What did you do to/with your van today?

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Herbie
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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by Herbie »

Astrophysics wrote: Mon Sep 21, 2020 9:04 pm My 2003 4x4 Astro still works great with np231 manual shift t case. And 30 " tires.
The 3.42 axle ratio came stock, and I still hope to change it to 3.73 or 4.10.

AP
AP, lightning has just struck my brain. What's your timeline for re-gearing your van? I'm still toying on and off with the idea of getting a heavier-duty rear axle built up - mostly because I'm running so heavy with all the camper-conversion stuff. One of the negatives has been that I hate the idea that I wasted money on my recent re-gear and refresh on my original axle. (New bearings, seals, etc. when the 4.10s went in.)

If the timeline, etc. lines up, maybe someone might be interested in a low-mileage 2003 axle assembly with 4.10s and fresh bits. I'll even throw in the Lock-Rite I tried for a while and decided against using (as far as I understand, it could be re-installed without re-doing the setup on the ring/pinion)... You're in CA, yes?

Hmm...

Anyone have any idea what a fair price would be for such a thing?
"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by Astrophysics »

Hi Herbie,

Yes, I am in San Jose, CA.
I got an estimate from Rearend Specialist in Santa Clara for $2,200 to re gear front and rear to 4.10 ratio and a posi in rear..
Normally, . I would be interested in the rear axle with the 4.10 gears and the front axle too with 4.10.
I have put off my gear update but maybe I should try to get it done.

.let me know if you go forward with the HD. Rear-axle

AP. We should talk about Astro 4x4
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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by MountainManJoe »

exchanged the fluid in my borgwarner 4473 transfer case in 40C heat, drenched in sweat.
Decided I would try my so called "self priming" drill powered fluid pump to do the job...
Totally not worth it.
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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by MountainManJoe »

Fixed the parking brake on my Savana. It requires removing the rotors.

It made me miss my Astro where you can just crawl under and pop the rubber plug off the backing plate.
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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by Herbie »

Image

I had swapped my spring pack to the 4-leaf HD pack a few weeks back (22-687HD - 1750lb rated springs for the S-10), but like most people, found that the OEM clamshells didn't really work well with the thicker pack.

After researching solutions all over, I'm adapting one such solution I found that re-uses a lot of the upper clamshell half and an extra pair of the lower tube brackets. I picked up two spare upper clamshells and four lower brackets from the yard and added some square U-bolts. Upper shells were lightly trimmed and the lower brackets had their studs removed. I think this should work, but I need it to not be quite so humid here in SoCal before I want to climb back under the van to install.
"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by WoodButcher »

That's about the best answer to this issue I've seen yet!
'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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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by Herbie »

Image

Aaand, done.

I'll do a full writeup later, but I'm pretty happy with how this went on. I had done all the prep work on trimming the upper clamshell and removing the studs on the lower tube brackets the previous weekend, so this was pretty much bolt-on today, except for opening up the inboard holes on the lower clamshell piece that's attached to the axle. Is this what it's like for the Jeep guys who just buy everything off the shelf? Child's play!

Image

A few quick notes:
  • I did not modify my original upper clamshell, U-bolts, or lower brackets - I wanted to be able to reverse this if it didn't work out.
  • At my local yard, there was one fairly late-model van (~2000) and one older van with the fiberglass leaf setup - I took the upper clamshell and lower tube brackets from the newer van, and the 2nd set of lower tube brackets from the older van.
  • I noticed that the fiber-leaf tube brackets are "shallower", so I put these on the inboard-side of the arrangement (left in the above photo) so that they wouldn't come up to the lower-clamshell bracket that's fixed to the axle. With the stock leaf-pack, the lower bracket, lower clamshell, and upper clamshell all meet and you tighten the sandwich together. In this case, that won't work, and I didn't want the lower bracket pulling UP into the welded-part of the lower clamshell (and I didn't want to have to cut it off), so the "shallower" tube bracket worked out great.
  • The U-bolts are part #BT5-0111S from atssprings.com - they're 9/16" diameter, 3-1/2" inside width, and 8-1/4" long
  • I could probably have got away with a slightly shorter bolt, but there's a lot of compression with the OEM rubber pads, so this made it easy to get the nuts started.
  • I probably didn't need 9/16" bolts, but from this supplier, those were the only parts with 3-1/2" inside spacing. If you find 1/2" or even smaller U-bolts from another supplier with the 3-1/2" spacing, that would let you install these without drilling out the brackets. The 3-1/2" spacing makes it possible to re-use the existing inboard bracket holes without having to slot or grind anything (other than enlarging for the diameter of the bolt with a drill).
"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by Astrophysics »

Hi,

Hooked up AC manifold gauges to 2003 Astro 8 passenger which has front and rear air.
With engine off at about 85 degrees F and 60 % humidity got readings of about 48 psi on blue low side gauge and 45 psi on red high side gauge. This was encouraging since 0npsi would have indicated leak.

Started engine and warmed up to 190 F engine temp, turn AC on to max and high speed blowers and rear ac on high blower, now got readings

Low side 63 psi, high side 105 psi and ac clutch cycling on and off at idle.

Correct readings should be about Low side 29 to 35 psi. And high side 195 to 235 psi.

So charge is low, but book and You tube say to go to shop and have AC system evacuated. Then refill it with the 48 oz or so of R 134a using a small accurate food scale to keep track of the amount in ounces being sucked in on low side.

I’m guessing it could be $300 just to get it recovered,
I will wait for winter time.

Shops are busy now and prices higher.

AP
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Yellow jacket manifold gauges
Yellow jacket manifold gauges
R134a and 2003 Astro with dual air
R134a and 2003 Astro with dual air
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Herbie
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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by Herbie »

Replaced the broken passenger dash grab handle:

Image

We don't usually use it for actually, you know, grabbing, but in its broken state it was rattling on the freeway and driving me nuts. I think it got cracked by swiveling the passenger seat into it while camping - I'll be careful not to repeat that.

The GM engineer who designed this part and the way it fits into the dashboard should be fired.

Out of a cannon.
Into the sun.

I am, by no means, the first to run into this issue, but the fact that replacing this easily-broken part involves disconnecting the battery, at least partially removing the doghouse, removing the lower kick panel and airbag, and a bunch of other screws, is frankly ludicrous. In the end, my tiny little 1/4" bit driver ratchet handle with a couple of short extensions proved very useful for getting to several fasteners behind the dash trim.

This video was most helpful:



One additional idea that didn't occur to me until I was just snugging things down: The left-hand 10mm bolt that secures the airbag is by far the least-accessible fastener in this operation. In the video, he removes several gold-colored screws at the yellow arrows (5.5mm or 7/32" nut driver required) to be able to get that heater box dropped partially out of the way. Instead, one could optionally drill a hole in the black inner dash material (roughly where I've placed the tip of the red arrow in the following photo) and go straight in with a 10mm nut driver, rather than trying to come up behind it in that tight space. That area will be covered by the kick panel, once replaced.
Image
"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by Astrophysics »

Hi Everyone,
1. Great Tech note on dash airbag removal.

2. I sure wish we could get the front torsion bar update with stiffer spring rate for AWD Astros.
It is no fun having such a restricted load limit on front end.

3. I will probably move the 50 lbs battery to rear one of these days.

4. Thinking out of box again. Maybe we could copy the idea of camping trailer rear hitch load leveler?
The hitch leveler bars are spring steel which would have to be somehow attached to the front sub frame and anchored to the rear Uni body of the Astro?

5. The larger diameter torsion bar is the method to increase spring rate.

AP

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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by Astrophysics »

Whoops photo

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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by Astrophysics »

Photo
[attachment=0]DE0E59AE-99A3-4DA2-954F-565F73DE6536.jpeg[/attachment]
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Heavy Chevy front end
Heavy Chevy front end

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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by Bret Schmerker »

Astrophysics wrote: Tue Aug 24, 2021 6:58 pm Photo
DE0E59AE-99A3-4DA2-954F-565F73DE6536.jpeg
@Astrophysics What make and model nudge bar? ](*,) I did searches for grille guards on craigslist™ Stockton and Modesto and ebaY® Motors™, unsuccessfully.
1997 GMC M11006 (Safari SLE, 2WD, V6-4300/4L60-E/7.625" 3.73:1 open)
Acquired Jul 2018 / In service Sep 2018 - present

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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by Astrophysics »

Hi ,

The Manik brush guard was actually for a 1999 GM truck. I was not able to find an exact Astro grille or brush guard kit either. A company in WA called Mule Expedition tried and fabbed a few ARB full winch bumpers for Astro a few years ago. They are about 150 lbs. A welded brush guard is about 80 lbs.
The key thing to making a brush guard work on Astro is to have a metal Fab shop cut out custom 1/4" thick steel mounting brackets . These brackets are shaped like a capital letter L rotated 90 degrees. One leg of the L bolts to the OEM bumper holes.
The other end bolts to the brush guard .

I used white cardboard to mock up my custom brackets. Left and right are slightly different. Took the pattern to metal shop and it cost about $200 for the brackets.

You should look at Journeys Off Road website since they do have winch bumper insert and a custom bumper. The JOR system keeps the winch nice and close to the radiator. My Manik brush guard is mounted a bit farther forward as is the 23" wide Harbor Freight winch tray which just happened to fit nice in the brush guard .

The Astro is almost the same width as a full size truck. Whereas the old S10 Blazer and S10 pickup are more narrow.

All of this weight on front end has my Astro at about 2800 lbs front axle. My entire Astro is about 5400 lbs with big tires , 2" lift, skid plates, subframe extender 68" 2x2 steel box tote on each side, plus nerf bars, plus recovery gear, plus winch plus roof racks and solar panels.

I sure hope the front Timbren rubber spring fit in place of bump stops and increase front spring rate

AP

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Re: What did you do to/with your van today?

Post by Bret Schmerker »

Astrophysics wrote: Sun Aug 29, 2021 10:52 pm Hi ,

The Manik brush guard was actually for a 1999 GM truck. I was not able to find an exact Astro grille or brush guard kit either. A company in WA called Mule Expedition tried and fabbed a few ARB full winch bumpers for Astro a few years ago. They are about 150 lbs. A welded brush guard is about 80 lbs.
The key thing to making a brush guard work on Astro is to have a metal Fab shop cut out custom 1/4" thick steel mounting brackets . These brackets are shaped like a capital letter L rotated 90 degrees. One leg of the L bolts to the OEM bumper holes.
The other end bolts to the brush guard .

I used white cardboard to mock up my custom brackets. Left and right are slightly different. Took the pattern to metal shop and it cost about $200 for the brackets.

You should look at Journeys Off Road website since they do have winch bumper insert and a custom bumper. The JOR system keeps the winch nice and close to the radiator. My Manik brush guard is mounted a bit farther forward as is the 23" wide Harbor Freight winch tray which just happened to fit nice in the brush guard .

The Astro is almost the same width as a full size truck. Whereas the old S10 Blazer and S10 pickup are more narrow.

All of this weight on front end has my Astro at about 2800 lbs front axle. My entire Astro is about 5400 lbs with big tires , 2" lift, skid plates, subframe extender 68" 2x2 steel box tote on each side, plus nerf bars, plus recovery gear, plus winch plus roof racks and solar panels.

I sure hope the front Timbren rubber spring fit in place of bump stops and increase front spring rate

AP
Taken under advisement, as I had a MILE MARKER® hydraulic winch in mind for my M11006. Front rail extensions have seen better days. Don't mind the extra effort of an unassisted steering, provided that the 'box is at a short enough ratio; the stock power 'box seeps from the top wormshaft seal, presumed wear and tear over 280,000 miles.
1997 GMC M11006 (Safari SLE, 2WD, V6-4300/4L60-E/7.625" 3.73:1 open)
Acquired Jul 2018 / In service Sep 2018 - present
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