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78 Wagon A/C Question

ac A/C air conditioning

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14 replies to this topic

#1 Sub78

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Posted 05 April 2013 - 11:53 PM

Apologies if this has already been answered elsewhere in the forums but I did a search and couldn't find much on maintenance of my a/c unit in my 78 Wagon GL. Everything seems to kick on when I turn the A/C knob and for a second she actually pumps out some cool air but then goes luke warm. I looked on the unit for a port to recharge it with a conventional recharge kit but can't seem to see where I would even begin to think about putting anything in. Anyone familiar with recharging a unit like this? Any help would be appreciated. 

 

PS: I understand that a few folks are vehemently anti A/C in these old Soobs but down here in Southern AZ I will take a bit of power loss for the pure necessity some days of air conditioning. 



#2 maestro

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 04:00 AM

I am fairly familiar with working on car a/c's. You may or may not know this already but I'm going to start by saying it anyway. If your a/c is factory original then it used R12. Lordy if its worked that long then it is a miracle. Finding R12 can be a pain and if you do find it the price will be hefty. What they use now is called R134. Supposedly safer for the ozone. They use different connectors on the hoses so you can't mix the two. In other words you can't connect to your system unless you use an adapter that goes from R12 connectors to R134 connectors. You may already know all of this and have already converted to R134. Please post more info, i.e.; Has it been converted to R134 or is it still R12? What kind of recharge kit are you attempting to use? What a/c tools do you have? And go ahead and post some pics of the a/c hoses under the hood. Maybe I or someone else can help you locate your ports. I've never seen an a/c on the gen 1 subs so I wouldn't know locations unless maybe I saw them. That being said almost all a/c's, no matter what type of coolant they use, are basically the same. It sounds like most likely you are in fact low on coolant and do need a recharge. Since its still cooling some then the leak is probably slow and that is a good thing. I'd recharge and go on with life. But it may be something else, like a blockage somewhere in the system. That in mind please don't just hook up and charge hoping it works. With the rarity of replacement parts on these you'd hate to damage something. With the proper tools you can diagnose and fix it yourself. The money you spend on gauges will be way less than a new compressor or the heartache of effort pulling and replacing an evaporator that may not have needed it.

#3 Sub78

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 03:49 PM

Well hot damn. This is why I love this board. I have absolutely no experience with vehicle A/C systems other than recharging my newer vehicle which was a simple plug and play kind of deal from the local parts store. I was unaware of the different refrigerant types so thank you for the quick primer. It gives me a much better jumping off point as opposed to just pissin in the wind. Here are a few shots of the A/C compressor. The only "ports" I see on this thing where some refrigerant may go is the two tall hexagonal bolts/port covers on the top end of the A/C unit. They are 14mm nuts. That looks to be the only place on the unit where it looks like a port of entry. It has not been converted to the new style refrigerant. If you have any input on how to check to see if this thing is serviceable or not and your methods for testing I am all ears. The Haynes and other manuals don't go into any detail on an A/C unit for this vehicle so I am a little more than in the dark. Thanks for the quick answer and starting point on my question. I'll look forward to what you think. Thanks. 

 

 

 
Looking at compressor from drivers side fender of vehicle.
 
The only identifying mark on the unit. A bit hard to read. 
 
Hope this gives you a better picture. Let me know if you need any more info or if something you need to see isn't in the shot. 


#4 Sub78

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 03:50 PM

No A/C tools on hand. 



#5 maestro

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 04:53 PM

I will start by saying... I have never, ever ever, ever ever ever, seen an a/c hose with a standard hose clamp on it. It is unthinkable. It isn't done. Subaru master designers, you sirs, live in bizzaro world.

 

Now that my dizziness has passed thanks for the pictures. Follow those hoses that connect to your compressor and you should see somewhere on them service ports. They will possibly have a black cap that screws on to them. Whether they have the cap or not it will be hard to miss. Take pics of those as well. When you unscrew the caps you will see inside a schrader valve, just like the ones on tires you put air into.

 

Here are pics from my 89 Chevy van that has the old R12 system. The low side port is directly on the large cylinder. That is the dryer. Yours may or may nor be on the dryer but you will know the low side because it will lead off to the firewall. Inside the firewall the hose goes under the dash and into the heater/ac box and into the eavaporator. You can see the box from insode but not the evaporator. To see the evaporator you'd have to probably remove the box and open it up. You don't do that unless you are pretty sure the evaporator is leaking. 90% of leaks are in the schrader valves on a/c systems though. More on that later. You will know the high side because the hose it connects to will run out in the direction of your radiator an connects to a thing that looks like a radiator but smaller. This is the condensor.

r12hilo.jpg

 

For R12 charging the connectors screw on. R134 uses quick connecto adaptors. Connecto is a typo and I meant to say connect. However connecto looks cool to me so I'm leaving it there. HA! Here is a picture of my R134 retro adapters.

r134retroadapters.jpg

 

Here is a picture of them screwed onto my R12 ports.

134adaptersinstalled.jpg

 

There is a bit more to converting from R12 to R134 than just putting these adapters on and charging. Apparently if you mix the two coolants they are not compatable and you can lock up your compressor. So don't do that yet. I am in the process of converting my van over so I can report back on my success or failure later. However both systems work exactly the same and I can help you troubleshoot yor issue. I have hunted down and reaired my wife's Grand cherokee a/c. We had to replace the evaorator, accumulator and hose, drier and an inline filter in the ac system. For about $400 for tools, parts and refidgerant I repaired her ac that the shoptold me they weren't sure what was wrong and were going to charge me over $700 in labor to fix. No parts included in that price and I wouldn't be able to keep the tools.

 

Tools you will need are: a/c manifold gauges and an a/c vacuum pump. I got mine at harbor freight.

http://www.harborfre...-set-92649.html

http://www.harborfre...pump-66466.html

THese gauges and pump only for the R134 though. Don't go out and buy the pump yet because you may be able to get away without it if you don't have to actually replace parts. They do sell a dual R12/ R134 guage.

http://www.amazon.co...e/dp/B0040H8KDI

But you still need the R12 and it is expensive.

http://www.ebay.com/...kw=r12&_sacat=0

Once I convert my van I can report back on that and help guide you through converting to R134 and diagnosing your system. Or you can buy the Dual guages and some R12 an I can help you though diagnosing and charging your system. Or try to find an indy shop that will fix your R12 system without converting. I like fixing things myself because my experience is that shops don't do as good or as thougrough job as I will because I actually care about my car. Yours is a very rare and specific vehicle so I know you care. Again replacement parts for you are going to be rare if not impossible to find. If a shop locks up your compressor or bursts a hose, evaporator or condensor they are going to say, "Sorry, can't get the parts. It can't be fixed." Then take your money and leave you with nothing.

Still I am not 100% sure which refridgerant you have so hunt down those ports and post pics. Think about which route you want to take to get your a/c going and let me know. I wish like crazy I had factor a/c on my brat. My options are probably going to be getting an aftermarket system an they are expensive and most of all don't look factory original.


Edited by maestro, 06 April 2013 - 05:50 PM.


#6 maestro

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 06:02 PM

Whoa! I just did a search on the SD-507 that is on your compressor. Apprently the maker is a company called Sanden. It is an R12 system, unless someone has converted it so still get those pics. Here is a link to there service manual.

http://www.sanden.co...Guide_Rev.2.pdf

This is good because if you do have to convert to R134 and something goes wrong they can probably help in replacement options.



#7 Sub78

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 08:07 PM

Well again maestro... I must say thank you. Wealth of information and more than I ever thought I would need to or even begin learning about a/c units. Honestly, I got this thing running a few days ago and am now just tweaking and figured "ah what the hell, I've got some A/C charging stuff laying around from my truck... I'll just use that". Obviously I am thrilled that I was not that stupid but I must admit it's only because I couldn't fine the ports. To my good fortune I suppose. 

 

Here is a shot of the compressor and the port covers off. These are the only two ports on this system that I can see. I followed the lines and one line goes straight to the firewall into the interior ac box. There is another line that runs from the ac compressor to the front of what seems to be the radiator and then back to the dryer then into the firewall. No ports anywhere on those lines that look similar to the photos that you sent (thanks for those by the way; very informative). It seems to me that I have an R12 system that has not been retrofitted with the 134A. Considering that this vehicle was sitting 11 years prior to me getting it I'm not that surprised. 

 

 

 
Uploaded with ImageShack.us
 
I suppose considering the fact that I can't really easily get R12 without the EPA license and that it's just worse for the environment I would like to go legal with it and hopefully make it a bit easier on myself but after doing just a small amount of reading I'm gathering that if everything on my system works I will need to drain the refrigerant, buy the kit, get all new hoses (read that old R12 hoses are not compatible with R134a and if I read correctly also get a new dryer. Does this sound about right? Did you need to do any of that with your r12 conversion on your wifes vehicle? Or did you just drain it, put on the adapters, and fill her up? Also, you had certainly made clear your surprise of the hose clamps. I take it this is not standard. What is? 
 
Again thanks for the help and as of right now I don't think I will be futzing with this too intensely. I just pulled the carb off and I've got her just sitting. Waiting for the rebuild kit which should be here in a few days. Starting work with the Forest Service for the fire season on Monday which I feel will drastically tap into my Sooby futzing time. I'm hoping this rebuild of the carb goes without a hitch so I can hopefully get her serviceable and on the road. The A/C is definitely high on the list considering it is the only thing that is a saving grace for my girlfriend with this car (who just seems to hate it for some reason). Definitely open to chatting more about and seeing how your conversion goes. For me at the moment unless it costs less than 100$ I shall be utilizing the windows down and soaked bandannas for the time being.
 
I feel like I've opened up yet another can of worms with plenty of homework to do on old ac systems. You should have just said "nope, can't recharge it, buy a replacement!". Ha. Kidding of course. Who's got two thumbs and loves speed bumps when it comes to getting a 78 Subaru on the road again... this guy. 


#8 maestro

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Posted 06 April 2013 - 09:30 PM

Okay I'd hear some of the old compressors have the charge ports built on them. I guess yours is one. I would say the port next to the line that goes to the firewall is the low side and the one from the front to the condenser is the high side. When you get your retro connectors they should only fit one way so you can't mix them up and the same goes for the manifold gauges. You definitely have R12. Since you probably just have a small leak you could probably get a shop to top you off if you like. You can buy the R12 and not have a license. If you are really worried about being legal and ozone safe keep this in mind. When you switch to R134 you wil have to remove all of the R12 from the system. You say it is cooling some so you have R12 in there. When you remove the R12 you will be releasing it to the air. Shops have the recovery machine. They can be $1500 or more for one of those units so picking one up is probably a no. I'm just saying so you know all of your angles.

 

If you go the R12 route and do it yourself pick up the dual manifold gauges and some R12. Hook up the gauges and run the a/c. Let me know the readings on the high and low side. We can go from there.

 

If you decide to convert then get the regular gauges and a few cans of R134. There is some R134 oil by Interdynamics called Ester oil with o-ring conditioner. It states on the can it is compatible with R12 residue. Your system will need the oil. Also you will definitely need the vacuum pump. You have to hold vacuum on the system for about an hour to get everything out and you have a pure system. Get the pump I showed you it is better than the other ones they have. I have read getting a new drier is a good idea. Your hoses should be fine once the vacuum has been applied.

 

My wife's GC was R134 to start with. My van is the one I am about to convert. My van has parts that are readily available to replace if I blow it. That's why you may want to wait and see what my results are before you convert yours. That way my mistakes aren't yours. I can tell you what I did right or wrong. My R12 system was bone dry. I found my schrader valve on the high side won't close and that is how it escaped. It is warming up now so I will start the conversion very soon.

 

As far as the clamps on the hoses go, it may be that that was standard on some old vehicles. I've never seen it though. Since R12 is supposed to be nasty stuff you wouldn't think they'd  make the hoses with clamps which makes it easy for someone to just take the clamp off and release the R12. Every a/c hose I've seen is made as one piece. The connections bolt down and seal with o-rings or hold together with compression fittings.

 

I will PM you once I get the conversion underway.

 Will you post pics of your dash where the a/c controllers are? I've never seen one and would like to know if I need something different from mine.

Thanks bro. Here's to keeping cool.



#9 moosens

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 06:51 AM

These are all add ons. Nothing here is factory. We all got hose clamps .etc ......it was the 70's. I've seen a new unit or two lately. The SD-508 is really close in size and looks to have the fitting in the exact same place. I have the same set up and am always thinking I'm going to get this system up and running again someday. But I actually use the car more in the winter.


Edited by moosens, 07 April 2013 - 06:57 AM.


#10 maestro

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 07:24 AM

Cool moosens. Maybe you can answer a question or two from me. Since this is an add on setup does the evaporator sit in the factory heater box or is there an aftermarket box and controls set up it sits in? Is there a kit still available for sale anywhere?



#11 Sub78

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 11:35 AM

Here are a few shots of the interior A/C system. As for the the evaporator if I think I have an idea of what I am talking about and that it sits in the interior A/C box under the glove the box. I reached my hand up behind it and you can feel what I think are little cooling fins almost like a radiator. Was going to remove the cover but it is a little bit more than just pulling some screws. Thanks for all the info and the willingness to be a guinea pig for the conversion. Like I said I think this will go on the back burner for at least a few weeks as far as projects go. Carb rebuild is definitely the priority. I did however do a quick CL search and there is a guy here locally who has the R12 and vacuum and gauges to do an R12 recharge for a very reasonable price I think so we will see about possibly just doing that to save some time and effort considering there are so many other projects to do. Both my own and that damn honey do. Looking forward to your conversion and the fact that I am learning more than I thought I would ever about A/C systems. Thanks for the info. Yet again a member expanding my vintage Subaru knowledge base. 

 

#1: The heater / AC controller on the dash. 

 

 
Uploaded with ImageShack.us
 
#2: The little AC knob on the drivers side that controls the unit. You just twist this knob clockwise and the compressor kicks on. 

 
Uploaded with ImageShack.us
 
#3: Not a super useful pic but it shows that it was definitely a pretty pro looking install; on the interior anyway. This is on the black (what I assume to be the evaporator cover) box under the glove box. 

 
Uploaded with ImageShack.us
 
#4: Shot of the passenger side under glove box compartment. The glove box on this is incredible small. Maybe only 4 inches tall due to this being installed I presume. Haven't seen a non A/C car to compare. 

 
Uploaded with ImageShack.us
 
I think these are some of the shots you were looking for. Anything else you need just let me know. I was thinking I might even do a quick "follow the hoses" video that I can post on youtube and then put a link to on the forum. 
 


#12 maestro

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 02:24 PM

Those pics are sweet. It looks like that's as factory as it gets. Now I know what to look for if I want to stay factory in my restoration of my 78 brat. If something ever happens to your wagon I got dibs on the a/c. They sell aftermarket units I've been looking into but a setup like this would be preferable. If you have a line on a guy that will do your R12 then go for it. The only reason I'm converting my van to R134 is the system is bone dry. I will keep you posted here on my results from the conversion.



#13 Sub78

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 04:02 PM

Let's hope parting her out doesn't come too soon. Unless you are just trying to jinx me. Ha. Consider it up for grabs to you if the day ever comes and you are still looking. 



#14 moosens

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 04:11 PM

There were different kits. Subaru3 - Todd can better identify which ones you can expect up to which build date ,etc. Mine is the exact same as the one shown here. A Sanden 507 pumping through the same duct work and controlled by the same switch ,etc. - Same hose clamps too !! LOL

 

We actually had three , well , two and a half +/- , kits new in the box. Danny-drivesubies got one. WagonsOnly has another and I think he also got the "half kit" which was mostly there but obviously opened up. I think they were marked Panasonic on the box. So I personally don't have a new kit. I see Earl still trying to sell a complete used set up but I think that's the short York compressor.

 

Danny might have some more in his new stock but may not know of any yet because he has so much stuff to get to. Let's hope for that.

 

I'll check back soon. Limited time now.


Edited by moosens, 07 April 2013 - 04:13 PM.


#15 maestro

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Posted 07 April 2013 - 05:18 PM

Now if I could get hold of a NOS set that would be fantastic. Put the R1134 connectors on and wham! No worries about mixing the coolants.Sub78, no worries bro. I'd never want to jinx a fellow subie enthusiast. Enjoy that ride for a long time.







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