fri Jun 01, 2007 2:07 pm

If it leaks, it will need a recharge. If it doesn't it won't. I had a subaru that was over 20 yrs old and still blew ice-cold on the original refrigerant.

Andrew

psych-illogical Fri Jun 01, 2007 2:20 pm

I had a local shop recharge my 93 4Runner a couple of years ago. It had been converted from an R12 system to an R134 system. He explained that if it was done right, there should be no problem but, that the R134 molecules are much smaller and a very tiny leak ( one that is small enough that you don't notice a vacuum drop even after it's pumped down) will eventually leak out the 134 refrigerant. Don't beat me up if this is incorrect, it's what the A/C tech told me.

hoserbug Fri Jun 01, 2007 2:46 pm

Andrew A. Libby wrote: If it leaks, it will need a recharge. If it doesn't it won't. I had a subaru that was over 20 yrs old and still blew ice-cold on the original refrigerant.

Andrew

Refrigeration systems are a sealed system, internal cleanliness is paramount if the system is ever breached it is impartive no dirt or moisture gets inside.

The system once properly charged should NEVER need charged, it is NOT normal (by design) to have to "top off" a system once a year or once a while, if the system is low that means the system has a leak.

I converted my 87 Chevy truck 4 years ago to 134 after the compressor clutch bearing went bad, the system never leaked, so far (knock on wood) I have not had to adjust the charge since the conversion, I have been lucky this trucks system has been tight since it was new.

r39o Fri Jun 01, 2007 3:59 pm

Normal or not, the long rubber flex lines in the Vanagon allow a few molecules out followed by a few more and more and more until you are low. This is a very well known (at least by service people) normal thing for a Vanagon.

I am hoping the Redtek does not go out as fast.

hoserbug Fri Jun 01, 2007 4:07 pm

r39o wrote: Normal or not, the long rubber flex lines in the Vanagon allow a few molecules out followed by a few more and more and more until you are low. This is a very well known (at least by service people) normal thing for a Vanagon.

I am hoping the Redtek does not go out as fast.

Thats one of the reasons why production of R12 was stopped, it was the 'norm' to accept a leak and just top off.

I remember buying R12 for .80 a lb in #30 jugs, it was dirt cheap, replacing lines was not so we were forced to make a change by tree huggers 8)

It wont be long before someone finds something wrong with Red tek and were forced into something else.

FYI I built my first refrigerant recovery unit in 1981, other service techs laughed that I would waste my time removing freon form a system to change a compressor or other system component then return the freon into the system it came from, the norm then was to open your gauges ans let her blow whilst you were doing something else.

Terry Kay Fri Jun 01, 2007 8:23 pm

Your dealing with the long , old , porous refrigerant lines to and from the condensor, your dealing with old and more than likely brittle o-rings at the condensor, evaporator, compressor & the dryer.
Every connection has a possibility of leaking.
The seal at the compresor clutch will leak.
134-A with it's higher than originally designed operating pressures can cause leaks at all of the above mentioned area's in any older vehicle, unless everything in the system is brand new and up to snuff.

If your not planning on doing a total system update, take a pass on the 134-A because it'll give you & your AC more problems than you could imagine.

Too high of operating pressures for the old parts to handle, plus smaller molecules of the refrigerant will cause big un-reliablity problems.

The Red Tek is the best viable option for an old , non current, AC system, just because it doesn't require too big of pressure to get the same job done.

And it does blow colder than 134-A when installed into a properly prepared / evac'ed refrigerant system.

brooklynvan Tue Jun 05, 2007 6:26 am

I changed all my seals last summer, and had 134a put in the system (a friends shop did it for cost). worked great for the summer.

this spring I get no cooling, and the compressor sounds like it's grinding when I turn on the system.

I have a spare AC compressor (unfortunately untested, but for $10 off a parts van I couldn't say no) that I can put in,

my question is:

If I replace the compressor can I just put in the Redtec R12a? or do I need to evac the system and replace the oil etc?

Terry Kay Tue Jun 05, 2007 6:36 am

Your putting in a used compressor.

It would be a real good idea to dump the old oil outa it and refill it with new fresh oil.

When's the last time the dryer was changed on the Van?

If it hasn't, or you dont know, you'll be amazed at the AC performace jump if you get a new one in the system.

While you have the system open, run air dryer aclohol through the low side and the high side hoses---before you install the new dryer.

Pour a pint of the alcohol in the high side line--blow it through it with air---repeat this on the low side line.
You'll be suprised at the snot that comes outa the hoses.

Then change the dryer, and evacuate the system.

Add the Red Tek--you'll be good to go.

hoserbug Tue Jun 05, 2007 6:39 am

brooklynvan wrote: I changed all my seals last summer, and had 134a put in the system (a friends shop did it for cost). worked great for the summer.

this spring I get no cooling, and the compressor sounds like it's grinding when I turn on the system.

I have a spare AC compressor (unfortunately untested, but for $10 off a parts van I couldn't say no) that I can put in,

my question is:

If I replace the compressor can I just put in the Redtec R12a? or do I need to evac the system and replace the oil etc?

If the compressor is making a abnormal noise one can assume some sort of mechanical failure, not know your exact system layout I would look for a strainer in the system where small metal particles from the compressor mechanical failure would accumulate and remove them.

For example I once had a compressor failure on a GM truck right before the metering device at the evaporator their is a screen and a orifice I found all kinds of trash their, I then disconnected the lines from the discharge of the compressor to that point and flushed the system to remove the old bad oil and metal particles, the new compressor was installed with the proper amount of oil and the system charged, I know the replacement went at least another 80k miles then the truck was sold.

The best way is to flush all the lines they make a a/c system flush they sell by the gallon.


The success of these type repairs depend mostly on the time and money invested into the repair and the important system clean up.

On a normal refrigeration system the norm is to install new suction and liquid line driers before the metering device, these filters in one pass remove all things bad in the system, on automotive system you cant weld in these dryers very easy to catch the crap from a compressor failure so your stuck flushing the system.

hoserbug Tue Jun 05, 2007 6:42 am

Terry Kay wrote: Your putting in a used compressor.

It would be a real good idea to dump the old oil outa it and refill it with new fresh oil.

When's the last time the dryer was changed on the Van?

If it hasn't, or you dont know, you'll be amazed at the AC performace jump if you get a new one in the system.

While you have the system open, run air dryer aclohol through the low side and the high side hoses---before you install the new dryer.

Pour a pint of the alcohol in the high side line--blow it through it with air---repeat this on the low side line.
You'll be suprised at the snot that comes outa the hoses.

Then change the dryer, and evacuate the system.

Add the Red Tek--you'll be good to go.

Dont forget the OIL :shock:

Terry Kay Tue Jun 05, 2007 6:46 am

On any GM AC system there is an orfice tube screen to catch the floating garbage.

In the Vanagon there is no such thing.

Flushing is the only way to get it clean.

Semi air compressor air dryer alcohol is cheap and available at any truck dealer, or parts house.

brooklynvan Tue Jun 05, 2007 6:49 am

forgot to mention that I changed the receiver/dryer when I redid all the seals last year.

so I guess I'll blow some alcohol based cleaner through the hoses (after I have the old oil evac'd) then put in the red tek,

does the red tek have oil in the can? or does this need to be put in separately?

sorry if this is a dumb question but when I did it last year at my friend's shop it was all one machine that did the oil and the R134.



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