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Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation
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ALIKA T3
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PostPosted: Wed Aug 26, 2020 9:59 pm    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

Good news Cool
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PostPosted: Thu Sep 24, 2020 2:41 pm    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

Ok - Im considering adding Vanistan's fresh air kit to my already installed smallcar air setup. Looking for opinions, comments, suggestions. I was thinking of 2 possibilities - just allowing the fresh air to blow in through the rectangular hole I have currently blocked off, or possibly creating a hole in the block off plate and routing an A/C duct hose from it into the side of the blower fan. Saw some pics of this on a hot rod on the internet.
Image may have been reduced in size. Click image to view fullscreen.

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

If a did the hole in the fan box idea I would still need fresh air coming out without the ac on as thereís no fan only option on the ac - I guess unless I rigged the fan to run separate.
Anyone like this or just leaving the fresh air open or any other ideas?
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vik
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2020 9:06 am    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

If I may have a question on two on this system if I understand it correctly.
The vintageair system is offered by SmallCar and vanagain.
They do differ slightly in few items or am I mistaken?

For the working bits part.
- It will cool down the vanagon to the comfortable level. But it takes some time for the rear seating passengers
- Would you all agree it is worth the investment and work?

Thank you
Viktor
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2020 9:21 am    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

I installed a unit direct from Vintage Air. I installed it in stages to keep the van usable. I had to fabricate a few things and came up with my own wiring system. For reference initially I came across a documented install by Blake Heinline.

I imagine the small car vanagon specific kit should be a complete drop in system. If not, and you have the skills go direct to vintage air.

Well worth the time and money. On a bright hot sunny day, itís not creating a meat locker, but on an overcast day, it will freeze you out.

I uploaded a few pictures here when I did my install. Our 82 also didnít have Ac. I just renovated the factory AC in our 90 and it took less time and money vs an aftermarket install if you have access to those parts. Hope that helps.
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dougnlina
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PostPosted: Wed Oct 28, 2020 7:30 pm    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

The system works adequately, it certainly cools the van. However, I removed a stock tintop system that ran along the whole of the ceiling and installed the Smallcar system. The stock system did a better job of cooling the WHOLE van, it had a big fan and a big evaporator. I removed it because it was completely falling apart, leaking condensation, etc, it even fell completely down once. The smallcar system is nice as it blows directly on the driver, but the rear seats take some time to cool down. The evaporator in it is just not that large, and the heater core is also smaller than the stock vanagon set up. There is only so much space under the dash so these are the compromises. Additionally there is no longer a fresh-air feed into the system, but I have not found this to be an issue. My wife and I are usually the only passengers but if you regularly drive with folks strapped into the back you may need to improve on the set-up with a second evaporator and fan for the back seat.
Additionally he Smallcar system instalation is not for the feint of heart, it took a couple weekends to get it in and all sorted out. Now that it is all in I am generally happy with it. You are shoving a lot of stuff under the dash and it takes some time to get things stuffed in there so that the air flows correctly to all the vents, things are not pinched, your stereo and dash are the way you want them, etc.
YMMV
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Energy Concepts
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:25 am    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

Hi dougnlina,

Excellent Review !!! Very Happy
If I were to write a one,
I would just copy your post Word for Word ! Wink
It's Exactly what I found !
(& I have the big, Gen II Super unit from V/A )!

Too bad there's not enough room to keep the VW Heater,
And add an after market Evaporator of adequate size along side of it.
( I guess one could be added in the glove compartment space )?

The biggest mistake I made was to remove the Rear VW A/C !!!
I wanted the headroom but would now gladly trade that for
the Added Cool Air!
When I get the time I guess I will have to re-install one Laughing

dougnlina wrote:
The system works adequately, it certainly cools the van. However, I removed a stock tintop system that ran along the whole of the ceiling and installed the Smallcar system. The stock system did a better job of cooling the WHOLE van, it had a big fan and a big evaporator. I removed it because it was completely falling apart, leaking condensation, etc, it even fell completely down once. The smallcar system is nice as it blows directly on the driver, but the rear seats take some time to cool down. The evaporator in it is just not that large, and the heater core is also smaller than the stock vanagon set up. There is only so much space under the dash so these are the compromises. Additionally there is no longer a fresh-air feed into the system, but I have not found this to be an issue. My wife and I are usually the only passengers but if you regularly drive with folks strapped into the back you may need to improve on the set-up with a second evaporator and fan for the back seat.
Additionally he Smallcar system instalation is not for the feint of heart, it took a couple weekends to get it in and all sorted out. Now that it is all in I am generally happy with it. You are shoving a lot of stuff under the dash and it takes some time to get things stuffed in there so that the air flows correctly to all the vents, things are not pinched, your stereo and dash are the way you want them, etc.
YMMV
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kourt
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2020 7:46 am    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

I've been thinking of adding another evaporator in the Westfalia rear closet, perhaps a Vintage Air ShortPac.

This could easily be plumbed to blow cold air on the rear bench seat, and be controlled back there as well.

I really like my rear closet space, however. That will be a tough decision. So far my rear passengers have been content with me putting a Fan-Tastic Endless Breeze between the front seat pedestals, blowing backwards.

kourt
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PostPosted: Thu Oct 29, 2020 8:00 am    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

I had the same thought, but storage space is premium for us too.
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Energy Concepts
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 30, 2020 8:10 am    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

Idea

Last edited by Energy Concepts on Sun Nov 01, 2020 2:20 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Sun Nov 01, 2020 8:46 am    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

Thank you for the feedback above.
As my Caravelle origin was in Finland there was no A/C.
Now with pop top conversion I can not use the VW A/C even if I will find it in decent shape and the one from westy with cold air only from back does not seems to me like way to go.
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 28, 2021 8:19 pm    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

My system works great BUT:

The radiator fan is on high all the time the system is cooling.

That means, van moving or not, the rad fan is blasting on full all the time with AC.

This is not how the original VW used to work. High pressure would command the fan.

Can some one direct me to how to hook it up so the fan is only on when needed???

There must be a better way!
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2021 1:17 am    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

r39o wrote:
My system works great BUT:

The radiator fan is on high all the time the system is cooling.

That means, van moving or not, the rad fan is blasting on full all the time with AC.

This is not how the original VW used to work. High pressure would command the fan.

Can some one direct me to how to hook it up so the fan is only on when needed???

There must be a better way!


My understanding is that the simple act of turning on the VW A/C turns the cooling fan on low.
The high pressure switch kicks the fan into turbo mode and kills the compressor clutch when trouble is imminent.

Dave
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2021 11:06 am    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

r39o wrote:
My system works great BUT:

The radiator fan is on high all the time the system is cooling.

That means, van moving or not, the rad fan is blasting on full all the time with AC.

This is not how the original VW used to work. High pressure would command the fan.

Can some one direct me to how to hook it up so the fan is only on when needed???

There must be a better way!


FWIW Smallcar has changed their instructions twice after I pressed Mao with conflicting information (amount of lubricant and the wiring for the fans). You can see the latter in the middle of page 28 of this thread after I burned up my fusebox from the high fan being on too much.

I added Spal fan harnesses and relay kits for BOTH high and low fan stages, and wired the kit so low is on with AC, and high kicks on from the trinary switch/high pressure. This is an easy way to add them:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003PB4AY8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The Volvo relay is another way to do it all in one box if you have a boneyard handy:

https://www.therangerstation.com/tech_library/volvo_electric_fan.shtml

https://www.cherokeeforum.com/f51/taurus-fan-volvo-2-speed-relay-how-214815/

I used a Blue Sea fusebox directly from the battery to power both relays:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01BV1MS1K/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

If I have time this weekend I'll try to grab some photos on how I wired it.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2021 1:28 pm    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

The vanagon 3 speed radiator fan came in the Syncros and the later vanagons with factory air.

I wired my vintage air, AC on, rad fan comes on low. Head pressure comes to a certain point and the radiator steps up to medium. High speed is only attained by the radiator fan switch.
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2021 5:23 pm    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

Westaru wrote:
... I burned up my fusebox from the high fan being on too much.

I added Spal fan harnesses and relay kits for BOTH high and low fan stages, and wired the kit so low is on with AC, and high kicks on from the trinary switch/high pressure. This is an easy way to add them:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003PB4AY8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1


Thank you for this. My SC front AC is set to run the Stage 2 fan when the compressor runs, but I have an override switch to turn the fan off if I want.

My fan stopped working this summer. I looked behind the fuse box and the wire for the Stage 2 van was cooked. Lucky I had a spare wiring harness.

I'm going to put in these relays to make things more sensible.

kourt
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PostPosted: Fri Jan 29, 2021 5:46 pm    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

MarkWard wrote:
The vanagon 3 speed radiator fan came in the Syncros and the later vanagons with factory air.

I wired my vintage air, AC on, rad fan comes on low. Head pressure comes to a certain point and the radiator steps up to medium. High speed is only attained by the radiator fan switch.


Since I have a 90 with the 3 speeds, this is likely what I should do too.

How often does your fan come on to the middle speed?

It is rare my van gets hot enough, normally, to engage the highest speed.

Wonder about a high pressure / over pressure switch to engage high speed or just totally cut the system off?

Seems like two more steps of pressure may be safer. High (turns fan on highest) and over pressure to disable system (I had a blow out on another VW in high heat once.)

Or am I over thinking it?
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 12:55 pm    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

kourt wrote:
Westaru wrote:
... I burned up my fusebox from the high fan being on too much.

I added Spal fan harnesses and relay kits for BOTH high and low fan stages, and wired the kit so low is on with AC, and high kicks on from the trinary switch/high pressure. This is an easy way to add them:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B003PB4AY8/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1


Thank you for this. My SC front AC is set to run the Stage 2 fan when the compressor runs, but I have an override switch to turn the fan off if I want.

My fan stopped working this summer. I looked behind the fuse box and the wire for the Stage 2 van was cooked. Lucky I had a spare wiring harness.

I'm going to put in these relays to make things more sensible.

kourt


Kourt, happy to help you out (you may not remember but you've given me a ton of advice so far on my SC system).

The Spal relays are super high quality, even the wiring is heavy gauge. Has worked perfectly since installation and no hot wiring.
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PostPosted: Mon Feb 01, 2021 4:13 pm    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

In Florida with the AC on, the radiator fan is on medium pretty soon and moving slowly is on medium. Going down the highway, itís likely the rad fan is on low. I canít hear it and have no method to see. If you have the AC on and the radiator clicks to high, you are in an unusual load and just turning off the AC temporarily is easy to do.

Without a radiator fan someone mentioned is killing the AC. You need the radiator fan to maintain the Freon pressures. A manual switch on the radiator seems risky to me.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2021 11:21 am    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

Thanks Mark,

We are planning on a compressor off switch so just the air circulation fan can run.

Also a radiator fan high on switch so I can command the fan on high if I want. Not a fan disable.

In other words I will manually turn off the AC and also turn the rad fan on high if desired. But never disable any important function.

My issue is currently the rad fan is on blast any time the AC is on and that is not good.
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 02, 2021 3:07 pm    Post subject: Re: Small Car Performance, DIY Front A/C Installation Reply with quote

I don't know precisely how the SC/Vintage Air AC system is wired, but in very general and simplified terms, the rad fan issue you have could be dealt with as follows:

1. Find the relay that powers the rad fan on high. Whatever signal wire is attached to that relay, disconnect and instead, connect a wire that takes power from the wire that goes from the compressor clutch power wire. This way, any time that the compressor is powered on, the rad fan low speed relay is powered on, which powers the rad fan low speed on.

2. Note that the rad fan speeds are determined by which current path is selected. For Low speed, the current path is through both parts of the two-part factory rad fan relay. For Medium speed, the current path is through only one part of the two-part rad fan resistor. For high speed, an entrely separate relay and wiring path provide full battery power (ie, no resister) to the rad fan.

3. On the trinary switch, there are two contacts/wires for which are connected (ie, go closed circuit0 by the pressure switch inside the trinary switch when high-side pressure is around 200 to 220 psi (the pressure used varies between manufacturers).

4. You need to identify these wires. Then you need to use these wires to power a relay that is connceted to the mid-speed part of the VW rad fan resistor.

5. On the factory VW AC wiring, the "overpressure" pressure switch disconnects the power to the compressor clutch. On your SC/Vintage Air system, if you want, you can use the high-pressure switch on the trinary switch to turn the rad fan on the highest speed. I don't recommend this. Instead, it's best to use the high-pressure/overpressure aspect of the trinary swith to disconnect power to the compressor clutch.

6. If you are not yet using the parallel-flow style condenser, get one. The improvement in cooling is tremendous.

7. It is very important to install foam-rubber type sealing between the radiator perimeter and the perimeter of the condenser. Without this, the rad fan will not suck adequate ambient air through the condenser. On the highway, at speed, this does not matter, but under, say, 30 mph, the difference is huge.


The Rad fan wiring diagram is at 97.145 in the Bentley manual. The AC portions of the circuits are a pages 97.143 and 97.144.
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