If you need a new condenser you will find that your off the shelf options are:
1- Used (IF you can get it off intact)
2- Dealer ($$$$)
3- Aftermarket replacement parts tube and fin (IF you can find one)
The original is a serpentine design, which is somewhat more efficient than tube and fin design, so unless you go oem you are installing a less efficient condenser than it originally had. Maybe not a huge difference if you are staying with r-12, but a really bad thing if you are converting to r-134a.
Another option is an aftermarket parallel flow condenser, which are touted to be 1/3 more efficient than tube and fin.
In case anyone is interested in installing the universal parallel flow condenser, here's how I installed a FSHE 14" x 26.5" unit. There is also a 14" x 22.5" model which might be somewhat easier to install, but it has 17% less effective cooling area. This, in theory, still has more cooling capacity than stock (assuming the efficiency of serpentine is fairly close to that of tube and fin design), but I chose the larger.
The FSHE parallel flow condenser is a quality piece of hardware and is extremely well built. To try and save time I had a local shop pick up what I thought was this cond, which turned out not to be and I can tell you there was no comparison! So go with the ones that ackits.com sells or make sure it is the same manufacturer.
At 1 1/8" thick it's a little thicker than original and the rad support will need to be clearanced in a few places, but not by much. I have a modine 3-core rad and the cond is spaced about 1/4" from it, so this may not work with a 4-core. However, there are a few inches between the rad and the fan; I planned to shim the rad back for extra clearance if necessary, so I suppose that is an option.
The new condenser is the same height as original and has almost exactly the same effective width, so if the manufacturer's claims are accurate, it should have a lot more capacity than original.
It is a little tight, but it WILL fit and it only requires one custom hose for the inlet.
What you won't find on any website are accurate drawings of the cond. The 26.5" width includes the fittings, so the flange-flange measurement is 26" and the fitting centers are 2.25" from the top and bottom of the cond. This is very important, because the inlet fitting is very close to the radiator support when unthreaded, so if the fitting were any higher it would not work.
Here's a picture of the almost finished assembly:
At this point I had planned to use the Al dryer fittings in the picture and weld them to an Al s-curve to make a custom tube, but last night I was looking at the original tube and had an idea. The original tube will work with 2 extra bends in it! It comes close to the dryer and cond, but has at least 1/8" clearance, so I scrapped the plan for the custom tube. If you do this, make sure to make the 2 bends as close as possible to each other and it will probably turn out cleaner than mine did.
You can see where I dog-eared the channel on the bottom of the cond to make room for the trans cooler lines; the Al is soft and bends easily with pliars. This part does not carry refrigerant.
I also had to massage the rad support forward about .25" at the bottom passenger side corner to clear the condenser manifold.
The dryer is very close to the original location, maybe ~1/2" higher, so a custom liquid line is not required.
To mount the dryer I made a .25" shim to put between the condenser flange and the steel dryer bracket (and I had to trim the dryer bracket a little because it was not square). The condenser bracket is then mounted to the rear of this.
Most of the fasteners are 6mm from the auto parts store, except the bracket on the dryer. 6mm is just a little too large for the holes in the flange, so the fastener very easily cuts it's own partial threads in the holes and makes it easy to assemble everything, then the nuts are added and snugged down to complete the assembly.
The bolt heads on the dryer bracket stuck out past the manifold and came close to the radiator fins, so I got hard steel 1/4"-20 screws with a very low profile allen head from sears for that application. I considered countersunk machine screws, but the allen heads are low enough that they do not stick out past the manifold.
On the driver's side, I inserted the bolts from the front and locktite'd them into the flange so that the brackets could be removed from the rear by removing the nuts only, thus requiring no access to the front of the brackets. Removal of the driver's side brackets is necessary to remove the condenser assy.
If I were doing it again I would probably use 1/4-20 (slightly bigger than 6mm) and cut threads directly into the cond flange so that nuts were not required. Or just use large sheetmetal screws threaded into the brackets.
The brackets are made from 1/8" x 2" Al from the local home store and fastened with #12 sheetmetal screws. The flange part of the bracket is 2" on the passenger side and about 1.5" on the drivers.
To minimize new holes in the rad support I re-used the original condenser bracket fastener holes, except the lower passenger side which needs to be significantly higher than original. Marking the holes to drill the brackets was a hassle, so this is probably more trouble than it's worth...
My rad support had already been cut to clear the radiator. This had been done on my old wagoneer, and I have seen it on others, so I'm guessing the original radiators were different, but I don't know how that would effect this install. The new cond should clear even if the support has not been trimmed.
However it really helped me that it was trimmed, because I was able to butt the corners of the cond flange against the cut surface of the rad support and zip-tie / shim it in place while I made brackets. Once the brackets were all in place I cut the corners of the flange at the top to better clear the rad support.
I found that the vertical members that directly support the rad were twisted somewhat. This pushed the radiator forward at the bottom, so I twisted them closer to parallel to move the rad back a bit.
The cond manifolds are approx .25" forward of the rad fins, which puts the fins of the cond about 3/8" from the rad.
Getting and holding the cond parallel to the radiator while making the brackets was a lot of trouble. If I were doing it again I would tape a couple of sheets of cardboard to the front of radiator and use that as a starting point to jig the condenser in position. Once you have one or two brackets in place (I started with the upper driver's side) it gets easier, but you wind up installing and removing the radiator about 100 times to check your allignment before finalizing each bracket. If the condenser had been more firmly jigged in position it would not have been necessary to re-install the rad so many times.
In retrospect, I probably should have made one oversized hole in the bracket. Then install the assy with one sheetmetal screw loosly in each bracket, install the rad, adjust the brackets and tighten, then take the radiator back out and drill for the 2nd sheetmetal screw in each bracket.
The inlet fitting winds up pretty close to the rad support, which makes it a little more difficult to start the fitting, but there's plenty of clearance with the fitting on and plenty of room to get a wrench on it.
The inlet fitting is #8 o-ring 45 deg. The new inlet hose will be cut to the same length as original, but this new fitting makes the hose shorter overall.
It should be possible to remove the dryer with the cond in place, hopefully I won't need to worry about that for a while.
Something to note about Al o-ring fittings; don't overtighten them! In trial fitting the tube to the dryer I cinched it down with a wrench, and it wouldn't come back off easily! Apparently the force on the face of the fitting on the cond causes the Al to flare a little bit where it contacts the tube. This causes the threads to bind a little and the fitting is now too tight to turn by hand. This and the high temperatures on the high side might explain why condenser threads tend to gall so often (thus making this whole ordeal necessary in the first place...). I put anti sieze on the threads this time.
[ October 02, 2005, 03:52 PM: Message edited by: Walter McNeil ]