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Old 08-07-2019, 01:51 PM   #1
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Adding dash air

So i recently bought a gmc savana 3500 in portland oregon and drove it back to phoenix with only minor incident. i thought the ac just needed a recharge but once back to phoenix i found out it doesnt have dash ac. Has anyone added dash ac to their PNW bus ?
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Old 08-07-2019, 02:49 PM   #2
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Who’s bus body?

Does it have GM dash controls for AC?
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Old 08-07-2019, 03:36 PM   #3
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Thomas

the dash has vents, a temp dial and an dial for air flow amount. ill see about uploading a picture when i get home from work
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Old 08-07-2019, 04:11 PM   #4
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Thomas

the dash has vents, a temp dial and an dial for air flow amount. ill see about uploading a picture when i get home from work
What makes you think there isnít any dash AC? The reason I ask is because I have an Express. I havenít dug into it completely, but by all indications the components are all there. Iím sure hoping that itís just a few changes to have it in the cab so I can ditch that giant condenser.
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Old 08-07-2019, 04:21 PM   #5
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If anyone out there has a Minotour with experience with its AC, please reply. Thanks
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Old 08-07-2019, 04:53 PM   #6
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lack of compressor, condenser, ac lines
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Old 08-07-2019, 08:42 PM   #7
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on most all of the chevy vans if it has Dash air, the controls will say 'Max A/C'. 'A/C'. then have the air directionals..



the older units just have the Air directionals and then a Separate A/C button..



if it is marked for A/C then it once had it and has been yanked out...



the Heater only versions of these units were built without evaporators.. so if you have A/C lines that are capped off or cut from the firewall then you just need condenser, hoses, and condenser..



it can get involved if the system is not marked for A/C.. usually the wiring is there, but you;ll have to tear apart the dash to install the evaporator..


example of Non A/C control
chevy-van-non-AC.jpg


and one with A/C originally
chrvy-van-with-AC.jpg


-Christopher
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Old 08-07-2019, 10:53 PM   #8
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Waxman, does your bus have an AC evaporator in the back? My Minotour has a Carrier AC unit for the bus body. When I look under the hood I can see that there’s a compressor and I see that there’s lines that go to the Carrier condenser. I also have the AC and Max AC that Christopher posted. I haven’t dug in any more than that. I’m hoping that the GM condenser and evaporator are there too and all I need to do is remove the teed-in Carrier system.
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:42 AM   #9
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I have a similar situation, 3500 with no factory air. Looks like the components can be purchased from Rockauto at a reasonable price, but I'm hesitant to tear into the dash. Anybody here actually done this?
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Old 08-08-2019, 03:30 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by junkyardroad View Post
I have a similar situation, 3500 with no factory air. Looks like the components can be purchased from Rockauto at a reasonable price, but I'm hesitant to tear into the dash. Anybody here actually done this?
Do you have the AC dials on the dash?
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Old 08-08-2019, 07:21 AM   #11
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many of the busses built with front and rear A/C used whats called a 'Tie-in' Package, the manufacturer of the van chassis built it with an A/C prep package whuich means it has wiring , dash controls, and front evaporator. but has no lines or front condenser. the factory compressor is usually installed as a heavy duty (same compressor as used in a dual-air 15 passenger van)



the rear evaporator is installed and a skirt, underbody, or roof mount condenser is installed.. the evaporators are T'd in at the liquid lines and suction lines.



if you remove the rear A/C and skirt condenser you will ruin the Dashboard A/C unless you source a c ondenser and associated lines and install them.

while this can be done, keep in mind the manufacturer of the van may not have rated the engine cooling system to have a Bus body / weight and a front condenser.. will you be fine? most likely in all but the most severe conditions as the cutaway cooling system is usually designed for pretty severe duty.. but its something to keep in mind if you find yourself travelling the 100 degree plus weather ofthe south / southwest in summer...



and again note my dash control pics.. some were built without front A/C at all.. chances are a bus like that was bought without A/C and someone had A/C added afterwords, they will have gotten a rear system only.. most none of the aftermarket A/C companies offer factory-style dash air for Non A/C van chassis.



-Christopher
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Old 08-08-2019, 02:56 PM   #12
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Food for thought... There are a great many factors to air-conditioning systems in a vehicle...

One, the engine requires a means of adjusting idle for increased load to avoid stalling. Usually achieved with the IAC (Idle Air Control) valve on fuel-injected engines... So shouldn't be an issue here, but doesn't necessarily mean it WON'T be.

Two, a vehicle not factory-equipped with A/C may have a completely different temperature blend door arrangement than one that was equipped.

Three, a factory-equipped air-conditioned vehicle will have a dedicated circuit for the compressor clutch, usually a 20-25 amp fuse, 30 on some, which also is fed by a relay and wiring for pressure cut-out switches that are not likely to be present on one not so equipped.

Besides the dash controls' obvious difference from one to the other, you can also look through the radiator grille to see if you are looking at the radiator core, or the air-conditioning condenser coil. If a condenser coil is installed, it had air-conditioning from the factory.

Word to the wise? If this bus truly did not have front air-conditioning from the factory, I think it would be far more trouble than it is worth to try to retrofit it yourself. You might check into whether dealer-installed kits are still available, and find a qualified technician willing to install it.

The reason I say this is that a friend recently got a project car, an 85 Buick Regal. The car was originally a 3.8 Buick V6, the idiot kid he got it from had blown up the V6, replaced it with a 5.0 Olds V8 (307), and gutted the car's factory V6 A/C system, as it could not be retrofitted to the V8.

So I found my friend a complete system from an 82 Cutlass with an Olds 260, which should have bolted to the 307 like it was meant to be, and fit this 85 Regal like a glove. It did. However...

The 85 Regal did not offer the 307 Olds, it was not available in that model until 1986. This means that the air-conditioning control system on the 85 V6 is not necessarily the same as the 86 V8. And guess what, it's NOT.

Compressor cycles whether the dash controls are on or not. Compressor relay has power whether the ignition is on or not, and the cool air is not getting inside the cabin. Wiring was not hacked -- you tell me. One major difference (and the whole problem, I believe) is that one system uses a central 'cycle control switch', and the other uses separate high-pressure and low-pressure cutout switches.

Headaches like THIS are why I say it's not worth it to retrofit a non-equipped vehicle with factory parts as though it were unless you REALLY know what you're doing.

If this thing doesn't have factory A/C, you might hit up Vintage Air, or as I suggested previously, look into dealer-equipped setups. And not to sound condescending, but just a heads-up, the accessory drive was changed on these things somewhere around 1996. Previous years placed the A/C compressor on the passenger side, the alternator on the driver's side. Thereafter, the two components were swapped, using a different style alternator and A/C compressor. Don't ask me why, but this was across the board... All Vortec engines, including the 4.3L V6, and yes, the 6.5L turbo diesel. Just in case the compressor simply isn't where you're looking for it.

Of course, being a bus, you might consider finding the factory under-body systems used on such vehicles, their controls are generally standalone and thus do not rely on the engine control system or its factory wiring. Wire up the 12V and go.
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Old 08-08-2019, 04:54 PM   #13
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i have the controls in the first picture cadillackid attached. there is no rear ac either just the rear heater attached to the floor
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Old 08-08-2019, 05:04 PM   #14
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im going to be doing the pmd relocation upgrade so i figure while im in there i should try to knock out anything else i want to do under the hood. im planning on adding a mini split and a diesel genny. its primary use will be for short trips to festivals and dune trips. but would be nice to not have to run that if i need to take it around town here n there
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Old 08-08-2019, 06:45 PM   #15
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Waxman, I feel like I barged in on your post, but since there are experienced eyes on this thread, Iíd like to ask one more question.

I looked from underneath and I see a condenser. At least it looks like one to me. If I have a the condenser and the dash controls and blower, whatís the chance the rest is there? What should I be looking for to conclude that the GM factory equipment is complete?

Thanks Christopher and Cheese_Wagon
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Old 08-09-2019, 04:50 AM   #16
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Waxman, I feel like I barged in on your post, but since there are experienced eyes on this thread, I’d like to ask one more question.

I looked from underneath and I see a condenser. At least it looks like one to me. If I have a the condenser and the dash controls and blower, what’s the chance the rest is there? What should I be looking for to conclude that the GM factory equipment is complete?

Thanks Christopher and Cheese_Wagon
After cussing my computer incessantly for ten minutes (because it did something stupid and lost my original reply to this post, which took about thirty minutes to put together)... I will attempt to explain this again. Believe you me, I was ready to b*tch-slap this thing back to Taiwan. I have a rapidly-growing hatred of electronics and related technology. And to think I once studied to be a computer programmer...

Anyway, that definitely appears to be the edge of a condenser coil. An easy way to confirm, as I mentioned earlier, is to look through the grille and see if you are looking at a condenser core or the radiator. A condenser core will almost completely, if not completely cover the face of the radiator. Keep in mind, some heavier-duty vehicles (such as a bus or truck with towing package) are equipped with engine oil and transmission coolers, which are similar in construction but are much smaller than a condenser core (book-sized versus poster-sized). Make sure this is a condenser and not a transmission cooler or engine oil cooler. Oil coolers are usually connected directly to a spacer block between the oil filter and engine block. Transmission coolers will be plumbed into the transmission fluid lines. Neither will be much larger than a hardcover book, though some are long and narrow.

This image shows the difference between condensers and radiators. The radiator will have rubber hoses connecting it to the engine, the condenser will be mounted forward of it, with steel / aluminum lines and high-pressure hoses connecting it to the rest of the system. The only reason a condenser core would be in a vehicle that did not come with factory A/C is if the radiator core support had been replaced with with one from a vehicle that did. Often such parts are not removed in such situations.

Condenser - Radiator.png

Any conventional refrigeration system consists of several parts, the compressor, the receiver/dryer, the evaporator core, and the condenser core. None of which a manufacturer installs on a vehicle not being equipped with air-conditioning. Here is a diagram of the system components in a typical setup...

AC_Layout.jpg

So, I couldn't find an image more specific to the application that showed what I'm trying to show (4.3 Vortec, but the 5.7 / 6.5 are similar, and use the same components).

Vortec Accessory Drive.png

What you see here is an engine removed from the vehicle with the accessory drive intact, from angle of right-front. See that object at the top driver's side of the engine (over P/S pump), above most of the rest of the accessory drive, with the large hoses protruding forward? That is the A/C compressor, and that is a typical mounting location for 1996 and later GM trucks and vans. Some models had the alternator and A/C compressor locations swapped, however, I believe this to be a 2WD vs 4WD thing in pickups / SUVs. Not positive of that, however.

Sometimes compressors lock up when they wear out, and some folks just remove it and go on because they don't want to spend the money. This allows moisture and dirt to get into the lines, which is not a good thing if you're trying to restore functionality. Sometimes they remove the lines and receiver/dryer along with the compressor. Assuming yours had A/C from the factory, if yours is missing, that is likely why. If factory equipped, and the receiver/dryer is still mounted, it should be hanging off of the firewall on the passenger side, it will be be connected to the evaporator core fittings.

If the compressor, lines, and receiver/dryer have all been removed, you should still see fittings for the system to connect to the evaporator core. These fittings protrude through the firewall (usually coming out of the heater / air/conditioning box, which contains the evaporator core), and are usually on the passenger side firewall. This is what a typical evaporator looks like, which should give you an idea of what the fittings look like. Also, a diagram of its connections to the receiver / dryer, and the rest of the system.

Air Conditioning Evaporator Core.jpg

Savanna Van AC Details.png

As with the radiator / condenser comparison, the heater core will have rubber hoses connecting it to the heater control valve and the rest of the cooling system. The A/C evaporator lines and fittings will be steel or aluminum. Now, if you see such fittings on your firewall, and nothing else, then likely the vehicle was factory equipped, but the system was removed after failure. In this case, you should be able to restore functionality with a replacement compressor, lines, receiver/dryer/orifice tube, and condenser if necessary, as well as refrigerant and oil. Different systems use different types of oil for the compressor, (usually PAG in modern applications), but verify what yours uses for proper system operation after repair.

If you buy new, it's important to know that most suppliers won't warranty compressors unless you replace the receiver/dryer/orifice tube, and sometimes the condenser. It's not always necessary to make it work, but even a little flutter in the system has been known to make a brand-new compressor fail.

The bad news is, an open system means moisture and dirt in the evaporator and any lines, making future repair more expensive and difficult. It really amazes me the lengths to which some people will go to save money, though with the cost of typical A/C repair, I can't say I blame them 100% for the display of ignorance. If you do it yourself, it's really not that difficult, and it's not that expensive, either.

The good news is, this system appears to be fairly generic to GM Express and Savana vans, regardless of engine or series / GVWR rating. A compressor for a gas 5.7 is the same part number as a diesel 6.5, all other parts should be the same as well. This means you should be able to restore functionality pm the cheap by sourcing used parts from a junker at your local yard. It doesn't have to come from a 3500, or a 1500, nor does it matter whether yours is diesel and the donor was gas. However, a V6 is likely to have different length pressure hoses, so watch out for this.

There's no reason a previously functioning used system would not work if properly reassembled and fully cleaned/flushed/charged before operation. And there were plenty of these vans built, chances are your local salvage yard has one with a functional and intact A/C system. Might be able to fix it yourself for under $200-$300 this way. New compressors alone can run $300-500.

However, I would try to verify function of the donor system before purchasing such parts. A little rattle in the compressor won't kill it (and many will slightly chatter when running), but could be a sign of trouble. Before putting it all together. I would use high-pressure air to blow what you can out of the lines. And before charging it and firing it up, I would have the system flushed thoroughly.

This is all, of course, providing yours had factory air-conditioning. And while GM is not known for this, some year models may be different. Information I can find indicates 1996-2002 was one style of compressor, 2002 and later used another. They may actually be the same compressor with a different hub/pulley/clutch arrangement.

Hope that helps... Now I'm off to have a drink to bring my blood pressure down from my computer being the electronic a**hole that it is... Cheers! Hope that helps!
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Old 08-09-2019, 05:20 AM   #17
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im planning on adding a mini split and a diesel genny.
Not a bad route to go at all, if your bus truly did not have factory A/C and you intend to spend a good amount of time inside when traveling. Many people with RVs will fire up their generator and use their rooftop units while driving, because it helps the fuel economy, as well as engine power when climbing hills.
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Old 08-09-2019, 09:48 AM   #18
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Cheese Wagon,
Thank you for putting all of that together!!
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Old 08-09-2019, 12:16 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by CHEESE_WAGON View Post
Not a bad route to go at all, if your bus truly did not have factory A/C and you intend to spend a good amount of time inside when traveling. Many people with RVs will fire up their generator and use their rooftop units while driving, because it helps the fuel economy, as well as engine power when climbing hills.
Oh yes that really helps fuel economy

Ok hope you don't mind me saying but running two engines does not help fuel economy. But it is what I do. The genny uses about 1/2 gallon per hour, so not a big hit fuel economy wise, but because I have it on its own tank it will not hurt fuel economy....

Power for hills yes one more thing not taking power from the prime mover always helps.
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Old 08-09-2019, 01:05 PM   #20
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Oh yes that really helps fuel economy

Ok hope you don't mind me saying but running two engines does not help fuel economy. But it is what I do. The genny uses about 1/2 gallon per hour, so not a big hit fuel economy wise, but because I have it on its own tank it will not hurt fuel economy....

Power for hills yes one more thing not taking power from the prime mover always helps.
Actually, if the chassis engine gets 3 more mpg cruising without the load of the A/C compressor, and the genny only burns 1-3 gallons per day, it actually does help. Guess it depends on how far you're traveling... Agree to disagree.
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