Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby interestingfellow [OP] » January 16th 2011, 7:32am

Alright, i can read until my eyes fall out, but all the answers i need are spread over countless posts, and usually not a single complete answer for any one question in one place (just some to most of the answer). I'll try an be short and sweet for preliminary purposes.

Stats are as follows: 1990, vortec 4.3, 2wd, automatic, cargo. I don't know exactly what tranny I have right now, but it's got OD. I may want to make it a 5spd manual, as I plan on towing more, want better fuel economy (or power on demand) and I believe my current trans will be biting the dust soon.

1. I assume this van was a no or limited production model with the 5spd manual (very little chance of just finding what i need in a yard some where, and swapping it out)?

2.what tranny should i be looking at (mine is not a computer controlled tranny, currently)? out of what other vehicle(s)?

3.what should i be looking at to rip a clutch pedal out of (I have an 86 parts astro (no tranny installed), i was thinking of using it's brake pedal as my clutch pedal)? I don't care about cable vs hydraulic.

4.is it pretty straight forward swap/mod (other than finagling a clutch pedal, and cutting a hole for the shifter)? (drive shaft length, bell housing mating, spedo hookup, physical differences between a manual and automatic, spline count, etc)?

Looking forward to hearing from ya'll!
TIA!
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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby doyoulikeithere » January 16th 2011, 8:57am

Welcome, nice to hear I'm not the only one with the 5 speed need.
I got lucky, and bought a factory 5 speed van for pretty cheep.
Even luckier still I found another one in the classifieds, with a craked block. It was too far to tow, so I offered to pull some parts in his yard.
I scored a pile of parts that day and I've posted all the pics on the site somewhere. Bellhouse Trans clutch flywhl master/slave doghouse starter alterntr shifter.
Ive seen 2 other 5 speed vans sell for dirt cheep on the same classifieds site in my area, and talked to one more person who use to own one around here too!

All that being said, If you want to pull heavy trailers, I would look at 1/2 or 3/4 ton truck trannies, and the best suited driver's side drop Tcase if you go with 4x4. These 4.3 have the same pattern as all SBC, so you can bolt up any complete system from a truck, or a camaro, or whatever. Just watch out for how far back the shifter is from the engine so you dont have it come up way behind the seat. Get a trans that comes thru the floor way fwd like the s10 & astro.
I used what I had and could add too for cheep. If your van was a pre 90, theres a good chance it would have holes for the pedal, and alls youd need is bushings and the pedal. My 90 has no holes and a newer style dash than 87, and also switched to electric speedo. Somewhere on this site is a PDF of the clutch pedal assembly parts&list. You might find a wrecker with search that can get you most the parts. the cylinders and clutch are available at the store.
You might have to make some things fit or change a yoke, but it will be worth it.

Good luck, have fun !
:twisted:
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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby interestingfellow [OP] » January 16th 2011, 9:58am

wow, someone awake at 3am (my time). god bless the internet.

actually, your post about finding those trannys on the classifieds (hehe....) was the last post I read before giving up and doing my own. I had also seen the exploded view/parts list of the clutch assembly.

I'm a contractor, so I tow occasionally. nothing huge, and not for too far. But here soon, that 86 parts astro I have is getting cut in half, and bass tard ized into a trailer, which will be towed around almost daily. I figure that's a good 2000 lbs, including contents, if not more. My current trans hesitates and skips under heavy(er) acceleration when towing my current trailer (even when empty, and btw is also the rear end of my former 86 chevy c10), my fluid is a little dirty, and it has 188k on it, so i'm trying to be prepared. I can't drive her around with a trailer all the time, having the tranny do that shakey thing. It would just piss me off, even if it was normal.

I don't know to which dash you are referring, but I do know that the doghouse cover from the 86 would fit right into my 90, as well as the stereo dash plate with the vents in it, and it looks like the instrument cluster too, if I wanted to change my heater and lamp controls out. it was a very basic and stripped out cargo van.....the dash from the 86 is a little boxier than my 90's, but not by much at all.

Thanks!
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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby Phantom » January 16th 2011, 2:58pm

These are the transmissions that were factory installed in the Astro /Safari


Transmission Code:
M30: TRANSMISSION, AUTOMATIC 4 SPEED, 4L60E, ELECTRONIC 4-SPD A/TRANS (M30)
MD8: TRANSMISSION, AUTOMATIC 4-SPEED (THM700R4/4L60) 4-SPD A/TRANS (MD8)
MH3: TRANSMISSION, MANUAL 5-SPEED (BORG-WARNER) 5-SPD M/TRANS (MH3)
ML2: TRANSMISSION, MANUAL 5-SPEED (BORG-WARNER) 5-SPD M/TRANS (ML2)
ML3: TRANSMISSION, MANUAL 5-SPEED (BORG-WARNER) 5-SPD M/TRANS (ML3)
MY2: TRANSMISSION, MANUAL 5-SPEED 5-SPD M/TRANS (MY2)
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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby doyoulikeithere » January 16th 2011, 9:15pm

interestingfellow wrote:wow, someone awake at 3am (my time). god bless the internet. actually, your post about finding those trannys on the classifieds (hehe....) was the last post I read before giving up and doing my own. I had also seen the exploded view/parts list of the clutch assembly. I'm a contractor, so I tow occasionally. nothing huge, and not for too far. But here soon, that 86 parts astro I have is getting cut in half, and bass tard ized into a trailer, which will be towed around almost daily. I figure that's a good 2000 lbs, including contents, if not more. My current trans hesitates and skips under heavy(er) acceleration when towing my current trailer (even when empty, and btw is also the rear end of my former 86 chevy c10), my fluid is a little dirty, and it has 188k on it, so i'm trying to be prepared. I can't drive her around with a trailer all the time, having the tranny do that shakey thing. It would just piss me off, even if it was normal. I don't know to which dash you are referring, but I do know that the doghouse cover from the 86 would fit right into my 90, as well as the stereo dash plate with the vents in it, and it looks like the instrument cluster too, if I wanted to change my heater and lamp controls out. it was a very basic and stripped out cargo van.....the dash from the 86 is a little boxier than my 90's, but not by much at all. Thanks!


Only midnight my time bud.
Maybe my 90 is got the newer dash cuz its a GT? Not sure, but I do know it has the same dash and doghouse as my 95, totally different from the 87s I've had.
Anyways, My experience has been that the only vans that already have holes for the clutch pedal are pre 90 that have the dash with the extended centre section, like mine.
These older vans also have a vent pull handle on the kick panels at each side by your feet, and the heater controls are cable, not vacuum operated. Also the older engine bays were not ALWAYS equipped for AC like the newer ones are, so theres a ton more space under the hood.
I am always on the lookout for pre 90 vans in great condition for these reasons!! They are my Faves!
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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby interestingfellow [OP] » January 17th 2011, 12:27am

yeah, i gotta go look now.... brb.

My 90 does not have the clutch hole, but the 86 does. looks like an elongated grommet. doesn't look like it should be too much trouble to fab up. anyone know of another chevy with the same clutch pedal?

my 90 has the same dash as your 95, btw.

that shifter looks really close to the driver seat. will most transmissions be positioned that way? i had just assumed dropping in some 1/2 ton truck transmission would almost center the shifter between the seats(ish).

I have to be honest, i would really love to take my van, swap on a 99ish or newer front clip, add awd, but turn it to 4wd, LT1 and a 6spd manual. mmmmmmm.... speeding tickets.
However, if I could afford that, I would probably have it parked next to my tricked out and converted military HMMV ;)
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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby doyoulikeithere » January 17th 2011, 6:52am

Ya, If I had that much money, my brand new Harleys would be sitting right in front of my new speedboat, B'cuz the old lady is out in the new truck getting new beer!
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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby interestingfellow [OP] » February 16th 2011, 3:50am

Hey,
I got to thinking about how difficult it may be to locate a cheap, good condition, late 80's 5spd tranny, and thought "why not use a 200x tranny?"

So there it is; is there any reason I couldn't use the 5spd out of, say a 2007 (or whatever), chevy camaro/truck/etc? They should still bolt up (as long as it's from a 4.3 or sbc), but what about the computer(s) (however silly it may sound)? Splines on the shaft? length of the tail?

Thoughts?
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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby interestingfellow [OP] » February 24th 2011, 9:02pm

So, i'm looking round, trying to get this all planned out...

Pedal/master from a similar year s10
Transmission from a similar year s10, although I'm investigating the ability to use a newer tranny. To be considered are the bolt ppattern, which we know any 4.3/sbc has the same pattern, spedo output, and the input/output splines. I have an electric spedo, and I can snake the yolk with the new manual tranny & pop my drive shaft into it. So, the overall length and input spline's are my only real concerns, besides:

The other question that has come up is the computer. My 700r4 has a torque lock converter and a friend of mine had raised some interesting points about how the ecm interacts with that converter and how it adjusts the engine's operating parameters. Thoughts or comments?


And, now, after having looked for some new power chips to pop in with the manual tranny, I've found a few for the engine and a 700r4 with torque lock. That same friend had recomended swapping to the merc VI, and some addative, to refresh my 700r4. I kinda like that idea too, as it's easier, overall cheaper, and quicker. It's just whether or not my tranny is in good enough shape.... Again, thoughts or opinions are welcome.....
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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby interestingfellow [OP] » March 8th 2011, 7:01pm

Input shaft? Really?

Duh....
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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby boxdin » March 26th 2015, 11:08am

one prob will be the clutch shaft hole above the steering column. You have about 1.5 inches to work with and that is the problem.
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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby icebrrg3rd » March 26th 2015, 9:06pm

Just so you know this thread is over 4 years old. The original poster, altho last on in Jan this year, hasn't posted since Oct 2012, where he was parting out his van.

And that clutch shaft hole? It's where I stuck my clutch master cylinder. Drilled it out, used the existing studs, works fine for me.

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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby IronDookie » January 11th 2017, 3:19am

interestingfellow wrote:1. I assume this van was a no or limited production model with the 5spd manual (very little chance of just finding what i need in a yard some where, and swapping it out)?
I'm not sure any 90's came with the T5, so yes, very little chance of doing what you want in a factory manner, get ready to custom

interestingfellow wrote:2.what tranny should i be looking at (mine is not a computer controlled tranny, currently)? out of what other vehicle(s)?
If you don't want to start hacking your unibody, I would try to find a 1990 World class T5 from a v8 v6 Camaro or an s-10 NWC...you'll have to extensively modify both though. If you don't mind hacking metal then go for the NV3500 from a light truck

interestingfellow wrote:3.what should i be looking at to rip a clutch pedal out of (I have an 86 parts astro (no tranny installed), i was thinking of using it's brake pedal as my clutch pedal)? I don't care about cable vs hydraulic.
AFAIK nothing will work but Astrosafari pedals. Short of finding those the next best option might be a custom racing pedal box

interestingfellow wrote:4.is it pretty straight forward swap/mod (other than finagling a clutch pedal, and cutting a hole for the shifter)? (drive shaft length, bell housing mating, spedo hookup, physical differences between a manual and automatic, spline count, etc)?
Nothing is straight forward if you're not going to use factory parts, a custom job will be like 100 projects within a project
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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby AstroWill » January 11th 2017, 4:11am

He hasn't responded to this post in 6years, so either he figured it out, or gave up.
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Re: Another idiot trying to swap auto to 5spd, 90/2wd

Postby IronDookie » January 11th 2017, 9:52am

AstroWill wrote:He hasn't responded to this post in 6years, so either he figured it out, or gave up.


I realized that but I answered the questions because he can't be the only one to think, Gee wouldn't it be neat to slap a 5 speed in my van?

thanks for the links
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