2001 RWD Safari Van

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2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Ironsides [OP] » February 17th 2017, 5:21pm

Our 2001 RWD Safari Passenger Van we use to road trips, move furniture and tow a 6x10 cargo trailer.

Considered to lift, paint and modify, but realized we bought this particular van because it is great on fuel consumption, geared for highway use and just the right height for moving furniture. It's a little disappointing because I really wanted to put the 7" HD S-10 springs, taller front coils, body lift and have a lot of fun. Maybe our next van will be a nicer conversion with AWD so doing these things would be worth while.

That's all the crying I will do over not getting to modify this van.

Why write a project/build topic? I asked myself many times. Because it's being done, I have questions and need answers and would like to not have to search through my previous posts in other's topics.

Only major work done to this van that I was told about was the intake manifold had to be replaced.

As purchased June 2014

100_4019.JPG


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100_4023.JPG


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The sell paper and labels

100_4819.JPG


100_4813.JPG


100_4814.JPG


Typical wear and tear all stock except floor liner was ruined

100_4027.JPG


Fixed that with cheap pad and carpet for under $50

100_4116.JPG


Then purchased a set of General Grabber A/T2 215/75R15

100_5435.JPG


100_5438.JPG


Nice tires, got a lot of grab, total overkill for what we need :D

Then there was the rear brake overhaul and tune up purchased from RockAuto 2015

100_5872.JPG


Brakes turned out great

Brakes_2015.jpg


Tune up was fine, learned to open dog house, take out seat and fixed the dash grab bar

seatless2.jpg


Then there was the engine and transmission mounts 2015

DeadMounts.jpg


Midge_Mounts.png


I did change the transmission fluid and filter.
I did replace the idler pulley.
I did break the right driver arm rest pin, that sucked and it is annoying and I wish I had not.
I didn't break anything else... so far.
Add a few oil changes, replacement bulbs and insignificant minor things and we're all caught up to 2017.
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Ironsides [OP] » February 17th 2017, 5:56pm

January 2017 we bought a 1995 6x10 Wells Cargo Tote Wagon

trl_6.jpg


Trailer and van empty it is too low.

Looking down the rear leaf spring can see it is nearly straight empty, half a tank of gas, no seats, no trailer.
Bump stops worn away :shock: this van has been abused no doubt.

100_6646.JPG


Looking at the rest, clearly just untouched and neglected until now

100_6649.JPG


The front is just as neglected

100_6641.JPG


100_6642.JPG


So I have ordered the heavy duty stock style rear leaf springs 22-1195HD this morning from General Spring in Kansas.

I have a shopping cart with CC640 front coils, Gabriel Load Carrier (rear) and MaxControl (front) shocks, axle seals, idler arms, but I am looking at those ball joints and just shaking my head. The one upper pictured has a leaky grease boot, but none are loose right now.

My questions; because replacing the coil spring, then new upper ball joints? lowers? do I need the ball joint spacers?

I have read the lifts threads, broken upper control arms, busted lower ball joints, although I am not lifting, I don't want this turning into a horror story, I'd rather do the right thing now than find myself road side.

Thank you and happy weekend
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Lumpy » February 18th 2017, 4:19pm

You didn't "break" that seat pin. You found the "about to break" 16 year old part. That's the way I look at anything that breaks on my van. It's old. It's past it's life expectancy. You found it while you're home, in a good spot, able to address it, not at 5:45 pm in the parking lot of Whole Foods with no WiFi and a tub of tofu going bad in the heat.

On ball joints -

Once those front coils start trying to spread things apart, you'll probably want to remount the upper ball joints with spacers to the bottom of the control arm. Drilling out rivets is about the most difficult part. And that's not really difficult, just might eat a couple drill bits.

The spacers, from OLV, are expensive but beautiful and heavy duty.

NOT spacing the upper ball joints downward runs the risk of the UCAs hitting things as they travel downward. Not spacing them also makes it more difficult to achieve an appropriate camber on your alignment.

Entire replacement Dorman upper control arms are pretty cheap. They come with ball joints (riveted, much easier to drill out when they're OFF the van), mount/align shafts and bushings already installed. You'll want to do a wheel alignment after the lift anyway so installing the entire new UCA seems logical to me.

Lowers are a little different. That ball joint is beefier. Press it out and press the new one in if you want to replace it. I'd think it's logical to assume that any Astro, since it's minimum 12 years old, could stand to have it's ball joints replaced. You'll have it all apart anyway. Relatively simple job.

I think you're looking at all "The right stuff" to take care of, getting this van the way you want it. Gotta have that suspension, steering, brakes working well, appropriate to the anticipated load and driving conditions etc.


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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Ironsides [OP] » February 18th 2017, 4:52pm

Hi Lumpy!

Yes sir, thank you.
I've read your posts on lifting and was going to apply your shock relocation until I changed my mind on the lift. As you know I too came to astrosafari like so many scratching my head, I'm still reading builds. You and several members have posted many times for others and still do and thank you.
Flipping the ball joint was going to happen, I wasn't sure about the extension.
Overland parts aren't expensive, heck I "donated" $25 here yesterday.

Before I made DavLyns Collectibles and used this beaten Safari van to move antiques, vintage and repurposed stuff, I was commercial driver and before that sheet metal journeyman. Between those careers I was a repeat offender, um "sales" for Fastenal, just kept going back LOL but my point is I understand the value.

You told me in the past where to visit Arizona. I think we're flying in next fall. Will post on that thread. I'm going to have to rent a ride, couldn't go last two years, I haven't had any time off, so we closed the shop and will travel to shows instead. March 11 in Georgia, got a lot of work to do to get safe.

As you've advised others to lift and level, I will be strengthening and leveling.


Here's a pic of the lowered trailer axle that I need to also level out with the van.
IMAG05543.jpg


It was lowered because previous owner only used it for his Harley.

Thank you for your advise and clarification, I had read CC stating to add the extensions before but I was unclear if it was for lifting, handling, alignment or all those.
Thank you and have a great weekend.
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Lumpy » February 18th 2017, 5:23pm

Here's a way you can visualize how ball joint relocation works.

Put a jack under the SUBFRAME and another under the LOWER CONTROL ARM.

Jack the frame UP till the wheel is off the ground. See if you can visualize where the UCA bumps or is about to bump the metal (and the rubber bumper) below it. Jack the LCA (and the wheel) up and down a bit to help visualize it.

While you're doing that, look at the wheel from the FRONT of the van. As the wheel drops (spring extended) the bottom of the tire tilts IN and the top tilts OUT (positive camber). The LONGER the coil springs you install, the more pronounced that positive camber will be.

OK so far? Two things going on -
1) Upper arm is limited in DOWNward travel
2) Newly LOWERED lower control arm (taller springs) force the wheel into more positive camber. The tires "pinch in" at the bottom

Now visualize installing spacers on the upper. That creates more clearance for the UCA to move downward before hitting the jounce bumper rubber thing. In my van, you could literally hear the UCAs hitting if you'd go into a pot hole or off a steep bump.

The upper control arms may NOT hit the jounce bumpers when you hang it off a jack. But as you increase tire/wheel weight that heavier "ball on a stick", plus the taller, stiffer coils wants to pull/throw the wheel downward as you negotiate bumps.

That takes care of the #1 thing, the limited downward travel

For the camber problem, the "higher" UCA has just a tiny bit more adjustment possible. It will move inboard a bit to adjust that camber to less positive. Our vans get a lot more stable if we can shift the camber toward negative (bottom of the tires splayed OUT instead of pinched IN).


I think(?) it might be better to do one section of a lift COMPLETELY before addressing another part. I've done it both ways. It's certainly less redundant work to remove everything and replace everything all at once (springs, shocks, control arms, ball joints etc). But it probably gives a better picture if we'd do the springs first, then button it all up and evaluate, then address the control arms, button up and evaluate etc. You just never know what this or that mod will do and it's probably a good idea to see what each step in the lift does. And of course, we don't all have the luxury of repeatedly taking our van apart to do another mod. So if it's one of those "Working in an unbelievably cramped garage with the landlord's car parked 18" from me" (like Cargo's first lifts) it may be more logical to do everything at once.

Whatever you do, you'll probably want to change something down the road.


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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Ironsides [OP] » February 26th 2017, 8:29pm

New 22-1195HD rear springs installed.

Before and after.

22_1195_HD_Spring_4.jpg
Before and After 22-1195HD springs


Some during shots cubed into one image as this isn't a lift so it's not going to be of serious interest.

22_1195_HD_Spring_1.jpg


22_1195_HD_Spring_2.jpg


22_1195_HD_Spring_3.jpg


I mashed the pics together to save space, the rust cleaned and painted along the way to improve the look for the low riders stuck behind me in traffic. I did open the differential and was pleased to find very little metal on the magnet, will order more parts, front pinion seal, new universal joints and stop the weeping. The fill plug was beyond tight, seized, so I used the floor jack to open it then buzzed off the rust with wire cup on my grinder. The original clamshell as covered many times on this site does not fit anything but original leaf packs so I deleted the rubbers and placed poly for now, will measure for u-bolts and plates. As seen in last image the Gabriel shocks I ordered got smushed being torqued to 75ft lbs. I had not even considered they use a cheap split ferrule... I will deal with that as well at a later time and update here. I am guessing poly bushings, or pressing the original spacers, we will see.

I am very pleased with the outcome, nearly 2" lift from what I had, but by no means a 2" lift over stock height. As stated before this is about capability not off road or cosmetics. I don't need bigger tires. I did set the trim an inch higher than 5.5" just guessing as the repair book I'm using doesn't cover HD springs.

Next will be the front coils and shocks, evaluation and leveling lift if needed. I will be installing new idler arms, upper ball joints as well. We are closing in on next show, so the rear is completed for now until I can address shocks, u-bolts and plates.
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Ironsides [OP] » March 16th 2017, 7:00pm

Continuing the suspension upgrade I had to first address the split ferrules that come with the Gabriel rear shocks within the bushings as I crushed one following the 75 ft lb torque. Knowing the stock KYB spacers/bushings wouldn't fit into the Gabriels, measured and found 3/8" steel pipe cut to length, ground and pressed into the bushings and fixed that. Gabriel didn't care, the shocks are made in Mexico :x and the split ferrule used just isn't GMC professional grade :lol:
Torqued to 75# and finished my rear upgrade.

rear_shock_spacer.jpg


Then it was on to the front CC640 springs.

Don't know how everyone remembers to stop and take pics, I wasn't covering anything new or special so no superzise images. These are of the driver side, I now know a front spring replacement by the book from underneath would be easier, but I was replacing the upper ball joints and idler arms so for me this is the way.

Before_front.jpg


Everything is rusty and dirty so I covered it with old rust reformer just for looks. Placing some cardboard under the upper ball joint while drilling because it needs a bib for all the drilling oil and shavings. New upper ball joint installed, I didn't do the flip, I may revisit this later when doing the lower ball joints. New spring and shocks installed with ball joint, wheel sensor wire riveted, looks good to me.

During_front.jpg


So finished we're sitting at 31" in the front now, 1-1/2" over what I started and it looks great, feels great, handles better, a lot like a full size truck and can carry a whole lot more.

Finished_front.jpg


New idler arms in this image as well as a look up inside the coil spring during installation. Going this angle up into the frame the upper isolator shifted and holding the slim cell phone between coils and taking a pic helped see where it was before loosening the spring compressor. Installing the CC640 is a hair tricky because the variable tight coils offer no placement for the compressor and space dictated I use the most unfavorable style. Very important note on the compressor as well, it is evident that others renting the tool before me didn't apply grease to the threads and ran it with a power tool as the threads were stripped, had to go to three stores to find a good one, definitely want a good one. Couldn't find new lower astro safari lower spring isolators so I purchased s-10 ones, bigger and cupped as seen on top of new inverted springs, I trimmed them to fit and they are fine. Again, like going to AT tires it's like taking off slippers and putting on shoes.

Finally complete front and rear, I like the wheels are now below the cladding line. Lynn likes the height and I confirmed we didn't lift it but a hair and that this is where the van is supposed to sit. The rear coil shocks did kick it up another half inch so we're gonna have to look into body spacers if I want it level.

100_6705.JPG
2001 GMC Safari RWD with 22-1195HD rear leaf springs and CC640 front coil springs


The reason for the heavy duty upgrade

Show.jpg
Rustapalooza Spring In St. Mary's 2017 DavLyns Collectibles LLC


We trailer a 1995 6x10 Wells Cargo Tote Wagon full of the equipment and wares for our side business.
As seen it holds up very well.

Next repairs, so long as nothing cuts in line, all tie rods, stabilizer bushings, lower ball joints, wheel bearings so I can get it aligned.
Next desires, some sort of roof extension to better air flow and lights, we need lights when working in the dark. A custom topper roof light rack nothing functional from inside using the holes already provided and frame for mounting off road LED lights. I'm really only driven to do anything to this van as needed. I was imagineering something like an ambulance topper in appearance, but a hybrid roof rack, anyway it's mine, will do what I want as long as it stays put and legal :banana:

As far as lifting, I will probably do the 2" and rear blocks, I don't like the way the clamshell fits now, so u bolts, plate and shim will probably happen somewhere because as so many have stated and experienced, you get tires, you go up, you get tires and go again. The tired passenger slipper tires I replaced with General Grabber AT's (Mexico) I want the LT AT's this truck deserves boots! It makes all the difference, it's nice sitting higher than all the mini vans, suvs and worn out full size stock trucks, it didn't matter so much to me before, but after all that work it matters now :driving:

Thanks again for the inspiration to all the members doing work and sharing here on astrosafari it is a great help so I can do what I needed!

:ty:
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Ironsides [OP] » March 23rd 2017, 3:28pm

Did the badge upgrade :D

IMAG05760.jpg
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby WimpTech » March 23rd 2017, 3:54pm

Rightfully so man, that van will put mini-trucks across the land into shameful retreat!
Very well done, looks like you've done this once or twice before huh. All Delco parts too.
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Ironsides [OP] » March 23rd 2017, 4:14pm

Wimpazz wrote:Rightfully so man, that van will put mini-trucks across the land into shameful retreat!
Very well done, looks like you've done this once or twice before huh. All Delco parts too.


Thanks, never done any of this before, just watching all of you.
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby 1lowcab » March 23rd 2017, 4:51pm

Good job and nice work, really liking the truck badge! :thumbup:

That's the way to modify a vehicle, one system at a time, make sure all the basic systems are up to factory spec and move on, its how I've always done mine.



My 03 was pretty used and abused when i got her, I wanted to put a lift and bigger tires on it right away but she needed other things, so I had to address all her other problems and am just now getting to the "fun" parts.

How are those spring over shocks? Do they make any noise when you run empty? I've been looking at those but mine runs empty a lot (I have no rear interior as I am in the same business as you) and have heard that they rattle with little weight on them.
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Ironsides [OP] » March 23rd 2017, 6:17pm

1lowcab wrote:Good job and nice work, really liking the truck badge! :thumbup:

That's the way to modify a vehicle, one system at a time, make sure all the basic systems are up to factory spec and move on, its how I've always done mine.



My 03 was pretty used and abused when i got her, I wanted to put a lift and bigger tires on it right away but she needed other things, so I had to address all her other problems and am just now getting to the "fun" parts.

How are those spring over shocks? Do they make any noise when you run empty? I've been looking at those but mine runs empty a lot (I have no rear interior as I am in the same business as you) and have heard that they rattle with little weight on them.


Thanks man, the spring shocks are firm and bouncy empty, I had a few drives between new leaf springs and new shocks, can tell difference. After install I was jumping on bumper and it was a Pogo stick.
I hear and feel everything a lot more now, so yes, more tire noise, road rumble, no rattle that I've noticed.
Fully loaded with trailer they're noticed too and very nice, we were on the overload leaf and handled comfortably and stable.

Hope that helps.
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby The Drummer » March 23rd 2017, 6:53pm

Good job , i realy wish i had a van that as no more rust than yours , i realy do , anyhow you are ready to carry stuff now :).
''USE THE TORQUE LUKE ''




and beware of trees ,them nasty wooden things are evil .
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Ironsides [OP] » March 23rd 2017, 7:25pm

The Drummer wrote:Good job , i realy wish i had a van that as no more rust than yours , i realy do , anyhow you are ready to carry stuff now :).


Thanks, I know, I see the rust some of these vans have from the salt and snow and feel almost guilty. Down here if you leave a vehicle on grass too long or drive on the beach it will do the same. I just got lucky, I looked underneath, it was decent but if I were to look again at another van I would be looking a lot harder and poking around at stuff.
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Mmusicman » March 29th 2017, 8:14pm

Ironsides wrote:...never done any of this before, just watching all of you.

First of all... welcome! You have a very nice looking van!

For someone who has "never done any of this before"... you've certainly done a fantastic job! It appears you are well equipped with good old fashioned common sense and basic mechanical know-how!

You've made quite a few changes, improvements, and repairs! It looks like it will be like a new van. The HD rear springs and new front springs were a smart move, especially when towing a big load. It was also smart to change some other parts while you had it all apart! You've already tackled brakes, motor-mounts, springs, idlers, and ball-joints... just to name a few. Fantastic!

I recently installed the same front Moog CC640 progressive springs in my 92, although I actually cut 1 coil off to lower it slightly, as it had already been before. I did not require a spring compressor (that one coil may have made a difference for me getting them in so easily)... just a little finagling to angle them in, then jack up the lower control arm to compress them into place. I also did not re-use the isolators... I just lubed up the springs. I got a kick out of seeing your photos... looking almost identical to what I had just done.

Image

You photo looking up into the spring to be sure it's seated is EXACTLY what I had done too, using my camera! lol Like you, the first time I cranked it into place, it was not centered properly at the top. Using the camera for inspection INSIDE the spring is pretty clever I think... genius minds think alike! :D

Here's my "inspection photo"... :D
20170104_181819-Spring.jpg


What part of Florida are you in?

Welcome again!
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2000 Astro LS 4x4 | NP233 | 31" LT265/70R17 Tires | 8" LIFT | 10" TOTAL
92 Chevy Astro Cargo Shorty | V8-350
http://www.CruisinSouthFlorida.com
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Ironsides [OP] » March 30th 2017, 12:13pm

Mmusicman thank you, you've got two great vans I've looked at and followed many times.

Your Gen 1 street machine is sweet and the lifted Gen 2 is badass, I love then both, you take great care of them, read many posts about them :rockon:

I've maintained some cars in the past, what I've done to my van is a direct result of this site, there are decisions and ideas I've made that in the past would not have been without this forum. This site, the builds and members have helped me tremendously, thank you.

Mmusicman wrote:What part of Florida are you in?

Welcome again!


Thanks man, we live in Jacksonville.
We're both from central Florida, looking to move back, hopefully along the coast :D
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Ironsides
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby zzimmer3 » March 30th 2017, 12:35pm

Thanks for all the pics. I love reading about any work done so if I ever get to it on my van I know what I'm getting in to. Super nice van, I love white, and yours is clean!.
1994 2wd, 1998 2wd, 2000 awd, 2001 awd
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Ironsides [OP] » March 30th 2017, 1:10pm

zzimmer3 wrote:Thanks for all the pics. I love reading about any work done so if I ever get to it on my van I know what I'm getting in to. Super nice van, I love white, and yours is clean!.


Hi zzimmer3! You're welcome and thank you, we got lucky. My work not as awesome as some others' here but it lends to options. I'll be looking at body lift soon and offering those pics for comparison for anyone to consider. You use your van heavy duty like me. If you decide to upgrade that AWD I highly recommend HD rear springs. :thumbup:
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Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Mmusicman » March 30th 2017, 2:06pm

Ironsides wrote:Mmusicman thank you, you've got two great vans I've looked at and followed many times.

Thanks, nice of you to say.
Thanks man, we live in Jacksonville.
We're both from central Florida, looking to move back, hopefully along the coast :D

I used to live in High Springs and Gaineville back in the 80's.. some of my family is still there.
My wife is from Ocala.
I worked for a Motorola communications company based out of Jacsonville.. with shops in Lake City, Gainesville, Ocala, and Palatka. I've traveled just about everywhere in N.Florida.

Many of my vanning friends are from North and Central Florida as well.
I'm pretty content in South Florida, living in Ft. Lauderdale.
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2000 Astro LS 4x4 | NP233 | 31" LT265/70R17 Tires | 8" LIFT | 10" TOTAL
92 Chevy Astro Cargo Shorty | V8-350
http://www.CruisinSouthFlorida.com
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Mmusicman
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Extra Info: 2000 4x4 - 92 V8-350

Re: 2001 RWD Safari Van

Postby Ironsides [OP] » March 31st 2017, 11:24pm

Mmusicman wrote:I'm pretty content in South Florida, living in Ft. Lauderdale.


That's good, we just visited Miami Beach in February, fun, busy and very nice weather.
You, your wife and family, you're all from around North central Florida so you know what it's like.
Rural Florida, it's just different, getting harder to find peaceful near civilization anymore. My family all live in and around Orlando, so to be near Space Coast may be good.
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