Author Archives: sdcohe

Vintage Air Interior Installation Part 1

I had been waiting for the weather to warm up a bit, and was finally rewarded with a nice day where I could devote a couple of hours to the A/C install. With most of the compressor and condenser work completed, it was time to turn my attention to the interior portion of the installation.

I started with installing the block off plate for the opening in the firewall where the original heater blower motor lived. I installed the supplied grommets in the block off plate, installed some sealer around the edge of the plate, and bolted it into place. It was held in with bolts that extend through the plate and the firewall into the interior. Locking nuts on the interior side securely bolt it in place. In order to start the nuts from the interior side without pushing the bolts back out into the engine compartment I put some painters tape over the bolt heads to hold them in place. Once I had all the bolts started I was able to tighten them down.

While I was working on the engine side of the firewall I decided to drill the two holes required for the evaporator studs to extend through the firewall. Locating where to drill them was easy since Vintage Air used the same locations that the factory used for installing A/C. The hole locations were marked with dimples for me to drill out. The hole closest to the right hand side of the firewall was easy to get to. For the hole closer to the center of the firewall I was unable to get a drill straight into the dimple as the engine blocked access to the dimple. I ended drilling a hole with a very small drill bit at a slight angle to mark where the dimple was. I then finished the hole from the interior of the car using the proper size drill bit.

The kit comes with new defroster vents that must be installed in place of the original vents. I had already removed the glove box and console to get the original heater core and box out of the car. I had hoped this would make the defroster vents easy enough to access. The passenger vent was no problem to remove. In order to more easily reach the driver’s side vent I chose to remove the instrument cluster. It is fairly easy to remove and made replacing the defroster vent much easier. The instructions don’t mention this step but I recommend doing it this way.

One thing I noticed about the new defroster vents is that they have no grill or screen to prevent objects that are placed on the dash from falling into the vents. The original vents have a grill to prevent this from happening, and I can say from personal experience that objects will eventually attempt to fall into the vent. I had some fiberglass screen material so I looked at using it to make a screen for the defroster vent. I didn’t like how it fit inside the vent opening, so I decided to install the screen on the hose end of the vent. I decided to go with that plan and proceeded to install the vents. Later I had second thoughts and ordered some stainless steel grate material. I plan to remove the vents, fit a grate to the opening, and reinstall the vents. If it works out well I will post an update with pictures.

Since the Vintage Air kit doesn’t use the passenger side fresh air vent it includes a block off plate to cover the hole in the cowl for the vent. I drilled three new holes to secure the block off plate, applied some sealer around the edges of the plate, and screwed it into place. I would have preferred that the A/C kit include a fresh air option, but none of the aftermarket kits I looked at included that option.

To finish up the afternoon’s work I measured and cut the new firewall insulation that came with my Quiet-Ride insulation kit. I need to go back and seal around the edges with some foil tape, but it looks like it fits fairly well. I still plan to add some insulation to the driver’s side firewall as well, but that doesn’t need to be completed before I install the rest of the A/C components.

Looks like cold weather for the next few days. Hopefully I will find some time and warm weather to continue the install next week.

Vintage Air Fan Belt Run Around

One important item that is not included in the Vintage Air A/C kit is a new fan belt to drive the compressor. This kind of makes some sense since the belt length depends on a number of variables and there are many possible combinations of engines, accessories, and pulley sizes. Since I changed my pulley sizes when I swapped to the two sheave pulleys on the crankshaft and water pump, I was concerned that in addition to the A/C compressor fan belt, the alternator fan belt size would change as well.

For my first step I tried installing the original alternator fan belt back on the alternator, water pump, and crankshaft pulleys. As luck would have it the old belt still fit. I was fortunate on that one. Now to work on finding the correct A/C compressor belt. This time I wasn’t quite so lucky.

I had a spare alternator belt so I tried it on the A/C compressor just for grins. It was way too short, which I expected. Looking through the installation instructions for the compressor, Vintage Air recommended a 53 inch belt. I used a tape measure and ran it around the pulleys and got a measurement of just over 53 inches. Based on this information I ordered a Gates 7525 fan belt, which has an outside circumference of 53.32 inches and an effective length of 52.5 inches. After the belt arrived I test fitted it only to learn that it was quite a bit too long. Strike one.

Next I ordered a Gates 7512 belt, which has an outer circumference of 51.82 inches and an effective length of 51 inches. When I tried this belt it almost fit around the pulleys, but was just a bit too short. Strike two.

Now I was faced with a decision. There were two belts in between the 7525 and 7512 that might possibly fit. I could order the Gates 7516 with an outer circumference of 52.32 inches and an effective length of 51.5 inches. Or I could go a little longer with the Gates 7520 with an outer circumference of 52.82 inches and an effective length of 52 inches. I rolled the dice and ordered the smaller 7516 belt.

When the belt finally arrived I rushed out to the garage for a test fit. The belt was long enough to go around the crankshaft, water pump, and A/C compressor pulleys with enough adjustment in the compressor mounting bracket to tighten it up. So this time I ordered the correct belt. And it only took me three tries to get my measurements correct.

I believe that completes sourcing the last item that was not included with the Vintage Air kit. I still need to locate an A/C shop that can crimp on the ends of the A/C hoses from the kit. And I need to either get a vacuum pump for testing and charging the system or have a shop handle that for me. But first I just need some warmer weather so I can get back to work on the installation.

Vintage Air Install Compressor and Condenser

I have pretty much exhausted the steps I can complete indoors without access to the car. It was a fairly warm day so I decided to start working on the engine compartment portion of the installation.

I started with the condenser installation. The first step requires drilling a 1.25 ” hole in the radiator core support. The kit includes a template to help with marking the hole location. It turned out that the location of the hole matched up with an indentation that was already present in my factory radiator support. I used a step drill bit to drill out the hole.

Once the hole had been made, I installed 4 j-clips over some existing holes in the core support, installed the condenser, and then bolted it in to the j-clips using the supplied bolts and washers. Once the condenser was in place I test fitted the radiator. Unfortunately it came into contact with the condenser retaining bolts that I had just installed. I’m not sure if the radiator was damaged or not when this happened , but it does have some marks where it was touching the condenser bolts. I was able to space the radiator out a bit farther from the core support and it no longer comes into contact with the condenser bolts. I may remove the radiator and have it pressure tested again, but I haven’t decided for certain yet.

The next step was installing the hard lines that go through the radiator core support. The driver’s side horn interfered with the installation so I removed it temporarily. I installed new O-rings on the hard lines and bolted them into place. I had to do some minor tweaking of the hard lines to get everything lined up and into position. Then I could reinstall the horn, rotating it a bit from it’s factory position so that it would clear all the hard lines.

Here are some pictures showing the condenser hard lines and the hole in the radiator support.

Now I was ready to move on to the compressor install. The new compressor bracket uses one of the water pump bolts and two existing bolt holes in the factory cylinder heads. Since the two holes in the cylinder head had never been used I took the time to run a bottoming tap through the holes to make sure the threads were clear. Once the threads were cleaned out the bracket bolted right into place. I used some thread sealer on the water pump bolt. Then I mounted the compressor to the bracket and tightened it down.

Finally I reinstalled the fan and fan clutch. The original fan alternator belt still fits fine. I had a spare alternator belt, so I tried it on the compressor. No dice, it was quite a bit too short. Now I need to order a new belt. I plan to come back with a piece of string or ribbon so I can measure the length for the new fan belt.

Here are some pictures of the installed compressor.

Vintage Air Heater Control Conversion

The Vintage Air kit includes a retrofit for the original non-AC heater controls that converts them from a cable system to electronic. Installation isn’t very difficult using the instructions and parts included with the Vintage Air kit. Once you have completed the conversion the controls will operate differently from the originals, but you will be able to control all of the necessary functions of the AC. After conversion the HEAT slider will control the blower speed, the TEMP slider will control the temperature, and the DEF slider will control the mode (AC, heat, defrost, or blend). The original blower speed switch is not used after the conversion.

The first step is to trim the cable converter actuator rods to length. The correct length is specified clearly in the instructions. I used some sandpaper to smooth the edges after I cut them to length. Once all the actuator rods were cut and the ends cleaned up I could work on attaching them to the controls.

Attaching the actuators is done one at a time, in the order specified in the instructions. For each actuator you install a clamp, connect the end of the actuator to the original heater control, and secure it with a push on ring. Then you locate the proper connector on the wiring harness using the color coded wires and connect to the actuator. Finally you dress the wiring using the provided tie wraps. I found the clamps a bit challenging to install as they require a bit of bending to get into place. But I was able to get everything installed without too much trouble.

Here are a couple of pictures showing the completed conversion.

Once the kit is installed in the car there is a calibration process that must be followed so that the Vintage Air ECU can learn the range of motion of the controls. But I have a lot more work to do before I get to that step.

Vintage Air Initial Assembly

The cold weather has dampened my enthusiasm for working out in the garage, so progress has been very slow on the Vintage Air install. There are some steps in the assembly that I can complete inside my warm house, so I concentrated on those steps first.

I started with installing the brackets and drier on the condenser. First I needed to install the drier bracket on the front of the condenser. The instructions specified which way to orient the condenser (larger hose fitting goes towards the top) as well as which mounting holes to use for the bracket. Then I flipped the condenser over and installed the left and right mounting brackets, again paying attention to which mounting holes to use. Finally I installed the drier in the drier bracket using the two supplied clamps that go around the drier. There is a metal hose that I still need to install from the condenser to the drier. The instructions suggest waiting to install that hose until you are ready to install the condenser.

Here are some pictures of the condenser after I installed the mounting brackets and drier.

With the condenser prepared, I moved on to the evaporator. First I installed the evaporator mounting brackets. There are two brackets for the rear and one for the front. The two rear brackets also have some studs to install. It took a bit of hand strength to get the studs installed but it wasn’t too bad.

Once the brackets were installed there are four metal hoses to install. Before installing them I needed to install O-rings on the ends of the hoses and lubricate them with the supplied mineral oil. I found that the hoses required some light tweaking to make them line up and come out with the correct spacing. I found one of the evaporator hoses especially difficult to get a wrench on to tighten. Hopefully it is tight enough that it won’t leak. I still need to wrap the hoses with the press tape that came in the kit, but wanted to post some photos of how it looked before I wrapped it.

My next post will show how I prepared the original heater controls for use with the Vintage Air Kit.

Vintage Air Kit Has Arrived

After waiting patiently for a month, I received a shipment notification from Vintage Air. My A/C kit was on the way from Texas. Even with the Christmas holiday and the shipping delays attributed to Covid the kit arrived in just 4 days. This corresponded to three working days as the package was delivered on 12/26, the day after Christmas. The kit came packaged in three big heavy boxes.

I brought the packages inside and opened up each one of them. I actually remembered to snap a few photos as I opened each one. The first box I opened was the evaporator, compressor bracket, hoses, and associated hardware. Everything was pretty well wrapped, and instructions along with a packing list was included in each individual bag inside the box.

The next box to open contained the compressor. The compressor had a choice of finishes: natural, polished, or chrome. I chose the natural finish version as it was less expensive. Again, there was plenty of packing material to protect the compressor.

The last box contained the condenser, drier, hoses, brackets, and associated hardware. This picture was after I unwrapped some of the parts that were packaged on top of the condenser box.

After opening all the boxes I found some of the enclosed paperwork and started reading. The first thing that caught my eye was a warning that the purchaser must inventory the parts and notify Vintage Air within 15 days of any shortages. Since it is cold outside and my garage isn’t heated I knew it would probably be more than 15 days before I started the install. That meant I had to set aside some time now to inventory everything in the kit.

Once I did find the the time to inventory the kit, I observed that each box contain a packing list. Some of these packing lists showed that other small parts kits were included. Each of those small parts kits also included their own packing lists. I found this very helpful in ensuring that every nut, bolt, grommet, and O-ring was included. While inventorying the entire kit proved to be very time consuming, the very detailed packing lists left me feeling comfortable that all the parts were accounted for.

After the inventory was completed, there were two things I wasn’t expecting. The first was that the compressor bracket comes unpainted. None of the other brackets were bare metal. I can only assume that this was done so that you could apply whatever finish and color you would like to the compressor bracket. The other unexpected item was that the hoses in the kit only had crimped on ends at one end of the hose. The connectors for the other end of the hoses were included, but were not crimped on. I assume that they need to be cut to fit but I don’t know for sure yet. That also means that I will need to purchase or rent a crimping tool, or find a shop that can crimp them on for me. Probably not a big deal, just unexpected.

On the next warm day I plan to work on installing the condenser and painting the compressor bracket. On days where I don’t want to work outside I can still do some preassembly with some of the brackets and control conversion. But right now I’m tired from just unboxing and inventorying all the parts.

Mustang Afghan

My mom always says that purchasing a gift for me is difficult. This year she said she knew what to get for me. I was intrigued because I really hadn’t asked for anything or given her any hints as to what I might like. (Now you know why she says I’m difficult).

This evening I visited with her for a few minutes (Covid concerns limited the duration of the visit). She gave me a package and requested that I open it right then so she could see my reaction. So I opened the package. This is a picture of what she gave me.

Mustang Afghan

As you can see, it is a hand crocheted afghan with the Mustang running horse and tri-bar logo, with Ford and Mustang in the proper script font. It was obvious that she put a lot of effort into getting the details as accurate as possible. I can only imagine how much time and energy must have gone into creating this afghan.

Thanks Mom!

Firewall Insulation

Back in 2013 when I redid the car’s interior I ordered an insulation kit from a company called Quiet Ride. The kit was quite expensive for what it was, and it included sound deadener and pre-cut insulation for almost every part of the car. When I insulated the car’s interior the heater box was installed. This prevented me from installing the firewall insulation at that time. Now that the heater box was removed I took the opportunity to work on the firewall insulation. The factory firewall padding was still partially in place on the firewall. It was simple to remove since after 50 plus years it was pretty much falling apart. That left me with a fairly clean and bare firewall to work with.

I searched through the insulation pieces I had left from the Quiet Ride kit and located what I thought must be the firewall insulation. At first I was unsure how it fit because all the other pieces I had installed had cutouts in them and it was obvious where they fit the car. This piece ended up fitting the passenger side of the firewall and only had a small cutout for what I thought must be the transmission tunnel. I eventually realized that the cutouts must be missing so that the piece could fit either the factory A/C cars or those with only factory heat.

I held the insulation against the firewall and marked where the blower motor and heater hose cutouts should be. Next I made the appropriate cutouts. Of course the new evaporator box will require some additional cutouts for the evaporator mounting points. I decided the best way to accommodate these cutouts is to hold the insulation up to the evaporator box before I install it in the car. That way I can mark the insulation and make the cutouts. Then I can install the insulation and the evaporator after I cut the insulation to fit.

While I was going through the couple of insulation pieces I had leftover in the kit I installed a couple of small pieces that fit around the edges of the trunk. I still haven’t identified any one piece that fits the driver’s side firewall, although I do have several small pieces. If I can’t find anything that fits or can be pieced together I plan to use some spare insulation I have laying around.

I’m not sure I ever expected to revisit the insulation after all this time, but I’m glad I’m finishing up the few areas that remained. That pretty much completes the insulation except under the hood and trunk lid. I don’t plan to insulate either of those as the insulation would be visible. Everything else is mostly hidden behind carpet and trim pieces.

So several years after insulating the car you might wonder if I feel it was beneficial. I believe it was. When I mention at car shows all the work I did with sound deadening and insulation I have received comments that there is no benefit in doing all that work and that it was wasted time. One way to demonstrate how well it works is to tap on the roof of the car and show there is only a muffled thud rather than an oil can effect compared to a car with no insulation and sound deadening. The interior of the car is much quieter and the temperature is more controlled than it was prior to adding the insulation.

Cooling System Prep

As a part of the A/C installation I needed to remove the heater hoses, radiator hoses, and radiator. A visual inspection showed that everything appeared to be in good shape. The only minor issue I saw was that one of the radiator hose clamps didn’t match the other clamps. It was a more modern worm gear style rather than the Witek tower style. I don’t remember ever replacing it, so my best guess is that when the body shop removed the radiator to patch a rust hole in the frame that they replaced the clamp. I ordered a new clamp along with a couple of extra heater hose clamps since I knew I needed then for the heater control valve that comes with the A/C kit.

In keeping with my habit of overthinking things while I waited for the A/C kit to arrive, I decided to replace the heater and radiator hoses since I had them removed from the car anyway. I went ahead and ordered new hoses online. Then I turned my attention to the radiator. I had it re-cored a number of years ago and it really didn’t have that many miles on it since then, so I hoped it was in good shape. But I wanted to avoid having to drain the cooling system and remove the radiator more times than I needed to. I decided it was time to have the radiator cleaned out and pressure tested while it was out of the car.

In the past (since 1974 or so) I had always used one shop for my radiator work. It was called Looper’s and had the slogan “A great place to take a leak”. A quick search online revealed that they were no longer in business. I did some more Web searching and discovered that there aren’t that many radiator shops near me anymore. I eventually found one called Smitty’s about 35 miles away from me. I gave them a call and they said they could service my radiator. Just drop it off and it would be ready in a couple of days.

I dropped off my radiator on a Wednesday afternoon. I asked them to clean it out, pressure test it, solder a bracket that was loose, and replace the petcock which was pretty bent up. I received a call the following Friday morning that my radiator was finished and ready to be picked up.

One more item handled. I’m still anxiously awaiting the arrival of my A/C kit so I can get to work on the install. It’s getting a bit colder outside so my progress on installing the kit might be delayed. That depends on the weather and how much I mind the cold.

Engine Pulleys

The air conditioning system I selected (Vintage Air) required me to locate and purchase two sheave water pump and crankshaft pulleys. I spent way too much time choosing what pulleys to purchase and install, as overthinking is something I’m very good at.

At first I planned to simply order the pulleys from CVF Racing as they sell matched sets with one, two, or three sheaves. I was all ready to pull the trigger on their two sheave pullies until I thought about what ratio I really needed to keep up the water pump and alternator speeds, as well as what diameter crankshaft pulley the Vintage Air system was designed for. The alternator and water pump would be no problem if I just bought the water pump, crankshaft, and alternator pulleys as a set from CVF Racing. The CVF crankshaft pulley is quite a bit smaller than the factory pulley. This meant that the A/C compressor would turn more slowly. This may or may not be an issue for the compressor that Vintage Air includes with their kit.

I decided to dig a little bit deeper to see what the car would have come with if it had factory air and to see if Vintage Air had any recommendations. Looking over the online instruction manual for the Vintage Air compressor bracket installation I found this note:

This bracket was designed using a 2-groove water pump pulley #C8AE-8509-B and a 3-groove crankshaft pulley D3TE-6312-AB.

Now i had some part numbers to research. I found this great site with information on many Ford crankshaft and water pump pulleys. Unfortunately that site didn’t have the pulley diameters for those particular part numbers. After further research I was able to find that my car, if ordered with factory air, would have used a C6AE-8509-A water pump pulley (2 sheave 5.86″ diameter) and C4AZ-6A312-B (3 sheave 6.20″ diameter) for the crankshaft pulley.

The Ford shop manual had some information regarding pulley ratios for Mustangs with and without factory air. Without factory air the ratio was 1.06:1. With factory air the ratio was listed as 1.34:1. This didn’t match with the diameters I stated above, but I decided to shoot for something between the two ratios. The CVF high flow pulleys had a ratio of 1:1 so the water pump speed should be acceptable with those pulleys. However the crankshaft pulley had a diameter of 5.4″, so the ratio for turning the air conditioner compressor would be slower than the factory pulleys.

I decided to attempt to match the factory pulleys as best as I could, although the diameters I ended up with were just a bit different. This would result in turning the water pump at a ratio of 1.15:1. I found that the water pump pulley I mentioned above is reproduced so I could just purchase it from one of the Mustang parts suppliers.

The crankshaft pulley is not reproduced. Since I have an aftermarket harmonic balancer (Professional Products 80009) on my car with bolt patterns and spacing that will work with the old or newer (post 1968) pulleys I had more choices. For the crankshaft pulley, I chose to use the C8AE-6312-E pulley, which came on many cars starting in 1968. It has two sheaves with a diameter of 6.75″. This gave me a ratio of 1.15:1 and I could retain the stock alternator pulley. I would probably lose a few horsepower turning the water pump a bit faster but I decided that was better than overheating or not charging at lower speeds since I do some driving in traffic and in parades. That pulley works with my balancer if I use the spacer that was included with the balancer.

I located a pulley on eBay and made an offer which was accepted. Here’s a picture of the actual pulley I received.

I did some preliminary testing for the inner pulley alignment using a laser pointer (cat toy). I can’t test the outer pulleys until the kit actually arrives and I install the compressor. To check the alignment, I placed the laser pointer in each of the pulley grooves, one at a time. For each pulley I spun it around until the pointer light was shining towards each of the other pulleys. The light from the pointer landed directly at the center of each of the other pulleys. That means the pulleys are aligned.

I tested and am able to use the stock fan belt to drive the alternator and water pump. This was unexpected as I changed the pulley diameters. When I receive and install the new compressor and bracket I will be able to test alignment of the outer pulleys and measure for belt length.

Since the pulleys are not included in the A/C kit I ordered I felt that there was some degree of risk in finding pulleys that would work with both my engine and the A/C kit. I feel that this risk has now been mitigated somewhat since I know I have good pulleys and pulley alignment. Time to move on to anything else I can complete while I wait for the A/C kit to arrive.