Strangely enough, now the noise has stopped and the belt is spinning fine. I'm sure the issue will return but it seems strange that it went away. On another forum (I like you guys but I did post my question someplace else too
) it was mentioned that the metal shavings plug the air hole and THAT makes the noise, and the clutch plate can be removed/cleaned to solve it? Maybe but obviously the metal shavings are coming from somewhere.
I'm still in favor of installing the bypass pulley and don't mind attempting that myself, but only once it'* fairly clear that the A/C functioning cannot be saved.
Current GMs: '95 Chevy Suburban C2500, '69 Pontiac Executive
Former GMs: '83 Buick Park Ave, '73 Buick Electra, '92 Chevy Caprice 9C1, '98 Pontiac Bonneville SLE, '99 Olds Aurora, '00 Buick LeSabre