Studebaker Air Conditioning
From: Ray Fichthorn
via the Studebaker Newsgroup
Many have asked...
"What is the best way to add AC to a Studebaker V8?"
(specifically- non-factory units, or Compressor upgrades)
Obviously, the "best" way would be to find a 100% complete AC
unit from a factory equipped Studebaker. Various pieces are relatively
easy to find, but so many cars have had pieces scavenged, or the guy parting
it out- didn't bother to get "all" of the necessary pieces.
When I had the NCSDC site up, I had a technical page on different ways
to locate the AC compressor, how to run the pulleys and belts, and that
sort of thing. After installing AC on several Studebakers, I believe the
way pictured below is the "best" I've found yet. I also like
to incorporate an "upgrade" to a Delco one-wire 60 amp alternator
($40 or so) into the setup. This provides better low-speed charging especially
when in traffic with the AC running.
I like this set-up for several reasons:
- You do NOT need to find a Factory compressor bracket, idler pulley,
water pump pulley(very hard to find) or the matching crankshaft pulley.
- Most of the bracket fabrication can be done with the minimum of tools
(or experience): just a Drill, Big Hammer, Vice, some sort of cutter
capable of doing 3/8"(minimum) thick steel (die grinder w/cutoff
wheel, hacksaw), and a small (rented/borrowed) welder.
- The use of a new Sanden compressor: Easy to fabricate mount, (relatively)
cheap, less vibration, readily available, efficient, can be used for
R12 and R134 systems,
No need to add pulleys to the
crankshaft (requires pulling harmonic balancer)- it uses the original
generator drive/water pump pulley.
a picture of the setup installed on Lee A's 1961 Hawk. It requires the
bare minimum of modification to the car... and can be returned to original
in a few hours. None of the wiring needs to be altered, but you do need
to run an "additional" wire for the Alternator swap. Notice
that the alternator is driven by the AC compressor clutch's 2nd (outer)
pulley. Some have suggested that this is "bad" if the
compressor goes south... you would lose your Charging system as well...
My answer to that is: in 30 years of driving AC equipped cars.. I have
never had a compressor clutch lock up. I have had the compressor itself
lock, but the clutch just freewheels when it goes bad. This setup is no
more likely to cause problems- than if your original generator should
The compressor mounting bracket can easily be fabricated from an Original
Studebaker Generator bracket.
What needs to be done:
The first thing to do is drill out the original generator mounting holes
I like to use threaded rod (A) to go all the way through the bracket,
but you can just as easily use the correct length bolts instead. I just
believe the threaded rod will keep the mount more "square".
It is a bit harder to "install" this way since you have to thread
the 2 inner nuts, washers, and lockwashers on a long way.
A thick washer (B) will need to be added to the front mount- to shim the
compressor about 1/8" further forward. This will align the AC compressor's
(rear) pulley with the original generator and water pump pulleys. I like
to tack-weld this washer in place- but it is not necessary.
After you have aligned the pulleys- and snugged the front mounting nuts,
measure the distance between the compressor's rear mounting lug, and the
rear lug on the generator bracket. You will need to find some bushing
material (C) (I use a piece of steel pipe).. and cut it to fit snugly
between the 2 lugs. I cut mine a bit long, and use a grinder to trim it
until it fits nicely.
Mount the compressor, and "bend" the original generator adjusting
arm- to fit the AC compressor's upper mounting lug.
This completes the "fabrication" needed to mount a Sanden SD-
series AC Compressor.
The AC condenser is the part mounted in front of the radiator. For
Hawks and other C/K bodied cars, I use a 14 x 20 inch universal- type
condenser. This size seems capable of handling the cooling needs of most
Studebaker AC set-ups. I have fitted this same condenser to
Lark-type Studebakers also. It takes a bit more fabrication to mount it
securely due to the limited space- especially on pre-'63 Larks.
seen in the photo, It is mounted to the lower air scoop by using 2 pieces
of 1" x 1" aluminum angle. I like to use Aluminum because it
won't rust- but you could use almost any thing... so long as it will hold
the bottom of the condenser stable. If you look closely, you will see
that the top of the condenser is held to the radiator brace with 2 Nylon
tie-wraps. There is a small piece of foam insulation behind each
corner where the condensor would touch the brace. This is to prevent rubbing
or rattling that may damage the condensor. The top is the "hottest"
part of the radiator... it is the first to receive engine coolant. For
this reason, I like to mount the condensor as low as possible, and leave
a few inches of the radiator exposed to fresh air of it's own. Does it
help cool the radiator?.... I have no idea, but I don't see why it wouldn't
I prefer to use an original Studebaker inside unit. They usually mount
pretty easily- and look more like they "belong" in there. I
have not had any trouble with flushing out original units in preparation
for R12 or R134 use. The blower motor is available, and you can find switches,
and controls that easily adapt- if not a direct bolt-in.
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