Category Archives: Mustang

Vintage Air Heater Control Valve and Wiring

I finally got to work on the parts of the install that I find more challenging, running the hoses, duct work, and wiring. The reason I find these jobs more difficult is that I need to choose how to route everything and then cut everything to fit. It always takes me several times longer than I anticipate to get the routing correct, and then I feel that I must measure everything multiple times since once I cut I’m either committed or I screwed up and need to purchase more hose and/or wiring to try again.

To start I carefully laid out the wiring harnesses and identified where each wire connected. Getting the harness to pass through the grommet in the firewall was a bit of a challenge. I ended up passing some extra wire I had from another project through the grommet from the engine side, attached the A/C wiring harness to it using some electrical tape, and then pulled it back through into the engine compartment. I made all the connections to the evaporator ECU and wired up the ground in the engine compartment to the existing engine to firewall ground connector. I used the same technique to get the wire through the radiator support for the binary safety switch and the wire from the safety switch to the compressor. I decided I wanted to get some tie downs for the wiring that goes to the battery and the binary safety switch so I left final routing and connecting of the engine compartment wiring for later.

Next I turned my attention to the heater hoses and heater control valve. The instructions had conflicting information on whether the heater hose with the heater control valve connected from the intake manifold to the top or bottom heater core connection. It looked like connecting it to the bottom connection would make routing the hoses extremely difficult but would help prevent air bubbles in the heater core. Using the upper connection would really help out the hose routing. I contacted Vintage Air tech support and they confirmed that I should be using the upper connection to make routing the hoses easier.

I expected the rest of the heater hose installation to go very quickly. I was wrong. Trying to neatly route everything without rubbing on the engine or interfering with the PCV setup on my intake proved to be quite a chore and took me a lot longer than I ever thought it would. One thing that I didn’t originally see in the installation instructions is that the hoses fit better if the heater control valve is turned on its’ side. Once I turned the heater control valve things went a lot more smoothly,

I have the heater hoses and control valve in place at this point but not tightened down because I want to test fit the A/C hoses before I finish with the heater hoses. Here is what I have so far. Surprisingly, it turned out to be a bit neater than what I had prior to installing the air conditioner. I still need to trim the ends, attach them to the engine, and optionally tie down the hoses to the export brace.

At my next opportunity I will test fit the A/C hoses. Once I am happy with the A/C hose fit and routing I will finish up the heater hoses. Then I will take the A/C hoses to a shop with a bead lock crimper to have the ends installed on the A/C hoses.

Vintage Air Passenger and Driver’s Side Vents

Today I could only find a little bit of free time to attempt to get some work done. The vents for the driver’s side and passenger’s side looked easy enough to install. I thought I could complete them in the time I had. They weren’t terribly difficult, but was not as easy as I thought it would be.

I started with the passenger side since I felt it would be easier. The first issue I ran into was when the instructions said to reuse the old trim attachment hardware to attach the A/C vent. For my existing hardware the screws were too short. That involved a trip to the hardware store to purchase longer screws.

The next issue was that I was also using one of the trim attachment screws to attach my under dash lighting socket. In this new configuration the socket and bulb would interfere with the A/C vent hose. So I removed the socket, and in so doing managed to blow the fuse for the interior lights. I have some spare fuses laying around and will eventually replace it, but for now the interior lighting doesn’t work.

Now that I had the correct screws and had made some clearance I installed the vent housing. That required some uncomfortable contortions, but I managed to get it installed. When I went to install the louver into the housing I was confused as the parts list showed a housing and louver, but the installation guide showed a housing, louver, and adapter. After scratching my head I realized that the louver consists of two parts that unscrewed from each other. After I separated the louver and adapter I was able to install the passenger side louver.

Here’s a picture of how it looks installed. As you can see I ran out of time for tool clean up. I still need to decide where to mount the under dash light socket.

Installing the driver’s side louver required that I also install the control panel. That was not a problem as I had already done the control panel conversion that Vintage Air requires. I also already had the longer screws I needed to install the vent housing and louver. So this side’s installation was pretty much uneventful.

Here’s a picture, again with no time for clean up.

Most of my remaining work consists of routing hoses and wiring. When I’m satisfied everything is installed correctly and sealing like it should I will reinstall the instrument cluster, console, and glove box. I might actually manage to finish this some day.

Vintage Air Center A/C Vent Install

Today I decided to tackle one of the more intimidating jobs, enlarging the opening in the dash for the center vent. This modification involves trimming the side edges of the opening to make some additional room for the vent provided by Vintage Air. The amount to be trimmed is about 5/8″ on each side of the opening.

I started out by carefully measuring the opening and marking the edge where I needed to cut using painters tape. Then I got out my Dremel tool with a cutoff disc and started cutting. I quickly discovered that I couldn’t always get the Dremel at good angle. So some portions were cut with an old fashioned hacksaw. A bit of trimming and some touch up and the vent was able to slide into the opening. That’s the good part of the story.

The bad part of the story is that while attempting to position the Dremel I wore a groove in the dash knee pad. It was an original part and was in excellent condition. I was pretty upset with myself for ruining the pad, but I knew replacements are available. I brought up the NPD website and proceeded to order a new reproduction pad. That’s when the wheels fell off the wagon. The description for the part mentioned that it was poor quality, had fitment and finish issues, and was the only reproduction available. I went ahead and ordered a replacement anyway as I doubt I will be able to find an original in good condition.

Here’s a picture of the center vent. The gouge in the pad is pretty obvious. It hurts every time I look at this picture, but maybe I can help somebody else prevent making the same mistake.

Vintage Air Evaporator Install

I had finally reached the point where I could install the evaporator under the dash. I set the evaporator on the passenger floorboard and looked to make sure all the wiring was out of the way of the evaporator. Then I slowly attempted to work it up into place on the firewall. That’s when I found I was unable to fit the evaporator past the dashboard, as the front bracket interfered. No amount of twisting and turning would get the evaporator past the front edge of the dash.

The fix for this was fairly obvious. I needed to remove the front bracket, position the evaporator on the firewall, and then reinstall the front bracket in the evaporator. Once I removed the bracket everything went into place. When I pushed the evaporator hoses through the firewall one of the grommets popped out. I knew I could reinstall it later so I continued with the evaporator installation.

Once I had all of the evaporator hoses and the mounting studs through their respective firewall openings, I propped the evaporator box up from beneath to hold it into place. Then I started the mounting nuts from the engine side. I went back and forth a few times with moving the evaporator and tightening the nuts until the evaporator was all the way up against the firewall. Then I reinstalled the front bracket, drilled the required mounting holes in the cowl, and tightened down all the mounting screws and nuts.

I checked the evaporator for level. From left to right it looked good. Front to back it tilted to the front a bit. I loosened up the bolts and attempted to change the angle of the evaporator. I don’t think this made very much of a difference. I may come back and attempt to level it out some more but for now I moved on.

For the grommet that popped off I attempted to push it back over the evaporator pipe. The fit was too tight, so I made an X cut in the grommet using a razor blade. That gave me enough room to push the grommet over the pipe and secure it on the firewall mounting plate where it belonged.

The last step in the evaporator install was the drain hose. I measured and drilled the hole for the drain. Then I measured and cut the supplied hose, installed the right angle elbow, and added the left over hose the the end of the elbow. Then I inserted the hose through the new hole from the engine compartment side and attached it to the evaporator drain.

That was about all I had the time and energy for. I did spend some time organizing and gathering parts for installing the rest of the vents and their associated hoses. I plan to install them, as well as the control panel and some wiring next time.

Vintage Air Defroster Vent Modifications

Today the weather warmed up into the 40’s and I was anxious to try out my idea for modifying the defroster vents. Since I had already installed them into the dash I started by removing them. I used a 3/8″ deep socket and had them both out in just a couple of minutes.

As a start in cutting out the inserts from the grate material I laid one of the defroster vents over the material and cut around it using a pair of side cutters. Once the piece was cut out a spent some time trimming and trial fitting it. This took a fair bit of back and forth but I finally ended up with a piece of grate that fit fairly well. After the final trim I ended up with the picture below.

To attach the grate I had a couple of choices. I had some two part epoxy glue I could use. Or I could use some black RTV. I couldn’t see a compelling reason to choose one over the other and the tube of RTV was handy. So I used the RTV to secure the grates inside the defroster vents. I used some spring loaded clamps to hold the grates in place while I initially applied the RTV.

Later I removed the clamps and applied RTV all the way around the outer edges to make sure nothing could come loose and rattle. I also trimmed out the holes where the vents are installed. It isn’t the most beautiful job, but after I install them the edges with the RTV don’t show when looking at the vents through the windshield.

Here’s what they look like installed, looking through the windshield.

Update: Mar-10-2010

Looking over the documentation again I realized that the defroster vents have a right and left side. I hadn’t been able to see any markings or differences when I looked at them before but I removed them and looked at them more closely. A closer comparison revealed that they were slightly different. Eventually I was able to find the part numbers marked on the vents and reinstalled them in their correct places. Sorry for the poor photography

Vintage Air Evaporator Installation Prep

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.

Image of firewall block off plate installation
Firewall block off plate

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 that it is very easy to rip and it would eventually wear out. I decided leave off the screen and proceeded to install the vents. I thought that I might try to install the screens on the hose end of the defroster vents. Later I had second thoughts and ordered some stainless steel grate material. I plan to remove the newly installed defroster vents, fit a grate to the opening, and reinstall the defroster vents. If it works out well I will post an update with some pictures of the finished product.

This is the metal grate material I ordered. The weather is expected to warm up in the next few days so I hope to be able to spend some time making a grate for the defroster vents. This was an unexpected slowdown in my progress, but I feel it is well worth the extra time.

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.