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Vanagon Camper A/C Expert Needed
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pinealservo
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The Vanagon system is not particularly different from a typical automotive system except for the length of its hoses.

There are two types of automotive systems, a fixed orifice tube system and a thermal expansion valve system. The Vanagon system uses a thermal expansion valve.

R12 and R134a are not compatible, but no Vanagon came with R134a from the factory. Yours may have been retrofitted in the past, though, or maybe your compressor was replaced with a newer model that is specified to work with both refrigerants.

Since it sounds like you're planning on doing a flush, you can refill the system with either one, though it will work much better with R12 (or something like RedTek). Just make sure you flush thoroughly and use an oil compatible with the refrigerant you choose and your compressor. An AC shop might be able to tell you if you've had a refit to R134a, or if you've got adapters on the high and low side service ports, that would indicate it as well. If you already have 134a, you could try just adding a charge, but it would be a very bad idea to add 134a to a system with mineral oil and R12 still in it. You could add some RedTek, which would be a somewhat less disasterous idea, but still not really good.

You generally shouldn't flush through the dryer, thermal expansion valve, or compressor. That means you should really undo all the fittings and flush components individually, but you might be able to get away with flushing through the dryer and expansion valve if they're not clogged, though they might significantly reduce the effectiveness of the flush by restricting flow. Never put a system flush fluid through the compressor.

You should clean the compressor by unhooking it and dumping out its oil, measuring how much comes out. Turn it by hand while squirting your new oil into it so that it pumps fresh oil though its internals and displaces all the old stuff. Pour it out again, measure the same amount of the new stuff that you poured out of the old, and put that amount in. Hook up the freshly-flushed and dried fittings, and you're set.

Make sure you replace your receiver dryer when you're hooking everything back up. You might want to replace the expansion valve as well, since it's a critical component that is easily clogged and it's cheap insurance. Once you open up the caps on the dryer, minimize its exposure to air. Also minimize the exposure to air of any part you put fresh oil into, and don't use oil that's been open to the air for a long time. It sucks up moisture, which degrades it.

I was able to take the cabinet down on my own, but another set of hands would be very helpful. It's probably harder to do with the later-model cabinet with the air plenum that extends forward, since the cabinet has a much smaller hole. I did a lot of work through the speaker holes.

Do as much unhooking of stuff inside the cabinet as you can before taking it down, and it's helpful to have something to rest the box on a few inches below it (a trash can or something) so you can unhook the rest without having to hold the box. Be careful of the drip tray drain hoses, a lot of people seem to break the nipples off of the tray while removing them.
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EvanDJ
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry Kay wrote:
OK--so you now have an empty system.

If there was a kinked line--the gauges as soon as he loaded the system up should have had irregular readings indicating that there is something wrong.

Although nobody has touched anything ever--doesn't mean a lower hose under the Van couldn't be kinked or better yet collapsed internally causing you the problems.
Again this should have been obvious right away as soon as he induced the refrigerant into the system.

One side --whichever line was kinked wouldn't produce the correct readings on the techs AC gauges.

What that was, or where it is will require a hunt & discover mission to get this right.


Thanks... this is why I need somebody who actually knows what they are doing when it comes to the Vanagon Camper A/C system and if I am going to use RedTek which seems to be a popular choice here, the tech would know about it rather than saying "cant use that stuff".

pinealservo, That's good info to know.
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trihartsfield
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Here is what my compressor has on the top:

R12 and 134 compatible only

Installed in 1999

What do you think this system has in it R12 or 134?

Chris
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

What type of fill valves are on it?--
That'd be the dead giveaway.
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:33 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

<< this is why I need somebody who actually knows what they are doing when it comes to the Vanagon Camper A/C system >>

The Vanagon AC system is no different in operation than any other automotive system--the guy shpuld have known right away if a hose was pinched , as he claimed.
It is what it is--
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stevegibb
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:04 am    Post subject: Solid shop in Maryland Reply with quote

Auto Centro worked on my A/C and found a difficult wire problem in the loom.

If you're going to swing through Maryland, Joe there comes highly recommended -- the kind of guy that can listen to your van and tell you in 2-3 minutes what it needs.

Auto Centro Inc.
7406 Westmore Road
Rockville, Maryland 20850
Phone: 301.340.2444

Type Of Shop: Repair & Sales
Will Work On: Watercooled, Aircooled, will work on Buses, Vanago
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pinealservo
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The valves would be a dead giveaway if it was a retrofit done according to standards, which I believe require permanently attaching the port adapters and putting a label nearby saying it's an R134a system. However, I hear a lot of people on forums advocating disconnecting the adapters after using them to avoid leaks, so absence of the conversion fittings isn't definitive proof that you don't have R134a in the system.

AC shops have gadgets that can identify the refrigerant in your system. You can either guess, or have it checked and know for sure. Or you could just evacuate, flush, and recharge with POE oil and your refrigerant of choice. Pretty much no AC shop is going to work with RedTek, though, so you're left to DIY if you want to use it.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 5:31 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It has the tire type valve.

I see the low pressure valve but I can not find the high pressure valve. Where would that be?

I am going to evac the system and add redtek after I replace the dryer and expansion vavle.

Chris
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EvanDJ
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 6:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Terry Kay wrote:
<< this is why I need somebody who actually knows what they are doing when it comes to the Vanagon Camper A/C system >>

The Vanagon AC system is no different in operation than any other automotive system--the guy shpuld have known right away if a hose was pinched , as he claimed.
It is what it is--


I know. Tough finding a knowlegeable tech.

Stevegibb, thank's for the tip but Maryland is too far of a detour for me at this moment but I will certainly keep his info. since we never know when the opportunity comes to visit.
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PostPosted: Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

trihartsfield wrote:
It has the tire type valve.

I see the low pressure valve but I can not find the high pressure valve. Where would that be?

Chris


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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:00 am    Post subject: Info on aftermarket ACs... Reply with quote

I saw posted pix somewhere in here of a Red Dot ceiling-mounted AC unit.

I'm looking into putting a decent AC unit in my 87 Westfailure which never had one from new. So here's what I found on two Red Dot models that may be possible (all dimensions approx.):

- R-2000 ceiling-mounted 7" deep X 18 X 23; 17,000 BTUs $605

- R-6100 roof-mounted 5" above roof line X 18 X 23; 17,000 BTUs; all housed in one piece. $1043

In Oklahoma City, the Red Dot agent is Central States Thermo King (mainly serves heavy equipment) and gave a ballpark of $1500 to install.

I don't like the look of the Vintage Air AC which sits on the dashborad.

So has anyone removed a AC from a dying Vanagon, and is that the recommended way to go?

Thanks, GE
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

None of the roof mounted stuff will work ---IF--- you ever plan on having the top popped up while using it.
If it's always closed while in use , no problem.

How you plan to mount the thermo king reefer unit?--
though the back hatch?
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I figured the larger R-6100 might mount above the driver's cab. Still need to check out the fit, and not certain if you would want to destroy the
lines of the Vanagon, anyway. Wasn't thinking it would go on the poptop.

The smaller R-2000 descends 7" into the cab, which is below the line of the rear view mirror -- probably a no-go. But it might be able to be located at the rear of the driver's cab, and just in front of the poptop. I'm checking.

The main reason I posted was to let folks see what pricing might start to look like. Around $2300, I'd guess, unless you did it yourself.

But I'm so far down a hole with this, and just have so much money I really have no idea what to do with, that I'm still looking into all options.
Any other alternatives?
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

So when I turn the AC on the engine idle drops, like normal, when the compressor cluch comes on but the engine does not pick up idle to compensate. It will run for a short time, a little rough, and then die. Idles fine without the ac on. How do I fix that?

Thanks

Chris
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:57 am    Post subject: Re: Info on aftermarket ACs... Reply with quote

elliottgr wrote:

I don't like the look of the Vintage Air AC which sits on the dashborad.


Are you talking about this one? http://sites.google.com/site/blakeheinlein2/vanagon-airconditioning


If so, I think you misunderstand how it fits. All of the AC equipment fits under the dash just fine, as you can see in these pictures: http://picasaweb.google.com/blakeheinlein/VanagonAirConditioningInstall#5043683249003915634
http://picasaweb.google.com/blakeheinlein/VanagonAirConditioningInstall#5043683188874373426

The second gauge hood, as seen here: http://picasaweb.google.com/blakeheinlein/VanagonAirConditioningInstall#5070195801303567762 is just there to hold the radio, which no longer fits in the stock location. You could certainly find another place to put it.
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:37 pm    Post subject: So that's the RADio.... Reply with quote

Oh, THAT's the radio!! Yes, I now see (slow on uptake).
Well, maybe that opens up that channel again.

Lovely job with the step-by-step and your photos.
Much appreciated.

Where to mount a radio? Overhead? More thinking
going on here....
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

WOW! I thought the AC was just a way to decorate the rear of the van! Never seen, owned, or ride on one that works
But once I get My 2.5 Subie Powered '85 running good, that would be the next task (mostly so the wife is more incline on taking it on road trips).
Believe me is a hard sale when she is the one that needs to pick my ass up from the side of the road, when my van shows up her German temper, banking on that the engine swap will fix that.
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Deutschlander's have no temper at all.

Very mild mannered, even tempered folks--calm, cool, & collected 24/7/365.

Speaking & thinking of a front / dash rear mounted AC set up, a Behr unit fits into the glove box area--no appendigies bolted onto the top of the dash.
You lose the glove box--but in my opinion the bottom line is a bit better looking istallation-and a little easier to get it into the Van.
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 1:19 am    Post subject: Re: So that's the RADio.... Reply with quote

elliottgr wrote:
Oh, THAT's the radio!! Yes, I now see (slow on uptake).
Well, maybe that opens up that channel again.

Lovely job with the step-by-step and your photos.
Much appreciated.

Where to mount a radio? Overhead? More thinking
going on here....


That wasn't my installation, I've just referred to the site a lot while brainstorming AC ideas. I'd like to get a front AC unit like that at some point and have a dual system, but that's an idea for down the road.

Terry Kay wrote:
Speaking & thinking of a front / dash rear mounted AC set up, a Behr unit fits into the glove box area--no appendigies bolted onto the top of the dash.
You lose the glove box--but in my opinion the bottom line is a bit better looking istallation-and a little easier to get it into the Van.


Terry, you completely missed what I said. Installing that unit DOES NOT REQUIRE BOLTING ANYTHING TO THE TOP OF THE DASH. ALL HEAT/AC EQUIPMENT IS BENEATH THE DASH. Furthermore, that unit interferes with the glove box less than the Behr does, as it replaces the stock heater as well as adding air conditioning. This has the added benefit of giving you a heater valve that works and a blower that doesn't squeak and AC hoses that don't leak, since it's all new parts.

The Behr also requires relocation of the radio, so you've got to find somewhere to put it with either one. Sticking it on the dash with another gauge pod was just that guy's idea for relocating the radio, nothing to do with the heat/AC unit he used. The only downsides are that it's more expensive (duh, it's new instead of ancient used stuff) and it requires blocking off the fresh air venting system. He didn't seem to have a problem with that, and enjoys the reduction in noise that it brought.
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elliottgr
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PostPosted: Sat Aug 07, 2010 6:23 am    Post subject: Efficiency of the Vanagon AC in Oklahoma in August? Reply with quote

What's then are opinions on the efficiency of the
stock Vanagon AC? Did/Does it work well?

If I were to go ahead and find one, install it in my
AC-less Westfailure, would it be very likely to give
me decent cooling?
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