AWD swap for Astro-based RV?

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AWD swap for Astro-based RV?

Postby Ball [OP] » June 9th 2016, 12:24am

OK, so this idea is out of left field, but here it goes.

There is an old (87) Astro-based RV for sale semi-locally. It's stripped and needs a lot of work, but it runs and is advertised as only having 66k miles.

I happen to own a '94 AWD Astro with a blown engine. I can also pick one up locally for cheap. The one I own is in another state so it's probably easier just to buy another one. Both options have a 'W' engine.

I have replaced the tranny on my AWD which necessitated taking apart the front suspension, but of course not the sub-chassis. I have access to a monster air tool to take the sub-chassis bolts off.

Questions:

1) What AWD Astro front-ends would be compatible with the '87 rear-end? I know AWD came out in 1990, but I don't know if any modifications to the rear chassis were made.

2) Assuming these are compatible parts, how difficult would it be to marry them?

In my mind even though the RV engine only has 66k, it's probably a TBI engine (Z?) and while I DO have access to an engine lift I see no reason to swap them (maybe you have different thoughts). Basically, I see the process as unbolting the sub-chassis, lifting (tipping) both Astros back, rolling the AWD front-end under the RV, bolting it back, having the drive shaft shortened, and probably swapping the rear axle since the ratios probably won't match.

How insane is this thought experiment? I'll need to know soon as I'll have access to the shop and I've already sourced a donor van which will only set me back $500.
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Re: AWD swap for Astro-based RV?

Postby chevymaher » June 9th 2016, 2:14am

It will work bolt right up. Just the way your talking about doing it.

Get the computer out of the one the motor came from. Or switch intakes and sensors. The older computer is the better one in my opinion. Chips plug in. In case you ever want to do some tuning in the future. TBI's are much more reliable as well.
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Re: AWD swap for Astro-based RV?

Postby Rockridge » June 9th 2016, 2:27am

These vans are great, just like when I'm working on old American bicycles, just move the parts around..... This sounds like a cool project
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Re: AWD swap for Astro-based RV?

Postby icebrrg3rd » June 9th 2016, 4:56pm

Just an FYI, I think in '93 the transmission became computer operated, '92 and earlier were simpler as in non-electronic, used kick-down cable. Just in case you start swapping your '94 stuff into the '87. And '87 might be a cable driven speedometer instead of electronic like '88+. I'm not definite on these dates, but they're close, something to watch out for.

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Re: AWD swap for Astro-based RV?

Postby 97cargocrawler » June 10th 2016, 9:29am

Be sure to snap a pic using that monster air tool!
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