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Vintage Air A/C Conversion for 1st Gen Rivieras

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Sorry Boys,

I had to take care of some rental house business.

Got back to it today.

The original compressor bracket was reused. I had to drill out the holes to accommodate using 3/8" bolts which is what the Sanden compressor is drilled for. After doing that, I realized that I had some old door hinge pins with bushings. Conceivably, you could press the bushings into the compressor holes, and use 5/16 " bolts without drilling your original bracket. I don't know for sure, but maybe the next guy can try that. Either way, I used some lock washers between the original comp bracket and the Sanden and the belts lined up perfectly.

I also used the original drier bracket. Bill took that out and cleaned it up, so I may have installed it backwards and upside down. I don't care, just letting you know that it is way better looking than the cheesy clamps that come with the "kit".



I also got the condenser mounted. That is just trial and error. If you can't figure this part out, you shouldn't be trying this project ;) .

Hard to see, but looks neat:


So far, I have about 24 hours into this. I may be slower than people who do this all of the time, but think about how much this would cost if you were paying restoration shops (REAL restoration shops) $100 / hr. Even if they did it in half the time, you would be $1,200 into the project and I bet I am just a little over halfway there...

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I know we will have a portion of it left. I just rebuilt the "oh, so loose" jingle ball vents and hooked up the ducts. Yes, the ducts fit REAAAALLLLY tightly on the original outlets, but you have to fit them first, THEN screw them back to the dash. I also used silver HVAC tape to further secure them (duct to outlet) , but they aren't going anywhere. I chose to run the ducting before doing the hose connections so I would have more room. Speaking of hoses, I am GOING to be hosed if this thing has a leak anywhere, since it is all ducted now.

Fingers crossed...

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Here are a couple of pictures of the ducting.

First is the passenger side vent. It is hanging until I make all of the hose connections at the evaporator.


Here is the mess at the top of the evaporator.

The defroster vents went in first, because the outlets are in the back of the evaporator. They are just squished up in the factory vent.

From left to right (as viewed in the car)

Left side center vent

Drivers side vent

Right side center vent

Passenger side vent

This made for the most straightforward routing, and should avoid all radio parts.


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Speaking of hoses, I am GOING to be hosed if this thing has a leak anywhere, since it is all ducted now.

Fingers crossed...

As I recall I ran the ducting but I left the dash completely apart until I had it charged. And I did have a leak...

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I on the other hand made a trip to San Antonio for other business and on the way I spent another 500 dollars on connectors at Vintage Air.

I hope you can return the ones you don't use for credit!

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I have been at Mike's this morning. While Mike was running Heater hoses I was replacing the fan clutch. Not a hard job just a pain to do as you have to figure out how to hold the pulley from turning.

Below is a picture of how Mike ran the heater lines in the engine compartment. BTW, 2 sizes of heater hose was used 3/4 " and 5/8's ". The nipple coming off the crossover is 5/8ths while the one coming from the water pump was 3/4. Good thing the make a adapter to step them down.

Now to trim bushes around the house....


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Here is a story about hoses:

When you buy the "universal kit", you need to have the ends crimped on just to begin the project. You drive (let's say) 1/2 hour. Drop them off because the shop can't get to them right away. Drive home 1/2 hour. Drive back and forth to pick them up. You have two hours before you can even start the project. Then you measure, cut the hose to length, "clock the other end", repeat two hour drive time, etc.

I thought Bill was crazy to buy the more expensive EZ-Lock system. Wow, was I wrong!

It took me about two or three hours to get the heater hoses run. Hell, those are easy, right?

It took me less than three hours to do ALL of the AC lines.

Check it out:


Underdash connections made:


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Just a little more information about EZ Lock.... Its made by a company called Eaton and and Mike said you can do this in the comfort of your garage.

The hoses are about 1/2 the size of regular barrier hose. 3/4's of an inch for a number 10 hose. This makes routing in crowded under dash areas easier and twisting and turning it is easier.

Yes, a bit more expensive but as Mike describes, it beats the alternatives.

For More information:


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They may have changed the design of the compressor since I did my install, but I seem to remember the compressor had to be clocked where both hoses were on top. It makes for a very tall unit to get under the hood. I bought the compressor with the rear exits rather than the side.


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Thanks Rick.

I actually have had a couple of people ask me about that.

When I installed one on my 55 wagon, I made triple-sure that I could mount it sideways, and I also made sure about this one. The important thing to note is that the oil fill hole can't be more than 90 degrees (in other words, upside down).

Here are the instructions.


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I got the radiator back in today. I don't know if you guys have done this, but I cut a couple of pieces of 3/8" hose and installed it over the tabs for the fan shroud and squished it up into the oval holes. Works great. No more shroud shake.

I also got the engine part wired. I pushed the Red power wire through the speedo cable hole and the Blue compressor wire through the antenna wire hole. Hooked the power wire to the original AC stud on the drivers side.

I used the blower fuse as the switched lead. A 5 amp AGC fuse fit perfectly which is what it calls for.

No pics today but there are only two wires in the engine compartment for the whole shebang. Everything else is connected in the console area. Waiting on the plate from my fabricator.

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Its Friday, I am at work but I got the controls and panel back for the fabricator last night. Looks good.

Mike texted me that he has heat and blower today. He is missing a harness and he is on the way to get it and then we may (better) have cold air.

As long as I had this whole section apart I am also replacing all the wood trim.

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Got it charged today. Going to start installing Bill's wood kit and reassembling the interior tomorrow.

Cold enough?


Now that's what I call layin' chilly right there. Bill won't need a cooler to keep his homebrew cold, just set 'em next to the vents.

Is that R12 or R134a in there? Or did you already say that in an older post and I have HUA?

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Warning. A little Dynamat is good. Putting it where the factory didn't on the dash pad makes the pad impossible to install. I didn't mark where the old stuff was and I was a bit too over-zealous when insulating. Ouch! My palms hurt from beating on the pad until I realized it just wasn't gonna fit.

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Thanks Paul.

You northern piney rednecks are more hearty when it comes to cold weather, but this is the thermometer in my garage at 3:00

But it's a dry heat! :rolleyes: I'll bet you've heard that before. No matter, it's still HOT!!!

Really nice job on the compete conversion. Will you be sending pictures of the engine compartment side?


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Here ya go Ed.

Power for the system is tapped at the same point as the factory AC. I threaded the wire through the speedo hole.


Compressor with binary switch in the drier.


View of the compressor mounted in original bracket. I routed the hoses as neatly as I could. EZ-Lock system doesn't have 45 degree service ports, which might look a bit neater.


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All told, I have 50 "billable hours".

That includes cleanup and painting of some parts. Fixing the vent balls. Fixing the glove box door. Probably other "extras" I'm not thinking about.

I am fortunate that I have installed several underdash systems before, as well as installing a factory trunk AC in my 55 Special, so I wasn't intimidated by the theory of installing. I also used to own a 63 Wildcat convertible with Air so I was familiar with some of the oddities of (oh, let's just say...jingle balls).

I also want to thank TexRiv_63 for his spectacular pictures that he sent me early on. This helped a bunch. Thanks Don.

I will be happy to supplement any info through PM's or emails. I am usually a lurker here on the Riv site. I hope y'all enjoyed my blood and sweat. (No tears)


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