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Air Conditioning

By Max Springer
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      Max (BowtieMax) Springer previously wrote a great tech tip on the IFS swap (he still gets emails on that!). In the summer of 2002, Max installed air conditioning in Old Blue and is quite pleased with his results. Max's odometer just pushed past 74 and Old Blue's has over 21,000 since the swap and they are both doing well!

Photos and installation instructions for
Old Air Products "Hurricane 4000 series"
A/C & Heater system in '55 1st series Chevy pickup

      Before getting started, I would like to mention that when ordering this A/C package from Old Air Products, you can mix and match to utilize the units and parts you may have in stock. In my case, I furnished my own compressor and condenser fan. I also made my own mount brackets from 1 x in. polished stainless for the compressor and alternator. In doing so, I saved myself about $400.

        Prior to installing the heating / cooling unit, the glovebox must be removed as well as the three inch cover plate located in the engine compartment directly in front of the glovebox on the firewall. Originally, this opening was used for factory-type blower motor. Also before installation, two mounting brackets (one large; one small) must be attached to the unit. Next, center the four copper outlets in the three inch opening on the firewall. With unit in the proper position (as seen in photo), locate and drill four 1/4-inch holes in the firewall. Then slide unit forward until flush with firewall and install nuts w/washers.  
      This is a view of cooling unit with the rubber grommet in place around the outlets. Note: The three holes to the right of the new unit were for the old heater outlets. In the next photo (below) you will see I made a plate to cover up these holes. The black cable under them is from the new control panel and goes to the water valve in the lower heater hose.

      This is a view after the A/C and heater hoses were installed. Note #1: The new cover plate is barely visible after painting. Note #2: I used 90 elbows on the heater hoses to give better clearance to the A/C hoses. The small black hose under hose cluster is the condensation drain line.


      Before continuing, I would like to express my disgust of ugly hoses running all over an otherwise neat-looking engine compartment. My first move in that direction was to move the alternator to the driver's side and install the A/C compressor on the passenger side. Also in the next photo, you will see I routed both heater hoses down the firewall through the inner fender and back out to the water pump and intake manifold.

      This is a view of the right wheel well where the heater hoses have been routed from the engine compartment. I also chose this area to install the water control "on/off" valve. The hoses are also attached to the inner fender at the clamp to the right of the water valve.
      This is a view of the hoses being routed back to the engine compartment in direct line with the water pump and intake manifold. Note: In order to prevent hose damage, I fitted a piece of split hose around the entrance and exit holes in the inner fender.
      The right side and center A/C outlets with the control panel in between are incorporated in one unit that fits the contour of the dash very neatly.

      The driver's side A/C outlet (single unit) mounts under the dash in the same manner as passenger side. Now the four air duct and two defroster duct hoses can be attached using compression clamps furnished in the kit.

      Prior to adding the A/C, I was using a 16" diameter blower fan to cool the engine radiator rather than a water pump fan. So rather than purchase the fan for the condenser, I decided to use this one and add a fan to the water pump with shroud as in late models for engine cooling. The hardware furnished in the kit worked fine to attach my fan to the condenser. Hooking up all the lines to the condenser and drier was fairly simple because they were pre-bent to fit this particular model.

      Now that all the plumbing is finished on the front side of the radiator, it's time to move on to the back side. The tubing from the drier had to be bent upward slightly so the pressure switch receptacle would clear the inner fender. Note: All A/C hoses in the kit only have fittings on one end. The other ends (included in the kit) have to be compressed on locally by a service center that has the proper equipment.


      After getting the condenser and blower fan job finished, it was time for me to do some fabricating. The first item was to locate a point on the shroud directly in front of the water pump shaft. From that point, I scribed a circle 1/4 inch larger than the fan diameter. I used a die grinder with metal cutting wheel to make the opening. The shroud depth was determined by the distance between fan blade tips to the radiator which was approximately 2 inches. To attach the shroud, I used the same bolt holes that attaches the radiator to the support frame. Note #1 The shroud is in two parts so the radiator hose and tranny cooling lines wouldn't have to be removed to install the shroud. Note #2 To cover the rough edge of the sheet metal around the fan opening, I used a piece of chrome plastic rain channel molding from J.C. Whitney.

Drivers side view of radiator fan shroud.


      Here is a view of the passenger side of the stainless fan shroud and polished Sanden A/C compressor. After installing the fan shroud, I noticed how generic looking it made the radiator tank. So I went back to work and fabricated a stainless tank cover to match.


      Here are the results. Now the radiator tank matches the shroud. No generic look here, huh?

      This is also a good view of how I secured the A/C hoses to the right side support rod between the firewall and the inner fender.

        Before closing I would like to say how nice the people at Old Air Products are to work with. Their tech staff will give you all the assistance you need in solving a problem. I am very pleased with the performance of this unit both in town and on the road. Comments about this project are welcome, good or bad.  

December 2004

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