Are you using the right tool for your A/C job?


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The annual MACS trade show, held in Orlando this year, may appear to have been just rows and rows of product displays. But a stroll-and-stop approach at manufacturers’ exhibits proved it to be just as much a technical training event as the classes in the remainder of the three-day program.

And we’re talking about a lot more than finding new sources of repair parts, although for many shops that is a worthwhile reason to walk the aisles. But probably the most valuable things you can find are the specialty items that improve the results you’ll get when you’re working on a car, whether it’s an improved repair part, an aftermarket fix for a common problem, new equipment that you didn’t know you needed – and how to use it — now. So for those of you who couldn’t attend, or who didn’t get to spend enough time at every display, here are some of the things that ACTION™ thought were worth some extra consideration. Download the May 2015 issue of ACtion Magazine to read the whole article.

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Why should I become a MACS member?


Here’s why!

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One thousand mobile air conditioning industry technicians, shop owners, product manufacturers and distributors made “connections that matter” in Orlando in early February during the annual MACS Training Event and Trade Show.

The “connections” theme is essential for business today – connections to stay abreast of changing industry products, supply lines and technology; connections with peers to exchange information and ideas; and connections with customers. The event encompassed three high- energy days of training, product displays and networking through social events.

Engineers and service specialists from Chrysler, Ford, General Motors and Toyota discussed current activity and future plans for vehicle heating and cooling technology by these industry-leading manufacturers. Ward Atkinson, MACS technical advisor, offered other insight in his annual State of the Industry address. The central message: changes in components and system operating strategy may require different diagnostic approaches by technicians.

Many of these developments in component design and operation were addressed in detail by no less than two dozen of the industry’s top diagnosticians and trainers. The menu of technical training choices included a wide variety of topic options like the Top Auto HVAC Problems, J2534 Programming, Diagnosing Vehicle Networks, Externally Controlled Compressors and many more.

The heavy-duty truck and off-road A/C equipment program was expanded to two full days during the 2015 conference, allowing time to cover a wide variety of topics, and still provide time for in-depth focus on an HD truck line and motor home under-dash units.

The importance of a quality online presence and participation in social media were also stressed during the conference with sessions by Danny Sanchez of Autoshop Solutions Inc. With Master Your Future, Master the Internet, Branding Brings in the Bucks, and Clicks, Cars, Cash, Sanchez communicated the critical importance of this communication technology to the success and growth of any business today.

The message that even more future tech is coming was delivered by Atul Kishore, vice president of AAA’s Connected Car, who leads the Association’s strategy to deliver next-generation connected car services. Within a decade, AAA expects the majority of cars on the road will be able to identify problems before breakdowns occur, reduce crashes and help drivers save time and money. The new technology will clearly impact the vehicle service industry.

Last, but certainly not least, the annual MACS event provided ample time for all-important human connections. Lunches, other social events and coffee breaks in the hallways between programs were opportunities to catch up with old friends and make new ones.

Plan now to join MACS in Orlando, February 11 – 13, 2016, and keep your finger on the pulse of this ever-changing industry.

Click here to become a MACS member today!

 

 

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Mobile A/C Best Practices


 

By Steve Schaeber, MACS Technical Editor

Today at MACS we held another Mobile A/C Best Practices class, this time with four technicians from MACS member shop Kaler Motor Company of Hatfield, Pa.

Kaler is a name most familiar to those involved with emergency services vehicle repair and maintenance in the eastern Pennsylvania area. In fact, there have been several times over the years that I’ve seen one of their service trucks parked out in front of our own local fire house, Fairfield Fire Company, here in Lansdale, Pa.

Figure 1 DSC_0002Last week was Section 609 certification class…

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 … and today it’s Mobile A/C Best Practices!

Interested in Mobile A/C training for your technicians? Check out the Training tab at www.macsw.org for more information!

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Gracias, San Juan!


 

On Saturday, April 18, MACS held a Mobile A/C and total vehicle climate and thermal management clinic in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The day included morning and afternoon Spanish language training sessions with Four Seasons trainer, Leo Salinas and vendor table top displays a at the Puerto Rico Convention Center in San Juan, Puerto Rico.

MACS members ACDELCO, Auto Air of Puerto Rico, Coldmaster, Cool Auto Air Parts, CPS, DENSO, Four Seasons, Global Air, Honeywell, Omega Environmental Services, Performance Radiator, Sunbelt Radiator, RANSHU , T/CCI, TSI Supercool and Universal Air Conditioner participated in the tabletop vendor showcase. Here are some photos from the sold out event!

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Mobile A/C system charge determination


 

 By Ward Atkinson, MACS Technical Consultant

Conversion vehicles which have additional cooling units added to the OEM’s production front end A/C systems present a special challenge: establishing the “new” system’s correct refrigerant and lubricant charge amounts.

Modification of a Production A/C system with additional evaporator

Vehicle manufacturers establish A/C system charges in an environmental test facility by running a charge determination test procedure at high ambient load conditions.

Environmental test facilityEnvironmental test facility

Since companies in the conversion industry normally do not have access to a test chamber, there is a method (detailed below) that can provide some guidance by operating the modified vehicle under high load weather conditions to develop an on-road system refrigerant charge curve.

Consideration for different system designs

There is a large variety of A/C system designs used in today’s vehicles. They can include systems with orifice tube expansion devices with low side accumulators, systems with thermal expansion devices, high side receivers (some with multiple receivers) systems. Others can have internal heat exchangers, systems with condensers that have built-in receivers and integrated sub-cooling loops, and systems which utilize both refrigerant-to-water chillers as well as refrigerant-to-air evaporators.

Some of these systems have very low refrigerant charges approaching 350 grams, and the amount of reserve charge that is designed into the system varies by vehicle manufacturer. This makes the conversion of an OEM production A/C system more complex. Some vehicle conversions also add an additional auxiliary condenser that will increase the amount of refrigerant required for operation.

Establishing system charge

 The procedure begins with evacuating the system and installing a small amount of refrigerant as a starting point to develop a charge curve from which the final charge amount can be determined. Then the vehicle is operated on the road (30 to 50 MPH under safe road conditions) at an ambient of at least 95 degrees F and as much humidity as possible.

Instrumentation on the system requires high and low side system pressures, and tubing (pipe) surface temperatures at the compressor inlet and discharge lines, the TXV inlet line(s) and outlet air (panel and/or auxiliary evaporator) temperature. “T” into the low side pressure gauge line a charging hose attached to a small cylinder of refrigerant and an accurate measuring device .

Electronic scale
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lectronic charging scale

Liquid charge cylinder Liquid charge cylinder

Since the original OEM front A/C system has an established charge amount, this amount of refrigerant can be used as the starting point in establishing the refrigerant charge curve.

System charge curve 1

System charge curve 2

Operate so all system(s) have a maximum load (controls set to outside air, or vehicle windows open and high blower speed(s). Additional charge curves for various potential system operating modes should be established. To assure system operation when only the front system is operated, charge curves should done with the auxiliary system(s) being operated in various blower conditions (off/low/high). Two charge curves are needed to determine how much refrigerant is stored in the added components when the blower system is off or on low.

 

Record the system pressure and temperature data from the first charge point at stabilized road speed after 10 minutes of operation (or when readings are stabilized).

 

Continue at the road speed and add refrigerant, in liquid phase (2 or 4 ounces, or an amount as determined necessary to establish the charge curve) from cylinder into the system, and after 10 minutes or stabilized, record the data. Repeat, adding the refrigerant until high side pressure begins to increase (between 250-350 psig).

Plot the collected data and determine the charge amount that meets the desired system balance of pressures and temperatures. A reserve charge needs to be added over the optimal charge to account for system leakage. Over five years, this could be about 150 grams (5 ounces) of “reserve charge.” This accounts for normal system leakage of 25-30 grams (0.9 – 1.0 ounces) per year, which is typical for OEM A/C systems. Conversion systems having more components and longer flexible hoses may encounter a higher leakage rate and require an additional refrigerant reserve amount.

Add a new label to the vehicle as required by SAE J639 indicating the system refrigerant charge amount and new lubricant amount.

SAE J639 label

 

Lubricant issues

When a system is modified and internal refrigerant volume is added (e.g., adding an additional evaporator and refrigerant lines), the amount of lubricant needs to be changed. The amount of lubricant in the system is important. The purpose of the lubricant is to reduce friction in the compressor to minimize wear (protecting from failure) and compressor torque for improved system efficiency.  Excess lubricant may result in reduced cooling when the evaporator and condenser has been coated on the inside surfaces, thereby reducing heat transfer.

 

Many of the recent A/C system compressors are designed to retain the lubricant in the compressor to reduce the amount of lubricant that is circulated in the refrigerant circuit. This means the total system lubricant charge is low in these vehicles.

 

Adding additional evaporators and their extra refrigerant lines requires more lubricant in the system as compared to the original single OEM evaporator lubricant charge. Establishing the additional quantity of lubricant needed may require additional system design consideration. A possible approach may be to establish the lubricant to refrigerant ratio of the OEM system and use that ratio based upon the additional refrigerant required with the modified, additional evaporator(s) system.

 

When additional evaporator(s) and condenser(s) are added, oil charge and refrigerant charge must be considered to assure that total system lubrication problems do not occur. When the additional evaporator(s) are not being used (blower off), the refrigerant flow will be reduced or stopped to that circuit and refrigerant/lubricant may be trapped in the added components, reducing proper refrigerant flow to the front system and proper oil flow to the compressor.

 

(Bill Hill, MACRAE LLC, contributed to this article.)

 

 

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I’d rather keep my fingers, thank you!


By Steve Schaeber, MACS Manager of Service Training

While visiting a local shop and taking some pictures for this edition of ACtion, I got to talking with one of the technicians who was working on a Chevy Suburban. I told him that this month’s theme is electric cooling fans, so unfortunately the thermostatic clutch he was replacing was not applicable. However, the story he told me does apply to all fans no matter how they’re operated on a vehicle; even those little ones that used to be on the front of alternators. It was about something that happened at the last shop he worked at.

One of their customers owned an early 90’s GMC pick-up truck; a 2WD, 1500 series with a V-6 engine. There was lots of room under the hood, and with the extra space left by the V-6 an elongated fan shroud is used to take up the difference from the V-8 models. One day the vehicle owner was tinkering around under the hood, when he noticed that the fan blade seemed able to turn very easily, even though it was directly connected to the belt and engine pulleys. Thinking this might be a problem, he figured it best to get the truck into the shop.

He brought the truck in, opened the hood, and discussed the situation with the shop owner and technician. The engine was running while he explained what he saw, and while doing so he started reaching for the fan blade. The shop owner quickly said “Stop, don’t touch that fan!” But it was too late. The man’s hand was already in motion, and right away they all heard that shrilling sound; tick, tick, tick, tick, as the fan blades came around, smacking the man’s fingers.

Turns out he didn’t lose any digits, but sure bruised up a part of his hand. Luckily the angle at which he reached was such that his fingers made contact with the trailing edge of the blades. Had he been standing on the other side of the vehicle, or had the fan been rotating in the opposite direction, this story might be a little bit different.

Figure 1 DSC_2993

After the commotion of the incident, the technician asked why he did that. The man said because the fan spun so easily at home, he thought it was just freewheeling and he would be able to stop it by hand. Of course, he didn’t figure (or know about) the thermostatic clutch, which had kicked as the engine temperature increased.

In the end, things turned out alright, and everyone learned something in the process.

Ever have something like this happen at your shop? Send an e-mail to steve@macsw.org and let us know!

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Lots more training going on…


This week MACS was training in Wichita, KS and Escanaba, MI here are some photos.

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Are you ready for the changes coming to your service bays?


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“Expect new challenges to show up in your A/C service bays this summer” – that’s the core message delivered by design engineers, industry consultants, service specialists and top trainers to shop owners and technicians assembled in Orlando earlier this year for the MACS Training Event and Trade Show. Download the April Digital Issue of ACTION magazine to find out more!

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 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.

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It is a busy Section 609 training year!


Almost 1000 people have taken MACS new Section 609 certification test since January 1, 2015. Remember, it is a requirement of the U.S. EPA to be Section 609 certified in refrigerant recovery and recycling if you are performing mobile A/C repairs for professionally.

Click here to read more information about the MACS Section 609 certification program at the MACS website!609certifiedrecycle

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 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.

MACS website is located at www.macsw.org

 

 

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MACS A/C training clinics are now in session


MACS mobile A/C training season is off and running, with trainers running everywhere! MACS has many public mobile A/C training clinics scheduled and you can check our calendar for what’s happening near you by clicking here.

MACS also does many custom/private training clinics for shops like Republic Services in Mt. Laurel, NJ. Steve Schaeber, MACS manager of service training  spent a day with the techs in that shop going over the best mobile A/C service practices for their MACK waste hauling truck. Here are some photos from the session:

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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 at the Caribe Royale, Orlando, FL.

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