Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

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Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby 1lowcab [OP] » April 4th 2017, 4:47am

I got this van about a year ago and have put a ton of work into it...even tho it looks like a junkyard dog on the outside!
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It's a 2003 awd with the G80, it wasn't born with the G80, that came later but it does have Rear air, rear heat and tow package

Here she is shortly after I got her and had started working on all the small dents and dings, thats why all the multi-color paint. Got it for $1900 with 154k on it, it had been neglected during its life even tho it was a 2 owner van.
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I drove it straight home and put it in the garage to fix it's neglect.
Heres the short list of what i did:

ACDelco Plugs and wires.
New ACDelco distributor, gear was worn BAD!! That fixed the check engine light.
Shocks, they were shot. Used Monroe OEspectrum, very good shocks so far.
New front sway bar with poly bushings, pass side end was broke.
Fuel filter.
ACDelco Fuel pump, pressure was low.
Fuel injection spider, pressure was leaking off. That made the van run SO much better
02 sensors, all 3.
Crank position sensor.
OEM ACDelco Motor mounts, NOT a fun job. That fixed a weird shudder it had going over bumps.
Trans mount.
U joints front + rear + the cv on the front drive shaft. And both shafts balanced.
Re-flowed the solder on the ABS module, that fixed the ABS and brakes dash lights.
And then a relearn on the Tech2.

After that I chased a vibration at 55+ mph, turned out the diff carrier bearings were pretty shot so in went the G80.

The trans had a weird, sliding,slipping shift so I looked around and found a really good deal on a low mileage trans + transfer case, both under 90k miles so I slapped them in. I also replaced the valve body with a rebuilt one with the sonnax upgrades and a corvette servo.

Then came the transfer case rebuild. fairly straight forward repair, new clutches and it was good as new.
This is what the oil in the T-case looked like, burnt clutches.
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Then it was time to work on the suspension, all of the bushings on this van were pretty bad.
Mr. postman delivery. Upper/lower control arms both side, 3+1 springs and front mounts, wheel bearings, timing chain + gaskets and oil pan gasket.
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I don't have many pics of the install as my hands were pretty dirty, lol.

Here are some of the control arm bushings.
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And the one stuck control arm bolt that I had to cut...giant PITA!
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The wheel bearings were STUCK so i took them to the napa machine shop and had them pressed out.
One housing cleaned, anti seized and ready for the bearing.
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In the midst of all this I did all the tierods, center link and new Delco steering box, it had pretty loose, scary steering. I don't think it had been lubed in its life. lol

The last of the bushings on the van were on the front differential, so while I had it dropped to changed the oil pan gasket I checked/replaced them. The 2 on the drivers side looked like new, the pass side were somewhat worn.
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After all that it ran and shifted like new, lots of power and quick, firm shifts.

But I was still getting some rumble noise and a crunching sound on the passenger side when going over speed bumps.
So i pulled the subframe bushings and replaced them.
They were pretty bad!
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After that it goes down the road so smooth and quiet its crazy!

Then of course the lower intake manifold gaskets went! :roll:
While it was apart I replace the 2 heater control valves and coolant tank
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And then I did the Efan conversion and underdrive pulley.
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Just started the wiring in this pic
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Those 2 mods made a HUGE improvement in performance!!

And then on to led interior conversion.
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I also did the headlight switch and all the door switches in blue led.

I picked up a set of rims.
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and ran them for a little while, the only pic i have of it with the rims...on street tires. :roll:
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Close up of the turn signals
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Rear dome light mod, So I can turn it off/on when I open the rear hatch.
Before
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After
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LED backup lights
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Before
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After
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And tinted tails
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Awesome decal!
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And replaced the missing/rotted rear bump stops.
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That pretty much brings it up to date.
I got some new door handles to put in but haven't got to it yet.
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And the homebrew lift kit just came in!
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Lots more to come....stay tuned!!!
2003 Astro AWD, G80, 3" Lift, Hankook Dynapro ATM All Terrains
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby zach914v8 » April 4th 2017, 4:56am

:clap: Damn man, hell of a good job.... You built that into a really nice ride.... Bravo.

BTW, you van does not look bad at all. Mine looks worse than the farm truck from street outlaws. Got dents, rust, the whole sha-bang.
My Rides:

1974 Porsche 914 powered by a 305 Chevy v8.

1994 GMC Safari TBI 4.3, Lifted 4"
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby 1lowcab [OP] » April 4th 2017, 7:35pm

Thanks!
It's been a labor of love...sometimes hate...but mostly like. lol

I forgot the other thing I did, I did the oil cooler delete, the lines were seeping and looked like they were getting ready to pop. :shock:
I'm also running the oil filter for a 1999 Astro, they are a larger filter.

But man, my oil pressure went way up after doing the oil cooler delete, the oil pressure looks like something on a new motor!
2003 Astro AWD, G80, 3" Lift, Hankook Dynapro ATM All Terrains
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby CopperFiremistCopperFiremist is online! » April 4th 2017, 7:46pm

Nice build my friend! Do you happen to have the part number for the front diff bushings and where you source them from?
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby nonhog » April 4th 2017, 7:57pm

Fun thread. watching the handle replacement. (seen a few threads) not looking forward to mine.
Link for pulley?
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby 1lowcab [OP] » April 4th 2017, 8:01pm

For the passenger side I used the bracket, it comes with the 2 bushings already pressed in, its part number 15656162.

The drivers side is part number 15656163, you need 2 of those.

I got the pass side bracket from http://www.gmpartsdirect.com/, they say the drivers side bushings are NLA however.

These are the poly versions of them http://www.energysuspensionparts.com/3.1105
2003 Astro AWD, G80, 3" Lift, Hankook Dynapro ATM All Terrains
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby 1lowcab [OP] » April 4th 2017, 8:04pm

Link for pulley


I found the pulley on ebay for $25. It was for a 93 TBI 350 but they are the same pulley as the 4.3 so it worked fine.
Just keep checking on ebay, you should find a cheap one, or look on http://www.jegs.com/ , they have them but they are $$$$!
2003 Astro AWD, G80, 3" Lift, Hankook Dynapro ATM All Terrains
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby 1lowcab [OP] » April 6th 2017, 3:39am

Welp, got my homebrew lift kit on, it wound up being well over 2" when all said and done!


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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby zach914v8 » April 6th 2017, 3:44am

:rockon: cool man, how do you like it?
My Rides:

1974 Porsche 914 powered by a 305 Chevy v8.

1994 GMC Safari TBI 4.3, Lifted 4"
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby 1lowcab [OP] » April 6th 2017, 4:06am

love it, went on smooth as silk.

I need pinion angle shims tho, got a vibration from about 18 to 40 mph now...no biggie.
Measured, did the math and got some 4 degree shims coming.



The other thing is I can't figure out the bumper brackets...I feel like I'm on the short bus! lol
I messed with them for half the day today and got nothing but frustrated :banghead:

I need to re-read the threads and try and wrap my thick head around them. :roll:
So for now the bumper is still at stock height....which sucks.
2003 Astro AWD, G80, 3" Lift, Hankook Dynapro ATM All Terrains
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby ironhead79 » April 6th 2017, 4:15am

1lowcab wrote:love it, went on smooth as silk.

I need pinion angle shims tho, got a vibration from about 18 to 40 mph now...no biggie.
Measured, did the math and got some 4 degree shims coming.



The other thing is I can't figure out the bumper brackets...I feel like I'm on the short bus! lol
I messed with them for half the day today and got nothing but frustrated :banghead:

I need to re-read the threads and try and wrap my thick head around them. :roll:
So for now the bumper is still at stock height....which sucks.
nothing wrong with the short bus, just don't lick the window's! Hope the pic helps.
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby 1lowcab [OP] » April 6th 2017, 4:27am

It actually does, I had my bolt holes centered and now I see they need to be off towards the edge.

Also I was re-reading the how too and seen they were using 1.5" wide steel....I picked up 2". :screaming:
2003 Astro AWD, G80, 3" Lift, Hankook Dynapro ATM All Terrains
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby zach914v8 » April 6th 2017, 4:38am

1lowcab wrote:love it, went on smooth as silk.

I need pinion angle shims tho, got a vibration from about 18 to 40 mph now...no biggie.
Measured, did the math and got some 4 degree shims coming.



The other thing is I can't figure out the bumper brackets...I feel like I'm on the short bus! lol
I messed with them for half the day today and got nothing but frustrated :banghead:

I need to re-read the threads and try and wrap my thick head around them. :roll:
So for now the bumper is still at stock height....which sucks.


I'm kinda surprised you need shims for that. I have a few inches more than just shackles and never had a problem. Maybe its the difference between steel and fiberglass? Who knows... I am glad you dig.
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1974 Porsche 914 powered by a 305 Chevy v8.

1994 GMC Safari TBI 4.3, Lifted 4"
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby 1lowcab [OP] » April 6th 2017, 5:02am

Yeah, it surprised me too. From what I've been reading it's hit and miss, some people have to use shims and some don't...it's weird. At least its an easy/cheap fix.
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby Wimpazz » April 6th 2017, 11:11am

Well done sir.
2000 AWD Safari "TK421"; (Build Here):http://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=127&t=103714
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby Rinny » April 6th 2017, 12:27pm

When I lifted my '03 I had a problem with the pinion angle also. After playing around with the hanger adjustment holes and modifying the shackles( both hangers and shackles are from journey) I got it close. After installing security screens in the back windows and one across the width of the van behind the first rear seat (6 gauge harden steel heavy) and putting all my fishing gear in (1 less rear seat now) the vibration went away. I used the 2150lb rear springs made for an astro from SD Spring ( I think, been a while). What I am saying is the load makes a big difference in the van when they are lifted as far as the vibration goes. The shackles are very close to stock configuration now. I hope this helps.
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby markmitch » April 6th 2017, 4:54pm

where did you find the coolant and window washer bottles? I need both, Nice job I am watching!
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby 1lowcab [OP] » April 6th 2017, 5:04pm

Thanks!

I got my on ebay, its a Dorman, part number 603-105. You have to reuse your old washer pump and if you have the rear washer (like mine) you will have to make a hole.
It has the place for the rear pump to sit just no hole for it, pretty easy, just swap over the pump and rubber grommet and your golden.
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby Ironsides » April 6th 2017, 11:02pm

Very nice. :thumbup:
Great dash lights upgrade.
Thank you for the dorman 603-105 wash bottles and bump stops.
How do you like the front sway bar poly vs. rubber? Did you also replace the link bushings?
Working on my 2001 RWD Safari Van: viewtopic.php?f=127&t=112353
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Re: Project Junkyard Dog: 03 Astro Build Thread

Postby 1lowcab [OP] » April 6th 2017, 11:17pm

The new sway bar came with rubber end link bushings, I ran it like that all winter. When i did the control arms (I used rubber bushings there) I checked the sway bar end link bushings and they were already pretty bad, so thats when I popped on the poly sway bar bushings.

I really can't tell a difference feel wise between the rubber and poly, maybe a little more responsive, but for the
price (I think it was like $15 for the set) you can't go wrong...they will last forever!
2003 Astro AWD, G80, 3" Lift, Hankook Dynapro ATM All Terrains
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