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#1051403 - 06/11/17 06:23 PM AC Won't Work...  
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longislandcamper Offline
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Port Jefferson Station, NY
Picked up my 85 SS a few months back as a first time restoration car. It's in really good shape but there are a few issues here and there. My gripe right now is the AC. The hot and cold settings work well as does the blower. The only problem is that when you slide it over to AC that you never get cold air. There are no noticeable changes when I slide to lever to AC.

As a complete newbie to car repair, what are some things I could check out? I do have R12.

#1051406 - 06/11/17 07:52 PM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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Assuming your compressor isn't running, the low pressure switch on the side of the accumulator (black cap/two green wires/big round aluminum can) has to sense pressure from the refrigerant to work. Chances are your R12 has leaked out which shuts off the compressor from running.
Due to scarcity and cost of R12, most of us have converted over to R134a.
Newbies to AC repair probably should have the shop do the conversion. You need pressure gauges, R134a seals, R134a ports and a vacuum pump to check for leaks and remove moisture from the system.
There are plenty of videos on YT showing how it is done.

Last edited by upflying; 06/11/17 08:00 PM.

86 MCSS Notchback coupe, LS3, 4L65E, column shift, silver with maroon bench interior

#1051407 - 06/11/17 08:01 PM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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I recently had my A/C serviced and it worked for all of 1 day and quit. So I took it back to the shop and they found that connector that upflying is talking about wasn't making contact. The guy showed me by wiggling it around, he could get the compressor to engage. He cleaned up the connector and my A/C been working since; I grabbed a nice looking connector at the junkyard last time I was there and next time the A/C craps out I'll solder that in as a replacement. So if your system is found to be charged, check that connector!

Good luck!


#1051408 - 06/11/17 09:02 PM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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What would the conversion to 134 cost?

#1051409 - 06/11/17 10:52 PM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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Originally Posted by longislandcamper
What would the conversion to 134 cost?

Hard to say without knowing what caused the R12 to leak out in the first place. Also depends on how long the AC hasn't been working. The compressor could be seized if it hasn't worked for 10 years.
Most places will give you an estimate and you can decide from there.


86 MCSS Notchback coupe, LS3, 4L65E, column shift, silver with maroon bench interior

#1051437 - 06/13/17 12:35 AM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: Bitflipper]  
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Originally Posted by Bitflipper
I recently had my A/C serviced and it worked for all of 1 day and quit. So I took it back to the shop and they found that connector that upflying is talking about wasn't making contact. The guy showed me by wiggling it around, he could get the compressor to engage. He cleaned up the connector and my A/C been working since; I grabbed a nice looking connector at the junkyard last time I was there and next time the A/C craps out I'll solder that in as a replacement. So if your system is found to be charged, check that connector!

Good luck!


Got around to looking at it today and wiggled the green cable connectors and everything in that general area. No luck. :-(

#1051439 - 06/13/17 02:06 AM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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Here's how I'd see it going down:

You'll need to convert the system to R134. Dixie sells a retrofit kit here:

https://www.dixierestorationdepot.com/Product/Detail.aspx?s=DM90050&d=149&p=1

You'll need to have something like that professionally installed, system flushed, and charged with R134 that contains a UV light activated leak detector additive. If you're lucky the compressor isn't seized. If it is compromised, I personally recommend a brand new compressor rather than a rebuild (Dixie sells NOS Harrison compressors, albeit somewhat expensive, if you want to keep it stock) - I burned too much money of shoddy rebuilds in the past. If the system stays charged past that, great, you're done. If not, the shop that did your conversion/flush/charge can use their UV light to find the leak and then quote you from there.

In my experience, A/C service is never cheap. You're likely in for several hundred dollars, possibly in excess of $1,000 depending on how much needs replacement.

Good luck!


#1051482 - 06/15/17 12:50 AM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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This is supposed to be a nice weather kind of car. Now that it's finally warmed up around here I don't even feel like taking her out since it's just about been TOO hot to drive with the windows down. lol Can't wait to get the AC fixed.

#1051486 - 06/15/17 02:07 AM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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in my experience, the hoses leak where the rubber part is crimped to the metal tube. If there is an oily substance around that area, you've most likely found the leak. I have found R-12 on Craiglist, so it can be found, good luck with your A/C repair!!



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#1051662 - 06/21/17 10:59 PM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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I've been doing a ton of research regarding my AC. Am I crazy for thinking that I might want to try to get my AC working again and use r12 instead of trying the conversion?

#1051663 - 06/21/17 11:16 PM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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I would hate to see you lose a few $50 cans of R12 if you have a leak in system. Converting is no big deal, R134a cans are $6 at Walmart.
Throw a vacuum on your existing system and watch the gauge to see if you have a leak. Then decide.


86 MCSS Notchback coupe, LS3, 4L65E, column shift, silver with maroon bench interior

#1051666 - 06/21/17 11:45 PM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: upflying]  
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Originally Posted by upflying
I would hate to see you lose a few $50 cans of R12 if you have a leak in system. Converting is no big deal, R134a cans are $6 at Walmart.
Throw a vacuum on your existing system and watch the gauge to see if you have a leak. Then decide.


The sticker says I need 3.25# of r12 so you're looking at around 4 bottles. Who knows, I may have r12 in there but the compressor or something else is broken. Gonna hook up a gauge set and test things out first.

Assuming everything leaked out, how many cans of r12 might I need (plus UV dye) just to get the compressor to engage? If it only takes one can to get teh compressor to engage then hopefully that's enough to spot the leak and fix it.

Just a thought I had and still not opposed to the conversion.

#1051984 - 07/04/17 01:48 AM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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OK, fine. Everyone around here is telling me to make the switch to 134. I plan on getting the proper gauges and vacuum set and do things to right way. The decal in the engine bay says I need 3.25# of R12. Does that mean I need the same amount of 134?

#1051986 - 07/04/17 01:57 AM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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90% of that amount!



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#1051988 - 07/04/17 02:15 AM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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So how do I go about getting the old oil out of the system?

#1051991 - 07/04/17 04:25 AM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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You have to take the entire system apart and get some Duraflush and a siphon gun and dip the hose of the siphon gun in the Duraflush, blow in one end of each piece of the system and catch the stuff that exits the other end in a bunch of rags or maybe an old coffee can, wear goggles to avoid eye injury. If you don't have the knowledge and experience, find someone that does, it's not a job for the rookies!!, DO NOT flush the compressor, just remove it and turn it so the ports are in a position to drain the existing oil. flush the lines, hoses, evap and condenser, remove the orifice tube as well to get the best results! The accumulator should be replaced, I used PAG 100, the system takes 8 total ounces, I installed 4 ounces in the suction port of the compressor and rotate it about 8 times by the clutch and the rest in the new accumulator. If you need more info, repost here so we can help!!

Last edited by 86ttop; 07/04/17 04:26 AM.


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#1052138 - 07/09/17 06:25 PM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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I bought some AC gauges, a vacuum pump and some R12. Here's the the set I bought. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00SZ4QFW0/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o01_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

The kit says it comes with r12 fittings but it's not connecting. I've got the blue low pressure hose hooked to the dryer but the red high pressure hose fitting is too big to fit on the schraeder valve. What adapter would I need to make this fit?

Pressing the scraeder valve by hand does show that there is some pressure in the system.

I took the power leads off the compressor and attached a power probe to the compressor and I was able to get the clutch to engage.

That's where I stand right now. What's my next step?

#1052148 - 07/10/17 12:36 AM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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OK, so it just occurred to me that a 134 conversion kit would actually have the high side fitting I would need.....

#1052314 - 07/15/17 10:16 PM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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So I just boughtn r-12 to 134 conversion kit in an effor to attach my gauges to the low and high sides. The low side attaches perfectly with the original connections from my gauges. The high side fittings are another story. I just bought an r12 to 134 conversion kit and even those fittings don't want to screw on the high side. For what it's worth, the high side valve isn't completely threaded to the very top of the stem. I'd say there is 1/8" om smooth metal until you get to the threads.

#1052319 - 07/16/17 12:39 AM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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Forget that, I'm a moron. I guess working outside in the heat and sun fried my brain today. I eventually got the conversion adapters on the existing r12 ports and then used the quick connects to attach to my manifold gauges. I had zero pressure when I opened the valves and then I put the system on a vacuum that dropped it down to close to 30. I let it run for about 20 minutes before closing the valves then turning the pump off.

It's been about 10 minutes and it's still reading close to 30. I'll check it again in about an hour for the last time tonight and then check it again in the morning. Hopefully I'm still around 30. :-) At that point I'll probably vacuum the system again and than add some refrigerant. Wish me luck.

#1052340 - 07/16/17 05:53 PM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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OK, making progress but still getting nowhere at the same time.

When I woke up the system was almost back down to zero so it wasn't holding a vacuum. I put about 1/3 oz of UV dye in my yellow hose and then attached that to a can of refrigerant. I then purged the yellow hose before opening the low pressure side and it went in like a champ. You could see stuff in the sight glass and the low pressure side rose to about 20 or 25. I kept shaking the can as it went in. I then closed the system to get another can of refrigerant going and shortly after I opened the low side the clutch would engage for about a second constantly.

At this point we weren't sure if the can was empty. We didn't see anything going through the sight glass so we closed the low side and pressed on the yellow hose valve and got nothing so we disconnected the can and were then faced with a surge of refrigerant escaping from the side tap hole we made. :-( I'm not sure why that happened. I was able to purge the line when I hooked up the second can but I don't know if anything from that second can went in the system at all. The pressure's didn't move much. A laser thermometer in the vents shoot about 93.

The third can had the same result as can #2 but now the clutch would engage for a smidge longer. Clutch would engage at around 50 psi run for just over a second and let go over and over. I never saw anything going through the glass and a huge rush from the can as I untapped it.

I stopped working on it for about an hour. When I came back I hooked my yellow hose to the other port on my side tap and went to put can #4 in. This time I had greater success. You could see a bit of flow in the sight glass. The clutch would engage for a tiny bit longer. Maybe 2-3 seconds at this point. The laser thermometer shoot back about 82 so it appears that things WANT to work. When I unhooked this can from the side tap it was empty. No rush of gas like I had with the second and third cans.

Alas, I'm out of refrigerant now. When I unhooked the gauges from the car you could clearly see some bubbling from the high side valve and could hear hissing coming from the low side port. Guess I'll be replacing them. When it gets dark I'll see if I can spot anymore leaks with my UV light but I don't know if the compressor ran long enough to even shoe a leak somewhere else. :-(

#1052342 - 07/16/17 07:33 PM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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When you are trying to fill the system with the second can etc, take the low pressure with plug off (its the one going into the side of the big drier cylinder) and jumper a wire across it. This removes the low pressure cycling switch from the equation and lets the compressor run enough to pull the refrigerant from the can. You won't hurt it by running this way to fill it, but once the system is charged, make sure you hook it back up.


Sometimes you just need a bigger hammer...

'85 MC with budget 5.3L swap, TH350 with stock 2.14 rear end
It ain't much off the line, but it's nice on the highway
#1052414 - 07/18/17 10:14 PM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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OK, well I don't see any traces of UV dye anywhere in the system except for the low/high ports. That can mean that those are the culprits OR that the compressor didn't engage long enough to pass the dye through. lol

I just put new valve cores in and hooked up my vacuum pump again. Hopefully it holds now....

#1052432 - 07/19/17 11:07 AM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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12 hours after turning the pump off and we are still holding vacuum. I want to say that maybe the needle dropped a tiny fraction but it's hard to tell. It's probably 20 degrees cooler in my garage than it was last night during initial testing. Could that have anything to do with it dropped?

If it droppednits like a hairline, if at all so that why I'm not sure if it went down or not. :-(

#1052434 - 07/19/17 12:50 PM Re: AC Won't Work... [Re: longislandcamper]  
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Leave it another few hours and check again. It is probably good enough though. If you have all of the equipment for recharging, think about buying a keg of 134a instead of the small cans. I paid $90 for 30 lbs last time, and I've been able to recharge over a half dozen times on different vehicles without a trip to the parts store...


Sometimes you just need a bigger hammer...

'85 MC with budget 5.3L swap, TH350 with stock 2.14 rear end
It ain't much off the line, but it's nice on the highway
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