Aftermarket A/C systems


icarus

Moderator
I hope I'm psoting this in the right way.

I have a 86 syncro with what I thought was factory air. 709sandon compressor same evaperator as other westys I've seen. But,,,it seems that it is some sort of after market installation. The compressor clutch won't come on. Everything else checks out, including the evaporater and condenser fans. I have no voltage to the clutch. I can trigger it with a live wire but it won't trigger on it's own. According to bently there should be a relay and fues behind the cabinet. I have no relay no fuse no nothing! Tracing the wires off the clutch, one goes to ground, one goes to the relay behind the right rear tail light and the red goes into a bundle toward the front of the car. Can anyone out there have anyidea how this clutch is tripped?

On a similar subject, I am contimplating changing to the new refrdgerant system. I suspect I need a compressor anyway. What is anyones opinion of just bighting the bullet and changing out the compressor, the receiver dryer, the o-rings all in one shot now. I can do all the parts for under $500, what is an honest number for labor? My local a/c guy just wants to try to charge my system, as he thinks it will work fine. (Assuming I can get the clutch problem solved.

Thanks for any and everyones help.

Icarus

[This message was edited by Capt. Mike on May 31, 2003 at 07:32 AM.]
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Clutches are tripped by the thermostat. The system wiring may require the fan switch to also be on -- usually by controling power to the thermostat.

Thermostats cycle the compressor in a straight on-off mode. If the thermostat senses higher then set temperature, it closes the circuit to the clutch until temperature reaches the desired point, then disengages the compressor clutch.

Compressor clutches are often the control point for high & low-pressure cut-out switches. Failure of the clutch to cycle can thus have numerous sources.

When you have an aftermarket system with no documentation, it usually becomes necessary to revert to the A/C basics. Advice in the appropriate factory A/C categories on this site will usually be applicable. Aftermarket systems typically have similar components as the factory, but will be wired in a place of aftermarket installation convenience, probably up under the dash and near the controls or evaporator. You'll need a generic manual. Murray Gold Seal's has been a good one for me for years.

Anytime the system is open, it is usually benificial to switch to the 134a refridgerant. Recharging with R-12 will now cost more than the entire swap job. Sorry, no estimate on labor hours but that is now a routine job and should be in the VW flat-rate manual. The primary spread in quotes is whether it includes replacing all the seals in the condensor & evaporator (recommended). Just changing freon & oil can be done w/ inexpensive kits but may lead to failure later. Proper purging is essential or you can take out the new compressor with residues of the old charge & contamination.

[This message was edited by Capt. Mike on June 03, 2003 at 08:07 AM.]
 

icarus

Moderator
thanks Capt. Mike,

I've had a bit of luck finding my way through the wiring. A series of fan relays under the dash. So far everything checks out. I am now on the search for the high and low pressure switches. They don't seem to be on the evaperator. I guess I will look next on the condensor. I'll post what I find.

Icarus
 

icarus

Moderator
It seems that this system has no hi/low presure swithes. I Finaly found the problem. There are 4 relays invloved.The first is an aftermarket harness that connects to the thermostat/fan switch. This is mounted on the end of the dash board. The other three are in the relay block. They are all standard bosch 5 pin relays, but one of them has a different switching function. One controls the a/c fan, the second controls the radiator fan, and the third controls the compressor clutch.The relays were swithed in thier sockets by some previous person.While all three have the same pin configuration, the clutch relay switches differntly. So after completly disassembling the evaporator, pulling the front grills, (looking for hi/low switches) I finaly spent time looking at the relay configurations.
I'm not sure if this relates to anyone else, but if you find a van with no relays in the back closet you may have a similar system. I can't find any info from any source on this system. There are vw part numbers on some of the wiring in the evaporator so,,,, I would like to find a proper wiring diagram as well as some info on the rest of the system, r-12 capacity etc. If I find anything else I will post.

Icarus
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
This isn't much help, but I can only suggest that the most common of VW's aftermarket A/C's were supplied by Cool-Aire (ex Miami?), Delenaire (ex Texas?), DPD (origin unknown) and Behr (German w/ US distribution). It would not surprise me in the least to find dealer/port-of-entry installed A/C's in other markets so I'd see if perhaps some info can be found via VW Canada.

But contgratualtions on tracking down what had to be a complex problem. Too many assume that if a relay fits, looks right & 'clicks' it's working the way it was intended. That took some tracking.

[This message was edited by Capt. Mike on June 03, 2003 at 08:05 AM.]
 

icarus

Moderator
My hunch is that it is a behr system. It came from the dealer installed when the car was delivered. (In Montana ifthat is any help) Have you ever heard of a system with no hi/low swithes or expansion valve? All the compressors I can buy require me to replace the expansion valve as well, but I can't seem to find this either.

On the subject of comprssors,,, Since I finaly got this one going, it howls. My A/c guy suggests that it is just in the clutch, vut I don't know if he is right. I guess I will have to bight the bullet and have him add oil etc. to see if it quiets down. (understanding that this won't solve the clutch problem) I'm still in the debate on whether to just buy a now compressor, dryer and kit and change to 134. One comment I've heard is that the 134 is a much "smaller" fluid so that if there are any leaks they will be amplified with the new coolant. It jsut seems to be a smart thing to do, but my a/c guy suggest not doing it. I don't know,,,,

Icarus
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Yes, to all of the above. I have the parts list for a Cool-Air ('69) and Behr (~'72) aftermarket installations and neither show high or low pressure switches.

The switches are to protect the compressor. Low to prevent it running with low freon and thus not getting adequate lubrication, and high to prevent overcharge or loss of condenser capacity. Some systems had a safety relief valve built into the compressor. Perhaps this was before the days of sueing because your hot coffee was actually hot and they though most people would have enough sense to shut off the A/C when it quit working.

These switches only began to appear in the early '70s. Some systems use a version of the high-pressure cut off to replace the function of the thermostat, i.e. the system cuts on & off based on adjusting pressure allowed which does correlate, to a certain degree, to temperature. thus your high-pressure cut-off is actually part of the thermostat function.

Some systems use VIRs or other replacements of the expansion valve function.

You need to get a good A/C shop manual. My ancient Murray Corp Gold Seal book still serves me well. They are located (by that same ancient source) in Cockeysville MD 21030 and another facility in TX. Phone was 301-666-0380. They also had a "Cold Line" tech service. I see a phone correction in my manual that it was changed to 301-785-7171, but I didn't date it so don't know when I last used it. Several years ago, I'd guess.

Murray also provides one of the most complete lines of replacement components & tools. I've used their rebuilt compressors with good results.

I will repeat: If the system is fully open (lost all your R-12) and you must change any major component, change to R-134a. The freon cost difference alone will pay for most of the job.

I can only assume your mechanic's "Smaller" freon comment means R_134a is denser or has a higher expansion ratio. I don't know if that's true but what difference does it make? A/C units use liquid weight to specify charge. An ounce is an ounce -- that it might fill more or less volume when it leaks out is irrelevant. It may well require a different charge level number of ounces, but I'm sure you'll find it relatively minor. Say 4½ lb. of R-134a to replace 4 lb. of R-12.
 

icarus

Moderator
Thanks for the info Mike,

I have no intention of working on the system myself (the pressure side) I figure there are people who have forgotton more than I will ever know. That said all this info is useful to take to the people who either know or should know. My A/c guys comment about 134 being "smaller" was a way to explain the molecular size of the gas. His opinion is that if r-12 will leak out of a say 10 micron hole, 134 will leak out of a 1 micron hole. (I make these numbers up only for example) I don't know if he is right. He was recomended to me by the best V.W folks in the Northwest (Harmony Motor Works, Bellingham) I assume that if the A/c guy was recomended he should know his stuff. I think I will go ahead and spring for a new compressor (as this one is so noisy I do'nt think recharging it will cure it.), andif my system holds presure, I will purge and convert to 134. It will cost me way more up front, but should hold me in good stead in the long term

Icarus

ps. I have not been able to find any info on coole-aire nor delenaire on the web? can anyone help.
Icarus
 

icarus

Moderator
To anyone who has been following the above thread,,,

After getting the electrical portion of the system up and running, I took it to my local a/c guy. With a slight charge of r-12 it got cold, but the suction gauge showed that either the reciever/dryer or the expansion valve was messed up. So after more conversation, we decided to go ahead and replace the compressor, reciever/dryer and the expansion valve and convert to r134. My guy agreed that I could save a few cents taking things apart myself. He evacuated the system for me. It took all the parts apart, discovering a bunch of things along the way. Even though the car is an '86, it has a sandon 510 compressor (pre '85 I believe) but it has a 86 reciever/dryer, and the expansion valve seems to be for the 510 as well.All the parts had vw part number stickers on them.

The long and short of all these thread is that eve though the car came from the dealer with a/c and was considered "factory air" it is obviously made up of pieces from various inventory. I still don't know who makes the fans, the wiring, the evaporator/condensor. So if you go to work on your system and can't seem to find the parts and locations that are in Bentley don't be fooled.

Some time next week we should be able to get it back together. I decided to purchase the parts from my a/c rather than on the web, even though they were a bit more expensive, but I think that it sometimes pays to patronize the local people who keep us going. (If you are in NW Washington give "Autp Air" a call. He seems honest and quite capable. I hope that this will end the saga.

Icarus
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
icon_frown.gif
In these days of merger & acquisition, companies come & go so fast it's impossible to keep up. With the proliferation of factory A/C at even the lowest level of vehicles, complete aftermarket A/C systems are going the way of the rumble seat. It would not surprise me to find the big names of aftermarket A/C suppliers doing the same. In the '60s & '70s, A/C was still a novelty in Europe and converting was big business.

In '79, for example, "factory (Behr) A/C" was available in Type II's & Westies. But the European version was far less sophisticated and effective than the VW authorized, Cool-Aire produced US made units. POE (Port of Entry) A/C was still big business and yours may be such a permutation. Although it came from the dealer w/ A/C, that doesn't mean it was "factory." It is sort of easy for dealers to forget the "authorized" in "factory-authorized".

Today, I'm not even sure you can get a US Vw w/o it. My Mom just bought the lowest line VW Jetta; A/C is standard equipment.

On the other hand, until A/C became totally intergrated into the heating system, it's not that complicated. If your A/C has a separate knob for temp & fan, you're in pretty good shape -- you can still do a fair amount of mix 'n' match from the good aftermarket suppliers.

Oh, for a source of new add-on kit parts, browse the hot-rod industry. They still go for that in a big way. That's not a recommendation, just a suggest source of parts & info.

[This message was edited by Capt. Mike on June 03, 2003 at 08:09 AM.]
 

icarus

Moderator
A final (hopefully) on the above threads. I have completed the r134 conversion. The total cost was just under $800. This includeds a re-man sandon 510 compressor $280, new expansion valve $30, reciever dryer $60. My local A/C guy evacuated the old r12 for me. I removed the old parts, and he and I put it all back together. He charged me 3 hours labor. If I hadn't done the removal and help with the install it would probably be another 2 hours. I think that his price was very fair, given how much time he really took. He didn't charge me anything for helping me first chase down the relay problems (above threads) or an initial r/12 charge to test components.

One item to note. He flushed the system by opening each component, and flushing with solvent and air. I am not sure how any but the most well equipped do it your selfer could do as good a job. He used over 2 gallons of solvent! Given the cost of doing the work, I suggest that it is money well spent to ahve it professionaly done. After installing new o-rings on every fitting, he re-evacuated and tested under vacume, to make sure the system had no leaks. A fresh 2.25lbs of r134 and she blows 42f! One other item to mention. My system, even though it is made up of V.W oem parts, is not a "factory system". As such it has no high/low pressure switches. It might be useful to note that the aftermarket reciever/dryer had a switch port on it. It was a simple matter to install a combination switch during installation. I ran one side of the switch to the grounded side of the compressor clutch, the other to the hot, so now the components will be protected from hig or low pressure as well.

I will write an update after the summer season.
 

icarus

Moderator
Post summer update

After a 20,000km summer throghout much of north america, I have nothting but glowing reports from my converted 134 systems. We encounter temps routinely in the 40'sc (95-105f) on many days this summer. One day pulling into the canopy of the fuel station in Miles City Mt. the outside thermometer on my syncro said 106f. After gettining fuel the inside (Parked in the shade went to 121f! The a/c system kept the cabin nicley at about 78f. (Curtains shut, with good dark window tint) I have a digital indoor/outdoor thermometer set up so that on probe is in the cold air out vent of the a/c, and the other is on the dash. The cold air out was in the low 50's . Anybody who thinks that 134 aint cold enough hasn't charged thiers properly
Icarus

P.s Fall 2004

After another B.C to Maine round trip (return via Northwestern Ontario, 12,500kms total) I had to add 1.5lbs of 134 at the start of this season. Once again hot on the praries, 107f in Glasgow Mt. Cabin stays below 80f.
 

icarus

Moderator
One more update,

Two years after converting, and almost a year from adding 1.5lbs, I added 2lbs more. I would guess that I have a small leak somewhere. If by June it is low again I will start to look.

I am preparing for another transcontinental trek. While it is March now, it will be June before I return to home turf. Hopefully it will hold for those hot prarie June days.
 

Capt. Mike

Moderator
Transferred to consolidate same topic.

[Can I add an air conditioner?

dlrandall Junior Member # 3798 posted 03-27-2002 09:43 PM

I am looking at a 76-79 Westy and wondered if I can an air conditioner without problems? Anyone have a ballpark expense?
 

robert struber

New member
Gruess Gott:Just looking through the postings on the A/C site.Have done my share of repairs/coolant conversions on many older Volvo 240/740's--so the good advice all rings true.Sadly,so do the headaches/big bucks.So,in thinking of adding A/C to my cherry '86 gas fired Westy(never had A/C),I'm thinking alternatives.For starters,since we're in Maine,just haven't needed it for first year of ownership-windows/vents do pour in lots of air. But will be going South sometime.Am thinking,if you really don't need fridgid conditions in such a small space,is there some way to get some A/C(admittedly a reduced amount of cooling,given lower compressor powering by only 12 volt DC),via 12 volts?Have checked marine/aviation sources with mixed sucess.An inverter might do the job,but not for the standard 5K BTU units for home use.Solar home power supply people all seem to think that such smaller units exist,mostly for 12 or 24 volt DC,and can be found in Asia.Anyone have thoughts/info on what may be a hopeless search? Rob
 

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