Ford’s MagicAire System


By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor

In preparation for the September issue, the staff at ACTION™ checks out many classic cars. We’d really like to find some of the earliest examples of factory or aftermarket air conditioning, but are always happy to find some unique or custom HVAC setup, or something we haven’t seen for a while.

Along the road on this quest, we met up with John Posen, owner of this 1957 Ford Thunderbird.

The Thunderbird was one of Ford’s most popular models for 1957

The Thunderbird was one of Ford’s most popular models for 1957

This car doesn’t have an air conditioning system, but it does have an early example of another feature which eventually became standard on almost every vehicle worldwide. Ford called this their MagicAire System, which included a feature known as Recirculated Air Heat.

The idea was to keep out odor contaminated air and fumes from heavy traffic or other outside sources. On the system control panel, the lower knob has to be moved all the way to the left (OFF), while the top knob can be placed at the desired temperature. These settings close off the outside air doors, allowing air in the vehicle to recirculate through the heater.

As long as the bottom knob is set to OFF, the MagicAire System will operate in recirculation mode

As long as the bottom knob is set to OFF, the MagicAire System will operate in recirculation mode

Of course, there’s still a little bit more to it than that. Almost every vehicle back then also had some sort of direct venting. It works as ram air, forcing ventilation while driving at speed. This model Thunderbird has two cowl side vents, one on each side of the car just forward of the doors. In order for the MagicAire System’s recirculation to work properly, these vents must be closed.

The cowl side vent is the rectangular shape, seen just forward of the door

The cowl side vent is the rectangular shape, seen just forward of the door

The cowl side vent controls are located under each side of the dash and are part of the cowl vent assembly. It’s a simple open/closed control. The more you open the vent, the more air you allow to enter the vehicle.

The passenger’s side interior cowl vent

The passenger’s side interior cowl vent

The driver’s side exterior cowl vent. A simple mesh screen prevents debris from entering the vehicle

The driver’s side exterior cowl vent. A simple mesh screen prevents debris from entering the vehicle

Keep an eye out for the next edition of MACS ACTION™ Magazine. September is our classic car issue, featuring some interesting vehicles you won’t want to miss! Visit www.macsw.org to learn more!

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The ratings game


This editorial submission has been provided by MACS member Bergstrom

The British Thermal Unit (BTU) ratings for mobile air conditioning systems are a confusing and often misleading issue. Ratings in the marketplace currently range from a few thousand BTU per hour to as high as 18,000 and even 30,000 BTU per hour.

These discrepancies arise because there is no governing body that sets and enforces an industry standard for the testing and rating of cooling and heating capacities. As a result, some manufacturers manipulate and inflate BTU per hour numbers to entice buyers. Bergstrom has developed this article to help trucking executives create an even playing field and make intelligent decisions when comparing mobile air conditioning systems.

Existing Standards & Recommended Practices

With the lack of an enforced industry standard, many manufacturers develop internal standards that are derived from a combination of ratings recommendations issued by industry organizations. These include:

TableIf a company tells you they have a 30,000 BTU per hour evaporator, be sure to ask them how it is rated. Don’t be shy about asking the ratings questions, and if in doubt, ask for clarification or comparison. If they can’t tell you, chances are they have manipulated the numbers in one of the methods listed below.

Increasing air inlet temperature

A higher air inlet temperature will result in higher capacity and ratings. For example, at 100 ºF or above, the higher temperature difference between the air and the refrigerant causes more heat to flow out of the evaporator. As a result, this is one of the variables that can be manipulated to indicate higher capacities or BTU per hour.

Manipulating refrigerant temperature

One method of “increasing” performance is to operate a system with an excessively low refrigerant temperature. However, remember that an air conditioner has an absolute low end for cooling. Do not accept a rating with evaporator air outlet temperatures below 32ºF, because at that condition the moisture removed from the air will freeze in the coil and block the airflow. With no airflow, no heat is added to the passing refrigerant and it will not evaporate. Liquid refrigerant returning to the compressor could cause damage or failure.

Using blower manufacturer’s airflow stats to measure capacity

Another rating deception, often used by companies who don’t own their own test facilities, is to use the blower manufacturer’s stated airflow at a zero-restriction condition. These companies then use that airflow in a coil sizing computer program to publish results. This coil capacity data is obtained from wind tunnel testing of a coil – by itself – with a uniform airflow across its face. In reality, airflow from a blower assembly is delivered with anything but a uniform velocity. Furthermore, using the blower manufacturer’s stated performance at zero restriction is very misleading. The coil itself, along with other system restrictions (such as filters, inlet ducts, outlet ducts and cab pressure), reduces the blower assembly’s output to a lower CFM value.

Rating performance at maximum air temperature and humidity

Many people would like to rate evaporators at 110 ºF and 100% humidity. In theory, this would provide an impressive capacity. However, these people fail to take into consideration that the other components that make up a mobile air conditioning system cannot support those values. To do so would mean that the compressor must pump enough refrigerant, the condenser must remove enough heat and the blower assembly must provide enough airflow across the evaporator to introduce that much load. None of these 3 components can do this.

Neglecting to show time unit of measure

A new trick in manipulating BTU per hour performance numbers is to fail to show a time unit for measure. Most performance numbers are measured in BTU per hour. If no unit is displayed, make sure you follow up with the manufacturer to determine what unit of time they are using to measure BTU per hour.

Bergstrom’s ratings system

With the lack of a governing body that enforces an industry standard for BTU per hour testing and rating, Bergstrom has developed an internal standard that is derived from the ARI 310/380, TMC RP-432 and IMACA 200 recommended practices.

All NITE systems are tested at 80ºF/50% humidity indoor, and 100ºF outdoor. As our capacity has increased, we have also begun to test at 90ºF/50% humidity indoor and 100ºF outdoor in order to illustrate capacity during a pull down situation. While this rating condition shows elevated capacity it is a situation that rarely occurs. Also, Bergstrom only rates its NITE systems based on actual calorimeter test data from our test and development lab. We do not develop any BTU per hour ratings based on theoretical calculations.

We prefer to simulate the downstream restrictions and to mimic the as-installed conditions of the system to ensure proper design requirements are met. Coils, blowers and housings used in testing are the same as those used in real life conditions. We believe this is as close to the actual performance you can get.

To learn more about BTU per hour ratings, don’t hesitate to contact the Bergstrom team at 1.866.204.8570 or niteinfo@bergstrominc.com.

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MACS ACTION magazine honored with five IAMC awards


MACS ACTION magazine has been honored with five medals for editorial excellence by the International Automotive Media Competition. The IAMC program recognizes and encourages excellence in all forms of automotive media from works published, aired, or broadcast in 2014.

2014covers

The MACS ACTION magazine works honored include; a bronze medal for the column, A rare find in the woods, by MACS manager of service training, Steve Schaeber in the January/February 2014 issue.  A silver medal for the column, Raising the bar, by MACS chairman and CEO, Andy Fiffick from the March 2014 issue. ACTION columnist Keith Leonard, Esq. was honored with a gold medal for his April 2014 column, Classic cars.  A silver medal was presented for his column, Unlock the mystery, to MACS president and COO, Elvis L. Hoffpauir. ACTION contributor and  automotive trainer Becky Witt owner of George Witt Service in Lincoln, NE was honored with a silver medal for her feature, Selling the right things from the May 2014 issue of ACTION.

These awards were announced Sunday, July 26, 2015 during a morning ceremony at the Concours d’Elegance of America at St. John’s in Plymouth, MI.

“We are very pleased to have MACS ACTION magazine recognized by the judges of IAMC. All of our writers and contributors put in a lot of time to provide our readers with the best content possible in our efforts to chronicle the total vehicle climate and thermal management industry,” remarked Elvis L. Hoffpauir, MACS president and chief operating officer.

MACS publications have been honored 78 times since 2001 for editorial excellence.

Since 1981, the Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide has been the advocate for service and repair owners, distributors, manufacturers and educators making their living in the total vehicle climate and thermal management industry. MACS Worldwide empowers members to grow their businesses and delivers tangible member benefits through industry advocacy with government regulators and by providing accurate, unbiased training information, training products, training curriculum and money-saving affinity member services. MACS has assisted more than 1 million technicians to comply with the 1990 Clean Air Act requirements for certification in refrigerant recovery and recycling to protect the environment. To learn more about MACS Worldwide visit our website at www.macsw.org. MACS 2016 Training Event and Trade Show, Mobile A/C: The Next Generation will take place February 11-13 at the Caribe Royale All Suite Hotel and Convention Center in Orlando, FL.

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He wrote the book…


Paul Weissler’s name is ubiquitous within MACS. He’s our senior technical correspondent and has been for the 35 years the Society has existed. His byline appears in literally hundreds of issues of MACS Service Reports, in the pages of ACTION™, and he’s helped host a number of tech forums at MACS’ annual training events.

I know his creds also extend well beyond MACS, encompassing major titles and players within the industry such as MOTOR and SAE International, as well as consumer-oriented pubs you might pick up at your local Barnes & Noble.

weissler

Some of Paul’s other titles include: What to Do When Your Car Won’t Run, How to Buy Services and Parts for Your Car, Women’s Guide to Fixing the Car and Auto Repairs You Can Make. 

Still, I couldn’t help being a little impressed when our tech editor, Steve Schaeber, dropped one of Paul’s first published books on my desk. It was Small Gas Engines: How to Repair and Maintain Them published in 1975 by the Book Division of Times Mirror Magazines, Inc.

That got me interested in exploring further. A few searches at Amazon.com turned up a whole list of Paul Weissler titles, probably at least 10 before I stopped looking (even Paul had forgotten some when I later asked him about them).

However, he did recall writing Automotive Air Conditioning, published in 1981 by Reston Publishing Company, Inc. “It may have been the first time R-134a was mentioned in a book,” Paul noted. In fact, he did write about R-134a 15 years before that refrigerant became the accepted industry norm.

Of course, R-134a wasn’t a sure thing when Paul wrote about it in the late ‘70s, early ‘80s, witness this excerpt from the book: “Also under development is a refrigerant, R-134a that does not contain the ingredient in Refrigerant 12 that is considered possibly harmful to the atmosphere. At present, however, Refrigerant 134a is not a suitable carrier for refrigerant oils, so it may pose compressor lubrication problems. Also, although it has been made in the laboratory, there is no presently known way to mass produce it economically.”

Incredible changes have reshaped the industry since Paul first began writing about it. But arguably, no one has tracked those changes more carefully, nor chronicled them more effectively for service technicians, as has Paul.

So if you ever consider calling him out on some technical point, just remember – he wrote the book (several books, in fact).

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An interesting ride


By Andy Fiffick, MACS Chairman and CEO, owner Rad Air, Cleveland, OH

One thing is for certain: Our service industry is in for an interesting ride for the foreseeable future! I use the word ride because although there are some elements within our control, many other factors shaping our future are outside, or at least beyond, our sphere of influence.

For instance, all indications are that the ride will accelerate over the next few years as R-1234yf is used in more and more vehicles rolling off the assembly line. The ride may even take a turn or two, with CO2 and potentially other alternative refrigerants entering the mix.

And to heighten the interest, some of the rules are changing. By rules, I mean some of the old tried-and-true methods of A/C service diagnostics are going by the wayside. MACS technical consultant Ward Atkinson addressed this recently, noting that “New A/C system components and electronic control technology make malfunctions of systems more difficult to diagnose (and tougher for the technician) to be assured that the correct repair has been accomplished.

“In these systems with extensive electronic controls, many system functions may not be controllable by the service technician when attempting diagnosis or repairing a system, which may result in inappropriate servicing,” Atkinson observed. Some of the system technology includes belt driven variable displacement compressors, electronic compressors, integral condenser receivers, internal heat exchangers, electronic expansion valves, heat pumps and concepts like fixed programmed operational modes.

DSC_0355Atkinson and others have appealed to SAE International’s Interior Climate Control Standards Committee (ICCSC) to help address this challenge for the service sector by developing standardized diagnostic tools and procedures, including standardizing methods for external control of certain functions of the HVAC system.

Given all these challenges, I hope you would agree with me that continued education and training such as that offered through MACS’ technical publications, evening clinics and annual training event are crucial for all of us who plan to stay the course.

I hope you would also agree with me that it is important to support the MACS forum through your active participation as a member. We learn much and profit greatly through the relationships established and nurtured within our unique community.

And on that note, I proudly announce a new formal alliance within our worldwide A/C community. As many of you know, MACS Worldwide has long enjoyed a formal affiliation with VASA (Automotive Air Conditioning, Electrical and Cooling Technicians of Australasia: www.vasa.org.au). We have been exchanging information, news, views and editorial content back and forth for more than five years.

Now, through action of our respective boards of directors, MACS Worldwide and MACPartners, the European association for mobile air conditioning services, have created a formal alliance for mutual support. We welcome formalization of this relationship, which has existed for years on an informal basis.

All of us working together will make that ride I mentioned much smoother.

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A/C use and fuel efficiency, A MACS whitepaper


AC and Mileage

 

Does using your A/C system cause you to burn more fuel? MACS attempts to answer that question in the attached whitepaper. Free download.

 

If you’re a service professional and not a MACS member yet, you should be! Become a member and receive a technical newsletter with information like what you’ve just read in this blog post visit http://bit.ly/10zvMYg for more information.

You can E-mail us at macsworldwide@macsw.org . To locate a Mobile Air Conditioning Society member repair shop in your area. Click here to find out more about your car’s mobile A/C and engine cooling system.

Mobile A/C professionals should plan to attend 35th annual Mobile Air Conditioning Society (MACS) Worldwide Training Conference and Trade Show, Mobile A/C The Next Generation, February 11-13, 2016 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.

 

Posted in Environmental Protection Agency, Hybrid, MACS Member, Mobile Air Conditioning, Refrigerants, Training, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Phones need cool too!


By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor

Smartphones have become an important part of our daily lives, and keeping their batteries charged helps us to stay connected. But have you ever tried charging your phone in a hot car only to find out that it won’t? You may have even seen a warning icon, notifying you that the phone is too hot to operate.

That’s exactly what engineers at GM found while designing a wireless phone charging system for the 2016 Chevrolet Impala. They noticed that some devices would go into suspend mode or even shut down due to overheating from high temperatures inside the cabin.

Some phones will suspend charging or even shut down if they get too hot.

Some phones will suspend charging or even shut down if they get too hot.

To help with this problem, Chevrolet has come up with a system they call Active Phone Cooling. It will be available on several vehicles, including the 2016 Impala and Malibu when equipped with wireless charging.

Connected to the vehicle’s HVAC system, an air vent will provide cool air at the wireless charging bin to help lower the phone’s temperature. Active Phone Cooling will only operate when the driver turns on the HVAC system.

A cold air vent helps keep smartphones cool.

A cold air vent helps keep smartphones cool.

Active Phone Cooling will be available in several 2016 Chevrolet models equipped with wireless charging, including the Impala (shown here), Malibu, Volt and Cruze.

Active Phone Cooling will be available in several 2016 Chevrolet models equipped with wireless charging, including the Impala (shown here), Malibu, Volt and Cruze.

We did a little testing of our own here at MACS, and found that indeed temperatures can get very high inside a parked vehicle. I keep a thermometer in the vent of all my cars, and when I went outside to check my Jeep at 11:00 a.m., the temperature was already over 100°F on an overcast day. By the time I went to lunch at 12:30pm, temps climbed to almost 130°F!

Even on a cloudy day, interior temperatures can reach over 120°F. This can potentially cause smartphone charging issues.

Even on a cloudy day, interior temperatures can reach over 120°F. This can potentially cause smartphone charging issues.

Taking things a bit further, we wanted to find out just how hot that phone became. The easiest way was with our infrared thermometer, which measured 135°F on the back (the phone’s battery temp) and 129°F on the front. Picking up the phone, you could immediately feel why it entered cool down mode. It was hot!

Battery cover temperatures measured 135.8°F, which felt very hot to the touch.

Battery cover temperatures measured 135.8°F, which felt very hot to the touch.

The front of the phone was hot too, measuring 129.5°F. Even though the screen would turn on to display the warning message, it was not at full brightness. The screen was quite dim, although still legible.

The front of the phone was hot too, measuring 129.5°F. Even though the screen would turn on to display the warning message, it was not at full brightness. The screen was quite dim, although still legible.

Verifying tool accuracy is important too. Here’s a comparison of temperature measurements being made between an infrared and a standard kitchen thermometer.

Verifying tool accuracy is important too. Here’s a comparison of temperature measurements being made between an infrared and a standard kitchen thermometer.

How hot was that dash panel? It was one of the hottest surfaces inside the vehicle, measuring 145.7°F. No wonder that phone overheated!

How hot was that dash panel? It was one of the hottest surfaces inside the vehicle, measuring 145.7°F. No wonder that phone overheated!

Luckily for me, my phone didn’t take long to cool down. Just a few minutes out of the vehicle, and the display changed, indicating “Phone has exited Cool Down mode. Normal Operation has resumed.”

Luckily for me, my phone didn’t take long to cool down. Just a few minutes out of the vehicle, and the display changed, indicating “Phone has exited Cool Down mode. Normal Operation has resumed.”

Want to learn more about interior temperatures, and the potential issues that can arise? Click the link below to read Ward Atkinson’s feature article in the June 2015 issue of ACTION™ Magazine. “The heat is on…” is an in-depth technical study on why you shouldn’t leave your kids, pets or chocolate candy inside a parked car.

Figure 10 june2015actioncover

Figure 11 Video capture

Click here to watch the full version of GM’s Active Phone Cooling video on the MACS Worldwide YouTube Channel.

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EPA issues final rule prohibiting certain high-GWP HFCs as alternatives under SNAP


On July 2, 2015, the final rule Protection of Stratospheric Ozone: Change of Listing Status for Certain Substitutes under the Significant New Alternatives Policy Program was signed by EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy. In support of the President’s Climate Action Plan, this final rule under EPA’s Significant New Alternatives Policy (SNAP) program changes the status of a number of substitutes that were previously listed as acceptable, based on information showing that other substitutes are available for the same uses that pose lower risk overall to human health and/or the environment.

Specifically, this action changes the listings from acceptable to unacceptable for certain hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) and HFC-blends in various end-uses in the aerosols, refrigeration and air conditioning, and foam blowing sectors. This final rule also changes the status from acceptable to unacceptable for certain hydrochlorofluorocarbons (HCFCs) being phased out of production under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer and Section 605(a) of the Clean Air Act.

In a separate notice, EPA is expanding the list of acceptable climate-friendly alternatives for use in the refrigeration and air conditioning; foam blowing; solvent cleaning; aerosols; and adhesives, coatings, and inks sectors, including a number of end-uses addressed by today’s rulemaking.

An advance copy of the rule (Rule 20) is available at http://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/regulations.html, which will be updated once the final rule is published in the Federal Register. The notice (Notice 30) expanding the options for acceptable climate-friendly alternatives is available at http://www.epa.gov/ozone/snap/regulations.html#notices.

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What exactly goes on in a wind tunnel test?


2015AC_7_8cover

 

T/CCI’s Wind Tunnel: Let’s test it!

By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor

One of MACS most unique mobile A/C training events was held on Friday, May 29th in Decatur, Illinois at T/CCI’s Climatic Wind Tunnel facility. Amongst those who gathered for the event were MACS members and non-members, representing manufacturers, distributors and service shops.

A team of three instructors from T/CCI’s engineering group hosted morning class in their wind tunnel control room, which was repeated again in the afternoon. Training was led by Senior Engineering Manager Dick Ennis, accompanied by Development Engineer Greg Easter and Matt Wilson, wind tunnel manager. By the time class started around 8:30 a.m., a 2014 Ram 3500 HD pickup truck was already set up in the tunnel, on the dynos, chained down and wired up with probes. Read the whole article and much more when you download the July/August 2015 issue of ACTION.

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Honda recalls some ’14-15 Acura MDX vehicles for faulty compressor clutch bolts


2015 Acura MDX

2015 Acura MDX

NHTSA RECALL NUMBER: AWAITING#

MFR CAMPAIGN ID: JQ7

CAMPAIGN DESCRIPTION: A/C Compressor Clutch Bolt

RECALL DATE: 06/24/2015

RECALL STATUS: 17 Character VIN Required

Summary:

American Honda Motor Co., INC. (Honda) is recalling certain model year 2014-2015 Acura MDX vehicles. During manufacturing of the A/C compressor clutch drive bolts, certain lots failed to receive the proper dielectric topcoat. Without the topcoat, the bolts are susceptible to corrosion and may break during operation. In addition, there were certain lots that did not have sufficient curing of the e-coat applied to the bolts. Insufficient e-coat curing may cause low torque values and low hardness, resulting in the bolt becoming loose or falling off during operation.

Safety Risk:

Either of these conditions can cause the A/C unit to blow warm air, or in severe cases the A/C clutch drive plate may fall off the vehicle during operation.

2015 Acura MDX

2015 Acura MDX

Remedy:

Honda will notify owners, and dealers will replace the clutch drive bolt, and if necessary install a new clutch plate and/or compressor, free of charge. Because the new vehicle warranty on all affected vehicles would have provided a free repair for the problem addressed by this recall, without any payment by the owner, reimbursement for pre-notification repairs will not be offered. Owners may contact Acura client relations at 1-800-382-2238, Option 4. Acura’s campaign number for this recall is JQ7.

For more information, visit Acura’s website here.

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