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Air Conditioner System Upgrades: Hoses, condenser, etc.
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cellerdoor
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 7:44 pm    Post subject: Air Conditioner System Upgrades: Hoses, condenser, etc. Reply with quote

Moderator Note: This thread focuses on the 1.9L A/C system as well as the 1986 2.1L vans that are running many of the 1.9L A/C components.

The general A/C principles apply to late '86 and newer, but many components are different in design and placement.

*************

Got my 86 Westy in 2012 and spent all last winter getting the mechanicals in shape. This winter I'm doing some creature comforts like AC and Stereo.

The van had been in storage for 7 years and the PO said he would have the AC charged prior to me picking it up. When I went to get it the shop said that one of the lines blew after they charged it and being impatient I took the van as is figuring a major overhaul was likely anyway.

Onto the work:

I had already replaced the condenser when I replaced the radiator. Went with a Nostalgic Air Unit:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Took the evaporator box down which was in pretty good shape except for the mice poop. Had none of the black foam stuff that some had found:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Stripped the evap out and removed the coatings to get to the expansion vale which should have been an H type but wasn't:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


The temp probe was just stuck in the fins and gooped in;

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Finally disassembled:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Took the coat closet out to get to the lines. Thought I was going to find some of the sensors but just had hoses:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Got all of the lines out to take to a shop to reproduce:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I put together this chart to document what I found which I believe to be original except for one hose that had a different manufacturer. My Westy seems to be a mid year change since none of the components seem to be from a 86 Westy (more like 85) and the dryer is in the driver front wheel well.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Plan on using redtek once all the parts are in place.

Off to buy the replacement parts. I need to double check that the BD evap. fits my van and to locate the appropriate compressor. Id appreciate other vendors that you have found for these parts.
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Last edited by cellerdoor on Sun Mar 30, 2014 4:47 am; edited 4 times in total
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Terry Kay
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 01, 2014 11:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only issue I see here is covering up the entire front end of the radiator with a full meal deal condensor.

Might be a problem in the heat of the day during the summer.

If you remember correctly, the condensor was behind, & on the bottom portion of the radiator from new issue.

Might be problem---
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cellerdoor
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 5:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for chiming in Terry,

On my unit the condenser was in front of the radiator like the new one. One of those two part deals:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Its much thinner as well, so there is actually one to two inches between the condenser and radiator. The old unit they were bolted right up against each other.

One of the questions on getting new parts is whether I should rework this using the newer style "H" expansion valve (two ports) instead of my one port L style. There is also a different receiver dryer in the later 86 model. Not sure if its possible to do this or if the newer styles had any advantage.
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Wellington
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Your system looks just like my 1985.
You have a 709 compressor, interesting, where are your service ports?
Mine had a 510 compressor and I changed it out to a 709, but with a rear head to accept my original lines. My lines have the service ports right near the compressor.
Nostalgic air has brand new compressors, yes Chineese but I checked for reviews and they have a good rating. I put one in and am happy.
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cellerdoor
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 9:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have the 510 as well with the ports directly off the back. The new one will be the 709. Should have shown this on the chart.

I have to source the compressor before I order the lines since the 709 comes with various hook up configurations and I want to make sure the fittings match.

Is there a preferred configuration/style for the compressor connections?
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Wellington
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 2:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nostalgic air can fix you up with same compressor I got.
I ordered a 709, with the rear head that your 509 has.
Call them up and tell them what you want, they stock it.
I can't remember the head letters now, but just tell them you need to have the suction and discharge straight out the back, and they are threaded, both the same size.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 2:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dang!
Timely topic..... I am so glad to see this. Laughing

I've an 86 that I'm planning to redo the aging AC system, I'm watching this and I am going to learn!

My plan us for next winter unless you get done fairly soon, while I've got the van in a million pieces...... What's a few hundred more?

Thanks for blazing the trail and please, continue to document what products you are choosing to use.

Photos..... Lots and lots of photos please.

Dave
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Since I'm buying new hoses and fittings it really doesn't matter how the compressor is configured, Ill just have the hoses/fittings made to match. I just want the best setup for the 709. I'm going to call Nostalgic air tomorrow and discuss this with them. Definitely going to put the high and low pressure fittings right at the compressor.

I also have to call BD and discuss their evaporator. Its the only site I can find that carries this but It doesn't look like how mine looks. It looks like the type that uses the H expansion valve which I don't have, but imagine I could rework the piping to use it. Anybody attempted this?

Need the evap, compressor, expansion valve and dryer in my hands before I buy the lines. Ill post the reply from NA and BD.
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PostPosted: Sun Feb 02, 2014 11:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Cellardoor:

It looks to me as though you have the pre-1986 AC unit. Your vehicle might be a very early production 1986 (the factory used up old stock first in many instances) or the AC may have been retrofitted by a previous owner.

There is no magic in the H-block TXV's. The old-school style TXV is quite robust. I am willing to bet that Nostalgic air has a TXV that will direct-fit your unit. The main upgrade provided by the H-block TXV design is that the copper sensor coil unit is not needed in the H-block design.

Your gooped in temperature probe is just fine - - just put it back the same way when you are done. It is an important part of the control system and basically sends a signal to your electronic thermostat that cycles the compressor on and off to accord with the setting you choose. Those probes do not fail, (unless you go ape on them) so no need to replace.

Terry K knows a lot about A/C, but is incorrect about the placement of the condenser (brain fart?). The factory condenser is ALWAYS mounted in front of the radiator. The Nostalgic Air parallel flow condenser is a great unit and will significantly improve the performance of your AC system. Since you are going all new (condenser, hoses, compressor), clean out the evaporator carefully to get out all traces of mineral oil. The PAG and ester oils now used do not play nicely with even trace amounts of mineral oil.

One other hint: Use thick weather stripping (most such products have adhesive on one side) to completely seal the perimeter gap between the new condenser and the rad. If you fail to do this, you will only get effective cooling at highway speeds since the rad fan will not effectively pull cool ambient air through the condenser if it is not sealed to the rad.

I use a Nostalgic Air parallel flow condenser on the DIY front AC unit I built for my 1986 syncro westy that is Subaru SVX powered. I can keep a 65 degree interior in 95 degree weather and the factory rad (replaced 2 years ago) cools the SVX package just fine.

My view is that the factory 2-part condenser with the "gap" was made to please the VW bean counters, not the engineers.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for the info howesight,

I'm also replacing the evaporator since black tar has been seeping out of the components (way thicker than an oil) and I don't want to go through this trouble to have a built in problem.

So far the only evaps I have found look like the late 86 model that uses the H expansion valve (since the ports are parallel). I'm calling bus depot today on their unit to see if the L type will fit.

Didn't know about the gap between the radiator and condenser. I always thought the rad fan blew air back through the rad to the outside, but it makes sense that it sucks air in like if you were moving.

Here's my refurbished rad fan and radiator prior to reinstall

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


As installed. I also lined the tunnel to cut down on hot foot:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Gap between the condenser and radiator:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Its about 2" at the bottom and 1" at the top. Ill have to ponder how to close this.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 7:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

No worries on heat, I installed same condenser over a new rad...drove across 100+ temps last summer with a/c on and never saw temps on engine above 190....I was driving 60-65 most of the way.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 03, 2014 1:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

purplepeopleeater wrote:
No worries on heat, I installed same condenser over a new rad...drove across 100+ temps last summer with a/c on and never saw temps on engine above 190....I was driving 60-65 most of the way.


I agree that on the highway, the gap between rad and condenser is not significant. But when you are in slow traffic or stopped, you need the gaps closed for the condenser to be efficient. I found a huge AC performance difference at slow/no speed after I sealed the gap.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 10:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Called Nostalgic air and they have the knockoff 709 compressor in stock, and it comes with the "rabbit ear" connections off the top, or they will take that off and put on the back fed type.

They didn't have any opinion on if one style was better than the other, but all of their 709's come in with the rabbit ears standard. The only difference is with the back fed unit the inlet and outlet are the same size (#10), while the rabbit ear type they are different size (#8 and #10). Since I'm getting new hoses I think ill go with the rabbit ears since this is the "standard". Gotta make sure I have the clearance under the engine lid since they stick up.

For the evap, BD only has the style that uses the H expansion valve, and I have not been able to find another supplier that makes one for the L style like I have. Difference is that both ports come straight out for the H type, but mine has one port 90 degrees from the other to allow the L type. My choices now are to convert to the H type and buy the new evap, or clean my current evap out as best I can and go back with the L type (either case with a new expansion valve).

If I went with the H type I would have to slightly modify the plastic housing but that doesn't seem like a problem. I would also need to make sure the bolt holes are exactly the same.

Anybody tried this? Id like to go with new since I have this tar like substance coming out of everywhere.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 11:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

In all my years, I have replaced more failed H type expansion valves than the earlier L type. My vintage air unit shipped with an L type valve. The L types are also adjustable so you can really dial in your evap temps if needed for r134 if you go that route.

On the compressor cap. I am fairly sure the cap can be indexed in any clock postion and new you could probably reuse the cap gasket.

If the condensor coil is copper, I'd be inclined to clean and reuse it. It fits, was designed for the vangon and accepts the valve you have. If the core is aluminum, I'd think twice about reusing it.

There is another company in Florida called Nostalgic air, you might look at their website too.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 1:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The proper L-type expansion valve is carried by Bus Depot. See here:

http://www.busdepot.com/171820679

You might even find your original TXV is fine since the L-type ones are more robust.

I use a CCOT system on my DIY front AC - - easy peasy to re and re the orifice tube. Just sayin'.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 04, 2014 7:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think it makes sense at this point to clean up my evap. It has copper tubes and appears to be in good shape.

I'll buy a new L valve, but if it seems cheesy Ill clean and reuse the old valve.

What kind of methyl-ethyl-death should I use to melt out the thick sticky sludge that's in the evap? I can load it up and let it sit, and then rinse/repeat until the water comes out crystal clear.
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 05, 2014 8:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You could try acetone or lacqure thinner to clean the evap. Place it on end fill it completely and let it sit over night. Repeat as necessary. I think you are making the right choice. I noticed the copper core after I posted.

If the bulb on the expansion valve is intact, I'd be inclinded to reuse the old one. I don't recall replacing one for any other reason than getting clogged with debris from a failed compressor or drier. At one time they used to even have filter screen in the inlet that would clog up.
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 06, 2014 2:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Filled the evap and expansion valve with acetone and left it over night. Here's what came out in the morning:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Valve cleaned up. That opening in the valve is very, very small.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Looks like it dissolved the oily sludge that was in there. I followed with a scalding rinse for 10 minutes and then blew air threw it for another 10 to dry it out. Should be good.

Working on cleaning and resealing the plastic box around the evap. The condensate pan is very small and has two hoses that exit the cabinet and go into the body panel, accessible through the exterior rear vents. Not sure where it goes to from there but need to check to see if it just exists out the bottom of the van. Bad design since it probably doesn't help with the rust issues.

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


Still pondering the best sequence to reassemble the evap, cabinet and hoses. The problem is that the condensate pan just sits on the bottom of the cabinet and is not accessible once you lift the cabinet up to bolt it to the roof. Lining this up squarely under the evap, while struggling to get the cabinet up, while struggling to feed the hoses through the side panels is certainly a two person job (unlike my helper "gravity" to get it down).

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


I think this may be best:

1. Attach exp. valve and tar coat/insulate portion outside pan
2. Place plastic enclosure around evaporator
3. Bolt evap./plastic enclosure to roof and temp support from underneath.
4. Attach refrigerant hoses.
5. Connect electrical

Charge the system until working

6. Tape/clip condensate pan to plastic enclosure centered on evap
7. Lift cabinet up
8. Magically feed drain hoses to body panel, not disturb the condensate pan location and somehow find the bolts coming out of the roof and tighten down.

Its number 8 that scares me.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 6:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm almost finalized on my parts for this system but ran into a few questions that I hope someone can answer:

1. There is no high or low pressure sensor on my AC system, or at least there is nothing attached to a hose that is sensing pressure since I have them all out. There is this funny little spring thing which has a wire leading to it (its in the plastic evap housing) I cant figure out what it does:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


2. The existing compressor only has one wire going to it, sort of a banana plug and I'm sure its grounded to something. Do the old 510 compressors have internal pressure switches or will this thing engage regardless of pressure?

3. All of my existing hoses have female long pilot O-Ring fittings, but in the hose system I'm considering for the van there are mostly short pilot fittings and very few long pilot. Does pilot length matter? None of the components I'm buying have pilot length requirements.

4. If I am missing pressure sensors, is this something I should consider adding since I'm buying all new components?

Any guidance would be appreciated.
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PostPosted: Sat Feb 08, 2014 10:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

cellerdoor wrote:
I'm almost finalized on my parts for this system but ran into a few questions that I hope someone can answer:

1. There is no high or low pressure sensor on my AC system, or at least there is nothing attached to a hose that is sensing pressure since I have them all out. There is this funny little spring thing which has a wire leading to it (its in the plastic evap housing) I cant figure out what it does:

Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.


2. The existing compressor only has one wire going to it, sort of a banana plug and I'm sure its grounded to something. Do the old 510 compressors have internal pressure switches or will this thing engage regardless of pressure?

3. All of my existing hoses have female long pilot O-Ring fittings, but in the hose system I'm considering for the van there are mostly short pilot fittings and very few long pilot. Does pilot length matter? None of the components I'm buying have pilot length requirements.

4. If I am missing pressure sensors, is this something I should consider adding since I'm buying all new components?

Any guidance would be appreciated.


1. The funny little spring thing is the resistor for the three evaporator fan speeds. For a high/low pressure switch, you can buy an inline switch port from Nostalgic and have your hose supplier splice it into your liquid line. See this link: http://nostalgicac.com/fittings-hose-kits/ac-fittings/inline-switch-port.html

2. The compressor does not have an internal pressure switch. Some primitive AC systems did not feature high or low pressure switches. Those switches are intended to disconnect power to the compressor clutch if the high side pressure is too high (to save the compressor from damaging overpressure) and if the refrigerant charge is too low (due to leaks) to enable lubrication of the compressor. The modern approach is a trinary switch, which you mount on the high side liquid line. Nostalgic sells those too: http://nostalgicac.com/oil-switches/ac-pressure-sw...-port.html

Here is Nostalgic's description: "Inline switch port with female trinary switch for High, Low pressure and electric fan.
Female trinary performs the same function as a binary pressure switch and operates the electric fan. The switch ties the electric fan into the a/c system The switch has 7/16-20 threads that can be used with our inline switch port. The inline splicer is used on 5/16" barrier hose, and has to be crimped with an a/c crimp tool.
Fan on at 227 PSIG, off at 185 PSIG. Low opens at 28 PSIG closes at 29 PSIG. High opens at 454 PSIG closes at 369 PSIG
Directions for trinary switch included."

A trinary switch covers high and low pressure safety switches in one unit and also senses an intermediate pressure which can be used to switch on a higher rad fan speed. When your AC is removing a lot of heat from the interior and the rad fan is only on low speed, the high side refrigerant pressure can go quite high and this is when the trinary "medium pressure" switch engages and switches on the rad fan "medium" speed. This is the setup on late Vanagon AC units, but it is easy to add to the early units, provided you have the high-power rad fan. You will need the three-speed rad fan resistor. All the Gen 1 Eurovans use this unit.

3. Regarding hose end fittings, you will need standard o-ring fittings for the condenser. Elsewhere, just have the hose shop swage your old fittings onto the new hose.

4. Yes, you should use a trinary switch in place of separate high and low pressure switches. Even if you don't think you will add a medium-speed fan circuit now, you can still install the trinary switch and leave that feature disconnected - - the high/low switches will still work.
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