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X 1/9 AC
Well, I waited a bit before I weighed in on this one,
For better or worse I have more experience with X 1/9 AC than I care to admit.
I too wanted the occasional comfort of AC in my X (still do), so I looked into fitting AC
to my car which came without it originally. Not to sound like a total fool, I had retrofitted
factory AC to a previous car (AMC Hornet) and it worked well. Armed with a good working
knowledge of AC and good technical resources, I then asked as many owners as possible what
their experiences were with AC on X 1/9's. Almost as many hated it and did whatever they could
to remove the 'excess" weight as those who found the performance acceptable.
I managed to find a doaner car which was a rusty mess, but the AC system was still complete.
Some of the parts were unusable, but the car served as a good pattern, allowing me to
fill in the missing blanks from the Fiat parts fiche and service manuals.
The system installed well, although you have to basically remove most of the interior to
fit in the piping and evaporator box. The dashboard and console must be removed to get to
I charged the system up and was disappointed to find that the low pressure switch was bad,
so even though fully charged, the compressor clutch wouldn't close. Discharged the system
(at some expense as I was unwilling to dump the freon, now that I am environmentally aware),
replaced the switch, volia! The system ran and ran cool in the confines of my garage.
Completed the project some weeks before Freak Out 94 (or so) and on the road I was
disappointed to find hot air coming out of the ducts despite the compressor running.
Tracked the problem down to a bad heater valve that was unable to effectively block off
the hot engine coolant, particularly when the engine is revving at speed (and driving the
water pump at high rpm). Unfortunately I ordered the replacment part which arrived. It was
plastic, not like the brass valve I installed. I had been told that the plastic valve is
repariable, the brass unit is sealed. The replacment part, in fact, is incomplete.
It relies on swapping out part of the valve body with the old part and reusing the remaining
parts. As best I can tell, the two parts are not interchangable and I hope one day
to set eyes on the an evaporator box with the palstic valve fitted. Not that this is an
easy prospect, viewing it requires standing on your head! To date, I've only seen the
brass valves. Out of frustration at my inability to solve the problem using original
parts, I fitted a manual valve in the engine compartment. Easy enough to open up on cool
evenings. I solved the same problem for a friend by fitting to the hose in the passenger
footwell. This didn't appeal to my sense of originality so I opted for the engine location.
Well after all this, I am still left with an anemic system. If the car is seriously heat
soaked as in sitting in the sun on a hot day, the AC can barely reduce the tempature in the
compartment in a reasonable amount of time, even with flushing it out by opening the windows.
I am spoiled the the powerful AC on my previous VW Golf and my Prelude. Hell even my funky
Renault Fuego had a system to chill off the hottest.
I'm not entirely convinced that the Italians were clueless in designing the system.
I do know they were seriously restriced by space. I'm not sure where my problem lies, all
the pressure tests met the specifications so for now I'm stumped. A number of people swear
the system works well. I really need to ride in one with themometer and see for myself if
it is perception or reality that some are better than others.
I'm sympathetic to your desire to stay cool, and I am definitely in favor of restoring
the original function. I only wish I had better words of encouragment. Give it a shot,
maybe your system will suit you well, you'll never know, and besides look at it this way,
to find out you won'd have to go to all the trouble I did!
Damon Royal Kane
1982 Fiat Bertone X 1/9
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