To put my particular problem to bed, I went back to my old (BP station) mechanics, who took everything I told them into consideration, but also thought the compressor looked totally shot - wrapped in rust. They located a used one in like-new condition with a 90 day guarantee for $300, I agreed, they popped it in and it's been working great for more than 2 weeks now. They said that the clutch plate gap was likely a major contributor to the on-off behavior, but the unit needed to be replaced. How the other two entities (including the dealership) that looked at it didn't think the compressor was the problem, I'll never know - it looked like giant, rusty bird's talons were wrapped around it. Although the car's not new, and cause I live in the country, it gets beat up, I think I'm going to blame this on acid rain damage. The car was classified that way when I bought it new (had been on a lot down south, next to chemical spewing smokestacks), and there have been some things that I had to have replaced early on that the same BP guys said looked "older" (drier, warped, corroded), than they should have been. Thanks for all your wisdom! Vors, good luck with yours. Might want to consider the obvious.