Steve Baur
Former Editor, Modified Mustangs & Fords
January 25, 2007

Owners of 1987-93 Mustangs know one thing. Their cars aren't getting any younger and as the mileage adds up, parts begin to fail. It's been 10 years since the last Fox body rolled off the assembly line and a lot of technology has come and gone, so why not take advantage of it when you have to replace something?

The introduction of CFC-free refrigerant, otherwise known as R-134a, created quite the stir in the automotive community. It does, however, provide consistently colder air conditioning temperatures, in addition to not polluting the atmosphere. In essence it's a high-performance cooling system for your body and we're all about high performance right? Thankfully, your HVAC system doesn't have to be left out.

Since the R-134 refrigerant wasn't used widespread until 1994, most 5-liter Mustangs are equipped with the older R-12. If your system is in good working order and you are happy with it, that's great. However, you can improve the performance and save money in the long run by switching over to R-134a and Hose Wizard makes it easy for you.

Hose Wizard, of Loganville, Georgia, specializes in air conditioning and can outfit anything from a street rod to a bulldozer with a cool climate. You may have seen R-134a retrofit kits in your local auto parts stores, but these only include a change of oil and new refrigerant. While this seems all well and good (and so does the price), your factory components were not engineered to work with R-134a and this can cause problems, least of which is poor performance. Hose Wizard has designed a kit specific to the '87-93 Mustang that will just about freeze you out of the seat, and your wallet will stay nice and cool, too.

"A good clutch fan is essential in getting the system to operate properly," noted Hose Wizard proprietor Glenn Hall. Factory clutch fans in Mustangs are prone to cracking, and most people don't check to see if the clutch is working either, so if your setup is looking dated, replace it.

Another common problem with the aging Fox is the heater core and evaporator. Under the dash and hidden away in a black box, one will find the heater core which carries coolant in and out of the car to provide heat. Over time, corrosion and rough handling of the exterior heater lines cause cracks and fissures in the core which allow it to leak inside the box. The heater core is placed directly above the evaporator, and if the coolant doesn't leak out of the box, it builds up and eventually causes the evaporator to fail. If you end up replacing one, you should replace the other while you're in there. Heater cores are generally pretty cheap. It's the evaporator that will hit you hard.

If your heating and cooling are in good working order, then you're ready to start the installation. If not, fix these items and then follow along.

The Hose Wizard kit comes complete with everything you need to change your car's cabin into a freezer. Glenn told us that he can actually get the system to blow colder than 32 degrees, but the evaporator freezes up, so he usually shoots for something in the high 30s. Parts for the freeze fest include a new condenser, a new compressor, new accumulator and some new lines, which have the appropriate fittings for the new compressor.

Installation of the system is pretty easy, but does require some special tools most of us don't have. These include gauges to read the system's state of being, a vacuum pump and the coupling disconnectors. The last of these items may be something you already have, as they work on fuel lines also, but the other items can be purchased at a local auto parts store. If you don't want to fork over the cash for the tools or don't have any experience with heating and cooling systems, any professional technician can do the install for you.

Every kit comes with free installation and Glenn Hall from Hose Wizard came to the Garden State to put ours on. The buying public will, however, have to go to Hose Wizard's shop in Georgia for the free installation.

Mmfp_0308_01_z Hose_wizard_air_conditioning_installl The_kitMmfp_0308_02_z Hose_wizard_air_conditioning_installl Compressor
The heart of the Hose Wizard kit is this new Sanden compressor. It is specifically designed to work with R-134a, and is a key part in making your cockpit cold.
Mmfp_0308_03_z Hose_wizard_air_conditioning_installl System_kickout_switch
By law, retrofit R-134a kits must be equipped with this kickout switch, which will shut down the compressor in the event that the system pressure gets too high.
Mmfp_0308_04_z Hose_wizard_air_conditioning_installl Old_compressor
Glenn started by removing the stock compressor and then the low-side line there in the back.
Mmfp_0308_05_z Hose_wizard_air_conditioning_installl New_compressor
The new compressor uses the old bottom mounting bracket but turned backwards. The upper mount requires slight trimming. Hose Wizard includes instructions on how to do all of this in the kit.
Mmfp_0308_06_z Hose_wizard_air_conditioning_installl New_linesMmfp_0308_07_z Hose_wizard_air_conditioning_installl Installing_the_new_lines
The new liquid line, which runs from the condenser to the evaporator includes a replaceable filter, unlike the stock piece that must be replaced with the line.
Be sure to replace the locks on each line. This will help prevent leaks also.

Glen began by removing the old parts. The accumulator line was first, followed by the compressor line and then the liquid line, which runs from the firewall to the condenser. The liquid line holds the orifice tube, which filters contaminants in the system. The only problem with this setup is you have to replace the entire line in order to change the filter. The Hose Wizard line is split in the middle and has a replaceable filter inside.

The AC compressor is next. After removing the four bolts, you'll need to transfer the rear bracket onto the new Sanden compressor. The bracket is turned 180 degrees and then bolted on in the same fashion as the original.

The new Sanden compressor uses seven pistons as opposed to the five in the factory unit. It is designed to handle more volume and the higher pressure of the R-134a system. It also comes with a new belt (PN 6PK2345).

The fittings on the compressor can be rotated for proper hood clearance. The compressor wiring is spliced into the stock harness.

With the compressor mounted, remove the top radiator support brackets and lean the radiator forward. Remove the wire looms and then unbolt the condenser. The new piece is engineered for performing with R-134a, as the more efficient unit flows more than the stocker. The condenser swap is a piece of cake as everything is engineered to bolt right up. There's nothing quite like custom applications to make a job easier.

Stock compressors use a mineral oil whereas the R-134a system uses an Ester oil. The two have different viscosities and should be used with the appropriate system. Hose Wizard includes oil for the new compressor, and you can also use it to lubricate the O-rings at each line connection.

In order to be EPA-legal, all R-134a systems utilize a high-pressure kickout switch. This turns the compressor off if the pressure gets too high. The Hose Wizard kit includes one in its liquid line along with built-in and replaceable orifice tube.

With the compressor and the condenser mounted, Glenn installed the accumulator or dryer line. This has the canister that mounts at the back by the firewall. Next is the liquid line and then the high-side line, which runs from the condenser to the compressor. The high-pressure kickout switch is spliced into the pressure switch on the accumulator and then we were ready to pull down the system.

The kickout switch must be spliced with the cycling switch on the accumulator.

Glenn used a vacuum pump to evacuate all of the air inside the system. This was followed by filling the system with the R-134a refrigerant. "One of the keys to getting the system to perform correctly is filling it with the proper amount of refrigerant. Many people put too much in and this hurts the system's efficiency," said Glenn. This system uses 18-20 ounces of R-134a compared to the 2 pounds 10 ounces that the old R-12 system used.

With the air conditioning tuned to perfection, we saw 38.5 degrees coming out of the center vent. That's pretty chilly if you ask us. "For every increase in fan blower speed, you'll lose 2 degrees," noted Glenn. That's why he strives to get the system operating as cold as possible.

The Hose Wizard kit sells for $699, and that includes free installation at the Hose Wizard facility in Georgia. Even if you don't have a Mustang, they can hook you up so you can get your chill on no matter what you drive.