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Re: R12 Freon Replacement

To: <>
Subject: Re: R12 Freon Replacement
From: "Karl Vacek" <>
Date: Thu, 28 Aug 2003 20:11:53 -0500
There are a number of R-12 replacement products out there, mostly variations
on Randall's friend's mixture.  The EPA and DOT are unhappy about them, and
there are all sorts of dire warnings about having explosive gas in your AC
system.  Lots of controversy and overheated rhetoric, but few actual
instances of accidents or injury that they can point out.  After all, your
tank full of gasoline is just a little bit explosive too.

Whatever you do, though, take a look at R-12 prices on eBay before you pay
very much for R-134A conversion or any R-12 substitute.  Just last year,
against a deadline and with a shipment of R-12 (at $15 per can) not arrived
yet, I went to Pep Boys (just about the only walk-in source around here for
individual cans of R-12) and actually paid $36 for a single can.  They
charged $18 the year before. and about $12 the year before that.  Don't know
what they charge now, but the prices on eBay have fallen a bunch since then.
You need not pay more than $10 to $15 per pound for R-12 in 15 or 30-pound
drums, and no more than $15 per single, 14-ounce can.  Hit a day when
nobody's bidding, and it may be a lot less.

If you're not certified, it only costs $25 to get certified.  ESCO Institute
is one place - you can do a search for their web site.  You order a kit with
a manual and a test book, study an hour or so, and then take the test.  The
test is about EPA regulations - they don't ask much about actually servicing
an AC system.  You need to get the test under the supervision of a proctor
(for instance at the library, etc.).  Mail it back, and in a week or two you
have a certificate.  Voila, you're officially OK to buy automotive
refrigerants.  Oh yes - when you're certified you're NO LONGER OK to vent
any halogenated refrigerants into the atmosphere.  As a homeowner/car owner,
you are exempted, but as an officially certified refrigerant technician, you
know better and are subject to fine and imprisonment if you do anything
illegal.  That means you use a recovery system - no venting permitted.

To me, the R-12 systems always work best on R-12 -- anything else is a
substitute.  The propane replacements are supposed to actually cool a bit
better, but R-12 has none of their other (real or hyped) drawbacks. R-134A
is just fine in a system designed for it, but an R-12 system converted to
134A will at best work almost as well as with R-12, and sometimes not nearly
as well.  The proponents of 134A conversions say that a conversion is
"merely" changing compressor oil and flushing the system, right?  That's not
usually trivial work - it takes time.  Lots easier to fix your leaks, make
sure the system is tight, vacuum it out, and recharge it with R-12.

YMMV - Good luck !!!

Karl Vacek
'46 Piper J3-C65 Cub
'16 Ford Model T Touring
'64 Amphicar
'67 Triumph TR-4A
'68 Triumph TR-250

> > I came across a product called ProDry billed as a replacement for
> > R12 freon
> > in older a/c systems.
> >
> > As I have an R12 based a/c system in a vehicle worth less than
> > cost to R134 that needs recharging I am quite interested.

Randall replied:
> I've never even heard of the stuff, that I remember, but the maker's ads
> sure seem over-hyped.  134A causes "instant testicular cancer" on contact
> ???  C'mon guys !
> Hype aside, there doesn't seem to be any reason it's better than the old
> propane/butane mixture that an old friend of mine came up with.  ProDry is
> hydrocarbon, which means that it will burn.  (Of course, so will R134A,
> so will R12 when mixed with refrigerant oil and sprayed through a small
> orifice).  Given the rather dramatic price differential, I still plan to
> the propane/butane mix first.
> BTW, Butane-N is apparently becoming fairly rare in camping stores, but I
> was able to mail order some from Athena

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