After sitting overnight, my gauges showed that the system had held vacuum with no issues. That meant I was finally ready to charge up the system. I made a trip to the local auto parts store and purchased an adapter so that I could use my piercing can tap on the newer style self sealing refrigerant cans.
After returning home with the adapter, I started the car up so I could start charging the system with refrigerant. I did notice that the electric choke was working now that I had replaced the fuse. At this point I connected the first can and started charging the system. After a couple of minutes the compressor engaged and continued to cycle on and off throughout the process. I considered that a very good sign. Once the first refrigerant can was emptied I connected up the second can and continued with the charging process. Once that can was empty I attached the third and final can. I only needed to use about 1/3 of that can to get the system up to 1.8 lbs. of refrigerant. Once that was completed the system was fully charged.
I placed a thermometer in the center vent to see what temperature the A/C was blowing. It was about 80 degrees F. outside and the A/C was blowing 45 degree F. air. That was inside a garage, with the car windows open, and no airflow through the condenser beyond what the engine fan was pulling through the radiator. The Vintage Air documentation recommends testing with the windows up, the engine at 2000 rpm, and a fan placed in front of the condenser moving air through it to simulate the car driving on the road. In theory the Vintage Air test should result in an even colder temperature at the vents. They say to look for a temperature of 46 to 36 degrees F. This all also depends on the ambient temperature and humidity, but at least I’m in the correct range.
At this point I’m considering this installation a success. I still have some cleanup to do in the engine compartment. I still need to reinstall the ash tray liner, console, and glove box. I also need to replace the fuse for the interior lighting that I managed to blow during the process. While I had quite a few fuses laying around, the fuse I needed for the interior lighting was not one of them. A quick check with a coupe of local auto parts stores failed to turn up the proper fuse. I ended up placing an order for fuses online and they should be arriving in the next few days.
It’s really a relief to be able to wrap up this A/C installation. Once the dash is back together and the interior lighting is fixed I can clean the car inside and out and get back to driving the car instead of spending time wrenching on it. I have to admit that I have a few more little things to do. But I plan to save any jobs until next winter that would put the car out of commission for more than a few hours.