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Air Conditioner Improvements

I had my air conditioner serviced in Summer of 1998. The shop replaced the dryer, and fixed some leaky fittings. The air temperature I get at the vents runs about 56 degrees to 59 degrees, depending on the outside temperature, etc. The shop that did the work felt that was as good as it was going to get; my local dealer thought they could maybe get it a bit cooler, but only maybe, so I didn't bother. The concensus seems to be that the vanagon A/C is pretty wimpy. (The fact that my van is dark gray doesn't help, either.)

However, I have been able to improve the comfort level in the van by improving the air flow of the system. The black foam blanket around my evaporator had disintegrated, and bits and chunks of black foam had been blowing from my A/C for months, with little sign of stopping. So, I took apart the overhead box, and cleaned everything out. While I was in there, I added lots of weather stripping (the original stuff having mostly disintegrated), and generally tightened things up, and made sure all the air went through the evaporator and out the blower, and nowhere else. After I did this, but before I put the plastic vent cowling back up, I found that the strong central blast directly from the blowers cooled the van (especially the front) much better than the diffused air from the vents did.

So, before I put the vent cowling back up, I cut up and/or off most of the internal baffles that diffuse the air, which left me with a stronger central stream. Then, using 1" x 1.5" foam stripping, I made new little "walls" in the cowling running from each edge of the blower inlet to the outer edges of the front of the cowling. This closed off the useless rear corners of the cowling, to ensure that the air didn't get lost back there while looking for the vents. (I dont know enough about the physics of airflow to know if it really works that way, but I figured it was maybe helpful, and harmless at worst.)

Now we tend to keep the outboard vents closed, and direct a strong central stream between the front seats. The air conditioner is now much quieter, and, although the air from the A/C's still not as cold as I'd like, the van's a lot more comfortable.

Click for bigger image

Here's what the garage looked like during the work. You can see the housing with the blowers installed, and the plastic vent cowling on the floor behind it, and, well, a whole lot of junk. Unfortunately, I didn't think to take much in the way of pictures of this project.  

Here you can (barely) see that the air conditioner housing and the vent cowling are down.  So is the curtain rail/shelf - I decided that since the rest was down anyway, this would be a good time to start rewiring for the furnace and auxiliary battery.