Wayne Cook
July 1, 2001

Step By Step

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Compressors are available from Vintage Air in polished or original finish to suit your application. Projects where an original look is desired will demand the original finish, while those wanting a little more flash would want the polished version. New compressors are furnished with 3 ounces of lubricant installed. These modern compressors are far more compact and lighter than the original factory units.
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This condenser was made especially to suit our radiator opening in the core support. Some of the attachment bracketry we fabricated is shown already attached to the condenser. Two of the furnished hose fittings are also shown.
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The various hose fittings and refrigerant hoses are shown. Inside the hoses, we see an electronic servo heater-control valve, which controls the flow of hot water as needed. Also shown is the drain kit needed to route moisture from the evaporator case to the outside of the car.
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Here we see the dryer and associated fittings. The mounting clamps and binary switch are also shown.
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Seen from directly above is the evaporator/blower unit. This is the heart of the system and mounts inside the car under the dash. The two smaller outlets on top of the case are for defrost, and the four larger ones go to the registers.
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Once the evaporator is installed, this cover goes into place to give your installation a nice, clean look.
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This is the register arrangement we chose, with the double unit being central, and the round registers for the outer ends of the dash.
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This flexible ducting hose comes in two sizes, one for the registers and the other size for the defrost ducts.
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This is the central control panel. It controls all aspects of system function and is similar in layout to a Ford factory arrangement.
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Behind the control panel, we see the capillary tube that goes directly into the evaporator case. This tube gives information to the system thermostat, which in turn controls temperature. Required relays are shown already attached and ready to go.
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Beginning under the hood, this photo shows our compressor mounted down low in a position normally occupied by the smog pump (see arrow). Remember, this engine is a new 302 with late-model bracketry and accessory drive. Because the ’64-model car won’t require smog equipment and the stock 5.0 Mustang compressor worked out so well in this location, it was decided this was the way to go. We used a factory manifold at the rear of the compressor, and spliced our Vintage Air lines into the factory lines leading out of the compressor when the time came. We had an air-conditioning shop complete the crimps for all of our lines at once. One advantage of the serpentine drive is that there is no need to have the compressor moveable because belt tension is adjusted elsewhere for the whole front dress.
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Once the grillework was removed from our ’64 Cyclone, the correct position for the condenser was determined and the required attachment brackets made. Here, the condenser goes into place.
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The condenser is in place, and now the hood latch and support are reinstalled.
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Here’s our dryer with the binary switch already in place. We’re temporarily installing our hose-end fittings so we’ll know just how this part will fit underhood. Once our location was selected, we recapped the dryer.
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This spot on the passenger-side inner fender was about the only spot where the dryer would fit and connect. We’ve removed our ducting to the air meter and throttle body, and you can see the 5.0 Mustang air-cleaner box still in place.
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One line from the dryer had to go to the lower port on the condenser. We decided the best way to do this was to create a new hole beneath the airbox, in the original battery location. Ed Marsh of Windsor-Fox uses a special tool to cut the opening.
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The large hole at the top of our photo is the one just created. This car is probably Ed’s favorite, and everything has to be just so.
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The line can be seen on its way from the dryer to the lower condenser port. The new hole has an insert normally used to route electrical conduit. This insert fits the hole perfectly and is retained by a screw-on collar. It has rounded edges to protect the pressurized lines, and gives a nice and finished look.
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After the line is measured precisely for length, it is cut with a little slack included.
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We see the line from the upper condenser port traveling downward, leading directly to the compressor. Remember, our compressor on this project lives toward the bottom of the engine. Again, notice the protective collar is used. Both lines leading to and from the condenser are the small-diameter lines, which are on the high-pressure side of the system.
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This new Ford factory line originates at the manifold on the rear of the compressor. This line will be spliced together with the upper condenser line when the time comes to complete our hose ends. Much of the work underhood involves determining the correct line length and routing the lines safely around hazards, such as exhaust heat or moving belts. Orientation of angled fittings must be determined and recorded. Once a fitting has been crimped, the hose cannot be twisted. Once all of these determinations have been made, it’s up to your air-conditioning shop to finalize the connections. A separate tool is required for both R12 and R134 systems, and if you don’t have the correct tool, you’ll need to visit someone who does.
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Now it’s time to remove the factory air/heater box. Remove the heater blower motor from the firewall. On our Comet, it’s found on the passenger side right beneath the hood hinge. This photo shows the blower-motor hole after the motor has been removed.
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The original air/heater box comes out of the car. The large opening at the right of the unit is connected to a vent in the cowl to admit fresh air when wanted.
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Out on the ground, the old box is used as a template to create a round block-off plate to the cowl vent. Holes are drilled and sealer is applied, and the block-off plate is installed under the dash, completely closing off the factory hole.
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We are underneath the dash. The hole is where the blower motor and its mounting plate were. You can see the two heater hoses at left, and these will be eventually connected to the new core inside the evaporator case with the electronic servo heater-control valve in line and oriented correctly for direction of flow.
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The plate at left is a factory item that came off the car when the blower motor was removed. The hole for the old motor has been blocked off. Next to the plate is a support bracket for the evaporator/blower case that will help support the weight of this unit when it’s in place under the dash. Notice from the positioning of the studs that this support bracket will utilize the original holes when mounted. Windsor-Fox fabricated this bracket to fit the Comet specifically. When you do your Mustang, Fairlane, or Galaxie, your needs will be different.
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Our custom-made support bracket is in place in conjunction with the blower-motor mounting plate, which now functions as a block-off plate.
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After checking out our firewall and underdash areas carefully, we determined our air conditioning hoses must exit the interior at the slanted edge of the floor, just above the carpet line. Higher would put us in conflict with various underhood components. Staying well clear of exhaust heat was a priority. Once our exact locations were chosen, the pilot holes were drilled.
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Using the same hole cutter that was used underhood, our A/C hose openings were created. We see our electrical conduit collars going into place.
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Once the evaporator unit is in position, these holes can’t be accessed, so our two different hose sizes are seen here in place, ready to lead to their respective connections.
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The moment of truth arrives as the evaporator/blower unit is hoisted into position. It makes things a whole lot easier if the glovebox liner is removed beforehand.
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This small piece of threaded rod was shaped to provide support for the evaporator/blower at the far right end. The main bracket carries most of the weight, but we didn’t want to allow any movement of the evaporator case.
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While the evaporator/blower unit is supported by a helper, Ed installs the threaded rod and also tightens up the fasteners on the main support bracket. With the evaporator/blower in place, the pressure-hose measurements are double-checked and cut to the needed length. Heater-hose connections are completed with the electronic servo heater-control valve mounted inside the car with the direction of flow on the valve pointing toward the evaporator as required.
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After pulling the speaker/defrost grille, the original-equipment defroster ducts are removed. The new hoses are then installed on the old duct ends. The new hose fits perfectly inside the old duct ends, while the old hose fit over the outside of the ends.
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This is our defrost ducting in place. Remember, the two smaller rearmost outlets on the evaporator are for defrost. The front four go to the individual registers and use larger-diameter hose.
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It’s a real chore to get the register ducting into place so it won’t show. Here, our guy routes the hose over the steering column. Notice the fuel-injection computer on the floor next to the throttle pedal. It’s going to be very cozy up underneath the dash on this car.
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This is our defrost ducting in place. Remember, the two smaller rearmost outlets on the evaporator are for defrost. The front four go to the individual registers and use larger-diameter hose.
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With the ducting hose in place, the outlet registers can be installed. The single ball-style units go outboard on the dash. The “Check Engine” light used on EFI cars is seen hanging down below the register and will have to be relocated.
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The control panel must be located close enough to the evaporator to allow this capillary tube to be inserted 4-1/2 inches into the port in the evaporator case provided for this purpose. With our control panel in position, this was done.
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With everything in place, we’ve got some wiring to do. All wiring was completed according to Vintage Air’s excellent and complete instructions. Very concise wiring, heater-hose, and pressure-hose diagrams are furnished. The elaborate instructions are great because you’re never in the dark about how something fits or is supposed to work. With the whole system on the car, hose-fitting locations and orientation were carefully noted so we’d know how to instruct our A/C shop. Next, the hose assemblies were taken to Broadway Radiator of Hesperia, California, to be crimped with an R134 crimping tool. When completed, they were reinstalled on the car.
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This underhood shot of the completed installation shows how sanitary and unobtrusive things turned out. Apart from the service port at left next to the EFI air-intake duct, it’s difficult to even detect the installation. To charge the system, the entire system was first vacuumed down for an hour and fully charged with R134 refrigerant. This system offers a complete range of functions, just like a factory system, including A/C mode, bi-level, floor heat, dash heat, and defrost. Next time an interesting summer road trip comes up, we won’t have to decline because we’re afraid of extreme heat.

When our project cars are rolling shells, we sometimes sit back and try to envision how the finished product will look and what features it might have. Most of us plan on at least a potent drivetrain and cool paint. The best in wheels and tires is also high on the list of dreams.

When it comes time to deck out our interior, most would agree that air conditioning would be perhaps the greatest luxury. Combined with a good stereo, air conditioning is going to make your car a pleasure to ride in every time. If you’ve ever been through a Florida or Arizona summer without air in your rig, then you know how nice it would be to have it. If your car wasn’t originally factory equipped with A/C, the task of air-conditioning your car seems even more intimidating. With no provision to mount a condenser, a dryer, or any other component, you know you’re going to have to start from scratch. However, when you stop and consider that air conditioning will dehumidify as well as cool, you know in your heart that you must go forward.

When the decision has been made to enhance your vintage Ford with air conditioning, Vintage Air of San Antonio, Texas, can help with any application you may have. Vintage Air is in the business of providing air conditioning for everything from ’32 Fords to musclecars of any stripe. Most rod projects have much closer confines, both underhood and inside, than a ’65 Mustang, so the kinds of cars we’re interested in are definitely possible. When we spoke to the folks at Vintage Air, we told them we were interested in an R134 system. We gave them a brief description of our project car: a ’64 Mercury Comet Cyclone.

This car is slightly larger than the Falcon platform underhood, but not by much. On top of that, the car is fuel-injected, so the underhood area is already quite crowded. The EFI setup also means that we have serpentine drive for our front accessories. We felt a car like this would offer a good challenge and yield a nice result. We gave Vintage Air such specs as radiator-opening size, engine size and year, and also our desired register layout for the interior. Vintage Air then tailored a system for our application.

Because there is perhaps no other car like this one in the world, we expect to do some improvisation in terms of hose length, mounting locations for some components, and for bracketry. We knew Vintage Air would support us in any way they could, but we did not have the expectation of a bolt-on affair. Let’s look at the components we got from Vintage Air, and then we’ll head out to Windsor-Fox and see what it took to get these goodies on the car.