Air conditioning retrofit

Discussion in 'Workshop Forum' started by Rodger, Aug 18, 2014.

  1. Rodger

    Rodger True Classic

    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Has anyone added air conditioning to a non-airconditioned X? I am starting on a total rehab of an '81 I just picked up. I have a wiring harness from a Bertone with the newer fuse/relay box and all of the connections for an air conditioned car. I would need all of the other parts but was wondering if this was doable?
     
  2. Dennisrh

    Dennisrh True Classic

    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 3, 2016
  3. Rodger

    Rodger True Classic

    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Thanks!

    Great write up. This is really helpful. I will read it in more detail when I have time and I am sure I will have more questions. Unfortunately, I do not have a donor car with AC so it looks like another shopping trip to Matt's at Midwest-Bayless. I will be taking the car down to the shell and having the body redone, so this would be the time to do it. I also like the info about the sound deadening.
     
  4. Black-Tooth

    Black-Tooth Tony Natoli

    Not taking anything away from Dennis' work here...

    as he also did some upgrades as well.

    If I were to take the car down to the shell, I'd buy an aftermarket Universal Kit with electric controls. The small units for hot rods and sports cars could be as easily adapted to the X that is equal to installing a stock system, it would be all NEW parts, run R134A, have a larger condenser, and work about 10X better.

    Your choice, I've not seen it done yet... but I'm sure its a doable thing. One could mount the evap unit either under the dash or in the front trunk.

    If going for and all out performance look... a HUGE rear wing could also house the condenser and fans...

    Have fun, send fotos!
     
  5. kungfuty

    kungfuty Tyrone Revelo

    I will agree with Tony. Although the X's a/c is adequate for R12 you will have better cooling results with a set up meant for R-134a.
     
  6. ng_randolph

    ng_randolph Bjorn H

    Location:
    SF Bay area
  7. Kevin Cozzo

    Kevin Cozzo True Classic

    Location:
    dallas tx
    sound deadening and insulation

    I live in Texas and have an early model, not going for the AC, BUT, I have recently stripped my car down, and I bought a couple rolls of insulation blanket at Pep Boys. These cars just get hot inside, so I am insulating everything on the bottom, and using adhesive and silver A/C tape, especially the inside of the hump, over the hump, the floorboards, inside the spare tire compartment. I figure part of trying to keep cooler inside is trying to keep the heat out- just a thought

    [​IMG]
     
  8. Rodger

    Rodger True Classic

    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Yes, I had seen also seen those threads recently...

    These are all great for ideas and I appreciate the help. I would like to keep the stock dashboard controls, but am definitely interested in upgrading to a better performing system. It will be a while before I am anywhere near getting to this part of the restoration as I have yet to start to strip car down. This winter's project (I hope).

    I am sure I can eventually pull this off as there is so much great help on this forum. I just completed a total engine rebuild and FI conversion on my '79, as well as rebuilt the transmission while it was all out of the car. Couldn't have done it with out with all of you, especially Steve H's 5-Speed 101.

    I will definitely take pictures and share it.
     
  9. Dennisrh

    Dennisrh True Classic

    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    I am not against putting an aftermarket universal AC in an X, but I think that it would be a whole lot of work. Not that my upgrades weren't a lot of work, but there is very little fabricating of parts if you use the origianl style AC/heater box. I would think it would be much cheaper and easier to stick with original style equipment and just upgrade the things that need upgrading, particularly the condensor. The aftermarket stuff is not going to be made to just bolt up to a Fiat, so you will spend a good amount of time making it fit. The upgrades I did all bolted in pretty easy. The compressor was a direct bolt in, the condensor required four holes to be drilled to bolt it to the radiator, the dryer bolted right in and since I had the lines made, I had the proper fittings made for all the new parts.

    The only thing I would consider upgrading further in my car is the blower motor. It works well, but as I said before, its not quite as effective as a modern cars. As far as temperature goes, my AC is ice cold.
     
  10. kungfuty

    kungfuty Tyrone Revelo

    Just my opinion on this matter only because I have done this before in my trade but you can keep the same controls and compressor. This part does not matter. The output of the oe compressor is quite capable of cooling anything but what will make the difference besides an adequate evaporator is the size of the condenser and a new receiver drier.

    Unfortunately a problem the X has is the size of it's air ducts and vents which restrict the airflow.

    Insulation of the body as mentioned by Kevin is definitely a plus.
     
  11. LarryC

    LarryC Curator of #10105275

    Amen on that Dennisrh

    Why go through all the fab work on an after market set-up when the stock equipment can be made to work so well with a few inconspicuous upgrades. Yes, the blower motor is a weak link. But even that would be an experimental thing for someone with the time to source something that would fit the heater-AC box.
     
  12. RicB

    RicB True Classic

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    With no AC and the windows down....

    is it going to make much of a difference adding all that insulation? :) Because I also don't have AC and live in Texas and I don't know that I can tell whether the heat is coming from inside or outside the car. All I know is it's freaking hot!
     
  13. Kevin Cozzo

    Kevin Cozzo True Classic

    Location:
    dallas tx
    insulation...

    hey when I stripped my car down, i found most of the rubber plugs between the coolant pipes and the floorboard missing, and there is NO insulation between the pipes and the floorboard- sometimes I'd swear the heater was on, when it wasn't, hot air coming right up in the car thru the hump especially under the dash...
     
  14. Rodger

    Rodger True Classic

    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Amazing work, Larry

    I spent last night reading your threads on the A/C upgrades and heater box rebuild. Great stuff! You are one clever dude. I can't thank you enough for the time it must have taken to research all of the parts sources and the documentation. I would definitely like to use the stock system and do the upgrades like you did. Just need to find all of the parts to go in the dash, as those are the unique ones.
     
  15. Rodger

    Rodger True Classic

    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    After market systems

    I decided to take a look at what aftermarket systems are out there since Tony was so emphatic about it being a better way to go plus acquiring all of the parts of the stock system appears to be difficult and expensive. I do not have a donor car and so would need to try to get all of the needed parts from different sources. I talked to MWB and they said that it is really difficult to retrofit the stock system, and they only had some of the parts. I did have them send me the upper heater box and evaporator plus the defrost/side vent duct with the vacuum actuator as a start. Of course these are used parts and even though they were 8 of 10s, the foam was really deteriorated. Both needed work just to get them up to snuff and again, there were many parts that MWB didn't even have. I sent them back and started researching.

    From what I could find, it seems like there are four companies that pop up highest in a web search. Larry has sourced a lot of parts from Nostalgic Air and they are the only ones who make am 11" tall condenser. I bought an 11x19" superflow condenser, which I think is the one that Larry recommends. His write up says it is 11x22" but they do not have that size listed. The 11x19 is about 22" wide when you include the side fittings and frames. The other three companies start at 12" tall which I think would be too big for the limited size of the X radiator.

    The other companies are Old Air Products, Vintage Air, and Classic Auto Air.

    All of these companies sell kits for popular older cars that are based on their "universal" evaporator/heater unit. You can just get the "universal" unit which is aimed at the custom hot rod crowd. These are what I looked at. Unfortunately, the Nostalgic, Vintage, and Classic Auto units are all quite wide, at about 19-20". Much too wide to fit an X. I wanted to see if one would fit in the stock unit position. Tony's thought about putting the evaporator unit in the frunk of the X would probably not be practical since all of the units are designed to be recirculating only and do not connect to outside air.

    Old Air Products is the only company that has a universal evaporator unit that was potentially small enough to fit. Their Hurricane unit has dimensions are 11.5" wide, 8.5" deep, and 11" tall including the defrost/dash vent plenum. Here is a diagram of it.
    [​IMG]

    They have three versions, two of which have the AC and heater pipes coming out the back to go through the firewall in a front engine car, and one where the pipes come out on the passenger side, like the in the X. I initially thought that the one with the pipes coming out the side would be the best for my use, but it turns out the one with the pipes coming out the back looks like the best choice. The nice thing about Old Air Products is that you can buy just the case for $95 so you have a light weight actual size version to play with and trial fit, before you commit to buy the real thing. It comes with either cable operated controls to adapt it to stock controls, or as Tony pointed out, electronic controls that operate the unit via servo motors instead of vacuum actuators. The other cool thing about the electronic version is that the heater control valve is electronically controlled so it can be placed anywhere instead of in the totally inconvenient position of the stock X location. I am thing of putting in the spare tire well, where the heater hose comes through the firewall on it's way to the tunnel.

    I ordered the try-in unit and have been playing with it and I think it will work. There will be some fabrication involved in connecting the ducts from the Hurricane unit to the stock dash vents and defrost, but it seems doable. The fresh air opening from under the center of the windshield will need to be covered over since there is no way to connect fresh air into the Hurricane system. I decided to not try and connect it to the side dash vents since I really like the fresh air that comes through them on mild days. Here are some pictures of the try in unit.
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    More to come, of my trial fitting.
     
    Last edited: Nov 2, 2014
  16. bbrown

    bbrown Bob Brown Moderator

    Location:
    New Hampshire
    Good write-up Rodger,

    Looking forward to your progress and results regarding the retrofit.
    This unit looks to be a nice neat all-in-one unit.
     
  17. Black-Tooth

    Black-Tooth Tony Natoli

    WOW Rodger... GREAT STUFF!

    Lots of SUPPLIERS out there but only a few good MANUFACTURERS. You seem to have found the best and smallest all-in-one unit I've seen as well.

    As far as the condenser is concerned... I bet you can also source one separately and from my many years of A/C experience... it is the condenser that it probably the single most important component in providing the necessary amount of freon in its liquid state to the evaporator! Find the BIGGEST one that will fit reasonably in the car... or ON the car...

    (Ever consider a HUGE Dallara Wing... modified with two small fans, plumbing and wiring concealed in its mounts and a vented condenser installed kinda ala Porsche-style??? You could be the first on your block! Contact George Aspron for details here. And NO... I'm not on drugs... just a highly imaginable guy who made it through the 60's on alcohol alone... mostly...)

    [​IMG]

    Here's another shot of George and the guy that taught him everything he knows...

    [​IMG]

    P.S. The two GREAT looking women in the first foto on the left are 1) My daughter-in-law, the Brunette, currently single, and 2) My granddaughter, the Blonde, currently single and attending U/Colorado. If interested in either... submit your resume and a $1000 dollar, non refundable, application fee here to my P/P account.
     
  18. Rodger

    Rodger True Classic

    Location:
    Olympia, WA
    Isn't the wing a substitute for...

    Kind of looks like George is compensating for something :). Yeah, I suppose one could put the condenser in there, although I think the airflow would go over it instead of through it. This project is going be challenging as it is so I think I will pass on the wing for now.

    LarryC seems to have had success with the 11x19 (22?) that he got from Nostalgic Air. I ordered one and it looks like it should fit easily. The next step is to order the actual unit and other parts and work on all of the plumbing.

    What I need is some good photos that show how the AC compressor, water pump, and alternator all go together in a stock AC equipped X as well as where Fiat routed all of the lines. I don't have one to look at in person and the photos in the shop manuals are pretty minimal. I am sure that there are probably photos on the Forum, but hopefully someone can point me to the right thread. I am not necessarily going to copy the stock layout, but it would give me a reference point.

    Since I am using an after market compressor, is there any reason why it needs to go below the alternator as in the stock configuration? I have a stock '81 with the single V-belt and a Delco alternator that works just fine. If I can figure out a way to mount the compressor to the water pump, couldn't I just run a second belt from a double pulley on the crankshaft to it or a belt from a double pulley water pump to it. Then I would only need two V-belts instead of the three in the stock configuration that looks like a nightmare. I have looked at the threads on the serpentine belt conversion, but it seems like there is a lot of machining and fabrication needed that is probably beyond my skill level.

    Speaking of the water pump, am I correct in assuming that the housing for an AC water pump is different than a non-AC? I know the impellor and double pulley is different. That's all my questions for now. Thanks as always to the forum.
     
  19. Black-Tooth

    Black-Tooth Tony Natoli

    Well... in a sense, yes he is...

    I'll get to that later though...

    Tyrone has some good points (kungfuty) and maybe I assumed incorrectly. I Initially thought you were ADDING A/C to a car that never had it. If so... then of course you need a compressor. If not an you know the stocker is in good order, then you are all set.

    I often wondered WHY the engineers at FIAT swapped places with the alternator on A/C equipped cars and I THINK its MOST probably about its proximity to the exhaust heat and manifold. Maybe? Maybe the alternators could better stand up to it, maybe the compressor would just work better in a cooler area... maybe for belt tension.

    As for the WP, that are the SAME with the exception of the pulley and the pulley's are interchangeable with a press... You should be able to get a new (rebuilt?) WP for an A/C equipped car and not haveta worry about ruing the seals installing a pulley. Probably a good thing to do anyway while yur in the neighborhood.

    So... Maybe YOU can find a better place to install the compressor and/or GM alternator... but the bracketry for a stocker might be a good place to start.

    George...

    George has a pure stock engine in that thing but has a rubbed-on version in his garage... that has been waiting in the wings for many years now. He's also gotten side tracked with other personal issues and some French Lady here...

    http://xwebforums.com/forum/index.php?posts/202729/

    Scroll down and then expand the photos... the craftsmanship on that Citroen is meticulous!

    The small garage and covered patio is where ALL of his cars come to life... and he mostly works alone. His Martini Dallara Racer has garnished him awards and tons of on-lookers at almost ANY kind of auto show in SoCal... and even won a Best Sports Category trophy selected by Mr. George Barris hisself. HA! Maybe it was a George/George kinda thing... but still great. This was at a HUGE car show on the streets of Downtown Culver City a few years back...

    As for the WING on and X1/9... well, most were somewhat functional at speeds over 100mph like MOST other cars. And they still can be at some lesser speeds. Mine is mounted low and it primarily to hold up my THIRD Brake Light... and... I think it is the best looking Third Brake Light bracket made!

    So... look, the Dallara wing would look AWESOME and also provide a PURPOSE to hold up the condenser. Maybe a little more tilted nose down in front, maybe some small directional vents, along with some puller fans on the bottom... Hey, might as well install an Oil Cooler along with the condenser too!

    Ya don't HAVETA race around everywhere... Cruisin' is even more cool...

    [​IMG]

    This looks pretty damn awesome, don't it? I googled Fulvio Racing and came up with their cars, along with George's in the bunch of them and this 1:24 scale model! HA!

    Lastly, George will pound one out for you at a very reasonable price in aluminum and fiberglass. Secondly... when you hopefully meet George some day, you'll even be more astonished by his presence. He ain't compensating with the wing... You have that confused with HUGE western belt buckles. None of this I happen to know for sure or even wanna know...

    HA!
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 4, 2016
  20. Jeff Stich

    Jeff Stich True Classic

    Location:
    Norco, CA
    Re: water pump

    Yes, that is what he's doing. The first 2 sentences of the original post refer to adding A/C to a non-A/C X1/9:

    No, they are NOT the same! The water pump for non-A/C cars has an aluminum body (some with press-on OR bolt-on pulley), while the water pump for A/C cars has a heavy CAST IRON body (with bolt-on pulley). This material change was likely made to strengthen the w/p housing against the increased forces (and different tension angles) of the compressor unit, alternator & air pump (on carbed models) drive belts, as well as the housing being used as a lower (pivot) mount for the alternator.

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    This is a water pump for an A/C-equipped 1500 X1/9:

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2014

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