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87 elcamino v6 4.3 t.b.i.
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I have 87 elk with v6 all stock/orig. Tired of Not being able to use car when it's hot outside! So I want to fix my a.c. but don't know where to even start. .lucky that all my components are intact/orig. I know the system has No pressure,but little else. When I discuss with other g.m. classics owners,I get mixed advice. Some say just get it converted at shop,its not worth headache. Others say keep original,do it yourself,or take to shop,but still keep original,as its easier/cheaper to stay with r-12. And that the hardest part is finding someone who is familiar with r-12,and finding the r-12 itself . so I recently had the opportunity to buy some r-12 cheap, thanks to old member retiring from the scene. And his advice was stay r-12 as the conversion req everything except evap to be changed. (Even hoses as 134-a leaks due to being smaller atoms) . So where do I start to determine r-12 or conversion? How can I tell if it has r-12 or 134 in it now? How do I test comp? Ive turned on a.c. but comp doesent seem to engage,guess I will have to learn the circuit and test. I read other forums about this subject ,but they are always incomplete. Any advice /personal experience\ or threads to follow appreciated.
SAFE DRIVING.
 

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The charging ports should tell you if it has been retrofitted if there is no sticker on/near the unit. if they are the screw in type r-12 . if they are the clip on type r 134. If it has no Freon in it the compressor wont come on. you can jump the compressor but with no freon/oil you will burn it out.
 

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How much R12 do you have? If you have to start chasing down leaks you can go through it. Also if you don't have a way to recover it should you have to do work on the AC system then that becomes an issue.
Many shops probably won't want to deal with r-12 due to contaminating their equipment used on newer vehicles.
Also know that it is actually illegal to release r12 into the air.
That might help you decide which way to go.
I have a 84 with a converted system with stock components. It works quite well. I am in SE Texas and it gets HOT down here.
FYI, r134 is cheap and you can buy it at Walmart about $6 a can. Even if you have to add 1/2 can once a year.
Just some thoughts on whether to convert or not.
 

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Before I converted I added 40lb of air to the system. No leaks. Pull it apart flush everything but the compressor. Reassemble with new green orings vacuum down 1hr and close off and wait 1hr. No leaks turn on a/c. Compressor will not start fan on high. Add 1 can of 134 and oil. Compressor should start on and off. I had to add 40ozs of 134 for the guages to be right. It took 48ozs of r12. About 80-85% Of that for 134. Just did this Saturday.
Good Luck, Tom
 

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If you convert, the oil in the old R12 system is not compatible with the R134A oil. Everything must be flushed out and rinsed to remove the old oil. New receiver-dryer / accumulator required, if equipped. R134A also works better with a modern parallel flow condenser but many people don't do this.

There's more to this than is commonly discussed.

Rick
 

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87 elcamino v6 4.3 t.b.i.
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
The charging ports should tell you if it has been retrofitted if there is no sticker on/near the unit. if they are the screw in type r-12 . if they are the clip on type r 134. If it has no Freon in it the compressor wont come on. you can jump the compressor but with no freon/oil you will burn it out.
Odd thing is I checked ports.they are quick connect. But all other components original, plus 1 owner before me ,and they said a.c. hadn't worked in "over 10 years",and made no mention of conversion. Is the port method like 100% accurate? Or more specifically,were sure they only used r12 in 87?
 

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87 elcamino v6 4.3 t.b.i.
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Before I converted I added 40lb of air to the system. No leaks. Pull it apart flush everything but the compressor. Reassemble with new green orings vacuum down 1hr and close off and wait 1hr. No leaks turn on a/c. Compressor will not start fan on high. Add 1 can of 134 and oil. Compressor should start on and off. I had to add 40ozs of 134 for the guages to be right. It took 48ozs of r12. About 80-85% Of that for 134. Just did this Saturday.
Good Luck, Tom
Thanks Tom, Your a good teacher.always explain well/short/to the point.I have vac pump,no gauges. Guess I gotta research a lil more,get some gauges,and a kit and try to charge . #1.how did you charge with air? I'm assuming adapter Fittings? #2. And how do you flush system? Air? Vacuum? #3.When u say vac down 1hr,close off wait 1 hr, why wait? For leaks? #4.And when I vacuum down,to what pressure? #5. Did you have to change accumulator/orifice tube/dryer? A lot questions,sorry....your way better at explain/condense info then most. Thanks
 

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87 elcamino v6 4.3 t.b.i.
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
View attachment 141071 the r134 connectors/adapters should look like this. These pieces would screw on over the old connectors for the r12.
The switch from 12 to 134 started happening in the 90's
Thanks for pick. So pretty sure they were quick connect.I will check again tomorrow. There were no threads on outside , just the inside,assuming that's for the screw on caps. But def quick connect. Wich means 134. Hmmm maybe that's why no pressure in system. Cause 134 seeps due to smaller atoms then r-12,requiring constant topp off of 134. Fingers crossed it needs only to be charged. Although I must admit ,it was low pressure,like 2-4 psi. Guess we will see. When I do convert,I'm not changing condenser/hoses. I don't mind charging 1 a year. Cheap price for a.c.
 

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I hooked up my guages and install air pressure through the yellow hose with my air compressor and an end to blow off things.2/ The make a/c flush in a spray can. You will need 2. Then blow out until clear.3/ vac down as close to -30 as you can, then close guage valves and wait and see if you have a leak.I installed a new accumulator and orface tube.
Yours
Might have already been converted if you have quick connects.
might look for a stIcker on your compressor or under the hood.
 

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87 elcamino v6 4.3 t.b.i.
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
I hooked up my guages and install air pressure through the yellow hose with my air compressor and an end to blow off things.2/ The make a/c flush in a spray can. You will need 2. Then blow out until clear.3/ vac down as close to -30 as you can, then close guage valves and wait and see if you have a leak.I installed a new accumulator and orface tube.
Yours
Might have already been converted if you have quick connects.
might look for a stIcker on your compressor or under the hood.
Thanks .priceless info. Your the best.
 

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87 elcamino v6 4.3 t.b.i.
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I hooked up my guages and install air pressure through the yellow hose with my air compressor and an end to blow off things.2/ The make a/c flush in a spray can. You will need 2. Then blow out until clear.3/ vac down as close to -30 as you can, then close guage valves and wait and see if you have a leak.I installed a new accumulator and orface tube.
Yours
Might have already been converted if you have quick connects.
might look for a stIcker on your compressor or under the hood.
Hoping it was converted,maybe it jus needs to be charged due to 134 leakdown.Although I must admit that psi was almost nothing,2-4 psi. O-rings then. Either way less work if converted already.
 

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I converted to vintage air mainly to clean up under hood with the rearset LS1 engine I did. All controls new & worked nice until a leak issue I need to fix got bad,,,, hoping o-rings. It was alot of fab work and one downside is in winter I have to mix in ac to turn on heat in damp Fla environment. Windows would immediately fog otherwise. No recirc in aftermarket systems.
My previous factory setup was converted to 134 & working , though other parts like vent control valve were going bad. I'd guess that pretty much everything could be fixed if/as needed.
R-134 may be a little less efficient, but el caminos typically have components large enough to cool a larger interior.
 

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87 elcamino v6 4.3 t.b.i.
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I converted to vintage air mainly to clean up under hood with the rearset LS1 engine I did. All controls new & worked nice until a leak issue I need to fix got bad,,,, hoping o-rings. It was alot of fab work and one downside is in winter I have to mix in ac to turn on heat in damp Fla environment. Windows would immediately fog otherwise. No recirc in aftermarket systems.
My previous factory setup was converted to 134 & working , though other parts like vent control valve were going bad. I'd guess that pretty much everything could be fixed if/as needed.
R-134 may be a little less efficient, but el caminos typically have components large enough to cool a larger interior.
No record!gosh that must be a pain in the humidity where you live. Thanks for the input. Seems my best bet from everyone's input is to convert to 134, new orifice/dryer ,and recharge as needed. Cheap .reliable since all parts were made to last thirty years ago,(when things were made to last). Only downside I can tell is to recharge as it leaks from the components /rubber that was designed for r12. Most others say avg is 1/2 to 1 can every 12 mos
 

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As Vinny advises, change the orifice tube and I'd recommend replacing the receiver-dryer which has the moisture retention desiccant bag. That moisture is not good for anything in your system and your AC is likely loaded with water after being non-functional for that long.

Rick
 

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Louie, if your AC has been converted to R134A, the connectors for the high and low side are different sizes. That's the easiest way to identify and determine what refrigerant is in your system. Determining which refrigerant is critical since R-12 is damaging/detrimental to the atmosphere and should NOT to be released; R-12 should BE captured with proper equipment. Regardless of which refrigerant is currently in your AC system, if your compressor does NOT turn on, that is likely due to a low refrigerant charge. CAUTION: It would not be a good idea to recharge the system until you've determined which refrigerant is/was last used to charge the system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Louie, if your AC has been converted to R134A, the connectors for the high and low side are different sizes. That's the easiest way to identify and determine what refrigerant is in your system. Determining which refrigerant is critical since R-12 is damaging/detrimental to the atmosphere and should NOT to be released; R-12 should BE captured with proper equipment. Regardless of which refrigerant is currently in your AC system, if your compressor does NOT turn on, that is likely due to a low refrigerant charge. CAUTION: It would not be a good idea to recharge the system until you've determined which refrigerant is/was last used to charge the system.
Thank you. I already know how detrimental r12 is to atmosphere. Wish there was more people who felt as strong as you do about venting to atmosphere. Thanks to your description of the quick connect ports of diff sizes I am 100%positive it's been converted to 134. Although no sticker,Wich is odd cause car is stock /factory/clean/intact. I've checked Schrader valve, no pressure. Well....very little like 1-2 pounds. (Wich is better than nothing,tells me insides are relatively clean. Any further advice how to proceed?
 

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If you have even a couple of pounds of pressure, then that says there is still some R134a in the system, so you might get by without having to pull a vacuum. R134a is so cheap these days, it might be worth adding a few cans and see what happens. You should also add some leak dye at this point ( it will help you find a leak if there is one). You will need the gauges for this, as you will not know how much R134a by weight is left, and you normally charge by weight. Too much or too little will affect the performance, but you can get close by watching the gauges, and using a temp probe in the center vent of your dash. Trying to get to low pressure around 30, and high pressure about 2 to 2.2 times the ambient temp ( 80 degrees outside, high pressure 175 +/- 10%). Vent temps should approach 40 degrees. Charge with the revs about 1500 on the engine. make sure the radiator fan is in good working order.

If this doesn't work, and the dye doesn't show up a leak, then you are probably in for the full process as outlined above.
 
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