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56 chevy A/C: Vintage or Classic Auto Air???

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by greasel, Dec 22, 2007.

  1. greasel
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 325

    greasel
    Member
    from Fresno, CA

    hey I really desperately need to repair my heater in my '56 chevy sedan. it's my daily driver, I currently have the rotten heater core bypassed and the morning weather's in the mid 30's and dropping.

    new heater cores are not very cheap, for not a whole lot more, around $500 I can get a 'direct fit' (mostly direct fit) underdash kit from Vintage Air or Classic Auto Air, maybe some others; both of which offer A/C, heater and defroster. I already have an A/C system setup and running that I built into the center console I made, so I'd just need to route compressor lines and recharge the system.

    question is, is there any difference between the vintage air or classic auto air systems? I haven't really heard anything bad about either one from people that have owned them...any of you have any feedback?
     
  2. painkiller
    Joined: Feb 10, 2005
    Posts: 135

    painkiller
    Member

    I have Vintage in my 56.Not a meat locker like I want it to be. The heat is killer.Vintage seems to be the most popular. The Classic unit does not tuck up under the dash as high as the Vintage unit. The next time I need a/c I will go with Classic.
     
  3. greasel
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 325

    greasel
    Member
    from Fresno, CA

    I'm hoping the Classic unit doesn't tuck up as much because it's got a bigger evaporator. If it blows lots of cold air I don't mind it sticking down farther. Just curious what your deciding factor is for switching to the Classic unit...is it from other people's experience or you'd like to see if it works better?
    Thanks for the reply.
     
  4. greasel
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 325

    greasel
    Member
    from Fresno, CA

    here's what I have to work with for fit. I'm going to have to cut the fronts of the vertical sides of the console and will have to move the guages down a little and massage the two rectangle vents into the top, between that guage panel and the glovebox. I think that'd probably look cleaner than doing two round vents right outside the console. and I'll still use the two round vents mounted under the outer sides of the dash.
    it'll be nice to have some vents blowing directly on me, in addition to the evaporator in the center...that one works really well as a maintainer to keep the ambient cabin air cool; but does little for cooling yourself when it's hot out.

    [​IMG]
     

  5. Salty
    Joined: Jul 24, 2006
    Posts: 2,259

    Salty
    Member
    from Florida

    I asked the same question awhile back...I decided to go with vintage....and mines a meat locker...so's my pops and my pop in laws rides...(not bashin classic, I just dont have any experience with em)

    Kikin street rods is a vendor here for alliance guys and they hooked me the hell up on the AC purchase....

    Install was a bitch for me....but mine was a built from scratch system, I (as much as I would have liked too) could not do the direct fit system...for me I wouldnt have mattered who made the system, it still would been a bitch
     
  6. Shane T.
    Joined: Jun 21, 2005
    Posts: 910

    Shane T.
    Member

    You don't need a direct fit kit with that dash and console. Get the measurements of some UNIVERSAL evap's and make a cardboard mockup evap and test fit it. That way you'll know how it is going to go in before you spend the first penny(other than a couple of tech line phone calls and maybe some internet time surfin the measurements of the diffirent units.)It's not hard to get a unit that'll fit and blow like crazy. Later
    Shane T.
     
  7. T McG
    Joined: Feb 12, 2005
    Posts: 1,262

    T McG
    Member
    from Phoenix

    Vintage Air has better customer service than Classic. Almost all problems associated with marginal air temps relate to poor air flow across the condensor. If you want it to be a "meat locker", make sure you have a killer fan. If it's a mechanical fan, have a 5-6 blade fan and a good shroud. If it's an electric, make sure it's a Spal, and it comes on with the A/C switch as well as a temp switch. Don't put in any more refrigerant than is required, it does more harm than good. And make sure you have a good water control valve, and it is in the correct hose, which on a small block Chevy is the one coming out of the intake manifold. The slightest amound of hot water in the evaporator will make a big difference. If you aren't sure if your control valve is working correctly, feel both hoses at the firewall, one should be hot and the other should be cold. There are a lot of leaky valves out there, and as I said it will make a big difference. And the most overlooked item is insulation. Make sure the firewall is heavy with good insulation (not bubble wrap) and also under the cowl. Nobody seems to do the cowl, and with the sun beating down on it, it is a real hot spot, as well as being close to the air intake of the evaporator. The more hot air it has to convert, the longer it will take to cool you down.
     
  8. greasel
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 325

    greasel
    Member
    from Fresno, CA

    insulating the firewall and dash is something I've wanted to do for a while, I'll definitely be doing that while the heater unit/console are out of the way. Before next summer I plan on some insulation on the door skins and tinting the windows, as well.
    I have a gigantic fan on the front of the current condenser, since I put that on the evaporator freezes up all the time, I have to leave the thermostat set pretty high.
    I do really like the SPAL fans and the adjustable fan controller they have...going to put a dedicated, shrouded electric puller on the radiator in place of the current unshrouded engine driven.

    Painkiller - what do you have for a fan setup on the condenser/radiator? I'm wondering if between that and the coolant charge if either of those are keeping your system a little warmer than optimal.
    I'm interested in what the outside air temp vs the evaporator temp is, that's our efficiency check we run on the aircraft a/c systems we maintain.

    what would the advantage of a direct fit vs universal fit be? I mean, if I have to spend a day fabricating to get a universal to fit to save 1 or 2 hundo, it's not worth my time. just wondering what the difference is in fit/finish and ease of install...
     
  9. Brian W
    Joined: Mar 13, 2007
    Posts: 358

    Brian W
    Member

    The one thing you may want to keep in mind is that the direct fit unit will allow to use your original controls in your dash, where as the universal has it' own set of controls you will have to put elsewhere.
    Also Vintage air's new Gen IV units are $700 for the evap kit but are available with a 4 vent option instead of the standard large center vent (which is physically part of the evap unit). The 4 vent option will be good for you because it looks as though all your vents are in the console. The center vent would be right where the console is now.
    Terry (T McG) is right on the insulation and weatherstrip. These after market units are all recirculating systems and if you are not completely insulated and sealed the system will not perform properly. I know a guy here in Phoenix with a 54 Chevy passenger car that has a Vintage Air 4 vent system. He pulled up one day, when it was 110 degrees outside, and sets his keys on the counter and no shit they were frosted! He has that system set up just right and is getting the optimal performance out of it.
     
  10. 40Standard
    Joined: Jul 30, 2005
    Posts: 5,925

    40Standard
    Member
    from Indy

    I got vintage in my 57 wagon. cold air and hot heat, works for me
     
  11. greasel
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 325

    greasel
    Member
    from Fresno, CA

    well, I'm actually going to do this a little odd but I'm going to keep the evap that's in the console(directly under the vents shown) in addition to the underdash. I'm thinking about putting a double outlet rectangle vent at the top of the 4 guage panel in the console. I want to run both evaps, the center console ones don't work well for initial cooling since they don't blow directly on you from the front but it's a great ambient maintainer.
     
  12. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,259

    Gman0046
    Member

    Where do you get a "Sure Fit" for $500???? Both VA and Classic I've seen are $1100.
     
  13. Brian W
    Joined: Mar 13, 2007
    Posts: 358

    Brian W
    Member

    The "evaporator only" kits from Vintage Air are $700 for the electronic and $575 for the cable operated. The complete kits (evap, condenser, drier, hoses, compressor and bracket, etc) Run $1300 for Electronic and $1095 for cable.



    Greasel,
    I would still recommend the electric Gen IV with the 4 vent option for what you are doing. This way you are not required to have the center vent that is attached to the evap. In my opinion it would be a big obstacle for your installation. The other thing I like about the Gen IV evap is if you want to you can remove the pre-made hardlines at the evap for custom hose routing. This eliminates the plastic bulkhead (included with kit) which covers the factory hole in the firewall. This way if you have already welded the holes up in the firewall you can run the lines as you please.
    You may also want to be sure your compressor can handle the load of two evaporators. You will definately want the biggest condenser you can possibly fit and be sure to use the more efficient "manifold style" condenser when using 134A refridgerant.

    -Brian
     
  14. greasel
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 325

    greasel
    Member
    from Fresno, CA

    okay, I get what you're saying about the 4 vent now, sounds good with the hardlines, too.
    the engine/accessory drive is from a TPI IROC camaro and I'm pretty sure we put the compressor on there from an 80's/90's suburban, which have dual evaps, it's been on there so long I don't remember what it's from.

    I will be upgrading the condenser and fan/shroud setup but I think I'd like to get the evaps setup first and see how much of a temp drop I can get as is and then see how much of a change I need to make.

    thanks a ton for the feedback, you guys have addressed some questions I didn't even know I had!
     
  15. Brian W
    Joined: Mar 13, 2007
    Posts: 358

    Brian W
    Member

    Glad to help Greasel!
    Also another bit of info for ya. You can go to www.vintageair.com on the left side is a menu bar, click on "downloads" and you can view almost all of the instructions you want. The instructions for the Gen IV sure fit will show you exactly what your getting into. Ah Hell... here is the link to the PDF copy of the instructions for ya. http://www.vintageair.com/DownloadsSection/Surefit/Chevrolet%20Passenger%20Cars/1955-56%20Chevrolet%20Passenger%20(Gen%20IV%20Electronic)%20(Inet).pdf

    The unit shown in the instructions has the center vent, but on the 4 vent option there are just two round ducts, in place of the center vent, to attach duct hose to and run it where ever you need.

    -Brian
     
  16. greasel
    Joined: Jan 24, 2007
    Posts: 325

    greasel
    Member
    from Fresno, CA

    Brent from kikin just emailed me back and recommended I get the surefit as it'd give me the most capacity for the area I have to work with.

    how are the gen IV/electric controls working/holding up? I like the idea of that over the cables for repetitive use.
     
  17. Brian W
    Joined: Mar 13, 2007
    Posts: 358

    Brian W
    Member

    I know that in the very beginning of the Gen IV's life there were some issues with the controls, however this has been long since resolved. The company I work for sells tons of Gen IV units with no complaints about anything from customers. The Gen IV technology has slowly been taking over the most popular applications in Vintage Air's sure fit line, and it will be the standard within the next couple of years.
    I can also tell you that if you use a Vintage Air unit and have any troubles they are good people to do business with. They stand behind their product. Also make sure you get the unit from an authorized dealer who you know sells a good quantity of Vintage Air products. They(Vintage Air) have dedicated associates to these vendors which can get you the answers and customer service you need.
    I hope this information has answered your questions and helps you in your decision process. Have a happy holidays!!
    -Brian
     
  18. The Wizard!
    Joined: Nov 18, 2007
    Posts: 140

    The Wizard!
    Member

  19. Sunnybob68
    Joined: Feb 21, 2010
    Posts: 8

    Sunnybob68
    Member
    from Milano

    Hello folks, I contacted Classic Auto air by their website but the customer care service seems very underpowered. I tried to contact the Texas location to purchase a wiring harness for my SRC II unit, but after a first reply with some useless questions by somebody called Tim, I had no answer to my request. Very frustrating experience.
     
  20. belair
    Joined: Jul 10, 2006
    Posts: 8,874

    belair
    Member

    Vintage Air- it costs no more to go first class.
     
    firstinsteele likes this.
  21. 325w
    Joined: Feb 18, 2008
    Posts: 5,768

    325w
    ALLIANCE MEMBER

    Try contacting Michael at Classic Auto Air. He has been there for years. Classic units are harder to install under the dash on the tri five chevys. The last one I installed had cables still. Installed last year. Just did a Vintage Air universal. Very easy to get it under the dash by myself. Temps at the duct should be the same on either unit. Freon amounts are critical on both units. The air flow across the condenser is critical also. Both companies are customer friendly.
     
  22. 1934coupe
    Joined: Feb 22, 2007
    Posts: 4,771

    1934coupe
    Member

    This thread is 12 yrs old.

    Pat
     

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