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replacement condenser question

mhamilton on Sun July 12, 2009 3:04 PM User is offlineView users profile

Year: 1980
Make: Chevy
Model: Malibu
Refrigerant Type: R134a
Ambient Temp: 95
Pressure Low: 50
Pressure High: 275+

I've about had it with trying to get a light duty clutch fan to pull enough air to make R134 work efficiently with the OE condenser. When moving down the road, the air is cold at any ambient. But at slow speeds it will not make air that's even reasonably cold. Seems to be even worse this summer, as the compressor has nearly 60k miles on it, doesn't seem to be able to pull that low side down to even the 40 psi range. Reving the engine only pushes the high side up past 300 psi, and the low side will still not come down. Tried spritzing the condenser with water, nothing noticeable.

I know I could try to fit an electric fan, which might solve the problem, but that seems to be more of a stop-gap repair, rather than addressing the source of the problem with the old, inefficient condenser.

Anyway, was looking through Ackits, I see the replacement part 632322PL looks like it's a more modern design. My OE is a serpentine with 2 rows of 7/16" tubing, maybe a dozen passes. Is the one pictured on the site the more efficient design? I see the picture shows the lines on the RH side, whereas mine are on the LH side, so I didn't know if that was just for illustration.

TRB on Sun July 12, 2009 3:59 PM User is offlineView users profile

It is a 6mm piccolo. Never design compared to the older T & F condenser. Not as good as a true PF design in my opinion.

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mhamilton on Sun July 12, 2009 4:26 PM User is offlineView users profile

Okay, so better than the T&F, but not as good as a PF.... but would it be a worthwhile upgrade? I think the only reason the a/c worked with the conversion is because of the sheer size of the OE condenser, but now it seems to be straining to cool the car (at speed) when the ambient is 90+.

Right now I want something that will do the job... I can pack the original condenser away until I want to go back to R12.

TRB on Sun July 12, 2009 5:33 PM User is offlineView users profile

Ford uses the 6mm in their R134a systems.

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

fonebone on Sun July 12, 2009 10:17 PM User is offline

Carefully reading over your initial post, it seems that all is fine with your basic conversion to r-134. The temps at speed show all is fine with the systems ability to cool satisfactorily, ruling out component failure/inadequates. If you have read any earlier posts with similar problems, you will find all here will agree that you have an airflow problem at low speed. I'm not sure what "spritzing" is as far as the amount of water you sprayed on the condenser, but it sure sounds like it was not enough of a soaking. With the performance of the system you have described, it is almost unheard of NOT to have an immediate and drastic drop in vent temps when you nail it with a good steady spray. Try sitting in the car while having someone spray the condenser steadily all over, and see the if there is a drop in vent temps. How old is that "light duty "fan clutch? If it is the original, and over 2 years old, my bet (and others here I"m sure will agree) that it's not pulling enough air at low speed/idle conditions. The pros here will tell you-- 2 years-- and they drop in performance fast. Sure, it will roar nice and loud, but that's no indication of efficiency. My question is, why run a "light duty" fan clutch on a r-12 to r-134 conversion using an r-12 condenser? R-134 puts out more BTU's, taxing your old condenser to the max. Replace your fan clutch with a good heavy duty one, and, for maximum cooling, install the largest PF condenser(available here), and I'm sure you will solve your problem. Hope this helps.

Edited: Mon July 13, 2009 at 1:53 AM by fonebone

mhamilton on Mon July 13, 2009 4:41 PM User is offlineView users profile

I see I contradicted myself between posts... it cools better at speed, but these 95 degree days I'm noticing it's not nearly as good as it used to be. It used to cycle any time I was going over 45, now it struggles to keep the cabin cold with a sun load. Also feels like it's not removing all the humidity. I checked the charge, it's not the issue.

The fan clutches are a long and boring story... I had problems with them that I've mentioned on the Off Topic section. Basically, I did have a brand new Delco clutch, which broke after 8 months, and GM can't get me another replacement. The original clutch and the brand new Napa clutch (currently on the car) all perform the same. I said "light duty" just compared with the clutches on trucks, which like my Ford 150s, will pull a ton of air even in winter. This one is OE spec for my car with a/c. It will hold a shop rag to the condenser at idle, so I don't think I can keep blaming the air flow as the main problem. I have also filled gaps between the rad and condenser, and shroud, core support, etc.

I think I will upgrade the condenser to the newer style. Even if it's not the best PF, it couldn't hurt to make it more efficient than the old T&F. If it still won't cool adequately, then I'll see what else I can do with the air flow. As-is, the a/c works better than some new cars, but I know this system worked much better a few years ago.

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