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Never Convert R12/124a Systems to 1234yf. Here's Why:

YouTube and other platforms are a great source of information for DIYers. Instead of spending crazy money on a service, in many cases, you can diagnose and fix an array of issues yourself simply by watching a few videos. However, just because it's on the Internet does not mean it’s a good idea. Lately, we have come across some how-to videos on how to convert R12 and 134a systems to take 1234yf, as well as videos of how to convert 1234yf systems to 134a. (The latter mainly due to the astronomically high cost of 1234yf.)

While you might be thinking you’re doing the environment a solid, do not do it. It is illegal to convert an R12 or 134a system to 1234yf.

The industry has no tests or published information to establish cooling performance, reliability, compatibility, or an assessment of chemical damage to a system’s lubricant seals and hoses. And the EPA has approved the new 1234yf refrigerant only for new vehicles with systems designed specifically for its use.

This is because R12 and 134a systems are not designed to use flammable refrigerants, which 1234yf is. In fact, Federal Law mandates that using flammable substitutes is strictly prohibited. Before you work on any system that could contain flammable refrigerant, proceed with caution. Electronic leak detectors can ignite if you use it to find leaks in systems holding flammable refrigerants. Plus, parts of recovery or recycling machines could ignite if the machine is being used to recover refrigerant. Even connecting and disconnecting service equipment, a small amount of refrigerant at the service ports might leak. This could also result in a fire if the leak ignites. In any of these situations, both could result in fires or even explosions.

In short, if your car was originally designed to use the old R12 or newer 134a, stick with one of them until a reliable time-tested product is offered as a substitute.

Reader Ride: Vernon's 1970 Ford Mustang 351

I've owned it since the late '70s but got serious about restoration in the summer of 2016. It has a new 351 Cleveland with 500 HP, C4 Auto transmission, new interior, new wheels and was in the body show for about six months. It was repainted in January of 2019. I also just charged the AC with R12 last week.

Original Air components on the car are the condenser, hoses, drier, accumulator, expansion valve, and suction valve.

Classic Car Tips For the Summer Season

If you’ve shielded your beauty from the sleet, snow, wind, rain and whatever else the winter and spring seasons have to offer, congratulations. It’s June, which means summer is finally here. You cannot wait to get your car back on the road; those stares you get driving it around never get old.

Unfortunately, what does get old is your classic. It’s called that for a reason and before taking it back on the road, always remember to take maintenance into consideration, especially if you haven’t started it in a year or more.

We typically start with the fluids, including brakes, transmission, windshield, washer, and coolant. Kudos to you if you remember the last time you changed the oil. But water and other fluids can seep into the crankcase anyway, so go ahead and get it replaced. Look under the car for any pools of liquid because drops here and there are normal, but larger puddles are not. 

Next, check under the hood and try and find anything that may be out of place. Animals like raccoons, cats, and small rodents can crawl into your car, chew wires, and even leave a few surprises. We’ve seen it before. Be sure everything is intact by gently pulling on wires like the spark plugs. Also, check the ignition, distributor cap, and rotor. You might need to change out the air and gas filters as well.

Now check the fuel. If it smells like harmful gas, you are going to have a tough time starting. If the car has been sitting for over a year, drain out any fuel that was left and add some fresh stuff. 

Check your wheels for both air pressure and the state of the rubber. Flat spots can develop in as little as a month. To avoid this happening in the future, roll the car forward and back a couple feet. Do this every two or three weeks, or just put the car up on jack stands if not driven very often. 

Before looking at the battery, be sure the charging system is in order (alternator has clean feeds and grounds). Next, clean the battery’s posts and terminals, and add distilled water to the cells. If needed, use a 2-10 amp charger to charge the battery after a voltage test.

After finishing the initial inspection, take it on a quick test drive and do a double-check. If everything is still in order, you should be good to go. Even though it can take an afternoon or two to fully examine a classic that’s been sitting, both you and your car will appreciate it.

Check Out Steve's Classic 66 Ford T-Bird 390 Reader Ride

In April 2004, I purchased a 1966 Ford Thunderbird. The good news: I got her for a good price. The bad news: I got her for a good price. She was a #6 rustbucket and required a total restoration. Here’s what I’ve done or had done to the car since I’ve owned her:

  • Front/rear suspension rebuild
  • Transmission rebuild, to include new transmission lines
  • Carburetor rebuild (x3)
  • Disk brake rebuild, to include new brake lines
  • Power steering linkage rebuild
  • Total interior rebuild (floorboard repair, new carpets, seat covers & foam padding).
  • Repaint of exterior
  • Installed new rear window (old one was broken out)
  • Replaced driver’s side view mirror and new mechanics and added passenger side view mirror
  • Rebuilt power windows (gears, pulleys – the electric window motors still work though)
  • Replaced the original fender skirts with stainless steel trim around the rear fenders
  • Replaced gas tank, fuel pump, and associated lines in-between
  • Installed new exhaust system
  • Replaced heater core and all vacuum lines
  • Replaced the A/C evaporator and condenser, and associated hoses
  • Rebuilt the original compressor
  • Re-wired & replaced numerous electrical components
  • Detailed the entire engine compartment
  • Detailed trunk to include new trunk liner and added an optional trunk release/open mechanism
  • Bead-blasted all the wheels, repainted them semi-gloss black and mounted new, period-correct tires on the wheels

Furthermore, in the process of building the interior, I added some rare options like power seats and a reclining passenger seat. Those didn’t originally come on this car as an option, but they were an available option for that year…so I found those on eBay and went with them. I also replaced both door panels with some used ones in good shape.

When replacing the original fender skirts with stainless steel trim, I was able to get a set of the optional ’66 hubcaps in decent shape, so the lack of fender skirts complements them nicely.

Plus, the car was originally a “Town Landau” (a white vinyl top with a Landau ‘S’ bar on the side pillars). Since the vinyl and chrome trim was long gone, I decided to repaint the exterior with the period-correct “Town Hardtop” option, which was the painted roof with a Thunderbird emblem in place of the Landau “S”. I kept the body the original color (Brittany Blue Metallic), but the roof and side pillars are now painted Wimbledon White. I had to replace both the outer & inner fenders prior to painting, as the ones that were originally on the car had deteriorated into swiss-cheese rust. In addition, I had new weather-stripping installed throughout the car. 

I nicknamed this car “Liz."  Short for Elizabeth Taylor because in order for her to have all the nice lines and right curves, it cost a lot of money. I parodied Admiral ‘Bull’ Halsey’s response (when he was asked by the Saturday Evening Post so many years ago), why a U.S. warship is referred to as “she."  He replied, “A ship is referred to as ‘she’ because it takes so much time, money and effort to make her look pretty." 

Original Air components on car: 

  • Condenser
  • Hoses
Nova Conversion Project Part 2

Earlier this year, we helped Joe P with the A/C portion of his 1970 Nova small-block to big-block conversion. As many of you know, parts for these cars can be hard to come by, especially for a second-generation big-block Nova!

What many people don't realize is that with little to no modification, some first-generation F-body (1967-69 Camaro and Firebird) parts can be interchanged with little or no modifications whatsoever (more details on this coming soon!). Joe P did and was able to get his hands on a 1969 Firebird evaporator unit, which he sent to us for restoration.

Upon receipt, we were able to see right away that it had suffered a fair amount of damage in transit. Since we do this kind of repair regularly, and the unit was already going to require some fiberglass modification to convert it for his 1970 Nova, this wasn't a problem. 

As you can see below, this unit has leaves and other debris on the inlet side of the evaporator. This kind of external contamination is a very common source of reduced air volume and system efficiency for evaporators of all makes and models. It essentially renders the blocked portion of the evaporator useless.

Since all Pontiac engines are nearly the same external size as big-block Chevy engines, 1967-69 Firebirds all use the same housing as 1967-69 Camaros with a big-block engine. There is one key difference between the 1969 Firebird unit sent to us and the 1969 Nova that was to be installed: a different resistor mounted in a different location of the inboard (engine side) case half.

In this case, we had to close the rectangular opening used by the 1969 Firebird blower resistor (see figure 1) and open a circular one for the 1970 Nova blower resistor. Fortunately, there is a mold impression we can use (see figure 2) to cut our new resistor opening.

Next, we refilled the rectangular opening and refinished it. Due to the fiberglass repairs and modifications, Joe opted to paint the unit black to give it a cleaner look. 

Additionally, we had to repair the shipping damage to the outboard (fender side) case half. 

 

Based on Joe's needs, here's a breakdown of what went into this unit:

  • Fiberglass repairs and modifications to the evaporator case housing including painting the housing black and zinc plating, and painting and detailing the various brackets and clamps. 
  • Rebuild, calibration to 134a refrigerant, and installation of the POA valve. 
  • Recondition, testing, and installation of the expansion valve including new cork/refrigerant tape to insulate the sensing bulb on the evaporator.
  • Recondition and installation of the original ambient sensor switch.
  • Installation of a new evaporator. 
  • Installation of a new blower motor.
  • Installation of a new drain tube.
  • Installation of a new 1970 Nova blower resistor.
  • Installation of a new heater core tube seal.

If you have questions about what Original Air can do for your car, give us a call, send us an email, or leave a comment below!

Behind the Scenes with Alien Enclosures

That's a wrap! Yesterday, we finished up filming an unboxing video for Alien Enclosures' trunk panel kits. The video features us explaining what's included in our kits piece by piece. All of the kits are designed with the "do-it-yourselfer" in mind. So with a little patience, the average car guy can have these completed in a weekend! 

However, if you're still a little hesitant, stay tuned for our video! In the meantime, check out our behind the scenes photos below.

 

Check Out Herb's Classic 66 Chevelle Malibu Reader Ride

I bought my 1966 Chevelle Malibu 5.3L in 1977 when I was a graduate at UCLA. I bought it from the original owner. It has the original 283 Powerglide console, and its factory A/C remains intact. However, it's gone through many changes over the years. Apart from the A/C repairs, it has its original sheet metal but it was painted so long ago its Patina now. The Original Air components on the car are its hoses, drier, and expansion valve. 

Test Your Nova Knowledge

You might have seen this car countless times in movies, or your uncle owned one in the '70s. But how well do you really know the Nova? Test your knowledge with these quick facts about the popular classic muscle car. 

There are Five Generations of Chevy Nova

Did you know more than one model exists? Surprisingly, it started in the '60s with the first-generation Chevy II Nova, produced between 1962 to 1965. The first generation had the Chevy II Nova SS, a super sports car that launched in 1963, which was also the first console-shifted Nova. 

Barely a year later, Chevy introduced the addition of a V8, also known as the 283 Nova. This model had the same console as the previous. Also, it obviously has better horsepower at 195hp with a weight of around 2,500 pounds. Another year later in 1965, Chevy introduced the 327 Nova. The second generation added aesthetic enhancements of the Chevy II Nova, available from 1966 to 1967.

Furthermore, the third generation Nova had many modifications and enhancements between 1968 to 1974. It was also the longest produced. With the fourth generation, Chevrolet attempted to follow stricter safety regulations, but it didn't sell well between 1975 to 1979. From 1985 to 1988, Chevy produced Nova's last generation.

The Chevy II Nova SS

The Chevy Nova SS that came out barely a year after the first generation Chevy II Nova stands as the only convertible model of the Chevy II Nova. Available for a short time, this served as the top choice of muscle cars in its era. Additionally, it continues to remain sought after today. The 1967 Nova SS coupe was the only model with a console-mounted shifter. The three-speed manual transmission was the standard transmission on all models, even the SS. These vehicles could either have a four-speed manual transmission or a Powerglide automatic transmission. Furthermore, the 65SS, 66SS, and 67SS all could order the floor shift and console, but the four-speed and PG were optional and had to be specially ordered. This model stands as the only model with this particular transmission choice as other models had column-mounted shifters.

 

Chevy Nova Not Selling Because of the Name?

Have you heard of the myth that the Chevy Nova had trouble selling to Spanish-speaking countries because of the name, "Nova?" Moreover, many believed that Spanish-speakers heard, "it didn't go well" or "no go," making the car seem unsatisfactory. Well, this myth is busted. Car fanatics debunked the old rumor by looking at moderately successful sales in Venezuela and Mexico. It turns out Spanish-speaking countries knew the difference between "Nova" and "no va." 

No Other Car Inspired the Design

The name "Nova" which means "new" highlights the car's originality. In fact, during the years Chevrolet made the Nova, no other car appeared similar in its design. When Chevrolet lost to Ford in the competition for compact cars, Chevy needed to create something fresh and distinct. They thus decided to pursue an ingenious idea. In 1961, they introduced the world to the first generation of Chevy Nova. Additionally, it is one of the fastest developments of a new car in GM history, taking only 18 months to produce after designers initiated the work.

Chevy Had a Terrible Version of the Nova

With the 80s bringing consumers to smaller, more efficient cars, Chevrolet decided to collaborate with Toyota. They produced a front-wheel-drive compact car to badge as the Nova from 1985 to 1988. It totally disrespected the Nova name as the ugliest model in Nova history. Even people today rarely drive a version of it proudly.

Yenko Nova

Don Yenko, a muscle car expert and car-racer, redesigned a series from Chevy Nova's third generation. Named the Yenko SuperNova cars, a total of 37 of them exist. Twenty-eight of them had Chevy 427cid V8 engines, although they later changed them to 350cid V8 engines in 1970.

The Name "Nova"

Chevrolet did not put the name "Nova" on the cars until the end of the 1960s. Known as the Chevy II, the term "Nova" began describing the Chevy II's highest trim level. 

Nova Clones

Lastly, Chevy's success with the Nova led to the creation of the X-Body clones Oldsmobile Omega, Pontiac Ventura, and Buick Apollo. Put all the models together, and what do they spell? 

Nova

Omega

Ventura

Apollo

Got any other impressive Nova knowledge? Please comment and share!

Reader Ride: Jim's 1965 Ford Mustang 289

Check out the wonderful story from Jim about his 1965 Ford Mustang 289!

1965 Mustang coupe. I am the third owner. I found this car as a barn find in Yucaipa California. It had been sitting since 1978 and was in need of restoration. The car was purchased new in San Bernardino, CA from Garner Ford. It was purchased from the original owner in 1978, blew a head gasket and got parked.

I bought the the car in 2009. All of the original factory equipment was still on the car. Original drive train and all parts were there. The license plate and frame are the original pieces. I have the original titles and registrations showing the history. I have several repair receipts from the original and second owners. There was no rust at all in the car. I completed the restoration in 2014. The car is equipped with the original A/C. Original color was Light Blue with blue interior. The car was completely disassembled for restoration.

 

 

 

What are Survivors?

Simply put, a survivor is a classic that has withstood the test of time. What does this mean, and more importantly how is that possible? To break it down further, survivors have maintained their original features and many of their original parts. This includes its original finish, its original interior, its factory power train, and even some of its original equipment such as a spare tire or lug wrench.

Unsurprisingly, ideal survivors are the classics holed up in garages for decades that escaped wind, rain, sun, traffic, and ultimately left in almost perfect conditions. Realistically, survivors do require repairs. To maintain their identity as a survivor, any modifications cannot involve changing original features such as the finish. 

We recently had a customer that wanted work on one of these cars. He wanted us to rebuild his compressor, but not alter the exterior. In this case, we didn't bead-blast and repaint it. We just rebuilt it functionally. At Original Air, we can do this on a number of parts, but not necessarily all parts. Most parts that we can rebuild or recondition without altering the appearance are listed below:

  • Most valves such as VIR's, expansion valves (STV), hot-gas valves (HGV), accumulators and even some filler-driers (depending upon where they have to be cut open)
  • Most evaporators or evaporator units
  • Most condensers
  • Most heater controls
  • House repairs are typically much more difficult, but there are sometimes some options. 

Are you an owner of a survivor that needs a repair? Fill out our rebuild request form today!