York Install in a Full Size GM for $100

By: cbbr

We must have looked at 400 vehicles before we found what we were looking for a York A/C compressor. It was in a 1970′s Ford F-100. It did not have an identification plate, but the York is immediately recognizable. Check it out -


We cut the v-belts and spun the compressor. It spun free. Next we cut the hoses as far from the compressor as possible and spun the compressor while pushing the clutch in. Suction was good.

We removed the compressor and the stock brackets just in case we needed those (again, more on those later). We took the compressor and some assorted junk that we couldn’t live without to the front and hooked the compressor to a battery that they have for testing purposes. With the negative from the batter connected to the body of the York, we touched the positive to the battery and the clutch engaged.

$24.95 (plus tax) later and the York was in the back of the Suburban. I paid another $10 for the factory bracket which was a waste of money.

I had moved the washer fluid container forward in hopes of installing on board air and a tank. That in mind, we were working on an install on the driver’s side. We took a section of 90-degree angle steel and “fabricated” a bracket. Truth is that we cut it, drilled holes in it and trimmed it with a grinder until it fit on two studs coming from the block at the manifold. We then took a piece of flat bar, bent it to 90 degrees and attached it to the side of the York and to the top drivers side bracket bolt holding the alternator. Looks like this -

Next came the pulley. I have basic welding skills (basic is being kind) and a MIG, so we intended on using the idler pulley from the bracket that I bought as the drive pulley for the York. Specifically, the pan was to weld the alternator pulley and the idler pulley together so that the York would be driven off of the alternator.

About a hour later we were off to AutoZone where I learned two things – 1) you cant just buy an alternator pulley if you screw yours up and 2) the idler pulley that we had just destroyed trying to remove it with a BFH was $15.

These facts made us reconsider my original plan. A call to www.OnBoardAir.com was in order. I spoke with the folks at OBA who were very helpful and a few days later the pulley was at my doorstep. I costs $40 and was well worth it. I also ordered a dipstick from OBA for $5, which seemed like a good idea.

The OBA pulley (I got the underdrive model) works great. I measured the belt length with a piece of string and got a v-belt from AutoZone (just go around the counter and try them out), hooked it up and now have OBA.

Next was how to harness the OBA and make it more useful.

I had a cheap, broken 6 ½ gallon home compressor in the pile on the carport which fit the bill. It was intact, but didn’t work. I took off the engine, we cut off the handle and wheels (being careful to stay off of the tank with the cutting wheel) and the tank fit perfectly in the area left after moving the washer tank. The tank -

Wiring was simple. Fused hot wire from the battery to the pressure switch and fused hot wire from the pressure switch to the lead on the York (25 amp each). The tanks pressure switch also has a two position switch for when the compressor neds to be totally off. The York grounds to the Suburban and only has one wire, so its hard to mess this up.

As for plumbing the system, that’s where the stock hoses came in handy. $20 worth of “fix-it” kit and couplings later and the system was plumed. I used the stock outlet hose to make a short compressor hose, used an extension and connected it directly to the tank. See -

For the inlet, I attached a silencer from a lawnmower (costs $3 at Home Depot) into the stock hose with a “fix-it” kit that is for hot water heater hose ($5 at Home Depot). See -

I attached the tank with two ratchet straps (costs $10) that are bolted to the inner fender well. I used a piece of insulation to keep the bolts from gouging the tank. See-

After testing the switch and trying a few combinations, the tanks pressure switch operated the York’s clutch perfectly. I set the switch to turn the York on at 75 lbs and off at 125. There are two safety valves – the original on the tank and another that I attached to the tank at the inlet using a 4 way connactor from Harbor Frieght.

The quick connect from the tank is zip-tied to the grill and I put a waterproof switch in the grill so I don’t have to raise the hood to use the OBA.

Tools run off of it with no problem and it should be great for airing up. All for about $100 and one day of “work”.

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