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Adding Air Conditioning
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mediaguy99
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 3:14 pm    Post subject: Adding Air Conditioning Reply with quote

I've got a fairly nice 87 tin-top with a 2.5 SOHC Subaru conversion in it. It's an automatic, and it didn't come with AC. So, I found a donor van that has everything but the engine, including the AC. I've even got the compressor from the Subaru I pulled the engine from. What I'd like to know is, has anyone pulled a whole AC system out of a vanagon and installed it into another vanagon that never had AC?

Anything I need to watch out for? Red flags that say "Run away! Get the SmallCar in-dash AC unit instead!"?

I've got the whole AC system out of the donor van--it's in pretty good shape with only a minor crack in the plastic housing, and that's on the "top" side.

Surely someone has done this before. And of course, I did try the "search" and found several posts about folks installing aftermarket AC, or retrofitting the existing AC to Red Tec (which I'll have to do). But if this process is documented somewhere here on the Samba I haven't found it yetÖ and a link to said documentation would be worth it's weight in gold (what do bytes weigh?).

Thanks!
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Syncro Jael
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 3:32 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That sounds like a serious undertaking.

I have a 1987 Syncro Westy with an EJ22 Subaru. The air conditioning works as well as any I have ridden in. It has been converted to R134a. After some serious (highway time) it will keep the interior around 20į cooler than outside. Nice as long as you are at speed. Around town it just doesn't blow the cold air from the front on you to keep you really comfortable. But much better than no system at all.

I have seen some with vents in the front and that would be ideal. Look in that direction if you want a system that would be better. That is why the tin tops had the roof vents forward. To blow that cool air up by the windshield instead of at the back of your neck. Shocked The back of my get really cold!

Just some thoughts before you head into your project.
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furrylittleotter
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 3:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

What you are proposing is pretty straightforward. Not sure what documentation you are after. It is just a standard install substituting the subaru connections for the vw ones.

As you have probably already noticed, there are a HUGE variety of air conditioning experiences here from people saying it is fantastic and too damn cold to people spending thousands of dollars on theirs and ending up with a system they are never happy with.

Looking at the system, you can see it uses antiquated tube and fin construction, LONG refrigerant lines and it has to cool a huge area with massive heat load, so take that for what it is worth, add to it the fact that every component you now own is 30 years old and in the hands of someone that appears to be inexperienced and probably on a budget.

Altogether that is not a very pretty picture is it? SoÖthat being said you have to make some big decisions based on your desire for maximum comfort and your budgetÖnot to mention your mechanical abilities. Confused

No one can make those decisions for you, but I suspect if you begin the install one step at a time, spend some good coin on new linesets, possibly upgrade the coils, replace the dryer and have realistic expectations (low) you will probably find a relatively cool happy place. Wink

I suspect being in dry Colorado you could spend a tenth of the time and money designing and installing a swamp cooler that is "adequate' and extremely efficient not to mention a hell of a lot more fun to talk about. Very Happy

Neil2
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Howesight
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 6:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Mediaguy:

Since you have a tin top and you are in Colorado, the factory Vanagon AC will work quite well for you. I am assuming that you got the system with the long air plenum that goes from the rear "AC cabinet" all the way to a front vent box. I have a Westfalia, so I could not use that type of unit.

Assuming I got it correct above, the things you need to scavenge from the donor, in addition to a lot of pictures and measurements (for hose routing), are the hoses, the condenser, the receiver-drier (even though you will replace it), the compressor fittings (so you can modify them for the Subaru fitment), all the relays and pressure sensors, and the ambient temp sensor. You know about all the ducting and the evaporator housing.

Remove all the items with the yellow arrows in the pic below:

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


You need to scavenge the dash-mounted control switches and at least some of the related wiring harness. If your van does not have the three-speed rad fan, grab that too and the related rad fan resistor behind the driver's side headlight. (Looks like a green Twinkie with wires attached). There are also some relays you might need to grab from the fuse panel (details later).

Now you need to decide whether to go whole hog or part hog. Whole hog involves getting a new parallel-flow condenser. It will seriously increase your system's efficiency. It also costs less than a replacement Vanagon condenser and the fitment is very simple. Nostalgic Air (among others) sells them. Here is the one I used:

http://nostalgicac.com/16-x-22-superflow-r-134a-condenser.html

Here are pics showing attachment: Note that the condenser is reversible and can be installed with the fittings on the driver side or the passenger side (weather strip seals not yet installed at that phase):

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


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


You should definitely use thick weather stripping to fill in the space between the outer perimeter of the new condenser and the radiator. This ensures that the rad fan can effectively suck air through the condenser when you are driving at low speeds or when stopped in traffic.

I built my own system from scratch. In your case, installing the factory system will give you ease of repair and diagnosis using the Bentley manual and the collective Samba wisdom.

You will probably need to replace your hoses. They are old enough that they likely will leak. Fear not. This is actually not too hard and since you already have to do some fabbing to attach the Subaru compressor refrigerant fittings, and since you will likely install the Nostalgic Air condenser, you can dispense with the old steel VW refrigerant fittings and use universal fittings and hoses from Nostalgic Air.

You can order up the matching fittings from Nostalgic, get one of their universal receiver-driers (there's no magic in the VW part) and attach the factory VW hose-ends to new barrier hose (again, from Nostalgic.)

Wanna make your own hoses? Not a problem. PM me and I'll lend you my AC hose crimper - - you pay the postage. Or, you might find a local shop that will re-create the factory hoses.

Here's how I attached my hoses to my Subie SVX compressor using the Subaru compressor blocks and aluminum-soldering to Nostalgic Air hose barbs:

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


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

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fraggle00
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 07, 2014 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Nice jobs here!
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mediaguy99
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PostPosted: Sat Mar 08, 2014 6:07 pm    Post subject: Zowie! Reply with quote

Howesight: What a great resource you offered up! While I probably won't be asking you to ship me your crimpers, I truly appreciate all the info and the pictures you've put up.

Much obliged!

I'm always amazed at the collective wisdom that is the Samba.

For what it's worth, I think it makes sense in this case to put in the historic AC unit...

Rob
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[email protected]
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 5:57 pm    Post subject: Rear AC Reply with quote

My Van had the rear overhead AC unit that was removed by the PO. The question is replace the overhead unit with modern ac unit, such as a Vintage Air unit and utilize existing wiring, or go with an under dash unit. All hoses and wiring are still running to the overhead unit, cabinet and unit are gone. Any advice would be most helpful!
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Steve M.
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Howesight wrote:
Hi Mediaguy:
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.



Great info! I just was able to get the AC system out of a '90 Vanagon, but unfortunately it did not have the controls and electronics shown in the first image you posted. I've got all the ducts, but none of the mounting clips for the ducts...it's always something you have to look for.
Thanks for the image shows exactly what I need to find!
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Kombi///M3
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 11:12 am    Post subject: Re: Adding Air Conditioning Reply with quote

Bringing this thread back.. I have the same scenario right now.
Did a swap last year suby 2.5 on my syncro. Now thinking of installing
A/C unit from the suby compressor. My van was a tintop with A/c but PO
Took all the unit off. I did sourced out a donor A/c unit from another van.
Dash a/c mount looks like itís the best to go but Iíd like to try to use the
Old rear unit.

I only want to use the rear vents, Question in regards of cooling the cab..
1. Does it cool the cab enough with this set up?
2. Any source on a better blower and evaporator that will fit the rear upper
Housing?
3. Mediaguy..? How is your ac set up going so far? Itís been a few yrs. since
Your post.
4. Howesight..? I still would like to see your set up if thatís possible. Iím local as well.
Cheers..!
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Steve M.
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:10 pm    Post subject: Re: Adding Air Conditioning Reply with quote

It has been said by numerous people that you do not need the long ceiling duct from the rear to the front. Maybe just the first length from the rear forward.
It blows more air if you remove the ducting. Enough air to cool off the front seats.
The reason being that every single thing that is in the way of the airflow slows it down. Hence all the vents along the duct length sticking back into the duct slow air flowing over them on the way to the front. The vanes in the vents when open themselves slow the air down coming out of the vents.

The front plenum if you modify it makes a good overhead shelf.
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Kombi///M3
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 2:50 pm    Post subject: Re: Adding Air Conditioning Reply with quote

Thx Steve.. thatís exactly my plan.. just the rear vents, I donít want the whole unit to the front.
Thanks.
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Westaru
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:13 pm    Post subject: Re: Adding Air Conditioning Reply with quote

mediaguy99 wrote:
I've got a fairly nice 87 tin-top with a 2.5 SOHC Subaru conversion in it. It's an automatic, and it didn't come with AC. So, I found a donor van that has everything but the engine, including the AC. I've even got the compressor from the Subaru I pulled the engine from. What I'd like to know is, has anyone pulled a whole AC system out of a vanagon and installed it into another vanagon that never had AC?

Anything I need to watch out for? Red flags that say "Run away! Get the SmallCar in-dash AC unit instead!"?

I've got the whole AC system out of the donor van--it's in pretty good shape with only a minor crack in the plastic housing, and that's on the "top" side.

Surely someone has done this before. And of course, I did try the "search" and found several posts about folks installing aftermarket AC, or retrofitting the existing AC to Red Tec (which I'll have to do). But if this process is documented somewhere here on the Samba I haven't found it yetÖ and a link to said documentation would be worth it's weight in gold (what do bytes weigh?).

Thanks!


I went through the same decision making process last year and ended up going with the Smallcar kit. I simply decided I did not want to spend months trying to troubleshoot an old system.

It's a serious undertaking one way or another, both expensive and a big time commitment. It took me the better part of 4 weeks to install nights and weekends and quite a bit more time to figure out that the Smallcar manual was incorrect in regards to charging and capacities. That said, it works well, especially for those in the front seat. I'd be happy to walk you through my install or show it to you if you are ever in Salt Lake.

If I were doing it again I'd look at the Van Again kit that was posted the other day. The SC kit is an awful lot of work and the documentation is terrible.
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Kombi///M3
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PostPosted: Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:10 pm    Post subject: Re: Adding Air Conditioning Reply with quote

Great point Westaru.. I know, Iíve been reading about the SC unit thread here, seems like itís a great set up. But Iíll defintely check the Vanagain product.
Thanks ..
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joetiger Premium Member
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 8:53 am    Post subject: Re: Adding Air Conditioning Reply with quote

Westaru wrote:


If I were doing it again I'd look at the Van Again kit that was posted the other day. The SC kit is an awful lot of work and the documentation is terrible.


I just ordered the Van Again kit and am starting the process of amassing additional parts. I'll add to the DIY Smallcar AC thread when things get hoppin'.
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Kombi///M3
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PostPosted: Mon Mar 11, 2019 5:15 pm    Post subject: Re: Adding Air Conditioning Reply with quote

I would like to check that out for sure.. thanks.
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