95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

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95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby augidog [OP] » March 2nd 2020, 12:03am

I bought this van sight-unseen, through pictures on the phone, and a fairly informative carfax. It was the only AWD within range (I was also shopping AMC Eagles) and still it required a 300 mi delivery. I paid more than the actual value to me, but the functional handicap conversion made it difficult to negotiate down. Anyhow, she's mine. And pretty doggone clean overall. It seems to have had an easy life, and my mechanic's gut tells me it HAS to have been garaged for a large portion of that. I haven't all the way been underneath yet, but what I can see looks to be in great mechanical shape. Therefore, I am confident that this will be more of a Preservation Project than a restoration.

Before it was even delivered, I'd seen a youtube about the disaster zone that can be caused by a rotten drip rail and old weatherstripping, and gobby attempts to fix it. The very first thing I did after parking in the driveway was pop the hatch. It was a hot mess, the whole area. Debris was blocking the roof gutter, and muddy drifts were running down everywhere, soaking the interior rear corners from roof to floor, and the carpet squished when you knelt on it. And, boy, the smell. I found 2 small dime size rot holes, hidden by cracking household caulking. Just god-awful, and I was a whole day cleaning before I could tell what was what.

After a lot of money and time, more than one would hope, I've torn down, cleaned, and reconstructed the entire dutch door seal setup. Some new parts, some original parts reused, a dab or two of liquid electrical tape, lots of adhesive. I gotta say, I think I did it, I'm no longer finding water where it shouldn't be. Here's a high-res shot of how good it's looking now. You can find my "consumer reports" on the new parts I used in the "Exterior" forum.
IMG_20200301_132730.jpg

And onto the side slider, which I already knew was a problem as well. You could see daylight around the upper custom panel, and the headliner is rusty wet all the time. It's pretty easy to see why, more caulking.
IMG_20200301_135339.jpg

IMG_20200301_135451.jpg

Here's what's left of the custom upper track roller, the only thing holding the top of the door in was about an 1/8" overlap of that worn out pin. Lucky I like bicycles and have junk drawers, because a small bearing and some hardware let me fix this on the fly. Wow, just like that, the door opens and shuts smooth, and the inner seals are working. No more daylight or water from that area.
junky.jpg
junky.jpg (56.24 KiB) Viewed 2503 times

I still have to deal with those leaks in the upper "dormer," however, but I feel much better about things now than when she first arrived.
IMG_20200301_103118.jpg
Last edited by augidog on March 2nd 2020, 4:58am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby Rockridge » March 2nd 2020, 1:31am

Look like you're going to get to know that van inside and out. Nice save on the door roller, good luck with......the rest

loot at all that crushed velvet..... sweet
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby Rod's Trucks » March 2nd 2020, 7:43am

Augidog,
I have never seen an Astro/Safari wheel chair adaptation. Thanks for showing it.
It is strange the things that pictures do, and/or do not, show. Some are intentional and others sometimes show things that are not intended. In your case the pictures from the PO left out some 'small details'.
Hopefully most of the issues will be relatively minor, and you happy with the end result.
Keep the pictures coming. We are all learning, albeit at some of your expense.
Many of us have fought with the water intrusion issue around the rear doors...and many have won the battle via one method or another.
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby augidog [OP] » March 2nd 2020, 3:37pm

Rockridge, its moments like the roller fix that make me feel blessed to have a basic instinct for that sort of thing. Zero out-of-pocket and no searching/waiting for parts, always a good thing.

Rod, not wanting to distract from this thread but only report forward progress, and because the parts are relatively new on the scene, I posted detailed reviews in individual threads as a public service.

Drip rail https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=141656
Liftgate seal https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=141714
Dutch door seals https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=11&t=141706

Tell me what else you'd like to have a look at, and I'll hook you up. PS I'm a former Machinist Mate USS Chicago CG11. Old-school oil-fired boilers and GE steam turbines. THAT was some serious gear-heading.
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby augidog [OP] » March 3rd 2020, 9:44pm

This, along with the passenger seat power lift/swivel, is coming out.
Don't know if they have any appeal or value, but to me they don't.

IMG_20200303_121304.jpg

IMG_20200303_121328.jpg

IMG_20200303_121902.jpg
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby 90safari » March 4th 2020, 10:07pm

augidog wrote:This, along with the passenger seat power lift/swivel, is coming out.
Don't know if they have any appeal or value, but to me they don't.

IMG_20200303_121304.jpg

IMG_20200303_121328.jpg

IMG_20200303_121902.jpg


You might see about donating it to a local "Center for independent living" organization IF it works. Some places will take it off your hands to help their customers. They might even give you a tax credit for doing so. I know my local organization would love to have it, as most places like that are always short on items to help their customers (more need than supply). Just a thought.
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby augidog [OP] » March 5th 2020, 12:04am

90safari wrote:You might see about donating it to a local "Center for independent living" organization IF it works. Some places will take it off your hands to help their customers. They might even give you a tax credit for doing so. I know my local organization would love to have it, as most places like that are always short on items to help their customers (more need than supply). Just a thought.
It works. As a Veteran who has received a lot of help over the years, I won't have a problem donating it to a worthy organization. Where you located? Come take it out and it's yours. That offer is 1st come 1st served, I've also called the local DAV.
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby augidog [OP] » March 5th 2020, 4:43pm

I am LOVING this! On the Oregon coast, it's wet even when it's dry. Especially overnight. With the rear and sliding doors sealed up, the interior no longer looks (and smells) like a terrarium in the morning.

Time and money well spent.

Today I will try to get the front end off the ground for my first good look underneath.

A level picture on level ground. Obviously, the accessibility equipment has to go.

IMG_20200305_104029_290.jpg
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby augidog [OP] » March 6th 2020, 6:15am

Still recovering from back surgery, I can't use the creeper very well, so this is the best I can do for now.

It looks about right for a gentle 100,236 miles, but for a 25 year old vehicle it looks great IMO. Original steering and suspension is still tight, and the bushings I can see have plenty of life left.

IMG_20200305_211420_645.jpg


Fluids are full and relatively clean. Based on this picture, what would an experienced owner suspect is the source of the leak? Whatever it is, it isn't drastic, at least while parked, I only have a few drops on the driveway after a month.

IMG_20200305_212140_311.jpg
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby SportsBoy » March 6th 2020, 1:55pm

augidog wrote:
Fluids are full and relatively clean. Based on this picture, what would an experienced owner suspect is the source of the leak? Whatever it is, it isn't drastic, at least while parked, I only have a few drops on the driveway after a month.

IMG_20200305_212140_311.jpg


Oil cooler lines probably - super common problem
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby augidog [OP] » March 6th 2020, 2:58pm

SportsBoy wrote:
Oil cooler lines probably - super common problem
The lines themselves...that's great news. Thank you, SportsBoy, i KNEW someone here would pick right up on it. This place rocks.
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby Wiley » March 6th 2020, 3:43pm

Agreed, you can see them in the last pic, def the problem. I cut my leaky lines and clamped on new ones successfully based on the write up here, but every year or so they would end up leaking, so I finally did the oil cooler line delete....have not decided if it is permanent yet, but it probably is.

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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby augidog [OP] » March 6th 2020, 4:43pm

Wiley wrote:Agreed, you can see them in the last pic, def the problem. I cut my leaky lines and clamped on new ones successfully based on the write up here, but every year or so they would end up leaking, so I finally did the oil cooler line delete....have not decided if it is permanent yet, but it probably is.

Nice van
Thank you. I appreciate the confirmation, and I DO believe I got myself a fine specimen. My worry was that someone was going to tell me a hard to reach and/or expensive component was dripping onto the lines. Life is full of surprises, and not always good ones.

I can afford new OEM lines, but I'll look for that write-up about cutting and clamping. I suspect it will have something to do with being easier, and not about the money. About the delete...I won't ever be towing more than my utility trailer, and highway driving will be rare, so...any more opinions based on experience?
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby augidog [OP] » March 7th 2020, 2:52am

i'm good with this delete write up: https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.p ... oil+cooler
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby AstroWill » March 7th 2020, 3:34am

augidog wrote:About the delete...I won't ever be towing more than my utility trailer, and highway driving will be rare, so...any more opinions based on experience?


I have done it, definitely didn't see a change in engine temp, don't have an oil temp gauge, but I will be doing it to my latest Astro as well once I get around to it. Trying to get my son to help out/learn as much as possible. Just makes everything take 10times as long as he doesn't have as much spare time as I do.

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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby Leeann_93 » March 7th 2020, 5:04pm

I did it on my '02 when the brake lines all exploded; the brake fluid finished off already-leaking lines. That was in the fall, so I didn't drive it in a MD summer like that. The oil pressure increased and I never saw any temp-related problems, but it was winter and I didn't tow anything. And then I bought my '05 in the spring so I didn't drive the '02 when it warmed up, then a tree branch fell on it and finished it off.

The ones on the '05 are leaking and I have new ones to replace them with. I have a new radiator and new trans cooler lines (they're also starting to leak) and my plan is to do all of that at one time.
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby augidog [OP] » March 7th 2020, 5:07pm

OK, who killed my spammer? I was gonna flirt with "her." Seriously, though, I was in the process of reporting it when it disappeared. Good job.

AstroWill wrote:I have done it, definitely didn't see a change in engine temp, don't have an oil temp gauge, but I will be doing it to my latest Astro as well once I get around to it. Trying to get my son to help out/learn as much as possible. Just makes everything take 10times as long as he doesn't have as much spare time as I do.
Leeann_93 wrote:I did it on my '02 when the brake lines all exploded; the brake fluid finished off already-leaking lines. That was in the fall, so I didn't drive it in a MD summer like that. The oil pressure increased and I never saw any temp-related problems, but it was winter and I didn't tow anything. And then I bought my '05 in the spring so I didn't drive the '02 when it warmed up, then a tree branch fell on it and finished it off.

The ones on the '05 are leaking and I have new ones to replace them with. I have a new radiator and new trans cooler lines (they're also starting to leak) and my plan is to do all of that at one time.

Thanks, both of you. I'm gonna do it, the delete, knowing i can always rebuild the adapter (do failing bypass valves contribute to the blown hoses I wonder) and install new lines if I choose.
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby 90safari » March 8th 2020, 8:40pm

augidog wrote:
90safari wrote:You might see about donating it to a local "Center for independent living" organization IF it works. Some places will take it off your hands to help their customers. They might even give you a tax credit for doing so. I know my local organization would love to have it, as most places like that are always short on items to help their customers (more need than supply). Just a thought.
It works. As a Veteran who has received a lot of help over the years, I won't have a problem donating it to a worthy organization. Where you located? Come take it out and it's yours. That offer is 1st come 1st served, I've also called the local DAV.


I'd love to pull it, but I'm in Michigan, so it's a little far away for me. ;)

As for your oil cooler lines, usually it's where the rubber hose section gets crimped onto the aluminum tubing. This is very common on GMs, and has been an issue for over 20 years, since they started using them. Something to think about, the early model A/S's didn't use an oil cooler at all, and some of them have a ton of miles put on them. My wife's old 86 Astro had well over 232K on it when the engine finally took a crap.We got it well used from a contractor, and I don't think it was ever serviced, or was only serviced when there was a problem before we got it. I think she put 45K miles on it, before I replaced the engine, then she put another 25K on it before I pulled the engine and trans, as the engine went into her gold 90 GMC Safari (bought with a rod knock for $400), the trans went to my dad for delivering the van from Texas for me. But a friend of mine has a 91 full size pick up with the same oil cooler set up, and replaces the lines every couple of years, as even new replacements do the same thing (leak at the crimps). To make things worse for him, his wife drives a 4x4 S-10 Blazer, and those hoses run to the remote oil filter too (similar set up, but with 4 of them (2 in, 2 out)).
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby 90safari » March 8th 2020, 8:53pm

augidog wrote:I can afford new OEM lines, but I'll look for that write-up about cutting and clamping. I suspect it will have something to do with being easier, and not about the money. About the delete...I won't ever be towing more than my utility trailer, and highway driving will be rare, so...any more opinions based on experience?


I used to have a link bookmarked from S-10 forums on oil cooler line fixes, but that was on my old computer that took a dump. But the idea was to replace the hoses and crimps, with dedicated transmission rated hose, and screw clamp the new hose onto the aluminum lines. I can't remember what the longest time they survived without leaking was reported though.

As far as towing with the oil cooler delete, I don't think it'll be an issue, as the early Astro-Safari's didn't even use an oil cooler, and could still tow 3K pounds or more. I know my own 88 Astro towed a VW behind it for about 1000 miles once, and I've pulled a utility trailer with multiple quad runners on it (with fuel jugs and beer coolers) several times, going up north, along with pulling my tear drop camping trailer several times.
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Re: 95 Astro AWD, 100k young, the preservation thereof.

Postby augidog [OP] » March 24th 2020, 2:01pm

Wandering around the forums while I wait for the rains to stop, and for my "crew" to arrive in June, I've been asking a lot of stoopid questions. I haven't owned or worked on anything for almost 20 years. And I've never owned anything but carbureted engines, and never engaged in any OBD except for the paperclip to look for codes. I have more learning to do, engine-wise, than I originally thought when I bought.

This isn't the first time my enthusiasm has gotten the better of me, and I needed saving from myself. After my latest stupid question about Techron or other cleaners, a realization punched me right in the nose.

This van sat on a car lot for a year, and during that time it had a little over 200 miles put on it. This jives with the 1/3 tank of gas it has left. They probably tanked up when they bought it. I haven't been driving it while I untangle some legal issues. I only warm it up around the block about once a week. Fluids are clean with no signs of mixing. It starts and runs good, with various stutters.

But how the HECK can I know anything about its current state of tuning, or make plans, when I'm running old fuel that likely has (some) water in it? Since I'm in no position to drain the tank, I'm going to have to make do with additives.

I was looking for advice, couldn't wait, went with what I DO know...tanked up with 92 octane clear, added Lucas injector cleaner and a bottle of Heet.
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Detailed Options w/RPO's. Learn all about your Astro/Safari's first build.
https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=27&t=142268
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