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Pauk

Air Conditioner 1973 - What to Do?

Question

Greetings!  So I have me a 1973 Pontiac LeMans.  When I bought it two years ago, the A/C wasn't working.  I had my local GM dealer take a look at it.  It came back to me blowing only somewhat cool air.  They said something about one spot in a flow line freezing up and that I needed a new thermal expansion valve and the associated circuit breaker.  Well I had no trouble finding a new TXV, but couldn't find anything online about any circuit breaker. 

So I took her back in to GM with the new TXV.  When I got her back they hadn't installed the new TXV and were talking about not being able to do anything with it because it was an old (R13?) refrigerant system.

You can tell from my description that 'what we have here is a failure to communicate.'  I never had a chance to talk to the mechanic and was getting information filtered through the service rep, who really didn't have a clue.  My bad for not going back and talking to the mechanic.  Water under the bridge.

Anyone want to guess what my options are?  The local classic car auto parts guy says I need to completely change over the system and he's never seen that done for less than $4,000.  My brother-in-law, who takes cars apart for a living, says all it needs is a kit with new seals and gaskets and R134a refrigerant to do the trick.  I live in Canada, but it's a US-built car, if that makes a difference.  

Thanks for helping with my utter confusion!

Gary 

 

 

 

 

2017Pontiac67.jpg

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i wish i could help you, i have a 1973 LeMans too that i bought a week ago and looking for the AC the same, not working. only the heater sometimes. i was going to make more research about it, if i know something i'll tell you. 

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Thanks, Kim.  I found mine living in Chicago two years ago and picked it up on New Year's Day.  Its heater was broken, too, like yours.  The fellow who sold it to me warned me that his son had driven it recently was smelling antifreeze in the passenger compartment.  So I suspected the heater core was leaking and came prepared with down parka, sleeping bag, down boots and mitts, etc.  I drove it home across Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Wyoming, Montana and Alberta over the course of six days in January.  Fortunately it was during a relatively mild spell when the temperature was mostly between 10 and 35 degrees F, and I had a fair bit of sunshine to help warm the interior.  

The good news is that if it is the heater core, it's not too difficult a thing for you to have replaced.  My local GM shop was able to get a replacement shipped in the same day that I dropped the car off.  The bill was only about $250.  

As I see you're in coastal California, you probably aren't as desperate for a working heater as I was.  There's only a few weeks during the year up here in western Canada that you absolutely want to have working A/C, but it bugs me to have it there and not working. 

I notice from your profile that your LeMans is 'green.'  Mine was, too.  Sort of pea soup green.  The official name was 'Golden Olive.'  I had it repainted this past summer to 'Burma Brown' which was the colour of the '73 LeMans I owned from 1977-1982.  My first car.  Would love to see pics of your car if you want to post them here. 

My car's story is at www.1973PontiacLeMans.net.

Thanks for your note and I'll appreciate hearing about anything you learn.

 

Gary 

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Yeah! but it gets very warm here in summer! i need some cold! I like the  original color but i am going to paint it in black because it needs a refresh. i like your color too, its beautiful. Oh the link you sent doesn't work 

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If you are looking for air conditioning parts for your '73 Lemans I would suggest contacting the guys at Original Air. They should be able to hook you up with missing parts and answer all your A/C questions.

https://originalair.com/

R13 was the refrigerant gas of choice back in the day, however, it was determined to be a chlorofluorocarbon, which  helps destroy the ozone layer when released irresponsibly into the atmosphere. So R134a is the more environmental friendly refrigerant gas and it takes less R134a to charge a system than R13. R13 is still available but it has become quite expensive because most people hoard it for that reason. That means you have to look harder to find it too.

I would check with your provincial or state law regarding what you can use, R13 or R134a. I'm guessing California may require R134a. I'm not so sure about Alberta. So a R134a conversion maybe your only option. So ask those questions too to the folks at Original Air.

 

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I'll try again.  Cut and paste to be sure. 

 

http://www.1973pontiaclemans.net/

 

 

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Thanks very much, Frosty.  Wow, what a great link.  I see they sell kits, so maybe they can sell me what they need and I can get someone who knows what they're doing to install here.  Or get brave and do it myself!

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360Rocket, I like your idea.  And given the view out my window currently, I expect to have plenty of raw material well into May.

IMG_3385.jpg

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In all reality, I am building one of these as we speak. I don't want to alter my car in that manner and add A/C that it didn't originally come with and the nice thing is once i get to a car show< I can pull this out of the car and continue to use it without having to keep the car running. I can use it in the garage while working in the car, etc. I even found a red and black cooler to match the car. I'm using 1 gallon Gatorade bottles with handles and using the freezer in the garage as storage while not in use/recharging.

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19 hours ago, Pauk said:

360Rocket, I like your idea.  And given the view out my window currently, I expect to have plenty of raw material well into May.

IMG_3385.jpg

You can always run over to the Banff National Park, to say Lake Louise, for more to get you through the summer months too.

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Just had a very big leak of the AC Liquid coming inside the car and outside... what a mess :o

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