The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

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The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » April 13th 2020, 9:38pm

Hello all.
I figured I'd just start a thread for this van both to keep my own personal progress on it,leave something for other people in similar positions to see, and also in the hope that someone who is more knowledgeable than me can give me pointers as I go along.
1999 astro/safari (they are exactly the same thing and I refer to them interchangeably, but I'm a chevy guy so I like to refer to things as chevy's).

So far, I bought it with 190k on it. That's why I'm not going to go too crazy with this van until I replace the powertrain.
Most of what I buy will be just to maximize the miles that I get out of it, and to keep it running well.

The van was owned by the state (but in sacramento, so it probably didn't see as bad of stop and go and idle time as a van that has lived in a totally urban area it's whole life).
But it could have seen a lot of that stuff. But knowing that it was owned by the state, I know that the maintanence was probably done on time and written off so that gives me some confidence. Afterwards, it was a light contracting van for the latter part of 8 or so years, where the maintanance may have been decent to ok, but probably not the best as the guy was a car guy and probably kept up on oil changes.
It was then owned by someone who lived in it in a parking lot of his job for 8 months. Maintanence during this time was probably pretty bad, as I got it with low PSI in one of the tires (and the wear shows it), but it probably wasn't driven often and far enough to matter that much. I'm honeslty glad that it sat and probably just started and putzed around town during that time.

The transmission fluid has definitely been flushed during its' life as I got a very nice color on it when I looked in there.
The oil also looked pretty good, and the van overall runs better than any other 4.3/5.3/5.7 (and i've driven a lot of GM vans) that I've driven with that many miles on it.

I expect to get at least a few more years out of it, and a compression test will give me a good indication of that, so if the compression checks out well, I may add just a few knick knacks that make me feel good and upgrade my experience of the van (small, no nonsense sound system, and maybe a bedline paint job).
I have already purchased speakers, amp, and wires. It's just going to be a small amp that powers 2 6.5 speakers and a basic head unit.
I paid about $110 for all of it by being very patient and choosy on eBay.

Being able to play music with nice speakers is pretty important to me and my life in general, as music really helps me through my days, so It's always going to be an investment either in my personal audio gear, or with my vehicles. This time it's just going to be simple.

The good:
Perfect body. Has just a few dimples. Rare for a van this age to have that nice of a body.
Runs extremely well. Ridiculously smooth and shifts perfectly. Starts up everytime and never does anything weird or funny when I'm driving it.
Have never driven something with this many miles that runs this well.
Get's surprisingly good gas mileage for probably not having a tune-up in many many years.
Came with solar (nice!).
Fixed the vents, and my blowers get pretty cold, just weakly, and the hot blows hot, so I'll likely just have to give it a re-charge.
Overall just a nice solid van and I paid the price of something that has well over 200k on it.
Doesn't throw any persistent codes, and doesn't have any weird oddities that I need to "watch for".
I just drive it like I would any other car and it just runs and drives solid.
Every "test" that I do on it turns out well. I did a radiator pressure test, the coolant hasn't budged a millimeter since I bought the van, and nothing seems out of the ordinary.





Issues after purchase:
-Has a very VERY small single drop every hour or so oil leak. It looks like ti's crept from the front to the back, so it's probably not the rear main, and it may be the oil pan.
It's so minor that I'm just going to leave it at the moment, and someday get around to it.

-Threw a P1870 after taking it on a long drive. The 1-2 shifts were hard and crazy. This is when my heart almost sank, as I really thought I got extremely screwed here, but after researching it and driving it around, I found that it ONLY came up in highway speeds (I couldn't recreate it in general round town driving), and it was ONLY the 1-2 bagn shift.
So I dropped the transmission pan and put a Fitzall Tekpack solid TCC regulator valve in there without taking the valve body off. P1870 has been gone and the transmission has been super smooth ever since.

- May or may not have a bad catalytic converter, as it will throw P0240 after MANY drive cycles and ONLY under the right conditions. I can drive it for a week straight without ever throwing P0240 so I'm going to give it a tune and go from there. Though experienced memebers are saying that P0240 usually means the cat is burnt, so it very well may be.
I'm getting very good recycling prices for the cat though (at least $200 and sometimes up to $300), so The cat replacement actually wont' be very expensive as my cheapest quote was $280, and after recycling (even if I only get $150 for it) It's not going to be a major fix.
It passed smog, so I can't really know if the cat is bad or if I just have a bad tune, but I know that replacing the cat and addressing the tune-up will probably pass smog with flying colors if it passed smog with a bad cat.

-The fuel trim is compensating for a rich mixture. I suspect a leaking regulator, or dirty throttle components. I went ahead and bought a set of used MPFI injectors, EGR screen, and a bunch of carb cleaner and rags. When I take the upper plenum off, I'm cleaning all that stuff, cleaning throttle body puttting dialectric grease between the sensors and the contacts, etc.

-The other day I thought I smelled fuel in the oil, but now when I went back I didn't smell it. Just a small hint. So I'm just going to give it an oil change right before I do the injectors and go from there.

- Paint isn't the best. It's not bad and i've seen worse, but I do want to give it a bedliner paintjob. It would make me feel pretty great actually and if the van lasts longer than 3-4 years it's actually worth the investment IMO.

- The front tires have obvious low pressure wear, but they still have good tread on most of it so they're probably good for at least another year or so. I might just need to replace one within a year, but that's honestly like $25-$30 for a used tire because it's a 15", and I'm not going new unless I do all 4 or both of the front, and the other front has at least a coupel of years on it.

I already purchased an Accell TST-11 tune-up kit and a high output ingition coil, I replaced PCV valve, put a new fuel filter in there, and I bought a corvette servo to firm up the line pressure and extend the life of my transmission even more.


I will do a compression test as I do the tune-up, and that will determine if I run the van into the ground, or if I paint it and start adding and building on it.
I don't suspect anything weird, as it runs so well, but I just want to be thorough before I invest any more money and time into it as I've already put down quite a bit (a few hundred dollars).


The main goal is to just get this guy up to optimal levels and make it run well and maximize it's life.
After the paint, I can't see myself really putting any more money into it other than regular maintanence, and building out the back.

If lifestyle and money permits (have a place to park it long term that I own or am renting), I would honestly replace the powertrain, as I've always wanted to do stuff like that with a car.
All my friends did it, and it would be really cool to do that at least once in my life.

I care about the environment, so if I were to try and attempt something really cool like a V8 swap, I would be comfortable doing it since I would be using all salvaged part that I will attempt to rebuild, so the fact that I'm recycling and re-purposing will compensate for the extra hydrocarbons expelled by doing anything performance.
but thats just a dream for now.

I'm also learning as I go along, and I've always known a little bit about cars, but have never had the chance to do serious work myself.
So the ownership of this entire van is a learning process for me, and that's another reason I am making this thread for such a small build lol.

Anyways, I will post pics as I will be doing tune-up, compresison, MPFI, EGR/throttle cleaning, and all of that pretty soon.
I'll call around and ask if it's ok for me to do that during virus lockdown, and if not I can probably just wait, or if they say to be cautious, I will do it piecemeal and only do at most 4-5 hour jobs.

Very anxious as I will probably be relying on this van as a daily pretty soon, so I'm very focused on getting it in tip top shape before the end of may.
1999 Chevy Astro Van
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gman
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Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » April 17th 2020, 12:31pm

So I installed the vette servo, and I all really have to say is, WOOO!
You don't have to cut the O-ring (but I did it anyways), how do I know?
I thought that I installed it wrong as there was almost no "give" in the spring, when compared to the old servo.
I took the body in and out a few times to be sure that I got it in there right with those weird split gaskets.
So I tried to take it out, and after finagling with it and thinking that I screwed myself by needing a new out O-ring seal, I used two screwdrivers and a pair of vice grips to get it out without cutting the ring.
You have to use BOTH of the supplied "indents" in the housing shell in order to pop it out without cutting the ring, and you have to pry on both of them BEHIND the ring in intervals.

Service manual also says that cutting the ring is optional and should only be done if necessary.

It might be a good idea to keep the old ring, as you may need it for some reason, and it gives you a complete older shell if you just ordered the mod kit rather than the drop-in replacement like I did.

The clip is also crazy hard to get on. I managed to do it after taking my gloves off (part of your glove gets stuck between the ring and the housing).
The trick is to get about 25% of one side in, then squeeze and get the other side in. You should have the "top" (opposite end of split opening) poking out, and you have to nudge that guy in.
Afterwards, I also used a screwdriver to make sure it was seated properly and spun the outer shell with a pair of vice grips to make sure there was no binding and to further insure good seating.

So apparently the fact that it was so hard to compress is actually a good thing, and it means that I don't have a lot of wear in that area.
People have said that a lot of play is bad, and usually means that the upgrade is not worth it as the transmission is too worn in the servo area.

I love the nice positive snappy shifts and the gear hold when getting up to highway speed.
The way too smooth lag time between shifting while going around town is gone.
Nice to know that the life of my transmission will be extended because of this.

I might do cap,rotor, clean off and re-grease ICM area, and replace the ignition coil tomorrow while I do a quick stop by my van. If I feel like I can get it all done within an hour or so i'll do it after I take care of some responsibilities I have for the day.

The plug/wire change will probably wait till the end of the month (coronavirus lockdown) as I want to know a compression test as well and doing the wires will probably take a while.

Did a fuel pressure leakdown test today, and I do indeed have some leakdown.
It's not major, but it's definitely out of spec and drops kind of quickly.
I did smell a hint of fuel in my oil the other day, so it's probably my regulator or one of the poppets.

I'm now really glad that I bought he MPFI setup, as I'm now doing both an upgrade and a repair at the same time, and my intuition was correct.
Might stbe the pump, but I really doubt it as that was changed (supposedly) fairly recently, and I wouldn't smell hints in my oil if it was the pump.
This also explains the once in a while throttle lag that I get if I reallly screw around with it.

Either way, I'm not going to dick around with this van too much or drive it around veyr much unti lI address that Issue as I don't want unecessarily wear on my rings, and risk hydrolock (thought he leak really sin't that bad as my fuel trim is only slightly rich, and I don't have any smoke and I'm not throwing any codes (yet), but better safe than sorry when I definitely have the option of just leaving it alone until it's ready or injectors.
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Posts: 315
Topics: 38
Images: 39
Joined: February 2020
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Van Model Year: 1999
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Extra Info: Base 4.3 RWD

Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » April 18th 2020, 3:35am

Looked under the van while I was doing the servo, and my leak seems to be coming from the cooler lines.
I'm going to clean it up and re-inspect soon just to be sure.

I think that MPFI is most important at the moment, since it's obviously leaking (could be fuel pump, but I don't see how that would make my oil smell like fuel), then I'll track down the leak.
Wherever it's coming from, if it's from the front, it doesn't seem too bad (with the exception of the pan gasket).
I should address it now before it becomes worse.

I can clean up the area in the next couple of days or so, that way I can make the fix before I do my oil change.
(If it's cooler lines, I'll probably lose some oil while doing it).
1999 Chevy Astro Van
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gman
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Joined: February 2020
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Van Model Year: 1999
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Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby sixsix » April 18th 2020, 4:13pm

gman wrote:So I installed the vette servo, and I all really have to say is, WOOO! ...

WOOO! - "Pics or it didn't Happen".

Did you know that is actually the "Official Motto" of this Forum ?
Pics are great too, they help alleviate the strain of text reading sometimes. :shifty:
.

Well, after all... what would Banacek say ?... Anyone that condones the actions of the American People during the Storming of the Capitol are as complicit as the Assholes themselves.
But no way does this let the Democrats or the MSM off the Hook.

.
User avatar
sixsix
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Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » April 18th 2020, 6:45pm

sixsix wrote:
gman wrote:So I installed the vette servo, and I all really have to say is, WOOO! ...

WOOO! - "Pics or it didn't Happen".

Did you know that is actually the "Official Motto" of this Forum ?
Pics are great too, they help alleviate the strain of text reading sometimes. :shifty:


Haha, I didn't know that that was the official motto.
That's just the sound that came out of me when I first tried out the vette servo, and that's pretty much how I felt holding gears when getting onto the highway.
It also felt great knowing that the servo was actually going to EXTEND The life of my transmission by providing nice, satisfying positive and firm shifts.
I'll uplaod the pics soon.
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
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Van Model Year: 1999
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Extra Info: Base 4.3 RWD

Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » April 18th 2020, 7:23pm

I fixed the parasitic drain found in this thread:
https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=76&t=142044

It turned out to be a body control module, specificially the interior lamp control module.
Good riddance! I hated waiting for my lights to shut off everytime I closed my door, and I didn't like the fact that the entire van lit up when I opened the door, so I'm not going to replace this part. My dome lights still work via the dimmer switch, so I'm pretty happy about that actually.

But I may pick one up if I find one at the junkyard someday (I want a full size spare, door panel reflectors, and a windowless cargo door if I ever find one). None of those are priority items, and I'll only stop by the JY if I have too, or if I happen to be nearby one and I just want to stop in.
I'm missing a doghouse bracket and a screw as well, so if I see one of those I'll also pick it up.
Again, all low priority.
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
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Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » April 24th 2020, 4:14am

I just cleaned my EGR valve. There was a decent amount of carbon buildup, and the valve was a taaaad sticky, but there wasn't anything crazy.
After running some carb cleaner through it, scraping off a lot of carbon on the inside, and using a pick to scrap off all around and inside the valve (there was a lot of gunk in there), it seemed to go "in and out" much, much smoother. But the valve wasn't stuck and there wasn't a TON of gunk.

It actually didn't have a gasket! Geeze. I bought an EGR screen beforehand, and I put it on there.
Someone must have cleaned it, but it probably wasn't within the last 5-6 years or so.
I'll post pictures soon, but to get to the bolts, you actually need to remove a coolant hose from the water pump.
If you do this, it will leak out whatever's left in the hose, but it wont be a crazy amount.

I also replaced an old cracked, flared, and loose vaccum hose that went from my throttle body to some other vaccum line.
I'm going to give the other hoses a quick once over while I do the plugs, as you can access the vacuum ball and see all of the hoses clearly from the passenger side when you do the plugs.

My van seems to idle a LOT smoother now, but I'm not chalking it up to that stuff yet.
Could just be intermittent.

Anyways, I'm doing my tune-up in small chunks because of the whole virus thing.
I'll probably do ignition coil and cap + rotor next.

I REALLY want to find a good day to pop the plenum, since I already know for 100% that I have fuel pressure leakdown, and I smelled a hint of fuel in my oil not long ago,
so I really want to get those in there, but it wlil have to wait for a good day (likely till after the shutodwn ends).
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
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Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby sixsix » April 24th 2020, 10:52pm

gman wrote:Anyways, I'm doing my tune-up in small chunks because of the whole virus thing.

Why is that and was it democratic or republican advice ? LOL
.

Well, after all... what would Banacek say ?... Anyone that condones the actions of the American People during the Storming of the Capitol are as complicit as the Assholes themselves.
But no way does this let the Democrats or the MSM off the Hook.

.
User avatar
sixsix
Firing on 5 Cylinders (L5)
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Years of Membership: sixsix has been a member for 6 full yearssixsix has been a member for 6 full yearssixsix has been a member for 6 full yearssixsix has been a member for 6 full yearssixsix has been a member for 6 full yearssixsix has been a member for 6 full years
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Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » May 2nd 2020, 10:46pm

sixsix wrote:
gman wrote:Anyways, I'm doing my tune-up in small chunks because of the whole virus thing.

Why is that and was it democratic or republican advice ? LOL


Just trying to be cognizant of the virus situation while maintaining the vehicle is all.
I would have already done all of it had it not been for the virus situation, but I'm just treading carefully, trying to plan it well so that I minimize time outside, etc.
I figured that getting it in small chunks will contribute towards that.
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
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Posts: 315
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Joined: February 2020
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Van Model Year: 1999
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: Base 4.3 RWD

Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » May 2nd 2020, 10:48pm

Here's a pic of my dirty EGR valve, as well as a pic of the water pump hose that needs to be removed in order to do this easily.
101418
1999 Chevy Astro Van
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gman
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Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » May 2nd 2020, 11:01pm

So I tracked down my leak. It hasn't been leaking lately, so it definitely only happens when the van is running.
I got some simple green and sprayed the entire underside (the leak was definitely coming from the front somewhere) and wiped that whole area down as well as I could.
I couldn't get it perfect, but I tried to pay special attention to gasket areas, cooler lines, and around any fittings.
After dong that, I ran the van for about 7ish minutes, letting it warm up and revving it a couple of times to see if I could get any sign of the leak and sure enough after a few minutes I saw some newly formed droplets on the cooler lines.

101420

Pretty common problem and comes from the seal on the fittings from what I've heard.
Also not sure if it's worth it to spend $50 on all new lines just to replace those fittings.
The metal is good, and the hoses were in great shape, so I think that I'm going to use the hose clamp trick that I've seen on here.
Only fear would involve the clamps coming loose or something, but I dont' think that that would cause the hose to blow off of the pipe, but rather just cause a large leak.
So I can check on it after a few long drives and if nothing happens then it's good.

OR, I can just buy new lines and be done with it, but $50 is again, a lot for just replacing those fittings.
Lines and hoses are in great shape, and hose clamps are a couple of bucks.
GIves me an excuse to use the die grinder that I bought.

Altenratively, I can do an oil cooler delete, as I never tow or haul anything heavy, and if this van ever does get changed in a positive way, it will be in a more pro-street direction rather than off-road/hauler. Main reasons being that it's use cases are mostly urban, and that it's not AWD.

I"m really glad that the leak was not the timing cover seal, oil pan, or the worst, rear main.
When I inspected the vehicle before purchase, I knew that the leak was coming from the front, so I wasn't super worried about it.
DIdn't rule out the very slim chance of rear main, but thought of it as an extremely low probability.
I didn't know how complicated oil pan chagnes were on this car. I'm used to it being an "undo some bolts and drop the pan" kind of a situation.

anways, just glad to have found the leak, as that's pretty important, and this van is getting that much closer to being a very nice sturdy platform.
It arguably already is, but if I left it to it's devices i would probably be shortening it's lifespan by a good amount.

And yes, I know that I need to change my oil.
I'm just waiting until I get the injectors in because I have leakdown and I don't want to ruin my new oil.
I have not been driving it much in the mean-time because of that.


The van has been ***** occasionally (slight moderate chirp at warmup), and I'm pretty sure it's the belt.
So I just bought a new belt (Delco because of of the EPDM rubber).
It doesn't really need super immediate replacement, I can just hear it a little every 5th startup or so (probably has to do with position) and it's kinda annoying.
Also, if it makes any noise at all, it means that it will need to be replaced rather soon, so I might as well do it now.

After reading about the throttle body mod leaning out cylinders, and possibly having smog issues, I think that I'm either going to leave it alone or just cut half of it.
Probably leave it alone as it doesn't actually add any HP, but just improves throttle response. Which I don't really care for on this van.
If I ever want to cut it I know where it is.
Last edited by gman on May 2nd 2020, 11:28pm, edited 2 times in total.
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Posts: 315
Topics: 38
Images: 39
Joined: February 2020
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Van Model Year: 1999
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: Base 4.3 RWD

Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » May 2nd 2020, 11:05pm

I can't wait to get these babies in there.
Just waiting for a good time to do it.

101422
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Posts: 315
Topics: 38
Images: 39
Joined: February 2020
Alias (AKA):
Van Model Year: 1999
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: Base 4.3 RWD

Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » May 3rd 2020, 12:00am

After doing a read on the mod, and seeing that the pro's outweighing the cons (especially because people seem to run into leaky hoses often even after replacement).
I think I'm going to go with a cooler delete, and fix the lines while they are out.
I don't live in extreme hot temperatures, and I also never haul heavy.
The increased protection from catastrophic engine oil loss seems like it's worth it, because it never gets hot enough around here to increase engine wear due to oil heat, and even if it did I never haul.

Then, at some point later, when the van is just putzing around town for a few blocks here and there again, I'll put them back in.
Can do that when I do the oil change.
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Posts: 315
Topics: 38
Images: 39
Joined: February 2020
Alias (AKA):
Van Model Year: 1999
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: Base 4.3 RWD

Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » May 3rd 2020, 9:55pm

So getting onboard air is not that difficult nor expensive actually.
https://www.fourwheeler.com/how-to/elec ... ir-supply/


But I'm not sure of how I'm going to mount it under the van. I need to find out how to attach mounting plates to some part of the van that does not affect the structural integrity of the frame.
Since I don't plan on offroading this thing, I can put a nice big tank under there. Heck, maybe I can pressurize a tank of water as well (good for spraying stuff or just having some onboard grey water for washing my hands, etc.) if I make a universal mounting bracket (maybe just one big set of strips that I can drill through and bolt things onto). A standalone air and water tank wouldn't cost very much (less than $100), and my only concern would be the compressor, which I'm finding is also cheap (can probably find one on CL or eBay), and I can also take off the van in case something goes wrong.

I'm trying to make this build such that I minimize the amount of things that are permanently attached to the van, so that in the event of a breakdown that I can't do anything about, I could just strip it, store it, and get another van and/or sell the parts within a month or two.
One step at a time though.
I will probably end up returning my dinky pancake, and buying just an air tank from HF.
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
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Van Model Year: 1999
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: Base 4.3 RWD

Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby sixsix » May 4th 2020, 3:36pm

gman wrote: ... trying to plan it well so that I minimize time outside, etc.

That is such a bummer to hear you ( AND soooo many others ) say that.
Just do not understand the "be afraid to go out" mentality.
Not you in particular, just in General.


Now... back to your EGR, Oil etc. Since WE don't have that intake, etc and is a Gen I, none of that looks familiar. But our EGR was not even tight in position and the gasket was 1/2 disintegrated. When I put the new one on after cleaning it all - I did not know or forgot about the 'screened thing' type gasket, blah, blah. Of course, it was Leeann that poetically reminded me.
The CPI model is a bit easier to work on after getting all the Plastic/Vinyl/Covers, etc out of the way.

Glad you found that rascally leak. I think we have all had one or two of them. Mine was a slit in an oil filter on the back side from install on a Pontiac Battlestar Galactica. Golly!
Seems 'rear main seals' are the going thing these days.

gman wrote:So I just bought a new belt (Delco because of of the EPDM rubber) ...

Was there a problem w/ the Rubber Compounds or a Tech bulletin... ?
Anyway, now I just spent 1/2 a day reading up on Rubber Compounding: Chemistry and Applications, Oils and 'Other' ACDelco applications.

I'll never get all that time back - lol, sorta'.
Hypovandriac sounds like a good lead in for my next "Adventures in Poetic Lyesense" ( oh, wait, quazy wong tread ).

Oh and if I recall correctly - Auto Parts Stickers w/ 'Red' as the main theme do, in fact, raise the HP.
I have proof, I drive faster when I have my K&N sticker set ( there are 42 of them ) in my wallet.
Jeannie says, "it's just that you sit funny now and hit the damn pedal different, you lummox (sp)."


Have to agree w/ your Oil Line / Cooler delete - I know a local around here who lost his Safari Motor from just that.

Eagle w/ the CHROME... I like the box more than the Fuel Injection dohickie. Nice!


Onboard Air - well there you go again. I started looking for 'Air Motors Mounted' - ran into AstroAustin's posts and his crazy airbagged Van. Probably not to the scale you are thinking of.
I am sure you have read up in some of the better posts, concerning "Basement Stuff" ( scorean comes to mind ) and that "Welding Co Guy" did his rockers in square tubing , etc.

Geez, now curiosity got me, I'll have to find it.
Good Luck getting the van 'On The Road'.

'Lummox Ramble' over...
.

Well, after all... what would Banacek say ?... Anyone that condones the actions of the American People during the Storming of the Capitol are as complicit as the Assholes themselves.
But no way does this let the Democrats or the MSM off the Hook.

.
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sixsix
Firing on 5 Cylinders (L5)
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Van Model Year: 1992
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Extra Info: LT W CPI - RWD 200K

Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » May 6th 2020, 2:28am

sixsix wrote:That is such a bummer to hear you ( AND soooo many others ) say that.
Just do not understand the "be afraid to go out" mentality.
Not you in particular, just in General.


Everyone has a different take on it it seems. I have my own but it's too long winded lol.
I do believe that it's deadly though, and that we definitely need to be aware of it, on our toes, and whatnot, but the way that we've gone about it is pretty bad I think.

sixsix wrote:Now... back to your EGR, Oil etc. Since WE don't have that intake, etc and is a Gen I, none of that looks familiar. But our EGR was not even tight in position and the gasket was 1/2 disintegrated. When I put the new one on after cleaning it all - I did not know or forgot about the 'screened thing' type gasket, blah, blah. Of course, it was Leeann that poetically reminded me.
The CPI model is a bit easier to work on after getting all the Plastic/Vinyl/Covers, etc out of the way.


I drove a Gen 1 in the past with a leak, so I wonder what it was. Probably the timing chain cover? Idk.
DIssappointing to hear that the cooler lines continue to have problems for a lot of people, even after replacement, but honestly every car has engineering flaws.
Everything is known for doing something or another after 70k or so miles. To be honest, I'm pretty impressed that such a complicated piece of machinery, with so many interdependent parts, and tolerances within thousandths of an inch, can still run, drive, go 65mph and take you halfway across the country after 20 years.
Pretty amazing actually.

But if cars are known to have significant issues regularly before they hit 80k, I would still consider them junk.

sixsix wrote:Glad you found that rascally leak. I think we have all had one or two of them. Mine was a slit in an oil filter on the back side from install on a Pontiac Battlestar Galactica. Golly!
Seems 'rear main seals' are the going thing these days.


Thanks. I'm really glad I found it too. Makes me feel much better knowing that things are going to be nice, clean, and tip top down there, and that I'm not going to be losing oil (which is really bad).

sixsix wrote:Was there a problem w/ the Rubber Compounds or a Tech bulletin... ?
Anyway, now I just spent 1/2 a day reading up on Rubber Compounding: Chemistry and Applications, Oils and 'Other' ACDelco applications.

I'll never get all that time back - lol, sorta'.
Hypovandriac sounds like a good lead in for my next "Adventures in Poetic Lyesense" ( oh, wait, quazy wong tread ).

Oh and if I recall correctly - Auto Parts Stickers w/ 'Red' as the main theme do, in fact, raise the HP.
I have proof, I drive faster when I have my K&N sticker set ( there are 42 of them ) in my wallet.
Jeannie says, "it's just that you sit funny now and hit the damn pedal different, you lummox (sp)."


No, but EPDM rubber is known to be much quieter, and last much longer. Even more so than fancily marketed aftermarkets.
After hearing that belts can fail after 20k, and that the EPDM rubber that Delco uses lasts 50k+ before needing a change, I figured it was worth the bit of extra scratch just for piece of mind. Even if the van doesn't make it that far.

sixsix wrote:Have to agree w/ your Oil Line / Cooler delete - I know a local around here who lost his Safari Motor from just that.

Eagle w/ the CHROME... I like the box more than the Fuel Injection dohickie. Nice!


Onboard Air - well there you go again. I started looking for 'Air Motors Mounted' - ran into AstroAustin's posts and his crazy airbagged Van. Probably not to the scale you are thinking of.
I am sure you have read up in some of the better posts, concerning "Basement Stuff" ( scorean comes to mind ) and that "Welding Co Guy" did his rockers in square tubing , etc.

Geez, now curiosity got me, I'll have to find it.
Good Luck getting the van 'On The Road'.

'Lummox Ramble' over...


Yeah, the fact that they always leak and the fact that it can potentially spray out if the leak gets bad scares me.
I'm really just trying to make this thing as solid as possible, so the delete moves it in that direction by removing a layer of complexity.
Less is always more, and I don't haul, so as a light street machine, I'm confident that it will be for the better.

I'm considering onboard air because of how many uses it has. Honestly, that's extremely low priority though. Probably won't happen until I get a real job or something semi-stable.
First, I don't have as much wattage on my solar panel as I did on my other vans, so charging electric tool batteries all night is not going to be ideal if I ever take this thing out camping.

First, how many times have you run into situations where you could have used pressurized air to clean something?

Or, that one time when you need to inflate your tires but none of the gas station pumps work and they cost $3.00

Secondly, air tools are so cheap! I can get very VERY powerful tools for pennies on the dollar. Die grinder? 20 bucks. Air hammer? 20 bucks. Impact wrench? Ok, a little more, but still pretty close to $20 bucks. Paint Sprayer? $20 bucks. Air reciprocating saw? Never seen one, but i'm sure it's made, and probably 20 bucks.
I think you're getting my drift.
Everytime I need something weird and powerful it will no longer be some weird eBay hunt, and I won't be wondering how I'm going to re-sell it after I use it, or rent it, etc.
It's just $20 everytime. And I use them so infrequently, that I can get super cheapies and not be worried about it.

Electric tools are very expensive, not as powerful as air, and you definitely can't paint spray with electricity. You're not going to find an electric air hammer that costs less than $150.
And once you're out of battery that's it, 4 hours till the next one. SO everything has to be quick and timed.

Oh, not to mention you can pressurize things if you have it.
Here's a guy who made a pressurized water tank with PVC.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dG2HK9JsAjw

Garden hose on your van? How freaking cool is that?

Just seems like a great idea, but again, it's pretty low priority as I have no immediate need for it.
But it's nice knowing that I'm probably about $200 away from having pressurized water and the ability to run air tools.

First and foremost is mechanical maintenance and basic comfort, then creature comforts will come next.
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Posts: 315
Topics: 38
Images: 39
Joined: February 2020
Alias (AKA):
Van Model Year: 1999
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: Base 4.3 RWD

Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » May 7th 2020, 7:15am

Sometimes when I run the van the smell of fuel is fairly strong, so yeah, most likely leaking fuel pressure regulator.
I need to get these injectors in ASAP. Like within the next 50 miles or so.
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Posts: 315
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Images: 39
Joined: February 2020
Alias (AKA):
Van Model Year: 1999
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: Base 4.3 RWD

Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » May 14th 2020, 1:07am

So I've been doing vacuum tests on the van.

I was a little scared at first, because I actually put the gauge in the wrong place. I teed off at the purge valve for the vacuum ball and the AC lines.
So although I did get a steady reading of 20 Hg, when blipping the throttle, the needle did not fall, and the reading took a little while to climb high while blipping the throttle. I also had to blip it a few times and get the engine to a good RPM to get it to go above 25 hg.

BUT, I read that vacuum gauges should be connected as close to the manifold as possible. Makes sense, since this is where all the vacuum is happening (engine is just big air pump), and this is closest to all the stuff that I'm trying to test for (engine wear).
So I disconnected the PCV valve tee to the plenum/manifold area, and I connected the vaccuum gauge there using the cone that it came with.

I guess I bought the tee and some extra vacuum hose for no reason, but not really, because if I ever wanted to hook up an in-dash vacuum gauge, I have the tee now and I can just drill a hole/holes into the doghouse if I also want to hook up a fuel pressure gauge so that I can always just monitor that stuff in the car.

After starting the motor, it took a minute or so for the gauge to start climbing, but it eventually held steady at exactly 20hg ,on the mark, without moving at all.
When blipping the throttle, it went right above zero, but NEVER dropped all the way to zero (it was just a couple of marks above it), and then it climbed to 24/25 or so.
If I blipped it a little hard, and let it rev for a second, or just revved a tad higher, it climbed past 25, and if I did the same thing that I did before, which was a few throttle blips, it would climb as high as 26.

So I'm pretty happy that the van is within GREAT spec. Not even low by acceptable standards (17 is minimum).

Not extremely surprising, because the van runs amazingly, but also very refreshing, because I don't know how long it has been running with the leaky fuel system.
Obviously long enough to kill the cat.

So I'm pretty happy about that, and I'm going to go ahead and put a cat on it after I do the injectors.
I'm also still going to do a compression test because I'm already going to be there when I do the plugs, but I'm not expecting anything weird.
Maybe it would be a tad low because the engine is so old, but if it's not, I'm going to be an even bigger astro/4.3 fan, because seriously 190k miles, leaky fuel system, has been running with dirty fuel filter for who knows how long, probably hasn't had a full tuneup since 100-ish k, and it's still above minimum spec?


I'm not feeling bad about making small investments into the van anymore, but I still think that I'm going to wait a while before I paint it.
It honestly doesn't look THAT bad, and i'm going to be dropping quite the significant amount of cash just to make it look good.

We'll see where it goes, but I think I'm going to prioritize building out the back first.
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
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Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » May 17th 2020, 8:01am

Got the injectors in.

MPFI!

I didn't take a lot of pics because honestly the service manual was descriptive enough, and when I needed to do anything kinda tricky, most of it was already covered when I searched for it.

I will however post pics of some tricky spots I was in that wasn't covered and also wasn't expected.
It was quite simple and straightforward really, but there were a lot of little tricky things that popped up.
As always, slow, careful, and methodical was the ticket (though I am getting a lot faster).

Lot's of carbon buildup around the old regulator. Lot's of discoloration right under it.
Could physically SEE , wet, leaky fluid when running a gloved hand through the #5 intake runner. Really glad I did this.

1/4" flex head ratchet is pretty much a must-have in this situation. Might be able to get away with 3/8", but in some of those situations I pushed the ratchet to full articulation and there was barely room.

I'm sooo soo glad I decided to buy one last minute. It was indispensable. So much so, that I don't know how I could have done that job without it. I could have used a flex extension (which I did for the torque wrench), but it was incredibly difficult to use when using the torque wrench, but it worked well enough to get everything down to spec.
I have a long handle rotohead 3/8" (which was very useful for the EGR valve, and I'm sure it will come in handy again), but it didn't seem like it was going to be small enough, and a flex-head has the advantage of being able to apply extra torque throughout it's range - even at full articulation.
It's practically a thumb-screw ratchet at that point.

It was an ICON ratchet, and oh man, the premium feel that it had. It really made the 1/4" ratchet in my socket set that I bought feel dinky and cheap (felt pretty premium before).
The 90 point engagement and the large selector switch also came in very handy. Some people complain about the size because it can get caught in wires apparently, but I found it to be more of a convenience because when my hand was in a really weird position and I needed to switch to de-jam a socket it was just so perfect. So smooth too. Instant engagement at every click and butter smooth travel. What a ratchet.
Very glad that i needed it and didn't just buy it for the heck of it lol. Really don't think I could have done that job without it.
Kind of overkill for a homegamer like me, but it really is quite the ratchet. If I find myself doing more detailed work that's not just occasional maintanence, I would very much buy more of their ratchets, or I'll get ONE snap-on/matco/sk/mac ratchet if I can get a discount on it.

Anyways, got kind of scared because the van didn't start up right away.
I started to panic a little bit, but I had to remind myself that it was running just a few hours before, and it was probably something stupid or a bad part.
Nothing that I couldn't do within the week, but it was scary enough because I would have had to juggle the van around and probably use a good chunk of my emergency towing.
Anything more involved than that is going to get a spot rented out for the job. Though it would probably have to be something that involves taking a major part of the vehicle off to warrant getting a spot though.

Ran through the usual tests, first check fuel pressure. It was good. Next, check spark, and yep, it wasn't sparking.
So I started to isolate the ignition coil/ICM area, and I forgot to plug the ICM harness back in.
Lol, I knew that I was going to forget to plug SOMETHING In (Literally expected it because I unplugged like literally 10 harnesses), and sure enough it was the ICM.

I was happy to get it started, but it started running like serious crap. It stumbled/revved and the SES light was on.
Just happy to have it started, as this is probably the biggest job I've ever done and I was scared.
Then I remembered that I sprayed like an entire can of carb cleaner and cleaned the entire thing.
So I let it run for a while, and yep. It made some funny noises, started idling weird, but it started clearing up a lot and the SES light went away.
The more I drove it, the more it cleared up.
I probably just have to run it hard for a while to clear all that out, and to get whatever's left on all of the stuff I cleaned out.

Holy crap the van is getting to the point where it's feeling like it's running like new.
Runs EVEN BETTER at idle now, and literally sounds like new and makes almost no noise when it's not in gear.
Kind of hiccups at gear, and I'm assuming that it's because of all the crap I sprayed in there.

Literally everytime I do something to it it runs better.
Little scared this time though, but I'm sure it'll clear up.
Definitely hammered in the idea of leaving something alone if it runs fine.

Can't wait to tune it up, but cooler delete and oil change are next.
I also forgot to bring my thermal paste, but not worried about it because that's like a 5 minute job, now that I know where everything is.
I have to button up a couple of wiring brackets and harnesses too, as well as torque down the throttle cable bracket to spec.
Focus was on getting home and getting the job done, so i'll just do that whenever I change the oil and delete the cooler.

It's getting there..

Next post will be about the actual details of the job.
This one was for other people that are similarly new/anxious about repairing their cars.
Last edited by gman on May 17th 2020, 5:13pm, edited 1 time in total.
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Posts: 315
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Van Model Year: 1999
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: Base 4.3 RWD

Re: The 99 astro/safari. Getting ready for the road.

Postby gman [OP] » May 17th 2020, 5:07pm

I have some responsibilities, but the cooler delete, by the looks of it, should only take an hour to a couple of hours or so.
Maybe even a half hour because it's really just removing 3 bolts.
It's another "absolutely necessary" change that will flush out the fuelly oil, put new oil in there, and get rid of the leak.
After I do that, I will feel confident with taking the van on longer distance drives.

I'd rather do it now so that in the event that I need to drive kind of far (never know), I can do it immediately.

Should be done by early/mid afternoon, which will give me time to finish up a few things that I have to do.
1999 Chevy Astro Van
Original Poster [OP]
gman
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Firing on 3 Cylinders (L1)
Posts: 315
Topics: 38
Images: 39
Joined: February 2020
Alias (AKA):
Van Model Year: 1999
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: Base 4.3 RWD

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