Let's see your working Astros

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Let's see your working Astros

Postby kennyj [OP] » February 24th 2010, 8:17am

I started working out of a van a few years ago after I bought my G20 for $50 and I was hooked. I had been working out of a pickup for years building houses. Problem with the G20 was it never got organized and it could be a mess trying to find things. So when I got the Astro I was committed to putting together something more functional. Plus, these days I'm doing more restoration and remodeling so I need to be a rolling hardware store. I looked all over online for ideas ( I think that's how I found this forum!) but couldn't find much except what I didn't like. So I started from scratch, and about three weekends of trial and error this is where I'm at. It's still a work in progress, I want to add a lot more storage on the passenger side, but so far it's been great having everything at hand.

Anybody that's done anything similar, or not, I'd love to see what you've come up with!

I started with gutting out what was a passenger van, and blacking out the windows. I skinned the floor with plywood and starting piecing together the shelves. I had bought steel to do a lot of it, but ended up mostly plywood for light weight. The shelf bulkheads are scribed to the body of the van and tied in with lots of screws. The tool chest is sitting on steel and bolted in every which way (it weighs over 200 lbs loaded). The whole thing is really rigid and actually rides pretty quiet, and things stay put going down the road. I wanted to put in rubber floor but it was a lot of $$, I found a carpet at Lowe's that matched mine for like $25 and cut it to fit. I finished with paint I mixed up to match the body color.
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby astroturf » February 24th 2010, 1:42pm

Kenny, Awesome looking setup. After seeing your van though, I'm too embarrassed to show mine. Sorry, 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: Let's see your working Astros

Postby astro355 » February 24th 2010, 1:51pm

astroturf wrote:Kenny, Awesome looking setup. After seeing your van though, I'm too embarrassed to show mine. Sorry, Jim


No lie there. At least now I know how to do mine when that time comes.
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby tedanderson » February 24th 2010, 2:05pm

astro355 wrote:
astroturf wrote:Kenny, Awesome looking setup. After seeing your van though, I'm too embarrassed to show mine. Sorry, Jim


No lie there. At least now I know how to do mine when that time comes.


I'm in the same boat although I have one of those cubby hole shelving systems with a cargo cage. I dunno.. I might clean up the van and post some photos. My problem right now is that stuff that sits on the floor starts out neat and then starts to roll around as I drive. If you were to go outside and look at my van now, you would think that I live in it.
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby Big_kid » February 24th 2010, 3:03pm

I really like what you've done with it so far. There's just one more thing I'd add- that annoying cargo cage behind the seats.

I had to clean up the carnage after a wreck in a buddy's van, and I'm pretty sure he'd have been killed by all the crap that went sailing forward if not for that divider. All his stuff was bolted down tight, but it was all the loose stuff like books, cans, things that flew off the shelves that became projectiles. He even had rubber straps keeping everything on the shelves. They helped some, but it was still a mess. Imagine a 1500 van full of stuff condensed into a 3 foot deep pile right behind that cage. Cleaning up I found spray cans that looked like they'd been run over by a train, they were so flat.

I don't want to sound preachy, but seeing is believing: and I saw it first hand in that wreck. That cage could save your life. Think what one piece of wood could do. A few years ago a guy here was killed on the interstate by a 2x4 that worked loose from a roof rack when the driver behind him stopped but the 2x4 didn't. It went through the back window of the pickup in front of him.
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby Mr_Bowtie » February 24th 2010, 3:23pm

Sweet looking set up. I use my Van to get to work....so no pics. :lol:
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby tedanderson » February 24th 2010, 4:41pm

I don't want to sound preachy, but seeing is believing: and I saw it first hand in that wreck. That cage could save your life.


^X2

Even if you take the live saving factor out of the equation, keeping the cargo behind you keeps you from being distracted and inconvenienced by moving items that can come down the center aisle. When I was into apartment painting, I had a G-series and I sold the cage because I didn't like the restricted feeling of being confined to the front area of the van and I liked having the 'A-Team' configuration of having 4 bucket seats so I could carry some friends or a crew with me. Then one day when I had a bunch of 5-gallon cans of varying quantities of paint in the back, I was driving across an intersection where a driver in the cross traffic didn't stop for the red light. I stopped short to avoid him and EVERYTHING came down the center aisle! It was like bowling alley with the way that the stuff was sliding down the aisle, hitting the doghouse, and then jumping up in the air and landing in the passenger seat! :o

So I suggest that if you can't afford a cage, get a piece of plywood, a cargo net, a section of chain link fence, or even a couple of blankets tied tightly across the B-pillar to slow the stuff down if the inevitable happens.
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby Woodweasel » February 24th 2010, 5:12pm

Thats about the best set up Ive seen. I do remodels also and I used to carry everything I could think of. I have since ripped out all the shelving I had and have gone to a "job box" for the main items I use all the time. I found these Stanley Fat Max 3 tiered, rolling boxes that are Great, have one for Electrical, Plumbing, Hardware and Paint. I roll everything into the job and dont have to run back and forth to the van. It also took ALOT of weight out of the "Stro". It seems astro's have an issue with the passengers side rear leaf springs. I see utilities all the time saggin on the right rear side. But that is an outstanding set up though. looks like it works alot better when you custom the shelving sizes instead of working with the cookie cutter shelving systems. So... since Im on a job now, the van is empty, except for a couple sheets of 3/4 ply and a dozen 2X6's.
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby Jasen » February 25th 2010, 1:56am

Sweet set up.

Mines still on the drawing board. These are old ideas and I've sense made a few changes, again, and have yet to draw them up.

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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby kennyj [OP] » February 26th 2010, 4:44am

Hey now, I wasn't trying to start a beauty contest, seriously! I know there's a lot of good ideas out there even if they are simple. Like the cupholder thread, using pipe couplers, great idea. Right now I'm trying to decide where I want to mount a fire extinguisher. And I'm constantly on the lookout for different storage solutions. I've been looking for some kind of rack or holder to mount behind the drivers seat for my flashlight and a few other items that are laying on the floor right now.

Yeah, the divider wall is high on my list. If it warms up this weekend I may get to work on it. I actually like the idea of dividing off the rear of the van, besides the safety aspect, it will keep the heat and a/c up front and make a quieter ride. And, more surfaces to hang stuff. What I can't decide is whether I want an operating door to the rear. I've seen some vans that had a slider for the center. I'm starting to think a solid wall with a pass-through at the bottom for long stuff, and a lexan window for visibility out the back.

Those rolling job boxes are really cool. I'm thinking about trying that out. I can think of a list that needs to go in every walk-in job: basic tool box, cordless driver set, extension cord, work light, etc... It would be nice to put it all in one rig.

Jasen, thanks for the pics. In your designs it looks like you're thinking benchtop cabinets? And I'm curious what's the cone shape thing behind the wheel well?

Anyway, let's see some pics/ideas! thanks...
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby Jasen » February 26th 2010, 5:17am

I am going bench top. Along with my latest ideas ( still in my head) I can slide full sheets of ply in on top of them and have a flip out support on the security partition to hold up the ply up by the slider and just strap the hatch down. On rainy days I'll slide it in on it's side and through the door in the partition and have a couple metal strap thingy's to keep it from sliding though the dash during heavy braking. Going with floor to ceiling either makes them to huge or to narrow to get a lot of my bigger tool in without stacking things in front of each other in a file fashion. Like having to pull out your cordless drill box and trim router to get to your biscuit jointer in the back. I am going with a small floor to ceiling in the back pass side to store power cords and air lines.
The cone is the reason I can't go with a solid sealed partition, that's the sub woofer. Gotta have some bump man.
With my newly modified foot heating system it isn't a problem staying warm while the cargo area heats up. I've got chopped cotton foil backed insulation back there and it has made a big difference in summer and winter.
I was playing with the idea of cutting the partition 5" up off the floor and 50" wide and then building the cabinets with toes kicks so I could slide sheet goods on the floor and up to the seats. But I don't carry sheet good that often, and when I do it's usually only a 1 or a few sheets.
Theres a few area's that are dedicated for the sawzall, my small parts storage box's, caulking tubes, levels and saw horses
, but most the rest is general sized to hold what ever. I'm going to put some kind of hold downs on the cabinets so I can strap other things on them that I don't always carry with me, like my baby table saw, planer etc. A lot of my small hand tools, marking and measuring, wrenches, pliers, hammers etc. will be in drawers. I plan on getting an open top tool tote that will go in the pass side cabinet accessing from the slider. I'll just toss what ever hand tools I need in it for the task.

Hold on, I've got to take a breath :lol:

My two Duluths Trading Co. tool bags are nice, until you have to carry them. The little one usually weights around 50 lbs and the big one gets over 80 lbs sometimes.
I'm going to put a fire ex. on the partition in front by the drivers seat. I'll probably get a mag light with the charger base and put that on the side of the seat support. I'll hang a razor blade dispenser on the partition just inside the slider along with my first aid kit. I'm going to hang my little 3 step folding homeowners painters style ladder from the ceiling along with my brooms.
I found some pretty nice flush mount latches that won't break the bank.

I'll play with my drawings this weekend and post my new ideas.
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby Jasen » February 26th 2010, 5:48am

OK, made some quick changes.
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby kennyj [OP] » February 26th 2010, 5:49am

Great ideas! And +1 on the sub, I've been missing that in this van. I'll come up with something but it's low priority for now.

I just started using a tote tray, it's right inside the back on the floor. It works great for picking an assortment of stuff I need and easy to put stuff away when done. Things used to end up in a fiver that ended up being a "hell" bucket.

I started working on using the ceiling for long things. I just put together this rig for levels, I heated up 2" pipe couplings and reshaped them, the clips are $1 broom holders. So far it works great, they don't rattle and I can grab one with one hand. Next is something for a drywall square, and I want to mount a couple folding sawhorses up high on the side by the tool chest. Been thinking about hanging a 4 or 6 foot step ladder up there.
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby kennyj [OP] » February 26th 2010, 5:53am

BTW, please don't make fun of my levels, I've had them for 20 years and they still read true. Yeah, I'd love some new Stabila's....
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby Jasen » February 26th 2010, 5:57am

I was going to hang my 6' ladder on the ceiling, but then I figured I was going to hit my head on it all the time. I haven't held it up there yet, but when I took a look at it with this in mind I decided not to, although that could change.
I had plans for mounting my levels up up there to, but I sense moved them into the cabs. thats the long thin box on top of the drivers side cab. and kind of using it to give me 50" side to side to help hold sheet goods.
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby Jasen » February 26th 2010, 6:03am

I hear ya about the hell bucket. I've got one of those Stanley plastic boxs, 2x2x3, that thing is waaaaayyyy bigger on the inside then the outside :lol:

Hey, I've got a 16" Stanley level I bought 25 years ago.
No one ever wants to use it because they things it old junk. I put it on their Stabila and not only does it read dead level, it's got tighter lines and is more accurate. The rest of them are Empires, which I like better then Stabilas and they cost less.
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby tex star detail » March 13th 2010, 12:51am

Here's my (dirty) mobile detailing rig.
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Firing on 5 Cylinders (L1)
Years of Membership: tex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full years
Posts: 548
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Location: Georgetown Texas
Gender: Male
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Van Make/Model: GMC Safari
Extra Info: RWD Cargo

Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby astroturf » March 13th 2010, 12:57am

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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astroturf
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Firing on 8 Cylinders (L7)
Firing on 8 Cylinders (L7)
Years of Membership: astroturf has been a member for 11 full yearsastroturf has been a member for 11 full yearsastroturf has been a member for 11 full yearsastroturf has been a member for 11 full yearsastroturf has been a member for 11 full yearsastroturf has been a member for 11 full yearsastroturf has been a member for 11 full yearsastroturf has been a member for 11 full yearsastroturf has been a member for 11 full yearsastroturf has been a member for 11 full yearsastroturf has been a member for 11 full years
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby kennyj [OP] » March 13th 2010, 1:25am

tex star detail wrote:Here's my (dirty) mobile detailing rig.

Very cool... looks really well thought out. I see an on-board water tank. How much weight loaded and what do you have for rear suspension?
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kennyj
250k+ Miles
250k+ Miles
Blue Status (L2)
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Years of Membership: kennyj has been a member for 11 full yearskennyj has been a member for 11 full yearskennyj has been a member for 11 full yearskennyj has been a member for 11 full yearskennyj has been a member for 11 full yearskennyj has been a member for 11 full yearskennyj has been a member for 11 full yearskennyj has been a member for 11 full yearskennyj has been a member for 11 full yearskennyj has been a member for 11 full yearskennyj has been a member for 11 full years
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Van Model Year: 1998
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
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Re: Let's see your working Astros

Postby tex star detail » March 13th 2010, 1:31am

65 gallon tank 8.xx lbs a gallon. But then I have the generator, pressure washer, chemicals, shelving etc..... I swapped the fiberglass springs for steel and added air shocks. rides good.
2000 GMC Safari Cargo
1999 Chevy Astro Cargo- SOLD Also
1995 GMC Safari Cargo- SOLD!
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tex star detail
Firing on 5 Cylinders (L1)
Firing on 5 Cylinders (L1)
Years of Membership: tex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full yearstex star detail has been a member for 12 full years
Posts: 548
Topics: 70
Joined: September 2008
Location: Georgetown Texas
Gender: Male
Alias (AKA):
Van Make/Model: GMC Safari
Extra Info: RWD Cargo

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