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77 Toronado A/C Question

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Old June 30th, 2018, 12:23 PM
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77 Toronado A/C Question

Hi All
Have a question regarding the air conditioning on my 77 Toronado. I tested things out the other day and I get air out of the vents when in a/c mode and the compressor kicked in and did not screech or scream. So I am assuming that for the most part it may be possible to get it up and running by refilling the system with freon even though it has not run for a few years. The local NAPA shop has a refill kit with 12A freon which I understand is a good direct replacement for the original freon 12. The refill kit even comes with a can off stop leak and the freon has a dye for spotting leaks. Seems to be simple enough, attach to the fitting, open up the supply of freon and when it gets to the right level on the included guage, shut it off and disconnect and see if there are any leaks.
Any thoughts, advice or guidance that you all can offer on recharging the system would be greatly appreciated.
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Old June 30th, 2018, 01:46 PM
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I think it's worth a shot if the kit is not too expensive. But you might take it to a shop and have the system checked for leaks.

The A/C on my '78 doesn't work, and the first thing I did was take it to a shop and see what they said. The compressor did what yours does. It would kick on when I put the lever on A/C, but nothing cold came out of vents, which didn't surprise me given how many years the car had sat. I was hoping it would need only a recharge, but no. The shop told me that, by law, they would have to convert the system to R134A if they worked on it at all, so I had them do that. It turns out to be simple and only about $100 to replace the seals and such to do this.

It turned out that the compressor leaks, and it wouldn't surprise me if yours does, too.

I ended up sending the condenser, compressor, and two metal lines to Vintage Air in Florida for a complete rebuild and refurbishment. They're going to rebuild the compressor, include a "VIR Eliminator kit", repair a twisted line on the condenser and recondition it, and make a new metal line to replace one of the ones I sent them. With labor and parts, it comes to $1200, and that doesn't include the cost of shipping everything back to me. It cost about $200 to ship everything to them, and when it's all said and done, I'll probably have about $2000 in the repair of the A/C. But with nothing for these cars but compressors available as new or rebuilt replacements, if any other parts are needed, the only choices are to find good used somewhere else or have your parts rebuilt or custom made new.
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Old June 30th, 2018, 04:18 PM
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I don't know much about air conditioning but I have heard on more than one occasion that mechanics hate, hate, hate having dye in the lines. They say it messes up their gauges and makes a mess of the system.
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Old June 30th, 2018, 06:14 PM
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Whats the delta T on the air temp?
Keep the sealer and dye out of the system unless it's needed. Think of the stop-leak as Bars Leak, not recommended.
Read the high and low pressures. If in spec leave it alone. If it needs a tickle of R12 pay up for it. If it needs a bunch of R12 consider converting to 134a with the necessary required modifications.
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Old June 30th, 2018, 06:37 PM
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The kit from NAPA is not expensive. $60 Cdn for 2 cans of 12A, can of stop leak, fill line, fitting and the gauge. A local shop will install it for me using my kit as they don't want to pollute their equipment with 12A but are more than happy to use my kit and help diagnose any problems. Fingers crossed I get lucky on this one. Will keep you all posted.
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Old July 6th, 2018, 09:33 PM
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Well the shop used my kit to top up the a/c on my Toronado. It fired up, the compressor kicked in and it actually blew cold air, but one of the hoses had a small leak and that apparently was the only leak. My mechanic thinks he can salvage the fittings and replace the rubber line. Fingers crossed.
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Old July 6th, 2018, 10:01 PM
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Very nice. Wish mine could be back in operation that easily and cheaply!
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Old July 7th, 2018, 11:18 AM
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Several companies offer the OEM AC lines. Both the companies I've used will actually carefully cut off the original ends and reweld/crimp using new rubber. Not crazy expensive either...IMO
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Old July 7th, 2018, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by droldsmorland View Post
Several companies offer the OEM AC lines. Both the companies I've used will actually carefully cut off the original ends and reweld/crimp using new rubber. Not crazy expensive either...IMO
I've not been able to find any off-the-shelf A/C lines for my '78. The lines I have are being rebuilt. There are actually two lines being rebuilt. One is costing $210 and the other $115. Being done by Classic Auto Air.
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Old July 12th, 2018, 12:02 PM
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Well I got the old girl back from the shop after having the heater core replaced (it was leaking and I bypassed it), then they dropped the fuel tank to see why my fuel gauge was misbehaving, always reading full. Up until 2 weeks ago it worked fine. The sender unit was fine and in fact the tank was fairly new but there was a ground wire issue. Once they tweaked that the gauge is reading properly again. As mentioned earlier the refill of the a/c with freon 12A actually had cold air blowing, but one of the rubber hoses was leaking. The shop is still hunting for replacement hoses as apparently these are an oddball size of 5/32" ID and nobody locally seems to carry that anymore. Even if we can just find the hose my mechanic thinks he can slice it in and the a/c will work. So the search continues but there is hope. Sure would like to get this resolved before August 7th when the old girl goes in for her paint job. Prefer not have mechanics leaning on my new paint job until it has had a bit of time to fully cure.
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Old July 12th, 2018, 04:15 PM
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Thanks for the updates.

Good luck on finding anything in the aftermarket except a compressor for the A/C system. As I noted earlier, my shop couldn't find anything for a '78, which is why I have to have my hoses reconditioned.
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Old August 7th, 2018, 03:17 PM
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Just thought I would post an update on restoring my a/c system. As mentioned earlier after refilling the system with 12A the system blew cold air but the upper high pressure hose sprung a leak. So after weeks of searching I finally found the right hoses and ferrules for the crimp fittings. For those that are interested these are the details from my existing hoses which are still legible believe it or not.
The high pressure hose from the compressor to the condensor is a #8 13/32" ID hose.
The suction hose from the evaporator to the compressor is a #12 5/8" ID hose.
I found the proper hoses available in small lot sizes (5 ft) lengths from Cold Hose (www.coldhose.com) in Ocala, Florida and from FMSI Inc. (www.fmsiinc.com) in Burlington, Ontario
The new hoses are on order and should be here shortly. The car went into the body shop today for its paint job and won't be back for 3 weeks but in the mean time my mechanic can start to redo the hoses once they arrive and have it ready for the car when it comes out of the body shop.
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Old August 7th, 2018, 08:25 PM
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Looking forward to seeing it after the repaint. Good to know on the hose source.
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Old August 23rd, 2018, 07:55 PM
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Well it has been 2 weeks since I dropped my Toronado off at the body shop for its paint job and to date they have not even started on it. .
When I first contacted them, they assured me that unlike other shops where insurance work always takes precedence they would schedule me in and it would take 3 weeks to get it done.
So I went with them and the slight premium they charge as i am anxious to get this done, to show my Dad (who is 96 going on 97 in October) who gave me the car that his "baby" is being well cared for.
To say I am ticked off is putting it rather mildly. Even re-reading Jaunty's post that his was in for 7 weeks has not improved my spirits.
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Old August 23rd, 2018, 08:37 PM
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Sorry to hear of their slowness. Did they give any indication of when they would actually start on it?

The shop that did mine told me right up front that they could give me a discount on the price if I did not need it in a hurry and they could work on it in between other jobs. I said fine as I was not in a hurry, and I didn't mind putting off actually having to pay for it.

I dropped it off on May 22 and picked up the finished car on July 10. Along, the way I stopped in twice, in early and then in late June, and both times they had been working on it steadily. I got the sense that once he started on it, he wanted to finish it because then he gets paid. Yes, insurance work is the bread and butter of these shops, but jobs like mine pay him money, too.

Last edited by jaunty75; September 17th, 2018 at 09:08 PM.
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Old August 23rd, 2018, 08:49 PM
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In keeping with the title of this thread, what's REALLY taken a long time with my car is getting the A/C system back in order. As I think I've mentioned previously, I had to send parts of my car's system out for rebuilding, and it went to Classic Air in Tampa, Florida. They've been excellent to work with, but things have taken a while, which they told me up front would happen as the spring and summer months are their busiest time.

I sent the parts out in the middle of May. By the end of the month, I had a quote and a time frame for repair and return of everything to me. I approved the quote, and the expected completion was the end of July (July 27 to be exact). By the time the end of July had rolled around, my wife and I had added one more trip to our summer travels, and we wouldn't be home to receive the packages if they actually shipped on the 27th, so I asked them to hold off on shipping until the 31st, which they did. The packages arrived August 6, and, wouldn't you know it, they sent me the wrong compressor. They sent me another guy's, and they sent mine to him. They actually noticed the problem before either of us had received our incorrect packages, and they called me to tell me of the problem before the package to me actually arrived. They immediately arranged for UPS to pick up both packages and return them to them, and then they would turn them around and send them to the correct addresses. I wondered why they didn't just have the package sent inadvertently to me sent to the correct address and vice versa with the other guy, but he said they wanted to get both packages back, re-check everything to make sure no damage occurred in shipment and that everything was properly packaged, and then send them back out. This obviously took extra time, but I appreciated their attention to detail, and this is what I meant when I said that they've been excellent to work with.

So anyway, my actual compressor is scheduled to arrive tomorrow, August 24th, a little over three months since I first sent everything off for repair. But the job still isn't done because everything has to be reinstalled in the car, and I'm planning to have my local shop do that. So it will probably be early September before I might finally have cold air blowing out the A/C vents.
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Old September 12th, 2018, 10:28 AM
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My apologies if this double posts, but I don't see my previous entry.

Jaunty and Byron, how are your projects coming along?

Is there cold air blowing in New Mexico and shiny paint in Ontario?
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Old September 12th, 2018, 12:32 PM
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Nothing new at this point. The rebuilt compressor and everything else did arrive by the end of August as noted above. I contacted the shop doing the work for me, and the earliest they could get me in is the14th, which is this Friday. So I'm taking the car and all the parts in that day and hoping for the best. The shop seemed to think they could get everything back in in one day. There is still the possible issue, and the shop warned me about this, that there could still be other, not-yet-detected issues, such as with the A/C controls. I'm assuming the control head and everything else under the dash is still wired up correctly and functioning. I have found the under-dash area to be clean and like-new looking, so I'm not expecting any issues, but we'll know for sure in a few days.
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Old September 14th, 2018, 11:56 AM
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I was dropping the car off early this morning at the shop where they are doing the A/C re-installation, and the car is there as I write this.

But look what drove up next to me at about the same moment I pulled up in front. A 1938 Packard. We had a little car show going! I spoke briefly with the owner as he was as interested in my car as I was in his. He was an older fellow bringing it in to the shop for some routine maintenance, which I liked because it sort of confirms my opinion of this place, that it's a good shop willing to work on older cars. Anyway, he said he bought it already restored just to have a nice car to drive around in and take to shows. I loved his next comment, which was that he had done the restoration thing earlier in his life, but he so often took on too many projects and couldn't get them all done with all of life's other demands. He said that now he doesn't want to take on any new restorations because he would likely not live long enough to see them through to completion, and "the widow would be saddled with having to get rid of a half-finished car." I love it.

I also like the way the ages of our two cars were distributed. Mine is 40 years old, and his is twice that at 80 years old. This is only true for the rest of this year.






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Old September 17th, 2018, 09:07 PM
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Brief update. Car dropped off at shop last Friday as noted above. They are making progress, but they discovered that they needed four fittings that were not included in the reinstall kit that came from Classic Air along with the rebuilt compressor and other parts. He told me late Friday that he would need to order them and it could be several days. He called today to say that they had made additional progress installing the aftermarket condenser I decided to go with at the recommendation of Classic Air and that the fittings should all be in by Thursday at the latest depending on how quickly the suppliers ship. But he seemed pretty confident that things will all go in just fine once everything is in. I'm hoping we have cold air by the weekend!
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Old September 19th, 2018, 03:37 PM
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Thanks for the update - and the Packard pictures! "Ask the man who owns one" was the slogan, I believe.

I guess I assumed you were going with R-12. The new condenser makes me ask - Are you are going to R134a and a parallel flow condenser?
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Old September 19th, 2018, 03:50 PM
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No chance on R-12. The shop doing the work told me that, if they work on an R-12 system, they have to change the system over to R-134a by law. It was the FIRST thing they did when I took the car in for the first time last May. It wasn't a big deal. Just had to change some seals here and there. I don't mind. I know R-12 is supposed to be a little more efficient, thermodynamically speaking, but 134a works well enough, and I don't want to have trouble having the system serviced down the road if needed. The R-12 ship sailed long ago.

While I didn't ask, I'm sure Classic Air was required to do the same thing. If they're going to rebuild a compressor, it has to rebuilt for R-134a use, although I don't know if that actually means anything for a compressor. Also, by going to R-134a, the system no longer needs a "VIR," and the kit from Classic Air included a "VIR Eliminator Kit."

As far as the condenser, yes, exactly. They were originally going to just "recondition" the original condenser, including "minor fin straightening" at a cost of $225. However, later on, he contacted me and strongly recommended that, if I wasn't looking to maintain a 100% original look (and I wasn't), I go with an aftermarket universal condenser. Yes, it is parallel flow. The nice thing is that it costs $125, so I saved $100 by going with the universal over reconditioning the original. He told me the new condenser would be more efficient as well.
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Old September 25th, 2018, 09:09 PM
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We're almost there. All ordered parts finally arrived by late yesterday, and the shop called me just before they closed for the day today to say that they had everything together and that A/C is blowing a nice 44F. They're keeping the car overnight so they can take it out on the highway tomorrow and run it one more time. If all checks out, I should have it back tomorrow with functioning air-conditioning. Just in time, too. Fall started three days ago!
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Old September 26th, 2018, 01:14 PM
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Got the car back this morning, and it is glorious! Nice cold air blowing out all five dash vents just like God intended. I took some photos of the new installation and will post them later.

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Old September 26th, 2018, 09:23 PM
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Here's some before and after action. The compressor is the original unit, rebuilt. The major issue as far as reinstallation of the new parts was in getting the new condenser, which I couldn't really get a good picture of as it's in front of the radiator, properly hooked up. In the old system photo, there is a narrow diameter, hard-steel line that runs below the thick gray hose and that has a loop in it at the far right. This line had to be replaced because it wasn't long enough nor shaped properly to reach the new condenser. Classic Air refurbished this line with new fittings on each end, but I'm now kind of curious why they did so knowing that it would not match up with the universal condenser they recommended I use. My local shop had to make the flexible black hose you can see in the same location in the second photo. That one is long enough and has the properly-shaped end on it to attach to the condenser.

But all's well that ends well as far as I'm concerned, and I'm very pleased with the performance of the system. Good, cold air flow through all vents. Very comfortable to ride in with all the windows up, something I did not often do in this climate when the A/C wasn't working. I like that it has a combination of old (the compressor) and new (pretty much everything else!).


One last comment. In the old system photo, look at the right-side end of the black hose that connects to the curved piece that connects to the back of the compressor. (If I knew the actual names of all these parts and components, I'd use them!) See the three hose clamps with some piece of white tubing underneath them? Say what? This isn't factory. When I first took the car for a look-see by my local shop back in mid-May, they took one look at this setup, something done by the prior owner, and practically barfed. They said "no way we're going to put anything under pressure with that setup." So I knew right then and there that the old system was pretty much toast, and it set me on the course that led to today.



The old.




The new.

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