Lotus Elan

Plus 2 Air Conditioning Project - now complete!

PostPost by: Chrispy » Fri Mar 08, 2019 3:56 am

Early days at the moment, but here is a thread to record my air conditioning project in my early Plus 2. This is a first for me too! If 20 year old me thought I would be putting aircon back IN a car he would have fainted :lol:

I live in Brisbane Australia where it is stinking hot for far too much of the year. The Plus 2 seems to be a little oven as well! It's improved since I disconnected the heater, but still very sweaty and sticky to the point the wife won't get in it except for winter :lol:

I've looked at a few other peoples aircon installs and I've decided on the following:

Vintage Air Gen 2 Mini evaporator. I really like this, closest I've seen to a proper HVAC system rather than the agricultural old underdash units. Got it for ~AUD$750 from an Australian supplier, along with some basic controls ($100) which I will mount properly in the dash.

Image

Image


My local air con shop is supplying the compressor and condenser. Apparently the condenser is a toyota unit and has forward facing ports to give a bit more core size. The compressor is a Sanden SD7 unit with an alternator style mount to allow for easy tensioning. Compressor was $550 including fittings, condenser was $270. The shop will also do the lines and dryer, Australian laws prevent me from crimping my own hoses and gassing it up etc.

Image

I had one of my fitters at work whip up a new front pulley for the engine. This is so I can keep the water pump as unloaded as possible and get good belt wrap on the air con pulley. Also the compressor belt size is a size bigger than the standard belt. Haven't worked out if I need to move the alternator yet...

pulley.jpg and
Pulley



I'll keep updating this as things happen, but not a quick project. Also want to do a new dash, put in some heat/noise insulation, re-wire, re-carpet You know, the usual :lol:

Costs so far is about AUD$1700 :shock: Worth it for a car I can drive all year round I reckon!
Last edited by Chrispy on Sat Jun 08, 2019 10:30 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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PostPost by: USA64 » Fri Mar 08, 2019 4:24 pm

I had been thinking about this for my Elan. With the dash, heater, and wipers out and the engine in but no radiator, carbs, hoses, or generator there looks to be room:) My understanding is that the pump bearing is sensitve to side loading. To avoid doubling the side load I wonder if you couldn't rig an idler pulley on the other side to even the forces? Another pulley with a bearing and bracket?
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PostPost by: mbell » Fri Mar 08, 2019 7:18 pm

Thanks for starting the thread and sharing the details. It is quite similar to my thinking. I have slight advantage of being ~1 hr away from Vintage Air HQ. So when I get closer to doing this I'll possibly go for a visit to get there first hand recommendation.

My Current thinking is:
- Smallest Vintage Air unit available
- Sandan SD7 compressor
- Dual Crank shaft pulley with separate belt for AC
- Custom Alternator (top) + Compressor (bottom) mount with turn buckle adjustment for each
- Have the drier mounted in the nose attached to condessor/radiator on left hand side.
- Run the pipe work up the left hand side of the engine bay
(- I'd like to run solid tube lines with small flex connections rather than rubber hose through the car.)
- Custom wiring loom, with clever radiator fan control
- Make it all work with the standard dash controls

I've already fitted the wide radiator with dual fans and small alternator which should help allowing this project. I've also friend who is just fixing up a industrial CNC machine he has bought so expect I'll be getting him to make up a few of the parts needed.

I am likely years away from actually doing this as failed to change the rear window seal for a couple of year now and have new chassis waiting fitting too...
'73 +2 130/5 RHD, now on the road and very slowly rolling though a "restoration"
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PostPost by: 2cams70 » Fri Mar 08, 2019 10:35 pm

Tucked away in a box somewhere for around 30 years I have a full airconditioning system for a Mk1 Ford Escort. It's an old underdash type so not as elegant as yours. It does however have all the bracketry and pulley for repositioning the alternator and mounting a Sanden compressor to a Kent engine. I take some photos and measurements of it for reference if you think the information may be useful in your own design.
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PostPost by: Chrispy » Fri Mar 08, 2019 10:48 pm

USA64 wrote:I had been thinking about this for my Elan. With the dash, heater, and wipers out and the engine in but no radiator, carbs, hoses, or generator there looks to be room:) My understanding is that the pump bearing is sensitve to side loading. To avoid doubling the side load I wonder if you couldn't rig an idler pulley on the other side to even the forces? Another pulley with a bearing and bracket?


I would think that an additional pulley on the other side would just push the resultant force straight down, can't see any benefit :(
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PostPost by: Chrispy » Fri Mar 08, 2019 10:53 pm

mbell wrote:(- I'd like to run solid tube lines with small flex connections rather than rubber hose through the car.)


This is my thinking too, the hoses are big and fat and ugly. My A/C shop have all the equipment to mandrel bend the hardpipes and make it look neat. Normally do retrofits to old Jags and the like.

To me the hardest part of the whole project will be getting the compressor and alternator mounted properly. I'm hoping I don't have to pull the engine again to make the brackets. Not the end of the world if I do...

What size alternator do you have? I was considering going smaller, but with the additional load from A/C, stereo, more cooling fans etc I wasn't sure...
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PostPost by: Chrispy » Fri Mar 08, 2019 10:54 pm

2cams70 wrote:Tucked away in a box somewhere for around 30 years I have a full airconditioning system for a Mk1 Ford Escort. It's an old underdash type so not as elegant as yours. It does however have all the bracketry and pulley for repositioning the alternator and mounting a Sanden compressor to a Kent engine. I take some photos and measurements of it for reference if you think the information may be useful in your own design.


Yes please! Anything like that is of interest and probably useful to know. Much appreciated!
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PostPost by: Gordon Sauer » Sat Mar 09, 2019 1:20 am

Similar to what I did and has worked well (single shieve pulley as was used in original distributor installed AC units in the last +2S’s) for 7 years now— (see under AIRCONDITIONING thread)now did it to an Esprit and one change I made was to use air equip reduced diameter hoses which are easier to turn and thread around as needed and using a special plier type tool ($70) allow securing fittings in situa Gordon Sauer
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PostPost by: mbell » Sat Mar 09, 2019 1:46 am

I have one of the small tractor alternators, the same as Dave bean and rdent sell in their kits. Small, light and rated at 55 amps. So better than the standard in pretty much every way (apart from originality).
'73 +2 130/5 RHD, now on the road and very slowly rolling though a "restoration"
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PostPost by: JonB » Sat Mar 09, 2019 8:54 am

Can I ask a (probably foolish) question here?

Why not use an electric compressor rather than pulley driven? Or do these not exist? (You'd want to uprate the alternator, though.)
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PostPost by: Chrispy » Sat Mar 09, 2019 10:11 am

JonB wrote:Can I ask a (probably foolish) question here?

Why not use an electric compressor rather than pulley driven? Or do these not exist? (You'd want to uprate the alternator, though.)


Not a silly question and i did look at them extensively.

Quite hard to find any that are 12v, and even the ones that are draw a massive current. Not going to happen with a typical alternator. Not that cheap either.
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PostPost by: mikealdren » Sat Mar 09, 2019 1:35 pm

I'm intrigued by the evaporator, for me that's the hardest part to fit, would you try to replace the heater unit?

Given how standard the Smiths heater is (Midget, Ford etc.) I'm surprised that no-one has produced an off the shelf replacement incorporating aircon.
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PostPost by: gus » Sat Mar 09, 2019 2:01 pm

I installed the earlier version of the vintage air mini in my +2, and the heat works amazing, real defrosters. The AC is in but I have been sidelined by other projects for some time now and waiting to get back to it.
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PostPost by: prezoom » Sat Mar 09, 2019 4:39 pm

In a discussion with the son of a good friend who is the crew chief on an ALMS car, they run air conditioning to the driver via the seat and the helmut. The compressor they use must be pretty efficient, as he stated that it draws less than 2 horsepower when in operation. When some of the other projects are finished, I plan on following up on their system for my Plus2. Vintage Air systems are pretty complete, as I have installed one in my Falcon Ranchero. The only issue I had, was the compressor mount needed some modification to work with the 302 V8 in the vehicle.
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PostPost by: mikealdren » Sat Mar 09, 2019 6:41 pm

gus wrote:I installed the earlier version of the vintage air mini in my +2, and the heat works amazing, real defrosters. The AC is in but I have been sidelined by other projects for some time now and waiting to get back to it.

Hi Gus, do you have an 'external air' feed as with the standard heater or does it heat/cool the cabin air? There are lots of pics on how to link the various outputs from the device but I'm interested in how to install the air input side (and fit it behind the dash!)
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