Author Topic: 1956 Air Conditioning  (Read 633 times)

Offline 57shark82

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1956 Air Conditioning
« on: October 06, 2017, 08:17:57 AM »

All:

    How hard is it to get a 1956 AC system up and running?  I have a potential lead on a very nice 1956 Series 62 coupe that has AC.  The entire system is there and it appears to be in good condition but its not functioning at the moment.  Which vendors have parts or provide services for this type of system?
Tim

CLC Member #30850

1957 Cadillac Series 62 "The Shark"
1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe "Scarlett"

Former Babies

 1941 Ford 1 ton truck
 1954 Buick Special 48D 2 Door "Betty Buick"
 1955 Packard Clipper Super
 1962 VW Beetle
 1962 Dodge 880
 1966 Mercury Montclair 4 Door "Mr. Merc"
 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396
 1968 Plymouth Barracuda notchback 318
 1977 Lincoln Continental MKV

Offline J. Gomez

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #1 on: October 06, 2017, 12:35:17 PM »
All:

    How hard is it to get a 1956 AC system up and running?  I have a potential lead on a very nice 1956 Series 62 coupe that has AC.  The entire system is there and it appears to be in good condition but its not functioning at the moment.  Which vendors have parts or provide services for this type of system?

Tim,

It all depends on what you need to recondition the A/C unit.

Classic Auto Air used to rebuild the A5 compressors when they were in the FL area, I just found out they moved to TX, the FL is now called Original Air.   :o

As for the dehydrator/receiver Old Air Products in TX do rebuild them. A 56 owner have his done just recently he posted the details at the Mid-Century Cadillac site.

For the rest of the items you are pretty much out of luck, sources for some of these would be eBay and/or other 56 owners;  :(

Some electrical items can be rebuild e.g. motors on the rear evaporator, the control unit inside the cabin, outside from the switch the rest e.g. temperature rheostat and contacts restoration would be from a use source.

Evaporator thermostat with the heater coil around the capillary tube (if bad) part of the control temperature control path is another one, reversed engineer would need to take place for this one or use source.

The rubber boots for the inside vents to the evaporator would follow the same footsteps.

If you have a chance to personally checked it or have someone with knowledge on the ’56 A/C unit inspected to verify everything is in working order, else you will be looking at big $$$ to get it back in working condition.   ;)

Good luck..! 
J. Gomez
CLC #23082

Time is irrelevant when you work on your classic car, eventually you will enjoy it..!

Offline 57shark82

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #2 on: October 06, 2017, 12:42:54 PM »

Thank you for the information.  I have not tested the system yet but I will next weekend.  I'm hoping it might just need to be charged but if not what am I looking at to get a system like that operational?  2k? More?
Tim

CLC Member #30850

1957 Cadillac Series 62 "The Shark"
1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe "Scarlett"

Former Babies

 1941 Ford 1 ton truck
 1954 Buick Special 48D 2 Door "Betty Buick"
 1955 Packard Clipper Super
 1962 VW Beetle
 1962 Dodge 880
 1966 Mercury Montclair 4 Door "Mr. Merc"
 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396
 1968 Plymouth Barracuda notchback 318
 1977 Lincoln Continental MKV

Offline J. Gomez

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #3 on: October 06, 2017, 02:19:40 PM »
Thank you for the information.  I have not tested the system yet but I will next weekend.  I'm hoping it might just need to be charged but if not what am I looking at to get a system like that operational?  2k? More?

Hmm that would be a ball park #, but again it all depends if the compressor, the dehydrator/receiver and/or other pieces would need to be recondition.

Plus R12 is very $$ and depends if you just need to top it off or do a complete refill 5 lbs if the mechanical side is ok. ???

Good luck..!
J. Gomez
CLC #23082

Time is irrelevant when you work on your classic car, eventually you will enjoy it..!

Offline Scot Minesinger

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #4 on: October 06, 2017, 02:25:37 PM »
Tim,

Don't do it.  1957 was the first year that the cold a/c air was discharged from the dash vents. and available in a convertible.  1956 the air was discharged at rear of car thru trunk unit, and there was a somewhat cumbersome way it was available in convertibles in 1956, but extremely rare, have see in on a 1956 Eldorado though at GN 2016 (green one).  You need to buy a 1957 system instead, maybe 58 would work, but during this era changes were made every year, and best to go with a 1957 system.

In addition to the a/c system, which includes ductwork and considerable dash/firewall mod work you would need to:

1.  Include a fuel return line back to the tank to guard against vapor lock
2.  Add a fan shroud so that air is drawn in thru both radiator and condenser, plus maybe a better fan too.

There were other mods as well, such as but not limited to lower rear diff gear ratio for more power and heavier front suspension springs, and I doubt that would make much difference.

This has been discussed before (on a 1963, where ac was more common option), and it is less expensive to just buy an a/c equipped Cadillac and sell the one you have.  This of course may not be true for 1957, but it is a serious consideration.  Probably best if you buy a 57 SDV w/ac and switch they systems and then sell the SDV as a non-ac car when done.  Another alternative is to install one of those horrible lower the car value under dash ac add on systems of the day, but you will still need to complete items one and two above.  Many did not and suffer vapor lock and/or overheating when ac is needed the most.

Best of luck on this.  I'm with you though in DC area, it is not much fun to drive a closed car without a/c during the majority of the classic car season.

Scot



Fairfax Station, VA  22039 (Washington DC Sub)
1970 Cadillac DeVille Convertible
1970 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
1970 four door Convertible w/Cadillac Warranty

Offline "Cadillac Kid" Greg Surfas 15364

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #5 on: October 06, 2017, 02:52:24 PM »
His "potential" car HAS AC. The question is what to do and how to get the system functional. I would like to think seeing what DOES work might be the first step.
Greg Surfas
Cadillac Kid-Greg Surfas
CLC #15364
66 Coupe deVille (now gone to the UK)
72 Eldo Cpe  (now cruising the sands in Quatar)
73 Coupe deVille
75 Coupe deElegance
76 Coupe deVille
79 Coupe de ville with "Paris" (pick up) option and 472 motor
514 inch motor now in '73-

Offline 57shark82

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #6 on: October 06, 2017, 03:07:52 PM »

Scot:

    This is for a car that I'm thinking about picking up in addition to my 57.  You might remember seeing this one at the Rockville carshow about 2 years ago when I first showed up with my 57.  Everything is there I just don't know if its going to work or not.  The price is right but I want to ensure that I can get everything 100%.
Tim

CLC Member #30850

1957 Cadillac Series 62 "The Shark"
1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe "Scarlett"

Former Babies

 1941 Ford 1 ton truck
 1954 Buick Special 48D 2 Door "Betty Buick"
 1955 Packard Clipper Super
 1962 VW Beetle
 1962 Dodge 880
 1966 Mercury Montclair 4 Door "Mr. Merc"
 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396
 1968 Plymouth Barracuda notchback 318
 1977 Lincoln Continental MKV

Online James Landi

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #7 on: October 06, 2017, 05:29:44 PM »
I owned two "short deck" model '56 Cadillacs with the rear mounted evaporators with the plexiglass ducts through the rear deck and up to four metal "output" vents --two per side front and back with individual blower control rheostats --underdash mounted  controller with a temperature control slider.   The second one I owned was my daily driver... a 90 mile commute each day--- the A/C functioned reliably and was sometimes too cold--- picture the massive trunk mounted evaporator being serviced by a 65 pound compressor!  My side windows would often fog up on a hot day --- chilled air blowing down from the headliner--- and sometimes I would have to carry a towel to keep my left shoulder dry owing to the condensate that would drip down from the chrome plated "jet plane styled" ceiling mounted vents.   My only real complaint with the system had less to do with the capacity and delivery and reliability of the system ( the 2nd model '56 short deck sedan I drove from '70 -77) -- the major problem was engine blow by --- no pvc system actively drawing off the increasing amounts of blow by that got worse as the car aged and the fumes, blowing down under the car,  working their way up into the car, especially on hot days at traffic lights and in stalled traffic. I'd have to open my windows when stopped on hot days.  FOr some reason, there was no ingress of carbon monoxcide on cold days with the two heater core system on.   

Online Dan LeBlanc

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #8 on: October 07, 2017, 05:27:12 AM »
I would when looking at it see if the compressor engages. If it does an it's quiet there's half the battle. Check all the components for oil leakage at joints. If that all looks good buy the car. Get it home. Pressure test with nitrogen. If it all checks out you may just be in luck. I think a lot of the lines were metal on these and survived much better than one may think. 
Dan LeBlanc - CLC # 27657
1970 DeVille Convertible
1977 Continental Town Car

Offline carguyblack

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #9 on: October 07, 2017, 09:47:15 AM »
I'm sure I'm going to get my house egged for this one, but I changed my systems over to R134A in both my most recent a/c 1956 Cadillacs. During the restoration of the bodies I did on both of them, I nearly took out the entire system and then reassembled it after the painting.Obviously, I opened the system up and when I did, there was no pressure. I did the compressor and component checks and determined I needed new bearings in the clutch of the compressors. After I replaced those and secured and sealed all the connection of the lines, I took it to my old school mechanic who evacuated the system and pressure checked it for leaks. Not being the scientist on this, I urged him to consider the R12 refill, but he repeatedly stated that it was a conspiracy theory and that R134A would be just fine. He put some sort of compatible oil with the charge and 3 years later the things work beautifully. I've red the cautionary horror stories and elected to take his advice nonetheless and it hasn't come back to bite me yet. I've had to top one of the cars off once, but a pound of R134A is cheap and I could do it myself.
I was not flip about the freon changeover, but this (reputable) mechanic who had worked on these cars in his own professional garage since he was a kid, insisted on his opinion so I acquiesced.
By the way, more directly to this post, I'd encourage you to keep the original old system and keep the car the way it came. Otherwise, get a new Escalade and call it good.
Please don't shoot me!
Chuck
Chuck Dykstra

1956 Sedan DeVille
1956 Coupe DeVille (2 sold)
1957 Oldsmobile 98 (sold)
1989 Bonneville SSE

Offline Scot Minesinger

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2017, 08:28:06 AM »
Sorry about that, thought you wanted to convert your 57 Caddy.

Chuck's advise seems right to me.  If you are looking to buy a 1956 Caddy with a/c and it does not work now, you probably should figure on a complete disassembly and restore, which is a lot, just cleaning and laborious.  Kind of the same thing as a carpet with a single indelible unsightly stain or a carpet with multiple offenses, it needs to be replaced.  The a/c system may kind of work of you fix one thing, but another will fail soon after - just go thru the entire system and get it 100% at the beginning as otherwise you will tear your hair out.

If you want a cool Caddy with a/c there is a green 1968 Cadillac for sale (Fairly certain you already looked at it in Fairfax) and I can vouch for the fact that this is a mechanically near perfect car.  It drives very well and is an awesome highway cruiser.  Everything works including climate control (heater core replaced, properly converted to 134, servo replaced, vacuum lines replaced and etc.).  If you do not do the work yourself, the 1956 Cadillac could be expensive to restore if it does not work (like 3k easy). 

The advise everyone reads and it is true, the least expensive classic car is the nicest one you can afford.  That is because the cost of buying the cheaper one plus repairs is always more than the nice one.

Good luck,

Scot
Fairfax Station, VA  22039 (Washington DC Sub)
1970 Cadillac DeVille Convertible
1970 Cadillac Sedan DeVille
1970 four door Convertible w/Cadillac Warranty

Offline 57shark82

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #11 on: October 17, 2017, 08:32:34 AM »

So I have a quick update.  I was able to take a look at the car and its in really nice shape.  Its originally from Dallas Texas and my buddy has had it since 1982.  The undercarriage has some surface rust but there isn't any rot.  The A/C system is all there and it appears to be in very good condition.  We tried to get the blowers to turn on but they didn't appear to switch on.  There is a switch on the package tray that has "Off->A/C->On" which will sorta turn but then a quarter of the way to the A/C setting it doesn't want to move any further.  My friend says he had the system working at one time but since he hardly used it it stopped working.  I suspect that this system might just need to be charged by the nob not turning all the way concerns me.  Overall I don't think the system needs a full rebuild but it definitely needs to be serviced.  Who sells the old style refrigerant and what components typically need to be serviced on these older systems?
Tim

CLC Member #30850

1957 Cadillac Series 62 "The Shark"
1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe "Scarlett"

Former Babies

 1941 Ford 1 ton truck
 1954 Buick Special 48D 2 Door "Betty Buick"
 1955 Packard Clipper Super
 1962 VW Beetle
 1962 Dodge 880
 1966 Mercury Montclair 4 Door "Mr. Merc"
 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396
 1968 Plymouth Barracuda notchback 318
 1977 Lincoln Continental MKV

Offline J. Gomez

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #12 on: October 17, 2017, 09:24:44 AM »
So I have a quick update.  I was able to take a look at the car and its in really nice shape.  Its originally from Dallas Texas and my buddy has had it since 1982.  The undercarriage has some surface rust but there isn't any rot.  The A/C system is all there and it appears to be in very good condition.  We tried to get the blowers to turn on but they didn't appear to switch on.  There is a switch on the package tray that has "Off->A/C->On" which will sorta turn but then a quarter of the way to the A/C setting it doesn't want to move any further.  My friend says he had the system working at one time but since he hardly used it it stopped working.  I suspect that this system might just need to be charged by the nob not turning all the way concerns me.  Overall I don't think the system needs a full rebuild but it definitely needs to be serviced.  Who sells the old style refrigerant and what components typically need to be serviced on these older systems?

Tim,

Just as FYI.

The wiring for the A/C control although just a general setup the connections are a bit tricky.

There is a fuse at the fuse panel label Heater & A/C 25A this is wired to the toggle switch at the control panel “vent/off/on” on either position “vent or on” it would provide +12V to both fan control rheostats for the rear motors. You need to have the ignition switch in the ACC or IGN position to provide the +12V.

The complexity of the wiring goes from the control panel up to the idle/speedup solenoid at the carburetor via the NSS, unfortunately this path is not listed on the Service Manual under section 16 page 16-A-3.

The control you notice and describing on your post is on the rear and it is a cable control to open or close the rear A/C vents for outside air or A/C air flow. 

The original refrigerant is the R12 which is extremely expensive as you would notice on the above posts. You need to have your checked is the system still has charged by a professional A/C person.

As for parts, I would check the compressor pulley bearing they have a tendency to go bad with age if the original still in place. The seal is another piece that will go back with age.

If someone mess with the idle/speedup control at the carburetor and did not follow the proper procedure on the adjustment it may cause a rupture on the vacuum diaphragm, you need to check it if it hold vacuum and if the electric solenoid is working as well.

There are other things that would need to be checked and tested but these should be the first ones and easier to start.

Good luck..!
J. Gomez
CLC #23082

Time is irrelevant when you work on your classic car, eventually you will enjoy it..!

Offline V63

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #13 on: October 17, 2017, 10:22:23 AM »
These systems were well engineered. Far more basic to service than later climate control systems. The compressor being the most likely to fail for reasons already stated. I would consider using ‘envirosafe’ refrigerant that advertises in hemmings. It allows using original system lubricants, and carries it supremely. It’s also a composite of some larger molecules that seem to less likely to leak. I’ve noticed a significant improvement is refrigerant loss with their  product. Lower working pressures ease the work load of the compressor.

I’ve had several trunk mounted systems and remain very pleased with their performance !

I do have an ‘extra’ system avail from parting a 55.

Offline 57shark82

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #14 on: October 17, 2017, 10:43:19 AM »

Thank you for the advice everyone.  My buddy is hesitant to part ways with his car but he's going to think about it over the winter which gives me some time to save up some $$.  If all goes well and he agrees to sell it I should have it around the April-May time frame next year.
Tim

CLC Member #30850

1957 Cadillac Series 62 "The Shark"
1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe "Scarlett"

Former Babies

 1941 Ford 1 ton truck
 1954 Buick Special 48D 2 Door "Betty Buick"
 1955 Packard Clipper Super
 1962 VW Beetle
 1962 Dodge 880
 1966 Mercury Montclair 4 Door "Mr. Merc"
 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396
 1968 Plymouth Barracuda notchback 318
 1977 Lincoln Continental MKV

Offline "Cadillac Kid" Greg Surfas 15364

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #15 on: October 17, 2017, 11:03:57 AM »
The late Robert Templin, Chief Engineer of Cadillac Motor Division Engineering told me that one of the things that irritated him most was the proliferation of "Urban Myths" based on repeated speculation.  Each time I see one of these I think of Bob and now understand what he meant.
First of all Tim, you are in an area where R-12 is legal and although few shops WANT to get it, anyone licensed to do AC/Refrigeration work can.  It currently is Wholesaling for $40.00 per pound.  Your system was designed for it, components engineered for its properties and thermostatic controls calibrated for its properties.

That said and just for the record, what is marketed as "Envirosafe" refrigerant is a Hydrocarbon refrigerant composed of a mixture of Propane and Iso butane. It is currently being used as the refrigerant in small domestic appliances such as refrigerators and freezers. In these devices the refrigerant charge is something like 5 or 6 ounces total, and it IS EXTREMELY FLAMMIBLE.
Should your car catch fire there is no doubt in my mind that the insurance company will not cover it since the major Refrigerant manufacturers making  Hydrocarbon refrigerants warn against use in mobile applications.
They are excellent refrigerants but extremely unsuited for mobile applications.
In regards to Molecule size and hoses leaking the Propane molecule (c3H8) has a molecular weight of 44g/mol, the Isobutane molecule (c4h10) is 58 g/mol.
Refrigerant 12 , Dichlor-Difloural Methane (CCl2F2) is a whopping 120.91 g/mol.
The action and reaction of "alternate: refrigerant with components in systems intended for R-12 creates acids and solvents that eat away at hoses designed for R-12, eventually eating through them causing leaks.
Now I would think that understanding that the reaction of these chemicals with system components to form acids might be enough to dissuade folk from using them but apparently not.
It never ceases to amaze me that we will go to the ends of the earth and spend our children's inheritance finding the most miniscule part to maintain our car's originality, but think nothing of saving $100 or so by using an unknown chemical in it's system (where it does not show ((for a while)).
That's my rant for me and Bob.
Greg Surfas
Cadillac Kid-Greg Surfas
CLC #15364
66 Coupe deVille (now gone to the UK)
72 Eldo Cpe  (now cruising the sands in Quatar)
73 Coupe deVille
75 Coupe deElegance
76 Coupe deVille
79 Coupe de ville with "Paris" (pick up) option and 472 motor
514 inch motor now in '73-

Offline 57shark82

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #16 on: October 17, 2017, 11:45:52 AM »

Wow...thanks for the input.  I'm a stickler about keeping things original so if that is the case I'll stick with R-12
Tim

CLC Member #30850

1957 Cadillac Series 62 "The Shark"
1940 Chevrolet Master Deluxe Coupe "Scarlett"

Former Babies

 1941 Ford 1 ton truck
 1954 Buick Special 48D 2 Door "Betty Buick"
 1955 Packard Clipper Super
 1962 VW Beetle
 1962 Dodge 880
 1966 Mercury Montclair 4 Door "Mr. Merc"
 1968 Chevrolet Chevelle SS 396
 1968 Plymouth Barracuda notchback 318
 1977 Lincoln Continental MKV

Offline carguyblack

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #17 on: October 17, 2017, 01:26:18 PM »
Regarding the blower motors not turning on, don't write it off to just bad wiring or switch. I've had several of these cars and for some reason, those trunk blower motors get very "stiff" over the years and mine eventually seized. If you're mechanical, you can rebuild these with some creative ingenuity and patience. There is a brass bushing cluster that always seems to bind and fuse to the armature shaft. If you just yank on this thing, you'll pull the guts out of the spring load clip and your motor is now toast. Patience and penetrating lube has been the savior of several of these motors. Put some direct power to each motor and see if they at least turn slightly and you'll then know what your next step needs to be.
Finding an original motor that works well is a rarity. Replacement motors are out there but they don't quite look the same to me. I put one in once but, being a purist, I eventually replaced it with an original.  I slept better at night then!
Chuck Dykstra

1956 Sedan DeVille
1956 Coupe DeVille (2 sold)
1957 Oldsmobile 98 (sold)
1989 Bonneville SSE

Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #18 on: October 17, 2017, 02:36:51 PM »
Trunk-mounted blowers motors are driven by a 16g wire that starts from the keyswitch and goes through the rheostatic switch (the speed control switch).  This wiring gets very hot and will burn out the keyswitch over time.  In fact, you can see this for yourself by using the air on a hot day and when you turn off the engine, notice how very hot the key is -- the keyswitch is even hotter! Some folks (including me) often give up on the variable speed control and use a relay to provide full voltage to the motors and preserve the life of the keyswitch.
Art Gardner


1955 S60 Fleetwood sedan

Offline carguyblack

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Re: 1956 Air Conditioning
« Reply #19 on: October 17, 2017, 03:12:58 PM »
Art is correct, as usual! Adding that I've found that if the motor is operating freely as when new, the wire/switch heating wasn't noticeable. Put a bind on your sluggish blower motor, though,  and you can fix toaster pastries on your wiring.
I used the a/c recently on an hour long trip the whole way and didn't cook anything when things are as they should be.
Chuck
Chuck Dykstra

1956 Sedan DeVille
1956 Coupe DeVille (2 sold)
1957 Oldsmobile 98 (sold)
1989 Bonneville SSE