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Do I really have to go the bypass pulley route? Can I not, now that the whole AC compressor with its pulley is lying in the driveway, put a standard (shorter?) belt back
There is no need for a bypass pulley. V8 engines without an AC compressor used a shorter belt and with different routing. Follow this link to information at There is a listing for a serpentine belt both with and without air conitioning. The belt for non-AC 5.2V8 engines is about 9 inches shorter and which is what you would expect. You could install this belt according to the diagram under the hood and operate the vehicle without an AC compressor mounted.

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