2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

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2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby 907adventurer [OP] » August 11th 2016, 10:58pm

Hello all, I am new to the forum, but I have found critically important information on here that will come in handy I am sure. This is a two man gig, and I'll start off with the history of this endeavour. My buddy, Forrest, is from Illinois, and moved to Alaska for college last fall. I am from Valdez, Alaska, and Forrest is living at my house for the summer, working, before we both head back up to Fairbanks in a week and a half for school. He was in the market for a vehicle recently, and wanted something not 2WD, not a car, and not ridiculously expensive. After many a Craigslist browsing, here we have a 2000 Chevy Astro AWD. We had planned to make it a little more Alaska friendly in terms of lift, lights, camping, winterizing, and so it begins. I say "we", but all that really means is he buys parts and I get to build on a vehicle, so it's a win-win for me. Anywho, I was unaware of what the RPO codes were until after he bought the van, so after reading build threads, and going through Google, I nervously went to the passenger door, and looked to see if this was going to be feasible for a 4" lift. I cross referenced, and lo and behold, she's got the G80! :banana:
It has the 3.42 gears, which aren't ideal, but I think they will work out. We will be tag teaming this build so if you see "theFlyingDutchman" posting similar pictures and info, that is Forrest.

Any advice or suggestions on this project would be AWESOME!
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby Corsemoto » August 11th 2016, 11:23pm

Welcome! Sounds like you're doing the right research to get your van built, best of luck and post some pics!
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby 907adventurer [OP] » August 11th 2016, 11:25pm

So here we go. First things first, lights. Lower 48 has deer, Alaska has moose. I purchased a light bar for my truck last year, and I would pay for that thing several times over. It not only looks good, but it has saved my skin and truck on more than one occasion. It is also handy when people need a little extra lighting for something.
Here is the lightbar. 588 watts, about 61,000 lumens. It is BRIGHT. I'll post some pics later tonight hopefully along with the switch. Mrs. theFlyingDutchman was watching us work from inside of the van
IMG_1616.jpg


Here is "theFlyingDutchman" with his van
IMG_1618.jpg


And of course, a van wouldn't be complete without a cargo basket. This was purchased from Cabela's for $150 and didn't require any special modifications. We just used the stock rails on top
IMG_1619.jpg


And a view from the top
IMG_1620.jpg
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby 907adventurer [OP] » September 17th 2016, 9:54am

Well, it has been quite a while due to some unexpected events, but we managed to get all the lift kit components up to Alaska safe and sound. :dance: We have been stockpiling parts over the past month to throw on as well, so we basically have a new Moog front end and a pair of new Moog lower control arms that we got a steal on from Craigslist ($50 for both)! Hopefully today we will begin! Winter is coming, so hopes are high on getting this ready. For those who have already performed this lift, what are some things we can look out for, or that might make things easier? Also, we are going to order some 30.6 x 10.4 inch (265/70/R16) tires on some rims, so if any of you veterans have done something like this, what should we look for or avoid as far as rim specs, i.e. offset, clearance, etc. ?
IMG_1706.jpg

IMG_1708.jpg
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby HotWire » September 17th 2016, 2:50pm

Looking good!
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby WimpTech » September 17th 2016, 3:20pm

Hey 907, sorry I missed your intro post... WELCOME!
YES, read, read lots, you are doing it right! Ohh, BTW, no pun intended but... nice rack... where'd you get it?
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby AstroWill » September 17th 2016, 5:40pm

Wimpazz wrote: Ohh, BTW, no pun intended but... nice rack... where'd you get it?


907adventurer wrote:And of course, a van wouldn't be complete without a cargo basket. This was purchased from Cabela's for $150 and didn't require any special modifications. We just used the stock rails on top

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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby WimpTech » September 18th 2016, 2:51pm

AstroWill wrote:
Wimpazz wrote: Ohh, BTW, no pun intended but... nice rack... where'd you get it?


907adventurer wrote:And of course, a van wouldn't be complete without a cargo basket. This was purchased from Cabela's for $150 and didn't require any special modifications. We just used the stock rails on top


Thanks Will, must have missed that.
Found and ordered the rack and another extension, 20%off and free shipping, $160 to my door. Thanks!
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby 907adventurer [OP] » September 19th 2016, 8:51am

Well today was fun! We decided to start with the back, thinking we would get it done the quickest. We're almost there, but spent a lot of time scratching our heads figuring out why the leaf springs would not match up, and which way was the front. Finally realized the axle moves a lot more in all directions when you start taking it off leaf springs. It also doesn't help when the axle falls on theFlyingDutchman's head when moving it... :whistle: Anyway, we got all the bolts in place, and went to put on the new shock absorbers, and hit another wall. I think it's doable, but with the Rancho shocks we got, specifically the 5112 for the rear, and 5152s for the front, the eyelet hole on them is a bit bigger in diameter than the original shocks. One of the shocks came with a bag of sleeves that pressed into the eyelet hole and took up a little slop with the bolt. It also came with a bunch of different sized washers and a double ended bolt, not sure of the dimensions, but one bolt end was larger diameter than the other. The other shock came with the double-ended bolt thing, no sleeves, and probably half the washers of the other shock. I figured we only really needed the shock absorber since we are using the stock mounts and bolts, and use washers as spacers on the axle shock mount to take up the horizontal space on the sides of the shock eyelet. This probably would be easier to explain with pictures, but I forgot to take some. Any of you that might have a similar experience or advice, PLEASE chime in. Tomorrow we're tackling the front, so I'm probably most nervous about putting in the new torsion keys, but we'll see what happens. I went from this garage to the adjacent garage to process a moose my buddy killed, followed by a grilled moose steak and a campfire, so all in all I think it was a productive day.

Pre-game photo
IMG_1710.jpg

Original shackles vs. new lift shackles
IMG_1719.jpg

Original leaf springs vs. new HD leaf springs. I think it is safe to say that they were worn out, but fun to bounce on
IMG_1721.jpg

Trying to line up the new springs on the axle. I really wanted to make some videos for YouTube on doing this lift so its easier for other people, but you know when you watch those "fix-it" videos and its awkward when the guy realizes he's doing something wrong or has no idea what he is doing wrong, and there's those long pauses while they ponder their work? Yeah, I don't wanna be that guy either.
IMG_1724.jpg

Here's a halfway decent picture of the new leaf springs on the new shackles
IMG_1725.jpg

Close-up of the springs on the spring perches
IMG_1728.jpg
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby AstroWill » September 19th 2016, 9:50am

Wimpazz wrote:Thanks Will, must have missed that.
Found and ordered the rack and another extension, 20%off and free shipping, $160 to my door. Thanks!


Looks like a good deal!

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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby 907adventurer [OP] » September 19th 2016, 10:22am

Wimpazz wrote:
Thanks Will, must have missed that.
Found and ordered the rack and another extension, 20%off and free shipping, $160 to my door. Thanks!


Just a heads up Wimpazz, the mounting brackets that come with it are kinda screwy, if you have the adjustable rails that run horizontal across the top of your van, you basically have to install the mount upside down, or at least we did. I can take some pictures if you want. Man, with that other extension its gonna be like 6.5 feet long!

ALSO: The instructions that come with the roof rack are AWFUL! This is basically a Cabela's rebranded CURT Mfg. Roof basket, so I looked up instructions from there when I did it. Here they are, and much more detailed.
https://www.curtmfg.com/masterlibrary/1 ... 15_INS.PDF

We've been trying to think of what to do with those plates that sit on the side of the basket, maybe some flush mount LED floodlights for 360 degree lighting?
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby AstroWill » September 19th 2016, 10:28am

907adventurer wrote: I can take some pictures if you want.

Please do :)

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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby WimpTech » September 19th 2016, 6:17pm

ABSOLUTELY! Thank you very much for the extra info. I can make a thread to cover the installation and include these links n stuff in case someone else wants to do it.
Actually, I almost got 2 extensions! I wanted it to run the length of the roof, but I was afraid that 2 extensions would make it too floppy in front due to lack of support since it attaches to the stock rails.

Thanks for the heads up!

BTW- Flush mount LEDs that can swivel up n down is exactly what I have in mind, I will post what I finally use. I also plan on a curved LED light bar up front too. Please do the same with your solution, love to see it!
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby 907adventurer [OP] » September 20th 2016, 1:41am

Wimpazz wrote:ABSOLUTELY! Thank you very much for the extra info. I can make a thread to cover the installation and include these links n stuff in case someone else wants to do it.
Actually, I almost got 2 extensions! I wanted it to run the length of the roof, but I was afraid that 2 extensions would make it too floppy in front due to lack of support since it attaches to the stock rails.

Thanks for the heads up!

BTW- Flush mount LEDs that can swivel up n down is exactly what I have in mind, I will post what I finally use. I also plan on a curved LED light bar up front too. Please do the same with your solution, love to see it!


AstroWill and Wimpazz, the roof rack is stuck on its side now because with the lift, we won't be able to clear the garage door when be back out with it on. So, if you can imagine the vertical side facing down, against the top of the van, here is what the mount looks like--
IMG_1730.jpg


The thumbnuts end up facing towards the roof. The bars on the rack are space precisely far enough apart the polymer piece just snaps in, almost like it was made to. From there, the U bolt and metal bracket slide on. When installing or taking it off, you only need to undo one thumbnut and it will swivel/pop out. Tightening them down on initial installation will give you some sore fingers though; it's kind of an awkward angle trying to tighten them between the rails and the roof.
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby 907adventurer [OP] » September 20th 2016, 9:46am

Update on the project! So we finally figured out what to do with the shocks. We went to Lowe's and Lowe and behold we found some sleeves that fit perfectly into the eyelets on the shocks! From there, we took out the side to side play in the shock mount with a washer on each side. While installing the shock on the rear driver side, we found that the previous owner must've whacked it on something, so we had to bend it back into order with a mini-sledge. It all worked out though. Torqued everything down, dropped it, and goggled at how much higher the rear end was sitting. It was pretty cool.

We began work on the front by putting the new ball joints in the new control arms, then removing the inner and outer tie rods and assembling the new ones. Does anyone know if we remove the old lower control arms if we will screw anything up with the torsion bars? We haven't unloaded them yet.

I forgot to ask/mention yesterday on the leaf springs, the distance from the center bolt to the bushings is longer on one side than the other. I don't remember the exact dimensions, but the original leafs had the longer end towards the front, but after adding the new shackles, the center lined up with the shorter end of the new springs towards the front. I'm guessing that is the right way? I didn't see anything in the instructions, so I assumed I had it right.

The new sleeves for the shocks
IMG_1731.jpg


Bottom of the shock with some Ye Olde custom spacers
IMG_1734.jpg


Both shocks in place
IMG_1737.jpg


New ride height! Sorry about the wheels guys, they look pretty silly. 16s should be coming soon, along with some bigger tires
IMG_1744.jpg
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby theFlyingDutchman » September 20th 2016, 9:50am

Hello everyone, I have a question I'm hoping I might be able to get some help with. I am currently working on lifting my 2000 Astro (pictured above in this thread) with the lift from Overland Vans. After finishing the back lift I was instructed to ad a bracket to give the rear brake line some wiggle room for when the suspension lowers, say when driving over a pot hole.

This is what the bracket looks like originally, mounted just to the rear of the gas tank.

IMG_1746.jpg


When placing the brake line extension bracket I noticed that the brake line had to be pushed far down and slightly bent (not enough to cause any damage). So one end of the new extension bracket got mounted to the body and the other end mounted to the original bracket like so.

IMG_1748.jpg

IMG_1749.jpg


Can anyone confirm that this is correct? Or if it is wrong let me know how to fix it? The instructions were somewhat vague and I don't want to run into issues with the brake lines down the road, thanks!
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby ironhead79 » March 3rd 2017, 1:24pm

907,out of curiosity what size lightbar is in these pics ?
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby 907adventurer [OP] » March 14th 2017, 5:23am

ironhead79, it is a 42".
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby 97cargocrawler » March 14th 2017, 9:35am

Brake line is installed correctly. The axle is now further from the body, brake lines and hoses should not be stretched, hence the drop down and extension. Ideally a much longer brake hose is installed.

In a perfect world, under full axle droop the hose and line should still have some slack.
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Re: 2000 Astro Build (Experience Wanted!)

Postby Lumpy » March 20th 2017, 1:40am

97cargocrawler wrote:
..full axle droop...



Is that the ice skater turned rapper?


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Projects/BuildsEach members' project build thread. Post details and photos, past and present, of your projects coming together. Restorations, modifications, or customizations of a vehicle and a sequential history of the progress. Build-up threads only!
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