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AC Upgrade from York to Sanden Compressor

Pelican Technical Article:

AC Upgrade from York to Sanden Compressor

Greg Salchow


3 hours3 hrs






13mm socket, metric socket set, metric wrench set, lint free rags, engine degreaser (if needed),

Applicable Models:

Porsche 911 (1965-89)
Porsche 912 (1965-69)
Porsche 930 Turbo (1976-89)

Parts Required:

Sanden A/C compressor kit with plates and hose, Porsche OE receiver and dryer, leak test, 2.5 pounds of R12 refrigerant

Performance Gain:

Ice cold air conditioning for your Porsche 911

Complementary Modification:

Install additional A/C vents in the cockpit
     Here are the details from my recent conversion/upgrade of the AC system in my 80 SC. I replaced the dead York compressor w/ a new Sanden compressor. The advice I received was unanimous on choice of refrigerant - stay w/ R12 rather than going w/ R134 or FRIGC. The reasons were that neither replacement cooled as well as R12 in an older system. Late R12 systems may take more kindly to R134 because of design changes. FRIGC was not recommended because it supposedly does not cool as well as R12 and is not mixable w/ R12, attacks seals in the system more aggressively and is not widely available. FRIGC is not widely available because most shops don't have the special equipment to service it & is thought to be flammable by a lot of shops (I have the impression this isn't really true, though). The shop where I took my car advised using R12 because it works better, is still available and should be for several more years by which time they felt it was likely that an effective, true "drop-in" replacement would be available. While you can switch to R134 for not much more than I spent for updating an R12 system, the consensus is that it simply won't cool as well. A possible exception to this could be on newer cars, such as later Carreras. I don't know how those systems differ, but they apparently have more cooling capacity and a somewhat different system design. The above are the opinions of people in the business, not my own.

     My car is an 80 SC Targa w/ factory air. It had the lg. York compressor and two condensers, one on the engine decklid, one behind the front air dam. The York finally succumbed to seal failure, but had never been that effective, and it was noisy & rough in operation, drawing a lot of engine power. A rebuild was not an option, due to lack of available parts.

     I ordered a Sanden conversion kit from Griffith's Technical (advertise in Excellence) and can recommend them highly from my experience. Charles Griffith is knowledgeable, personable & professional. The kit truly is a "bolt-in" operation w/o hassles. He also advised replacing the receiver/dryer, which is good advice, as I confirmed w/ others in the business. Think of the receiver/dryer as a filter for water, debris, etc. in the system. The compressor kit was $349 and the rec/dryer, which is Porsche OE was $110. BTW, the Sanden is R134-compatible but you'll need the appropriate fittings.

     My car had newer hoses already, so I didn't replace them. If yours are older, replace them now. The old ones had small holes standard that leaked refrigerant, which you don'twant now.

     OK, now for the details. This applies to my 80 SC, so your car may differ. Make sure your system is empty of refrigerant. Any AC shop can recover your refrigerant if the system is not empty. You might want to remove or at least loosen the hose fittings on the top of the compressor first before removing the compressor (leverage). Check sizes to make sure you have the right sized wrench.

     To remove your old compressor, just loosen the adjusting nut. It's a 13mm nut on a bolt to the left of the compressor mount, between the mount and the engine fan housing. There are two bolts securing the mount to the car, both 13 mm. Use a socket for best results. One is one the front, the other on the top, right rear. Remove both. Now the entire compressor mount should move. Remove the AC belt and disconnect the power wire from the compressor. Put the wire out of the way - if it gets caught under the compressor, it may short (learned that from a hurried wrench who did that to mine - my first compressor R & R experience). Take off the hose fittings from the compressor, but first make sure you note which hose goes where on the compressor. The discharge side goes to the condensor, suction side from the evaporator.

     Now remove your compressor with mounting plate(s) from the car. Underneath the compressor is a mounting plate, maybe two. Mine had two - one plate mounting to the car, with the other between the compressor and the main plate. Remove it from the old compressor. Bolt this mounting plate to your new kit's mounting plate with the four bolts included in the kit. Now mount this combined assembly to the main mounting plate that attaches to the car. Don't tighten the bolts yet, just enough to hold it in place.

     Now you're ready to attach the compressor to the plates. Tip: run the bolts from the inside out, i.e., bolt head underneath the compressor, nuts on the outside, to facilitate easier removal in the future. Otherwise, you may have a clearance problem removing bolts in the future. Using a socket wrench on one side and a std. wrench on the other worked best for me.

     Now the compressor is mounted to the car. Attach your fittings to the compressor. Make sure you install o-rings between the fitting & compressor - these weren't in my kit, so check first. I only had to splice one line on my car. You should get a new barrier hose to attach to the rear condenser. Be careful here! Make sure you use a second wrench on the compressor nut to hold it still. This is a fragile, expensive part! Once loose, remove the hose from the clamp on the decklid hinge and replace w/ the new hose, reversing this procedure. You don't have to use killer torque here, just make sure it's good & snug but don't strain yourself - let the shop check for leaks & adjust if necessary.

     Reinstall the belt over the pulley. It should be a perfect fit. Adjust tension (about 0.5 to 0.75 in freeplay, I believe) on the belt using the adjusting screw. Once adjusted, tighten the two bolts on the main mounting plate to secure.

     DON'T CLOSE THAT LID!!!!Check for clearance between the compressor fittings and your rear condenser. If you encounter resistance, you don't have enough clearance. You could adjust your decklid, or just rotate the compressor 90 degrees to the right. It will work fine that way, I checked. Now you can close the lid.

Pop a beer! This part is done!

The receiver/dryer is easy. Step one is to clean this area thoroughly!!!

     Dirt is our biggest enemy here and you're working in a wheel well. Pay particular attention to dirt around the hose ends and fittings. Again, loosen the fittings while the R/D is mounted to the car to take advantage of leverage. The area around top fitting is a bit short on work room, but it's manageable. Use two wrenches again. Do the same w/ the bottom fitting. Now unscrew the clamps holding the R/D to the car. Pull clamps all the way off - it's easier. Remove R/D from the car. Check hose fittings for more dirt and clean carefully. Check inside the fittings, too.

     Attach the new R/D. I would get the clean fittings attached to the new R/D ASAP to reduce dirt contamination risks. Position the R/D and attach the screw clamps to the car. Now tighten your fittings on the R/D, again not overly tight.

     You're done. This was really a pretty simple, straightforward job. I didn't swear much at all. It took me about three hours total, working slowly & carefully. Just don't rush & try to think a bit ahead. I didn't need to replace other hoses since that had been done fairly recently by the PO, so others will have to help there.

     The new system takes about 2.5 lbs of refrigerant and should be leak-tested. The Sanden is much smoother w/ much less power loss & causes very little rpm drop at idle. Temp drops are better than the York ever produced. The extra compressor capacity might offset some of the loss of cooling w/ an R134 conversion as well.

     Here are the costs:

  • Sanden conversion kit w/ plates, hose: $349
  • Porsche OE rec/dryer: $110
  • Leak test: $60
  • 2.5 lbs R-12: $90

     Hope this helps. The hardware prices are from Griffith's. There are other suppliers out there, but I found Griffith's to be very helpful & they'll talk you through any problems you might have. Usual disclaimers here.

     Oh, and yes, it does cool quite nicely. I think the airflow enhancement kit should finish the project quite nicely. Sorry for the length but a lot of people wanted the small details.

Greg Salchow

Comments and Suggestions:
HARY Comments: I had AC comprossor problem that the oil is alaways under the level os ac compressor less than 300 ml after compressor running for a while, I remove compressor n check the oil level alaways low why, n there is no leak on system ,is there any different between lubrication on inside ac compressor and lubrication on ac system, does the oil is circulate when ac compressor is work,
October 5, 2013
  Followup from the Pelican Staff: Not sure what type of vehicle you have.

The oil in the A/C system will circulate. When replacing components you want to measure what came out of the old one and put the same amount back in. There are (at times) specs for amounts of oil for specific components, but I find measuring works best. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Truckman Comments: I had to replace my entire air conditioning system on my car due to age. I did however get in contact with same folks as Mr. Salchow author, but I opted to utilize 134a refrigerant. New hoses, condensers, evaporator, expansion valve and receiver dryer. I even added three more vents in the interior of my car. Since 82sc's have very small vents. The whole system works absolutely flawless. The tech that evac and charged my system told me that the 134a is not as efficent at R12, but I can't tell the difference. My temp at the center vent is 44 degrees, which is plenty cool. I have to admit that the whole project took the better part of a week end to complete but, as I said before it is flawless. My car's A/C never worked until I did the upgrade.
November 24, 2012
  Followup from the Pelican Staff:
Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts
Steved Comments: On a 1987 Carrera, please note that you will need to rotate the compressor on its axis so that the hose connections point to the passenger side. If you have them on top the hose from the condenser will foul the condenser and engine lid. Also, I found the bracket too tight and after fighting it just ground the bracket adaptor down a little with a dremel tool.
July 16, 2011
  Followup from the Pelican Staff:
Thanks for the additional Info. We appreciate it. - Nick at Pelican Parts

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Page last updated: Sun 1/21/2018 02:16:38 AM