Changing from R12 to R134...

Discussion in 'Heat & AC' started by quadracerx, Apr 12, 2018.

  1. quadracerx

    quadracerx Junior Member

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    My 1988 GMC Dually has factory AC (none working). I plan to replace the compressor, accumulator/dryer, oriface tube and switch from R12 to R134 at the same time.

    I was told to replace the O-rings as well? How many are there in the system and where are they located?

    My plan was to evacuate the system and clean it with AC System Cleaner. Then do the parts replacement and o-rings. Then pull vaccum to check for leaks and charge with R134. I know I will need new fittings.

    I did a search to try and find this info before I wrote this post....

    Is there anything I am missing?

    Thanks,

    Steve
     
  2. yevgenievich

    yevgenievich Full Access Member

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    The seals should be ok, if there is old oil left inside the recommendation I heard is to use Ester oil, otherwise PAG would be correct for r134. You can change the orings if desires, but not necessary and I did not have to change on few systems that I retrofitted. Replace the dryer and orifice tube when doing the service. For more performance at lower speeds, a ford blue orifice tube can be used. I used PAG oil on two squares and ester on the dodge. All still working. Used ester on the dodge because it still had original compressor.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2018
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  3. 1987 GMC Jimmy

    1987 GMC Jimmy Full Access Member

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    I’d consider changing the o rings at the back of the compressor because I’ve had trouble with them going out. Your low and high pressure port adapters will come with the conversion kit.
     
  4. Snoots

    Snoots Supporting Member Supporting Member

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    Sounds like you've got it covered. If the system's going to be completely redone as you described I WOULD change ALL of the O-rings. At this point there's no reason not to.
    I think there is a total of 10.
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018 at 5:04 PM
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  5. smoothandlow84

    smoothandlow84 I'd rather be draggin' frame

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    I replaced all of the orings back when I converted my ac on the 84. I also just as cheap insurance replaced all of the hoses as well. I also tested the condenser for leaks so as not to waste the r134 during the recharge. Little leaks are still leaks and they will turn up once you think everything is fine.
     
  6. CRM

    CRM Full Access Member

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    The only thing I'd recommend is doubling up on the system cleaner. You'll want to remove as much of the old mineral based oil as possible.
     
  7. hatzie

    hatzie Full Access Member

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    Make sure you flush all of the mineral oil from the hard parts. You can have cooling issues from leftover mineral oil blocking thermal transfer.

    Replace the lines with barrier hose rated for R134A. R12 lines are rumored to leak R134a not sure how true that is but it's cheap insurance.
    Replace the O-Rings with R134a compatible parts.
    Replace the Low Pressure Cutout Switch with one calibrated for R134a.
    If you have any doubts whatsoever about the condition of the Harrison R4 Radial compressor on your rig replace it with a Sanden unit or at least a rebuilt R4.
    Ester oil is compatible with the, hopefully minuscule amounts of, leftover Mineral oil but more importantly it's not as excessively hygroscopic as PAG. I usually run ester oil with UV dye to make leak tracing easy. Ester is still slightly hygroscopic so... I wouldn't do the oil fill til I was sure the system was close to being closed up.
    Dump the oil from the compressor even if it's a new unit, measure the volume you dumped, and re-fill with the same volume of Ester oil. This assures you that the oil charge is all of the same pedigree. This is not a full oil charge... Write down how much you used.
    If you live in places where you routinely get more than 100°F ambient outdoor temps I would install a High Pressure Cutout Switch as close to the compressor head as you can place it. Wire it in series between the Low Pressure Cutout and the compressor clutch.
    Replace the orifice valve and filter. Some folks like the variable orifice valves for conversions.
    Crack the seals on the NEW dryer and install it immediately to close the system up.
    If you can't immediately vac the system down... Sweep the system with welding gas because it's completely dry and not a refrigerant. Argon or Argon CO2 is easy to source for those of us that have MIG or TIG welders and the EPA stormtroopers will not be knocking on your door for using it to sweep the system.
    Vac it down. When the vacuum stabilizes you've boiled off any water but I usually run the vacuum pump for at least 2 hours after it stabilizes. If it holds vacuum for 12 hours or so it should be leak free.
    Subtract the amount of oil you installed in the compressor from the total oil charge in the service manual and add the remainder to the system with an oil injector.

    Now that you have the system prepped... You can't just dump X lbs of R134a and expect perfect results. Back in 2001 a guy that used the handle JungleEddy posted some useful information on the long gone Aircon boards. I saved his post on charging a system with a different refrigerant than originally designed. He was a proponent of Hydrocarbon refrigerants (R290 & R600a) I shall remain silent on what I choose to run. It has worked every time no matter what I chose for refrigerant.

    --------------
    Posted by JungleEddy on September 05, 2001 at 08:17:44: via: or 66.25.151.188

    More important stuff.

    How to charge an A/C system.

    Note: This method will work for any automobile A/C system regardless of refrigerant type. The pressures I list here will only be correct for HC’s.

    I have been trying for the past couple of weeks to come up with a “system” that would allow just about anyone to properly charge their A/C system. While this method I have developed is not fool-proof, it yields the closest thing to a perfect charge I have found. I have tested it on three “non A/C” mechanics in the past few days with great success.
    First: If you have not read my previous post on vacuum, flushing, oil supply, leaks and fans etc etc, please do so now. You still need a properly assembled system to get proper cooling!

    This ENTIRE process makes a few IMPORTANT assumptions!!
    1. The ambient air is OVER about 84 degs.
    2. You have a set of A/C gauges
    3. You do not take shortcuts.
    4. You are able to read and comprehend English.

    This process will work down to about 80 degs ambient air, but will be MUCH MUCH easier to over charge below 85 degs ambient air!! Relative high side pressures will be lower at 80 degs ambient and pressure drop after wetting the condenser will be less dramatic.

    Pull a hard vacuum for a minimum of 15 minutes, 60 minutes is perfect. Static charge the system to about 65 psi while the engine is NOT running.

    If you have a low pressure cut out switch on your system you will need to adjust it down to 18-19 psi sometime during this process. Personally, I find it easiest to do this about midway (now) through the charging process. Remove the connector from the switch and turn the adjustor screw about 1 full turn counterclockwise from its factory position. (counterclockwise is less psi, clockwise is more psi, 99% of the time) Start the engine and turn on the A/C, recirc, max fan, and engine at idle. Max fan is important, since it will help keep the evaporator from freezing as you charge. Charge the system slowly (if you have to!) until the compressor stays on fairly continuously at IDLE. The adjustment I illustrated above should give you a cut out psi of 12-18 psi. Watch your low side gauge and SLOWLY increase engine rpm. The low side pressure will drop slowly but substantially because you are still undercharged. Watch it drop from 20+ psi down through the teens and carefully note where the compressor cuts out. Return the engine to idle and pull the connector to the cut out switch and adjust it accordingly. Try this several times until, as the engine is slowly revved the compressor cuts out at about 18-19 psi on the low side.

    The Charge:
    Bring the engine rpms up to a continuous 1200-1800 rpm. Begin to add refrigerant (if you have to) SLOWLY until you notice that the air at the vents is noticeably cooler than the ambient air, say at about 65-75 degs or so.
    At this point grab your garden hose and hose down the condenser; soak it once only. Your pressures will drop dramatically. The high side should drop below 150 and the low side should drop low enough to cycle the compressor, or if the switch is temporarily “jumped” the low side should be well below 20 psi. I prefer at this stage to jump the connector to the pressure switch to keep the compressor running continuously. It makes the process go much faster, but you risk freezing the evaporator. Now, watch the system pressures rise as the water evaporates and the heat in the system and stabilizes and equalizes. This can take a long time if you have a mechanical radiator fan. The point where the pressures remain relatively constant is called equalization.

    Here is the key:
    (After wetting the condenser) As you are watching the high side pressure rise from 160psi through (potentially) about 205psi the LOW side should REMAIN from 21-24 psi. If the high side never sees 145+psi you are still low on charge as long as the ambient is 85 degs or above. If as the high side needle swings through 160psi the low side is still below 20psi, you will add more refrigerant AFTER wetting the condenser again and dropping the pressures. Keep doing this until the low side remains at 21-24 psi while the high side swings through 160psi and finally settles at equalization (no more rise) Keep the engine rpms constant and wait for equalization (or close) each time before wetting and charging. If you are going carefully and slowly you could see a high side over 225 at equalization BEFORE you reach a full charge. The high side will DROP as you come closer to a full charge. Be aware that if you over-charge, the high side will climb again and never come down.

    Note: If the ambient air is above 95 degs, stop watching the low side after the high side climbs past 205 or so. Especially if you have weak fans.

    Note: Take your time and wait for equalization and water evaporation off the condenser before adding refrigerant. An overcharge can occur with no more than an extra 1.5 ounces of refrigerant!!

    You can double-check your work at any time (and I suggest doing so) by waiting for full equalization and stabilization of pressures. Then, carefully MIST water into the condenser SLOWLY SLOWLY dropping the system pressures and watching for the same readings on the gauges as listed above.

    When finished you should have a sweaty return line all the way back to the compressor. When the return line begins to feel chilled over the first portion of its length, you are approaching full charge. Do not forget to reconnect the low pressure cut out switch!

    Do not consider your vent temps accurate until the vehicle has been driven for about 10 minutes at moderate highway speeds!!!! Idle low side pressure should not exceed 40 psi (34-38 actual) if everything is working well; good fans etc….

    The idea here is that the compressor should NOT cycle when ambient air temps are above 81-84 degs.

    Interesting note for tech heads: If you are charging SLOWLY. You will find at first that the high side will be at a higher pressure, after equalization, on a low charge than at a correct charge! Remember, raised heat = expansion and/or pressure.
    Why: (basically)
    Within a certain range, the pressure in the condenser (high side) is MUCH more affected/determined by the temperature of the refrigerant than its volume.
    ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL, the condenser has the ability to lower the temperature of the refrigerant passing through it “X” amount and no more. The compressor, in compressing the refrigerant, heats or raises the temperature of the refrigerant “Y” amount. Lets say the temperature of the refrigerant entering the compressor via the return line is “Z”. So the final temperature “T” of the refrigerant that gets to the orifice/exp valve is: Z+Y-X=T
    If we could lower the value of “T” the entire system would work more thermally efficiently and at lower pressures on the high side. So, ALL THINGS BEING EQUAL, you could 1. get a larger condenser and raise your “X” value or 2. lower the value “Z”.
    A full charge on an A/C system will not only have enough refrigerant in it to keep the evaporator “chilled”, but JUST ENOUGH that the line leaving the evaporator and returning to the compressor will also have substantially cooled refrigerant in it THUS LOWERING YOUR “Z” value!! Hello!!
    Note: Over charging will allow actual condensed refrigerant (liquid) to make it all the way back to the compressor. As we all know, you cannot compress a liquid…boom/screech.

    ----------------
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2018 at 9:16 AM
  8. spanky55amg

    spanky55amg I'll give u $5, a hardy handshake, & 5 fish sticks

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    Although what hatzie would be the "correct" way of going about it, what yevgenievich put is how Ive done it for... 18 years now. Not on a square of course, but multiple other system. And to be all fair, I havent replaced many orifice tubes. Depending on how long ago the system stopped working and what the failure was, Id just evac the system, slap on a dryer, fix whatever was leaking... usually an o-ring, pull a vacuum on the system and let it sit for 20 minutes, and then pump 1-2 oz of PAG oil in there, add the amount of 134 that the system called for R12 and then adjust as pressures indicated.

    This was done on customers cars and personally own cars.
     
  9. hatzie

    hatzie Full Access Member

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    I tend to use the methods that absolutely work every single time and last the longest.
    You can shortcut things but the results aren't predictable.
    Proper oil charge is the difference between just cool and actually cold vent temps. The massive condenser GM used on these trucks makes the system fairly forgiving but more oil than needed always equals lower efficiency and higher head pressures. Higher head pressures means lower fuel mileage and lower compressor lifespan.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2018 at 12:07 AM

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