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Old 07-24-2012, 07:00 AM
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Help! Putting AC back into my Cutlass

Hey everyone! This is gonna be an on going thread for awhile since its gonna be part of my winter upgrades that I plan on doing to the car. I have never done anything like this before so trying to give myself plenty of time to get educated on the subject and to get all the right parts saved up. I have an '86 Olds Cutlass with a sbc 355. My dad took the AC out when he did the swap from the factory v6 to the sbc.

The dryer and Evaporator are still in the car so the only thing I am missing is the Compressor itself and the Condenser. I plan on swapping my front accessories and pullies to late 80s f-body setup with the serp and v belt setup. V belt for power steering and serpentine for alt, wp, and ac. If I were able to get a factory replacement AC condensor for my car how would I make the lines bolt up to a R-134a compressor? I think was it early 90s? they made the switch from the old R12 to R-134a. Any idea what problems ill run into getting an AC system back into my cutlass? I do want to utilize the factory AC control system that is behind the dash. Can I put an R-12 AC compressor into my car if I find a late 80s camaro at the bone yard?

Thanks for the help... again lol

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Old 07-24-2012, 07:50 AM
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I would never use a junkyard compressor, you're just asking for trouble (been there - done that - learned my lesson! not worth swapping three out to get one good one). The prices on new compressors have come down, so I always go that route. Even "remanufactured" compressors I have found to be junk, and either be noisy or leak or go out all together six months later.

There's nothing wrong with using factory components designed for R12, and retrofitting them for R134 so long as it's done properly. That means change the filter-drier, new expansion valve or orifice tube, and completely flush the entire system with approved AC flush solvent, and evacuate and recharge after installing R134 charge port adapters and adding synthetic oil. If there is any trace or R12 or mineral oil in the system, it will mix with the R134 and synthetic oil and create acid that will destroy the new compressor.
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Old 07-24-2012, 07:57 AM
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I would never use a junkyard compressor, you're just asking for trouble (been there - done that - learned my lesson! not worth swapping three out to get one good one). The prices on new compressors have come down, so I always go that route. Even "remanufactured" compressors I have found to be junk, and either be noisy or leak or go out all together six months later.

There's nothing wrong with using factory components designed for R12, and retrofitting them for R134 so long as it's done properly. That means change the filter-drier, new expansion valve or orifice tube, and completely flush the entire system with approved AC flush solvent, and evacuate and recharge after installing R134 charge port adapters and adding synthetic oil. If there is any trace or R12 or mineral oil in the system, it will mix with the R134 and synthetic oil and create acid that will destroy the new compressor.

Yeah I was wondering about the whole reusing a stock compressor. I will probably just buy a new one that way I don't have to redo it a couple months later. Is their a "how to" online somewhere that show the steps to change from R12 to R134? Also what will I do about lines between all the devices. Is there a standard used between vehicles? Will my condenser hook up to the compressor and dryer. Now you said about changing the dryer. Are they specific to R12 and R134? Will the evaporator need to be changed? I guess Im mostly worried about the lines. I know I can get a replacement condenser and compressor but i don't know how I will go about hooking them up.Thanks for the speedy response btw
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:02 AM
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... something that may further complicate things is your wanting to run a serpentine belt .. I am pretty sure all '78-'88 G-body cars used v-belts, and the compressor was a R4 (radial 4 piston - looks like a pancake) .. you may want to get a compressor and brackets of a '89-'92 camaro or caprice .. but when you start mixing years and models the lines may end up having to be custom made .. we have done it before, take all the ends that will work, get some bulk hose and cut it to length, then match mark the clock positions of how the ends and hose align, and take it to your local parts store or tractor shop that can make ac or hydraulic lines.

Whatever you do don't re-use that drier .. not only is it probably full of moisture and debris from the system being open, but that desiccant bag inside is saturated with R12 and mineral oil residue .. it's like a grenade waiting to go off in your freshly repaired ac system!
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:07 AM
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a brand new drier can be used for R12 or R134 .. it's fresh and clean inside so can go either way .. but once it's charged, you can't change it again because it will be contaminated ..

Evaporator, condensor, and everything else can be used for either so long as they are properly flushed out and evacuated to remove all contamination.

You also have an orifice tube in one of the lines in the system .. it has a little screen on it that traps dirt .. always should be replaced, if not replaced along with a filter-drier will void almost all new compressor warranties
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Old 07-24-2012, 08:20 AM
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Originally Posted by cseay1949 View Post
... something that may further complicate things is your wanting to run a serpentine belt .. I am pretty sure all '78-'88 G-body cars used v-belts, and the compressor was a R4 (radial 4 piston - looks like a pancake) .. you may want to get a compressor and brackets of a '89-'92 camaro or caprice .. but when you start mixing years and models the lines may end up having to be custom made .. we have done it before, take all the ends that will work, get some bulk hose and cut it to length, then match mark the clock positions of how the ends and hose align, and take it to your local parts store or tractor shop that can make ac or hydraulic lines.

Whatever you do don't re-use that drier .. not only is it probably full of moisture and debris from the system being open, but that desiccant bag inside is saturated with R12 and mineral oil residue .. it's like a grenade waiting to go off in your freshly repaired ac system!
As long as I can get the hoses made somewhere It wont be too big of a deal. I live in a farm town and there are lots of tractor related stores around so Im sure someone can make me a line.

Okay so assuming I stick with the front accessory layout from the camaro I will need:
a new compressor for the camaro.. $300
a condensor for my cutlass... $100
a dryer for cutlass.. $20
$20 orifice tube

these are all rock auto prices. I mean hell if I can do the whole AC swap for 600-700 that would be awesome!

Last edited by zildjian4life218; 07-24-2012 at 08:28 AM.
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Old 07-24-2012, 01:45 PM
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I already did this same thing to my 86 Cutlass. You will want a complete serpentine kit off a donor motor, don't try to mix and match because they vary over the years. Keep in mind you will have to swap water pumps as well as the fan for the reverse rotation of the serpentine system on the cooling components. When you get your dryer get one for a early 90's Camaro, you'll also want the lines from a camaro donor car. If you get used lines make sure you flush them good before installation. Also if you left the condensor in the car and it wasn't sealed off you'll have to replace it as well, same goes to the core.
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Old 07-24-2012, 02:57 PM
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I already did this same thing to my 86 Cutlass. You will want a complete serpentine kit off a donor motor, don't try to mix and match because they vary over the years. Keep in mind you will have to swap water pumps as well as the fan for the reverse rotation of the serpentine system on the cooling components. When you get your dryer get one for a early 90's Camaro, you'll also want the lines from a camaro donor car. If you get used lines make sure you flush them good before installation. Also if you left the condensor in the car and it wasn't sealed off you'll have to replace it as well, same goes to the core.
If I get a front pulley setup off of this style
1985 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am V8 5.0 TPI Water Pump & Pulley | eBay
I should still be able to use my standard rotation waterpump right?

So the AC lines from an early 90s camaro will connect to the condenser in my Cutlass? I was gonna buy a new one.

Also will the dryer from an early 90s camaro connect to the existing plumbing that goes into the dash? Are you using your factory evaporator and controls?
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Old 07-24-2012, 10:11 PM
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so you're a drummer .... Google Rufus Huff - 13 Daze. From one musician/rodder to another.
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Old 07-25-2012, 12:20 AM
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another idea,buy a complete after market conversion,see if you can adapt your evaporator to it to save the labour if your evaporator is time consuming to re n re. Ust the new controls etc. Only downside is that most after market systems only use 2.2 pounds of refridgerent or less compared to some factory units that use 4 plus.
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Old 07-25-2012, 07:09 AM
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[QUOTE=zildjian4life218;1576754]If I get a front pulley setup off of this style
1985 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am V8 5.0 TPI Water Pump & Pulley | eBay
I should still be able to use my standard rotation waterpump right?

.. I usually have no problem finding belt routing diagrams, but can't find one for 85-86 Trans Am 5.0 FI with the dual serpentine/v-belt set up .. nothing in Alldata, and even my connection at the dealer was no help.

Looking at the pump that it calls for, looks like standard rotation. If you know how it routes, it's pretty simple - if it turns the same way as the crank, it is standard rotation .. if it turns the other way, reverse.

If you can find one of these cars in the junkyard with the belt still on it, or routing diagram under the hood .. or may have to buck up and buy a haynes or chilton manual.

But looks like only 85-86 5.0 with fuel injection had this set up.
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Old 07-25-2012, 09:02 AM
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[quote=cseay1949;1576914]
Quote:
Originally Posted by zildjian4life218 View Post
If I get a front pulley setup off of this style
1985 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am V8 5.0 TPI Water Pump & Pulley | eBay
I should still be able to use my standard rotation waterpump right?

.. I usually have no problem finding belt routing diagrams, but can't find one for 85-86 Trans Am 5.0 FI with the dual serpentine/v-belt set up .. nothing in Alldata, and even my connection at the dealer was no help.

Looking at the pump that it calls for, looks like standard rotation. If you know how it routes, it's pretty simple - if it turns the same way as the crank, it is standard rotation .. if it turns the other way, reverse.

If you can find one of these cars in the junkyard with the belt still on it, or routing diagram under the hood .. or may have to buck up and buy a haynes or chilton manual.

But looks like only 85-86 5.0 with fuel injection had this set up.
Yeah I was suggested to use these years by I believe AP72 on another thread regarding my vbelt popping off all the time. If I can find a complete donor car at the yard I will definitely jump on it.

Did all GM vehicles between the late 80s and early 90s use the big round R4 compressor? like... 6511357 74-90 GM NEW R4 A/C COMPRESSOR AND CLUTCH Also did they use the same Connection into the back of them that is all one piece with a bolt in the middle? Sanden Compressor Conversion Fail - The 1947 - Present Chevrolet & GMC Truck Message Board Network
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