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2003 Astro 2wd Pop Top Build

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justjoel
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
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2003 Astro 2wd Pop Top Build

Post by justjoel »

Hey there. First post on my Astro build. I am planning to build and install a custom pop top for camping with my kiddo. I picked up this van on govdeals.com for a cool $900. In it's previous life it was used to haul school board facility around. Brought her home, washed her up and got to work on her. Only big issue I found was a leaking water pump. After swapping that out I went to town changing all the fluids. The transmission had a hard 1-2 shift and after a little research I changed the accumulator pump and the fluid. This did not solve the hard shift so I opted to install a Corvette servo. This solved the issue and pepped the big bertha up quite a bit. I highly recommend this upgrade.
I then set my sights on converting her to a campervan. I gutted the rear from the front seats back. Installed some inexpensive "hardwood" flooring, built an expanding bed and hung some shiplap for the wall. I also built the pop top. This consists of a plywood topper coated in fiberglass and a hinge system. I used the truck wedge camper design as inspiration. Now I just need to cut the roof off to install the frame and topper which I hope to accomplish this weekend. I am not a great carpenter but I am trying my best haha. Should be a nice weekend get away vehicle. The pop top will serve as a second bed for the kiddo and I will have a couch/bed in the lower section. Also plan to build a countertop with a sink/running water, storage bins and a little deep cell battery electric system. Nothing too complex. I don't plan to live in the van, just a weekender.
I am hoping to take a long trip this summer to Vermont with my daughter.
I plan to document this process because it seems like there isn't any information on this. I will keep you posted!
Attachments
Flooring and bed
Flooring and bed
Idea of what the pop top will look like popped
Idea of what the pop top will look like popped
Frame for the pop top
Frame for the pop top
Idea of the pop top installed
Idea of the pop top installed
Van after I bought it
Van after I bought it
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MountainManJoe
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Re: 2003 Astro 2wd Pop Top Build

Post by MountainManJoe »

Welcome to the forum, Joel.

That looks like it's going to be a sweet rig. I like the expanding bed. Clever!

Topic author
justjoel
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
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Re: 2003 Astro 2wd Pop Top Build

Post by justjoel »

Got some work done on the pop top installation over the weekend. Biggest hurdle was actually cutting the roof off the van. Even though it is only like 1/16" thick sheet metal, I had a heck of a time... hands are cut up to prove it haha.
But I was able to install the frame into the roof supports using 1/2" grade 8 bolts and nuts. I used roof caulking to seal it up to the roof and after a full day of raining here in Chattanooga it is dry inside. Driving around (With it SHUT) didn't yield any unforeseen issues either, no big wind changes and wasn't noticeably top heavy either. Still has a lot of work to do but I am well on my way to a DIY pop-top Astro van. Considering I couldn't find any information on YouTube or Googling, I used a design for a truck wedge camper as inspiration. More to come!
Attachments
Pop Top "installed"
Pop Top "installed"
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WoodButcher
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Re: 2003 Astro 2wd Pop Top Build

Post by WoodButcher »

Congrats on the score!
I'm interested in the fiberglass, would like to see more detail on the fit and finish. What have you done for weatherproof? does it hold up driving in foul weather?
'97 Safari, 290,000 miles,,, retired
'93 Safari shorty, 350 swap my new daily
'02 Astro, my non working work van. Waiting for a V8
'69 G10, straight 6, 3 onatree, jumped at me when I had a pocketful of cash looking for a spare astro. :)
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