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As we continue to work on our project ’62 GMC, it has become easier to operate. Awhile back we decided to make our driving experience more comfortable by adding an air conditioning system. To help steer us in the right direction, we turned to the folks at Vintage Air who have more than 30 years of experience providing high-quality air-conditioning products. In order to add AC to the truck, first we needed to add an engine-driven compressor to pump refrigerant into the system. To handle this task, we added a Vintage Air FrontRunner serpentine kit. This system maintains all of the functions of a front drive kit while enhancing the appearance of our BluePrint Engines 383-ci small-block Chevy.

We also needed to add several components to our truck to make air conditioning possible, like a condenser, dryer and evaporator, along with controls, wire harness, ducting and louvers. Yes, it’s a lot of parts to add, but Vintage Air’s Gen IV SureFit kits eliminate the guesswork. These systems are available for many popular vehicles like C-10s and are designed to fit each application. The great thing about these kits is that you can easily install them by following the included instruction manual. It’s true; we’ve never put together an AC system, and we were able to add it to our truck successfully in the comfort of our own driveway. If you don’t feel confident with your skill level, SureFit systems are easy for any professional to handle in less time than a universal system, which will save you labor costs.

The Gen IV SureFit Kit

The system includes everything needed to add air conditioning to a classic truck. This includes the Gen IV evaporator, condenser, dryer, hoses and lines, heater valve, controls, wire harness, glove box, ducting and louvers. Not pictured are the brackets to mount the condenser to the core support and optional coolant sensor/electric fan controller. We did not use either of these parts because our Flex-a-lite radiator/fan setup handled these functions already.

Prepping the Truck

To get started, the glove box and the old heater controls were removed.

In order to help the system cool the interior, you must insulate the cab to keep heat out. We lined the floor and firewall with sound deadener/insulation material. Later on, we plan to cover this with a jute mat and carpet for even more insulation.

Vintage Air provides this cover to seal off the hole. We used silicone for a weather-tight seal and attached the panel to the cab using the original screws.

In the engine bay, we needed to remove the factory block-off plate from the firewall. Later, the lines will run through this spot.

Using the provided template, we were able to drill two 9⁄32-inch holes for the evaporator.

The two mounting brackets were attached to the evaporator.

The lines were attached to the evaporator and the connections were covered with press tape.

With the Gen IV evaporator all prepped and ready, it was placed under the dash and mounted using the provided ¼-inch bolts and hardware.

For the upper mount, two 3⁄16-inch holes must be made on the cowl to attach the evaporator using two sheet metal screws. The evaporator must be level to function correctly, and as you can see, we used a level to make sure it was right.

In order to keep the cab free from runoff water, the drain hose must be run through the firewall. A hole was made 1 inch lower than the drain port on the evaporator.

With the lines going though the hole on the firewall, the gaps were eliminated with a cover. It was given a set of grommets and a bead of silicone before installation.

Condenser and Dryer

To attach the condenser and dryer, the front grille was removed by pulling six mounting bolts. Here you can see our existing Flex-a-lite cooling system.

To connect lines to the condenser, a 1 ¼-inch hole must be made on the passenger side of the core support. A diagram is provided in the instructions.

Using our trick Flex-a-lite mounting system, the condenser was mounted between the radiator and the transmission cooler. If we had the factory radiator, we would have simply used the provided brackets to attach it to the core support.

The lines were attached like so, and the dryer was secured in place. We made sure that the “IN” side was toward the driver’s side of the truck.

The front plug was removed and the safety switch was equipped with a lubricated O-ring and attached to the dryer. Later, it was wired to the main harness.

The hard lines were run through the core support, and a grommet was used to hold them in place. Then the grille was bolted back on.

Hoses and Wiring

On the previously mounted compressor, the proper polished fittings were attached. Then the included lines were put in place once they received lubricated O-rings.

The heater lines were run to the evaporator. The inlet line from the intake was spliced, and the heater valve was secured in place and wired up.

To provide power to the system, the wire harness was run between the evaporator and the battery. To protect the system from an overload, the circuit breaker must be mounted as close to the battery as possible.

The wire harness and controller harness were plugged into the microprocessor/ECU on the evaporator. There is also a purple ignition wire that was run to the fuse box and a tan wire attached to the headlight switch to illuminate the control panel.

The relay needed to be mounted, so we simply unbolted the mounting hardware for the evaporator and used it.

Since space was more limited under the dash, a new glove box was provided, and it was slid into place.

The new 1960-63 control panel was set into the dash and held in place with the mounting bracket on the backside. Then the wire harness was plugged into it so we could control the compressor, heater valve and servos.

Ducting

To direct airflow to the driver and passenger, the louver housings were mounted with sheet metal screws.

The ducts were connected between the evaporator, factory defroster vents and the under-dash louver housings.

The louvers were simply pressed into place on the housings.

Finishing Up

Unless you are charging air conditioning systems on a regular basis you most likely won’t have the proper tools to pressure test the Vintage Air system, evacuate it and charge the system with 1.8 pounds of R134a refrigerant. You may need to take your vehicle to a professional. For this we turned to Savi Ranch Automotive because they are a reliable, local shop.

After installing and having our Vintage Air system charged, it worked as promised. It did take some time to get it in the truck, but it wasn’t anything someone with a drill and a few hand tools couldn’t handle. All in all, the installation of the system was straightforward and now we’re riding in sweet climate-controlled luxury.

 

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