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Old 05-28-2022, 02:28 PM   #1
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dash A/C

i thought i had posted a long thread about this but i cant find it and it had no response so i mucked up somewhere.
to keep this short and sweet?
the owner wanted the rear A/C gone and the underskirt condensor moved to behind the grill.
that is done but shortening the lines to re route them for just dash A/C is more challenging?
so after weeks of procrastinating about it?
i am second guessing myself of building a bastard system that the owner caint get fixed from off the shelf parts at any of the garages or auto stores once on the road.
i guess my biggest question and i think i already know that a bigger condensor never hurts and getting it fixed when it goes bad after i built a non standard system.
i think its better to spend the money and go to a more common off the shelf stuff that any garage can do and not it has be in my hands.
oh the owner is my wife and our mechanic son said it could be done but i started the process and am now thinking about it and want to change to more off the shelf stuff than a cobbled system no garage would want to touch.
any advice for this one?
chevy 3500 express.
can salvage tahoe with rear ac and suburban as well a 3500 express passenger.
auto parts stores cant find the stuff unless i reference one of them.
the underskirt condensor does fit in front of the radiator core supports but the line connections face the wrong way.
i have the tubing and fittings to braze it in its new direction with no problem but if something happens on the road with it what is a normal garage that might accept a van do with one with a bus body and the A/C system i did?
this wasnt as long as my last one but longer than i was going to do.
the mess in my head sometimes.
please give me an opinion.
the good, the bad, the ugly. none of that bothers me.
USMC infantry and after that
i do commercial/industrial HVAC for 25 years now and have been in charge of most for 10. i dont know that there is any one comment that will bother me.
please tell me if i am making the correct decision for this one????

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Old 05-28-2022, 03:19 PM   #2
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Funny, I was just wondering if I could somehow fit an aftermarket (of sorts) dash AC system to my bus. There’s a pulley on the fan belt that doesn’t do anything so I assume I could drive a condenser there.

For your situation, virtually everything about a bus chassis is custom, so I don’t know that you’ll lose much by DIYing it, but at the same time there was likely a reason the original manufacturer put things where they did, so beware of problems, maybe from excessive heat? Who knows.
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Old 05-28-2022, 03:38 PM   #3
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ive added A/C to every bus ive ever gotten.. even doing it to my 1978 Loadstar as we speak..



in my opinion I would not put a suburban style front / rear unit wit ha radiator mount condensor in the front.. I would only run the dash vents wit ha front condensor.. you have a bus that is a lot heavier than a van and then want to disperse the heat from 2 evaporators through the van-style cooling system.. 1? most likely fine unless you are running foot to the floor on a mountain pass in 100 degree heat.. but 2? nada.. wouldnt do it..

as for custom.. the parts store stuff is pretty junk anyway these days.. and the factory parts are gonna be expensive.. I rarely use the old hoses and such when I do a re-purpose unless the stuff is in excellent condition.. fittings leaking around the crimps and the welds are the most common source of leaks..



the whole bus is custom.. A/C isnt going to take you off the road unloess the compressor goes.. and those are standard as most of these vans use the GMC compressor... if the bus A/C was installed by a reputable company like Carrier, Trans/AIR, omega, MCC, ACT, ACC then parts will be available for them such as fans, replacement condensor units, switches, motors, etc..



if you are saving the hoses and just shortening them to delete the rear evaporator then you can buy the standard crimp style fittings and i think many auto parts stores do the loan-a-tool thing for the crimp tool and die set to install said fittings..



personally I dont mess with that stuff I use all burgaflex fittings and reduced diameter hose and never have a leak.. but that stuff is pricey.. and the rubber hose is apparently hard to get.. i had to work to get enough to do the dash air im putting in my Superior.. your easiest and cheapest method will be to crimp new fittings on..



ive never seen a skirt condensor that would fit anywhere other than the skirt or under-body (you can make a deflector piece and install a skirt condensor in towards the frame.. being over-sized for your current system it will work fine..



dont take the coil out opf the case and try to mount it in front of the radiator without its fans.. it needs the fans.. that unit isnt designed to be in front of a radiator.. they need LOTS!! of air across them.. thats how they get the capacity.. its a multi-pass coil instead of parallel flow and they move tons of air with those fans..
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Old 05-28-2022, 03:39 PM   #4
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my issue/concern was building a bastard system that caint be fixed at any garage while on the road? i want a system that is standard.
am i asking to much? NO?
do i build a bastard system or do i install more common parts that is a no brainer to be replaced while on the road.
i know the bigger condensor is better but what it takes to make it happen verses what the owner has to deal with where ever they are at to fix a bastard system verse one in a tahoe suburban with rear a/c
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Old 05-28-2022, 04:01 PM   #5
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ok chris.
where i am at now.
underskirt condensor is in front of the radiator rear A/C is gone.
i cut the connections off because they were heading the wrong direction from a carrier unit and try to reporpose . i have rebuilt everything in this position as told.
now i question what i have done?
not vaccumed down or working yet?
i woke up in the middle of the questioning availability once on the road?
if i build a bastard system for the owner? or build it that any parts store and garage can play the game?
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Old 05-28-2022, 06:59 PM   #6
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If you're cobbling something together, make a list of the parts with the part manufacturer's name and part number, and a diagram showing where these parts are on the bus, and give it to the owner. This will help them get the system fixed on the road more than anything else.
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Old 05-28-2022, 08:44 PM   #7
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I have no idea how that skirt condensor will function in front of the radiator.. its not made for that.. if it has its original fans it will probably work fine.. without them I question whether enough air gets through it to properly disperse the heat of 2 evaporators.. I also question whether that multi-layer coil will block the airflow from the radiator fan.. theres a lot of space in front of the radiator typically because the various layers of coolers get spaced out.. they need to be ..as their tubes and fins dont line up with each other so you leave space between each cooler unit for the air to flow up, down. sideways etc to find the air openings in the next layer.. usually theres 3/4 - 1" of space between the radiator and A/C condensor unless the condensor is specifically made to line up exactly with the radiator.. (some new cars / trucks are this way.. esp diesels where they need to stack so many coolers.. you could push a piece of wire through from 1 all the way to the fan and not get impeded.. )..



theres usually rubber flaps at the top of the condensor (sometimes the sides) that seal it to the radiator with the space allowed..



I have no idea how yours is mounted.. if its spaced, planted up against the radiator ..


cutting the fittings off doesnt matter.. most condensors dont have an in / out that matters.. the only part that cares is the receiver / drier.. most van systems, the only receiver / drier is the accumulator on the low side of the system, it filters the freon, boils off liquid, and has a dessicant in it to prevent moisture build up..



mounting a suburban or GMC van rear unit and putting in a factory condensor (for dual air) makes it easier to find parts for.. same as putting the skirt condensor back on the skirt...



I build custom stuff all the time.. its been what 5 years since I charged the freon in my DEV bus? and that system still blows icicles out the dash.. 5 years for any bus A/C not having an issue is pretty good.. (theres a reason most schools dont buy A/C and its not the purchase funds.. tis the maintenance)..


now back to putting a van condensor and suburban rear.. you add that much more load to a poor condensor up front.. the bus is already with its conversion, weight, and wind resistance like a club-wagon trying to pull a big camper.. and ive driven more than one suburban that engine got hot with both A/C's blasting towing a trailer..



do you want an A/C that the dude gives up a little skirt space and his van engine doesnt get warm on hot summer days? or is aesthetics all this guy cares about?..


your custom system very well might work great, and you can most surely use parts for it that are purchaseable if not at autozone but for sure online or through a bus A/C company (yes most will sell to the public)...


my main concern with your design is keeping the engine cool with 2 evaps and does that big condensor have space between and flaps to seal it against the edges of the radiator.. or you can install a SPAL pusher fan on the condensor (wont help with space but mitigates the need for flaps).. SPAL fans are likely what the skirt unit used and they are readily available at places like jegs, summit, and even some auto stores stock them..


your compressor is a GMC compressor, your dash controls, evaporator, vents, blower motor, etc are GMC already. as is ther accumulator / drier..


the condensor is just a coil.. if you properly braze the fittings on and properly bracket it so that it isnt stressed and make sure a High pressure switch is fitted, then the fact it isnt GMC doesnt matter so much.. they dont go bad very often...
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Old 05-29-2022, 01:53 PM   #8
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thanks for everyones response.
to clarify with out the ramble in my original post.
the auxilliary A/C is gone and not getting put back in so i was thinking of just moving the condensor and re-using it?
but as chris said that as thick as it is it might block to much airflow to the radiator and i did briefly think about that.
i went ahead and ordered an OEM replacement and the lines to go to and from instead of making what i have work.
just dont want any drama once its on the road and a shop caint figure out what i did or wont touch it cause it isnt normal.
for example?
when she was in the middle of nowhere wyoming for 6-months her little kia started acting up and quoted her like 2000$ to replace the throttle body and all of the fuel system.
i said no that cars only has 80,000 on it and i know all the maitenance is done and the fuel system was clean when you left.
find another garage? but that was the only one within an hour or something like that and the closest kia dealer was in another state.
ok ask the mechanic to call me?
i asked him to do a fuel analysis because this is the age of ethanol and my wifes likes to keep her tank topped off.
the mechanic said we have never had to do that?
so i asked him to pump the tank out dump a bottle of rubbing alcohol in the tank and put fresh fuel in and take the car for a test drive.
problem fixed.
ethanol fuel it is better to run your tank down closer to empty before topping off with fresh fuel because it accumulates to much moisture in each and every tank and if you keep topping it off you never burn the moisture out of it.
maybe i got lucky on that call but i have seen that problem on my older vehicles that werent really designed for it and sometimes get and set for a week. was running great on sunday when i parked and run like **** next saturday morning. always water in the fuel so once i went back to race gas i havent had the problem.
anyway i dont need her to have a problem somewhere that i cant be and the garage has no clue because i built something they cant visualize and they just throw un needed parts at it.
sorry i started rambling again.
its hard to plan on keeping a vehicle running when you cant here it everyday or see it everyweek and can only expect it to be good once it leaves your sight for 3-6 months at a time.
no matter how good i think i am i know its going to have problems? but what.
i can go through everything i can think of before it hits the road but its a road trip bus on a purpose to get from coastal NC to wyoming for work, michigan where she has been twice now.
i dont need it to be tired and lazy or just broke.
of course A/C aint a show stopper might be un comfortable but she was originally a south texas girl.
anyway thanks for the advice.
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Old 05-31-2022, 01:05 PM   #9
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There's a broader point: some of the thinks we think up can be pretty farfetched. I'm speaking generally, not about this AC topic specifically.

The question is whether our skill and ability can keep up with our imagination.

I think you're spot on worrying about troubleshooting the custom system when something goes wrong, or worse, if it 'works', but not quite as well as expected. I'm sure the factory air conditioning in these buses is the result of a pretty rigorous design process with lots of testing.

I've tinkered with other systems in the way you're describing-shifting components around but only with a general understanding of how they work.
My results have been varied.

For instance, I have some pretty intricate electrical design in my bus, but I'm also very comfortable with electrical systems, and I've been conservative in the design. I've also tried to take into account reparability and troubleshooting so it isn't some indecipherable pile of wire and switches when things go wrong.

Personally I would only consider this AC move/reconfigure if I were a skilled AC technician with a shop full of tools. Besides all the custom fab, and changes in airflow (and potential impact on the bus radiator). I know my limits and what you describe, while technically not outside my skill or ability, would definitely be beyond my capability to troubleshoot if anything other than a 'stars align' result occurred.

If I were in your shoes I'd seriously consider keeping the condenser in place at the skirt, and get the system working with that. That way, you have AC and it is still pretty much a stock configuration.
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Old 05-31-2022, 01:34 PM   #10
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I think he has the right idea now.. using the OEM condensor.. I however wouldnt try to run a rear unit on that.. just the front dash A/C and be fine.. theres good reason why those high capacity condensors are placed underneath or on the roof via in front of the radiator..


just a dash unit only pulls 9k to maybe 12k BTU off that front condensor.. the rear suburban / van units are usually 12-15k BTU.. and often the rear A/C option requires the Extra Heavy duty cooling Package for the engine.. one would *think* that this package should be standard on a van chassis being sold to a bus manufacturer.. however it was sold knowing there would be no A/C in front of the radiator...


if it were mine id stick to front air only.. want rear air? then shouldve left the factory system..



im already getting calls from skoolie folk who ripped out their A/C and now they want it back....



but sounds like roger is on the right track here to have good front A/C in this bus..
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Old 05-31-2022, 05:09 PM   #11
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thanks.
i have been doing commercial/industrial HVAC for over 20 years and refrigerant systems for over 10- and have been a mechanic on the side as needed for almost 30 so the mods dont scare me.
but i started thinking that once i get it working and send my wife down the road with it all over the country would a normal garage work on it or would it just be down until she gets back home for me to fix it in her one to two week time frame before she has to be on the road again.
so i decided to do the more common parts to one help solve some of the problems i have ran into but was getting ready solve.
or 2 give her a more common system that wont have any other garage scratching there heads to fix it.
and the rear A/C isnt going back in at any point because the owner doesnt want it for on the road and thats the spot for her mini split head unit while parked.
thanks for everyones thoughts and ideas.
now i have made mine and the parts should be here this week so its time to get it done and quit scratching my head about it.
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Old 05-31-2022, 06:29 PM   #12
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Keep us posted. Always interesting to hear success stories with things like this.
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Old 05-31-2022, 07:39 PM   #13
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why yank out the original system since it was fully functional? thats what I always ask people when they start ripping out the A/C and heat in their busses.. I understand it when the OEM system is defunct.. esp if it is fro ma manufacturer that is no longer around.. but the common ones like carrier, Trans/AIR, ProAir, etc all still sell parts that are easy to get.. and most have the VIN of the bus on file with exactly the BOM of the original install..



I do custom A/C in my busses only because they didnt have it when I bought them so i have no choice... in the case of my RedByrd it does have factory A/C and I simply rebuilt that system to work right again.. knowing I can get parts for it anywhere that works on Trans/AIR.. which is pretty much any Bluebird dealer..



my DEV bus is all custom.. howerver I have 2 complete systems in there.. if one breaks im not completely without A/C...
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Old 06-01-2022, 05:23 PM   #14
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i understand and agree with keeping an existing/working system and debated with the owner about keeping it.
but in this case its not my bus , its not my build, i am just the labor for her.
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Old 06-02-2022, 07:54 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jolly Roger bus 223 View Post
i understand and agree with keeping an existing/working system and debated with the owner about keeping it.
but in this case its not my bus , its not my build, i am just the labor for her.



yeah I guess if the owner wont have it then not much can be done.. those are the times I say "well you will have a custom system".. or "this is untested"...



or in the case of the dude who wanted me to remove all of his dashboard heating and A/C including the defrosters from his bus i said "nope" sorry.. not making an illegal bus.. go find someone else...
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