Well, after several months of involving ourselves in other projects, we finally got the necessary brackets for modifying the old flathead's hardware to accept an air conditioning compressor. We wanted to do all the hardware modifications while the bare chassis was accessible, since doing so after the body is in place makes things much harder.
To install them we had to empty the cooling system, because the twin radiator hoses had to be relocated. Before that, however, we decided to powder coat the new bracketry that was provided by the vintage A/C supplier.
This was accomplished easily by cleaning the new brackets with mineral spirits and then coating them with black powder. After 25 minutes in the oven we had three, beautifully-coated mounting brackets.
The brackets came from the complete air conditioning conversion kit that we obtained from Hot Rod and Custom Supply from Cape Coral, FL. It was ordered with all the parts we'd need for mounting the various parts and running lines, plus an offset thermostat housing and new belt (at least we thought so at the time).
The air conditioning kit included everything, including the Hurricane evaporator, and all its components, all the required hoses, clamps, belts and off-set water necks, etc. Shown here are the under-the-hood components.
Once we had removed the top radiator hoses (two on flathead V8s) we removed the alternator and bracket. We then bolted the new base bracket to the spot where the alternator's mount originally was. Next came the A/C compressor's base plate, which we mounted with its four bolts, leaving everything loose enough to move around later.
The decision to air condition the truck came relatively late in the game. We had the alternator in place and the thermostat housings were bolted on which enabled us to do our engine test earlier. But the air conditioning required new alternator brackets and offset thermostat housings. When removing the existing water hoses, we wrapped the engine with rags to collect any water that was held in the hoses by the closed thermostats.
Once the compressor was mounted, we could re-mount the alternator. We found that there was a little "slop" between its mounting ears on the new base plate — roughly one millimeter. We decided to make a shim to take up the gap rather than tighten the bolt to pull the ears together. Doing so could potentially break an ear or keep the alternator from aligning perfectly with the water pump pulleys.
Mounting the alternator/compressor bracket and the compressor was a simple bolt-on process.
Making the shim required grinding down a suitable washer to the proper thickness, a task that took way too many attempts before getting the right dimension. We then placed the shim between the front ear and the alternator body, and then we tightened the mounting bolt and nut.
There was a small plate that had to be installed between the compressor and the alternator's adjusting bolt mounting tab. This plate holds the two components at a fixed distance, while belt tension is accomplished by sliding the entire assembly up and down on the intake manifold.
We found that the plate didn't line up (fore and aft) when the pulleys on the two components were aligned together and with the water pump pulleys. Therefore, we got a longer bolt to fit the alternator and placed a nut on it to act as a spacer to keep the plate aligned.
Installing the fan belt. The circle shows the nut that we used as a spacer to keep everything properly aligned.
After the main components were aligned we made sure all the mounting hardware was tight. Satisfied with that part of the task, we turned our attention to re-routing the top hoses and installation of the new belt.
We had laid out the two chrome top hose replacements, along with their rubber hose adapters and clamps. We then started looking for the offset thermostat housings that are required for clearance around the alternator/compressos, and the new belt. After looking through all the boxes twice, we realized that the components weren't on hand. That meant we'd have to contact the supplier and obtain the necessary parts.
Another thing came to our attention as well. When we placed the chrome water tubes between the radiator and thermostat housings we saw that they were at least 3 inches too long (and this didn't even allow for the rubber hose connectors!)
Looking at the chassis frame carefully, we noted that there were two mounting holes, just about 3 inches forward of the two holes that our radiator-support was utilizing. These holes had exactly the same center-to-center spacing as the two we were using. Logic would dictate, then, that the radiator was mounted too far back, thus accounting for the incorrect water hose length.
We concluded, therefore, that if the radiator was too close to the engine that the original fan placement would interfere with the core. We took the original generator/mount/fan assembly off the shelf and measured its total depth from the front face of the intake manifold, and guess what? It fit just fine. Hmmm...
We called the supplier and ordered the thermostat housings and belt. They cross-checked the invoice number and found that the parts hadn't been sent originally, so they cheerfully sent us the proper stuff. It arrived quickly, and we installed the new thermostat housings (after painting them) and belt, all of which took only a few minutes.
The newly painted offset thermostat housings are bolted into place.
To double-check the radiator position, we took the time to assemble a fender support bracket (which bolts on to the radiator support) and then held a fender in place, in order to confirm that the radiator support was in the correct position. It turned out it was, so we went to Plan B, the cutting of the chrome pipes.
Once the pipes were trimmed to the proper size, it was just a matter of clamping the pipes/hoses into place.
Once the pipes were "trimmed," we installed them along with the proper hoses. They look great!
Once bent the brackets are fastened to the AC condenser.
The last task was mounting the A/C condensor. It needed to be located about 1-inch in front of the radiator, so we fashioned 4 brackets out of the flat stock provided in the A/C kit. We were careful to use star-washers on all the hardware fixing the condensor to the radiator bracket. In service, the assembly vibrates a bit and we don't want anything coming loose. It took about an hour to form the brackets and mount the assembly, and that was that...
Installing the AC condensor to the radiator.