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Old 03-16-2007, 12:59 PM   #1
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how to add bus air conditioning?

I have been thinking about this a lot lately. I need some help on ideas on how to add a/c affordably to a bus. Yea, I know just buy a genset and a roof unit and your there . . . too expensive right now. How about re-engineering an auto unit? Could I just add 2 good sized evaporators and fans in the area I want cooled and mount the compressor and condensor? Would this be hard for the average DIY or do I need special tools. I mainly want to get A/C for when we are driving so I want to figure out how to use a compressor running off the engine to power it. As a matter of fact I think I may have a donor unit I could experiment with. I understand the basics of how it works, just need a little help connecting the dots . . .
Oh Yea, also I saw a conversion site where a guy took a window unit apart and mounted the compressor and condensor under the bus and mounted the controls, evaporator and fan unit in the bus. That was kinda cool but still requires a generator. Unless of course you could replace the compressor with a auto unit driven off the engine?!? Ideas anyone?
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Old 03-16-2007, 04:01 PM   #2
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... Hmmm... I can't say for sure,
but my thought is that the compessed coolant going for a long run to the condenser...
I think it looses some of its cooling capacity.
If the condenser is closer to the compressor, then I think its better
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Old 03-16-2007, 05:28 PM   #3
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The point IS to use a belt driven compressor mounted on the buses engine with the condenser in front of the radiator as in a normal vehicle. In my TC2000 I wouldn't have to run hoses far to reach the evaporator. I could just place it behind the drivers seat (7' maybe total hose, well insulated of course) to the evaporator box or boxes and duct the air to the front and back from there. I only use the first 21' for living quarters, the back is storage. I would just like to use a readily available compressor and condensor from a auto or truck. I know thay make rear a/c units for vans that don't seem to be anything but an extra evaporator and fan w/ controls. It makes sense that it would work in theory but I need info about sizing and choosing components, connections, charging issues and such. Any A/C techs out there? Junk yards are full of these components.
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Old 03-16-2007, 09:11 PM   #4
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There is a unit that they use in limos. I think its made by Manix or something like that. It taps into the factory system, both freon and coolant. I don't know if that would be any cheaper than buy a generator at Costco and a rooftop a/c.
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Old 03-17-2007, 10:11 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oldog12
... Hmmm... I can't say for sure,
but my thought is that the compessed coolant going for a long run to the condenser...
I think it looses some of its cooling capacity.
If the condenser is closer to the compressor, then I think its better
Longer runs shouldn't be that much of a problem so long as you insulate the crap out of them.

I have a different idea for air conditioning. How about a solar/coolant powered one?

As you know, you can make cold from heat. It's already done with fridges. Why not do it using all that solar/engine heat that is going to waste? I did some research online about solar systems. Some seem to thing that you just don't get enough energy from solar collectors by themselves. How bout using solar as a preheater and radiator coolant or maybe oil or tranny fluid to kick it up another notch or 2. That's one hell of a lot of heat. I would think, more than enough to cool atleast a portion of the bus interior. The biggest problem would probably be dissapating all that heat.

Such a system probably wouldn't work real well sitting in traffic, but, cruising down the hiway at 60 mph, it might just work reasonably well. The question is, how much would such a system cost? I am guessing that this is the biggest reason you don't see it. Also, such a system uses nasty stuff like ammonia which ain't the best thing to be breathing incase of a leak.
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Old 03-21-2007, 10:11 AM   #6
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IIRC the levels of ammonia are explosive, and amazingly corrosive when they leak...and the systems have to be pretty level when stationary.
IIRC they also need a consistent source of heat; the 12VDC heating unit in my RV fridge will drain a car battery in no time flat. It's only used when driving, and BTW use a larger alternator with it due to the loads.

A window unit does a pretty good job, and a couple folks have separated the parts making them under-bus units...talk to your local AC guys about doing this.
Why reinvent the wheel? Get a good used rooftop AC unit from a boneyard, they show up all the time. I've paid $50 for one a couple years ago, those boneyard guys have no idea what they're selling (for the most part).
Just be prepared to lift a very heavy weight from a rooftop! Takes two guys minimum.
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Old 03-21-2007, 01:40 PM   #7
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Yea, you're probably right. I have done a lot more research on the web and probably not a great idea to get too creative with the a/c. I just need to find a good source of used parts. I just don't see many used gensets or roof air units for sale. I will keep looking . . .
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Old 03-22-2007, 08:39 AM   #8
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Boneyards, boneyards, boneyards!
I regularly call/visit local boneyards, and call more distant boneyards to find out if anything has shown up.
Spring is here, and more folks will be listing trailers and stuff for free/cheap on local Craig's Lists and Freecycle.org sites. I see around one a month in the Boston area Craig's list....(tent)campers are common, but not much there to salvage, maybe a small fridge or stovetop, propane regulator.

Try calling insurance companies, they get wrecked RVs/trailers that they have to dispose of (more in summer, less in winter, obviously), and try local body shops, RV centers...the RV places sometimes get rooftop units as people upgrade units.
Places that do towing sometimes get RVs...either they towed a wreck, or are storing one that the owner defaulted on storage fees. The owners might want to get a few bucks for the RV appliances before they take it to a wrecking yard.

BTW, most wrecking yards in the Boston area charge around $100 for you to drop off a travel trailer for disposal, RV's are more. They are labor-intensive for the yards to break down and dispose/recycle, and anything they can recoup from parts/appliance sales is cash in their pockets. Often they have NO idea what that stuff is worth!!!!!!

Windows, doors, appliances, roof vents, furnaces, fresh tanks (I've received a couple for the asking!)...don't reuse black tanks!! UGH!
Just make sure you take the appropriate tools/ladder etc. with for removal. Battery sawzalls are a nice tool to have with for rough removals.

Best of luck, now the hunt continues!
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Old 03-22-2007, 10:20 PM   #9
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You could installing something from Thermo King on there, but I think a roof top air and small genset to power it would probably be cheaper...
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Old 09-12-2007, 02:59 PM   #10
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Re: how to add bus air conditioning?

Try http://www.manexcorp.com/ They have bus systems. Not sure on the pricing.
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