Onboard air can save you time, make life a lot easier, and heck, maybe even save your life. Luckily, if you don’t have an onboard air setup there’s an easy recipe to follow as long as you have or can fit an A/C compressor on your engine.
Last year we showed you a great way to convert a newer Jeep’s Sanden A/C compressor for onboard air in a very comprehensive article called “Endless Air,” (July ’12). We are not going try to recreate that article, but will expand on it to help people with Sanden and other types of A/C compressors. The three most common A/C compressors converted to onboard air systems are the Sanden, York, and occasionally, the Harrison R4. All of these compressors are piston-driven. Although there are some scroll-type A/C compressors that don’t use pistons to compress the refrigerant, our understanding is that they won’t work for onboard air conversions.
The downside to converting any Jeep’s existing air conditioning compressor over to onboard air is that unless you add a second compressor, you are gonna lose your A/C. Of course, A/C in any Jeep that just barely has a top is basically a joke. Wanna keep your A/C in your Jeep? Well, there are companies that sell bracketry to add a second engine-driven compressor. Don’t want to do that? You can also run an electrically-driven compressor. These generally cost more and can be had new (if you don’t want to scrounge the local junkyard). You can also purchase a CO2 tank such as those from Power Tank that can hold plenty of compressed CO2 for several tire air-up sessions after off-roading. In this article, we are going talk a little bit more about converting engine-driven A/C compressors for onboard air.
Piggy the Tool Truck
With a little help from our friends at Summit Racing we were able to outfit Piggy the Pig Truck with an onboard air system using the old York compressor under its hood. Listed below are the parts we used, many sourced from Summit Racing. This included a 5-gallon Firestone air tank (PN FIP-9191), a Summit 1⁄2-inch Puvex push-to-connect air hose and fitting kit (PN SUM-9010KIT), Viair adjustable pressure regulator (PN VAR-90150), Viair pressure safety valve (PN VAR-92205), Viair one-way check valve (PN VAR-92831), Viair four-way fitting (PN VAR-92855), Viair Stainless Steel braded-leader hose (PN VAR- 92793), and a Viair 110/145 psi pressure switch (PN VAR-90102). We also used a locally sourced water/oil separator just before the air line enters the 5-gallon tank. All this cost less than $260.