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junkyard AC system ???

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by Rustytoolss, Jul 25, 2013.

  1. Rustytoolss
    Joined: Jul 27, 2009
    Posts: 252


    I've been thinking if installing AC / heat in my ride. I know that vendors like Vintage Air/ OLD Air/ etc have all the stuff . But that is $$$. Has anyone had any luck using a junkyard system ? Or is that just a real BAD idea. I've done a fair amount of AC in years past. But never a retrofit. One advantage would be a factory compressor and bracket. I have not looked for anything yet. Is converting a system for R12-134A big deal/ or just another bad idea. ? Thanks
  2. willys1
    Joined: Oct 31, 2012
    Posts: 1,021

    from South Ga

    conversion is not bad.., plenty of help on the web concerning the conversion. I have done it but had to use import stuff because of size limitations. I know, didn't like the import stuff, but it sure was cold:)
  3. falconsprint63
    Joined: May 17, 2007
    Posts: 2,359

    from Mayberry

    there's a lot of variables left out here. what engine are you running. what's it going in etc. if it's the avatar, look at econoline vans. the rear AC unit is ideal for a truck. I picked one up for pittance a few years back. depending on your engine there's no reason a stock system won't work. Have a friend who's using stock mustang system on a 70 ford PU to get the compressor and the like.

    junkyards are your friend.
  4. Kustom292
    Joined: Dec 21, 2008
    Posts: 217

    from Winnipeg

    it all depends on how the junkyard system stuff is removed and what you are putting it in. you have to be careful how long the system is open. if too much air reaches to compressor it will seize and be junk. my recommendation wold be to work a deal with a wrecker to hold a running vehicle with good working ac for you to test. then have the removal done so that you know all the parts come out clean and not broken or bent. the problem with buying components from a wrecker that does not test is you might be getting a piece of junk that has a pin hole and leaks. my recommendation is to get a system from a car you know is good and works or just bite the bullet and go new.

  5. Hotrodbuilderny
    Joined: Mar 20, 2009
    Posts: 1,646


    By the time you buy the used parts and everything else you need to make it work, will you really be saving anything over an economical kit
    Joined: Feb 24, 2013
    Posts: 171

    from England

    If you do find a working A/C system make sure the freon is a newer type gas. R12 was banned here in the UK a few years ago and R134A was a replacement. Different oils. I miss R12 and getting chunks of ice at my knees lol.
  7. make sure the jy system is closed when you get it I don't know if its true with 134a but r12 and water were not a good combination
  8. Why not just by new parts and bolt it on. Add the under dash evap. and your done.

    I used the "built for my car" internal HVAC system and bought the under hood parts from a local vendor. Fabricated the hoses, mounting brackets, and wiring. Pull a vacuum and charged it up, works great.
  9. Rustytoolss
    Joined: Jul 27, 2009
    Posts: 252


    It's a 69 Dodge A100 pickup with a 318.
  10. wingedexpress
    Joined: Dec 24, 2006
    Posts: 894


    Check out a 1995 dodge dakota, i drive one and every thing is under the dash and not to big.some came with 318. Good cold air.
  11. Rustytoolss
    Joined: Jul 27, 2009
    Posts: 252


    Good points. Do you think there's a real difference in systems from Vintage Air VS. Old Air VS. southern Air VS. etc. Any one's to stay away from ? I know there is quite a bit of $$$ difference.
  12. A new unit is a great deal, spring for it and save time and effort.......used is ok on some things but actually A/C is not one of those...
  13. blowby
    Joined: Dec 27, 2012
    Posts: 7,402

    from Nicasio Ca

    Lots of home brew A/C threads here on the HAMB. Just search for threads started in July. :)

  14. What type of system and how do you like the one in your daily?

    When I researched the system in my car, AirTique had recirculating AC while others didn't plus a servo/vacuum control. So that is who I went with.
  15. ago
    Joined: Oct 12, 2005
    Posts: 2,199

    from pgh. pa.

    Go to a U-pull it, In the back of a Suburban or conversion van on the ceiling is an under dash type A/C system with heat. $12

  16. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,918

    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    I actually adapted a bunch of misc. parts to put AC in my 55 Olds, back in the 80's. Used a Tecumseh compressor, a store bought condesnor, an evap. out of a junk GM car, along with the accumulator out of the same. I bought universal hoses/lines at the store and had them crimped there as well. Used a universal control set-up.
    I also cut apart, and enlarged the factory fresh air box on the firewall to house it, as well as adapting another squirrel cage motor for air flow, on the firewall.
    It worked well, but took quite a bit of research (you really need to understand how the systems work if using other than a variable orifice w/controller type system) and back and forth to the AC store to get the lines and hose fittings correct, and then crimped. I'm sure it may not have been as efficient as it could have been, but it worked well cooling that very large car!
  17. 40FordGuy
    Joined: Mar 24, 2008
    Posts: 2,907


    What Kustom 292 said. An open a/c system has a cpl strikes against it from the git go, and will be a large headache.

  18. mike in tucson
    Joined: Aug 11, 2005
    Posts: 501

    mike in tucson
    from Tucson

    All of the above BUT:
    1. usually you are better off it the stuff you buy is under pressure when you dismount it from the donor car....if it isnt under pressure, you dont know how long it has sat open....and contamination can get in
    2. if you source different pieces from different vehicles, the compatibliity of fittings will drive you crazy. There is no universal standard for fittings on OEM air lines.
    3. Worst, the controls will be a bitch because an OEM air system is integrated. So, the air motors, the fan control, thermostat, etc are weird for a home brew system.
    4. Easiest is finding an old under dash (add on) air....they are the equivalent to a 1970 Vintage Air.....kinda like the original Vintage Air, eh?
    5. If all else fails, call VA in San Antonio
  19. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,260


    The VA unit that hangs in the middle of the dash goes for $299. Why mess with used stuff?
  20. aldixie
    Joined: May 28, 2008
    Posts: 1,643


    I got one out of a conversion van with all of the vents and piping for $20.
  21. drptop70ss
    Joined: May 31, 2010
    Posts: 1,173

    from NY

    Questions I have with the home brewed system is how do you know how much oil to add to the compressor? Do you just go by the OEM suggestion from the car the compressor came from? I would like to try and use one of the suburban rear A/C units since they can be found in the junkyards. With a new dryer and after flushing out a compressor the system should work ok, correct? What about working pressures, how do you know just how much refrigerant to add? Keep adding until the vent temps are good or by pressure readings? I have a set of manifold gauges and am ready to give this a try.
  22. chopolds
    Joined: Oct 22, 2001
    Posts: 5,918

    from howell, nj
    1. Kustom Painters

    Usually shop manuals give an oil charge amount for each component you replace. Use that if you know what parts came from where. In any even, even using one guide should be close enough. I charged mine by watching pressure alone, slowly,, verifying it by checking temp out of the air vents. R-12 was much more forgiving in doing it this way than 134 is, though.
  23. Gman0046
    Joined: Jul 24, 2005
    Posts: 6,260


    You service any A/C system with gauges and pressure readings. About 160 on the high side is what I look for.
  24. The Big M
    Joined: Dec 22, 2005
    Posts: 231

    The Big M

    I have used junkyard a/c parts before on my o/t daily with success. It's from the early 90's so it was originally a R12 system, but I was able to have it converted to R134a with no issues. Basically I took the whole system from a junkyard car ($80), same make and model, and installed it in my non-a/c car. I did replace the accumulator/dryer and used a rebuilt compressor though ($150ish). I also replaced all the O-rings with ones designed for R134a, then had the system flushed, leak-tested, and charged by a pro. All told it probably ended up costing in the neighbourhood of $400-$500, after tracking down all the various parts that I didn't get from the junkyard car (condenser fan, switches, diodes, etc.)

    It's worked like a champ for at least 5 years now. However, part of my success may have stemmed from the fact that the junkyard system was charged when I removed it. It wasn't supposed to be, but it was. ;)

    It was a ton of work and took a lot of research as I didn't have any previous experience with a/c before. If a drop-in system was available for my car it probably would have ended up being cheaper and easier in the end, so that is something to consider. Especially with the added complication of adapting the system to a different application.

    It can be done though.
  25. kscarguy
    Joined: Aug 22, 2007
    Posts: 1,584


    I used an 87 dodge Dakota A/C system for my COE. The system is quite compact and very simple to mount on the inside of a flat firewall. The expansion valve will show in the engine compartment and requires a special dodge fitting, but a decent A/C shop can make it for you, or you can use the stock dodge lines, but know that the stock dodge fitting turns the hoses toward the outside of the vehicle. I used an aftermarket compressor and the largest condensor I could fit into my truck. You need to add a trianary switch and a dryer into the system too.

    The only real downside is you need to use the dodge controls because of vacuum and a cable. The upside is that Dakotas heat and like crazy and you will have a recirc. function, but to use it, you need to pull outside air into the Evaporator box.

    The later Dakotas (99-04) had nice looking control setup, but I don't know if the (evaporator) box is the same size.

    Here is a shot of the expansion valve and my custom fitting. FYI - after the fitting, I switch to GM style lines. The heater hoses come out on the right side of the picture. The vents are for my fresh air intake. Under the cover is a vacuum valve to shut off the hot water when running the a/c.


    I also had to make fiberglass adapters to direct the air where I wanted it to go.

    Last edited: Jul 26, 2013
  26. junkyardjeff
    Joined: Jul 23, 2005
    Posts: 7,854


    Years ago I found a 62 Olds in a junkyard that had a Sears under dash a/c so I yanked it and had it installed in my 53 Olds the next day,that is my junkyard a/c experience and wish I could find more as my 66 F250 could use a/c.

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