Diagram showing where the radiator and condenser are located

Car Air Conditioner Condenser Replacement – 2004 Impala

Some time before last summer, that is way back in 2014 the air conditioner on my 2004 Impala went out. And, I put in a can of dye to see where the leak was at. No luck, I could hear the leak, but I didn’t see anything… After toasting for most of last summer and roasting on a 4 hour 92F drive to my sisters house, I finally purchased a new condenser.  Actually, I wasn’t completely sure that I had found the leak.  You can hear and see the gas coming out, but I wasn’t able to figure out where… The hoses all looked ok, the compressor, filter, dryer, and such all seemed ok. So, I was assuming the leak was on the back side of the condenser.

In your car, your air conditioner contains 6 major parts. There is a compressor (usually belt driven, unless you have a Prius) that squeezes the gas (normally Freon 134a) into the condenser. The condenser is up front before the radiator and is air cooled with fans and by driving. It is here that the higher pressure freon vapor is being forced into a smaller space and tries to give up extra energy as heat as it becomes a liquid. Basically, you are making the gas into a liquid, the free energy that kept the molecules flying about needs to go somewhere – which is why iti air cooled. Then, the liquid goes through a filter-dryer to screen out solids and catch any impurities. Then it is pushed through a small restriction to make a sudden pressure drop into the inlet of the evaporator. This makes an adiabatic expansion, where the liquid is being forced into a vapor state with out any heat being applied. The compressor is sucking on the evaporator to make the pressure lower. The lower pressure causes the liquid to try and go into the gas state (forced boiling). This needs energy to keep the molecules moving about as a vapor, and so, the evaporator gets cold. A fan then blows air over your evaporator to cool your car, and give heat to the cold freon.  You get air conditioning!

 

To replace the condenser… it is simple.  I am assuming you have a good leak, and all the freon is out of your car.  If it is not, you need to have a technician reclaim it for you.  Technically, R143a is used as a canned dusters… so, releasing it is not that bad.  Still, try to save the ozone layer.

New Condenser: Almost OEM style…

IMG_20160625_133634

New Seal Kit and Plastic Clamp

A/C Seals KitAC Plastic Clip Clamp

Step 1: Locate the parts. The condenser is typically in the front of the car, in front of the radiator. As shown in the photo, they are actually under the front frame of the car. We will need to remove all the parts that are in the way.

Step 2: Start by removing the engine mounting supports. These are held in with 4 bolts on the front and a single longer bolt on the engine. You might be able to swing them up on top of the engine and out of the way.

Step 3: Remove the two diagonal support rods on the right and left. These have two bolts at the front and one at the rear. These are for crash stability to deflect force outward to the sides of the car.Diagram showing where the radiator and condenser are located

Step 4: Remove the air intake. A large rubber hose connects from the right of the engine top (throttle body assembly) to the filter box. The rubber hose as a temperature sensor wire that needs to be removed first. Then pull of the hose with a twisting motion. The other side of the hose is connected to the filter box. There is a large hose clamp that can be removed to help free up mobility.

Diagram 2 - Engine Mount Removed

Step 5: Remove the air filter cover and take out the filter.

Step 6: There are two screws on the top of the air filter box (shown by the computer label  in In the photo below). Loosen these and open up the filter box. One of the control computers is hidden in this box. You will need to take out the computer (set is up on the engine – don’t damage the wires) and remove the plastic housing to get to the A/C lines.

 

Diagram 16 - Reinstall air box, pcm, hoses

Step 7: On the left side of the car, remove the battery. You will also need to loosen up the fuse box to help get the battery out of its little cubby.

Diagram 3 - Battery Removed

 

Step 8: Now unbolt the radiator assembly. There are two bolts (top right and left).

Step 9: Unbolt the fan assembly. There are three bolts (middle right and left, and top middle).

Diagram 4 - Radiator Assembly Bolts Removed

Step 10: Unclip the power wires that go to the fan.

Step 11: Unclip the transmission lines at the bottom of the fan assembly.

Step 12: Unclip the 3-4 wire harness holders that are attached to the fan assembly.

Step 13: Lift out the fan assembly.  You might need to loosen up and remove the right radiator hose to help make space.

Diagram 7 - Fan Assembly Removed

Step 14: Unbolt the A/C lies from the condenser. These are on the right side, in the middle. There are two. One is held together with a screw/bolt thing. The other has a plastic snap clip (you will likely need to break the plastic clip to get it off). The photo below is before the fan was removed.

Step 15: Unbolt the condenser lines mounting bracket from the radiator. Save this bracket! You will install it on the new condenser.

Diagram 6 - AC Hoses Connections

Step 16: Pull the assembly forward and lift out the condenser. That is the front exchanger. The back exchanger is the radiator and is attached. The photo below show the condenser removed. The condenser sits in 4 small clips that hold it in place. You need to either pry them open or just pull up and it will come out.

Diagram 8 - Pull back radiator - condenser removed

Step 17: Install the new condenser. Slide the new one into the front of the radiator. Make certain the new one sits into the 4 clips. Diagram 10 - Insert new condenser

Step 18: Replace the o-ring on the lines. I only replaced the one, you may need to replace both on the other line as well.

Diagram 9 - Remove old o-ring

Step 19: Install the fan assembly. Bolt into place. Clip in the transmission lines. Reconnect the power to the fans. Secure the wires into their clips.

Step 20: Install the condenser lines bracket.

Diagram 11 - Connect condenser tube bracket

Step 21: Connect the A/C lies. One uses the bolt, the other has the plastic clip.

Step 22: Move the assembly forward and re-bolt to the front of the car frame. Shown below where the screw clip is at.

Diagram 12 - Connect condenser tubes, wires, etc.

 

Step 23: Bolt the assembly to the frame on the left side too…

Diagram 13 - Bolt on fan and assembly to front of car

 

Step 24: Reinstall the battery.

Step 25: Reinstall the engine mounting brackets.

Diagram 19 - Reinstall battery

 

Step 25: Reinstall the air intake box, filter, and hose. Be careful not to damage the wires on the PCM Computer.

Diagram 16 - Reinstall air box, pcm, hoses

Step 26: Reinstall the diagonal support rods.

Step 27: Connect a vacuum pump to the low pressure line and pull the air out of the A/C system. It should hold a vacuum. (Note: the photo below doesn’t have the diagonal support rods installed yet.)

Diagram 19 - Pull vacuum on system

 

Step 28: Add freon. The sticker shown in the photo above (front of the car frame) indicates the amount of freon to add.

Diagram 20 - Add Freon

 

Step 29: (Optional) If you removed your radiator hose, refill the coolant.

Step 30: (Optional) If you removed the engine cover, replace it.

 

Finished.

 

Fuel Tracking – May 2016

May Gasoline Use and Statistics:

Distance driven (miles)2,860
Fuel used (gallons)93.314
Efficiency (MPG)30.65 ± 1.1
Fuel cost ($)$211.81
Average fuel cost per gallon ($/gal)$2.27
Carbon dioxide released (LBS)*1,646
CO2 efficiency (LBS/mile)0.576

*Assumes 10% ethanol for 17.68 lbs-CO2/gallon.

Fuel Tracking – April 2016

April Gasoline Use and Statistics:

Distance driven (miles)2,782
Fuel used (gallons)94.996
Efficiency (MPG)27.9 ± 0.9
Fuel cost ($)$186.97
Average fuel cost per gallon ($/gal)$1.97
Carbon dioxide released (LBS)*1,679
CO2 efficiency (LBS/mile)0.603

*Assumes 10% ethanol for 17.68 lbs-CO2/gallon.

3D Printing – Anet A8 – Build Instructions

So, I finally purchased a 3D printer… I am old enough to remember when the RepRap project started way back in the early 2000s. You know, before it became a commercialization race.  So, I’ve been watching, waiting, and finally had the free time to start a new hobby. Well, not really.  I’ve got some design work that needs prototyping.

China finally came online as a cheap manufacturing center for low cost consumer 3D printers.  Distributed via the Amazon network with 2-day shipping, and presto I’ve got a box of parts that purport to be a 3D filament extrusion printer.  The instructions are a silent video on YouTube. Nothing is labeled. And everything feels cheap.  But the reviews are good.

3D Printer as Packaged

3D Printer as Packaged from Amazon.  This is an Anet A8 (sold as a Prusa i3 type). The top smaller box is the PLA filament. This is plastic extruder type. It has a 0.4 mm nozzle, uses a 1.75 mm filament, and can to an alleged 0.05 mm layer thickness.

 

 

Layer 1 of Printer Parts

Layer 1 of Printer Parts: Build Platform, wire covers, tools, screws, display assembly, power cable.

Layer 2 of Printer Parts

Layer 2 of Printer Parts: Frame parts, z-axis mounts, control board, cooling fans, usb cable.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Layer 3 of Printer Parts

Layer 3 of Printer Parts: Frame parts, power supply, extruder, stepper drive motors, rails, linear bearings.

 

Remove Paper from Plastic Parts

Remove protective paper from plastic frame… 1 hour of paper removal. No labels.

 

Interesting Nut Holder Design. Where a screw holds the parts together.

Interesting nut holder design. Where a screw holds the parts together. You need to hold these tiny nuts in the slot and press the opposing parts together and fasten with a screw.

 

Assemble the frame by inserting the nut into the slot and then binding with screws.

Assemble the frame by inserting the nut into the slot and then binding with screws… tedious is an understatement, especially when a nut falls out.

 

The bottom of the frame is held together with threaded screws and opposing nuts.

The bottom of the frame is held together with threaded screws and opposing nuts. Measure to make certain they are equally aligned. The front smaller frame unit has a roller bearing for a drive belt. In the back center, you have the motor mount.

 

The Y-Axis limit switch screws into a holder.

The Y-Axis limit switch screws into a small holder. This will hold a nut and be screwed into the back lower frame.

 

Y-Axis motor is mounted on a flat plate on the back bottom of the frame. The limit switch is also mounted here.

Y-Axis motor is mounted on a flat plate on the back bottom of the frame. The limit switch is also mounted here.

 

Rail Holder

To the front and back of the lower frame, you attach these small keepers. A rail will be placed in the small hole that is under this keeper.

 

These are the Y-Axis Rails

These two smooth rods are the Y-Axis rails. On each of them you put 2 linear bearings. (Although, this picture shows only 1 on the left rail, that was corrected later).

 

Build Plate Frame

The build plate frame is held onto the Y-axis rails via the linear bearings. Each has 4 screws to anchor the 4 linear bearings to the build plate frame. Roll the plate a few times before tightening the screws. You might also need to adjust the lower screws on the frame to make certain the smooth rails are parallel.

 

The Y-Axis belt holder is attached to the center of the build plate frame with two screws on each plastic spacer part.

View from under the build plate frame. The Y-Axis belt holder is attached to the center of the build plate frame with two screws on each plastic spacer part. Here, you can also see the 4 linear bearings with the rails installed. The longer threaded rods on the outside edges are to hold the frame together and ensure the rails are parallel.

 

Looking under the build bed, attach a piece of drive belt from the motor at the back of the frame, through the roller bearing at the front and screw one loop side of the belt to the build plate frame center with the two mounting parts.

Looking under the build bed, attach a piece of drive belt from the motor at the back of the frame, through the roller bearing at the front and screw one loop side of the belt to the build plate frame center with the two mounting parts.

 

On each front side of the frame, build a small box that will hold the 2 z-axis drive motors.

On each front side of the frame, build a small box that will hold the 2 z-axis drive motors.

 

On both the right and left sides, install the Z-Axis stepper motors under the newly built support boxes. They screw in from the top.

On both the right and left sides, install the Z-Axis stepper motors under the newly built support boxes. They screw in from the top.

 

Assemble the z-axis limit switch with 2 plastic spacers and the switch. This is bolted onto the left frame side. Use the limit switch with the shortest wire.

Assemble the z-axis limit switch with 2 plastic spacers and the switch. This is bolted onto the left frame side. Use the limit switch with the shortest wire.

 

Install the left z-axis rail (smooth rod) and feed this rod through the x-axis motor mount holder - it is a white part that will hold two other x-axis rails and a motor.

Install the left z-axis rail (smooth rod) and feed this rod through the x-axis motor mount holder – it is a white part that will hold two other x-axis rails and a motor.

 

Insert the right z-axis rail (smooth rod) and x-axis mount. This mount will hold the x-axis rails. Hold these in place with same type of plastic keeps as in the y-axis bed rails.

Insert the right z-axis rail (smooth rod) and x-axis mount. This mount will hold the x-axis rails. Hold these in place with same type of plastic keeps as in the y-axis bed rails.

 

Install the left and right z-axis drive screws through the holes at the top of the machine and through the x-axis holders. Then fix them into the z-axis drive motors (located at the bottom).

Install the left and right z-axis drive screws through the holes at the top of the machine and through the x-axis holders. Then fix them into the z-axis drive motors (located at the bottom).

 

Push the two x-axis rails through the white holders (located on the z-axis drive). Make certain they are parallel. Also place 2-linear bearings on the top rail and 1 on the bottom rail.

Push the two x-axis rails through the white holders (located on the z-axis drive). Make certain they are parallel. Also place 2-linear bearings on the top rail and 1 on the bottom rail.

Install the x-axis drive motor on the left z-axis drive assembly (white part).

Install the x-axis drive motor on the left z-axis drive assembly (white part).

 

To the extruder's u-shaped carriage holder install two belt holders. These are double plastic parts with teeth to hold the belt.

To the extruder’s u-shaped carriage holder install two belt holders. These are double plastic parts with teeth to hold the belt.

 

Bolt the extruder u-shaped carriage to the linear bearings on the x-axis rods. Move the assembly a few times to ensure parallel movement before tightening.

Bolt the extruder u-shaped carriage to the linear bearings on the x-axis rods. Move the assembly a few times to ensure parallel movement before tightening.

 

Bolt on the extruder into the carriage holder. There is a single screw on the bottom that holds the extruder in place. Tighten the nut on the feed rod between the lower heater assembly and upper feed motors and gears.

Bolt on the extruder into the carriage holder. There is a single screw on the bottom that holds the extruder in place. Tighten the nut on the feed rod between the lower heater assembly and upper feed motors and gears.

 

Bolt on the cooling fans. One with a heat sink on the left side (to cool the filament) and one on the front to freeze the deposited filament.

Bolt on the cooling fans. One with a heat sink on the left side (to cool the filament) and one on the front to freeze the deposited filament.

 

The heated build bed is made of the black aluminum sheet with tape, 4-srews and the heating board. Tape the contractors on heated board with electrical tape before assembly.

The heated build bed is made of the black aluminum sheet with tape, 4-srews and the heating board. Tape the contractors on heated board with electrical tape before assembly.

 

Install the build bed onto the build bed frame by using the 4 screws. You will later use these screws to level the build platform relative to the extruder nozzle (with 1 mm of spacing).

Install the build bed onto the build bed frame by using the 4 screws. You will later use these screws to level the build platform relative to the extruder nozzle (with 1 mm of spacing).

 

Install the x-axis limit switch by the x-axis drive motor. This is the longest switch wire. Also, feed the x-axis drive belt around the motor and the slip bearing on the right of x-axis holder. Tighten the belt to the belt holder at the back of the extruder carriage.

Install the x-axis limit switch by the x-axis drive motor. This is the longest switch wire. Also, feed the x-axis drive belt around the motor and the slip bearing on the right of x-axis holder. Tighten the belt to the belt holder at the back of the extruder carriage.

 

Install the control board at the top of the frame with 4 screws, 4 plastic spacers and a few leveling nuts. There is also a backing plastic sheet for protection.

Install the control board at the top of the frame with 4 screws, 4 plastic spacers and a few leveling nuts. There is also a backing plastic sheet for protection.

 

Connect wires to power supply and attach to right side of the frame.

Connect wires to power supply and attach to right side of the frame.

 

Install the control board to the left side of the frame. Use the wire wrap to tidy up the wires. Match the connectors and plug in everything.

Install the control board to the left side of the frame. Use the wire wrap to tidy up the wires. Match the connectors and plug in everything.

 

Cura slicer software had a test part. A small toy robot figure. It seemed to work alright.

The included Cura slicer software had a test part. A small toy robot figure. It seemed to work alright. The white air scoop is to direct cooling air at the part to help the plastic freeze.

 

The bed alignment was off, the hot extruder nozzle melted into and burnt the release tape. We also have a plastic leak at the top of the extruder. That will need to be fixed later.

The bed alignment was off, the hot extruder nozzle melted into and burnt the release tape. We also have a plastic leak at the top of the extruder. That will need to be fixed later.