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Topic: HR980 A/C Issues (Read 2890 times) previous topic - next topic

HR980 A/C Issues

Instead of jamming up a different thread I wanted to put this on its own, so that we can reference/bookmark it for others as well, because there are many people going through this same situation.

I am at wit's end with my a/c setup in the '84 (3.8L V6). I mean, these cars will frustrate the best of us on any given day and for any reason whatsoever, but this is just...unreal. Long story short, my HR980 compressor is leaking at the back, meaning a full replacement is called for. Great, except for trying to find one. Yes, I've looked on Rock Auto. Yes, I've tried parts stores online. Yes, I've tried specialty a/c companies. The HR980 is made from unobtanium.

In doing research on this whole deal, I have discovered that despite hundreds of thousands of these HR980 compressors being manufactured and shoved into multiple Ford vehicles (and some misc. farm equipment) for over a decade, there was no plan to refurbish them or provide a replacement alternative that works in a car. The outer casing seems to be welded together, which is why it's not possible to rebuild them like a normal compressor, and which is why you can't find a new one. When the compressor dies, it's done, and that's it. You no fixy.

A few years ago I snagged a NOS compressor off eBay but it turned out to be incorrect for my setup. I have the spring-lock connectors on the back, this one has the screw-on type. Also the pulley is for a serpentine car whereas I have the 2-groove pulley. Apparently to swap pulleys there is an expensive (US ~$200) tool that's required. Plus the cost of the pulley (US $~150-200). That's just for the setup. That's not for the compressor itself. If you can find a NOS compressor we're talking a minimum of US $500. And to top that, there were different body types depending upon your bracket setup (these were mostly used on V6 and turbo-4 cars). So with a perfect alignment of stars, any owner that wants to just fix what they have is going to shell out a cool grand at the very least for just the correct compressor setup. Maybe. If you luck out.

And then we have the refrigerant issue. The HR980 was not built to withstand the higher pressures of the newer R134a refrigerant so you would be stuck with R12 or equivalent. That's fine, if you can find and afford that. Converting it to R134a will kill it within a few years and then you're back to where you started, except you're out a lot of money.

This means that, if you want working a/c on a 3.8L V6 car like mine, and also try to keep it more or less correct for judged car shows, there are only these options:

1) Fix what you have—spend a lot money on the correct HR980 compressor setup, spend more money on R12, and if all else checks out (lines, condenser, etc.) then you might get another 8-10 years out of it. It will be factory correct.

2) Find a way to convert the compressor to something else.

3) Convert to a newer factory setup with a more normal compressor (FS6?) found on some cars. This requires a change of everything but the condenser and evap core. It also requires changing the pumps and brackets on the driver's side of the engine because it also makes it a full serpentine routing. But the setup will be factory-style (just not correct for the model year) and you can get compressors to run the newer R134a.

Option 1 is looking bleak to me. Option 2 would be nice, and I did find conversion kits for tractors, but there wouldn't be enough room to use one in a passenger car. So it looks like I have to dive into Option 3. (continued)

Re: HR980 A/C Issues

Reply #1
I'm still trying to get a good read on everything, but from what I can tell, the setup like what's on mine with the 2-groove pulley was used from 1983-87 at least. I have seen up to 1987 Cougars/T-Birds with my exact setup. I have also seen a different setup with the full serpentine belt, where the a/c compressor is the FS6(?) style and sits on top of the engine, and the power steering pump is lower. It seems this was phased in around 1985 and also continued to 1987. Some of my books show the old setup, some show the new. I also dug through a lot of reference photos, and I guess both were correct depending on the configuration. Now my current setup, with the separate a/c belt, may have been considered a "dealer add-on" a/c system for those cars that didn't have it originally, and I can see why: it's just hanging off the driver's side of the motor and could easily be attached. I note this because when looking up parts, I often come across "dealer a/c" listed and have been assuming that's what they mean, even though mine was definitely a factory a/c car.

Ref pix...

My current HR980 setup (2 belts, compressor down low, power steering pump on top):


The alternate setup (serpentine belt, a/c compressor on top, p/s pump down low):


So in preparation for this backside reaming of a job, I was able to get just about everything from an alternate-setup car, an '85 T-Bird, at the local salvage yard. Just missing a bracket which, of course, is impossible to find and is probably important for the integrity and stability of the compressor. I also got the lines (broken) for reference.

My plan, barring any advice or epiphany here, is to reuse the evap core and replace everything else. Some of the parts seem to be available. It's difficult to tell because I cannot seem to find factory part numbers for any lines in the a/c system. I mean, why would Ford be logical and provide that information, you know? So all I have is a visual, which is better than nothing I suppose. But it's still hunting for parts blindly. If this was the 5.0L V8 then no problem. The V6 owners get kicked in the cajones all the way down.

So I guess the ultimate solution (?) is to change out the driver's side of the engine with alternate accessories (which will include a new power steering pump and hoses) and salvaged parts, while taking wild stabs at the a/c lines,  just to get working a/c in the car.

I cannot express in words how much I hate that this has to happen, and also how much I do not want to do this work. I hate working on these cars. This is complete and utter BS for wanting cool air.

Anyone have some insight or other advice? I mean, this isn't happening this year and next year is still a coin flip.

Re: HR980 A/C Issues

Reply #2
The 'hard' part is finding the brackets for the 6P148A/FS6. Everything else can be easily bought new (although I'm eating my words as I had no problem finding all the lines for the last 20+ years, but the discharge line is a bitch to find).

Your P/S Pump stays the same. You just need a new high pressure line. [Link]

There are 3 AC hoses. The Discharge line (Compressor-to-Condenser), Liquid  Line (Condenser to Evaporator), and Suction Line (Evaporator to Compressor).

The Discharge line has a little ler on it. [Link] I can only find it on ACKits.com (they're legit).
The Liquid line is the same no matter what compressor you have. [Link]
The Suction line contains the acspoogeulator, that big aluminum can by the evaporator. [Link]
The evaporator went from nuts on both ends to a springlock for the liquid line for '87 - but that's extraneous for you. Although not for me since a cursory search shows the line is NLA for '87-'88.

The Condenser is the same no matter what compressor or engine you have. [Link]

The HR980 system isn't a dealer add-on. Those use different components throughout. TXV instead of orifice tube, etc. I think it was just Ford's poor attempt to go to a serpentine setup when A/C was still an option on new cars. It's the only serpentine setup I've seen that doesn't use an automatic tensioner. I bought a belt tension gauge a few years ago and was FINALLY able to properly tension the  thing.

Looking here, it says it was
HR980 from 1983-1985.5
6P148A from 1985.5-1986.5
HR980 from 1986.5-1988

That trends with what I've seen. My '85 and '87 were HR980. I only saw '86s with 6P148s when I converted my '87 in 2005.

Re: HR980 A/C Issues

Reply #3
87-88 liquid line with orifice tube is still available for 5.0 cars for 87-88, should be the same for 3.8 cars:

https://www.rockauto.com/en/catalog/ford,1988,thunderbird,5.0l+302cid+v8,1140297,heat+&+air+conditioning,a/c+refrigerant+hose,6900

88 Thunderbird LX: 306, Edelbrock Performer heads, Comp 266HR cam, Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, bunch of other stuff.

Re: HR980 A/C Issues

Reply #4
Another option (won't look original) is to get the brackets for a FS6 compressor and have an AC shop make the lines for the car. Pricey though.
88 Thunderbird LX: 306, Edelbrock Performer heads, Comp 266HR cam, Edelbrock Performer RPM intake, bunch of other stuff.

Re: HR980 A/C Issues

Reply #5
The hose might work, but it's a different P/N and shape than the 3.8 hose.

Quote
Another option (won't look original) is to get the brackets for a FS6 compressor and have an AC shop make the lines for the car. Pricey though.
That's his plan. Some 3.8s came with 6P148A/FS6 compressors. Hoses are available.

Re: HR980 A/C Issues

Reply #6
The 84 Shop Manual says the HR980 was supplied by Tespoogeseh Products Company.

If you want to peruse all the used parts joints in the country:
https://www.car-part.com/

Re: HR980 A/C Issues

Reply #7
Quote from: JeremyB
The 'hard' part is finding the brackets for the 6P148A/FS6. Everything else can be easily bought new (although I'm eating my words as I had no problem finding all the lines for the last 20+ years, but the discharge line is a bitch to find).

I got most everything, bracket-wise, from the donor car:



There's a final bracket that goes on the front...think its job is to just keep the compressor tightened down. I'm having an incredibly tough time finding one and don't even have the p/n (which is not like me at all). But it goes on last so...maybe by the time this all happens I'll have found one somewhere.

Also the broken line is the one from the acspoogeulator. I snapped it off so I'd have a visual copy of what's needed. The crank pulley is there in case I need it (but don't think I will).

So thank you for the rest of the info. That will definitely help.

Quote from: softtouch
The 84 Shop Manual says the HR980 was supplied by Tespoogeseh Products Company.

If you want to peruse all the used parts joints in the country:
https://www.car-part.com/

Awesome, thank you. Only problems are, not being able to run the newer refrigerant, and you never know how long they'll last being used products and all. I was hoping for NOS bolt-on, which would make things so much easier. But that's not the life of an enthusiast of an older Fox car.

BTW, here is the NOS HR980:


I think the mounts are correct, and the pulley is a little different from what's on my car now. Might have been a later edition or one for a turbo-4 car. But the back connector is definitely not what I have.

Again, thanks all. I really appreciate the input. Y'all want to come over and help? ;)

Re: HR980 A/C Issues

Reply #8
Awesome, thank you. Only problems are, not being able to run the newer refrigerant, and you never know how long they'll last being used products and all. I was hoping for NOS bolt-on, which would make things so much easier. But that's not the life of an enthusiast of an older Fox car.
With the newer parallel flow condenser and some judicious non-use of the high blower fan setting while the car is heat soaked and at idle, the HR980 would be fine on R-134a from a pressure standpoint.

The bigger issue is that the HR980 uses viton seals. Viton isn't considered compatible with R-134a. So long term use will most likely cause leakage and failure of the compressor.

Re: HR980 A/C Issues

Reply #9
With the newer parallel flow condenser and some judicious non-use of the high blower fan setting while the car is heat soaked and at idle, the HR980 would be fine on R-134a from a pressure standpoint.

The bigger issue is that the HR980 uses viton seals. Viton isn't considered compatible with R-134a. So long term use will most likely cause leakage and failure of the compressor.

Hrmmm, interesting. But then I'd be right back where I started, except older and even more resistant to climb into the engine bay to fix the problem. Like I said, if getting a brand new HR980 compressor was an option, then I'd consider kicking the can down the road like that. I don't see myself laying off the high blower fan setting though LOL. But that's a good insight on the limitations of that system.

Re: HR980 A/C Issues

Reply #10
Yes, I think the FS6/6P148A conversion is the right option. Even a NOS HR980 has 30+ year old O-rings and internal non-metallic gaskets and is still non-repairable when it dies. You can still buy a 6P148A/FS6 compressor and will be able for years to come. When you get a new compressor, buy new - not remanufactured.


Re: HR980 A/C Issues

Reply #12
Externally, the length. FS6 is longer. Also, the FS6 has a low pressure port on the manifold, 6P148A doesn't. It's on the acspoogeulator hose assembly.
Internally, the displacement. 148cc vs 171cc. Same piston diameter, longer stroke. FS6 has forged pistons vs extruded. Both 3 piston double sided compressors.

I couldn't remember the exact numbers and for better or for worse the Google search results were me asking about it 15 years ago, lol.

Re: HR980 A/C Issues

Reply #13
OK so if it were you, which one would be "better" or doesn't it really matter much? Sounds like a few minimal differences but either should bolt up to the bracket. Unless I read that wrong...

Re: HR980 A/C Issues

Reply #14
Either would be fine. The FS6 would give you a little better performance heat soaked at idle, the 6P148A would give you a little lower vent temp while driving. Although I think it's a moot point now, looks like Rockauto/Autozone are only offering FS6 compressors now.