Air Conditioning - July 2018
Getting the A/C working has undoubtedly been the most difficult task I've faced with this classic car.  The seller warned me before I went to Chicago that it was not working, but he could only guess that the compressor clutch was broken.  And of course since it is an older car, I knew that it had a system full of old-style freon, called R-12, instead of the modern, environmentally-friendly replacement gas called R-132b. 

My local GM dealer looked at it a couple of times.  The first time they, they got it to blow 'cool-ish' air and told me that one of the flow-lines appeared to be freezing up and I'd need a new TXV (thermal expansion valve).  I got one, took the car back in, and was told they couldn't deal with it because of the freon issue.  All in all, very unhelpful. 

After that expensive debacle, I tried taking it to a local mechanic.  He tried twice to order needed parts, received the wrong ones twice and gave up.  I phoned another place that didn't want to touch it because 'it'll be sitting in our bay for weeks while we wait for parts to arrive.'  Another guy, who runs a classic car parts store, told me most 'conversions' run around $4,000.   I was beginning to despair!  I did notice, however, that Classic Auto Air in Tampa, FL made replacement/upgrade kits for this car for US$499.95 that included a new compressor and new VIR (valves in receiver).  So at least it sounded like the problem had a solution, if I could just get someone to do the installation.

The most helpful guy in all this was the President of the local Pontiac classic car club.  He taught me a lot about air conditioning systems in his driveway and got the 'cool-ish' air to blow again, but also determined there was a leak.  However he directed me to AutoTemp in Calgary who enthusiastically took on the project!
 
AutoTemp's first crack at the problem resulted in wonderfully COLD air flowing.  And after two and a half summers of driving this car on hot days with no A/C, that felt wonderful!  Unfortunately by the time I got the car home, the A/C was only intermittent.  Returning to AutoTemp, they found the compressor was failing intermittently.  So we decided the best thing to do was to order the new system from Classic Auto Air in Tampa and intall it.  Now finally the car puts out reliable, cold air when needed.

One thing I wonder about is whether my 'original' LeMans even HAD air conditioning.  When I look at the tangle of hoses, lines and belts on the passenger side of the 350 cu. in. engine, it doesn't look familiar to me.  But I seem to remember sliding the temperature switch to the far left for 'max cool,' and my dad bought the original to commute 60 miles per day to work and back in the Denver area.  I doubt he would have opted out on A/C.


$  41,748.28                   Previous total
$       284.58                   GM AC Attempt

$          74.61                  Shop Materials
$          69.50                  GM AC Attempt
$        666.60                  Parts - Classic Auto Air Tampa
$        111.14                  Customs/Duty on Auto parts

$            ??.??                  Labour AutoTemp (in progress)
$   42,954.71 Cdn          TOTAL TO DATE