Putting this at the top while I can still edit - a google doc organizing my plans for the van, to grow and evolve over time: http://bit.ly/2FyTA4c
What could be more helpful for organizing my thoughts and plans for this van than a build thread!? And I can share ideas and pictures and stuff too I guess...
Was looking for a work vehicle last spring and realized that if I played my cards right I could get a work van and a camper van in one vehicle. Started looking at what was available and was drawn to the engine reliability (knowing zero about cars in general at that point) of Astro/Safari's. Plus my uncle had previously owned two that went past 250k, and he loved them.
Found one in NH in a sketchy no picture ad and after the owner sent me a picture and I saw that it wasn't a complete POS, I went to check it out. It had a leak underneath, crap tires, and needed new fluids and a wheel bearing, but NO RUST and only 118k so I snagged it for $1000 and drove it home.
So that is how it sits now.
Unfortunately, it's going to have to come off and be redone. But, since I don't have to do all the stuff with the roof of the van, and the solution I have should be somewhat simple, I'm hoping it won't take too long. We'll see.
The top came off for pretty much a complete redesign.
I replaced all the mounts with these guys, which I could fit now that i was changing the frame desiign. I had wanted to go with these earlier, but knew I didn't have the clearance for them. https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B07MW ... UTF8&psc=1
1/2" bore pillow block mounted bearings
So I took a piece of unistrut I got at Lowes and cut it in half so I had 2 five-foot sections. This ended up being the perfect length.
I had saved the leftover pieces of metal from cutting up the L shaped strut brackets, the trolley, and the u-shaped channel. Those ended up being perfect for mounting the strut to the ceiling of the top. I used the bolts holding down the roof rails to secure the track when I was done with it.
Then this is how it turned out with it mounted on there
One thing is that the actuators have a hard time doing the first couple inches of the lift because the angle of the mechanism inside doesn't give them any help lifting at all. I had to do it that way and knew it might happen.
It can still lift it on it's own, but it lifts unevenly and clearly the actuators are struggling badly. This is why higher strength actuators would have been good. I just give it a little assist for the first few inches and then it's all good on its own.
Oh - also, a convenient thing is that the actuators use the full 24" length - I didn't have to get any sort of limiting switch. Like I said, it is crazy high though - I could have gone with an 18" actuator it seems - and gone shorter one the "long" portions of the hinge arms.
Seems like that will be drawing to a close as soon as I go to the junkyard next.
As far as current events, today the van took a trip up a long, steep, snowy, and icy forest service road to a trailhead. I got a flashing ses right as I pulled into the parking spot, so I figured I'd deal with it after the hike.
When I got back to the van I used my obd2 reader to see I was getting a cylinder 3 misfire, and the van was running bad.
Oil looked fine.
Doghouse off, plugs and distributor looked fine.
So it was a good thing I had all my tools with me.
I got the wheel off and popped the skirt in the wheel well to find this -
Once I got that reseated, the van was fine.
I was dreading having a flashing ses on the top of a mountain way up off the main road, but it only took me like 20 minutes to get it figured out and fixed.
It really felt good to be able to diagnose and fix the problem on my own so quickly - in a place where help was not coming soon.
Even though the van can be a pain sometimes, I'm really grateful for the skills I am learning in the process - being able to do what I did today is absolute verification of that.
Also, the van slayed the road up - only one other car had driven up in the past two days since the last snow, and a group was walking up the road after having parked their subies way farther down where it said "road unmaintained from this point on" or something to that tune.
I made a trip to a couple junkyards, here are my finds.
I soldered, heat shrinked, taped, and loomed the plug for the a/c pressure switch on the accumulator, and installed the jy switch.
Then I got to work on the rear end. I took the plunge on finally fixing the roaring that has been getting progressively worse over time. It had been making me nervous that the rear is going to blow up catastrophically when driving.
I had some issues with undoing the ebrake connector bracket thingy. I undid it so I could drill a hole on the ebrake line bracket for the 2" lift I will be installing eventually.
The last thing to do before taking the rear end out (I had also disconnected the brake line and shocks of course) was the driveshaft.
What. A. Pain.
It took freakin forever and was pure evil.
So I was looking for a different way to bolt the driveshaft and found driveshaft u bolts. I posted about getting the driveshaft off and some info about the driveshaft ubolts here - https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.p ... 8#p1573698
So, as you can see in that thread, it was a pain, but I eventually got the driveshaft and the rear end separated.
And then it was out!!