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air con evaporator on elite / eclat

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Hi all,

As part of my Eclat rebuild, I want to fit air conditioning. I don't have the original engine, but a different one with an air con compressor on it.

I have picked up an aircon/heater unit, but i have a question - does anyone know why are there three connectors? Two large and one small. I was expecting only two. Is one for a pressure switch or sensor of some kind?

Given I'm going to be building a system up, I only need two connectors - an inlet and an outlet.

I can take a photo if it helps...

Any suggestions appreciated. Or if anyone has their dash out and can tell me where the pipes go from each connection, that would be great. In the manual it isn't clear.

Cheers, Mat.

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Sounds like you have quite a hill to climb there. I'd like to retrofit aircon to my Elite when it's finished, but would probably go for a new system from the likes of VintageAir

In the garage no-one can hear you scream 

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My wife is Australian, and with even the most basic cars in Oz having had aircon fItted for the past upteen years, it results in an annoying whining noise that comes from the passenger seat whenever the Lotus interior starts to heat up..

Intention is to use the car for weekends away during the summer, so I have been thinking about fitting aircon.

I like the look of this kit. It also replaces the standard heater and fan arrangement.


Edited by Dunc
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Thanks Michael,

Looking in the garage again the three outlet terminations are all different sizes.... So presumably you need to know which one is in and which is out. One of the things I need an aircon engineer for!

Dunc - I have a CBS catalogue at home, useful for lots of things, but I made up a box the size of the CBS aircon unit to see if it would fit, and it would be a real hassle. Mike Taylor said just swap it for the Elite/Eclat aircon version. It fits the space and the wiring, and feeds the screen vents. I think with a replacement unit from CBS youd have to cut up your old heater unit and graft it togehter to get the interface to the screen vents.

Plus I got the elite aircon equivalent unit for £20., Just need to confirm the evaporator will work ok with R134a and I'm in business.

I have the toyota soarer air con compressor and some of the pipework, just need to get some bespoke hoses made up, and an air con rad, receiver dryer etc etc. But what I really need is a bit of design input from an aircon engineer.... Looking online there isn't that much to it, but I think it would be worth getting some expertise on board to make a nice working reliable system.

I've got the space the battery used to be located (battery now in boot) to use fro pipework, taps, receiver dryer etc. On the toyota engine the aircon comp is on the LHS of the engine, so that works out really well for the hose runs.

PS - I have the same issue as you (kind of). My wife is American and expects all cars to have aircon. It's "kind of" because the car hasn't moved under it's own power for about 2 years so it hasn't come up for a while!!

But I found it uncomfortable in hot weather, air con was high up the list on the upgrade plan, plus the demisting is useful.

Cheers, Mat.
Edited by mat grant
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Please note, that the A/C heater box is completely different, as it has an additional blend door for hot/cool air, and the control slides have a temperature control valve and additional vacuum valves and actuators. If you can get a complete unit (Lotusbits have them), that's the way to go. Check the actuators, as the diaphragms like to split, and you have to take the dash out to get to them (ask me how I know).

R134 will work, but is not as effective as R12. Try if you can get Freeze 12, the R12 replacement. I run that in ours, and it's as cold as a freezer!

Make sure all the R12 compressor oil is out of the system, as the two don't mix. Flush the system!

Edited by Musiccitylotus
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Yep - good advice Michael.

Mat - is it the CBS:# AIRCON2 kit that you made a carboard mock up of? Or was it the combined heater/aircon unit CBS:#AIRCON (the more expensive one in the CBS catalogue) that you looked at?

The combined heating/ AC unit is smaller and more expensive, than the Aircon only item, but its ductable, so will feed the screen vents.

Its also a complete replacement for the heater and fan arrangement, so surely you'd just rip out the original one?

Its been a while since I had my dash in bits, but I was going by memory and reckoned fitting something that size would be okay as the original heater and fan assembly gets ripped out and it just needs pipped up..? I've not gone as far as your carboard mock up however, so I'm keen to find out which kit it is that you think won't work to save me wasting time.

The combined kit isn't cheap at £550 after VAT (and you still need a compressor and rad), but if it will fit, I'm still keen as you get a modern heater and blower output as a side benefit.

Cheers mate


Edited by Dunc
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When the original works properly, it turns the car into a meat locker, even in 100+ degrees. Tested that in the Tennessee summer this year! At one point I could see my breath in the car!!!! smoke.gif Normally I drive around with fans on stage1 of 3 and air on recirculation.

Just make sure that your radiator is up to par, I switched to a hi performance aluminium one and modern fans to manage the excess heat. The parts for the Lotus A/C are all standard American hardware, I can buy spares at every normal parts store. The actuators are 1966 Plymouth Fury ones, by the way. Found that out while working on a customer's Fury.

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Hi Dunc,

I looked at both, but quickly ruled out replacing the heater with an aftermarket one because the shape is complex at the bulkhead and the transmission tunnel, and hence it would be a lot of hassle to swap the heater out for a unit ostensibly designed for a seven.

So then I thought as I need to build up an aircon system, why not get a modern standalone aircon evaporator blower, and mount it in parallel with the stock heater. Ie in recirc mode all the time, to bleed air you can open the heater.

So that's what I made a mock up of, I thought the two were similar in size but I can't find the cbs catalogue at the mo as the wife has "tidied it up".... I planned on fitting it behind the glove box, or use the space of the glove box, but the wiper motor is there and the ECU is going there, so not a lot of space. But I think I could make it fit, although it would eat into the passenger footwell a bit.

But the more I thought about it, I kept remembering Mike Taylor saying the best idea was to use the stock aircon/heater unit from the elite/eclat. The advantages are:

It's cheap (mine was £20)

it fits straight off (once you've got the hoses -if you have the stock engine you can use stock hoses comp etc)

the wiring for fans etc fits.

you can get the control bits that fit straight into the dash

I haven't fitted it yet, because I need to get some input from an aircon expert on the best design for the aircon system, then take it to pirtek etc to get the hoses made up, then I'll bolt it in.

If you do get one of these CBS things and fit it and it works well, please let me know and I'll get one! But I think the stock unit is going to be easier to fit.

Btw, Michael, what's the actuator? do you mean the switch that activates it when you lide the heat control?

Cheers, Mat.

Edited by mat grant
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  • 6 years later...

Good morning, 

Was there a conclusive decision regarding the above discussion as to whether to persevere with the original hvac unit with vacuum controls or install a modern unit? Pondering this myself at the moment. Speculating - would an MX5 unit fit (if they have one) as everything else MX5 seems to! 



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