2005 Chavy Astro AWD Cargo Van V-8 Engine swap

2005 Chavy Astro AWD Cargo Van V-8 Engine swap

Postby Porsche928gts [OP] » May 26th 2020, 11:55pm

Hi guys, Mike here from upstate NY and a newbie on here, even though I have frequented this site many times in the past, I am looking to do a SBC V-8 engine swap on a 2005 AWD Astro that I am about to purchase with only 96,000 miles on it and I could really use your advice before I get into this project. I have built/rebuilt a few engines back in my younger days 20 years ago and I turn 50 in 3 weeks. :( I know the Astro/Safari came with a 4L60E transmission, but not sure if the bell housing will bolt up to a 1972 400ci, 4 bolt main sbc engine. I also need advice on running a fuel injection system that will meet emissions in the lovely state of NY, need to know if the van needs to be lifted to fit the V-8 like the S-10 to clear the transfer case, etc. I hope I came to the right place for advice in advance. Any and all insight would be greatly appreciated. If anyone is wondering why I am doing this swap, I plan on putting a snowplow on my Astro in the end going into retirement and this van will be my service van since I do a lot of heating, plumbing, and electrical work on the side outside of working for Verizon for 30 years. Last I would like to mention is has anyone dealt with Performabuilt Transmissions in PA? They have some truly amazing videos on how they re-engineered the hydraulics of them for high horsepower without premature failure and I am thinking about going to them for a fresh start if I can even make this V-8 swap happen. My goal with my 400ci is to be mild hp, with great off the line torque being filled with all my tools and supplies as well as plow snow when necessary. I thank all of you for reading this and am hoping to hear some suggestions on if this is a project I can handle. So you all know upfront, I can fabricate and weld in my own garage and have done so in the past and also have a Rockewll 11 X 36 machinist lathe in amazing condition. Last addition will be a Milling machine before I retire. I think this post is more about hope than reality. Thanks again. Mike
I should also mention that I have a 1988 Chevy 5.7l that came out of a Blazer that is also a 4-bolt block, 4 bolt main crank, roller cam factory engine that is complete with the wiring harness, computer, serpentine belt system that had A/C, exhaust manifolds, etc.
If I wasn't so busy with side work right now, I would probably spend hours on this website for the knowledge you all share, so my bad on that.
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Re: 2005 Chavy Astro AWD Cargo Van V-8 Engine swap

Postby Mmusicman » May 27th 2020, 2:44pm

Porsche928gts wrote: I know the Astro/Safari came with a 4L60E transmission, but not sure if the bell housing will bolt up to a 1972 400ci, 4 bolt main sbc engine.

It is my understanding that the 4L60 is the same as a 700R4 (the "E" being electronic version). My 700R4 bolted up directly to a 1970 350 block, which of course it the same trans bolt-pattern as a 400sb. But be aware however, that the real issue will likely be that the late model torque-converter bolt-pattern will not likely fit the early model externally balanced 400 flexplate. In my case, I luckily had an 80's model flexplate (dual pattern) from a V8 that also fit my 92's 700R4 TC pattern (it would not bolt up to the stock 70 flexplate). What may make it more difficult is whether the 400 with externally balanced flexplate was ever offered to fit a later model torque-converter (like the later model 5.7's). Of course, there may be aftermarket solutions too. This flexplate bolt-pattern issue was the only thing that surprised me doing my V8 installation, mixing old with new.

I also need advice on running a fuel injection system that will meet emissions in the lovely state of NY

Can't help you there... my V8 (in my 92) is carbureted in Florida (no emissions).

need to know if the van needs to be lifted to fit the V-8 like the S-10 to clear the transfer case, etc.

Yes.. the AWD has clearance issues between the differential and the V8 oil pan. There are two solutions... either cut up two oil pans and re-design them to fit, or lift the engine (which should be easy enough in a lifted van). It is my understanding that about 2" of engine lift is needed to clear the differential.. but uncertain if their are any variables with early model pan vs later model pan regarding this exact measurement.

I should share that my 2000 AWD is pushing 240K and will be a candidate for a V8 upgrade in time.
I plan to lift the motor... and will likely go with a new crate motor.
I haven't decided if I'll go carbureted or aftermarket fuel-injection.
Either option will also require either an aftermarket controller for my 4L60E, or buy a 700R4.

I hope I came to the right place for advice in advance.

Yes you have! I am only one voice of many.. and as always there is more than one way to do things.

I plan on putting a snowplow on my Astro in the end going into retirement and this van will be my service van

You may want to consider doing the NP233 manual 4x4 transfer-case upgrade.
It's especially nice to have the 4-Lo gear that the AWD lacks.

Last I would like to mention is has anyone dealt with Performabuilt Transmissions in PA? They have some truly amazing videos on how they re-engineered the hydraulics of them for high horsepower without premature failure and I am thinking about going to them for a fresh start if I can even make this V-8 swap happen.

I'd say it REALLY depends on how you drive as to whether the stock trans will hold up behind a V8. If you race it and beat on it, then stock will certainly be inadequate and fail. But driven normally (even behind a v8) stock should hold up fine. I've been running a stock 700R4 behind my hot-rod V8-350 in my 92. After 90 they did some improvements. If the hardest work your vehicle saw was pushing snow.. then a 4-Lo gear would ideally do all the work. Pushing steady torque really isn't as much of an issue as high HP banging gears.

My goal with my 400ci is to be mild hp, with great off the line torque being filled with all my tools and supplies as well as plow snow when necessary.

Sounds PERFECT! The 400 is an EXCELLENT CHOICE!
It's the MOST cubic inches you can get in a small-block!
I also own a 400sb and let me tell you, there is a world of difference between it and a 350!
The 400 is a "torque-monster" with torque that rivals and feels like a BIG BLOCK!
Building it with a mild cam is SMART.. and MORE than you'll ever need.

Here's a photo of my new crate 400 small-block (when I was hot-rodding it in my 74 G-10 van)
Eventually I even put a small supercharger on it. I still have it (sitting on a stand) and intend to put it in my 92 Astro, replacing the 350. I haven't decided if I'll stick with the blower (it's still set up for it) or go back to the dual quads. or just stick with a single Holley. I have all these options just sitting and waiting in my garage.. lol.

Image
I eventually replaced this motor (in that van) with a supercharged 502, but that's a different story for another day.

So you all know upfront, I can fabricate and weld in my own garage and have done so in the past and also have a Rockewll 11 X 36 machinist lathe in amazing condition.

Sounds like you're all set up with what you will need for this project!
You either be welding oil pans, or motor-mounts! I'd pick motor-mounts.

You will find a wealth of information in the V8 section of this forum.

Here are my V8 links...
Swap #1 https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=47249
Swap #2 https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.php?f=42&t=97010

Here's my NP233 transfer-case upgrade:
https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.p ... 9&t=136058

You will likely want to upgrade to a thicker core radiator as well.
There are some nice performance ones made for the Astro.

Be sure to document and take photos of everything.. and post it here!
Good luck on your new purchase.

WELCOME TO THE FORUM!
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2000 Astro LS 4x4 | NP233 | 31" LT265/70R17 Tires | 8" LIFT | 10" TOTAL
92 Chevy Astro Cargo Shorty | V8-350
http://www.CruisinSouthFlorida.com
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Re: 2005 Chavy Astro AWD Cargo Van V-8 Engine swap

Postby markmitch » May 27th 2020, 3:07pm

Ok the 400 flywheel to fit the 700R4/4l60E is available from B&M pN 20020232. I would suggest to use the 400 if you can get a set of vortec heads drill the steam holes then use the fuel injection system computer and harness from a salvage yard vortec 350. This way you will get the benefit of the fuel injection which will help you pass smog then you will also benefit from the vortec heads since they out breath most heads available for the small block engine and the stock exhaust from the same truck (vortec donor) will also make it easier to pass smog. The only issue you may have with the 400 would be they did not have some of the predrilled holes for accessories but the vortec heads would give you some back.My 89 Astro has a modified 350 TBI in it originally from a 91 silverado I live in California and understand the smog crap some. Some of the Trucks came with a single 3 inch exhaust after the Y pipe. better for performance and still legal might be worth finding. There are also performance chips for the 350 vortec if they are legal in NY. Also in many cases the original pulley's/brackets from your stock 4.3 may bolt right up depending on which cylinder heads you use.
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Re: 2005 Chavy Astro AWD Cargo Van V-8 Engine swap

Postby Porsche928gts [OP] » May 27th 2020, 10:15pm

Thank you both, Mmusicman and markmitch, I really appreciate it. I had driven my older brothers 1973 Monte Carlo that had a SB400 and the torque it had was just truly amazing. It was a stock 2barrel carb and GM speced the motor at 400 ft. lbs of torque. My SB400 is fresh from the machine shop from 15 years ago that I wanted to put it in a mid 80's SS Monte, but never got to it. I will definitely keep you posted when this project starts with plenty of pictures. As for the 1988 SB350 that is complete, I may scrap it, so if anyone needs anything off of it, please let me know. I only paid $100.00 for the entire engine about 12 years ago, so I am not worried about making any money off of it. I can also take some pics of it and will also get the block and head casting numbers if anyone is interested. Thanks again guys. :) Mike
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Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: Cargo 2WD


 
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