Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Rod's Trucks » May 19th 2020, 4:52pm

Great information...Thanks!
The wires may only be for the seat belt interlocks, and passenger side 'occupancy' sensor (weight detector); but you might gotten lucky and have ALL the creature comforts.
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Rod's Trucks » May 19th 2020, 5:01pm

I also meant to ask: Are those Hyundai bench seats MUCH lighter than the stock Astro benches? I am sure they can't be much heavier. I have hauled the removable bench seats in and out of several Chrysler minivans. The weight of the Astro benches was a surprise....but I am also a lot older now, so maybe it wasn't the correct memory.
At my age, I am glad I still have some of those memories....even if they are not quite correct.
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » May 19th 2020, 6:09pm

This is my 3rd Astro/Safari and I've also owned 2 Suburbans and yeah I'm done with the GM bench seat wrestle mania. So weight wise it will probably be a wash after I've added more gussets to my frame. But my purpose in switching off the factory bench was to have 1) convenient handles and weight distribution so that it is way more straight-forward a process to move the bench, 2) no more giant hooks protruding from the bottom of the bench unit and hanging up/scratching the chit out of everything they come in contact with, 3) once out of the van I want to use the 2nd row as a "camp couch" and that meant the frame has to have the correct balance point so the camp couch doesn't tip over backwards (which is what the factory seats do if you try to use them outside the van), 4) wanted to move off of cloth seats so when the spills happen they don't stain/soak up the goo that was spilled, 5) lower the seat height of the 2nd row for both the passengers and also when the backs are folded forward, 6) avoid the Chrysler style transformer seats and KISS. (Don't get me wrong those Chrysler seats are friggin awesome for what they do - just as long as they stay in the van.)
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby dcsleeper » June 9th 2020, 9:21am

Man you're imaginative! It's fun to see the things you come up with. A good read!
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » June 9th 2020, 3:30pm

Thanks dcsleeper glad you are following!

The build has to take a slight detour for a month. My father lives in Southern Oregon and just passed away at the ripe old age of 94. I will be making a few trips back and forth between San Diego and SoOregon and due to Covid-19 I don't want to fly just yet. So that means there will be a few 1,400 mile round trips in my future and I need the van to go into cargo mode. I also need to trust the van for those long trips and that means I need to focus more on reliability and repair issues.

So to kick things off I replaced the plugs and ignition wires - which were probably OK because someone had been in there ahead of me.

Next up is trying to track down a small oil leak that the PO of the van pointed out to me and gave me a small concession on price. The leak is small and only creates a small drip every few days on the drivers side in the general area of the PS pump and/or cooler lines into the radiator. Color of the oil is red-ish so to me that means either ATF or PS fluid. I pulled the fan shrouds out (cutting the bottom shroud in half) and took some pictures:

Drivers side looking rearward here's the steering box all covered in goo.
008.JPG


And further rearward what appears to be a leaky hose crimp?
009A.JPG


And yet over on the passenger side is a more obvious leak that perhaps was landing on the front cross member and then running across to the driver's side before dripping onto the ground.
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010A.JPG (44.24 KiB) Viewed 1052 times


Does anyone have comments? I'll replace the o-rings on the hard lines going into the radiator - those are easy. But the big goo blotch over on the drivers side isn't so obvious what to go after.
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby sixsix » June 9th 2020, 3:56pm

Sparkydog wrote: ... due to Covid-19 I don't want to fly just yet. So that means there will be a few 1,400 mile round trips in my future and I need the van to go into cargo mode. ... Does anyone have comments?

Nothing like a Righteous Pandemic Scare to get us to use our Vans as they were intended - LOL.
Pesky Oil Leaks - Good Luck

Sorry to hear about your Dad - Who's surely Smiling - watching your new Endeavors !!
.

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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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Leeann_93 » June 9th 2020, 10:12pm

Sorry to hear about your Dad. I lost mine 4 years ago and it still really hasn't sunk in - and he was only 83.

The steering box goo easily could be from the oil cooler line crimps leaking, but it could be the other way around - you'll have to see what color the fluid is under all that dirt.

And yes, it looks like your trans cooler line connections are leaking. I'd get new radiator fittings and unscrew the old, screw in the new and clip the lines in. The new fittings should come with new clips for the lines and they definitely come with new o-rings.
'05 Astro AWD vin X
'02 Astro LS AWD vin X
'00 Astro LS AWD - WIP
'99 Safari XLE AWD - broke
'93 AWD EXT vin W - real broke
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » June 16th 2020, 3:58pm

After cleaning the grime off the various areas in my engine bay, I drove the van for a week and then went back to the grime areas and looked for fresh oil. The leak is definitely on the left side, therefore it's the area around the steering box. It almost looks like the leak is coming out of the dust boot on the top of the box where the steering shaft is located.
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Is the seal around the steering box input shaft a typical failure point?
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » September 14th 2020, 6:36pm

Wow 3 months since my last post! Well life threw a curve ball at me and the van has a head gasket leak.
That's the weep coming out above the freeze plug.
005.JPG


So now I'm spending my spare time prepping the van for a subframe drop. This will be my first with a van. I've done 3 with W-body GM cars and sortof 1 with a 944 Porsche.

Here's the patient.
008.JPG


I think I read where you can leave the A/C compressor intact - can someone confirm that if I take the oil fill tube off and figure out a way to tie off the A/C compressor to the body of the van that I can actually drop the subframe down without having to let any freon out into the wild?
007A.JPG
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » September 28th 2020, 6:20pm

Subframe is down, intake and heads are off. I didn't find any obvious problem with the head gaskets - but I was too tired to spend much time looking at them yet. However it DOES look like the lower intake gaskets failed in the usual place. I'm just not sure how the coolant would have snaked its way from the front of the engine down the bottom of the heads and then over the side of the block, but at this point it doesn't matter - the heads are off.
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Capture.JPG
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » September 28th 2020, 6:23pm

While I'm in this far I'm going to proceed with my body lift. And I'm thinking I'd like to space the engine up about 1-1.5" while I'm replacing the motor mounts. For any of you reading this that have spaced the motor higher off the subframe, do you have any tips? Thanks.
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby dcsleeper » October 3rd 2020, 10:04pm

Sounds like a good idea, but I've got nothing to add that would help.
Subscribed to see what YOU come up with!
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » October 20th 2020, 4:33pm

Well time flies when you're having fun!
I've got the motor back together and figured out what I wanted to do for lifting the motor up 1.5" as part of a 3" body lift.
I chose to extend the ears of the motor mount brackets by 1.5"

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003.JPG


I also stuffed a 1/2" dia tube into the lower space of my new motor mounts and will be squirting 3M window weld into the remaining voids. My old mounts had collapsed downward and my oil pan was just about to start rubbing on the front diff. This style of mount seems stupid to me so I'm going to redneck a change and see if it helps.
005.JPG


And on the transmission end of things I made up some simple 1.5" tall spacers!
010.JPG


Hah, hah! Just kidding - the wood was temporary until I could make some aluminum pucks.
012.JPG


On the body lift side of things, my 3" DIY pucks are ready to go. I'm using 190mm bolts which may end up being a teensy bit too long, but for now they have the "benefit" of letting me hang the subframe while I work on the motor.
009.JPG


Other new shiny stuff:
006.JPG

008.JPG


For an E-fan I'm going with a Mustang. I've got both a V6 and V8 version. The V6 fan motor is identical to the V8 fan, but the V6 Mustang harness does not contain the wires for 2 speed operation. The V8 harness & fan assembly has a resistor mounted right on the fan shroud. For controlling the 2 speeds relays I'm going to use a cool little relay cluster off a Volvo (pics later). Here's a shot of me mocking up the Mustang fan on my dirty, old, leaky radiator. This is the V8 version. The resistor is near the top just to the right of the fan motor.
001.JPG
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » November 23rd 2020, 5:40pm

I'm almost finished with the 3" lift.
Rear shackles.
007.JPG

008.JPG

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Front leaf spring perches. Rather than mess with my fuel tank I just left them on the van, cut them off, added 3" more and welded in place.
018.JPG


Steering shaft extension.
043.JPG


Bumper bracket mods.
044.JPG


Rear brake line bracket mod. I just bent the brake line down a bit and then extended the bracket down and over to line up with where the fitting was.
012.JPG

014.JPG
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby sixsix » November 23rd 2020, 6:42pm

"Someone NOT Fooling Around One Bit"

Damn, almighty!
You really made that look Good and Easy.



Welding Equip. just went back on 452 Xmas Lists...
.

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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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby dcsleeper » November 23rd 2020, 7:35pm

when all you have is a welder, everything needs weldin'
In a good way!
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » November 23rd 2020, 8:37pm

LOL yes, I use my welder almost every weekend on something. When I looked at how much money I would spend to buy the lift kit and then glanced over at my welder and also knew that I had the metal laying around.... well it was an easy choice!

Here's a shot of the van back on the ground. I've still got to get bigger tires and new wheels - which also means trimming the Safari body kit stuff.
20201122_154407.jpg


Did I mention yet that my motor is still broken even after all the s*** I just did to it?
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby jimi_lee » November 23rd 2020, 10:14pm

That look amazing. Particularly jealous of the bumper relocation. Question, why did you choose to extend the leaf spring shackle and hanger compared to getting S10 leaf springs. Just $? Also, what is achieved by moving the engine up 1.5"? I'm not criticizing, these are just honest questions.
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » November 23rd 2020, 10:56pm

The leaf springs was about risk management. There are several versions of S10 springs with different arcs and spring rates. My typical luck would be to get the wrong combo. So I would have spent time and money and taken a risk - or stay with stock springs and modify 2 things that I will never go "bad" (other than bushings). And I also thought it was less overall effort to do what I did because I didn't have to disassemble the springs off the axle. I traded that amount of work for the work I put into fabbing and welding. I'm 62 and I'm not as good at flopping around under a vehicle and busting suspension bolts loose as I used to be!

With the motor lift I'm just trying to create some room both above and below in order to help myself when I have to work on/around the engine.

Oh one more comment about the springs. By staying stock with the flat springs I can keep using the stock shocks too. That's because I also modified the lower shock mount brackets on the axle. I just didn't take any pictures yet. So in summary - I have a 3" rear lift but can still order/repair the springs and shocks using stock PN's and I didn't have to disassemble anything more than the perch and shackle bolts.
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » November 30th 2020, 10:24pm

Over the holiday weekend I wrapped up the 3" lift portion of my van. First I added a gusset plate to the forward spring perches.

009A.JPG
009A.JPG (35.41 KiB) Viewed 244 times


And then I did the rear axle shock mount bracket mods. I had read the other threads about bending the stock bracket somehow but the pictures were links and the links were broken so I couldn't see an example. I'm pretty sure I know what was done but I didn't feel that I could bend the bracket and have the old holes line up with my new holes. So instead I cut the bottom off the bracket, did a flippy and spinny - put a shock bolt through everything and then welded the stub onto the axle tube and the upper part of the bracket. After welding, I cut off any excess stubs and flap wheeled it all into submission.
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