Friday, January 15, 2010

A/C install

Started the process by fitting the a/c condenser and the dryer. My setup is using the binary switch since I don't have a electric fan. I made sure to use plenty of oil for the O ring seals when I attached the piping. Everything fit nicely so I moved on to attaching the compressor. I made sure to order the correct Firebird Brackets for a 1968. I painted the bracket with Underhood black and attached it to the engine block. As for the belt - I had original ordered a standard a/c belt however it proved to bit a bit to larger and cased the compressor to set close to edge the max 90 degree angle for proper operation. So I returned it to the local auto parts store for a slightly smaller one that would fit snugly.
Next I tackled the interior components starting with the heater controls. Very straight forward instructions and it enabled me to use the OEM control panel. The evaporator was a bit of a bear to get in by myself. Helpful tip: test fit the evaporator on the car with all the hose fitting attached so the firewall holes line up correctly. Then tighten the fitting on them. I kept the covers on the ends of the pipes to keep dust from getting in. Once everthing was in and fiited I tighten everything down and checked to see if I had any clearance problems where something might rub. Again make sure to add plenty of oil for the O ring seals.

With the evaprator in I now moved on to putting in all of the ducts and control module. The prescribe duct route that was in the instructions does not work for the Firebird. I used my own paths and got it in without disturbing any of the dash components and without causing crimps in the ducting. It looks lik a large black snake coiled but it all fits. The center duct was the easiest to install but the I had to realy stretch the duct over the opening to fit.
The one task I paid to have installed was the crimping of the a/c pressure hose fitting. I took it to a local shop that specializes in vintage air systems and they had the proper tool to crimp. the ends. I ran teh heater hoses myself and fastened all of the hoses down with electical clamps from home depot. After this I started on the wiring which was surprising simple even though the diagrams in the instruction make it seem daunting. The color coding is simple and the step by step instructions for programing the CPU was straight forward. It took me the better part of an evening to get all the wiring mocked up, connectors crimped on and fed through a groment in the firewall. I had alread made an external fuse box for my radio and simple but another fuse inline for the power to the A/C CPU (purple wire).

The last step was something I had never done which is charge the system with R134. I employed the help of a coworker from NASA that had a electric vacuum pump and we proceed to draw a vacuum on the system and let the car sit for a couple of days. To my relief the vaccum stayed and there were no leaks in the system. We added the prescribed amount of a/c in the car and in no time we got some pretty cold temperatures in the car. Just in time for winter! I am really going to enjoy this during the next Houston summer.


Travis said...

Love the install! Any chance of getting a closer look at your center duct work? I've got the same style 68 Firebird but it didn't come with any of the A\C parts. So I have nothing in the center dash as far as duct work, and would like to see what you used so I can order the right parts. Thanks and great looking bird! Email is travphel at yahoo dot com.

Travis said...

Awesome bird! Have a 68 myself with the same vintage air I'm installing. Everything has gone well, but I have no original parts for the center duct. Any chance I can get a look at what you used to connect to your center duct? I know I am going to have to order some parts, just want to make sure I get the right things.

68Firebird said...

a large hose clamp or even thick rubber bands will work but rubber bands will deterrotate over time. I don't have a good picture of that for you unfotunately. Also make sure you get the correct firewall plate. They initially sent me one for a non a/c car.