"Vintage Air" vs Factory Air [Archive] - Chevelle Tech

: "Vintage Air" vs Factory Air


TerryAT
Sep 20th, 10, 9:17 PM
I'm looking for opinions on whats best to do. I already think I know the answer, but want to see what you think. I have a '67 factory a/c Chevelle. Its missing the compressor. Down the road I want to get the A/C going one way or another. Should I try to get the factory set-up working, or replace it with a Vintage air setup? Its not a matching, factory correct car, so being authentic really doesn't mean much.
I'm guessing I would spend quite a few bucks either way, but think Id be better off with the Vintage.
I am in the middle of restoring this thing, and was wondering if I should rip out all the old AC stuff now, while its exposed.
Does the Vintage Air replace all of the factory components? Anyone have any pics of how the Vintage Air setup looks under the hood ? On a scale of 10, how hard is it to install?
Im guessing it would outperform the factory air also. Thanks for your thoughts!:)

Jeffry72
Sep 21st, 10, 12:15 AM
Just my opinion but I would spend my money on getting the factory A/C going. R12, although allot more expensive, is better at cooling than R134A. If you don't have any leaks it should last for years. If your car was a non A/C it would be a no brainer, I'd go with the Vintage. Probably when all said and done I bet it would cost the same either way you go, except the factory would be faster to do. The R12 blows ice-cubes and the R134A blows cool air.

JJ'65
Sep 21st, 10, 1:09 AM
I'd go with factory and R-12 too. You said "restoring"...that leaves out an aftermarket kit. Those factory engineered systems worked excellent back in the day and still do. You could get some good advice here
http://www.autoacforum.com/categories.cfm?catid=2
as well as source parts, equipment, etc.

My $0.02

CRUZN69
Sep 21st, 10, 2:14 AM
I'd go with the Classic Air replacement unit. Works great here in Arizona. Your not looking for factory original. Easy to install. They have a great tech support team. I've installed 9 units in Chevelles here in Az with the help of other car owners.

658Chevy
Sep 21st, 10, 2:38 AM
Restore your factory air. I can't speak for Classic Air, but I have Vintage Air and, for the money, am very dissappointed with it.

-- The microswitches are junk, almost impossible to reach, and a huge hassle to replace.
-- The hoses terminate under the dash -- not at the firewall like factory -- and are a huge hassle to replace.
-- The heater core is tiny compared to the factory and takes much longer to heat up the car.
-- The circuit is closed, meaning that no fresh air enters the system. It's all recirculated air, and it makes defogging difficult. When I was talking to the Vintage Air techline about the defogging problem, their fix -- for a system that cost more than $1000 -- was "just roll down the window". Real high-tech stuff going on there.

If you only drive your car in the summer, and need it to do nothing more than cool down the interior on a hot day, then none of the above applies. As A/C, it's acceptable. It will cool the car down. It's just that a factory system will also do that, as well as all of the above.

TerryAT
Sep 21st, 10, 6:58 AM
Thanks guys. First of all I should of said aftermarket air, not specifically Vintage air. My concern is, are the factory parts still available, and how do I know if any of the stuff I have now is any good, since the AC is not working? I never messed with AC components, and have no knowledge of it, so thats why Im asking. Thanks

GRN69CHV
Sep 21st, 10, 10:35 AM
My '69 has factory air. I did a Sanden R134 conversion. Classic Auto Air will service and convert your factory AC to R134. You send them the evaporator, POA valve,etc. everything is cleaned, tested and repaired as necessary. Conversion kit comes with Sanden compressor and Alan Grove brackets. Other than having the hose ends cripmed local, it's a bolt in deal. I chose the Sanden R134 route for the clean undehood look, significant front end weight savings and ability of the Sanden to operate at much higher RPM with less drag. Original factory A6 compressors/ R12 systems are no doubt, very good. Just need to decide what you want to do. R134 conversion utilizes the factory AC evap. housing, fan, etc.

JJ'65
Sep 21st, 10, 1:27 PM
Thanks guys. First of all I should of said aftermarket air, not specifically Vintage air. My concern is, are the factory parts still available, and how do I know if any of the stuff I have now is any good, since the AC is not working? I never messed with AC components, and have no knowledge of it, so thats why Im asking. Thanks

All your questions would be answered in just about as much detail as you are capable of assimilating....good guys...http://www.autoacforum.com/categories.cfm?catid=2

Good luck

Robinls5
Sep 21st, 10, 3:21 PM
I am a backyard wrench turner, Converting to 134 is a job done at home, JUST drain the 12 oil out and flush the system. THEN re-oil everything to specs with the 134 oil.
I sent my P.O.A. valve to the air guys in Tampa, Fla. Cost $15.00 to set the press for 134.( Talk to Curtis)
Yes I know, You need a gillizion dollars to convert to 134. Thats B.S.
My factory A/C works just fine with 134. If you want it to be perfect get a NEW STYLE condenser for your Vell. 134 needs a lot of air flow over the Condenser.
NOTE: Everything on my factory A/C equipped 70 SS 454 Sta. Wgn. Is still on the car and working including the 40 year old A/C hoses & Re adjusted P.O.A. valve. I did install a rebuilt Comp. from Advance Auto Parts. Works fine and no problems, And I did this 7 years ago or 33000 miles ago.
Both of my 70s have Fac. A/C. My one owner is R-12... My driver is 134. I was going to try and re-invent the wheel, But I went with the org. A/C.
Both of my cars are set up just like the factory........ On a Very hot day with the Air on, The Mech. gauge will not go above 205.
It worked 40 years ago with no problems. If it set up in the correct manor, It should work well today,,,, And it does.
Bob

TerryAT
Sep 21st, 10, 6:25 PM
Sounds like the verdict is in for the original set-up. Thanks for the link JJ . I'll have to check it out and take it from there. When I posted this, I thought most would say get rid of the old. Glad I asked before I removed anything. Thanks for you responses!

GRN69CHV
Sep 21st, 10, 7:53 PM
I am a backyard wrench turner, Converting to 134 is a job done at home, JUST drain the 12 oil out and flush the system. THEN re-oil everything to specs with the 134 oil.
I sent my P.O.A. valve to the air guys in Tampa, Fla. Cost $15.00 to set the press for 134.( Talk to Curtis)
Yes I know, You need a gillizion dollars to convert to 134. Thats B.S.
My factory A/C works just fine with 134. If you want it to be perfect get a NEW STYLE condenser for your Vell. 134 needs a lot of air flow over the Condenser.
NOTE: Everything on my factory A/C equipped 70 SS 454 Sta. Wgn. Is still on the car and working including the 40 year old A/C hoses & Re adjusted P.O.A. valve. I did install a rebuilt Comp. from Advance Auto Parts. Works fine and no problems, And I did this 7 years ago or 33000 miles ago.
Both of my 70s have Fac. A/C. My one owner is R-12... My driver is 134. I was going to try and re-invent the wheel, But I went with the org. A/C.
Both of my cars are set up just like the factory........ On a Very hot day with the Air on, The Mech. gauge will not go above 205.
It worked 40 years ago with no problems. If it set up in the correct manor, It should work well today,,,, And it does.
Bob

Seems like you did exactly what I did. My condensor had seen better days, so I did replace it, along with new lines.

davis95
Sep 21st, 10, 9:41 PM
I'm facing the same decision. My car needs a compressor and condensor. It still has the factory evaporator and I've never even seen it due to it's location. Will this need changing or should I tie into it and don't worry about it?

65 SS
Sep 22nd, 10, 12:01 AM
Terry

Keep the factory set up.
Have your original "stuff" rebuilt here. www.classicautoair.com
Get the new Saden Compressor.

Thats what I did. Rebuilt heater box with new core. rebuilt evaporator. blower fan etc.
Looks nice.

I have the front clip off the car, easy to install everything while it's off.

I didn't buy the Saden Comp yet or the condenser to save money for now. I can continue with getting the front clip installed however.

Factory air is Cool!

Ron

david bull
Oct 18th, 10, 10:19 PM
On my 71 camino with stock factory ac,I bought the seal/oring kit for 134a,disassembled the various componnents,flushed lines-condensor-evaporator with alcohol and compressed air,turned the screw in the poa valve 1/8 turn ccw,added the pag oil to the compressor,put it all back together,pulled a vacuum,charged it,on an 85 degree day I've got 45 degrees at the outlet.And most important, it all looks original because it is!DBULL

chuckd71
Oct 19th, 10, 4:14 AM
-- The circuit is closed, meaning that no fresh air enters the system. It's all recirculated air, and it makes defogging difficult. When I was talking to the Vintage Air techline about the defogging problem, their fix -- for a system that cost more than $1000 -- was "just roll down the window". Real high-tech stuff going on there.

.
I have classic air I think (don't recall off the top of my head, but I'm pretty sure) and have the same concern. When I called to ask how to make it so I could let in fresh air they asked me why I would want to do that, and acted like I was the only person in the world who might want to let in cool air without putting the windows down. I asked him where he lived that it never rained on an otherwise comfortable day. Having gone through through the process of adding aftermarket a/c to a non-a/c car, I think next time I'll try digging up old stock parts.

Dave427
Oct 19th, 10, 11:39 AM
Ok does anyone have a pic of what my firewall would look like with Vintage Air.
My car has factory air but all the under dash vents are missing.

Dave

1966_L78
Oct 19th, 10, 2:22 PM
Ok does anyone have a pic of what my firewall would look like with Vintage Air.
My car has factory air but all the under dash vents are missing.

Dave

There are different setups... Some have the hose going through the firewall near where the original hoses went, but usually also an option to route the hoses up under the fender... Some of the companies offer a block-off plate for the firewall...

But basically, except the hoses, nothing protrudes from the firewall...


I have a very similar dilemna to Terry. My '70 has factory A/C. Its hooked up, but I was told there was a leak. Last time I checked, it did seem to blow cooler, but then there was also some oil slinging from the front of the compressor...

R12 is expensive, and most shops around here won't touch it. The shops that will, all charge more because they know they can.

Anyway, my dilemna is not more about removing the evaporator from the firewall or not...

I was thinking of the 134 conversion, with sanden compresor, new hoses and condensor, calibrated POA, etc... And thats 1/2 way to the cost of a complete system (with a smooth firewall)...

I just can't make the decision...

Dave427
Oct 19th, 10, 3:06 PM
The Vintage air set up I was looking at had the hoses going through the blower motor hole.
I was more worried how the firewall would look with the big suitcase gone and how the the block off plate would look.

Dave

Atlast
Oct 19th, 10, 3:47 PM
Here is a picture of vintage air plate on my firewall with the hoses on my 64

http://www.insightatlast.com/chevelle/slides/64_engine.html

1966_L78
Oct 19th, 10, 7:42 PM
The Vintage air set up I was looking at had the hoses going through the blower motor hole.
I was more worried how the firewall would look with the big suitcase gone and how the the block off plate would look.

Dave


IMO, I'd probably put some sheet metal over the whole firewall and paint it... Thats what I am planning... But for me, the whole purpose to go aftermarket would be to clean up the firewall area.

Beaux
Oct 20th, 10, 9:37 AM
In anticipation of going with vintage air (non ac car from the factory) I had my firewall cleaned up and left the heater box hole open. Tested their plate. Looked like a serious afterthought. Welded it shut and left the blower motor hole for the hose bulkhead connector.

I havent bought or installed the system yet but will be using it. I am not overly concerned about it being a closed system because its always windows down for me, dont drive in a lot of weather where I would opt for windows up and air on recirculate and if its cold it would be heat. I dont have to worry about my hair getting messed up or anything if the windows are down.

67L
Oct 30th, 10, 4:06 PM
I installed a vintage air system in my factory air 67 chevelle. I think a previous owner used a sawsall to remove what he could of the factory unit. Figured it'd be easier just to buy an aftermarket unit. Took about two weeks, with half of the time being spent getting the old system out.

The vintage air tech team lacks any real knowledge or respect for classic cars. Its a cookie cutter system that just gets tweaked for each car. I called with concerns I had because of all the drilling, what with rust and all. The response was to repaint afterwards.

It was a good learning experience though, and the local distributor was very helpful. He even offered to drive to my house to help me when I had a problem with the fit of the unit. Anyone in Houston, TX considering Vintage Air should call Roger Lewis Makeover in Pearland. Knowlegeable, polite and very helpful.

hoffa
Oct 31st, 10, 8:13 PM
Air conditiong is removing heat from air, this myth that R-12 cools better then 134 is just that they both get the job done, they just have different chemical make ups and different operating pressures ....if R-134 didn't work it wouldnt be the automotive industry standard since 1993 ....I work in the HVAC trade and I promise you are wasting your money with R-12 since it is no longer in production....just my two cents

Redmanf1
Nov 5th, 10, 3:43 AM
I like the original look and it can cool good.

SSR71
Nov 11th, 10, 11:51 AM
I have factory air in my EC and will be rebuilding the system. The Evap box in the engine compartment doesn't bother me. I'm going to have Classic Auto Air in Tampa refurb the evaporator, housing, and POA valve (actually, a previous owner did the 134 conversion and the POA was replaced with an aftermarket unit - I got a genuine POA valve from Ebay for cheap that I think I'll use instead), and recalibrate the POA for 134. To make it all work right, I'll get the upgrade kit with the Sanden compressor, new condenser, and all new hoses. After that's all said and done, yes, I'll have spent about the same as one of the aftermarket kits, but I never have to tear my dash apart and all of the vents will work with the factory controls as they were originally designed.

busterwivell
Nov 11th, 10, 2:56 PM
I hope you wanted different opinions, cuz here's mine........My 66 is a non-a/c car, so I went Vintage Air. I thought it installed easily and quickly. I just laid out the instructions and let 'er rip..........
I wondered about the factory air in my 71 pickup. It didn't work, and it was almost impossible to change #6 and 8 spark plugs in the 402. I didn't know what was wrong with the system, how much it would cost, or how long it would last. I opted to go with Vintage Air. Now I have an all new system, my firewall is clean, so changing plugs is easy, and it's COLD in that cab. Also, I sold the old system for 200, telling the buyer it didn't work when I removed it.

ShouldntBeHere
Nov 25th, 10, 1:02 AM
I installed a vintage air system in my factory air 67 chevelle. I think a previous owner used a sawsall to remove what he could of the factory unit. Figured it'd be easier just to buy an aftermarket unit. Took about two weeks, with half of the time being spent getting the old system out.

The vintage air tech team lacks any real knowledge or respect for classic cars. Its a cookie cutter system that just gets tweaked for each car. I called with concerns I had because of all the drilling, what with rust and all. The response was to repaint afterwards.

It was a good learning experience though, and the local distributor was very helpful. He even offered to drive to my house to help me when I had a problem with the fit of the unit. Anyone in Houston, TX considering Vintage Air should call Roger Lewis Makeover in Pearland. Knowlegeable, polite and very helpful.


I also bought my VA kit from Roger Lewis Makeover and he evac'd/charged the system for me....He is very helpful and knowledgeable....

As for the VA vs. Stock AC debate..... I am very suprised to see these negative posts about VA.....my case is slightly different as it is in a 71' Vette but.... I battled with my factory AC for 3 years keeping it working....I never "restored" it all at once, but just repaired as needed....After it was all gone through, I could get 40-42* vent temps in 95* ambient temps when running R12. The problem I kept having was the stupid A6 compressor seals.....I had 4 different compressors(2 brand new, 2 reman's) on that car and all of them eventually would blow the front seal, losing the precious R12...$$$$... For simplicity, I converted it to R134 and it would barely get 48-49* vent temps.....you would still sweat your a$$ off in the summer. Not to mention the HUGE HP drain when that big A6 compressor was locked.....gas mileage was horrible, water temps would climb and there was no power from a stock 350....

When I went to my 496 rat, I said screw all this factory AC stuff(that I had spent almost $2k on through the years), I went Vintage Air Sure Fit, Gen IV......The install was time consuming but relatively simple....just tedious....but for $1400 for the whole kit, I am DAMN glad I did.... My VA kit works flawlessly, I get 37-40* vent temps in 95*+ ambient temps.....and although the compressor locking does pull the engine rpms down about 100 or so....its not near as bad as the stock A6, my water temps are not noticeably any higher then without AC on....and there is no stupid vacuum hoses or cables controlling the system...Its all electronic with a little ECU and PC boards that mount to my original AC controls....Looks completely stock..... I have put 4000 miles on my car since the install and the only issue I have ever had is an occassional evaporator freezing up....I just back the temp control down a tad until its really hot outside, then I can run to down to full cold.....

Another benefit is the air flow/volume of the VA kit is twice as much as the stock AC....this thing will actually blow your hair some....I love this system and my only regret is spending $2k on the stock system first.....I should have gone right to the VA kit....

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v245/ZXALAN/446c0a82.jpg

Andy's Auto Repair
Nov 25th, 10, 9:17 PM
I am a backyard wrench turner, Converting to 134 is a job done at home, JUST drain the 12 oil out and flush the system. THEN re-oil everything to specs with the 134 oil.
I sent my P.O.A. valve to the air guys in Tampa, Fla. Cost $15.00 to set the press for 134.( Talk to Curtis)
Yes I know, You need a gillizion dollars to convert to 134. Thats B.S.
My factory A/C works just fine with 134. If you want it to be perfect get a NEW STYLE condenser for your Vell. 134 needs a lot of air flow over the Condenser.
NOTE: Everything on my factory A/C equipped 70 SS 454 Sta. Wgn. Is still on the car and working including the 40 year old A/C hoses & Re adjusted P.O.A. valve. I did install a rebuilt Comp. from Advance Auto Parts. Works fine and no problems, And I did this 7 years ago or 33000 miles ago.
Both of my 70s have Fac. A/C. My one owner is R-12... My driver is 134. I was going to try and re-invent the wheel, But I went with the org. A/C.
Both of my cars are set up just like the factory........ On a Very hot day with the Air on, The Mech. gauge will not go above 205.
It worked 40 years ago with no problems. If it set up in the correct manor, It should work well today,,,, And it does.
Bob

Bob, I am not a backyard mechanic. I am an ASE Master Certified Mechanic a well as a shop owner. I agree with you 100% on converting the classics to 134A. Not a million dollar project. 90 percent of newer cars (73-94) it is a virtual drop in. I have even added a couple of ounces of Ester oil and changed the fittings. I have customer cars out there that I converted years ago that are still kicking it cool.

My advice on say a 1970 Chevelle with a factory expansion valve and a POA valve is simple. Pop the compressor off and dump the mineral oil. Replace it with a similar amount of Ester. Change out the o rings for what I call "greenies". If any fitting refuses to budge, stop before you tear a pipe or strip a fitting. It is preventative maintenence thing. Not that important as to replace a $200 condensor or a unobtainable evaporator. Swap out the fittings to the ACME fittings.

Base this on an 85 degree day. Charge it to 220 pounds of head pressure and ignore the suction side. Read this as get off your wallet and buy a $75 set of gauges from the part store, not that 12 inch blue hose you get at Wally Mart. I could give a hoot what suction does at this point. I want to know how well the compressor is pumping. An A6 is not the most efficient 60 pound hunk of cast iron under your hood, but the things can pump concrete if needed.

Now grab a dash thermometer and stick it in the center vent. Roll the windows up and let it run for five minutes. It takes just over three pounds of the cheap stuff to get 220 pounds of head pressure. In a perfect world you are blowing 37 degrees by now. Still at 50? Add two ounces of freon. Getting colder? Cool, add another two. Colder still? Add until you get your best temp. If it starts to get warmer, stop and take an ounce out. By Federal law you cannot purge 134 into the atmosphere. That is where I come in. I charge $20 plus $10 a pound for the cool juice. But I cannot control what you do in your own garage, so drop that ounce or so out.

If no matter what the charge is the temp wont hit the 30's you need to find out why. Compressor weak? Expansion valve plugged with 40 years of gook? You might have to send the POA out to that crazy guy in Tampa for a rebuild and calibration. But if I have done 10 of these things in the last two years, 9 left blowing cold.

I try not to overthink anything, and so should you.

Andy

oman
Nov 30th, 10, 9:23 AM
Air conditiong is removing heat from air, this myth that R-12 cools better then 134 is just that they both get the job done, they just have different chemical make ups and different operating pressures ....if R-134 didn't work it wouldnt be the automotive industry standard since 1993 ....I work in the HVAC trade and I promise you are wasting your money with R-12 since it is no longer in production....just my two cents

Finally someone who knows what he is talking about!! There is nothing wrong with a conversion to R134 if you do it right. Doing it right includes steps that many folks dont take then they say R134 doesnt work.

R134 is fine IF the total system is designed to use R134!!!!! I live in Atlanta and I have had several Company cars since 1993...alll were capable of freezing me out of the car. I like it COLD and DRY in my car during humid hot weather and 134 fills the bill just as well as R12 when the system is designed and calibrated for R134.

The issue with R134 is that the expansion / contraction characteristics (and therefore the ability to capture and shed heat at the condensor) are different than they are with R12. All ya gotta do is have the correct POA calib. and the correct condensor configuration and you are good to go.

Pressures are different inside R134 systems versus R12 systems and marginal condition 40 year old R12 components can fail with R134. That is not to say they will fail but they can. Also the old R12 hoses may allow R134 to leak thru the hose material. R134 has smaller molecules according to what I read. No I am not a chemistry major so I cannot elaborate. Sufice to say there is a reason that the hose used with R134 is different than the hose used with R12. The engineers in Detroit did not decide on another hose material just for the hell of it.

In short the issues of aftermarket versus conversion are more related to personal pref. as long as you go with the correct parts...condensor, hoses and what not if you decided to convert. Also two other issues...you need a good fan (likely larger than stock) for adequate cooling with R134 in town and condensor size and style for R134 is critical for optimum operation.

If you just have to have outside air circulated into the car...get an newer VA (or other manufacturer) system or convert the GM system to R134. For me I don't need additional outside air inside the car in the summer...I just closed the windows and turn on the air. Same thing happened with the company cars. I never ran the systems on any setting other than Recirculate. If you decide to convert do it right and the system will work fine.

Generally speaking you need a higher flow engine cooling fan for proper R134 cooling in town because it takes more airflow to remove a given amount of heat from R134 than it does from R12. Hence the need for a more efficient condensor design and, again generally speaking, a larger surface area condensor. In terms of condensor size "the bigger the better" as far as R134 conversions and or aftermarket R134 systems. Vintage air sent me a condensor for a VA system I was working on. I called and said "I have a lot more room for a larger condensor can I upgrade"? They said sure the large the better..more surface area to help shed heat=a better functioning system.

Last but not least for you guys adding A/C to non A/C cars. Tinted glass is very important. The UV that penetrates non tinted glass is a large source of heat inside the car. More heat inside = more heat the A/C has to take out to get you to a "cool" temp. If you have clear glass versus tinted glass you are asking the A/C system (whatever type refridge you have) to work harder under a given set of heat and humidity conditions. . Again as with the hoses...there is a reason that the factories added /required tinted glass when you checked the A/C = "Yes" box on an order form.

TD509EFI
Nov 30th, 10, 3:14 PM
To elaborate a bit:

You could run your old R12 hoses with 134A, since the old oil tends to seal the pores and minimizes any leakage, but considering the age of many of these systems, it makes sense to just replace them.

I don't believe that VA, or any other aftermarket auto a/c manufacturer, has any fresh air intake. It's totally recirculated. When you have the factory a/c on "recirc" it still admits some fresh air from the outside.

UV is not the problem for heat, it's IR. If you don't have tinted windows, you should install them to minimize interior heat buildup.

I agree with everything else that's been mentioned: best, biggest condenser that will fit, a good cooling fan, and a well insulated interior go along way to having a great cooling a/c setup, whether factory or aftermarket.

oman
Nov 30th, 10, 3:58 PM
To elaborate a bit:

You could run your old R12 hoses with 134A, since the old oil tends to seal the pores and minimizes any leakage, but considering the age of many of these systems, it makes sense to just replace them.

I don't believe that VA, or any other aftermarket auto a/c manufacturer, has any fresh air intake. It's totally recirculated. When you have the factory a/c on "recirc" it still admits some fresh air from the outside.

UV is not the problem for heat, it's IR. If you don't have tinted windows, you should install them to minimize interior heat buildup.

I agree with everything else that's been mentioned: best, biggest condenser that will fit, a good cooling fan, and a well insulated interior go along way to having a great cooling a/c setup, whether factory or aftermarket.

I believe that the latest VA system does have a provision for outside air to "mix" with already cooled interior / cabin air.