1996 astro awd rebuild

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1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby Rik [OP] » February 6th 2016, 10:02pm

Hello everyone! It's my first post here. I thought about joining early in my build but now i'm having engine trouble so i need some educated thoughts on how to proceed.

First off, i dont know if you like long posts, but i consider adding some pictures for this to be interesting.

So, i bought my Astro in Finland couple of years back. It was brought from Japan when it had only 75 000 km on it. It was good looking with no rust at all. AWD drive with big engine and automatic transmission drives so effortlessy.

I would drive it for couple of years and fix some little things like radiator that was craked, change all fluids and just keep good care of it. But no matter what i did i would never get the coolant clean. Someone had mixed dexcool with green coolant. Coolant was always brown after coolant change. It was frustrating. Later i lnotice that the engine block had a thick layer of sand-like substance in the bottom of the coolant passage. Local repairshop worker told me it was from the casting of the block when they would shake the sand from the cast, it would leave some inside the passage. Dont know, but now it's cleaned.

I Wrecked my original engine on my -96 astro AWD(another story). So living here in finland - the promised land of rules and regulations - slapping in a 350 was out of the question. I figured the best way was to rebuild the old engine that had only 110 000 kilometers on it was the best option. But this time i would tune it just a little bit. To make it worth the effort.

Being a 96 model, i had to lift the body from the frame to take the engine out, and while i had the frame out i couldnt resist getting it sandblasted and painted with a good epoxy paint. And it looks good with proper, thick paint that a decent shop put in. It cost me about 500 euros. But it's not rusting now, i hate rust! if you have a rusty frame or body, you never feel like doing anything to that car becouse it's not going to be long in this world.
52385

Here is how i took the engine out. I bought a engine lift from local Biltema. it can lift 500 kilograms extended all the way. It was enough for the body.
52377

So i basically took the engine out and found out the crankshaft was wrecked beyond repair. I would have to get a a new crank, oversize pistons, camshaft, etc.

At this point remember that parts are kind of hard to get here, you have to wait a week to get parts, and they cost almost the double they do in america. And if you order in USPS you can wait two weeks for them. I would imagine there are only 2-10 AWD astros of the same model here in Finland.

So i took the engine dismanteled to a local machine shop where they did all the work on the lower end and the top end. It was decked, they took about 1 millimeter from the block and small work on the heads. I was told that there are always small edges on the intake/exhaust ports left from the factory they can sand out. They were not polished. From what i head polishing the combustion chamber is not neccessarily a good thing becouse the carbon there is acting like insulation that prevents heat from absorbing in the metal. They work on engines only, so i thing of them as professionals.

I got the engine with these parts installed-
1. CCA-56-450-8
camshaft
2. CCA-983-12
Valve Springs, Single, 1.250 in. Outside Diameter, 410 lbs./in. Rate, 1.150 in. Coil Bind Height, Set of 12
(Mfr. #: 983-12)
3. COMP Cams High Energy Hydraulic Roller Lifters 850-12
4. new stock timing set (cant remember which)
5. 0.02 oversize pistons (can't remember this one either. i have the receipt somewhere)
6. refurbished stock crank from rockauto
7. original rocker arms

I also got, and installed my self, new iridium acdelco spark plugs, new wires, new distributor.

So here's the thing. I got it all running nice at first start. it would start immidiately after start and run flawlessly. No engine codes - so i presume i connected all the sensors and wires. I got it inspected here and it passed with good emissions.

After inspection i would get hesitation when driving on the freeway, and hesitation when accelerating from 0. It would happen always, - except for when the engine is cold. And at high idle the engine would run smooth.

Also, idle is very rough, it would stall at idle sometime. I was told to check for intake leaks but i couldn't find any. I clogged the intake and the engine would stall immidiately. So there's no big leak atleast. i would head IAC working when running without MAF sensor and IAT sensor.

The next thing i check is ignition. Now, the distributor i put in had a rotor stamped incorrectly, no matter how i put it, it would never point the rotor at number 6 on the distributor. So i had to modify the hold down clamp to make it point at 6. Now remember i didn't have any engine light when i started the engine. So i presume i did it correctly.
52393

Next thing i'm going to do is take the spider injector out and do a balance test. If i can't find anything wrong i think i need a chip/tune on the ECU. I could not find any tool to measure fuel pressure so it is making things hard. I have put in a new fuel pump and it has less than a year on it. Fuel filter has not been changed becouse it was looking clean and i have sort of forgot about it.

I really hope it's not the timing gear installed improperly, becouse there is no way to install it wrong. It only goes in one way and it has timing marks.

And any advice on what to do next, i will gladly accept. I will post if i ever find out what was wrong.
Original Poster [OP]
Rik
Fueling (Empty tank)
Fueling (Empty tank)
Years of Membership: Rik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full years
Posts: 9
Topics: 1
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Joined: February 2016
Gender: Male
Alias (AKA):
Van Model Year: 1996
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: awd

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Re: 1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby Rik [OP] » February 7th 2016, 10:29am

Okay, i got the upper intake off and did a balance test on the spider injector system. It seems like 1,2,4 are getting fuel but 3,5,6 are not. Is this a fuel pressure issue, or are the injectors clogged up due to sitting on my self for a year waiting for it all to be put together.
52401
Original Poster [OP]
Rik
Fueling (Empty tank)
Fueling (Empty tank)
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Van Model Year: 1996
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: awd

Re: 1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby WoodButcher » February 7th 2016, 1:44pm

Welcome!
Injectors are often a problem with these vans. I don't know enough to help you but someone will be along shortly.
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Re: 1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby Rik [OP] » February 7th 2016, 6:15pm

Now i'm getting frustrated.

I took out the spider and cleaned it. Now it gives me even amount of fuel on all cylinders. Idle is now decent no stalling.

BUT

Now it hesitates alot when driving, almost undrivable. what's worst, there are no engine codes. And i have no scan tools to look what's wrong. i'm afraid it's something mechanical. Surely there would be engine codes when the exhaust is too lean/rich or anything else major.

I had about 40 liters of fuel in the tank sit for about 1 year while i was building this truck. I filled with 60 liters of fresh good fuel.

The fuel filter had a little black stuff inside but since i didn't have a new replacement i just flushed it with brake clean and compressed air. I wonder if this still is a fuel pressure issue. I need to make a pressure test gauge, becouse there are no shops here that sell them. like i said it's frustrating.

Anyone have any thoughts on this?
Original Poster [OP]
Rik
Fueling (Empty tank)
Fueling (Empty tank)
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Extra Info: awd

Re: 1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby Rik [OP] » February 14th 2016, 2:20pm

okay. I've found to cause of the problem. And it's the new cardon select distributor. I found it has about 2 mm of up-down play. fixed that with a shim from the old distributor, now it has almost zero play. And now with the slack off the rotor points to number 6 on the distributor excatly when 1# is on TDC in compression stroke.

The funny thing is, 2 of the spark plug wires does not get spark from the distributor. I can test that by taking the wires off of the distributor and i can't see any arc from the distributor to the wire or ground. almost nonexistant.

I took the old original acdelco distributor cap and there is spark to all the spark plug wires. Engine runs fine on idle and acceleration.

Just goes to show you should always stick to original parts when it comes to ignition.

But i still can't figure out why the new distributor cap is bad. i measured everything i could with my DVOM and everything seems fine. i even cleaned it with brake clean, can't see any reason why spark is not getting to 5# and #4 cylinders, that are close to each other inside the distributor cap near the camshaft sensor.
Original Poster [OP]
Rik
Fueling (Empty tank)
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Extra Info: awd

Re: 1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby WoodButcher » February 14th 2016, 3:10pm

So is that it? Did you replace the cardone distributor and cap with new OEM?
If you haven't bought one yet try the Skip White dizzy. Myself and many others here have had good experience with it.
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Re: 1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby Rik [OP] » February 14th 2016, 3:23pm

I replaced only the cap and it ran smooth and nice. I'm looking at the new cap that is faulty, but i can't see why it's not working. #4 and #5 have gotten less spark judging from the wear the spark makes inside the cap. It's a new cap so i can see where the spark has hit, and it's not as good in 4,5 as others.

I'm thinking the spark went somewhere inside the cap. I wish i could see inside. So puzzling.
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Rik
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Re: 1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby The Drummer » February 16th 2016, 3:59pm

I had a prob with a new cap on my 280zx , long story short ,no one could fond the problem, turned out to be a bad new rotor ,after replacing it we opened it (rip it open), and the small metal peice that goes from the side of the rotor the the middle was missing some metal and was litteraly hanging by a tread wich let go after ten minutes of running , maybe your cap as some missing metal from rotor contact to top plug holes on those two spots .
''USE THE TORQUE LUKE ''




and beware of trees ,them nasty wooden things are evil .
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Re: 1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby Leeann_93 » February 18th 2016, 12:03am

The flat caps have big problems, especially aftermarket, with internal cracks that are almost impossible to see causing spark tracking and arcing.

Really really weird, but it happens all the time with those stupid flat caps.
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Re: 1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby Rik [OP] » February 27th 2016, 11:53am

Okay, i have the engine running all fine. Feels like this is becoming a troubleshooting thread for my astro,

Does anyone know what's the problem with my heating. symptoms and findings:

-very low heat from heater core (it's very umportant to have heat here when it's winter)
-heater core inlet (lower and bigger hose) is so hot you can burn your fingers on it
-heater core outlet is significantly cooler than outlet. almost the same as outside temperature.
-pulled the outlet and it's flowing, somewhat. there is no air pocket on the hose becouse i cracked the hose enough for the air to escape before putting it in again. No air bubbles from the radiator while running the engine.

This has been on for years on my astro, it was even before my engine rebuild. I have flushed front and back heater cores, changed the heater control valve and checked that the vacuum is moving the valve.

All the hoses are in the right places, you can't even put the hoses on the intake/water pump wrong way.

As far as i remember this might have been since i switched a new water pump (ACDELCO 252711), radiator cap(stant), thermostat(195F) and radiator few years back. I have a very small (1.5mm) hole on the thermostat to help air bubbles come out.

There are no visible leaks and i dont see any loss of coolant. Only abnormal things i see is that when i go driving, just before the thermostat opens the temperature is almost 100C(212F) and after that it never goes that high again.

But i only get very mild heat, noewhere where it's supposed to be. Rear heat worked for a while before it stopped working again.

If i dont find what wrong i will go to some shop that has proper equipment to burp the coolant system to make sure there are no air bubbles. I have tried to get air bubbles out by having the front of the engine higer and running on idle for 15min. and also i have run the car with radiator cap half open to not pressurise the system. Nothing has worked.

When doing the engine rebuild everything was washed, intake, engine block, heads. i dont believe i have any dirt on my coolant system. I even took the back plate out on my water pump and checked the impellers, they're fine.

Are there any check valves, or anything you could think of, that i have overlooked? If someone knows, please reply :)

Now, i didn't want to make this much complicated but i have a park heater that runs off the gas on my tank, gsm controlled. it's really cool to have one, it has a electric water pump i can use to circulate hot coolant on my heater core and engine. It's connected on the heater core intake hose and it's inline, meaning coolant flows through it before going in to heater core. When the engine shuts off it works fine and i get hot air from the heater.

In my opinion i have some kind of coolant flow problem on my engine. there is not enough flow in the heater hoses. What could be cousing it? It's not the park heater becouse i flushed it too and it has no blockages. It is installed inside the front bumper under the coolant tank, so it doesn't need any extra hose.
Original Poster [OP]
Rik
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Van Model Year: 1996
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Extra Info: awd

Re: 1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby Rik [OP] » February 27th 2016, 12:18pm

Here is a pic of my astro for inspiration :)
53002
Original Poster [OP]
Rik
Fueling (Empty tank)
Fueling (Empty tank)
Years of Membership: Rik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full years
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Van Model Year: 1996
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Extra Info: awd

Re: 1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby WoodButcher » February 27th 2016, 2:52pm

I have never seen a "park heater" is so I'm just guessing here.

It has an electric pump installed inline?

Does that pump run when the motor is running as well? if not I would think the impeller is a blockage or restriction of sorts

Next, what does it use to heat the water, can this work as a cooler if it is not turned on?

I would bypass this unit and test the heating system w/o it as it were stock and go from there. If the heat works with it bypassed then add a relay to the pump so that it comes on whenever the climate controls call for heat, i.e., with the engine running or just the park heater.
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Re: 1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby Rik [OP] » February 27th 2016, 3:11pm

I did flush it with water when i re-installed it. i think it has impellers that pass water thru. it's pretty common to have them here and never heard of them blocking water, they are designed to be off when engine on.

It's pretty common in here to have them, this model is Eberspächer hydronic 5 Kw.

This park heater passes water thru the heater core way better when engine is off than when engine is on. But when i have engine on with the park heater is doesn't flow. This leaves me with the conclusion that the hoses are ok, but the engine is not pushing enough water to the heater control valve. Still continuing with the investigations, have the heater core cover off and testing temperatures with heat gun.
Original Poster [OP]
Rik
Fueling (Empty tank)
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Years of Membership: Rik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full years
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Van Model Year: 1996
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Extra Info: awd

Re: 1996 astro awd rebuild

Postby Rik [OP] » February 29th 2016, 11:15am

hooray, finally found why i'm not getting heat. here's the pictures:
53170 i got the heater out and started flushing it. when i found these rubber peaces inside the heater i had to pick.
53178

here's how i have the heater installed in this astro, in case anyone wants to know the best place to have it
53186
53194
this is the passenger side fender/tire well.

Now i'm getting crazy amount of heat, just like it's supposed to have. YAY!! :banana: :banana: :bouncy: :bouncy:

edit: and yes it runs off of regural gas, burns it inside a chamber where the heat is transferred to the water. Heater itself takes about 30-50 watts if i remember correctly but the inside heater fan takes the most power, so i have the fan set to 1 or off. Next upgrade will be bigger batteries under the hood where the spare tire is. maybe next moth.
Original Poster [OP]
Rik
Fueling (Empty tank)
Fueling (Empty tank)
Years of Membership: Rik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full yearsRik has been a member for 5 full years
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Van Model Year: 1996
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Extra Info: awd


 
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