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I'm looking for some advice on whether I should try to rebuild a frigiking A/C unit or install a newer underdash aftermarket unit in my 76 2002.  The frigiking unit looks pretty beat up.  It was not working when I got the car a year ago so I pulled it out of the car.  It is also missing some knobs and has some cracks. 

 

I'm not concerned about having a period correct A/C unit.  I would like to have an A/C unit that works since I live in the desert and I'm wondering if anyone has experience using something newer and smaller than the frigiking.

 

I also am wondering about the installation and if it would be easier to rebuild the frigiking since it was already in the car or go with a newer underdash unit and how difficult that would be to install all the components that go along with the actual A/C unit. 

 

Thanks, 

Roberto 

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(edited)

Roberto:

 

In a primitive car like a 2002, the heater box and the evaporator assembly are two completely separate units. So when you talk about an "a/c underdash unit," you're talking about the evaporator assembly.

 

The three a/c units -- and evaporator assemblies -- used by the dealer were the Frigiking, the Behr, and the Clardy. They all have the advantage of 1) fitting, and 2) having a console that fits around them. If you really don't care about the console, you could, in theory, use any evaporator assembly that can squeeze on top of the transmission hump and fit under the dash.

 

 

The problem is that I don't think anyone on the FAQ has identified another unit that will fit. There have been anecdotal rumors over the years, but I don't recall seeing a post with photographs that identified an evaporator assembly from a particular model.

 

Note that I retrofitted a/c into my 3.0CSi and began by using one of the generic evaporator assemblies. It wouldn't fit under the dash. I had to use the factory unit instead, which turned out to be a good idea because THAT let me use the factory console. You might think, today, that you don't care if it looks stock, but tomorrow you might think otherwise.

 

There is another path -- trying to use a combined heater and A/C. Two other guys and I looked at the Hurricane 2000 unit that a hot rod a/c company makes. I even went as far as buying a housing for one. Unfortunately, 1) I couldn't make it fit, 2) in order to use it, you'd have to block up the big rectangular hole in the firewall, and 3) it has no fresh air capability.

 

Also, keep in mind that the evaporator assembly is one of four major components. The other two are the compressor, the condenser/fan, and the hoses/receiver. The installation of all of them needs to be considered. They all need to be functional. If an '02 has a/c but it hasn't worked in 30 years, typically of all of them, the evaporator assembly is the one that might not need to be replaced.

 

Good luck. If you find something, let us know.

 

--Rob

Edited by thehackmechanic

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(edited)

I am interested as well. You can try and check with Vintage Air and see if they have anything available that might fit in the 02 space.

I know they make mini evaporators. Found the dimensions of one of them, It measures 7.3"(front/back) X 9.0"(top/bottom) X 19"(wide).  They might possibly have a kit for a Corvette etc, etc. that may be fitted to the space we have. 

These things aren't cheap. The mini evaporator is in the $400-500 range. The complete kits are close to $900 and up. 

If you do go for an upgrade, It might be wise to get a Sanden type rotary compressor and a custom bracket from Hobie Dave. Saves a lot of weight and gives you some space. 

 

Keep us posted on your endeavors. 

 

Cheers! 

 

Edited by Vicleonardo1

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If I were you, I'd keep the Frigiking evap and console, and source the parts needed to make it look pretty. Quite a lot has been written about how to replace the other components. 

 

You might try and find a more powerful blower for the evap while you're in there, and that may net you another small improvement.

 

A big condenser and a Sanden clone will get you decent cold air, even with R134 (and likely colder with R12).

 

Cheers,

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(edited)

2002 A/C  101...

 

Keep in mind that nothing is gonna make any air conditioner in a 2002 perform even like a 70s Chevy Nova's air.  Even the best '02 unit will only give you halfway decent cooling on the highway, but not so much around town.  With all the cold air coming from the center console, your right arm and shoulder will get frostbite while the rest of you will be warm--or warmer, depending on the outside temperature.

 

That being said--I agree with the other posters--stick with one of the consoles that were designed to fit a 2002.  All three have about the same cooling capacity and all have some advantages/disadvantages:

 

Frigiking--not as nice looking as the Behr, but has the radio mounted at the top--the Behr radio mount is at the bottom, and it's difficult to insert a CD or (snicker) cassette as the shift lever is in the way.  I think the blower is more powerful than the Behr unit.  Two different front panels on Frigikings:  one to replace a short console, the other for a long console.

 

Behr--more integrated looking than the Frigiking, and has a circuit that prevents the heater blower from working when the A/C blower is on.  But radio mount is inconvenient.

 

Clardy--nice looking, powerful blower, but the blower housing significantly intrudes into the passenger footwell.  Also harder to find as they weren't introduced until the very end of 2002 production, around 1976 so fewer are around.   

 

Regardless of which one you get, use a rotary compressor vs the original York piston unit.  Quieter, draws less power and cools better.  

 

You should be able to find all the pieces you need for the interior console and its innards from parts cars; the remaining pieces (condenser, hoses, compressor/mounts, receiver-dryer) are all stock items available on line.  

 

Not sure if they're still in business, but you might try European Cooler Air, in Rockwall TX:  800-324-9378.  At one time they made A/C units for (among other European cars) 2002s. They also sold components, like complete consoles.

 

Cheers

mike

Edited by mike

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49 minutes ago, mike said:

European Cooler Air, in Rockwall TX:  800-324-9378.

A quick search in the Texas business directory shows their status as "voluntarily dissolved" in 2000.  Drats, they are not that far from me.

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(edited)

Jake @ classicdaily was able to fit the Hurricane 2000 in the 75 he is building for me.  That said it wasn't easy and required some fabrication to make it fit.  He was also able to modify a stock console to fit around the beast.  The heater box was removed and the opening was boxed in towards the engine bay.  This gave some additional height to allow the unit to sit close to the firewall.  You do give up fresh air as Rob notes above.  Living in SoCal I was ok with that to get good a/c.  

 

The pic is of an almost finished console.  The switches are fan speed, vent or defrost, heat control, a/c control.  The car will be at Vintage for it's first show.

 

Don't listen to Ray he is just jealous :)

Console_2016-11-02.jpg

Edited by KenH

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1 minute ago, ray_ said:

Wow.

 

That sure is a pretty shift surround!

 

:D

 

Yes it is, worth a good $17.65 :)

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Thanks everyone for the comments.  I'm leaning towards rebuilding the frigiking now.  After looking around the car though I see that I need to purchase a compressor, condenser and fan since they are not on the car.  I was hoping that after 40+ years someone would have developed a smaller, more powerful and more technologically advanced A/C unit that can be put in these cars but It looks like the old A/C units (when rebuilt) work about as good as anything else you can find on the internet now.  

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If you want an off the wall suggestion, some people have gone with a trunk mounted evaporator that blows through the rear parcel shelf. You can certainly get a larger size in there, which may be more effective but the limit will then be the size of condenser you can fit in the nose. 

 

Unfortunately we still have all the same problems that A/C installers had in the 70's. 

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1 hour ago, Simeon said:

If you want an off the wall suggestion, some people have gone with a trunk mounted evaporator that blows through the rear parcel shelf. You can certainly get a larger size in there, which may be more effective but the limit will then be the size of condenser you can fit in the nose. 

 

Unfortunately we still have all the same problems that A/C installers had in the 70's. 

 

+1

 

And, Simeon, there was an aftermarket NK system that was trunk mounted, with outlets coming up through the rear parcel shelf.  I always thought that the WAY to go for real '02 A/C would be to install an '02 front console unit AND one of these NK trunk units in the same car.  I never did figure out where the second condenser or compressor would fit!

 

Best regards,

 

Steve

 

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3 hours ago, Simeon said:

If you want an off the wall suggestion, some people have gone with a trunk mounted evaporator that blows through the rear parcel shelf. You can certainly get a larger size in there, which may be more effective but the limit will then be the size of condenser you can fit in the nose. 

 

Unfortunately we still have all the same problems that A/C installers had in the 70's. 

Well, we do...

 

But we have rotary compressors and parallel flow condensers now...

 

:)

 

Cheers,

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