BJs complete A/C and Heat vs. VA Gen IV

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Topic author
Laredo Matt
Posts: 69
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2021 3:32 pm
Location: Central Washington

BJs complete A/C and Heat vs. VA Gen IV

Post by Laredo Matt » Fri Jan 15, 2021 5:02 pm

Hi all

newbie to the forum. I recently bought an 83 Cherokee Laredo. It has a 5.3L Gen III LS1 already swapped in. No A/C from the factory.

I plan to do a full rewire (body and engine). Currently planning on using American Autowire (highway 22 plus kit) for the body harness.

Interior is mostly stripped out except for dash and column. I need to take it to get some small rust repairs done before pulling everything but have to put the driver seat back in now so I can take it to get the weld wok done.

Planning a few creature comfort upgrades as part of the rewire (for the girlfriend of course, why would I need them ;) )

- Dakota VHX digital dash
- A/C and heat (a must!)
- Electric heated seats (haven't sourced yet, browsing ebay),
- Power windows (balls rod and kustoms likely. found their link from a forum build)
- Power mirrors (not sourced)
- Added interior lighting (courtesy in doors and rear)
- Complete stereo system
- Front and rear USB charging ports
- Rear window wiper (like to have but not yet sure how to do it)
- Power running boards (not sourced yet)
- 12V outlets (2) our back

I'm sure I'll have more questions on other topics as time goes on but I wanted to start with the A/C since I've read most of the threads here on that already.

Is the BJs complete A/C and heater unit different from the VA Gen IV sure fit? BJ's website says it's a complete kit but comparing the pictures from both websites and looking at the AC build threads here with the VA unit it seems like perhaps it isn't. VA seems to be the preferred solution here. What are the major differences and trade offs between the two?
Matt
83 Cherokee Laredo
GEN III LS Swap (LM7 block)
4L60E


sonoraed
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Re: BJs complete A/C and Heat vs. VA Gen IV

Post by sonoraed » Sat Jan 16, 2021 10:38 am

I would assume the heater has been removed to make room for the LS?, does the LS have bracket to mount the oem compressor?, are you mechanically inclined ?, do you want show quality , daily driver quality, enough to get by?
BJ's AC kit is from Classic Auto Air and works just fine, the install pictured on their website is rough and won't fit the LS, which is a minor problem.
Vintage Air Gen III magnum is a big unit that fits the contour of the firewall, but they don't make a kit, just the parts to make it work on your own,
other mfg's Old Air and Southern Hot Rod.
Almost anyway you go it's going to take time/money/creativity, but there are some really great examples on this site, good luck on your project


Topic author
Laredo Matt
Posts: 69
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2021 3:32 pm
Location: Central Washington

Re: BJs complete A/C and Heat vs. VA Gen IV

Post by Laredo Matt » Sun Jan 17, 2021 12:01 pm

Hi Ed,

Thanks for the feedback.

A PO had the LS done a few years back. The heater is (was) in when I bought it but like many here it was blowing weak. I pulled the core and it had the expected pine needles (after reading threads here) so I suspect that was a big part of the problem. Since then I've pulled all ducting etc. from inside as well. Haven't pulled the blower yet but will.

https://photos.app.goo.gl/r2y3Em1zhRB9MXor8

Goal is a good looking and reliable daily driver.

I've never tackled a job like this ... scope and effort so this is a big and a little scary. I'm not mechanical in a sense of I won't get deep into the engine, rebuild a transfer cased or drivetrain like many of the folks here do. I'm envious of their skill. I've never done that, don't have all the tools and would probably just end up getting stuck and frustrated. Fortunately, I do have some buddies who are great mechanics and can help out when we get to that point. Having said that, it runs great so fingers crossed not a lot of work needed. A good tune up, new wire and injectors etc.

I have helped a few buddies add digital gauges, swap suspension components etc. I grew up riding and racing motocross and did work on my bike. Rebuild a few carbs and components over time on boats etc. So, not a total idiot but definitely a novice.

Time I have so that's a plus.

I can work on the rig and do things over as many times as needed to get it right.

My Girlfriends brother has been welding since he was a kid, worked in the industry almost as long and teaches at the local community college. His forte is Tig but he's accomplished across the board. I'm going to drive the jeep down to him, spend three long days doing rust repair, cutting panels open to inspect for hidden rust etc. Plan is to get a good working hands on crash course, then come back home and practice practice practice so I can do things I need myself as I move along.

I've been reading a lot of the threads here, reading books on wiring, relays etc. That combined with the help from the harness guys I think is enough to get me thru that. And my buddies here said give em a call if I get stuck.

As I pull apart and do rust repair it makes sense to probably paint it. A bit of budget issue so will figure that out. I'd do the body work, again time is on my side, not sure I'd paint it though. Also something I've never done.

I want to try to do things myself. Then when I'm done I'll know what I have and understand my rig. Having resources like friends, FSJN etc. is going to be a big help to learn from the real pros.

Ideally, on AC I'd buy and then have it professionally installed by someone like you, who has done it and knows how to do it right. I've seen too much bad work done by "shops" and don't know of any around I'd trust. Smaller town and new to area so that may change with time.

I've been taking tons of pictures as I disassemble and bagging and tagging all parts etc. I'm sure, like many have mentioned here, when I get to putting it all back together I'll curse myself for not taking nearly enough.

When I have a full plan in place and know exactly what I'm going to do I'll be posting pics along the way. May reach out to you on the A/C if that's ok. Perhaps even plan a drive when most of the work is done and let you do it in your shop. I think you said you do that.

cheers
Matt
83 Cherokee Laredo
GEN III LS Swap (LM7 block)
4L60E


sonoraed
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GoodHeat vs. VA Gen IV

Post by sonoraed » Mon Jan 18, 2021 8:11 pm

Hi Matt, If you can live with heater in the original location, the simplest thing to do is find a original a/c evaporator clean it up,blower motor, switch's,maybe evap core, pretty much slips right in. I see used one's every once in a while.
Condensers are still made for FSJ's and bolt right in.
If the engine still has the original accessory drive, alt/p-s/water pump/etc.should be a place to mount the oem compressor, but would think about a kit to convert to a Sanden compressor, very reliable with service ports easy to make fittings for.
Only thing left is the hoses which will have fabricated to the installation.
You can do much of this yourself if you go this way, there are a lot of ways to go.
Cheers


Topic author
Laredo Matt
Posts: 69
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2021 3:32 pm
Location: Central Washington

Re: BJs complete A/C and Heat vs. VA Gen IV

Post by Laredo Matt » Wed Jan 20, 2021 4:47 pm

Thanks again Ed. I appreciate it and you've given options to think about.

I've decided to go ahead and repaint the jeep as I tear down and do rust repair so I'll have some time to think on AC. Probably many months given I'll be doing a lot of sanding, spraying, sanding, spraying (repeat) once I get rust repair done.
Matt
83 Cherokee Laredo
GEN III LS Swap (LM7 block)
4L60E


RamJetFSJ
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Location: Carpinteria, CA

Re: BJs complete A/C and Heat vs. VA Gen IV

Post by RamJetFSJ » Thu Jan 21, 2021 8:40 am

I went with Vintage Air since there is much more help available online for their product, and there is a distributor/installation shop near me incase I get into trouble and need help.

The VA Magnum IV just fits so well in the space, as if it where made for it.

The BJs kit seems to be as much of a universal kit as the VA stuff. If it were a straight bolt in affair, I may have gone with it instead.

So far it has gone smooth. Fully installed, just needs to be charged. Also made and crimped all my own lines using a eBay/Amazon hydraulic crimping tool (that I will resell used once I get it charged).
80 Wag in 73 attire, Ram Jet 350 power


SJTD
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Re: BJs complete A/C and Heat vs. VA Gen IV

Post by SJTD » Thu Jan 21, 2021 11:30 am

The box fits well. The ducting not so much.
Sic friatur crustulum

'84 GW with Nissan SD33T, early Chev NV4500, 300, narrowed Ford reverse 44, narrowed Ford 60, SOA/reversed shackle in fornt, lowered mount/flipped shackle in rear.


RamJetFSJ
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Re: BJs complete A/C and Heat vs. VA Gen IV

Post by RamJetFSJ » Thu Jan 21, 2021 5:27 pm

Ducting/hoses were a bit tricky, but I made it all work. Only lost most of my glove box.
80 Wag in 73 attire, Ram Jet 350 power


Topic author
Laredo Matt
Posts: 69
Joined: Fri Jan 08, 2021 3:32 pm
Location: Central Washington

Re: BJs complete A/C and Heat vs. VA Gen IV

Post by Laredo Matt » Sun Jan 24, 2021 8:25 pm

RamJetFSJ wrote:
Thu Jan 21, 2021 8:40 am
I went with Vintage Air since there is much more help available online for their product, and there is a distributor/installation shop near me incase I get into trouble and need help.

The VA Magnum IV just fits so well in the space, as if it where made for it.

The BJs kit seems to be as much of a universal kit as the VA stuff. If it were a straight bolt in affair, I may have gone with it instead.

So far it has gone smooth. Fully installed, just needs to be charged. Also made and crimped all my own lines using a eBay/Amazon hydraulic crimping tool (that I will resell used once I get it charged).
I read the thread by FullSize Jeeper before I posted. He went with VA and it looked a great fit. When I saw BJs kit it looked complete. Will have to see if VA has a distribution/installation shop in central washington. That would be a nice resource to have and give me more confidence in going that path.
Matt
83 Cherokee Laredo
GEN III LS Swap (LM7 block)
4L60E


profbrown
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Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2020 9:26 pm

Re: BJs complete A/C and Heat vs. VA Gen IV

Post by profbrown » Fri Jan 29, 2021 8:06 am

I will be doing the same on my 68 wag. Previous owner swapped a 700r4 and SBC in. I am swapped to a 5.3 out of a Tahoe currently. Motor is pushed forward, so it seems my best bet is the VA set up from reading this thread. The Jeep was factory ac, so that should help some.

Also, OP, I saw the comment of heated seats, I myself will likely look deeper into this as well, but a quick scan, I saw them on BJs offroad site. If memory serves it was from Katskinz, and they are a universal set up with switches, relays and wiring.


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1968 Wagoneer | In the midst on an LS Swap to a 5.3 truck motor
700R4 Trans, Dana 20 T-Case
Sitting on 31s
Dana 44 rear | Dana 27 front (Swapping both to 77/78 Dana 44s from a Wag ;) )


teking
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Re: BJs complete A/C and Heat vs. VA Gen IV

Post by teking » Fri Apr 23, 2021 7:43 am

I just order BJs kit for my M715. I'll let you know how it goes.

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Re: BJs complete A/C and Heat vs. VA Gen IV

Post by sonoraed » Sat Apr 24, 2021 6:42 am

teking wrote:
Fri Apr 23, 2021 7:43 am
I just order BJs kit for my M715. I'll let you know how it goes.

Sent from my SM-G781V using Tapatalk
Great please post pictures, lots have talked about BJ's unit but haven't seen one actually installed!

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