Air Conditioning


Bill Connelly

"I'm melting!...melting!...OOOOH! What a world!...What a world!" --Wicked
Witch of the West

OK...So last night's downpour seems to have broken the back of this latest
heatwave afflicting the eastern half of the USA, and otherwise the weather's
actually been pretty kind this year. But memories of rolling up in my Amphi
at Celina 2000 or at Billy & Randy's Festival (see ) that same year feeling like a big
stick of beef jerky in shorts and a T-shirt are still pretty fresh in my
mind. All this and the fact that my "daily driver" and possibly next year's
Celina tow vehicle is a 1976 Dodge Van with no A/C have recently led me to
pursue the topic of some form of aftermarket air conditioning.

Initial inquiries at a couple of regular automotive garages concerning the
installation of A/C in the van revealed that nobody I talked to was exactly
eager to do it and were vague to say the least about what it might cost.
Further investigations with a "specialty" aftermarket air conditioning
vendor, Vintage Air (, that was recommended some
time ago on this List resulted in a quote of "about $800 for the parts and
$1,500-$2,000 for labor". Needless to say, this seems a bit much to put
into a van I only paid $300 for, and it doesn't do anything about tempering
torrid temps in the Amphi.

Which brings me to another possible option I stumbled across: Has anyone
tried any of the 12 volt space coolers known as Swampy, Icester & IceMystr
that plug into one's cigarette lighter as found at , or anything similar? Any other

What say ye?


Ken Chambers

Hi Bill,

Quite some time ago I added air conditioning to a '70 Ford Econoline van I owned
as a teenager. I remember a neighbor gave me an automobile compressor unit
(readily available in junk yards), an auto parts store supplied the mounting
bracket kit, and I scrounged the condenser coil, evaporator coil and expansion
valve from an old window unit. Plumbed it all together in a sheetmetal box with
a 12V blower motor under the raised bed in the back of the van. Used two
4 inch white dryer hoses for the outlet tubes. All that kept the back of the
van really nice and cool. The solution there was to buy about 20 more feet of
that dryer hose and screw two sections to the existing outlets. Ahh, nice
cold air anywhere you wanted it. Nothing like sticking that cold air tube under
your shirt while driving through the Mojave desert. The system really did work
very well for the several years I owned the van. I doubt if I spend a
hundred bucks on the system. Of course, that was 25 years ago. So if you start
scrounging now and work on it a little every weekend, you'll probably have it
ready just in time for winter. Good luck.

Ken Chambers, CA
Where the weather is usually good, seldom bad, and rarely in between