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Suzuki Samurai A/C kit installation Pages: 12

ScotY on Tue October 23, 2007 2:55 AM User is offlineView users profile

Year: 1988
Make: Suzuki
Model: Samurai
Engine Size: 1.3L
Refrigerant Type: R134a
Ambient Temp: 85
Country of Origin: United States

Hello!

I am going to use this thread as a place to document the installation of an AMA A/C kit in my 1988 Suzuki Samurai. Sort of a mini review/instruction manual supplement. I purchased the kit a few months ago and am slowly making progress on the install. I doubt this review will be of much interest to anyone here, but it will at least be a place for me to go if I need to look up info at a later date and maybe it will also give other beginners like myself some insight into what an AMA kit is like.

The instructions aren't the greatest but I didn't really expect much there, being that this vehicle is nearly 20 years old. I was just happy that they still could supply me with a kit! This truck is my little restoration project so I did want to keep up with the stock appearance as much as possible.

I started with the evaporator. I removed the dashboard to take care of some other things hiding back there. This did make installing the evaporator a little easier but I don't believe it's a necessity. The instructions say the lines go through the stock factory locations. This is not correct. There is a factory hole, approx. 1-1/8" in diameter, right below the cable for the hood release. I have no idea what this hose is designed for, but this is the hole that is used for the upper line on the evap. I drilled this hole out to 1-3/8" and drilled a second hole directly below it, also 1-3/8". The evap lines go through these two holes. The holes are bigger than the fittings, but the extra size was needed to maneuver the evap housing into place.

Next was the condenser...lots of head scratching here! The condenser mounting flange on the driver's side needs to be trimmed to clear the steering box. The lower hose just barely clears the passenger side frame rail. Supplied were various sheetmetal brackets and I ended up not using them since I couldn't get it all to fit right. I ended up making my own simple brackets from hardware store parts. The supplied electric fan was too thick and I couldn't make it work. After a LOT of cursing, I gave up and bought a similarly sized (but thinner) fan from Checkers. Not too happy about spending $65 on that fan, but I couldn't see any way to get the supplied fan in there without cutting metal. I want to eventually restore this truck to "like new original condition" so cutting into the grill was not an option.

The compressor was next. I thought this would be easy but, again, some head scratching. The rear bracket needed to be trimmed to get everything lined up. The exhaust heat shroud also needed to be trimmed. I was missing a few nuts and bolts...and learned that M10 bolts come in three different thread pitch. Two trips to the store later, all was installed. The supplied compressor belt was too short. It's a 17365 belt. After another several trips to the auto parts store, I found a 17371 belt to fit perfect. Add another $18 for the belt...yes, I was shocked a belt cost that much, but then again, everything costs a lot here.

Receiver drier...the instructions didn't say where to mount it. I ended up screwing it to the side of the bracket that holds the factory jack.

Hoses...work in progress now. The info on the website said the hoses would need to be cut to length and crimped on one end. When I called to ask questions before ordering, Eric mentioned the hoses were already done. Great, I thought, one less worry for me! Well, it didn't turn out so great in the end. The big hose (from the evap to the compressor) was WAY too long, even after routing it to the extreme corners of the engine compartment, it just didn't fit right. The other 3 hoses were usable but I could see cleaner ways to mount everything up. After thinking about it for a while, I decided that the hose layout was just not going to work. For anyone not familiar with the Samurai, it's a tiny little truck and there's not a lot of room, so this makes it pretty challenging to get pre-made hoses to fit nicely.

After calling around locally and getting estimates for hoses made, I decided to suck it up and just order a crimper and fittings from AMA. Fittings are cheap...a crimper at $185 is not. I am disappointed that I had to go this route but it made sense to spend a little more for the tools so I could get things done right and not waste money paying someone else to do it.

So, that's where I'm at now. The crimper and fittings, along with a starter kit, are on the way now from AMA. I'm dying to get the hoses done and finish it all up!

I will post pictures and continue to add to this thread until the installation is finished. I will also post this on my favorite Suzuki forum site since there's probably some interest there.

More later...

Edited: Wed October 24, 2007 at 3:02 AM by ScotY

TRB on Tue October 23, 2007 11:14 AM User is offlineView users profile

Amazing to hear so many issues with this kit since we have been installing and selling it since 1986. Keep us posted as I always willing to listen to feedback.

-------------------------

When considering your next auto A/C purchase, please consider the site that supports you: ACkits.com
Contact: ACKits.com

ice-n-tropics on Tue October 23, 2007 12:20 PM User is offline

I've busted some knuckles on the OEM A/C for the Samurai and nearly identical Chevy Tracker (built near London, Ontario at the CAMI plant) with the Sanden compressor. Should have been lot's of Nippondenso OEM evap/cond. available in wrecking yards for you to use.
There is not much horsepower there for you to use to run the compressor, so adequate condensing and a 100 cc displacement/tiney compressor is first prize.
Anyway, installing an A/C usually offers lot's of opportunity for you to "personalize" your ride.
Enjoy the challenge,
Old IV guy


-------------------------
Isentropic Efficiency=Ratio of Theoretical Compression Energy/Actual Energy.
AMAZON.com: How To Air Condition Your Hot Rod

ScotY on Wed October 24, 2007 2:52 AM User is offlineView users profile

Test post...okay, finally got the picture posted!

This one shows the engine compartment from a distance. The #10 hose is the worst one. In the picture, it runs about as far into the corners of the engine bay as possible and it's still too long. The low side port is upside down...workable, but annoying. I did try swapping it end for end and the port is still the same. There's also a major congestion of hoses around and under the coolant overflow tank. The steering box lives in that area so it's pretty tight.

I decided that the installation was going to look very messy and unprofessional if I tried to make it all work without modifying the hoses. Not a good thing there. I do realize that this is a kit and not a custom install. However, I believe if you're going to do it, try to do your best and do it right.

Giving it some thought, I came up with the following changes to the hoses:

1. Hose from evap to suction side of compressor - Cut both ends off, turn port upright, 90 deg fitting on one end and a 45 deg fitting on the other end...hose shortened significantly (#10). The 45 deg fitting will attach to the compressor with the hose routed near the master cylinder.

2. Hose from drier to expansion valve - Toss this one out because it's slightly too short. 45 deg fitting on expansion valve side, straight fitting on drier side, #6 hose and fittings

3. Hose from compressor to top of condenser - Route this one behind the radiator, over the top of the fan shroud and to the compressor, cut hose slightly shorter and replace #8 90 deg fitting

4. Hose from bottom of condenser to drier - Cut off one end, shorten slightly, and replace with 45 deg #6 fitting

Hopefully my order will arrive tomorrow and I can get more done. Will post more pics later.



http://www.autoacforum.com/forumimages/Engine compartment small.JPG

Edited: Wed October 24, 2007 at 4:45 AM by ScotY

ScotY on Wed October 24, 2007 3:01 AM User is offlineView users profile

Quote
Originally posted by: TRB
Amazing to hear so many issues with this kit since we have been installing and selling it since 1986. Keep us posted as I always willing to listen to feedback.

Hi Tim,

Well, like I mentioned, I am not an experienced mechanic although I am somewhat mechanically inclined. I wasn't sure what to expect with your kit, especially for a vehicle this old. I owned a Samurai (bought new back in 1987 or so) that had "factory" A/C in it but I believe it was a dealer installed option, not installed at the factory like cars are nowadays. I have a copy of the installation manual for the OEM A/C and it looks more complex than the AMA kit...not sure why.

The problems I have run in to are due to the following reasons:

1. Tight fit/lack of space
2. My unwillingness to cut any part of the vehicle
3. My inexperience
4. Some minor issues with the kit parts

The minor issues would be no factor for someone with access to a shop full of tools and parts. For someone like myself it, unfortunately, is much more difficult, time consuming and costly.

Thanks, Scot


Edited: Thu October 25, 2007 at 3:42 PM by ScotY

ScotY on Wed October 24, 2007 3:05 AM User is offlineView users profile

Quote
Originally posted by: ice-n-tropics
There is not much horsepower there for you to use to run the compressor, so adequate condensing and a 100 cc displacement/tiney compressor is first prize.

Anyway, installing an A/C usually offers lot's of opportunity for you to "personalize" your ride.

Enjoy the challenge,

Old IV guy

I'm kind of confused on what you're trying to say. Can you explain further?

Thanks, Scot

ScotY on Wed October 24, 2007 4:47 AM User is offlineView users profile

Compressor all mounted up. You can see my mark on the exhaust heat shroud showing the area that needs to be trimmed. The rear compressor bracket also needed to be trimmed (not shown).



Passenger side of vehicle showing the fittings on the condenser. The lower fitting just barely clears the frame rail.



Condenser front view.



Condenser front view with new electric fan purchased from Checker's (fan not yet mounted). It's a Hayden Rapid-Cool 10" fan, part #3670. It comes with zip-tie like fasteners that go through the condenser fins. Thinner than the AMA supplied fan which I couldn't get to fit.



Driver's side of condenser showing area that needs to be trimmed to clear the steering box.



Drier mounted to side of jack storage bracket/mount.



View of the evaporator.



Another view of the evap.



Holes drilled through firewall for evap lines.




Edited: Wed October 24, 2007 at 5:01 AM by ScotY

ice-n-tropics on Wed October 24, 2007 9:42 AM User is offline

OEM A/C used a 6.1 cubic inch (99.8 cc) displacement compressor to minimize the parasitic horse power draw from the small 1.3 L engine.

The effectiveness of the condenser to lower the power input to the compressor is based on minimizing the discharge pressure. Your condenser and pusher fan look great to accomplish heat dissipation from the refrigerant and keep reasonable discharge pressure.

The lower compressor ear so close to the steering knuckle is scary, especially when the engine rocks during emergency breaking. Might want to do a Van Gogh and cut off this ear.
You have personalized the installation with stout condenser mounting brackets.

I always find a way to mount the receiver drier forward of the radiator cowl in the ambient air stream instead of in the hot engine compartment. After the condenser has subcooled the exiting liquid refrigerant it is counter productive to reheat the refrigerant during it's flow through the R/D that is hotter than the liquid. A hot R/D causes a loss of subcooling or even causes some liquid to flash to a gas in extreme heat.
The added electrical load from fans and clutch may strain the alternator capacity.
Cordially,
Old IV guy


-------------------------
Isentropic Efficiency=Ratio of Theoretical Compression Energy/Actual Energy.
AMAZON.com: How To Air Condition Your Hot Rod

ScotY on Thu October 25, 2007 4:59 AM User is offlineView users profile

I understand now what you are saying. Small compressor to minimize load on the tiny engine and good cooling through condenser will reduce load on compressor. I will have to think about this a little bit to try and further try to understand the relationship of how the components are working together.

In another thread, I asked if there was a formula for determining condenser size. Unfortunately, there was no clear answer. As you can see, the condenser is very close to the steering box now. I wanted to add a power steering modification which would move the steering box further into the area occupied by the condenser. If it were possible, somehow, to get away with a smaller condenser, then I could add power steering...if I can figure out how to squeeze the P/S pump in there. I may experiment with a smaller condenser later after I get the system up and running.

Thank you also for the warning re. the compressor ear. I will take a look at it tomorrow to see if it's as close as it looks in the picture. Hopefully, it's not but I'm glad you mentioned it because I hadn't thought about that.

Also, thanks for the thoughts re. the drier. I thought that maybe that location wasn't the greatest being so close to the exhaust, but I couldn't quite seem to find a nicer location up front by the grill. I'll rethink it and see if I can't move it somewhere cooler.

My order arrived from AMA today! Got all the stuff I need to get it finished up. Hopefully, if I do end up moving the drier I can still make it work with the fittings I ordered.



Edited: Sat October 27, 2007 at 3:26 AM by ScotY

ScotY on Sat October 27, 2007 3:40 AM User is offlineView users profile

Well, made some progress today. I got all the hoses made up and all connected! Getting closer to completion!!! I now realize that there are different types of fittings, even though they're called the same thing. I don't know how to explain it, but the fittings I got in this order are longer, wider, bigger, so they fit a little different. I guess there's no such thing as a "standard" fitting.

I ended up finding a nice spot for the drier right in front of the radiator overflow bottle. It's tight in that area but with the new hoses, it fits just about perfectly. Of course, I ran into a small snag...the hose that I needed to lengthen (from expansion valve to the drier) was too short. I ordered a foot more than I needed, but once I moved the drier further forward, it ended up being a little short. It still works, the hoses just don't lay out as nicely. I have no idea how you were suppossed to make it work with the hoses supplied with the kit.

There's one hose that I'm not too thrilled about, perhaps it's not a concern. The hose from the compressor to the condenser sits right on top of the upper radiator hose. I assume that's not ideal but hopefully it's not significant since it's a line carrying hot gas anyway?

I checked the compressor mounting tab and it looks to have enough clearance between it and the steering. The picture is deceiving but thanks for the warning...that kind of attention to detail is much appreciated. I'll check it again after I get it all running but I don't think the engine will torque enough so where it will interfere.

I have a question about oil. The kit calls for 2 oz. of oil to be added to the drier. I'd do that, but it's all mounted up (should have put the oil in beforehand) and I'm being lazy. So...I have seen little oil cans in the auto parts store and am wondering if there's another way to get the oil into the system? Hopefully, I'm not making things more difficult than they need to be.

I'll post more pics as soon as I get a chance.





Edited: Sat October 27, 2007 at 3:42 AM by ScotY

Dougflas on Sat October 27, 2007 5:25 AM User is offline

I have installed many units back in the 70's and 80's. They were made and sold by ARA. Some kits "feel" into place; some were pretty involved. Many times brackets had to be fabricated and hoses run differently. This is to be expected as some mount and drive kits fit different vehicles. Manufacturers had production updates on their vehicles also.

Getting back to your installation...I'm not a fan (no pun intended) of mounting the condenser fan with tie straps thru the condensr. I personally would fabricate some brackets and not have the fan and condenser touch each other.

TRB on Sat October 27, 2007 1:32 PM User is offlineView users profile

The kit came with brackets to mount the fan. As far as the oil don't use any anything but what was supplied. Rather you not put it in then add some crap from the local auto store. But all you need to do is disconnect the fitting and pour it in.

-------------------------

When considering your next auto A/C purchase, please consider the site that supports you: ACkits.com
Contact: ACKits.com

ScotY on Sun October 28, 2007 4:05 AM User is offlineView users profile

New drier location directly in front of radiator overflow bottle


Another view of new drier location


Drier with new hose - straight connector on drier end


Compressor to top of condenser hose routed over radiator hose


Another view of compressor to condenser top hose


Hoses off the evaporator


Hoses running along firewall


Hoses to compressor and drier


Hoses to compressor


Edited: Sun October 28, 2007 at 4:19 AM by ScotY

ScotY on Sun October 28, 2007 4:34 AM User is offlineView users profile

To summarize the new hoses...

Compressor to top of condenser - cut slightly shorter, 90 deg fittings on both ends, hose run over and behind radiator

Bottom of condenser to drier - cut slightly shorter, 90 deg fitting on one end, straight fitting on other end

Drier to evap - 90 deg fitting on one end, 45 deg fitting on other end, significantly longer hose needed

Evap to compressor - cut significantly shorter, 90 deg fitting on one end, 45 deg fitting on the other end

Total of 6 new fittings and one length of new hose. I just need to install some hose clamps to secure the hoses a little better in a few spots then everything should look real nice.

Some questions below...somebody please help!

1. Is it bad to have that one hose affixed directly to the upper radiator hose?

2. Exactly what kind of oil is it that's supplied with the kit?

3. Why are the fittings I got when I ordered different from the fittings supplied in the kit? To rephrase that question, how do I know or describe which type I want when I order them? Some are longer, i.e. the aluminum tube part of the fitting is longer on some of them.

4. How tight should the fittings be torqued down? Right now, I have them snug...hard to explain, but there's a slight squeek when you tighten them snug...that's about where they are right now.

5. Will engine vibration loosen the fittings, especially on the compressor? I can see the engine moving in relation to the chassis, effectively wiggling the hoses loose if they're not real tight.

6. Since the compressor is filled with oil from the factory, do I have to do anything before starting up the engine and turning the compressor on?

7. Anyone care to take a guess on how much HP the A/C compressor will rob from the engine?

Edited: Mon October 29, 2007 at 2:39 AM by ScotY

ScotY on Sun October 28, 2007 4:45 AM User is offlineView users profile

Quote
Originally posted by: Dougflas
I have installed many units back in the 70's and 80's. They were made and sold by ARA. Some kits "feel" into place; some were pretty involved. Many times brackets had to be fabricated and hoses run differently. This is to be expected as some mount and drive kits fit different vehicles. Manufacturers had production updates on their vehicles also.

Getting back to your installation...I'm not a fan (no pun intended) of mounting the condenser fan with tie straps thru the condensr. I personally would fabricate some brackets and not have the fan and condenser touch each other.

Sure, I understand that this is not an OEM factory kit so some fiddling may be necessary. I think these trucks basically did not change at all throughout most of the years they were sold in the US, aside from some minor stuff that shouldn't affect the bolt-on components. In any case, it's a 20 year old vehicle so I certainly wasn't expecting perfection and total ease of installation. Many years ago I installed an aftermarket kit in a Miata...might have even been an AMA kit...I remember it being really easy so figured I could manage this one okay, too. Turns out this one is a little harder but not unmanagable.

I'm not too excited about the fan mounting either, aside from how easy it is to do. I will likely just mount it with the zip-tie things and think of a way to mount it more securely later. I'm dying to get it working now and I can fix the minor stuff later, that's not a big deal. There's one good thing about the zip-tie straps, they come with little rubber pads that keep the fan off the condenser and springs so there's some "give" but I'd imagine the rubber pads will deteriorate quickly.

Thanks for participating in this thread!

ScotY on Sun October 28, 2007 4:51 AM User is offlineView users profile

Quote
Originally posted by: TRB
The kit came with brackets to mount the fan. As far as the oil don't use any anything but what was supplied. Rather you not put it in then add some crap from the local auto store. But all you need to do is disconnect the fitting and pour it in.

Hi Tim,

Yes, I did get the brackets but couldn't get the supplied fan to fit (it hit the front sheetmetal around the grill area) so had to get a thinner fan. The new fan came with those zip-tie straps and the mounting tabs are different so I could no longer use the brackets. I also have a few other brackets that I couldn't figure out what they were for. I assumed they were for the evap housing inside the vehicle but couldn't figure out how they were intended to be used, so I made my own.

Questions...are there things I should stay away from in the auto parts store? I know to never use sealers. Are all brands of 134a okay to use? Should I buy the 134a with dye already in it? The kit calls for 24 oz. so is one can with dye enough and one "plain" 134a can? What about 134a with oil in it? Anything wrong with that?

I will put in the bottle of oil I got in the kit.

More later...

Thanks, Scot

ScotY on Mon October 29, 2007 2:36 AM User is offlineView users profile

More progress today...

Removed the drier and put in the entire 2 oz. bottle of oil that was supplied with the kit. I have a dye leak detection kit...the instructions didn't say it was acceptable to pour dye into the drier, but I thought it would be okay so I added a little bit.

With the oil and dye now in the drier, I put everything back together and decided to try and connect up the vacuum pump. It went down quickly to the bottom of the scale and pegged the needle at "30." I assume these gauges aren't all that accurate when it comes to reading vacuum? I then shut the valves and turned off the pump and waited a while. After 30 minutes, the gauge hadn't moved at all so I assume it's ready to charge up.

Still need to finish up the wiring and a few other minor things, buy a few cans of plain 134a and go from there...



ScotY on Mon October 29, 2007 3:50 AM User is offlineView users profile

Front grill, almost done!


Here are all the brackets included in the kit. I assume the silver colored parts are for the condenser and fan, the darker colored ones are for the evaporator. I couldn't really figure out how to fit them up so ended up just making my own.


#10 hose fittings on the left, #6 fittings on the right. The bigger/longer fittings are what I got in my last order. The smaller fittings (which are more convenient) were included in the kit. Unfortunately, I had to cut off some of the smaller ones.


ice-n-tropics on Mon October 29, 2007 9:33 AM User is offline

The discharge hose pulsates/vibrates and stretches as the engine torques, This could eventually rub through the upper radiator hose if there is no protective material between the hoses.
Cordially,
Old IV guy

-------------------------
Isentropic Efficiency=Ratio of Theoretical Compression Energy/Actual Energy.
AMAZON.com: How To Air Condition Your Hot Rod

ScotY on Tue October 30, 2007 1:46 AM User is offlineView users profile

Quote
Originally posted by: ice-n-tropics
The discharge hose pulsates/vibrates and stretches as the engine torques, This could eventually rub through the upper radiator hose if there is no protective material between the hoses.

Cordially,

Old IV guy

Thanks, Old IV guy...appreciate the info. I'll keep an eye on the hose and watch for wear.

I got three 12 oz. cans of Johnsen's brand R-134a from the auto parts store today. The system calls for 24 oz. so I have a little extra just in case.

I called AMA and talked to Eric for a few minutes. My main concern was the oil in the compressor. He said it's not totally filled with oil so it's not like it's going to hydra-lock (is that what it's called?). Also, he explained that when you start filling the system initially from a vacuum (without the engine running), the 134a will cause the oil in the compressor to flow out the high side outlet, effectively clearing the compressor of excess oil. Hope I got that correct and am not mis-stating what he said.

More later...

Edited: Wed October 31, 2007 at 1:29 AM by ScotY

NickD on Tue October 30, 2007 7:01 AM User is offline

Can always hand turn the compressor 20-30 turns if you are concerned. If nothing else, it's good exercise.

ScotY on Fri November 02, 2007 12:46 AM User is offlineView users profile

Hi Nick,

Thanks, I ended up doing that for good measure.

Finally got the system charged up! I started by running the vacuum pump for 2 hours. I had to get the wiring done and a few other things so just let it run extra long. I turned the compressor over by hand a few times while the pump was running. Then proceeded to put in the first can of refrigerant. I followed the instructions here:
http://www.autoacforum.com/messageview.cfm?catid=20&threadid=7931

The can tap I ordered did not fit the gauge's hoses...wonderful. Luckily, I also got one of those 3-in-1 things that punches a hole in the side of the can...that one had two types of fittings on it and one of them fit! About 1/2 or so of the can went in then it was time to start up the engine. It took a while for the can to drain and I never did get it completely empty, even after shaking it a little every once in a while. Is that normal? Started on the second can and eventually the high side got up to around 180 and the low side around 25-30 (I think). I noticed the sight glass started to clear up when the high side got over about 170 psi or so. Anyway, I put in almost all of the second can (as much as would go in anyway) while closely watching the pressures to make sure it didn't get too high. The engine was idling at a "normal" low idle through the whole process. After the second can was in, I tried revving the motor to a high idle and the high side would go up to about 205-210 at most. I let it run for a while at a normal idle speed and noticed the pressures fluctuate, I assume when the expansion valve opens and closes.

Outside temps were right about 82 degrees today. I measured 62 deg. at the vents with the blower on high, recirc air on, and doors open. Seemed cool, but not really that cold. Does it sound like everything is working right?

I am assuming that with two 12 oz. cans, accounting for some loss through the hoses and not being able to completely empty the can, I have less than 24 oz. total in the system. I also shortened the hoses quite a bit, but I don't know how much of a difference that would make.

Overall, I'm thrilled that at least the thing gets cool/cold! I've learned a lot by taking on this little project and now it's time to refine everything and get it working to it's optimum level. I still have a few things to clean up, mostly wiring and tying stuff down but that's all the easy/fun stuff.

A question...after I disconnected the gauges, the lines were filled with oil and refrigerant. Is it okay to leave the pressure in the hoses? I would assume it's best to let the pressure out before storing the gauge set?



Edited: Fri November 02, 2007 at 3:47 AM by ScotY

ScotY on Sat August 09, 2008 5:38 AM User is offlineView users profile

Just an update...I had been less than thrilled with the performance of the kit and made some changes as suggested by the members of the forum here. Nothing made a significant difference until about a week ago when I decided I was going to take a closer look at the thermostat in the evaporator.

I assumed that if I pulled the "probe" that was pushed into the evap core fins out some (so the probe just rests on the outer edges of the fins, it's no longer pushed in real deep into the core), it would allow the compressor to run longer before cycling off. This has seemed to make a HUGE difference in how cold the a/c system gets! It was 80 degrees outside today and I can get a temp reading in the vents at about 42-44 degrees F! The air feels much cooler and I can now live with this setup.

Questions...

The compressor will cycle off and on, just not as often. Is there anything wrong with this leaving it like this?

Are there adjustable thermostats that I could try in place of the one I have now?

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