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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hi to all. The fact that my wife and I have had a total of six Chevy Astros, with three of them remaining in good running condition at our home, shows that we found this the best vehicle for a growing family during the 1990s. Now, as empty nesters, we marvel at the ease of travel in the van, with tons of luggage space. We've always had "our own" individual Astros. My first one, the 1991 named "Ms.Millie" after its original owner, still runs like a champion. In the 90's when we were living at the East Coast, Ms. Millie used to tow my trailer with a motorcycle on it to the North Carolina mountains. After cruising the mountains on the bike all day, it was great to find the van a warm camping shelter. With the rear benches removed, the 4x8 ft space was as nice as a hotel bed.
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Photo: Ms. Millie ('91 Astro CL), the day I bought it in 1998.
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2008 Photo: when Ms.Millie turned 17, the paint faded so I gave her a complete new paint job.
My wife's 2002 Astro is visible in the garage.

My wife's 1992 was a rolling nursery for our twin babies and, 2 years later, a trio of little children.

A 1994 Astro joined the collection in 2009, after the unfortunate destruction of the 2002 model that had become our travel van. Lend the "good" family vehicle to a 17-year old just once, and you may never be able to use it again.
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2009 Photo: our motorhead son's work. He wasn't hurt but all that remains of the 2002 van is the radio.

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A surprise encounter ! Several years after selling the "rolling nursery" '92, I spotted it in a parking lot in Oakwood, Georgia. The new owner didn't value the paint as much as we did. Something weird seems to have happened to the shocks as well.

After the crash totaling the '02, the '94 became the training vehicle for our sons as they all got their drivers' licenses. A pretty white 2000 appeared in the garage in 2009 and has been the main long-distance van in the family since then.

With Ms.Millie now 31 years old and about 200,000 miles on the odometer, the plastic parts and electrical system are showing their age and things are getting loose. Broken plastic parts inside are almost impossible to repair, so the van has been losing some of its coziness.
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Photo: After 12 years, my home-made paint job faded so Ms. Millie got a fresh look in a 2-tone design using classic (1970's) Volkswagen van colors.

This year, I saw as 2003 in excellent body condition sitting in a driveway with a For Sale sign earlier this year, so I snapped that one up to phase in a replacement for Ms. Millie.
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The 2003 needed brake work, but after doing a dozen brake jobs myself on the other vans, it didn't seem like a worry. Here's a snapshot of the week where I replaced most brake parts.
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Famous last words!! My technician and I have replaced just about every part of the brake system by now, and the last remaining trouble is a faulty proportioning valve. It's been discontinued and I've been looking for a solution to replace that part. Any advice about a suitable substitute part would be appreciated.
Meanwhile, old Ms. Millie keeps humming along nicely, with the engine, brakes and steering in top shape.

I'm anxious to finally put the 2003 into service. It's got no body damage, had only one owner, and the interior is flawless. The engine runs smoothly. If I can just get that brake problem eliminated, the van will be a gem. ABS system, rotors, calipers, hoses, everything now checks out but that proportioning valve is putting a scary sideways drift on the brake action. The local Chevy dealer is no help ("can't get that part, sorry."). They'd prefer that I junk the van and buy something new from them. Not gonna happen.
I've replaced the exterior lighting with LEDs, which looks very sharp. Inside, there's now a GPS and dash cam, along with high-quality seat covers. Overall, it's a beauty. Pity to see it parked in front of the shop for months now, with that one brake part holding up the works.

That's the September 2022 status of our Astro collection ! Comments are welcome.

RocDoc
Cornelia, Georgia
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Nice intro! The nostalgia! The reminiscing! I can almost hear that song playing in the background馃槃
I would try salvage yards or rebuilding the one you have for that valve. Of course, I would probably just keep up on Ms. Millie more.
Have you tried NAPA? Is it 2 or AWD?
It's a 2WD. I read that a NAPA part is identical to the AC-Delco one which has disappeared from the market. But I haven't been able to source the NAPA one either. Thanks for your kind words, bryancraftyhands !
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
I am in NH and just got parts from a 2002, I am going back Monday if you wish I can see if it's got a good one and get a price for you. Price plus shipping no extra> I love junkyards lol
Markmitch, if you find out about a proportioning valve for 2003-2005 Astro, I'll be grateful ! Thanks for your note! RocDoc
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Nice intro! The nostalgia! The reminiscing! I can almost hear that song playing in the background馃槃
I would try salvage yards or rebuilding the one you have for that valve. Of course, I would probably just keep up on Ms. Millie more.
Have you tried NAPA? Is it 2 or AWD?
It's a 2WD. I've looked for the NAPA equivalent, but that too seems to have vanished from the surface of the Earth.
My "difficult jobs" technician is currently trying one that was for a Silverado. Thanks for your reply !
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
I am in NH and just got parts from a 2002, I am going back Monday if you wish I can see if it's got a good one and get a price for you. Price plus shipping no extra> I love junkyards lol
Thanks for the offer ! I don't know if the 2002 valve will work. The different brackets are no problem, but I haven't a clue about the internal diameters and pressures.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Welcome!
Just went through the proportioning valve thing on a 95. Same story, this is discontinued and cant be found.

The valve is common to tons of GM applications and i was able to find one on ebay. What seems to me to be discontinued is the astro specific bracket the valve is pressed on to, not the valve itself. Since both are one unit and dont come apart, you get a false positive for no longer available.

I received one in the mail from ebay that had a different dimension bracket (think for a pickup) and had to tweak some of my lines, but it did work very well. Do not forget the valve tool to facilitate easy brake bleeding.
Thanks for replying, Tinworm ! What year/model valve did you end up installing?
 

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Discussion Starter · #22 ·
In my case the discontinued valve looks exactly like the one for the 89 thru 94 K1500.

Looking on this forum i found this diagram for a 2003 astro brake system and i have to say while the location of the valve is totally different and bracket totally different, the valve itself looks suspiciously identical to the one i installed on my 95.

Heres a comparison picture of the diagram and my valve.

There is a gamble element here, but im betting this valve remained unchanged apart from orientation in the engine compartment and updated bracketry to mount it.

Also the price of what looks like an identical proportioning valve in many applications is all over the map. The valve i installed was less than 40 bucks. Were i the OP id pull the offending valve from the 2003 and buy one of the ones he can get his hands on, then compare.

If they look identical then it would be a matter of grinding the new valve off its bracket, doing the same for the original, and probably drilling and tapping for a machine screw to hold it.

Another option is eastwood does sell generic proportioning valves that could be adapted.
Thanks for the photo and diagram ! Yes, we're trying different valves now designed for other Chevy vehicles. Something just has to fit. I'm not ready to junk this nice van because of one silly part.
 

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Discussion Starter · #23 ·
If there were a AstroSafari "Hall of Fame" several of you guys would be in it.

I love the photos in this thread.
Thanks, Ruh-Roh ! Here are some more goofy ones -- the family (1 wife, 3 sons) hates to pose in the front yard, so here we go, along with Snowwhite (2000 Astro), Ms. Millie (1991 Astro), and Wilson (1994 Astro). They only look this bored when there's a group photo in progress.
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My "Astro reverse tow" technique. My hobby shop is down the hill on a fairly steep grade. A 1971 Beetle project arrived without any brakes whatsoever. So I tied it to the rear of Ms. Millie and backed her down the slope, with one of my sons steering the Beetle. It went very well.
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I've come to the conclusion that whatever you're rebuilding, you need at least one Astro to haul parts around or do the occasional tow with or without trailer.
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Here's a still life of a project, 1976 Beetle Cabrio (still in progress), Ms. Millie, and Wilson.
Wilson the 1994 Astro ended up with engine failure at about 185,000 miles. Not an excessive amount, but when I bought that van for cheap, it already had 161,000 on the clock with poor maintenance. I replaced the wheels (and my Michelin tires) with four old donut-spares, and limped to the local metal recycler, running on 5 cylinders (the camshaft was worn badly, according to my technician, no way to get the 6th cylinder running properly). The wheels and a rear window glass are still on duty today.
 

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Discussion Starter · #24 ·
Thanks, Mmusicman !
I thought I saw another reply from you with pictures, but can no longer locate it. Maybe I'm using the navigation incorrectly in this forum.
Anyway, I love the looks of your vans. And I'm also quite sure I saw a Honda VTX in the background. It's a topic for a different forum, but I ride a couple of Hondas too, as well as Harleys 20 and 32 years old. Let me know if you're heading north again with the bike and the Astro. I'll treat you to a bbq lunch somewhere here in North Georgia.
 

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Discussion Starter · #26 ·
I have a 99 van where their solution to this problem was jettison the valve entirely. I was actually looking to compare valves between my 99 and 95 based on this thread when i discovered that it was completely removed! Explained some brake weirdness on that van.

From what im reading here, since yours is an 03 the function of the valve is pretty much taken over by the ABS unit with the dynamic rear proportioning. Maybe you don't need the valve at all on yours? While this is definitely a problem on my 99, it may not be on a DRP equipped van.

To me that would also bring the diagnosis into question, if proportioning on your van is mostly handled by the ABS unit, maybe a fault there is the issue instead of the valve.
That point came up over here as well. Early on, when the ABS light was lit, I had the ABS module rebuilt by Upfix.com in Buford, Ga. where I took the unit personally. Their place of business and professional attitude left me with a very good impression. The repair came with a diagnostic sheet detailing what was replaced. After reinstalling, the ABS light remained off and the unit threw no trouble codes, so I think we can be reasonably confident that the ABS is working alright. The repair cost less than half of what a new ABS controller would have. Also, it required no reprogramming, which, I understand, would have to be done by a Chevy dealer on a new unit.
Waiting for word from my local technician about how the prop valve is behaving that's labeled for a different model Chevrolet. Thanks for the information, Tinworm !
 
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