THE SHOP

Performance & Hotrod Business - May '15

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HOTROD less space the installer has to work with. However, as Schlottman pointed out, nearly every vehicle that might interest a hot rodder probably came from the factory with heat—and in most postwar vehicles, at least, the heater box is mounted up behind the dashboard. "So the old heater box comes out, and that opens up a lot of space for potential mounting locations. And most manufacturers offer evaporators in three or four different sizes, so you can choose one depending on the size of the vehicle, and how much space you have to work with." Normally, most of the glovebox area will be consumed in the process—but not always, especially with the very latest and most compact equipment. "Then you have to rout your own ductwork and mount your own vents," Schlottman continued, "but there are so many options in terms of vents that are available today that you can customize it to make it look OEM—or even better. "And then the old blower and every- thing that was in the engine compartment, all of that comes out, so it cleans up the engine compartment, too." Removing climate-control hardware from under the hood can actually provide the big- gest visual benefit in cars from the 1960s and later. By then, said Pavelec, bulky, the refrigerant lines running out the bot- tom and back to the compressor. It worked out pretty neat." "The most troublesome problem," according to Carberry, "is when there are no compressor mounting brackets or engine pulleys to allow installation of an A/C compressor. A lot of fabrication is then required, and many customers don't understand why it gets so expensive." The Air Up There If your customers are shopping for something a bit more exotic, Canepa of Scotts Valley, California, which lists "con- cours restorations" among its list of high- end services, has developed an air condi- tioning system specifically for the 1954- '56 Mercedes-Benz 300 SL. "Remember how hot it can get inside a Gullwing, even on a cloudy day?" remarked Marketing Director John Ficarra. Canepa's air-conditioning installation is "non-invasive, designed to be hidden from view and to use as many factory holes as possible for ducting and attachment." A custom-fabricated bracket locates the com- pressor below the factory fuel-injection system, where it is "almost invisible." The evaporator is fitted between frame tubes just below the driver's door. Custom- fabricated aluminum ducts deliver the cold air to under-dash outlets. "The major problem," according to Ficarra, "was getting hot air out of the cabin. The factory speaker opening near the driver's left elbow provided the solu- tion. We spaced the speaker back a few inches, so the grille now doubles as an air outlet." Canepa even managed to fit most of a modern 140-amp alternator inside the casing of the original Bosch generator. "The rectifier is housed inside a vintage Bosch regulator housing, and is mounted forward of the radiator to aid its cooling." Moving on to cars most of us are more likely to encounter: Tuff Stuff Performance Accessories of Cleveland, Ohio, now offers A/C compressors for GM LS and LT engines. These aluminum compressors are available as-cast, polished, or chrome-plated; and are manufactured in the U.S. using 100-per- cent new components. "Our 4510 series compressors fit the 1998–2002 Chevrolet Adding A/C to this '55 Plymouth Savoy station wagon required adapting the factory generator bracket, fabricating an adjuster bracket and adapting a Ford crank pulley to bolt to the crankshaft to run the V-belt for the compressor. Additionally, the original heater box was removed, patched and insulated against sound and heat. (Courtesy Bill Carberry, Cap-A-Radiator) cable-operated air control systems under the dash had pushed "the heater core out under the hood, where it takes up so much area that it makes the engine compartment look really busy. So when you put in an aftermarket unit the engine compartment is really cleaned up." For older vehicles with truly limited space (and where the factory heater was probably mounted under the dash, in the center passenger's foot space), Vintage Air offers "all-in-one" under-dash A/C units. "Most have an older-style retro look," said Schlottman, "and are very efficient, also." "The cabs were smaller then," added Farr, "and the dashes were smaller, too. But our Hurricane system is a neat modular unit that will fit up behind the dash and even allow older cars to retain most or all of their gloveboxes; to keep radio spaces and cowl vents; and still fit some aftermar- ket wiper systems. We've put them in all of the older cars and trucks. If you had a way of turning the compressor, you could put one in a horse and buggy." That said, Old Air still occasionally has to work with customers "to put something somewhere where it ordinarily doesn't go. We saw an old Willys coupe where they mounted the evaporator behind the seats, then used plastic tubing through a center console to duct the cool air back up to the dash. That car was at SEMA." Another challenging installation involved a compact GMC van from the mid-1960s, "where the motor was in between the passenger and the driver. The peanut-size compressor was mounted right on top of the engine, using a custom bracket to tuck it in tight and clear the dog- house cover. The evaporator was mounted near the center of the bulkhead behind the dash, with outlet ducts on either side, and 58 n Performance & Hotrod Business n May 2015

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