Jump to content

Beginning of air conditioning in cars


Recommended Posts

Every reference I have seen regarding air conditioning in cars puts the start at 1940 with Packard. Here is a newspaper article (date and location unknown) that appears to be using a late 1920s Packard with the promotion of a marketable version of air conditioning as an aftermarket addition to any closed car.   Since there is no date on this article,  I don’t know when this aftermarket version of an early automobile air conditioning came out, however, the use of a 1920s Packard makes me think it had to be pretty close to when this Packard was a late model car.   I can’t imagine they would be promoting a new product like air conditioning on an old model car.   Anyone familiar with aftermarket air conditioning on cars of the late 1920s or early 1930s?

648EA0AE-8DB8-44C3-893B-CE7714E65E6D.jpeg

Link to comment
Share on other sites

That article is a nice find.

The Packard in the article has a divider window so I guess the driver didn't get to enjoy any of the climate control benefits.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

In 1910 a Pierce Arrow had air conditioning. They placed a few hundred pounds of ice in the roof, and blew cold air over it and down into the rear compartment. The melted water was used to flush the toilet built into the back seat.......no bathrooms roadside in 1910. This car is similar but not the actual car.1910-Pierce-Arrow-Touring-Landau.thumb.jpg.7016d90ae4a3a22722c167c9f6f8ddfc.jpg

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Wonder how it worked particularly since GM patented Freon in 1928 and began marketting in 1930, Ammonia maybe ? Was a home refrigeration unit (on top of an ice box) in 1913 and self-contained (one piece) by Frigidare in 1923. Below the floor & electric looks like the one in my Vixen RV. Wonder what was the "New York concern sponsoring the invention".

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Most early systems were SO2.......

 

Being easily condensed and possessing a high heat of evaporation, sulfur dioxide is a candidate material for refrigerants. Prior to the development of chlorofluorocarbons, sulfur dioxide was used as a refrigerant in home refrigerators.

 

I have worked on some early SO2 units.............only problem with leaks is they kill you.

Edited by edinmass (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, nzcarnerd said:

The subject reminded me of this not very clear photo I took at Harrah's in 1978.

 

I think the significance was last year of side mounts and first year of air con.

 

 

PICT0037 (2) resize.JPG

first for factory air , but sidemounts available for another two years

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, padgett said:

Sounds like a TV drug advert. "may cause death".

 

A  true statement, not hype. That's why Packard attached this warning sticker to the air conditioning units in their wartime cars.

 

1950725568_ACWarning.thumb.jpg.b53409da82b0ebd74d9573358f320c6e.jpg

 

 

Don

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

It’s common to see natural gas in AC systems in rural areas where people don’t have the money for the new refrigerants...........only problem is the explosion when you get a evaporator leak.

7A3F7478-8F28-48E5-A91F-EC5CFB2F47B4.png

  • Haha 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

My dad graduated in the first senior class from Lawrence Institute in Michigan in 1932 with a degree in aeronautical engineering.  He worked at Ford's Experimental Bay 8 at the Ford Airport in Dearborn, MI during WWII, working on various modifications for the B-24 bomber including installation of the first Sperry ball turret on the belly of the 24.  Once the war was over and ford went back to building cars there was a mad scramble to develop a practical A/C system aimed at the Lincoln car line for starters.  In summer of 1948 my dad and his boss headed from Dearborn to Florida in a 48 Mercury with an experimental A/C system using an evaporator case mounted under the package shelf in the trunk with the old clear plastic ducts up to the headliner.  The compressor was belt driven off the front accessory drive of the engine and ran all the time, no clutch.  One hot humid morning they stopped for breakfast in Nashville TN.  When they came out of the restaurant one of the locals hailed my dad and said "Hey mister, your gas tank is leaking" as he pointed to a puddle under the fuel filler door on the fender.  My dad was just finishing a cigarette and flipped into the puddle.  Nothing happened because it was just condensate from the evaporator drain which had been routed under the fender and thru the filler neck seal.  My dad looked at the poor local and just muttered "Cheap gas" and crawled into the car and drove off.  They managed to get to Florida and tested the car there for a couple of days.  Somewhere in the Blue Ridge Parkway ride thru the Smokey Mountains the car was really struggling to get up the hills with that compressor running full time.  My dad's boss had my dad pull off the road and shut the engine off, raised the hood, produced a jackknife and cut the belt off the compressor.  He got back in the car and said "Ok Al- let's go home" and they rolled the windows down and drove home.

  • Like 2
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

'73 Vega had the only gadget that was tested to improve fuel economy. The device would shut off the AC compressor when floored. I put one in my '78 Sunbird V8 but had to add a delay valve to keep the AC off on a fast shift.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Fremont is a patent of DuPont Chemicals.

Damn spellcheck. What I meant to say was Freon was a trademark of DuPont Chemical. Not all refrigerants are called Freon. Industry refers to refrigerants as r-12 , r-22, r-134a, etc.

Edited by cricket-ny
Correct spelling. (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, DLynskey said:

 

A  true statement, not hype. That's why Packard attached this warning sticker to the air conditioning units in their wartime cars.

 

1950725568_ACWarning.thumb.jpg.b53409da82b0ebd74d9573358f320c6e.jpg

 

 

Don

A few sources claim the intensity of the infamous Cocoanut Grove/Melody Lounge fire in Boston in 1942 was attributed to one of the beer coolers that had recently been serviced and recharged with Methyl Chloride

 in place of Freon during the war.

 

Craig 

Edited by 8E45E (see edit history)
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Quote

think you mean Freon is a brand name owned by DuPont.  It would be a copyright, not a patent.  Freon the material would have been the formula patented.

Not to nitpick but the chemical would be a patent as you said but the name would be a trademark. That said, I didn't know that Freon was a trademarked name but it does sound like one now that I think of it!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

This gentleman, Allen B. Simons, is researching and writing a history of automotive air conditioning development and applications:

1941 PACKARD MAKES ICE CUBES [General] - Packard Motor Car Information (packardinfo.com)

 

If you have further information to fill out his research, please contact him directly through his PackardInfo pm function.  I'm sure he would be receptive to whatever you have to add.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

5 hours ago, Packard Don said:

Not to nitpick but the chemical would be a patent as you said but the name would be a trademark. That said, I didn't know that Freon was a trademarked name but it does sound like one now that I think of it!

You are correct -DuPont trademarked "Freon" long ago for a range of halogenated materials used as refrigerants.   

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 hours ago, padgett said:

'73 Vega had the only gadget that was tested to improve fuel economy. The device would shut off the AC compressor when floored. I put one in my '78 Sunbird V8 but had to add a delay valve to keep the AC off on a fast shift.

I believe that Chrysler used a similar device on their police cars in the 1970's.  Probably more in the interest of reducing some drag on the engine during pursuit.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Gee and here I thought GM (Boss Ketting & Tom Midgley at the Dayton Electric Laboratories COmpany, same guys who gave us leaded gasoline) developed Freon (tm) in the 20s. (Frigidare Refrigeration..) GM then formed a joint venture with DuPont for production

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Impressive Bernie! It always seemed to me counterproductive to ignore the reuse of existing Freon. It will all eventually end up in the atmosphere, but it seems with so much of it produced, that it would be best to allow it to remain in service, in maintained equipment. Allowing it to languish in unwanted storage containers just makes no sense to me.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Would need to be filtered and "purified" before reuse. Ever hear of the "Black Death" ? Have heard of people pulling down the system by running the compressor with the high side open but not sure how far that can go. Have also made a vacuum compressor from an old refrigerator motor that worked pretty good. I prefer to pull down to a few microns then just close overnight and see if same in morning.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Packard barely beat Cadillac by 2-3 months in having the first production a/c option before WW2, and after the war ended, factory a/c didn't reappear until the 1953 model year, with Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile all using the Frigidaire trunk a/c system, Well over at the Harrison Radiator Division, their engineers came up with a new a/c concept, all up front, in dash, under the hood system, nothing installed in the trunk. when Harrison was ready for a test vehicle, they made their presentation to Cadillac, Buick, and Oldsmobile, all three were blindly loyal to Frigidaire and they told Harrison that as far as they were concerned, Frigidaire was the only name in automotive air conditioning, well when Harrison asked Pontiac about using the new a/c, Pontiac's new general manager wasn't blind or closed minded, GM Robert Critchfield had plans to elevate the level of luxury in the new 1954 Pontiac Star Chief, and Harrison's a/c was a match made in heaven. it took a while for the closed minded three to realized the errors in their judgement, seeing that the trunk system was being made obsolete, switching from trunk to up front a/c was Oldsmobile in 1955, Buick in 1956, and Cadillac finally in 1957. funny thing about me being a old a/c nut, is my 1953 Pontiac will have a marriage of both Harrison and Frigidaire, 1954 Pontiac a/c in my dash, and 1955 Buick rear a/c in the trunk.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...