Monday, May 29, 2006

Project 1 - A/C Conversion R12 to R134

OK. So, I've decided to do the paint later in the year. That means I need to make it drivable. A car is not "drivable" in Houston if it doesn't have A/C. This car came from Michigan, so the A/C didn't work at all.

I took it down to the local Auto Check and had them recover whatever coolant was in the system. I then purchased a Kuehl drier, some ester oil and an R134 Conversion kit from Griffiths (see

They didn't include quite all the o-rings I needed so I bought another couple of sets from AutoZone.

I then swapped out the drier. Take a look at all the nasty coming out from behind the old one. It's that pile of dirt on the floor there. The drier is retained against the fender well by two hose clamps. These were turned too far to get a screw driver on them and they had round heads so I couldn't use an articulated socket. I had to use the dremel cut off wheel to cut the old hose clamps. No big deal. I just replaced them with new.

I torqued the hose fittings back up using a crow's foot. I wish I had a set of flare nut crow's feet but I don't. Oh, well. At least I had flare nut wrenches to get the hoses loose.

The next step was to remove the compressor and drain all the oil out as the oil in an R12 system is not compatible with R134.

Here's the compressor: Swap the O-rings while you're there. There are 6 of them. Two on each of the mounting plates and one at the end of each hose.

OK. Now lube up all the o-rings with ester oil, make up all the fittings, and torque them to spec. Use a torque wrench - there's no such thing as "it's tight enough". Also, it's a good idea to coat everything with antiseize. The fittings on the drier were galled slightly and I had a heckuva time getting them free.

After everything is back together, evacuate the system. I bought a starter kit from AZ Mobile Air. See the link:

Here's the pic:

I drew it down to 3 microns for 15 minutes and let it set. It held for 30 minutes. I guess that means it's sealed. At that point, I evacuated it for 3 hours. There are two ways to boil water. The first is to raise the temp. The second is to lower the pressure. Evacuating the system allows the moisture present in the system to be boiled off. This makes it all nice and dry. Pv=nRT! After that, I loaded up four of those 1 lb r134 containers and that's that. It now blows 58 degrees. Not great, but hey, it's as cold as the r134 system in my Miata.

Maybe today, I'll load another bottle in. I wasn't getting complete transfer of all the refrigerant.


Project 0

Of course, if you're going to spend any serious time in the garage, then the garage must be someplace you want to spend time. To that end, I installed an air conditioner - this is Houston, don't forget. However, owing to the rule that states: You can't do anything, until you do something else first, I had to replace my electric panel so I could get extra breakers for the 220V a/c unit, some extra lights, another couple of circuits for an external air compressor and a welder (neither of which have I purchased, yet).

This is the old panel: Notice it's a split bus. It's an FPE and it's a real fire hazard. Not sad to see it go.

This is the new panel, the lights and the a/c. Much better.

Bought a Porsche

This is my 3rd Porsche. I had a '79 911 SC briefly when I lived in Germany. That was followed by a 1974 914 2.0, that I also had while I was in Germany in the Army in the '80's.

This one is a 1986 911 3.2 Carrera. It has 133,000 mi. It's mechanically very good with leak down of 2% on all cylinders. The interior is good and the body is relatively straight. It looks like it was shunted mildly from the rear at some point in it's life. The rear quarters have bondo on them. The bondo looks like the surface of a dry lake bed.

Oh well. Guess I'll have to paint it. So, let's see. This month's Excellence says the car is worth between $18,000 and $26,000. Since I paid $10,000 for it, I guess I have some room to play.

So I guess I'll start the projects.