2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

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2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » November 30th 2015, 1:13pm

I have been member here for a while, and largely thanks to the great people of this forum, our Astro van - Astrid, has received lots of improvements. :banana:

Despite all that, there was no built thread here, but that's about to change. Hope this thread inspires more people to use Astro/Safari's as camping platform :rockon:

Here she is, our 2004 Chevy Astro AWD camper/campervan - Astrid

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As of now, Astrid has following upgrades:
- ~3-4"lift at front (torsion bars + 2" pucks) and ~3-4" lift at rear (S10 springs);
- BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16;
- Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler;
- G80 locker installed (Astrid came as Base model with 3.42 gearing and no locker);
- 5% limo tint on all rear windows (blacked out basically);
- Hawk pads and AC Delco rotors on front and PowerStop brake rotor/pad kit on rear (30k km later almost no signs of wear);
- Night Hawk Low and High beam lights;
- ~50" wide x 80" long bed, that converts into couch;
- Passenger swivel seat;
- ARB 37QT Fridge/Freezer with tie down system and threaded socket;
- NorthStart Group 31 AGM battery (According to my research and other people suggestions these are very reliable and quality product);
- 100W Solar + Solar Charging Controller;
- 1000W Power Inverter;
- T-MAX 47-3800 Dual Battery System (Great post on How-To-Install: http://forum.ih8mud.com/threads/t-max-dual-battery-install.607791/);
- Fan-Tastic Model 1250 Roof Vent;
- ARB CKMA12 Compressor.

Notes:
- Initially Astrid was built with 225/75R16 Cooper Discoverer A/T3's, which turned out to be great in terms of performance and terrible in terms of reliability. Had to be replaced.
- MPPT Solar Charge controller failed after few months, and has been swapped for regular charge controller.
Last edited by Tegnus on November 30th 2015, 1:42pm, edited 2 times in total.
2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

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Location: Canada/Latvia
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Year: 2004
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: AWD

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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » November 30th 2015, 1:16pm

This is how she looked when we got her in the spring of 2013, with 130k km/80k miles ;)

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2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » November 30th 2015, 1:19pm

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After lift vehicle certainly looked better 8-)

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And bigger tires.

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And even better with blacked out rims.
2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » November 30th 2015, 1:22pm

Next up - added ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A).

On our travels, awning has been thing we have appreciated a lot, especially when it has been raining lots.

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2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » November 30th 2015, 1:29pm

We had bed platform in v1, that allowed us to keep second row of seats, but that wasn't working that great... We decided to build bed that would also easily convert into couch.

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Bed/Couch consists of 4 pieces of plywood that are joined together with hinges. The last piece is attached to "bed frame" and is static. Bed is about 50" wide and 80" long.

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Astrid's bed/couch platform without foam mattress.

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Couch - something we really missed in first iteration. Allows us to hide away from elements if weather is bad or we just don't want to spend time outside.
2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » November 30th 2015, 1:33pm

As we were building the couch-bed, we also decided to add fridge, vent and solar to make our travels more enjoyable. ;)

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100W Solar + ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A) + Fan-Tastic Fan

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Great post on how-to install Fan-Tastic vent on Astro: http://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=8310

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When bed is transformed into a couch we have nice amount of private space away from elements. Also because we have fridge we built counters, and counter top can be used for cooking small meal or putting heater on top of it etc.
2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram | Check out the build of our 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"
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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » November 30th 2015, 1:36pm

Last addition was the swivel seat, that has been built by one of Expedition Portal members. Works great and I love additional room that it gives - Thanks John!

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2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram | Check out the build of our 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"
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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » November 30th 2015, 1:40pm

For the most part build is completed, one thing that needs to be added at some point soon is curtains - for privacy at night time.

Another item that would be nice to have and install for winter is diesel heater.It doesn't burn oxygen and doesn't generate humidity like propane heater. But that is something we might consider for future versions, not this time around.
2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram | Check out the build of our 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"
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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby AZAstroVanNovice » December 4th 2015, 10:16pm

Tegnus wrote:Last addition was the swivel seat, that has been built by one of Expedition Portal members. Works great and I love additional room that it gives - Thanks John!

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I'll PM you re Seat Swivel. Love your Astro.. As you know this is why I bought one - Cheers
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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » January 20th 2016, 6:49am

Swapped out our MPPT controller (ProVista ISC3040) that failed for a simple/cheap 30A non-MPPT controller from ebay (~25$).

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Digging deeper I found that ISC3040 is problematic itself and has been known to have issues and overcharge battery... More info here: http://www.wombattechnology.com.au/pages/articles/mp3735-ends-in-tears.php

The new cheap solar charge controller appears to be working great and even generating some energy in the gray winter of PNW. Should generate nice amount of Amps as we head to South ;)

Live and learn... I guess it's possible to build solar solution on budget. :)

P.S. Will keep this thread updated on how new controller is performing...
2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby AstroWill » January 20th 2016, 7:13am

Tegnus wrote:The new cheap solar charge controller appears to be working great and even generating some energy in the gray winter of PNW. Should generate nice amount of Amps as we head to South ;)

Live and learn... I guess it's possible to build solar solution on budget. :)


As the prices continue to drop, it's harder and harder to justify anything else(unless you need AC).

The problem is that as you head south you will get a better angle on the sun, but with heat your output drops. The best you will get is a properly angled system when it's nice and cool out.
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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby WoodButcher » January 20th 2016, 2:05pm

I've been watching since you got here, love your adventures.
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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » January 20th 2016, 6:26pm

WoodButcher wrote:I've been watching since you got here, love your adventures.


Thank you, glad to hear that :thumbup:
2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » February 11th 2016, 5:44pm

So couple updates...

Our GoPower 1000W inverter died.... With a nasty smell and smoke. That was another thing I paid more and though it is going to last... Well it has been swapped out for one from Walmart :)

Another thing is that new tires BFG T/A KO2 are giving us worse millage, it has dropped from 15 to 13.5. Not excited, but hopefully they are more reliable than Discoverer AT3 that we had. :)
2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

Follow us on Facebook and Instagram | Check out the build of our 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"
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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » March 10th 2016, 6:25pm

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**** happens. There are days like this and you can do nothing about it. While driving over tope (speed bump) torsion bar snapped in half. No, the speed wasn’t fast or anything else unusual. It just broke. Found a local Mexican guy who took me to ~20 used part places. Lots of Astros, all of them 2wd… Seems that AWD Astros are not very popular in Mexico (Baja). Napa had part in LA (U.S.), it would cost 5x as much as in U.S. and be here in 5 days. Initially I hoped that I could just get part, swap it quickly and continue on, but it all ended with Astrid on a tow truck. What an adventure.
2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Leeann_93 » March 10th 2016, 11:13pm

Now that just sucks.

If you were closer, I could hook you up.

Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug...
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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby jmeb » March 11th 2016, 12:08am

Wow. That sucks. G'luck on the repair.

Interested to hear about your experiences with the Discoverer A/T3. I had some one mine for 8000 miles (highway + lots of forest road) without a hiccup. Taco owners seem to love them too. Perhaps it depends on which load rating you go with?
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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » March 11th 2016, 12:54am

Leeann_93 wrote:Some days you're the windshield, some days you're the bug...

Love it! ;)
2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Tegnus [OP] » March 11th 2016, 1:13am

jmeb wrote:Interested to hear about your experiences with the Discoverer A/T3. I had some one mine for 8000 miles (highway + lots of forest road) without a hiccup. Taco owners seem to love them too. Perhaps it depends on which load rating you go with?

We have had two pairs, both for about the same amount of distance - 30k km/19k miles each time.

We had almost zero problems first time around (only one tire with slow leaking sidewall...) Mostly exploring BC back-roads - dirt, sharp rocks etc.

Second set however was different story. As we were heading south, instead of empty - van was now loaded. And at the end of trip we only had 3 out of 5 tires. 2 tires were destroyed beyond repairable - holes were to big. And one tire had slow leak in a sidewall, so I guess that is actually 2 out of 5...

If you look at design of the tire, it's clear that sidewalls are the weak link. No matter what rating, they are still not sufficiently protected. Especially in situations where tire is aired down.

I love how those tires perform (snow, rock, rain - they grip very well), but they are just not reliable. Even though I read that before I bought them, I thought it's going to be alright, and I got burned.

If purpose is mostly road, and there isn't going to be much load I would consider them. However if intention is to do more forest road driving, have a load (like camper for Tacos) and take on some rough patches that will require air down. I wouldn't even consider Discoverer A/T 3. Sidewalls are just not strong enough and can be damaged easily.

My opinion is formed from my experience and it's only my opinion. If it works for your - great, but these tires let me down in some places in Mexico where I didn't wanted to be hanging out on roadside and it has left a sour taste in my mouth.
2004 Astro AWD (Astrid), 3" Lift, BFG All-Terrain T/A KO2 LT225/75R16, Tru-Cool LPD-4490 Trans cooler, ARB Awning 2500 (ARB4401A)

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Re: 2004 Chevy Astro AWD "Astrid"

Postby Bread Van » May 18th 2016, 3:49pm

I forget, were your coopers the same size (LT rated, e-ply) as the new BFGs. I've been very happy with my p-rated coopers (235 70-16). I carry heavy loads over a lot of highway miles, but haven't aired down for rough forest roads (WY, OR, S. Utah desert). Over 30k miles they have been 100% reliable (knock on wood). That said, after this summer I'll likely be shopping new tires, and I was considering the new BFGs, and moving to the LT 225 75-16 size, but was disappointed to hear of your mileage drop. Wondering if that might be due to the tire itself, or the more to LT/e-ply size. Any thoughts?

Also considering the Nokian Rotiiva. That tire can be had in p-rated Extra Load (235 75-16 109XL, I believe). My Coopers have a 106 load rating. Thinking this might be a way to split the difference. That said, those new BFGs sure help the Astro look a bit rugged, which never hurts :D

THanks, and good travels!
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Projects/BuildsEach members' project build thread. Post details and photos, past and present, of your projects coming together. Restorations, modifications, or customizations of a vehicle and a sequential history of the progress. Build-up threads only!
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