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Thermador Swamp Cooler Instructions

by James Werning

The Thermador swamp cooler is a classic automotive air conditioning system. It is often referred to jokingly as a "missile launcher" because of its peculiar canister shape and unique mounting outside the car. In the 1950s, enterprising dealers rented out these coolers to motor cars driving across the Mojave Desert of California. Used Thermador coolers are available for purchase as of 2011, but the manufacturer's instructions are often difficult to find. Thankfully, the units are simple to install and operate.

Roll the passenger window halfway down. Slip the lower edge of the support bracket in between the rubber window seal and the window. Place the inside edge of the cooler into the upper window channel. Roll up the window until the cooler is held firmly in position, but don't roll it up so tightly that you damage the window.

Remove the cover from the fill hole on top of the Thermador. Pour water from a pitcher into the hole until it is nearly full. Replace the cover.

Drive the vehicle (so that air will flow through the Thermador). Pull the string as needed to increase the cooling effect. Refill the water level as needed.


  • Pulling the string causes a cylinder of swamp cooler material to rotate inside the Thermador, bringing wet material into contact with moving air. The string is spring-loaded, so it will recoil after pulling. When the swamp cooler material becomes dry, the air entering the car will be warm.
  • The Thermador swamp cooler works best in dry climates. It will not work if the car is stationary.

Items you will need

About the Author

James Werning has authored books and articles on various websites. His scripts have aired for more than 15 years on radio stations across North America. He is a small business owner and a world traveler with a master's degree in communications from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

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