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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
NOTE- This is an old thread where all the images were lost due to broken links to photobucket in 2017. I have attempted to go through and upload images again, but some images may not necessarily apply to posts due to lack of availability years later


I been talking about this project, and after finally finding a "decent condition" Astro, time to start working on it!

The plan is to rip the OM616 65hp MB diesel out of my old Mercedes, adapt it to a NV3500 5-speed tranny, and put it in the astro van. The engine is also being mildly turbo charged. Its not built for it heat wise, but I should be able to get away with it, and a little extra oomph on hills would be much appreciated. Searching around, I discovered that the generation 2 passenger astro is only 600 lbs heavier than the 123 chassis MB I was previously using this engine in. I figure the generation 1 astro in the cargo version is closer to the 2 ton mark. The MB is around 3700 lbs.

Ultimately, for a fun swap project i am trying to build decent MPG manual tranny diesel work van. This engine was capable of 35 mpg in the MB with a .8 overdrive, the NV3500 I think is a .78, and I have to find a GM rear end that is close to 3.46, which was the MB rear end I had ready for my car. Stock, the 240 MB came with a 3.69, but with the turbo, a 3.46 would be better. Im not sure what the 1994 Astro has for a rear end, any ideas? If its not close, I will be grabbing another rear end from somewhere, or changing the gears.

Images of what the donor sedan looks like from wikipedia, the 207D that also was fitted with these motors (about the size of a express van), and a 1989 shorty recipient van-
 

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Hey Tin. was reading your (other) post this morning. Expensive adapter plate you have :banghead:
I would also go for a MB diesel. But a little heavier one. the 313 sprinter from MB( dodge sprinter over there??). half automatic trans..
But I have to figure it all out. All my option are still open because I`am still have to finish the suspension.

The rear axles from a astro / safari come in different set-ups.

old/ib/axleinfo.htm
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
yeah, it wasn't cheap, but I probably would have been out the same or more cash making all the stuff myself, so I figured what the heck. Last time I did something like this, I ended up spending more money than this adapter cost, plus all the time of making it. This way, im past that step, and my big hurdles are, get it in and mounted, and figure out the clutch.

The choice on the 616 was due to immediate availability and inexpensiveness, and its unbreakable nature. Basically I have a real soft spot for these tough little motors, and this van will be more for city type delivery stuff, so I expect the smaller older engine to excel in that role.

You guys are lucky, you have a huge amount of various diesels over there! If I lived there, I probably would have just bought a diesel ford transit van! :D
 

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You could check the R.P.O. code on your van for the rear end ratio.Most Astro's came with 3.42's and some cargo's (damm senior moment)where 3.73's or 3.72's.

I am surprised your car's rear end ratio is that high.I might be mistaken,but I thought on turbo's you wanted gears in the lower three's or high two's.I remember a member here who adapted a Cummins(sp) dodge diesel to a Astro that said he found the engine to run out of steam MPH wise with his 3.42's stock Astro.

Looking forward to this build.Keep it coming with pix's.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
The turbo 5cyl came with a 3.07 until 1985, then went to a 2.88. The powerless NA 4cyl has those higher ratios probably just for scooting around town, I don't think MB ever considered that they would be driven fast at all! :D With the manual tranny, the 240 is actually fairly peppy, and the older ones, which have an even slower top speed are peppier still!

I also have a 74 240 4-speed, and god forbid you try and take that thing off surface roads, its also only like 55-60 hp, but its surprisingly zippy at that, I think the rear end ratio is in the 3.9 area or something, I have to do research on that car. 0-40mph, its hard to believe so little power is available for that 2 ton car, but its more than obvious once you exit the realm of the gearing advantage!

The MB 3.46 rear end was paired with the NA 5cyl motors, which were only rated at 90 something hp, so im thinking that ratio would be good for this application turbo charging the 65hp 4cyl NA, but these are all shots in the dark! :D

Thanks for the tip on the RPO! I will check into that.
 

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Lots of Astros came with 3:23 as well, such as Green.
 

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No the audio needs to be more like Knockers-Knockers-Knockers.... I just can't wait to see and hear these vans up and running.
And then the Big Rolling Black Clouds of DEATH commith! :character-beavisbutthead:
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
heres what the intended engine sounds like. This is the 240 engine donor car earlier on before I retired it. (it will be quieter since this car is missing most of the floor)


Also, according to the title, this van weights 3572, pretty cool since the sedan weighs 128 lbs more!
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
biggreenoger said:
Hey tinworm any head way made? We have 2 diesel vans up and running on here, I've now fell way behind on my build.
switched the recipient vehicle from a 94 EXT to a 89 short body. The new van I picked up nice and cheap from a florists, they sold it because the only door that opens any more is the driver door! :D Otherwise, its pretty clean, and solves two problems, 1 the 20 year federal restrictions on repowering and registering, and 2, the massive rust repair and body damage on the other van I was going to have to do. Now I can legally retitle the van as diesel and get it inspected as diesel once im done with relative ease. Something I would have had some problems doing on the 94.

This van is a much better platform to swap into, so I stripped the 94 of parts that I might want, and sold it to a junkyard the other day. Other than that, I have been sadly remiss in moving forward with work getting in the way. I have tomorrow off though, so I plan to get somewhere on this then. (now that ive written that, I HAVE to do at least something!)

I have to strip the MB and hope to get the drivetrain out completely tomorrow. Then I can send that to a yard as well.

Any thoughts on what vehicle would be best for getting the clutch pedal out of? The local yard has quite a few manual tranny S-10s. I read on here somewhere that some GM product cars are good, but Im not sure what the best vehicle to grab a clutch out of is. It has to be a cable clutch, and aside from that, I know next to nothing about GM cable clutch setups. These astro vans are my second GM ever owned after an S-10 I had for 3 months once.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 · (Edited)
Thanks, S-10's it is!

made some progress, engine is out of the MB, and some custom stuff has to happen with the Oil filter housing for the adapter to work. These MB diesels use an awesome toploader oil filter which I would like to retain if possible, but there is a difference between the 5cyl and 4cyl castings, so the adapter designed for the 5cyl wont work with the oil filter casting for the 4cyl. I might have to make a custom remote filter or something. Its a fairly complex part that also has an oil thermostat which releases oil into the oil cooler, so that also needs to be retained as well. Depending on the room under the hatch, I might be able to block it out 4-5 inches and keep the same casting.

Otherwise, the adapter plate fits great once the housing is removed. One other issue with crank depth to work out as well, the crank bolt flange seems slightly more recessed than the adapter tolerances call for, and the custom flywheel hits the mounting bolts. I need to use a spacer between the flywheel and crank flange, and also probably another spacer for the pilot bearing adapter once the specs have been verified for the adapter.

off to the machine shops!

Images of the engines side by side-
 

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:shock: What about just making the oil pass through the cooler full time like the Vortec V8s and just remote mount a oil filter housing on the fire wall or somthing like that. That filter housing that its sporting right now is Huge! Spaceing it off the block might put it right aginst the floor and dog house.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 · (Edited)
id love to keep that giant filter if I can, im looking into what the pros and cons are to removing or moving the thermostat which is part of that mega filter housing. As usual, asking MB specific guys questions like that results in "you cant do anything the factory did not recommend" lectures. :icon-rolleyes: It takes a while to get some really good info and wade through the BS, that whats so refreshing about this forum actually, people are not afraid to do whatever they want with their vans, and everyone else is pretty interested or supportive, instead of telling them its a bad idea.

Im thinking I can move the whole housing to under the hood somewhere on the van, which you are right, would clear a huge amount of space under the hatch. The stock oil filter housing is great, and has a integrated oil bypass filter system already, as part of the single giant replacement element. Its also fairly clean being a toploader. It would be cool to throw a quikvalve oil drain on the oil pan, and just pop the hood to change the filter. I have the same setup on my other MB, and you can change the oil in no time, with minimal mess. This engine takes 6 quarts or so of oil. Its nice to speed up the process. The 5cyl takes a whopping 7.5 quarts, amazing considering how the engines are not all that big but probably adds something to the longevity.

EDIT- here is an image of a 616 filter housing taken from ebay, it uses a filter about 8 to 10 inches tall
 

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