No company makes an A/C kit specifically for 800s, so I had to pick and choose components that would work, as well as fabricate many parts myself. The system works very well, and I’m quite proud of the finished project. In fact, I think I was better off designing and making the system myself. I once installed an A/C sytem in a 1954 Chevy pickup. The system came from a well-known aftermarket company that specializes in A/C systems for older cars and trucks, and was sold as a complete kit for the specific application. Every single part of the kit had to be modified in order to fit and work properly! So much for “easy bolt-on installation”!
This is not meant to be a complete how-to guide for installing an A/C system in your 800, but rather a general overview of one installation. It is certainly not an easy bolt-on job, and does require some custom fabrication. This system went into a 1967 Scout 800 with a 196 4- cylinder engine. A different engine would of course require some changes to my setup, such as the compressor mounting and the size of the condenser.
All components of the system came from Old Air Products (OAP) of Fort Worth, Texas. I looked into several different companies, and decided that OAP was the best choice for my application. I called the company and spoke directly with Johnny Cosgrove, Vice President and General Manager, and found him to be very helpful. I chose their Hurricane system, which is available with a variety of vent styles and control options. I bought the system from South Texas Truck Air Conditioning Company, Inc. in Houston, which is a dealer for OAP. You can buy from a local dealer or directly from OAP.
COMPRESSOR AND MOUNT: I used a Sanden 508 compressor, a 5-cylinder axial design. It is a compact, smooth-running unit, and is probably the most common compressor in modern cars and trucks. One could also use a York compressor, which is the type used for Scout II factory A/C. I fabricated a compressor/alternator mount on the passenger side of the engine, with the compressor below the alternator. It’s a very tight fit for the compressor, but I wanted to keep the alternator on top for easy access.
The compressor is mounted in a fixed position, and belt tensioning is done with a second compressor converted for onboard air which is mounted on the driver side and runs off the same belt. A second pulley was mounted to the crankshaft hub for this belt. A Scout II compressor/alternator mount can also be used on a Scout 800. This cast-iron mount locates the alternator below the compressor. This option might be easier for someone who doesn’t want to make a custom mount. OAP also makes an adapter to mount a Sanden compressor to a York mounting bracket. Check hood clearance if you choose this route.
A hole must be cut in the firewall for the A/C and heater fittings to enter the engine compartment. Mine intersected the stock hole for the heater duct. Determine the location of this cutout and the mounting holes. The cutout doesn’t have to be exact, as you can make a plate which will cover the hole and hold the firewall grommet that will seal around the fittings.
CONDENSER: OAP P/N 11-1816 is a perfect size for the 4-cylinder 800 radiator. It comes with mounting brackets that screw directly to the condenser. A combination of these brackets and longer radiator mounting bolts worked well for a condenser mount.
EVAPORATOR: The evaporator must fit inside your Scout’s cab, so it is critical that you choose one of the proper size. There are many different shapes and sizes of evaporators made for aftermarket A/C systems, but to my knowledge OAP is the only company making one that can be successfully used in a Scout 800.
I chose their Hurricane 1000 series which is a compact cube-shaped unit. It fits on the passenger-side firewall and still allows sufficient footroom for the passenger. If mounted just right, it also allows room (barely) to operate the passenger side fresh air vent. The Hurricane unit is a combination heat/cool unit, so the stock heater box and inside ductwork can be eliminated.
There are two modifications you must make to the evaporator due to the slant of the 800 firewall. The unit is designed to mount on a forward-slanting firewall, but the 800 firewall slants toward the rear. The two mounting brackets that come with the evaporator are made of thin sheet metal and are not nearly strong enough to support the unit. I made stronger brackets from ¼” X 1” steel flat bar.
The other modification involves the drain fitting. It is installed at the bottom front of the evaporator case, but in this application it needs to be at the rear to be at the lowest point. OAP can install the drain fitting in the proper location if you specify this when ordering. If you do this yourself, be extremely careful when drilling the hole for the fitting so you don’t drill into the evaporator core! The duct hoses exit the evaporator right where the glovebox normally sits. I chose to just leave out the glovebox on this Scout, but it would also be possible to make a smaller glovebox if desired.
DASH VENTS AND DUCTWORK: OAP makes several types of dash vents that can be located in or under the dash and connected via flexible duct hose. I used three under-dash rectangular vents: P/N 32-3, a double vent in the center, and two of P/N 32-1, one at each end. If you choose the defrost option, the 2” duct hose suppied in the kit will connect to the stock 800 defroster duct.
CONTROLS: OAP offers a variety of control options. You can choose knob or lever type switches, and heat/defrost controls can be cable operated or vacuum/electric. The knob switches can be bought separately for custom mounting in the dash, or in pods for underdash mounting, either alone or in combination with dash vents. I used the separate knob switches and cable controls, mounting them in a custom plate that covers the stock radio cutout.
OTHER CONSIDERATIONS: Your engine’s cooling system must be in top shape to deal with the extra heat produced by an air conditioner. An A/C system cools the inside of a vehicle by removing heat from the air flowing through the evaporator and releasing it into the air flowing through the condenser. The condenser not only blocks airflow to your radiator, but is actually heating the air before it gets to the radiator!
The radiator fan is one component that can be easily upgraded to improve the efficiency of your cooling system. I swapped out the stock 4-blade fan on my engine for a 5-blade unit. I also installed a fan shroud which insures that the fan pulls air through the condenser and radiator, and not from the surrounding area. Since the air conditioner must remove heat from inside your truck, it’s also important to minimize the heat coming from the outside and from your engine. Insulating the headliner will be a big help, as will installation of insulation on the firewall and transmission tunnel.
The Hurricane unit is a combination A/C and heater, so the air flowing through the evaporator core also goes through the heater core. It’s important that the flow of hot water is completely shut off to the heater core during A/C operation. I found that the cable-operated water valve supplied with my unit didn’t completely shut off the flow of water. It’s a good idea to have a second shutoff valve in the heater hose. If you retain the stock heater shutoff valve, don’t assume that it works well either. These valves corrode quickly and don’t last long.
OAP sells a hose kit which includes all the necessary hoses and fittings. The hoses come with a fitting crimped on one end. You will cut each hose to the proper length for your application, and crimp the fittings to the other ends. Most any auto parts store can do this for you for a small fee. As an alternative, you can send the hoses back to OAP and they will crimp them at no charge. Also, once your system is completely installed you can have it charged with refrigerant by a local technician if you aren’t set up to do this yourself.
If you are interested in tackling this project on your Scout, it’s a good idea to learn all you can about automotive air conditioning systems. The more you know, the more prepared you’ll be to make decisions about what will work best for your application. An excellent book on the subject is HOW TO AIR CONDITION YOUR CAR by Timothy Remus and Jack Chisenhall, available from Classic Motorbooks.
If you do buy your components from OAP, remember that they, or anyone else, are not selling a ready-made kit specifically for Scout 800s. Do your homework, study their catalog, decide what you want, and THEN give Johnny Cosgrove at OAP a call at