Esmar's AmtVan project

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Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby esmartuek [OP] » August 5th 2010, 12:46pm

Since I bought my 92 Astro in 2009, it's been issue after issue as it deteriorates with age. I've always been a strong believer in doing all of the work on my vehicles. So far, I've only broken that twice on my van, regretting both instances.
I decided with all this work I've done, that even though a newer model year would be nice, it would be a waste of all this effort. In such, I plan to convert my 92 into feeling like a 98+.

Specs:
4.3L TBI
TH700R4
AWD
ABS

Work already done:
Will be posted in further posts, along with pictures using the [Hidden/Show] function.

After all of that, I'm beginning to think it's time to look into the possibility of changing over the interior to the newer style; with cup holders, not coffee mug slots; Power seats; a console on the ceiling; upgrading the ancient speaker system; newer bench seats with cup holders and individual movement; the crummy instrument cluster has to be replaced with an all-digital one (I was spoiled by my Camaro's Nordskog cluster) Either way, majority of my interior issues will be resolved by replacing it with a newer model-type.

For other-than-interior, I'm curious how much work would be needed to install a 3800 series vortec engine - scrapped idea for a 350 FI for fuel efficiency and power, as well as ease of install. I already know that a 3800 series only gets 15mpg in these vans, but the power is there. I also plan to replace the sliding door with the newer style, as mine is broken at the interior handle, leaving passengers trapped and screaming . New paint job to display it's title: AmtVan- titled thus because I use it for hauling people and equipment for a game called Amtgard; better looking wheels; fix the cruise control (the turn signal was replaced poorly, and the vacuum module linkage is broken.)


Any suggestions for going about these improvements or advice of impossibility would be great.
-Esmar
Last edited by chevymaherchevymaher is online! on January 3rd 2013, 12:25am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby astroturf » August 5th 2010, 12:58pm

Welcome Aboard Esmar.

Keep us posted.

And remember: Without a Pic... It didn't Happen.

LOL

Jim
My Cup is neither half empty nor half full... But has a hole in it. Holy Cup Holders Batman. LOLz, Jim
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby chevy57bert » August 5th 2010, 4:30pm

Good to see a Esmar's AmtVan project. :clap:
Keep us posted..
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby LEVE » August 5th 2010, 4:53pm

Ya gotta like a guy that does his own work! Keep us posted on the van. :dance:
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby JaxSPL » August 5th 2010, 5:24pm

Pics, Pics, and mire Pics.. Please?

Sounds like something I would think about doing on my van. Well, except for the 3800 swap, I love my 4.3 when it runs right.

Dash will be a problem with installing a newer one. If you do this I want a full writeup, hehehe.

I am watching this so I can get some ideas.
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby esmartuek [OP] » August 6th 2010, 1:33pm

First thought is yes, I know I failed to update when I got home yesterday... I got distracted with trying to buy a house.
Anyways, is the 3800 vortec really inferior to the 4.3 TBI?
I'd love to switch to full FI, while retaining the size of my engine. Replacing wiring harnesses is a famiiliar concept.
I'll go grab pics of my mother's (formerly my father's) 98 LS Astro of which I'm in envy of. I've oogled the frame, the ways it all works and everything and according to haynes, there really isnt much of a difference. I may need a ton of JB and welding, but by god, I will make my 92 look like a newer model =D
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby JaxSPL » August 6th 2010, 10:24pm

May I ask why not drop a small block v8 in it and call it a day? A 305 isn't much bigger than the 4.3L (292c.i if I remember right), and would slip right in with very little problem.

I don't know for sure if the 3800 is inferior to the 4.3 or not. I do think there are some more aftermarket items for the 3800.

The dash may have to be refashioned. From what I understand is the doghouse is different and not actually in the same exact location. There are some other things like the heater/blower and stuff that will have to be worked around.

If you do it we definitely want pics.
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby esmartuek [OP] » August 7th 2010, 12:59am

Okay, so I'm obviously a noob and failed to realize that a first post in a topic was unable to be edited.
Right.
Here's the pic-post.
I was keen to make sure that it was well compressed, etc, etc.

Because of the amount of pictures, they have been hidden. click the -show- button to view the pictures. :D

Starting things off, Work done (C&P from first post):

Work already done:

  • Replaced Cylinder HeadsImageImage
  • Replaced water pump X2Image
  • Replaced R12 with Enviro-Safe refrigerant Image
  • Replaced Front DifferentialImage
  • Replaced passenger CV half-shaftImage
  • Deleted oil cooler linesImage
  • Replaced EGR valveImage
  • Replaced Distributor Image

Here's some pretty and some ugly shots from the engine compartment of the aftermath: I'm also the guy that had the crankcase explosion in December that required a replacement of valve covers. I'll try to find the pictures from that incident/whatever.
Image
Image
Image
Image

I just had to put in the AutotrakII after reading the forum posts on this site. Image



The 92 --> 98+ project.

I have pictures of a 1998 Astro LS with the full Sports package for comparison for the conversion.

ImageImage

To start things off, I'll go with the easy sauce: the things that fit right in: the seats, cause I already have a back bench from a 95.
Image

It get's more complicated as it begins to move towards the wiring. ImageImage

Above that, with more wiring... ImageImage

And we move to easy replacement of the vanity mirrors and visors (oh, the relief!) ImageImageImage

Door replacement should be relatively easy, possibly requiring full swap, for hardware, but power mirrors are identical across all models. (I have a few new-in-box in the shed) Image I'm looking forward the the sound system in the doors, no longer rotting in the sun.

Seats will be a more expensive and extensive move, requiring new wiring for power and controls. I failed to investigate the positioning of the floorbolts on the 98. Image

I NEED to fix my hood release mechanism at this moment. Right now, my handle is destroyed and requires a set of pliers to disengage. What a perfect time to move the cable to here: Image, eh?

I took a picture of the instrument cluster, but I'm not even going to go there... that's not what I had in mind and I don't care about Airbags... IMO, I know too many people who have airbags that don't deploy til after the fact. I've always used Seat belts anyways, I feel like I'll fall out of a seat without it (blame roller coasters for that)

Lastly, our favorite of the whole front interior bit: Image
I don't know where I'm going to start on this..
I think I'll just wait for my inherent genius to figure it out much further down the line, when a piece of this plastic can practically fall into my lap for free.


Sliding Door Project

"It might be doable..."

I tried to take the pictures in a comparable manner, but I think a lost track :whistle:
ImageImage
ImageImage
ImageImage
ImageImage
ImageImage
ImageImage
ImageImage
ImageImage
ImageImage
ImageImage


:feedback:

Thank you,
-Esmar
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby 94 Van Guy » August 8th 2010, 3:32am

I enjoyed all the pics. Looks like you have a good handle on it.

Thanks for posting the photos and they do make sense to me.

Good luck, Keith
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby esmartuek [OP] » August 9th 2010, 7:55am

I totally brainfarted on my previous post and mentioned an event that occurred before i found AS.com, well, here's the link to the automotiveforums.com post I made when it did happen
Needless to say,the resulting video that I ended up making and not posting revealed that after 30 minutes of my friend and I puttering around, I read the spark plugs wrong on the distributor :banghead: I wasn't used to working from -behind- the engine.
2 weeks wasted and $60 down the drain cause of a simple error like that.
At least for a job where I went as deep down as the pistons, that's all that went wrong... and all had to be replaced was the valve covers. A miracle in the case of a crankcase blowout.

Anyways, thought I'd share that bit... and who do I have to talk to to get on that veteran list?? I voluntarily did 2 different enlistments, each time getting medically discharged (I'm hard to get rid of :whistle: )
That's what my special plates on my van are, so yes... it was relevant.

I have another set of pics to post, I'll just append them into that last post I did with the pics. It's regarding my digital dash. I have a spare unit I ripped off a junker, I just failed to pull it's wiring harness, as I was in a hurry that day. They wanted $90 for that thing =( My money values were out of whack from severance pay from the Army, so I didn't care.

-E
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby Dirk » August 9th 2010, 10:33am

Here is a link to a post in which is explained how to get your veteran status approved.
https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=61&t=5686
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby esmartuek [OP] » August 16th 2010, 5:45pm

I have another batch of pictures here for you all.
These are all related to the Digital Instrument Cluster.
I may scrap what I'm planning and see if I can somehow squeeze a Nordskog cluster that belongs in a 1987 Camaro in there (as far as I can tell/remember, it looks close enough, and I know how to do all the custom wiring already cause I did this very thing to a Camaro. )

Old Cluster
Image
Here it is, pulled out and displayed on my hood.

Image
Here's the backside, mighty simple and reminds me A LOT of my old Camaro's OEM cluster. (cept the camaro had a speedo cable that frayed, resulting in many-a-tickets)

Image
Here's the mounting area in the dash itself.

Image
And a closer shot of the same.


Lets move on to the New Cluster that I'm wanting to convert to:
New Cluster
Image
Little odd and very dirty...

Image
*coughsputter* okay, so I need to ditch the current left connector and get some sort of 17pin horizontal connector for this digital dash. Is this for lighting? I figure the same instruments used the same connector on the right. :think:

And just to show that I'm not crazy when I want to put in a third gen camaro's Nordskog...It's size/shape isn't TOO far off, I could easily modify it. :crying: I miss my Camaro... stolen out from under my nose!
Image


A Nordskog/stock astro hybrid cluster would be awesome, by far. Who wants me to go the distance?


I took pictures of the wiring area under the steering column as well, but I have a feeling they're not important until I start looking for a way to put Cruise Control in.


I did manage to get my A/C Blower Motor working again this weekend.
No Thanks to Haynes, I found the motor myself and gave it some hammer therapy and cleaned the connectors and sprayed them with dielectric grease.
Why is it so hard for Haynes to print a picture of where this is?
Image
Image

Thank you, Dirk. I also discovered it was time for me to explore my CP in phpBB3 and see the changes. I found the group membership request area.

-Esmartuek
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby chevy57bert » August 16th 2010, 7:00pm

WOW, That`s a nice cluster..
I don`t think the wiring is the problem. I hope it`s fit`s in there.. :whistle:
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby esmartuek [OP] » September 7th 2010, 9:58am

Time for another update on the Amtvan.

I recently (friday, 9-3-10) installed new pioneer 6.5" speakers in the front. I failed to note that you can just pop the cover off, I thought it was like my Camaro and required the dash pad to be removed... ha. That was fun o.o.

On top of those, I will replace the rear door speakers and the deck.
The deck is enroute: A Pioneer AVH-P5200BT DVD player system.
It's everything I want, being a technophile.
7" motorized touchscreen.
Support for Bluetooth handsfree phone operation over stereo system.
HD Radio
Supports the following formats: DVD/R/RW, CD/R/RW, DiVX, MP3, WMA, AAC, JPG, and more I forgot...
Input: SD card in front, Phono 3.5mm AV input in front, USB in front, Bluetooth, iPOS, RCA digital input in rear, support for navigation module.

I'm about to be very happy, I love Pioneer. This is replacing a DEH-P6400. My Trooper has my DEH-P7400MP.

My Amtvan is officially my family's new roadtrip vehicle =)

I'll post pics when it arrives and I start install. I need to fix my electronic locks first, though... can't risk this thing. I'm gonna solder the wires and all.

-Esmartuek
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby esmartuek [OP] » October 14th 2010, 1:26am

Well, I've done quite a bit of work towards my conversion. Right now, my van is sitting with the interior half-stripped out, wiring cut and splayed out all over the place.
All this and I still need to make another trip to the wreaking yard to pull more stuff.
My first trip, I got the front headliner, the visors, the top console, wiring harness that runs by the driver's side, and front seatbelts.
Second trip involved a TON of molding, the rear headliner (what a PAIN), and the rear dome wiring.

I've spent the last 2 days ripping out the old stuff and modifying all my screwholes, attempting to splice whatever wires back together, and I'm hardly done. At least the headliner is in.
I've blown at least 1 fuse in the process since I cut the old harness 4 wires at a time. This isn't much of a problem since I have tons of spare fuses, but I felt stupid enough that I didn't do them 1 at a time.
I need to get a few peices of molding I left at the site, and I am considering going for the nav/temp module that wires up to the top console.

I have pictures, but I can't find my sync cable for my phone; so those will come later.

All in all, it's turning out pretty well, except that I have had to drill more holes than I initially imagined (including through some heavy steel for the rear seatbelts, which needed to be moved all of 4", but I don't use those anyways) That and I'm dumbfounded on some of these essential wires that I need to reconnect. Oh how I wish I spent an entire day there and get EVERY inch of the wiring harnesses instead of settling on cutting the middle out.

-ET
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby esmartuek [OP] » February 18th 2011, 10:25pm

So I broke the turn signal. At first it just wouldn't return, but to compensate, the other week, I did it a little too forcefully and broke the whole thing off.
I bought a new lever (since someone snipped my cruise control wire anyways) and turn signal wiring harness earlier this week in preparation.

Today, I dove into the project. This was going to by my shining glory where I restored Cruise Control to my van so my Cross-country trips would be more bearable.
I discovered a dark secret that I feared somewhere between breaking the lever and diving into the guts: someone has been in this steering column before.

Unhide to see the rest and images.
Even before removing the wheel, I saw filing marks on the shaft, showing that some sub-par amateur didn't even have the faintest clue what they were doing in there. At least the tilt still worked and I didn't suspect this til now, right?
Image
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It gets worse.
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Here's the turn signal part that I'm replacing: Image
with this: Image

Here's what I broke: Image
Image

wait, it gets better...
This isn't original. I was causally inspecting my handiwork of damage when I turned it over to see:
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OH MY GOD THATS A WRECKING YARD MARKING!

how far did they go?!? why do I not have cruise control?! what else is broken cause they mucked about in my steering?! did they do this when they mucked up my cylinder heads and door wiring?! how many other 'repairs' do I need to repair?!
ImageImage

This project just got more complex. I think I need to pay a visit to the wrecking yard again, to replace a wrecking yard part.

Til this gets done, I can't register my tags this month, so the rest of the conversion gets to wait.
(I also need to find the pictures I took of the process I spent on the interior)

*edit*
Looking at Autozone, I finally found the wiper switch on their site, I ordered it and was able to clean up the wrecking yard shroud it installs to. Tomorrow I will assemble the column and post pics.

-Esmartuek
Last edited by esmartuek on February 19th 2011, 7:27am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby Big_kid » February 19th 2011, 1:07am

Got to love previous owners and their "fixes". It's how I got my van so cheap! Getting the vans back right.... that's another ongoing story.
95 Astro Conversion of unknown irrelevant lineage
We have enough youth. How about a fountain of smart?
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby esmartuek [OP] » December 31st 2012, 12:52pm

Okay, I know this post has been long due, but I finally found the pictures I had of when I began working on that upper Gen 2 Interior conversion.
Enjoy!
Image
Parts all lined up and ready to be put in...
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Have to pre-wire everything...
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Image
The Headliner itself came in two parts and was still massive. It was a windy day and I had a hard time hauling them back from the JY to my car.
Image
Headache and a half. I think I just stuffed that mess in a corner, if I remember right... something to fix another day.
Image
In with the new (despite my lack of rear AC... who has to know?)
Image
Image
It sags!
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Can't forget the miles of wires, they did include the brake wiring, after all.
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I don't know how, but somehow, I got that huge wad tucked in.
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I can't quite figure this one out... looks like old wires about to be severed from the umbilical cord.
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This thing is a beast... and quite the stupidest shape ever. But hey, it's better than what it replaced.
Image
Finishing Touches! I love this console with all my heart. It's a shame that I failed so miserably to grab the control modules for the temp/nav. I only had 15min left in the JY, though. I stripped that part van as clean as I possibly could.


I will try to take some -now- pictures tomorrow to show how well it's held up after 2 years. (which, in fact, has been great!)
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby esmartuek [OP] » January 2nd 2013, 2:21am

Here's those pictures that I promised:
Image
Image
Image
Image
Image
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There it is in all of it's glory. Taken just a few minutes ago.
I've even taken pictures of some of the damage that I incurred while I was on my most recent road trip over the holidays.
Image
This is what happens when a Snowy Owl hits your mirror... brand new replaced power mirror, at that. Now I get to replace it again! This is why I don't get to have nice things, kids.... Snowy Owls swoop down and peck holes in them at 75MPH.
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Oh, and it stole my Antenna, too. Clean off! Other than those two things, the Owl left no other signs that it had been there other than scaring the living hell out of myself and family.
Image
The windshield decided that it had enough with these extreme temperature trips over the Sierra Nevadas and while driving over Donner's Pass put in a nicely sized "replace me now" crack at complete random.
Image
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Re: Esmar's AmtVan project

Postby redfury » January 2nd 2013, 3:39am

Well, now you have the room to install rear heat if you so desire with that interior panel. Totally worth it if your rear passengers have complained about the lack of heat.

As far as the engine goes, why don't you just upgrade the motor you have to full injected Vortec status instead of trying to find a way to get a 3800 series motor in it? The newer spider assembly has mini injectors. you'll probably have to upgrade your fuel pump and fuel lines as well. the way you are going, it sounds like it may have been cheaper to buy a wrecked Astro and strip it for the parts you need.
A temporary fix usually becomes a permanent solution, therefore it does not exist.
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