AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

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AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby vd813 [OP] » April 7th 2018, 6:50pm

4.3 V6 LT AWD Chevrolet Astro
astro.png
sale photo


Hey guys, I thought it would be better to create a new topic for my Astro project. Here's the link to the introduction thread: viewtopic.php?f=4&t=132498#p1430074

My plan is to convert the Astro into a camper van for camping purposes. I'm new to cars in general, so I'll be very thankful for any tips from you guys.

Here we go.

I bought the Astro 2 weeks ago, and spent the last couple of days disassembling the interior.
Here's a before/after:
before.jpg
Before

after.jpg
After


Current state:
The engine and the body seem to be in a decent condition. Here's a list of what needs fixing so far:

Major (will be done by mechanic):
-A/C does not work.
-Front-right breaks heat up a lot more and more quickly than the breaks on the other tyres. It even starts smelling after just one sudden stop.
-The engine has a gas injection added to it, but the job has been terribly done, need to remove the whole thing.
-The engine seems to overheat quite a bit.
-The transmission is jumpy, you can really feel the change in gears.
-Big rust spot on the interior, gotta weld a new piece of metal. I kept digging to see how far the rust goes, and my screwdriver went all the way through.
20180407_175118.jpg
Rust spot with some mechanical treatment

20180407_192430.jpg
Rust spot after realising that there is no hope


Minor (will be done by me):
- The hatch shocks are completely busted. Need to buy new ones.
- One of the side doors of the dutch doors doesn't stay open.
- Need to change lightbulbs for the high beams.
- Probably buy a new set of tyres for more off-road purposes.

Plans:
1. Treat the rust and repaint the treated spots.
2. Remove at least one of the rear heaters.
3. Insulation. I'm considering cork so far.
4. Electricals: need to check if the current wiring is in good order or needs fixes. Then add a solar panel and all the accompanying stuff.
5. Interior: Still scratching my head with this one. Since I want the van to be at least usable for the summer, I'm planning on buying some furniture like IKEA couch/bed, instead of spending time crafting it.

I'm not sure whether to do insulation or electrical system first. What do you think?
Any other tips or recommendations?
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby multimoto » April 7th 2018, 7:15pm

hey vd813,

looks good so far! I really like those euro front turn signals.. engine overheating? that should be high priority to solve and also the front brake drag.

front brake heat could be a caliper sticking or a defective brake hose. thats my best guess anyway.

I have not heard of using 'cork' for insulation before.

it looks like your Euro model has also unique rear lights in the bumper? can you post up another pic of the rear with the doors closed when you have a chance? we dont see them like this over here.

good luck with it!
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby 1lowcab » April 7th 2018, 7:30pm

Thats a common place for them to rust.

Mine.
Image
Image
Image
Weled in, ground down and painted
Image

Good luck with your build!
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby Rinny » April 7th 2018, 7:45pm

How are the rockers? That was a pretty bad spot in the floor. If you are going to invest any amount of $$ in her make sure you are not chasing your tail on the rust end of things.
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby vd813 [OP] » April 7th 2018, 8:32pm

multimoto wrote:hey vd813,

looks good so far! I really like those euro front turn signals.. engine overheating? that should be high priority to solve and also the front brake drag.

front brake heat could be a caliper sticking or a defective brake hose. thats my best guess anyway.

I have not heard of using 'cork' for insulation before.

it looks like your Euro model has also unique rear lights in the bumper? can you post up another pic of the rear with the doors closed when you have a chance? we dont see them like this over here.

good luck with it!


I'll post a pic tomorrow during daylight.
The deal I have with my mechanic is to bring the car to him every time I have a few days out of town or not working on it, and he'll fix the major issues one by one. And anyhow, I won't be driving it while I work on it.
About the insulation, I read a blog from a Dutch couple that converted their van and used cork for insulation. I like the whole non-toxic/green idea.
http://mojoandfriends.blog/

Rinny wrote:How are the rockers? That was a pretty bad spot in the floor. If you are going to invest any amount of $$ in her make sure you are not chasing your tail on the rust end of things.


I haven't looked at the rockers in detail yet. Is it a common place for rust? Maybe I'll disassemble them tomorrow to see what's underneath.
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby konybravo » April 7th 2018, 9:10pm

A clue about the overheating issue: Javor- PO, was complainig about losing heat at idle, which leads me to the thought, that your heater core may be clogged, and needs a flush. I would flush the rad, as well.As for the hatch- struts, you can slightly bend them, just enough, to increase the friction, and they'll hold. That's what I did to mine. The down side is that they screech, a bit, but this doesn't bother me at all. :mrgreen: About the dutch door- there are detachable ,limiter brackets, wich sink into the door. Mine were fallen off, inside of the doors. They should be there, since there's no way for them to fall off, from the oudside.
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby vd813 [OP] » April 8th 2018, 7:00pm

Here's a photo of the back of the astro, as requested.
back.jpg
Back

I spent the day cleaning the back and treating the rust spots mechanically. Here's a photo of that.
clean.jpg

Tommorow, I'm going to treat the rust spots with Wurth Rust Converter, then paint on top with Hammerite Direct To Rust Metal Paint.
I also talked to my mechanic, and he will come over to cut out the big rust hole and weld a piece of metal in.

Any tips are welcome.

konybravo, thanks for the suggestion, I'll pass it on to the mechanic. I didn't find the limiter brackets you were talking about. Could you send me a photo?
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby konybravo » April 8th 2018, 10:07pm

There:
IMG_20180408_235051.jpg
IMG_20180408_235128.jpg
IMG_20180408_235219.jpg
IMG_20180408_235248.jpg
U just need to remove the door trim, n they should be inside.
About rust treatment: I would recommend Protecta 3in1, instead of Hammerite. I used to treat my old van with Hammerite, and the rust would pop up again, in less than a month! Now with the Protecta, and cavity paraffin, on top- not a spot of rust, in more than a year!
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby chr_sei » April 9th 2018, 3:18am

Interesting to see a European Astro. Could you also post a picture of your middle dashboard? It looks very different.

Your mechanic makes home visits?!
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby multimoto » April 9th 2018, 4:38pm

what does the red light on the left side of the rear bumper function as? I presume the reversing lights were replaced with a single one on the right side of the bumper. the rear door hinges look different too or is that only some sort of finishing trim pieces?
the long horizontal red on each side of the bumper must be only reflectors, no?

the trailer hitch even looks unique.

is all of these differences mandated in your location? like, all automobiles must have license plates in the rear bumper etc. for uniformity?

thanks for posting the extra photos.
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby 1lowcab » April 9th 2018, 4:42pm

It has the filler panel for the U.S plate location too.
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby AstroWill » April 9th 2018, 5:43pm

multimoto wrote:what does the red light on the left side of the rear bumper function as? I presume the reversing lights were replaced with a single one on the right side of the bumper. the rear door hinges look different too or is that only some sort of finishing trim pieces?
the long horizontal red on each side of the bumper must be only reflectors, no?

the trailer hitch even looks unique.

is all of these differences mandated in your location? like, all automobiles must have license plates in the rear bumper etc. for uniformity?

thanks for posting the extra photos.


Europe, the safer amber rear turn signals are required, so that they changed that in the lens, plus separate turn signal wiring from the front. The rest comes down to cost, cheaper to modify the bumper rather than the door. Moved the reverse light to the bumper, added the rear red fog light, wider license plate holder, and reflectors. And yes, the euro style tow bar/hitch ball, slightly different size and not safely compatible with the US sizes, 50mm vs 50.8mm. Made it real fun for outdoor rec to rent trailers :)
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby multimoto » April 9th 2018, 6:08pm

did not even notice they had sprayed the original rev light lens amber. just looked like a mis matched or faded red to me at first.

if the custom rear light housings had amber in the top or middle section for turn signals instead of the clear/chrome modern look I might try a set on mine. I think that would look OK (I dont like the clear/chrome ones one bit) and would be a good safety measure.

the originals look fine to me though and I think its neat that they havnt changed them at all from the first editions to the last ('85-'05)

but whats the deal with the hinges on this euro van?

p.s. I notice there is no third brake light on it either and the glass seems to have no tint at all.
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby AstroWill » April 9th 2018, 6:20pm

multimoto wrote:but whats the deal with the hinges on this euro van?

Now that I have no idea, could use a closeup, but it's probably factory hinges with some plastic covers on them. maybe extra cautious through the conversion process? Something about protruding objects? Just guessing there.

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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby konybravo » April 9th 2018, 8:48pm

AstroWill wrote:
multimoto wrote:but whats the deal with the hinges on this euro van?

Now that I have no idea, could use a closeup, but it's probably factory hinges with some plastic covers on them. maybe extra cautious through the conversion process? Something about protruding objects? Just guessing there.

Yep, they are just plastic covers- some sort of aesthetical decision, i guess...
multimoto wrote:is all of these differences mandated in your location? like, all automobiles must have license plates in the rear bumper etc. for uniformity?

I think these are different designs, cuz my van's different, but still euro adapted:
IMG_20180307_142442.jpg
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby AstroWill » April 9th 2018, 9:18pm

konybravo wrote:I think these are different designs, cuz my van's different, but still euro adapted:

Image

Nice van, man!
Yea, just has to meet the requirements, how they went about it depended on who imported it.

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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby 1lowcab » April 9th 2018, 9:33pm

Rapist Van ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

:shock:
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby konybravo » April 9th 2018, 9:45pm

AstroWill wrote:Nice van, man!

Thanks! We totally highjacked the guy's thread....Should'n t you separate the last few posts in a new thread, like 4 instance: "Differences between US, and EU Astro/Safaris" ? :shrug:
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby konybravo » April 9th 2018, 9:47pm

1lowcab wrote:Rapist Van ?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?

:shock:

Free candy giveaway! Only in my van! :rofl: :rofl: :rofl:
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Re: AWD Astro Camper Van Conversion

Postby 1lowcab » April 9th 2018, 9:47pm

LOL!
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