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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
In keeping with my original endeavor from this thread earlier this year:
I found a hitch and put it on although not without my life's doctrine of required difficulties.

Sep 6, 2022

Found a hitch at a local salvage yard. A Reese 31042 multifit that was on the back of a Safari. A picture was sent to me. I decided to go for it.

Sep 7, 2022

Picked it up, brought it back to base, spent the early evening cleaning it up with a stripper wheel on a disc grinder to remove the rust. Had dinner, then went down to start priming it, at least the parts I have space to lay out for now, so that I can hit it with some fresh paint before installation. I will also need to get some fresh hardware, as what it was originally installed with, was quite rusted and therefore cut off by the yard man. I already have a kit priced and located online at etrailer.com for little over $50. I'm going to see what I can find for how much local tomorrow. Also, I don't keep the van with me. It is remotely parked at a safe location, at least for now, in case I need to bug out from where I am.

Sep 8, 2022

Half painted already. Got started on looking for local hardware.

Sep 9, 2022

I had to pick up the van and bring it back. I had to take my bike up, reconfigure everything in the van so it can be driven without everything flying, go get a trailer, address the fiasco that I have a flat five wire and not a flat four,(which by the way for anyone needing to know, I found out later on the 5th blue wire is for trailers equipped with reverse lights. If you don't have them, you don't need it.), go back up, get my bike, and bring them both back. I took the 2” ball off of my subi's hitch to switch the 1 7/8” ball on the bumper mount hitch on my Astro to get that done.

Sep 11, 2022

Hitch of course, in keeping with my life's curses, isn't listed as a fit. I started painting the outer frame attachments first the other day. Yesterday they were coated and dry enough to try to place and see how to assemble & what I need for hardware. It didn't quite line up as easy as I expected, so I finally found a PDF of the installation manual, and saw that it's only designed to fit the extended chassis of my year model. I didn't notice if the van it came from was extended or not. I could go back and look, but it doesn't really matter.

At any rate, I think I can get it to work. After looking at some Youtube vids, through the manual, and what I have underneath the van going on that was messing up my fitment, It really amounts to that the frame brackets on a direct fit model have a notch in the frame side that wraps around the bumper bracket in the front. At least in the vids I saw.

Mounted on an extended model, maybe even a different year. I think I pulled this pic from another thread. If you recognize as yours, I don't mean to steal your pic. I had to use it for reference. Let me know if you want it removed. Note the difference in shape of the bumper brackets? Also note that there are no notches on that hitch either?

Motor vehicle Automotive tire Hood Wheel Tire



This one does not. I can cut that notch out, paint and that should be fine. All of this even though the Curt direct fit model I was looking at new online does not show to have those notches, but it is either I cut the notch, or remove the bumper and mount the hitch between the bumper and chassis, which would bring the height of the bumper down, and I know it's not supposed to be done like that.

THEN, I will have to hope I clear my spare in its current position. If not, I will have to find another spot for it. The door mounts are an option I've been looking at for some time, but figured since I don't have a full size spare, it should be fine where it's at, according to the site I was looking at if I had to buy a hitch new. If I do have to move the spare, I saw the 3 point mount model by Sureco. Here is a pic sent to me from the yard before I got it.

Automotive tire Road surface Asphalt Wood Gas


You can see that notch is not cut out on this model. I might take a ride back there sometime just to get a better look at what was going on there with this. I bet it had different brackets like the pic above.

Here are better pics of what I have going on with my brackets.
Wheel Tire Automotive tire Vehicle Tread
Hood Automotive lighting Motor vehicle Grille Bumper


Automotive tire Motor vehicle Bumper Tread Vehicle door


I did go and check the van it came from. It had the bumper, inside the van, and no brackets in sight.

The modified brackets cut, fitted, repainted and drying
Automotive tire Bumper Automotive exterior Motor vehicle Gas
Automotive tire Bumper Wood Rim Automotive exterior


The main cross member is there in the back drying as well. Much of the roughness showing up around the cut is heat bonded diamond and steel sparks that were flying, landed and cooled there attaching to where they are now. None of this is precision fit so it won't be in the way of anything, nor visible. That one spot in the corner isn't the paint bubbling. I thought it was when I looked at the pic and took another look at the piece. It's a play of the light on some of the roughness.

I found that I have something to use for the blocks I have been looking for. I'll have to get some carriage bolts and so long as it works the way I'm planning, thinking, hoping, I should be good there. I may need to create some spacers for the bolts in front of the brackets. (There should be 3 for my class hitch.) I can use washers or stock I already have for them.
In this pic, you can see the clamp above the grinder wheel before I cut it into 6 pieces between the holes. I also removed the short portion of the L shape on both halves, not in that order. I did have to go back and knock some off of the 3 pieces of the wider half though. You can also see how much bigger the holes were made on the chassis mount bracket to accommodate whatever, thus my use of flat washers as described below.
I should and would have got an individual pic of it. I love taking pics of scenery, but when it comes to work it's an afterthought, as is also evidenced in this pic as I thought, maybe I should get a pic of this frame mount bracket before I cut it.:LOL:
Motor vehicle Automotive tire Bumper Automotive exterior Bicycle part

The 2 middle holes are 5/8", the four outer / smaller are 1/2"
And a bit punishing on my hands today. I actually caught myself with my disc grinder. Twice! I have never before. Not badly, just enough to remind me why I don't want to do that again.

Sep 12, 2022

I'm on a road block now with the hitch, as none of the hardware I originally thought would work will, nobody local has what I need, I tried to buy a kit from etrailer, and they called me back saying they can't do it because they don't sell this hitch, so I'm going to have to piece together what I can from other online sources now I guess. I wish I still had my welder!

Sep 14, 2022

I have confirmed fit. The spare will overlap the crossbar, but is not touching it. May or may not be a hassle raising and lowering. Will see after secured properly.
Tire Vehicle Hood Automotive tire Automotive lighting


Still working on the hardware search. Found a parts list and discovered none of the original bolts are class 8. (I got the impression from my previous thread that this was needed) They are all 5, and not stainless or anything special, so that will be easier, and I have largely fabricated the blocks out of the clamp above.
I may need to keep searching for the two in the front that do not re-use the bumper bracket bolts, along with spacers. Spacers are easy. The holes do not need to be squared. I have two items I'm thinking of using for front blocks but the holes are larger (5/8 vs. 1/2")
Tire Vehicle Car Motor vehicle Automotive tire
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 · (Edited)
At this point we can add to the difficulties the limit on attachments on a thread. How can one document with limits? I am forced to respond to myself here.🤨
Sep 14, 2022
Tire Automotive tire Tread Wheel Rim

Not bad considering how I had to take that pic. I don't have a lift and the van isn't even on a jack right now.

I thought I took a pic of the entire middle assembly when I got it done but it looks like I did not. I'll get one tomorrow. I took a few though...(turns out I did, but I discovered my phone is under control of Skynet. Actually it’s just so slow that if I hit the screen off button before it finishes processing the image, it disappears.)

I spent some time hunting down the proper needed grade nuts and bolts earlier in the day. The shop I got them from is good for having anything you need (almost), although you'll have to search. I'm not certain they know what all they have. They are part salvage, part new, part reclamation, so for people like me who like to rebuild, repurpose and fabricate...😃 They didn't have my blocks, but they had something I could use

Automotive tire Road surface Wood Asphalt Bumper


This worked for inside my chassis with a 1/2" carriage bolt, a spacer, that I don't think I took a pic of, (of course) that was the left over larger hole middle section of the same repurposed clamp that I refabricated to use as the blocks for the carriage bolts used in the mid section here...
Wood Rectangle Fixture Composite material Gas

a flat washer, since they are close to the notches I had to cut and not a close fit to begin with, a lock washer and nut. I also added flat washers to the original bumper bracket bolts as they barely made contact (about 50-70%) with the imprecise sized holes in the hitch to chassis bracket. All these things I should be documenting with pics...
I do have one original block out there I can get a pic of. The dimensions are roughly the same about 1 1//2 x 2 1//2. The difference between the clamp I used and the cut sign post being about 1/8" of thickness. The sign post being 12 gauge steel, and the clamp close to 1/4". In the end, they otherwise look the same too, although the clamp was case hardened steel and I think the sign post is not hardened at all. I may have to continue a search or refabricate from1/4" steel. 12 gauge while thick, may fold. (I later tested this theory in using another piece to replace a broken piece of hardened tool steel in its application. It did indeed fold, quite easily too.)
Otherwise, I have grade 5 hardware all around except technically there is no grading on the washers, lock washers, and the nuts are 2H as they are similar strength and I couldn't find grade 5 although it was probably there, to attach the center assembly to the chassis mounts. That will be done tomorrow, then secure everything all around to spec torque. Maybe I'll touch up some of the new nicks I got while handling, both on the hitch and myself, et viola'!
About time too. I think it was a guy at the haul I got the trailer from over the weekend to bring the van back with my bike who showed me on his install guide system while trying to help me find a block from his spare parts bin, that for this model it was supposed to take a couple of hours for a novice to do. Here I am taking a couple of days and I think today I might have got a black eye. I don't see it yet, but I feel like it. Something dropped while I was under there TWICE! One for each side of my face.

Sep 15, 2022

DONE!
Automotive tire Automotive lighting Hood Motor vehicle Trunk

Painted bolted and torqued, in the back of the subi. ( thought I took one when I had it on the ground on a board before I raised into place, but alas, I did not.)(correction-see above) I couldn't take the shot from the center, or it would have been eclipsed as you can see.

Plant Automotive tire Wheel Motor vehicle Tire

Tire Automotive tire Motor vehicle Wheel Plant

The hardware in the above pics are 1/2" by 1 & 1/4 flanged head bolt, locknut and nut.
Tire Car Wheel Vehicle Plant


and on! All ready to go, and nothing to go anywhere with. I have the drawbar and 2"ball as I said. I need to get a pin, and a rack so that I can build the box I want, to keep my generator and propane in.

I had to remove the lock washers but not the flat washers, from the reused bolts that were part of the bumper brackets because they were too short to reach the chassis with them in place. I put some thread locker on them instead.

I put some 6X wood blocks down to get it in position, started a bolt on the rearmost hole on one side, went to the other and started one in the same spot there.. Things weren't lining up from rear to front so well, kind of forming a V shape. The bolts I bought according to the parts list were only 1" or maybe 1 1/4, I could have got an inch longer. I had to use a pair of vice grips to clamp down the front portion so that I can get the other bolts through enough to get the nut started and snug tight. I Did one side then the other. Then torqued the chassis mount bolts, then the center mount bolts. I took the spare down to get it out of the way to do that.

I took the spare down without a hitch! Cracking myself up here. It was probably the easiest part of the whole project.
Take note of how it looks in the pic above.
Next project will be to clean and repaint.

No black eye but still sore.:)
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I bought this hitch on Amazon and installed it in about an hour.
Different class for one, and for what vehicle? My 04 subi has a class 2. I got that from another with all the hardware and it went on in 30 minutes. Hitch, drawbar, pin, ball and converter for $100.
This is a Class 3 that normally goes for as little as $150 but usually closer to $180 new. I got the hitch, drawbar and 2" ball for $75. Spent another 25 on hardware, paint, 2 wheels to use on the grinder. I can get a locking pin for around $10-15.
The real reason why anything took so long at all was the mis-idea that I needed grade 8 hardware. While no harm in using it, if it's readily available, it wasn't necessary. I wasted much time trying to track that down locally.
All that aside, it's not about putting something new on for some of us. Restoration is our hobby or in some cases, our work, or even both.
I do these things which I can not do, so that I may learn how to do them.
Then teach others. (Thank you @pamfox43 for that latter part🙂)
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
I have always preferred a true Astro hitch, but there hard to come by. I went through something like this on my first go round. My last hitch I just built myself. GOOD JOB.
I did see a custom job built by someone's grandfather for his van listed on Ebay. I'm sure it was probably just as good if not better than what I just put on. If he were close enough for me to see and pick up, I probably would have went with it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
I bought this hitch on Amazon and installed it in about an hour.
Yes, it's a class II, which is totally adequate for any Astro/Safari.
If you're towing something behind an Astro that requires a class III hitch, you're doing it wrong.
Possibly a 2004 Subaru Outback. Not that it has ever broke down.
Curb weight
3,430 to 3,715 lbs
Not including a trailer. AWD so one can not use just a dolly. Class 3 is adequate, and this particular model can handle more than the Astro is rated for.
Not to mention for the use I acquired this Astro for if attention was paid, I intend to put a cargo rack on this hitch with a secure box of sorts that I can keep a generator and propane tank in with sound muffling, at minimum. A tongue weight rating of 500 lbs. gives me room. I could also get a motorcycle rack and put my 400 lb sport bike on it.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
And for the spare...

If we recall this pic:(The only before shot of the outside face that survived my slow processor on my phone cam)
Tire Automotive tire Tread Wheel Rim

this is the backside off the mount:
Plant Automotive tire Wood Rim Grass


wire brushed (representative of both sides) More of that rusty powder came off after cleaning with a tack cloth and lacquer thinner soaked rag before spraying anything.

Automotive tire Wheel Tire Tread Rim


primed (representative of both sides) Actually the primer I used was a rusty metal primer by Rustoleum that you can spray on rusty metal without cleaning except for chips. It is a rusty brown color going on. This is some flat gray top coat I had laying around that I sprayed both sides with. My shots of just the primer disappeared as stated above.
Tire Wheel Plant Motor vehicle Automotive tire


I did the outside face in a metallic silver I also had around in the end so it would not stand out against the other wheels so bad if I had to use it.
Wheel Tire Automotive tire Synthetic rubber Tread


and back in place
Tire Wheel Plant Car Automotive tire

Thank you for watching 🙂
Tune in next time for "What will I do with the two holes left over from the replaced bumper mount hitch?" I'm thinking maybe a piece of diamond plate to take the impact and protect the bumper itself of any misaligned connections I might try to make, or maybe just hit the holes with something to protect from rust (leftover primer) and a snazzy bumper sticker. (y)😃
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Nice paint job on the wheel, but if I may…. I really suggest you find a full size spare. Those compact tires are all way past their “use by” date. I know they don’t see the sun, but mine was pretty chalky when I ditched it.
I see your point and a very good and important one to bring up.
This tire doesn't show any signs of degradation. For as much as it's driven, it will do for now. If I get a full size, It will not fit underneath. I will have to get a door mount spare carrier which is fine because I'm probably (more than likely and have already been pricing and looking at how to install) going to get one anyway as it's just so much easier to access from, plus the added bonus of cool custom spare covers
Automotive parking light Car Vehicle Land vehicle Volkswagen type 2
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
Unless you are running something like 33” tires, a full size spare will fit.
I have a hitch, and my 235/75-15 fits with tons of room to spare.
Do you have an extended body? Mine is not. I don't know if you saw my post regarding bumper capacity when I was entertaining the idea of a bumper mount receiver. Here are some pics from that thread which show how my spare sits slightly under the bumper.
Wood Automotive tire Floor Flooring Tints and shades

Automotive tire Wood Tire Automotive exterior Vehicle door

and this one that shows in relation to the hitch
Tire Vehicle Hood Automotive tire Automotive lighting

and this comparison tool I checked screenshot
Tire Wheel Automotive tire Tread Synthetic rubber

I might fit a full diameter up there, but not a full width with the hitch. I'm clearing by maybe an inch tops, just enough to wiggle it in place while cranking up.
I never liked these crane spare hoist setups. I always seem to get flats that need immediate attention in rain and snow. Who wants to be crawling under their ride in that? I've got my sights on a door mount. It's just not urgent as I usually either drive my bike or Outback, and this is a backup/RV in the making.
 

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Discussion Starter · #21 ·
Your new hitch looks like it should work well!
On the two holes in the bumper..why not make a diamond plate "step" extension for there that covers over the hitch area..but not wide enough to interfere with using it.I plan on using a hitch extension I found for 2" to 1-1/4' and weld a piece on top for the step.My knees are bad and I'm getting awfully tired crawling into the back of the van while I'm working on the interior.Another "step" even with about the bottom of the bumper or the top of a hitch extension decreases that step up to two about 7-8".. or close to standard stair height..
Thank you and I believe it will, even if it is only "new to me":)
I like the suggestion and if in the future I find that I may need one, I'll keep it in mind. For now, my knees aren't that bad off though. I have seen hitches that have a step on them. I have seen hitches that are stacked splitters, so that you can tow with one, and put other items like a bicycle rack or step on the other. I'm favoring plate metal like diamond because if you see the back of my subi:
Car Automotive tail & brake light Vehicle registration plate Vehicle Automotive lighting

all of them little nicks in the bumper cover are from my not so exquisite aim. (The other stuff on the tailgate was there before me.) I'm looking to save my van from all of that.
I saw a magnetic mounted get up that in theory allows you to see where the ball and trailer hitch are in relation and this idea might work on my subi with its low and vertical lift tailgate, (am I the only one that misses the roll down windows or the split hatches of the old Broncos and Blazers and other station wagons? I think Subaru missed an opportunity there.) but on my barn door Astro, I don't think it would be visible and the doors like to close while backing up if I try with them open.
Of course, I have no intention of buying said product either and will make my own that will be tall enough, so that point may be moot, and I'll just find me a nice sticker (hit the drilled holes with some of that primer I used on the spare first, at least). I already have one in mind, and I may get one for each ride.
Also, I don't really like having such things as a hitch or step sticking out past the bumper. I know it "saves the vehicle from damage" if hit, but more than likely it'll save my shins in it's absence first.😖
Also, to the extent my knees do like to give me grief, I always keep some sort of pad in the ride. A gardening pad, old yoga mat, or one of them 2 foot square puzzle together pads work wonders. This helps keep clothes dry and clean and provides padding from hard pavement or dirt road rocks if I have to look underneath or change a tire in an emergency, and if I have to climb up in the back, it just provides extra padding. (sometimes keeps my clothes clean and dry too depending on the condition of the back of my ride😮)
I also like them ladders you can put on the passenger door. I'm not sure I would ever need one yet as I have running boards, a step bumper, and not sure what I may do with the top rack yet, (kayak, cargo box, or rooftop tent?) but I'm keeping them in mind.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
I think I will have to flip the ball on the bar I currently have. It's on the drop side, which would bring the ball even lower than the tube in the picture above, which is already below the crossmember, which is below the bumper. If I flip it, it should be at least close to the crossmember height.
I'll have to handle trailer jacks when and if I encounter them. Personally, if I were to own a trailer, I'd have a flip up jack. The motorcycle utility trailers Uhaul has don't have a jack at all. I have borrowed someone's with my Outback. His jack does not flip up, but i have never drug his jack. I don't think the Astro will sit any lower. The only boat I'm moving around for the foreseeable future is my kayak, and I usually just put that on a roof rack.
Doesn't your outboard tilt up anyway to prevent it from bumping and dragging? Does it's trailer not have any jack in the front? It's for just a smaller bass or john boat then?
 

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Discussion Starter · #25 ·
Yes, actually, I think you did. It was the last post on the bumper mount thread. Although, it has been a while since I actually read that posting, I think you said a few things different on this one.
The only note I have on that is one of the reasons I don't go bigger than my kayak at the moment. I always know people with big boats and like you said, all the time spent planning on and preparing to get out , vs. actually out isn't worth it to me, at least not at this time.
I'd take a 25 cabin cruiser and go down the river to the bay for the weekend and not touch land again until I got back to berth. Most people I know with something like that just go out and cruise a few mile loop up and down and back for half a day. I'd do that with a 12 foot flat, john, or bass boat.
 
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