Precision Street Rods & Machines - Building Quality Cars Since 1982
Precision Street Rods & Machines
"How We Custom Install A Vintage Air Heat & Air Kit In A '40 Ford"
 
 
 
We are going to show you one of the many ways we install Vintage Air's heat, defrost & air kit. This install will be the "Show Version" going into Rod Dorman's 1940 Ford convertible.  We will be showing you how we make and install stainless steel hard lines, stainless steel flex line couplers, a compressor mounting bracket and install billet aluminum bulkheads. Although this work was performed on a 1940 Ford, the same basic principals apply to almost any other car or truck
 
A system like this is not for the faint of heart or shallow pocket book as it definitely takes more: More time to install, more denaro (as we will be using top-of-the-line parts) and more skill. We think that you’ll agree the end result is worth it.
 
 
INSTRUCTIONS: Roll your mouse over the the photo, left side click to view it in a larger format. Use the manual arrow buttons to proceed in either direction. Use the (X) button to return to the original format. 
 
OPTION: Click on the bottom left arrow to start the automatic slide show in the larger format, Click it again to pause the show.
 
 
Photo 001
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Photo 001: Here is a birds-eye-view of the parts in the kit that we received from Vintage Air. It consists of almost everything that you will need. Because not two cars are alike, you might have to order an extra fitting or two after you lay out your system. However, they give you enough parts to get most systems done. Some of the parts that don’t come in the kit are the water hose fittings. You will need to order them separately. You will also need to purchase your own silver solder and flux.
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Photo 002: This is the general location that Rod wanted his A/C compressor to reside. He wanted it down low for a cleaner engine / uncluttered engine compartment.
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Photos 003 & 004: The first thing that Jim did was to check out the overall compressor clearances. Then he measured from the pivot hole in the compressor to a threaded hole in the engine block. This threaded hole will become one of our mounting points. Next he transferred this holes location onto Vintage Air’s universal bracket for a check fit.
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Photos 005: Here’s a look at the parts that made up our compressor-mounting bracket. They consist of tube spacers (¾-inch O.D. tubing with a 3/8-inch hole running through it), five 3/8-inch coarse bolts of various lengths, washers and 3/8-inch nuts. The crosshatched areas will be removed from our mounting brackets. The remaining areas will provide us with the material to make up the rest of the bracket.
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Photo 006: Here’s a look at our finished bracket.
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Photo 007: If you look closely you can see that our belt alignment is right on; we have ample room to run our hook-up lines to the compressor. Note that the fittings on the compressor are pointing up. This is important as we don’t want to have the oil inside of the compressor leaking out into the rest of the system later on.
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Photo 008: Look closely and you will see how the bracket mounts to the timing cover using existing holes and the original hole in the block that we used a reference.
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Photo 009: Finished, when this bracket is chrome plated, it should match the already built P.S.R.M. alt. bracket pretty closely.
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Photo 010: To get things off to a start, we mounted the “Be-Cool” aluminum radiator into the chassis. This radiator is a little larger in size and volume than that of a stock one.
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Photo 011: The people at Be-Cool radiators had four universal condenser mounting tabs welded to the side straps. We will be removing them, as they will be in the way of our lower hoses and not being used. Our new condenser will be mounting in-between their mounting tabs.
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Photo 012: Here’s a look at where one of the top mounting tabs was. We used a hacksaw followed by light grinding to remove the tabs. If you’re gentle, there will hardly be a trace that it was there. We used a 3-inch die-grinder with a scotchbrite wheel attachment to re grain the affected area.
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Photo 013: The condenser mounts 3-inches down from the top tank.
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Photo 014: Here we see Jim bending the mounting tabs on the condenser. Because of their size and shape, Jim used duckbilled vice-grip pliers for this.
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Photo 015: Now we see Jim trimming Velcro (fuzzy side) from the condenser mounting tabs. This is being used as a buffer so that it won’t be a metal to meal contact.
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Photo 016: A bungee cord is being used to temporally hold the condenser to the radiator. This way you can stand back and look at how and where it will be mounted; make any adjustments if necessary. Make sure to place something in between the face of the radiator and the engine so that you don’t damage the fins of the radiator.
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Photos 017 & 018: Warren used #10 self-drilling / taping sheet metal screws to mount the condenser to the radiator side straps.
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Photo 019: This is how our frame bulkhead-mounting bracket looked before being tack-welded to the frame. We made it from 1/8-inch steel.
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Photos 020 & 021: This is how our billet aluminum bulkhead fitting will install to our frame bracket. A U-shaped clamp secures the bulkhead fitting to the bracket from the rear.
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Photo 022: We used a large spring clamp to hold our bracket in place while we tack welded it to the frame. We used a heil-arc welder for this.
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Photos 023: Here is a rear view of the bracket after it was installed. At this point we added the Pro-flex hoses that came in the kit for a trial fit. As things would have it, we were very happy where they ended up in relation to the compressor’s fittings.
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Photo 024
Photos 024 & 025: This is how we went about mounting the heater bulkhead at the firewall. First off, we mounted the Pro-flex hoses to the bulkhead fittings. Then we applied masking tape onto the firewall. It is a whole lot easier to see our marks on the tape than it is on a black smooth surface. Next we marked the parameter of the bracket onto the firewall.
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Photos 026 & 027: We used a 1 3/8-inch hole-saw to drill our holes. We pre-drilled the hole centers with a ¼-inh drill bit. The reason for this is, our hole-saw arbor uses a ¼-inch smooth shaft and can’t drill it’s own pilot hole.
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Photo 028: We used a pneumatic hacksaw to join our two holes together.
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Photos 029 & 030: Here’s how the finished bulkhead looked from both sides. As before, it uses a U-shaped clamp to hold it in place.
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Photo 031: The last bulkhead to get mounted is in the floor. This one is critical where you mount it, as you don’t want to impede on your floor space. In order to mount the last bulkhead, we need to assemble a few pieces together. Basically, we will need to join the drier to the bulkhead. We want to drill all of the holes at the same time from the top and not fight it from below (under the car). These are the pieces that we will be joining together.
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Photos 032 & 033: Space is at at premium here; we don’t have the luxury of being able to join our fittings together with hose. We will need to weld them together instead. This is where we cut and joined our fittings together.
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Photo 034: This is how the bulkhead mounted up to the drier. Notice how the drier bracket mounting face and the bulkhead are parallel to each other.
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Photos 035 & 036: A paper template showing us our mounting holes was made next. This will give us our hole locations without going underneath the car and having crud falling on us.
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Photos 037 & 038: Warren used a can of spray paint to mark the hole locations onto the floor.
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Photo 039: A ¼-inch drill was used to drill the hole centers. Ironically, the drier needed the same size hole as our pilot drill for the hole-saw.
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Photo 040: As before, we used a 1 3/8-inch hole-saw to drill the larger holes.
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Photo 041: Again, we used a pneumatic (air powered) saw to cut between our holes to join them together.
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Photo 042: Here’s a look at the backside of our floor bulkhead and drier mounting holes. They are located as far to the outside edge of the floor as possible. This way the lines will run behind the kick panel and not create a bulge in the upholstery later. The carpet and padding together are thicker than the bulkhead and A/C fittings combined.
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Photo 043: Here is how the drier looked after it was mounted. Notice that you can see the 7/16-inch sight hole. This hole needs to be visible when filling up or checking your system.
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Photo 044
Photo 044: This is the evaporator that we will be using. It is electrically controlled, no vacuum hoses needed to switch from the different settings. You know, Heat, Defrost or A/C. Since we ran the lines up the driver’s side, the connections point the wrong way. You can only buy Straight, 45, 90 and 135-degree O-ring fittings and we need a 180-degree fitting. We will show you how we went about solving this dilemma.
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Photo 045
Photos 045 & 046: What we are going to do is to join two 90-degree fittings together. As you can see, the right fitting is finished while the other one is still in pieces
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Photo 047: Here’s a look at our evaporator with the newly modified fittings installed.
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Photo 048: The first thing we did in mounting the evaporator unit was to figure out where it would fit the best. Be careful that you don’t mount it too high up in the dash, as you won’t have enough room to mount your wipers later.
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Photo 049
Photo 049: After we decided where we were going to mount the evaporator, Jim removed the dash for easy access.
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Photo 050: We placed bar strap side to side, in the same location as the bottom of the dash was. Therefore, opening up our working area and giving us our boundaries at the same time.
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Photo 051
Photos 051 & 052: Here is a look at our mounting brackets. The one in the middle uses both of the threaded bungs provided in casing. (There is one on the side that’s not visible). The end / side is held in place with just one. These brackets will be welded to the body inner-structure.
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Photos 053 & 054: This is how our evaporator looked after it was mounted. Before we re-installed the dash, we went ahead and ran the A/C hoses. They run from the floor bulkhead, up the kick panel, across the backside of the dash to the evaporator. Note: All of the fittings are easy to service if need.
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Photos 055 & 056: These are the pieces that we used to construct our #6 “S” bend fitting (that you can’t buy). We ran a fitting like this because we wanted the floor to be as flat as possible. This will run under the carpet without creating a bulge.
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Photo 056
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Photo 057a
Photo 057a
Photos 057a, 057b & 057c: We needed to make a tight 90-degree #10 male fitting for the other bulkhead hole. These are the pieces that we used: 1) A #10 90-degree female hose fitting. 2) A section from a male #10 straight O-ring bulkhead /union fitting. This way we could put the fitting right at the end of the bend with no straight in between.
Photo 057b
Photo 057b
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Photo 058
Photo 058: These are the parts from the Vintage Air kit that we will be using to run our water lines. The stainless steel (S.S.) 90-degree fittings were not part of the kit; they came from our local fitting store.
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Photo 059
Photo 059: The first thing that we did was to remove the ½-inch Allen pipe plug from the intake manifold. This will be where we will return our water supply from the heater. We will be replacing this plug with a custom made S.S. 90-degree # 10 O-ring fitting.
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Photo 060
Photos 060 & 061: The kit comes with a straight S.S. #10 O-ring fitting (left). We will be joining it to a S.S. 90-degree #10 A/N fitting. (FYI), #10 means 10/16-inches or 5/8 of an inch.
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Photo 062: This is how our fitting looked after we welded it together. We will remove the weld later on for a cleaner factory look.
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Photo 063: This is how our fitting looked after it was installed.
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Photo 064: After we removed the thermostat housing from the intake manifold, we drilled out the hose nipple to accommodate the 3/8-pipe thread fitting.
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Photo 065: We followed up with a 3/8-inch pipe tap.
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Photo 066: Now that the housing is tapped, there is now need for the hose nipple; so Warren removed it.
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Photo 067

Photo 067: Here is how our finished thermostat housing looked.
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Photo 068
Photos 068 & 069: Next we removed the water pump. As we did with the thermostat housing, we will drill through the hose nipple. This time we will be using an easy-out to remove the hose nipple fitting. Then tapping the water pump itself.
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Photo 070: This hose didn’t come in the kit. We got the pieces from the local fitting store. This hose will run between the thermostat housing and the water pump.
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Photo 071
Photo 071: This is how the #8 by-pass hose looked after it was installed.
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Photo 072
Photo 072: This is how our custom 90-degree water fittings looked after we massaged them. If you didn’t know better, you would think that they were store bought. The lower one goes in the intake while the other one resides in the water pump.
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Photo 073: As you can see, we clearly needed 90-degree fittings to direct the lines in an uncluttered fashion
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Photo 074
Photo 074: Back at the firewall, we installed the two #10 Pro-flex water hoses that came in the kit.
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Photo 075
Photo 075: These lines were included in the Vintage Air’s kit. They were made to run under the condenser in front of the radiator. Because of our oversized radiator and the way it comes in contact with the sheet metal, we decided to move our fittings to a place that we could service them easier. Normally this wouldn’t be a problem.
Photo 076
Photo 076
Photo 076: These are the 134A service ports that we will be adding to the system. One is a #6, the other a # 8. They are supposed to be mounted (inline) in a rubber hose. One is mounted in your high side of the system while the other is on the low side. Typical systems use only two, we will be adding a third. The third one will be modified to accept a binary switch.
Photo 077
Photo 077
Photo 077: This is the approximate area that we will be installing our service ports. The upper one will be where the binary switch will reside. We modified the #8 fitting (because of its physical size) to become our binary port. We will add the third service port to a #10 0-ring hose fitting coming from the compressor bulkhead. This will be our “Low side port”.
Photo 078
Photo 078
Photo 078: The first step in modifying the in-line service port fitting is to remove the Schrader valve, as we don’t want to damage it from the heat generated from welding.
Photo 079
Photo 079
Photo 079: This is how we went about cutting the valve and line to make one unit. The two end pieces from the valve will not be used and therefore discarded.
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Photo 080
Photo 080: We have added the high-pressure service port to one end in this photo. We wanted to remove the 90-degree bend in the line and shorten the line at the same time. The piece that we removed is on top. This is our “High side port” line.
Photo 081
Photo 081
Photo 081: We wanted our lines to be further apart than the way that they came. We used a tubing bender to bend the original bends a little stronger. This is the line that we will be installing the binary switch. (FYI) A binary switch has two functions: 1) It shuts off the compressor clutch if too much head pressure is created in the system (380lbs.). 2) It shuts off the compressor clutch if the pressure drops from lack of refrigerant (30 lbs.) You could add a trinary switch that will do the other functions plus automatically turn on your auxiliary electric fan at 220lbs of head pressure. These switches are optional; we felt that they were necessary, but not needed to make the system work.
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Photo 082: This is how our other line looked after we installed the service port and removed the 90-degree bend in the original line.
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Photo 083: The first step in modifying the service port was to drill out the center hole to accept the new threads of the binary switch.
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Photo 084: For looks reasons only, we shortened the fitting to the second ridge.
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Photo 085: Next we tapped the 3/8 x 24 binary switch mounting threads into the fitting.
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Photo 086: The last step was to counter-sink the end of the fitting to accept the o-ring on the switch
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Photo 087: Finished and ready to install.
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Photos 088 & 089: Here is a look at the lines after we installed them. Notice that we moved the ends of the two lines to an area that we could service better.
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Photo 090: We installed a pair of 90-degree hose fittings to the condenser lines that we just made and at the frame bulkhead. This is our starting and stopping points to join the two together.
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Photo 091: We have already modified the fitting closest to the radiator. We put a dogleg in it so that it will pass over the hose next to it. Follow along and we’ll show you how we did this.
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Photo 092: These are the pieces that we will joint together to make our new fitting
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Photos 093 & 094: The only way to remove a nut from a hose fitting is to cut the nut into two pieces. We used a hacksaw for this.
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Photos 095 & 096: Here is a look at the finished pieces that we will be using to make our new hoes end.
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Photos 097 & 098: The first thing that you do when installing the hose fitting to the hose is make sure that you bottom the hose in the ferrule. There is an inspection hole at the end of the ferrule for this very reason.
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Photo 099: Here we see Warren crimping the ferrule. We purchased our crimping tool from Vintage Air; you could have an air conditioning shop crimp yours instead. If you are going to be running future hoses with ferrules (A/C hoses, P/S hoses, Transmission lines or fuel lines) this tool is a necessity, not a luxury.
Photo 100
Photo 100
Photo 100: Here is a look at the finished product. It doesn’t look much more professional or factory made than this.
Photo 101
Photo 101
Photos 101 & 102: As you can see, the upper hose is finished. Its time to start running the bottom hose. It will join the condenser to the drier; from the drier to bulkhead in the floor; from the bulkhead to the evaporator. This hose will run through the boxed frame.
Photo 102
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Photo 103
Photos 103 & 104: We needed to fasten our hoses to the radiator somehow. What we are going to do is to weld a pair of Billet Specialties aluminum line clamps to the lower radiator tank. Since it too is aluminum, they should weld together with no problems.
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Photo 105: Here’s a peak at the finished product. The billet line clamps are made in a two-piece fashion; otherwise, you couldn’t take apart the system without cutting it.
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Photo 106
Photo 106: Now its time to run the hose from the compressor’s frame bulkhead. Somewhere in this line we need to add a service port. We thought that it would be both attractive and easy to service if we installed it in the fitting coming from the bulkhead. We temporally installed a stock #10 90-degree hose fitting in order to show you the different steps transforming the fitting into one that fits our needs.
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Photo 107
Photo 107: Here’s the breakdown of the parts that we used. A 90-degree o-ring hose end cut in the straight between the nut and the bend, and the small 134A service port cut and ready for welding.
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Photo 108: We removed the welds from the fitting as it is going to be so visible. If you didn’t know better, you would think that it was made this way from the get-go.
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Photo 109: We went ahead and installed the hose to the fitting, and then we ran the hose to the floor bulkhead, from the floor bulkhead to the evaporator.
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Photo 110
Photo 110: Here is the scenario; how do we join the Pro-flex hoses to the air compressor? Again they don’t make a fitting. Lets see how the guys at P.S.R.M. pulled yet another rabbit out of their hat. What they did was modify a S.S. 90-degree A/N fitting. Since the A/N fitting uses a flair seat and the compressor uses an o-ring seat, there is going to be an adaptor involved. We picked one up at our local fitting supply store.
Photo 111
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Photo 111: These are the #8 & #10 air compressor adapters that we used to adapt from an o-ring seal to flair.
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Photo 112: Here are the two fittings that we will be joining together. The one on the left is the #8 A/N fitting while the one on the right is the solider on sleeve we received in our kit. The sleeve is the second part of a two-piece fitting. The other half that were not using is a nut that the sleeve runs through as seen in caption #130.
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Photo 113: We removed the male part of the fitting and drilled the fitting to accept the shoulder of the sleeve.
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Photo 114: Our fitting is installed leaving us with the task of joining the fitting to the Pro-flex line.
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Photo 115: This is how we bent our S.S. hard lines. Our line will need to have a 180-degree bend out of the fitting leading into a slight “S”-bend.
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Photo 116: Here is what our finished line looked like after we installed it.
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Photo 117: This is what our air compressor fittings looked like after we finished them. We showed you how we made the bottom one, we’ll tell you how we made the second. We made it from two 90-degree A/N fittings and a soldier on sleeve. They were made the same way with the exception of adding the second 90-degree fitting in between.
Photo 118
Photo 118
Photo 118: As before, we bent a piece of S.S. tubing 180-degrees with an “S”-bend in it. This is where we plan to cut our line. When finished, it will slip into our fitting approximately ½-inches.
Photo 119
Photo 119
Photo 119: This is what the roll of silver soldier and tub of flux looked like when we purchased them from the local welding shop.
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Photo 120
Photos 120 & 121: The first thing that you do when silver soldiering is to clean your bonding surfaces. We used mild grit sandpaper and lacquer thinner. Then you’re ready to apply a thin coat of flux to both parts being joined.
Photo 121
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Photo 122: Your parts should slip together with a minor amount of play. If your parts fit too snug, there wont be any place for the solider to go. Notice the flux on the pieces about to be soldiered together.
Photo 123
Photo 123
Photo 123: We used the smallest tip we had for our torch to heat up the parts. After the parts were dark red, we began adding the silver soldier. The heat will draw the soldier in like a magnet. Be sure not to burn the flux (over heat), as it won’t work properly anymore.
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Photo 124
Photo 124: This is what our fittings looked like when we were finished with them. All that is needed is to polish them. Since all of the parts that we used were made from stainless steel, they will look like they were chrome plated and not rust.
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Photo 125: This is how our lines looked after we installed them.
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Photo 126
Photo 126 & 127: As you can see, there are two fittings at the firewall that need rubber hoses installed onto them. They will run from the bulkhead to the evaporator. We used regular old heater hose with hose clamps here, as it won’t be seen.
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Photo 128a
Photo 128a
Photo 128a & 128b: Here are the starting and ending points that we will be running our #8 S.S. hard lines. We will run the water pump to the lower Pro-flex hose first.
Photo 128b
Photo 128b
Photo 128b
Photo 129
Photo 129
Photo 129: As before, we used an Imperial Eastman tubing bender. You have only one shot when bending #8 (1/2-inch) tubing. This stuff doesn’t twist or straighten without a trace like #’s 3,4 or 6 (3/16,1/4 or 3/8-inch) unlike the smaller tubing.
Photo 130a
Photo 130a
Photo 130a: This is what the #8 male solider on fitting and line looked like before we joined them together.
Photo 130b
Photo 130b
Photo 130b: Here’s a look at the female #8 solider on fitting and line looked before being joined. If you look closely, you can see the shoulder part of the fitting that we used when we were making the compressor fittings.
Photo 131
Photo 131
Photo 131: Here is a look at the finished heater lines just before they were installed. All that we need to do now is to polish the lines to a mirror finish.
Photo 132
Photo 132
Photo 132: These are the parts that we will be using to complete our project. There is a pair of windshield defroster vents and hoses, three under dash vents (one double outlet and two singles) and hoses, switch panel with billet knobs and the evaporator drain tube.
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Photo 133
Photo 133: Here’s a look at the dash before we installed anything.
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Photo 134: This is Vintage Airs control unit that came in our kit. It was designed to bolt under the dash. However, we will be removing the switches and mounting them directly into the dash. These knobs will control the fan speed, the mode and the temperature settings.
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Photo 135: We made paper templates of the dash recesses where we wanted the dash knobs to reside. Then we placed the switches onto the templates and marked our knob centers
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Photo 136: We taped the paper templates into place and drilled through our center marks.
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Photo 137: Here’s a peak at the backside of the dash with the switches installed. As you can see, the wiring is a snap. You need only to hook up a switched hot, a ground, the wire going to the compressor and two plugs to make it all work. How’s that for simplicity?
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Photo 138: We used a piece of ¾-inch 16 gauge steel to make our defrost brackets from.
The bottom object in the photo shows the finished part. We still need to make one more.
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Photo 139: This is how the bracket looked after it was installed to a vent.
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Photo 140: We drilled a 1/8-inch hole in the dash lip to install the vents to the dash. They will be anchored with a 1/8-inch aluminum pop-rivet.
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Photo 141: This is how the defrost vent looked after it was installed. We painted inside the defroster vent holes so that they would show up better in the photo.
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Photo 142: Here’s a look at the hose routing before the dash was installed. All of the vents are connected to the hose ends ready to be mounted to the underside of the dash.
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Photo 143: Here is a look at the controll switches in the dash.
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Photo 144: Finished. Looks great, don’t you think?
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Finished!
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Finished!
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Finished!
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