Thanks for that info, dennislarock, essential stuff there. I was worried there would be a bottleneck I wasn't aware of or some potentially failing parts in the dash I hadn't discovered yet. A little discouraging because it highlights more potential costs, but definitely important stuff to know. I'm very wary of undertaking a large project like this without replacing or rebuilding most of the system's "moving" parts. I don't like the idea of spending the time and money only to place my trust in a 32 year-old compressor, evaporator, dryer and condenser, especially if the previous mechanic mixed the r12 and r134.
Great link for removing the condenser and evaporator. Unfortunately, I'm in the same boat as mcgvat and it looks a bit much for me to pull off. I only have on-street parking and that would be quite a mess to take apart without the benefit of a garage or at least a driveway. Hell, it took the guy who wrote the guide 3 days to complete the project the second time he did the removal when he knew already knew what he was doing. I'm sure it would take me much longer and I'd be in trouble if there were any delays or waiting on parts because I can't leave an inoperable car out on the street.
Some research gave me one last glimmer of hope: I came across a post from an owner with problems similar to mine and he thought he had big problems, but it turned out to be only a $50 "temp sensor/relay" (I forget what he called it) that regulates the climate control. My climate control comes on and off at odd times, so it fits his description. I'm hoping that is it.
I'm taking it to a trusted mechanic next week and he said he'll be able to tell me if it is the cheap fix or not. If not, I'm going to consider going without A/C for a while to save up for a proper conversion/flush/overhaul/new parts or just live without. Fortunately, I'm near the coast where it stays relatively cool, so I only use the A/C on out-of-town trips. A couple of road trips this summer may be unpleasant, though