Restoration is expensive on an original. If it was stored open, it will have corrosion built up inside the evaporator, lines and condenser. They can be resorted with an epoxy coating. The compressor will need rebuilt as it may have rust. Any contaminates such as mentioned above, the system will break down in short order.
I had one that worked in a 56 4 dr sedan I bought out of Tenn. Wasn't all that cold but I never checked the charge etc. I ended up having to replace the compressor and at that time I was not concerned with originality. I ended up with one off an early/mid 60's caddy if I recall.
THey are big and bulky, and the engines tended to overheat with them. (they added a fast idle push-pull under the dash to help) But the engines didn't have fan shrouds etc. I don't see why they couldn't be made to work again.
Any time you redo a system that has been open you replace the reciever drier and that traps contaminats.
I recently installed an aftermarket sears Mark 4 in my 55 wagon and converted it to R133a. It had been open for years, yet it worked successfully.
I remember riding in a few tri-5's that had A/C when they were newish and don't think they were that great. Of course the cars weren't insulated at all, the evaporator was under the hood with all the engine heat, and there were only 2 vents way outboard in the dash. The only reason I would use an original system is if your going for complete originality.
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