In a world so full of kits and bolt-on parts, it's rewarding to do something unique and out of the norm-but sometimes veering off the beaten path is done out of necessity. Take air conditioning for example. There are a plethora of retrofit kits out there for just about every vehicle-as long as it's a popular vehicle. I know '67-72 F-100s still aren't sought-after trucks, but that doesn't mean you have to sweat while driving one!

Most all the original '67-72 Ford trucks you see with air conditioning have vintage dealer-installed units that hang under the already-cramped dashboard and are very noticeable. These particular trucks aren't alone on this topic of unsightliness. Most classic trucks have short and shallow dashboards-it just depends on how much effort and thought you want to put into making something that works-and looks good.

After talking with Vintage Air about my needs both in the cab and under the hood, they assured me that we could put something together that would fill both bills. I already knew that Vintage Air has made quality air conditioning systems for over 30 years, so that was not a worry, I was concerned with the appearance of the visual parts inside the cab, like the vents or louvers, the A/C controls or switches, and also the size of the evaporator unit that goes under the dash and behind the glovebox.

After spending some time on the Vintage Air website, I was pretty sure that I liked their rectangle Streamline louvers with polished outers. They seemed to match the style of the rest of the truck. There isn't much in the way of circles or round things on or in the truck, so I decided against the ball-type louvers. Vintage Air makes several kinds of switch panels-some go in the dash and some go under it. My initial plan was to use their Gen II Four-Knob Underdash Pod and take the switches out of the pod and mount them right in the dash, but it worked out well to dissect the stock heater controls and use its bezel, which sits under the stock radio. That takes care of two of my three concerns.

As for the evaporator unit selection, Vintage Air has some helpful options in this all-too-critical area. They now have empty plastic mock-up shells of each of their evaporator units that can be borrowed from your local Vintage Air dealer or bought inexpensively from Vintage Air so you can be sure the evaporator you buy will fit. It was a close race between the small Gen II Mini and their new, big Gen IV Magnum, while the middle-sized Gen II Compac was a no-go. I eventually decided to go with the venerable Gen II Mini because it would leave more precious underdash space to work with, plus a well-insulated and sealed truck cab is pretty easy to cool.

Because an air conditioning system is actually pretty complex and because I decided to do a bunch of dashboard fabrication to arrange things just so, we'll cover the start of the installation described above this month and finish it in the January issue. Vintage Air has quite a bit of technical information both on their website and in their comprehensive catalog, not to mention their expert tech line, for anyone contemplating taking the cool plunge into air conditioning. So follow along to see what you can do to make your truck more unique and "cool"!

SOURCE
Miller Electric
1635 W. Spencer Street
Appleton
WI  54912
920-734-9821
http://www.millerwelds.com
Vintage Air
18865 Goll Street
San Antonio
TX  78266
800-862-6658
http://www.vintageair.com
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