Chevy Astro and GMC Safari Forum banner
1 - 20 of 46 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Thought i would start a thread as a way to keep focused on my goal of fixing up a new to me 99 safari awd. Like many vans in the rust belt the PO reached a point where it was costing too much to have repaired due to rust issues, and not really being car people they werent able to work on it themselves. They did love the van and sunk some serious money into it before deciding to get rid of it.

Seeing if they could sell it for cheap as a parts vehicle was last stop before sending it to the junkyard per their mechanics recommendation. Fortunately just the right sucker who doesnt mind a little rust came by and fell in love with the van

Body isnt too bad and i think pretty sharp looking color combination for these vans
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Plan for this van is a 2+1 lift, bigger tires, s10 transfer case, and for now im going to keep it 7 passenger so i can take my daughter and neices surf casting out on the beaches. We all know that what little girls love best is being forced up at 4am hustled into an old van, and jounced around on a sand track to watch dad/uncle not catch anything.

There are several hurdles to doing a aubframe spacer lift though, i need to rebuild the right front body to subframe mount area as thats rotted and dropped about 1.5 inches. I think i can cut the whole section out of my parts van though. Left side crispy but ok
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
The subframe itself is rusty but not rusted through. Its going to be a real job getting the bolts out, and i expect the sandwiched portion of the subframe is probably ruined, so some work ahead there. The bolt head conditions are looking positive though
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Current hurdle is getting it to pass inspection

Couple pics of replacing all the blown shocks, getting rid of the driver side running board, and getting rid of other nonessential rusty metal. Every day the vans weight gets lower and its performance pedigree improves

Last pic is of the diff cover, will need to replace this and all bolts when i change the oil. The cover is pourus in places

To pass inspection i needed 4 shocks, a new fill pipe which was also pourus, and a new front swaybar which is broken in the typical astro/safari fashion
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Van as it currently sits sans running board and visor, which i didnt mind until it rained and i discovered many of the fastners had rotted and created rust issues in the roof. Duct tape is doing a much better job keeping the weather out though, should habe sprung for red tape

Looking forward to putting in new springs and torsion bars. The suspension on this van is tired and bottomed out especially in the rear. With new shocks though the ride has gone from death trap to acceptable however
 

Attachments

·
Premium Member
Joined
·
988 Posts
I for one will be watching. Glad to see you save a 99, I am going down the same road. I haven't even looked at my sub frame or front end. Started at the back. Currently stuck on bumper build. Contemplating the UWharrie rock sliders. Mine is a project so no hurry. Weekend van runs fine and daily driver is Toyota. I REALLY like your sun visor. Thanks again for the pics.
 

·
Super Moderator
05 Astro AWD
Joined
·
14,158 Posts
From above, it looks like an awesome van to save. From below, it looks like you shouldn't have bothered. I'm not sure that the good new shocks, springs and torsion bars aren't going to further weaken the rusty areas to which they mount.

I'd love to see it saved, but I seriously wonder whether it's worth it. That is going to be a lot of work.

Not, of course, that I don't want to see you do it ;)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Leeann_93 said:
From above, it looks like an awesome van to save. From below, it looks like you shouldn't have bothered. I'm not sure that the good new shocks, springs and torsion bars aren't going to further weaken the rusty areas to which they mount.

I'd love to see it saved, but I seriously wonder whether it's worth it. That is going to be a lot of work.

Not, of course, that I don't want to see you do it ;)
Its definitely teetering on that line. Things are heavily corroded but actually the structure for all the mounts was fine. I need some new hardware for sure. The subframe is deeply rusted in a few places but otherwise acceptable so far.

In the plus column the original engine in this van failed for some reason, and it has a documented 30k mile crate motor in it, with about 170k on the body. Runs and shifts very well.

Also at probably enormous expense, the PO had every single brake line on the van replaced just a few months prior to selling it.

I figure if i follow the strategy of keeping my focus narrow and just cleaning up and painting/fixing/replacing bits in specific areas one at a time, sooner or later the teetering on the balance will shift to having a pretty decent vehicle
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Discussion Starter · #10 ·
A very overdue update, i was shocked to see from the beginning of this thread that i bought this van in may 2019. I did some work then, and since have just beat on it almost daily only changing oil. Testament to the core reliability of these vans that they can withstand that kind of ownership.

However since i never do anything without outside deadlines, i am forced to admit the van wont pass inspection without work this month.

First order of business is core support rust. The van has drooped and crushed on both sides. Bumper was shot so i grabbed a cheap wrangler bumper and plan to do that mod.
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
208 Posts
my 92 frame was in that same shape and it passed inspection up here in massachusetts which can be tough...i just took a wire brush and a needle scaler and got what i could and amazon has 6 packs of PB blaster corrosion sparay for 30$ ..few cases and was good to go..as long as its not rotted thru on structual parts you will be fine.
 

·
Registered
01 Astro RWD Cargo, 97 AWD Mark III
Joined
·
2,277 Posts
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if the front of the subframe has risen that much. The rear subframe mounts are seriously in questionable status also. Make sure you check it out completely before moving to much farther.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
93 Posts
I am tackling the very same project. I found a 1998 Astro AWD Hightower with 70,000 original kilometers (I'm in Ontario Canada) 70K is roughly 43,500 miles. The issue is rust. The body itself is good, the underneath needs a total clean and paint. Probably a few patches along the way too.
I have been driving these vans for 20 years. I know them, and I like them. I have 3 2wd vans that I'm going to get rid of in the fall. I'm getting too old to keep fixing stuff. Having only one or two vehicles will be a welcome change. Good luck, and keep us posted.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Discussion Starter · #14 ·
keith92ext said:
my 92 frame was in that same shape and it passed inspection up here in massachusetts which can be tough...i just took a wire brush and a needle scaler and got what i could and amazon has 6 packs of PB blaster corrosion sparay for 30$ ..few cases and was good to go..as long as its not rotted thru on structual parts you will be fine.
The radiator core support has already been caught and noted as a structural rust failure this time unfortunately, which it technically is. It should be fixed anyway as the ride is suffering and tires dragging now in turns, but now i have official motivation.

inspectors frequently miss this, as its hidden under the inner fender liner (they did in 2019).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Discussion Starter · #15 ·
MI_Ghost said:
I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but if the front of the subframe has risen that much. The rear subframe mounts are seriously in questionable status also. Make sure you check it out completely before moving to much farther.
They look ok but as you are aware, this means nothing until i try to remove one. :D
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Discussion Starter · #16 ·
tank2 said:
I am tackling the very same project. I found a 1998 Astro AWD Hightower with 70,000 original kilometers (I'm in Ontario Canada) 70K is roughly 43,500 miles. The issue is rust. The body itself is good, the underneath needs a total clean and paint. Probably a few patches along the way too.
I have been driving these vans for 20 years. I know them, and I like them. I have 3 2wd vans that I'm going to get rid of in the fall. I'm getting too old to keep fixing stuff. Having only one or two vehicles will be a welcome change. Good luck, and keep us posted.
Thanks! I do love these vans as well, they are getting thin on the ground around here unfortunately which is a shame. Very good all around vehicle
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Things went south when i started rigging up a cradle to attempt to lift the front end into position. The core support is too rotted along the middle to withstand jacking it up.

I switched gears to completely removing it and installing a patched replacement. Unfortunately since core supports are one of the Achilles heels of rust on these vans, and are now NLA new, i had to settle for the least rusted looking one i could find from a yard, which is this white one, described as "rust free" by the junkyard hahaha.

I was able to get it for the labor cost of them cutting it out in the end since i was able to show them the "very hard to see minor surface rust" on it. They "didn't see it" when cutting it off. Sales guys who BS over the phone without looking at something are always a joy to deal with.

Similar amount of repair work but working on it off the van is a plus even if it means the PITA of drilling out 50 spot welds twice. This one is crispy but still solid in the middle
 

Attachments

·
Super Moderator
05 Astro AWD
Joined
·
14,158 Posts
Very hard to see surface rust :roll:

At least it's off and easier to work on, yeah?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Warning, crappy flux core welding ahead-

I used some 3/16th flat stock and first cut out most of the corrosion, then notched it to drop a box down to the correct mount height. I brought extra stock sheet metal back over to the new box to close it off on one side, and ran out of time on the other side, but i can add that later on the van.

The extra sheet metal came from the bits of inner fender i removed from the yard core support
 

Attachments

·
Registered
Joined
·
806 Posts
Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Leeann_93 said:
Very hard to see surface rust :roll:

At least it's off and easier to work on, yeah?
That turned out to be a silver lining, as with the core support off i was able to easily put in a very strong gusset on the rear of my box to the strongest part of the core support, which would be a difficult if not impossible weld in place on the van
 

Attachments

1 - 20 of 46 Posts
Top