For reasons that aren't entirely clear, there are a few among us who view any kind of comfort or convenience accessory in a street rod as a rejection of the foundation the hobby was built on. Well, for all those who think that getting from point A to B should be an endurance contest, all Dick "Magoo" Megugorac can say is "been there, done that." He has done a lap or two of the country in a bare bones hot rod and will always have a spot in his heart for topless highboys. But he wanted a comfortable cruiser, so his latest project is based on a '63 Chevrolet that is cool, both literally and figuratively.

When Magoo's Impala was new, it was equipped with Deluxe heat and air conditioning, which was a $364 option (air alone was $317). While that seems reasonable enough, the base price of a two-door hardtop was just $2,774. That means in today's dollars a new Vintage Air system is a much better buy, and thanks to modern technology, it's more effective as well. In the past, most systems used cables or vacuum motors to operate the air doors inside the evaporator case that determined if cool or warm air was delivered to the passenger compartment. By using electronically controlled servo motors the air doors can travel further, which allowed Vintage Air to design evaporator cases with increased air volume in both the heat and cool modes. In addition, thanks to solid-state controls, warm and cool air can be precisely blended for the ultimate in temperature control and the optimum dehumidified defrost mode. And for anyone with a high-performance engine under the hood there's an additional benefit to servo controls. Typically, these motors have low manifold vacuum at idle, which can make vacuum-operated accessories, like A/C systems, seem to have a mind of their own-servo motors eliminate any such erratic operation.

While electronic controls offer improved performance, you may be thinking, "Great, one more computer to program with no 12-year-old around." But never fear, these systems are very user-friendly. When battery power is first connected to the electronic control unit the computer goes through an initialization sequence on its own.

Although the Gen IV system doesn't require any complicated programming, Vintage Air has a few electrical system precautions that must be observed.

Vehicles of this era may have had some or all of their radio interference capacitors removed. There should be a capacitor found at each of the following locations:
1. On the positive terminal of the ignition coil
2. If there is a generator, on the armature terminal of the generator
3. If there is a generator, on the battery terminal of the voltage regulator

Most alternators have a capacitor installed internally to eliminate "whining" as the engine is revved. If whining is heard in the radio, or just to be extra cautious, a radio interference capacitor can be added to the battery terminal of the alternator.

The battery lead and ground cables must be in good condition. There should be a heavy ground from the battery to the engine block, and additional grounds to the body and to the chassis. If these precautions are not observed, it is possible for voltage spikes to be present on the battery leads. These spikes come from ignition systems, charging systems, and turning some of the vehicle's other systems on and off. Modern computer-operated equipment can be sensitive to voltage spikes on their power leads, which can cause unexpected resets, strange behavior, and may also cause permanent damage. Radio interference capacitors are available at most auto and truck parts suppliers.

Another important but often-overlooked part of an air-conditioning system is a safety switch. These are extremely important since an A/C system relies on refrigerant to carry lubrication through the system. Vintage Air systems are equipped with a binary pressure safety switch (PN 11078-vus), which disengages the compressor clutch in case of extreme low-pressure condition (refrigerant loss) or excessively high head pressure (406 psi) to prevent compressor damage or hose rupture. A trinary switch (PN 11076-vus) combines high/low pressure protection with an electric fan operation signal at 254 psi and may be substituted for use with electric condenser fans.

Installing a Vintage Air system is easy enough. The instructions are thorough and easy to understand, and everything you need is included, except heater hose; although the installation procedure is straightforward when it comes to charging the system, it should be done by a shop with the proper equipment. Vintage Air systems are designed to operate with R-12 or R134a only and should be evacuated for 35-45 minutes before charging with the proper amount of refrigerant. No oil should be added as the compressors come filled.

When building a street rod of any era, Vintage Air's Gen IV systems bring a new level of sophistication to aftermarket air conditioning and for a variety of '50s and '60s cars and trucks the SureFit series makes installation easier than ever.

SOURCE
Vintage Air
18865 Goll Street
San Antonio
TX  78266
800-862-6658
http://www.vintageair.com
Hot Rods By Dean
1 West Lone Cactus Drive
Phoenix
AZ  85027
623-581-1932
http://www.hotrodsbydean.com