The only real cost was the few strips of the insulation tape I had. The other cost was the 10 seconds of Eastwoods Underhood Satin Black spray can.
I’m lucky enough to have a car that has a factory fitted aircon unit from new. When I got the car the unit was in the trunk in a box. The bits that were missing were the pump and the condenser unit. In the UK there are not many times that I would use the aircon on this car. Beside it will drain a bit of power and use more fuel. So i decided to refit the unit back into the car as an electrical blower only but not fit the under hood parts to make it run. There is also the issue of the American AutoWire fuse box that sits where the pipe work will come into the car through the fire wall. Choice, new wires or aircon? Wires wins! So, the unit is fully working from what i know but looks really tired, the black facing looks worn and the chrome tarnished. Today i was in the Man Cave and started to polish the chrome. The chrome came up really well and made the black camera case finish look tired and worn. Yeah the paint could give character for old age and its authentic look, but it was past that point and just looked like worn out paint.
The pics here don’t really show how thin the paint was as you can see the bare metal underneath.
Then I decided to try a little experiment with spray paint to see if it could make it look better. Previously I had tried black boot polish but that just rubbed straight off and was no good. Then i glanced at my line of spray paints that look like tin soldiers with different coloured hats. then I tried a test patch on the top where it wouldn’t be seen and I liked the result, so here is how I did the rest.
The chrome front has to be taken off which is quite simple as that is only held in place with three screws. One each side and a slightly longer one underneath.
Remove the three cross head screws and gently pull the face plate towards you, the top will roll down a little and the bottom screw location will pull out. Behind the face plate is a pipe to the temperature and some wires. The other side has a batch of wires for the blower. The pipe is attached and flexible and I should imagine liable to stress fatigue so be careful with the pulling of the face plate about.
Once it is unscrewed the face will lay on the surface still attached fine. From there you will see the direction nozzles are mounted inside the face plate. This is a very simple and yet very effective way of direction control. Each nozzle has two small recess holes, one on each side of the nozzle, this is filled with a sprung loaded clip that sits in a channel inside the face plate. My nozzles were difficult to turn around and in fact one didn’t move at all. The nozzles are easily removed with a thin flat blade screw driver that is put down between the spring and the channel, press one side in enough to free it from the channel. The nozzle will move over as well to give more clearance as the opposite side springs will collapse down a little. Lift out the spring and the nozzle will free itself from the other spring and lift clean out.
Repeat for all four nozzles. I then cleaned the metal gauze screen between the nozzles and the chiller pipes. I then cleaned the inside of the face plate to remove the dust and grim, fully clean out the channel for the springs and de rust if you have too with some light wire wool.
At this point I then masked off the whole of the chrome area, I didn’t use the proper masking tape. I used my own variation of electrical insulation tape and a plastic bags. These worked wonders and I could push the tape around as I wanted it on the curved chrome. I was also easier to cover the knobs on the front. For the writing on the front and badge I used the tape again and a very sharp knife to cut the tape into place. This will stop any over spray.
Once everything is masked I gave the Eastwood can a good shake and gave two very light coats across the front of the face plate. I did not want to use too much as the dimpled surface still needs to be seen. This spraying and finish is a personal preference, I didn’t want a pristine looking unit, just a better looking and cleaner front. It’s an old car and needs to have her own character. It’s not going to be a museum piece after all.
While the paint was drying (recommended twenty mins), I got to work on the nozzles. I cleaned them up well with Gibbs Brand and very soft cloth. My smallest finger allowed me to get into the holes and clean all the grubby little places. To be fair they wasn’t too bad.
Getting the springs I rubbed with the wire wool and then some Gibbs again. This was good timing for the paint to have dried. With all the masking still in place I the refitted the nozzles back into the face plate. First I got some real light oil on my finger tip and rubbed it into the channel for the locating springs on the nozzle. Hold the first spring on one side and insert it into the channel, place the other spring onto the nozzle and push towards the first spring. Again the nozzle will move over to allow the spring to be compressed into place. Then gently ease the nozzle down and clip a single side of the spring under the lip of the channel. Get the thin screw driver and gently prize in the other side of the spring. You will hear it snap into place and then the nozzle will be able to move freely. For luck I put a single drop of thin oil onto the springs and made a few full turns of the nozzle. Repeat for the other nozzles. Once the nozzles are in place gently lift the face plate back into place making sure the wires and the temp pipe are not kinked or snagged up.
I now have a great looking face plate to the aircon blower unit. The chrome sparkles and the camera case black effect is there as well again. The only thing I have to do now is get some artist paints and touch up the badge in the middle.
The best part was when I cleaned up the back of the unit I found a date:
Would I recommend doing this? If the unit is out then yes, definitely. If you can mask it of in place and spray, then yes. But, it’s a fiddly little job with the springs and watch out for the cooler pipe attached to the front. I am lucky enough to be able to do this as it’s not back in the car yet.