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1957buickjim

Aftermarket AC installation in a 1957 Buick..

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Has anybody installed an aftermarket AC system in a 1957 Buick (Non-air vehicle)? Looking for what system fits, while trying to maintain as much of the original controls (modified -ok) and venting as possible. Not looking to put an underdash pod with 4 vents, but something hidden to most extent and hooked up to the factory defrost and dash vents.

 

I did see the article by KAD36

on how he did it in his 55 Buick, which prompted me to investigate this for my 57. However, space claim and under dash area is much reduced in a 57, so his approach and system, would not work.

 

Looking for anybody who might have done this with a 57 and getting some tips and info. Thanks.

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Benefits of AACA Membership.

I don't know who the guy is but there's someone making firewall mounted AC systems. You could reach out to him on ebay and see if he'd be interested in making something for you. He's done 54-56 buick, olds and cadillacs so far. 

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Thanks for the info! I will look him up to see if any of that might work. Is it possible to get a name or something? Not sure what to look up on eBay for something like that. Thanks!

Edited by 1957buickjim
needed additional details (see edit history)

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Sorry, I've just searched 1956 Buick air conditioning and it always pops up. I don't know if he is a member her or not, but he also made modern brake systems, too.

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Watching your results with anticipation Jim as I want to install air in my non air black Limited at some point also.

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So, what space did the components for the factory AC cars use?  You need to find space for a substantial unit.  I found a very small unit at Nostalgic AC for my 51 Ford F-1 truck.  I cools the small cab well enough but is very noisy even on the lowest fan speed (that is not a big deal in this vehicle which is primitive, noisy, rattly...).  Don't discount the under dash units:  there some that look period correct as aftermarket and there are slim-line units too.

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1956322, Thanks! After reviewing what he did, I may try another path, in a similar method to incorporate it. His approach gives me some ideas on how to make it stock looking.

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Jim: Just a thought but why not cannibalize an existing system since 95% of everything will bolt right up then rig up a new and improved compressor that is optimized to run on current refrigerant and take your fan blower motor out and have someone install a sealed bearing plastic unit that would ensure quieter operation at higher speeds.  You can also then fabricate additional internal under dash pathways  to convey directional air flow where desired.  Install a Gen Alternator to push the loads while still looking like a generator.  That way all your controls will be period correct and performance modern correct .... 

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On 12/3/2019 at 11:51 AM, old-tank said:

So, what space did the components for the factory AC cars use?  You need to find space for a substantial unit..  Don't discount the under dash units:  there some that look period correct as aftermarket and there are slim-line units too.

 

X2. Where did the factory evaporator go?

 

Observations on that eBay unit - 1) evaporator works on cooling fresh air in only, no recirculation for very hot days, 2) efficiency impact from engine compartment heat warming the evaporator inside that metal ductwork with only undercoating for insulation.  More insulation recommended 3) single factory defroster fan cfm ( non AC factory fan) likely insufficient to cool whole car on very hot day (55 model)

 

While mounting the evaporator in that air duct is pretty innovative, if it can be leveraged for 57 consider the observations

 

Have seen some folks use the rear AC evaporator from Tahoe/Suburbsn for cooling.   They are supposed to be small. You' might have to do some math to match up the other AC components.

 

I considered trunk mount like factory 55 but didnt didn't want to run the long  lines and needed trunk space.

 

 

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1 hour ago, KAD36 said:

in my installation of the two a/c systems, 1954 pontiac up front, and 1955 buick rear, the pontiac a/c has it's own blower motor and the 12 volt a/c blower motor i used blows air like hurricane, the buick a/c has two blower motors that will blow on several different speeds, the pontiac a/c is fresh air only, but the buick can be fresh and or recirculation by closing off or opening  the outside fresh air scoop valves. as for what little space the rear a/c uses up in the trunk up over the rear axle hump, leaves me all the main portion of trunk to keep several suitcases or other items.

X2. Where did the factory evaporator go?

 

Observations on that eBay unit - 1) evaporator works on cooling fresh air in only, no recirculation for very hot days, 2) efficiency impact from engine compartment heat warming the evaporator inside that metal ductwork with only undercoating for insulation.  More insulation recommended 3) single factory defroster fan cfm ( non AC factory fan) likely insufficient to cool whole car on very hot day (55 model)

 

While mounting the evaporator in that air duct is pretty innovative, if it can be leveraged for 57 consider the observations

 

Have seen some folks use the rear AC evaporator from Tahoe/Suburbsn for cooling.   They are supposed to be small. You' might have to do some math to match up the other AC components.

 

I considered trunk mount like factory 55 but didnt didn't want to run the long  lines and needed trunk space.

 

 

 

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Edited by pontiac1953 (see edit history)

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On 12/14/2019 at 1:13 PM, buick man said:

Jim: Just a thought but why not cannibalize an existing system since 95% of everything will bolt right up then rig up a new and improved compressor that is optimized to run on current refrigerant and take your fan blower motor out and have someone install a sealed bearing plastic unit that would ensure quieter operation at higher speeds.  You can also then fabricate additional internal under dash pathways  to convey directional air flow where desired.  Install a Gen Alternator to push the loads while still looking like a generator.  That way all your controls will be period correct and performance modern correct .... 

David: That is what I am planning to do, if I can find the proper materials (i.e., evap housing - see WTB in Buick Buy/Sell). I have already acquired the dash controls and the AC underdash duct as well as the AC dash cover for the car. I have purchased a PowerGen 90 amp generator look alike for the power draw as well. So far, I am lacking the housing so I can basically put in "new guts" - i.e., a modern evap core, new hoses, binary control, fan upgrade - as you spoke of, receiver / drier, and condenser. Right now my quest is for the case to start the looking for the matching evaporator core update.  

I'm glad you're thinking like me on this. I want to keep classic 1957 Buick controls and look, with modern performance.

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On 12/17/2019 at 9:31 PM, KAD36 said:

 

X2. Where did the factory evaporator go?

 

Observations on that eBay unit - 1) evaporator works on cooling fresh air in only, no recirculation for very hot days, 2) efficiency impact from engine compartment heat warming the evaporator inside that metal ductwork with only undercoating for insulation.  More insulation recommended 3) single factory defroster fan cfm ( non AC factory fan) likely insufficient to cool whole car on very hot day (55 model)

 

While mounting the evaporator in that air duct is pretty innovative, if it can be leveraged for 57 consider the observations

 

Have seen some folks use the rear AC evaporator from Tahoe/Suburbsn for cooling.   They are supposed to be small. You' might have to do some math to match up the other AC components.

 

I considered trunk mount like factory 55 but didnt didn't want to run the long  lines and needed trunk space.

 

 

 

Factory Evaporator went out in engine compartment on firewall, hence the looking for the 1957 Evaporator housing. 

 

Good observations on the eBay unit. As per David's (Buickman) comments, I am trying to get 1957 controls and components and put new, modern "guts" to them. I have been perusing the Summit Racing components listing and the Tahoe Evap core is one that was on the top of my list as a unit to use. 

 

I am doing this to a 57 Estate Riviera Wagon, so I don't have a trunk mounted option there, and the plumbing, even if i had the option would be night-marish to say the least!

 

So onward I go in my quest, like Don Quixote! :) 

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Posted (edited)

Jim: Just a thought and some ideas... but looking at the factory box it appears to be of plastic composite material construction which would easily render itself for a mock up in fiberglass since the original Harrison unit is rectangular ... Consider making yours out of fiberglass via making a proper jig setup.  This could be done by constructing a take off by using the general measurements from one still installed in the engine bay and using a cardboard mockup or obtain one on loan and have a lab 3D Model it :

 

 1330489734_RM75-91.thumb.JPG.8ed48218051a6d2c8e3d42bda8bb2e7d.JPG

 

700575669_RM75-111.thumb.JPG.c8116079d113bc804e65a34420ebd4f0.JPG

 

 

Edited by buick man (see edit history)

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58 minutes ago, buick man said:

Jim: Just a thought and some ideas... but looking at the factory box it appears to be of plastic composite material construction which would easily render itself for a mock up in fiberglass since the original Harrison unit is rectangular ... Consider making yours out of fiberglass via making a proper jig setup.  This could be done by constructing a take off by using the general measurements from one still installed in the engine bay and using a cardboard mockup or obtain one on loan and have a lab 3D Model it :

David, 

That is a great idea! If I could ask you to provide me with the measurements or even photos with a ruler as a reference, that would be fantastic. I have the capability to make it out of fiberglass / carbon fiber material. Just would need the measurements with the features and a few detailed photo's of how it is attached, where outlet holes are, etc. Not sure anyone has one to loan out, but if so, I would be more than happy to pay for shipping to my place in Troy MI and ship it back once I have measurements / 3D model. 

Let me know if you can help a 57 brother out! 

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David, 

Another observation on your engine compartment photo. It looks like the housing is attached to a spacer of some sort. I would also be interested in seeing photo's of that as well. I am curious as to what is housed in that spacer. Baffles? close out plate for vent? Has to be something in there. Help me with my curiosity if you can. Thanks again. 

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