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1955-56 Packard factory air conditioning


Jack_Vines

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Greetings, All,

Just bought a porportedly original air conditioning compressor, bracket and idler for a 1955 Packard. Does anyone have for sale the third crankshaft pulley which drives the A/C?

Secondly, does anyone have any first or second-hand knowlege of the Lehigh v-twin cylinder compressor? It looks impressive, seems sturdy and is, of course, heavier than the hubs of hell. Is it rebuildable? If rebuilt, will it function well enough to be worth the expense?

thnx, jv.

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Hi Jack,

The A/C pulleys are pretty scarce, might have to fab one by adding an extra pulley to what you have. The comp and bracket ARE heavy! I've heard that the same Lehigh comps were also used on stationary refrigeration (supermarket refers, etc), so you might check with a commercial refer company about a rebuild.

They did work well as I recall (have one in a '56 Pat, but the car is not running now). I recently had a spare on a parts car, but it has sold (sorry).

Be sure to to check the thermostat on the car, many were neglected due to the major hassle of removing the A/C to get at it.

John

post-33471-143137880283_thumb.jpg

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If all else fails in finding an original, this gentleman might be a possibility. He manufactures an aluminum setup and advertises in various Stude & Packard publications-not cheap though.

Jack Nordstrom,

4975 IH-35 South, New Braunfels TX 78132, phone 800-

775-7077.

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Jack, I have done google searches for information on Lehigh compressors and found next to nothing! I found an outfit that offered compressor seals, they had a blue million of them in their catalogue, sometimes over a hundred for certain brands (like copeland) and they offered ONE for Lehigh! Now maybe Lehigh only really made one model of compressor, and that's the one we all need. Haven't gotten there yet. I have a NOS (in the Lehigh box) front seal for my compressor. It's two steel components with lapped mating surfaces. I saw a number of cars at the 1999 centenial meet with the Lehigh OE A/C set up, but the owners were never around to ask questions. Robert Fordyce in upstate New York has that stunning, frame-up restored 56 Patrician (in my color--solid Norwegan Forest Green), and I think his A/C was restored to operating condition. He (or his restorers) may have gained knowledge in that process. Packard V8 opted to use a Sanden compressor on his car, and that is a very practical, unfussy solution. those units are plentful and about bullet proof. We had a thread going a while ago about this, and I wondered aloud if anyone had adapted a Harrison/GM cylindrical compressor (1953-1981), I'm a big fan of those units, they worked beautifully, and were quite reliable. Given all of the other items Packard bought from GM part divisions (Guide and Delco), I wish they had chose the GM Harrison system---we would be in fat city for parts and knowledge. Now that R-12 is a controlled substance (that organized crime traffics in)I don't want to goof around when the time comes to activate my A/C.

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Guest imported_PackardV8

The ONLY reason i am using the Sanden compressor is because it is small with very easy to adapt mounting holes, bracket and idler pulley as well as availability with corresponding condensor that is fairly large. It came out of an 86 toyota.

AS MrPushbutton indicates, I too would much prefer the GM compressor but it is LARGE and i'm not sure how easy to mount due to its "generator like" mounting provisions y no idler used either. Also the GM condensor is VERY large which is most desireable but there is not much of room in the Packard frontal area for the GM condensor.

If someone has or knows of a GM air con set up on a 55 or 56 Packard i'd sure like to see it!!!!

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Guest imported_PackardV8

Nearly all modern day compressors i have looked at have the CLUTCH OUTBOARD of the pulley rather than IN board like the Packard, Matk IV, and other earlier compressors. This causes problems with locating the compressor for fan clearence in the 55-56 Packards.

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  • 5 years later...
Guest rsd9699

I have seen pictures of the Packard a/c service manual and they showed the use of the GM A5 compressor and trunk unit like on a Caddy. I have a couple of the Lehigh compressors - one with a clutch and the other with solid pulley. I would like rebuild info also as one needs a rod and the other needs head gaskets.

And yes this is an new reply to an old thread but no real info was posted so maybe if there is activity - someone will update what if anything they found.

Ron

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The GM compressor and trunk unit was 53-54 Packard. The Lehigh was used in 55-6 with a behind the dash unit. Believe the compressors were also used by some aftermarket AC mfgs. I also have two which need gaskets and reed valves & have had no luck finding any parts. As far as I can find, no one has any parts except the odd overlooked piece that appears occasionally. One poster some time ago mentioned Classic Air as restoring his but unknown if that was cosmetic or actual repair involved.

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......The Lehigh was used in 55-6 with a behind the dash unit......
HH56,

When I was in the US, July 2007, met a Packard collector in Idaho who had a '55 Patrician with A/C. The pic's I took of it at the time I captioned as "'55 Patrician, Air Con in Trunk" however I never got to look in the trunk. See pic's below, don't know if this helps.

post-52046-143138434842_thumb.jpg

post-52046-143138434845_thumb.jpg

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Mal, anything is possible and it could be dealer installed as factory if car wasn't ordered with AC. After production started for 55 a kit was made available for dealers to install the standard 55-6 Packard supplied factory unit. Those would be under the dash with flip up vent doors exiting on the top. Compressor would have been where the oil filter is and a single control knob between the lighter and radio turned it on and adjusted speed. No variable temp control as such. They were factory only at first but later with the kit, dealer as well.

If in the trunk, it was more an aftermarket type -- Possibly installed by a dealer before the car was delivered and maybe even a Studebaker supplied unit-- Stude used the trunk type as factory in 56 and also in the 57 Clipperbakers. More likely though is an ARA unit installed by an independent shop. That was a fairly good business to be in as AC started taking off in mid 50's.

Edited by HH56 (see edit history)
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  • 2 months later...
Guest Mocephus

Hello all.... I know Classic Auto Air in Tampa, FL still work on the Lehighs. Might want to try them if you are in need of parts.

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Guest rsd9699

I have generally found that the people that have a restoration business are in it for the MONEY and selling parts does not really make them any MONEY.

They need your old parts to recreate just the broken parts, clean it, slap a coat of paint on it and get big bucks for their efforts. That is okay for the rich man but a poor fellow can not travel that route and there is the satisfaction of doing it yourself that gets lost as well.

Just my 2 cents worth and expect change back.

Ron

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Guest rsd9699

I also have a question about Packard factory air. I have come across some formulas to calculate the btu's (amount of cooling capacity) based on evaporator coil size.

Does any one have the physical evaporator coil sizes from a spare you have setting around and detailed pictures?

I am looking for the size of the copper tubings (5/16, 3/8, 1/2 inch), the number of fins per inch, the height (depth), width and length of the finned area, and the number of tubes running through the coil.

I do not need the looped coil ends as they are not generally in the air flow.

Thanks a bunch!

Ron

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For 53-54, Packard used the Frigidaire unit --essentially the same one as used on Cadillac. If you have specs on that, should be the same.

For the 55-6 factory in dash units, evaporator dimensions are 21" long x 5 1/2 high x 4 deep. 6 rows of tubes high and 4 deep. 10 fins/inch. The tubes appear to be 3/8 or slightly less. Suction side line is 5/8 and liquid side to expansion valve is 5/16. Valve connection to evaporator splits into 4 approx 1/8 lines feeding each row of coils. Used a fixed modulator valve for temp control via hot gas bypass. Only control operator had was a single knob operating a combination switch/rheostat which switched unit on and adjusted blower speed.

There is a trunk unit which apparently was available via dealer install and possibly even from the factory---that seems to be a question as whether it was actually factory installed though. I have not seen that particular one but strongly suspect it was either the same unit Studebaker used or the ARA trunk unit.

Here are some pictures of the 55-6 in dash unit.

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post-43944-143138532118_thumb.jpg

Edited by HH56 (see edit history)
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Guest rsd9699

Mocephus - All info is great info!

HH56 - I saw the Packard picture (B&W) on their web site but it appeared huge in the photo.

I will get it calculated and post the results. In real life it is a smaller coil than I envisioned but the numbers will tell the story. Your pictures are very good and I was not expecting them for weeks if ever. Thanks!

The 56 Caddy unit I rebuilt is roughly the same size, just in a box.

Ron

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Hello,

Try Classic Auto Air. I have had their setup in my 1956 Patrician for years. It cools in 90 degree weather. I asked tem what do I want. They recommended the following; Sanden compreeor, micro-finned condensor, 6 bladed fan. I also purschased their swing mount. It was a very straight forward installation. I am not a purist. My Packard has electric wipers, cruise control, electric windshield washers, Power booster, and disc brakes. I do not have the car judged or go to car shows, I just enjoy it.

post-45476-143138537578_thumb.jpg

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I sure wish I could bring back a 30 pound bottle of R12, it cheap as dirt over in Saudi Arabia. Mechanics vent to air when re-charging an empty system, don't even bother to pull a vacuum, a shot of refrigerant, blow it down, down do it twice then charge it.

I thinking going to use a 53 compressor on my 42, as friend offer to give me one from his parts cars. I rear compartment unit and all the motor mount and pulleys.

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I sure wish I could bring back a 30 pound bottle of R12, it cheap as dirt over in Saudi Arabia. Mechanics vent to air when re-charging an empty system, don't even bother to pull a vacuum, a shot of refrigerant, blow it down, down do it twice then charge it.

I thinking going to use a 53 compressor on my 42, as friend offer to give me one from his parts cars. I rear compartment unit and all the motor mount and pulleys.

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I bought a 55 Patrician parts car some years back and it had the trunk mounted unit in it and that was all. I removed it and installed in my Patrician. Some time later I ran across an NOS Lehigh v-twin compressor on E-bay for $200. Right now it is sitting in the shop, because I have run into a stall on the mounting brackett and pulley. It will happen eventually.

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Jack Vines had some assorted brackets last year that he was selling. He may still have them. Believe there was a Lehigh or two mentioned as the compressor that had been on them.

I build my own mount for 1967 Mustang back in College. it wasn't that difficult. If you borrow an original, you cast one fairly easy too.

Edited by packards42 (see edit history)
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I build my own mount for 1967 Mustang back in College. it should be that difficult. If you borrow an original, you cast one fairly easy too.

I have all the parts for 42 limo AC unit except the rear deck vent see attached. anyone having I appreciated a lead.

Packards42@yahoo.com

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  • 2 years later...

For 1955 and 1956, all Packards with A/C had it in-dash. There were, of course, aftermarket trunk units and some even used the original type compressor but it was often mounted on the right side of the engine rather on the left in place of the oil filter which was relocated to the right.

 

I have a nearly complete unit from a '56 Executive Sedan but am missings lots of small parts as the guy who removed it for the eBay seller just hacked out the parts, cut wires, lost brackets and other hardware! Although I'm not working on I yet, when the time comes it would be great to have found a source for these things, or at least samples fr reproduction. I am also curious if anyone has found a source for rebuilding the "cardboard" dash unit who could possibly make an authentic reproduction or supply a set of detailed drawings. Any ideas? Thanks!

Edited by Packard Don
Incorrect information (see edit history)
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Not sure about the late 55 part since the dash AC is detailed in the 55 operator manual. There were a couple of Patrician parts cars with AC locally and I know one was fairly early. I transferred that system into a 56 many years ago. The other system I saved and put in my current car. It was fine until a mechanic who had no idea how a hot gas bypass system worked destroyed it. I remember buying some 56 mufflers and hoses from Patrician Industries in the early 80's when transferring that one.

I can probably help with photos and details of the missing pieces. As to new parts, not sure what you need but the parts I needed to get my current 56 operational appear to be extinct. Compressor valves and valve plate gaskets in particular. The modulator valve also appears to be NLA -- or at least none of the usual vendors and AC suspects admitted to having any. I gave up trying after awhile and just left it not working. Finally decided to make my own duplicate looking system using modern components with a cycling clutch. Finished it last year. Except for the Sanden compressor, parts you can see look pretty much like the old. The original unit is on a shelf and I can take photos and measurements of almost all. If I ever sell the car, it will go with it and maybe the next owner will have better luck or perseverance finding parts.

The only cardboard piece I had was the single large defroster duct. Is that the one you mean? The air ducts are some kind of a closed cell foam rubber. I made the defroster duct out of thin ABS sheet and used Smooth-On urethane skin forming casting foam to do the air ducts. Unfortunately my molds were a one time thing. The way I built them they had to be destroyed to get the finished pieces free. I chose ABS for the defroster duct because I couldn't press and form the cardboard satisfactorily and didn't like the smell of fiberglass when hot air hits it. ABS was able to be heated and formed over a mold.

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My good friend Virgil provide with a complete set of AC the components for a 53, does anyone have the part manual or installation section of the manual. It Vee style compressor with clutch

For the original 53-54 factory AC units, you can download the air conditioning section of the service manual from the literature section at Packardinfo.com. It is virtually the same information as was in the service training manual and is about all Packard offered. If your friends system has a Vee type compressor with clutch, it's not original to a factory 53-4. The 53-4 compressor which Packard used was a large round unit of GM (Frigidaire) design and had no clutch. The Packard trunk unit, with the exception of cosmetics and the compressor, was identical in function to the Cadillac unit. The actual round compressor was the same but difference was Cadillac had a large solenoid on top to activate a clutch on their compressor version while Packard just had a direct all the time on connect. GM usually did pretty well in literature so finding a Cadillac book may give more insight to the 53-4 construction and operation.

Packard didn't use a Vee type compressor until 55 and those were Lehigh units with 12v clutches. If your friends AC is one of those later units, again there is information in the 55-6 service manual on the factory indash units which can be downloaded. There is also a factory install manual for adding an indash unit to cars already in the field. That manual gives much more detailed information on how the various pieces are configured, built and mounted.

As Packard Don mentioned earlier, the aftermarket ARA trunk units were available in 55-6 and probably were available for earlier cars also. They could have been installed and called factory or dealer sold units. There is also the unit branded as Studebaker-Packard but built by Novi which some dealers carried. A couple of other aftermarkets also had Packard versions. Many photos of various units would seem to indicate many brands and types of compressors were used with those aftermarket units. For literature on those, the actual identity would have to be known.

Edited by HH56 (see edit history)
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  • 4 years later...
  • 3 years later...

I don't remember the CI volume and several aftermarket mfgs also used the Lehigh compressor so there may have been more than one version.   For some internal photos of the 55-56 Packard version go to www.packardinfo.com and then select the  Literature Archive from the left menu. After selecting Service, Shop, and Training Manuals,  at about the middle of the page that opens will be the 55-56 service manual.  You can download AC section II which covers some of the Packard AC components as well as some rebuild instructions including photos of the compressor.   Packard did incorporate their own engine mount which also formed the bottom of the compressor crankcase.  Other mfgs versions of the compressor had only a flat base which bolted to whatever mount that company used.

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  • 1 year later...

I am still gathering bits and pieces for my 1956's A/C and recently got a second plenum assembly as the one I had was fairly rough and a while back got another pair of the rubber/foam outlet tubes. I also just got the blower fan as I had only the housing before. Oddly, my car already has the extra pulley even though it's the original VIN-matching engine. I've owned this Clipper Custom for many decades and am only just now starting to work on it.

 

Of course, interested in factory A/C for my 1954 Patrician. I have the blueprint which shows the entire assembly (the paper is about 8' long with all the exploded views!) but would like an actual trunk unit as a sample because the blueprint, possibly being a copy of a copy, is almost impossible to read. Anyone have one to sell or loan, even if it's a junker? I also had the rear fender scoops and dash control castings made into 3D models so those can be reproduced fairly easily.

 

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  • 1 month later...

I have a trunk unit that might work for your 54, it came with the 2 leigh compressors,   private mail if you interest,  i selling my 35 year collection of Packard Parts and literature, many at a loss. 

Edited by Joe Block (see edit history)
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  • 1 year later...
On 12/15/2005 at 6:03 PM, Packard8 said:

Hi Jack,

The A/C pulleys are pretty scarce, might have to fab one by adding an extra pulley to what you have. The comp and bracket ARE heavy! I've heard that the same Lehigh comps were also used on stationary refrigeration (supermarket refers, etc), so you might check with a commercial refer company about a rebuild.

They did work well as I recall (have one in a '56 Pat, but the car is not running now). I recently had a spare on a parts car, but it has sold (sorry).

Be sure to to check the thermostat on the car, many were neglected due to the major hassle of removing the A/C to get at it.

John

post-33471-143137880283_thumb.jpg

 

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If you have samples of the old gaskets or if you can supply an imprint of where it goes, Olson’s Gaskets in Washington State can replicate them. Otherwise, try Original Air Group of Classic Auto Air which specializes in the restoration of vintage A/C systems. They do NOT sell parts but they may be able to rebuild the compressor.

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