Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » January 19th 2021, 10:36pm

Back before Labor Day weekend in the year of our Covid, my van started dripping coolant off the left side cylinder head around the middle cylinder. At the time I ASSumed it was either a head gasket or LIM leak. I eventually dropped the subframe about a foot so I could work easier on the motor and did the UIM, LIM, head and valve cover gaskets along with valve stem seals. When I put it back together (with fresh TTY head bolts) I had an even better drip of water coming from the same location along with a new leak on the right cylinder. This created frustration. While I was in that deep I also started my 3" lift conversion which has been the subject of my posts for the past few months. To make a really long story less long, I decided to try and kill 3 birds with one stone and buy a "burner Tahoe". The goal of the burner was to get a truck that had nice wheels and tires that I could harvest off of it for the lifted van. It would also have a donor V8 to replace my V6 that I thought must have a cracked block or bad head or else where would the coolant be coming from, heh?! And finally the burner Tahoe would be my substitute 4WD car to get me up to Oregon over the Christmas holidays (in case the weather was bad during my travels).

I purchased the burner Tahoe just 2 weeks before I left for Oregon. It had a few warts and wrinkles but it did the job and made the 2000 miles without throwing me a curve ball. I also got to develop some confidence in the V8.

When I got back to SoCal I immediately swapped the wheels between the van and the Burner.
004A.JPG

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The van looks meaner and the Burner looks stupid.

I started prepping the van for a motor swap. This is how far I got before I had a brain fart about the coolant leak.
012.JPG

015.JPG

Just about to go Stonehenge style and roll the subframe out into the open air.
Last edited by Sparkydog on January 19th 2021, 11:49pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » January 19th 2021, 11:02pm

Before I forget here's how the sliding door does with the new tires and wheels.
002.JPG


And I even remembered to swap the spare tires between the Burner and my van.
The spare from the Burner is not the same brand or width as the meats on the wheels but it is the same diameter - about 31.5".
Here's how it does down in the spare storage area:
006.JPG


And the clearance with the rear axle:
008.JPG
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby dcsleeperdcsleeper is online! » January 19th 2021, 11:09pm

Sparkydog wrote: try and kill 3 birds with one stone and buy a "burner Tahoe".

I wouldn't know anything about that....

I want to see full side pics once it's mobile! Good going!!
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » January 19th 2021, 11:22pm

So back to my brain fart about where/what was causing the coolant leaks. When I replaced all the gaskets I put in new TTY head bolts. These bolts came "pre-loaded" with what I ASSumed was thread sealant. So I didn't add anything else to the threads and just proceeded with the proper TTY process. As I was working on the van getting ready to drag the subframe out from under the body... and I mean with just minutes left before I did this, I started wondering about that thread sealant on the new TTY bolts.

Which led me to do a little internet research. Which made me wonder if maybe the coolant was dripping out of the middle cylinder short head bolts? Which made me wonder if that was what the original problem was back before Labor Day? Which made me decide it was worth another $25 in fresh TTY head bolts to try installing them again but use some sealant. Which is what I did on this past Saturday. I noticed that the pre-loaded thread goo on the bolts from the parts store was very inconsistent in how much was on the threads. What I do know is that when I augmented what was already on the threads with some Permatex thread sealant and let it cure overnight and then did a leak check again... my dripping leaks were gone.

So then I decided to do a compression test on all the cylinders. I had 2 at 115, 2 at 125 and 2 at 130-35. Not great but OK. I also pulled the plugs on the Burner V8 and did a compression test on 2 random cylinders. They were both at 165. And the Burner V8 plugs looked fantastic.

Then I sat down and thought about things while I ate lunch and had a nice IPA. Do I proceed with the V8 swap or do I stuff the subframe back up into the van and leave it stockish awhile longer? I made a list of what things I had to do if I kept the V6 and compared to what I had to do with the V8 swap. And I thought about how long the van would be down and what do I really need to happen this year. And decided to keep running the V6 for now but still harvest the V8 out of the Burner Tahoe before I sell it to the wrecking yard.

So the subframe and stock V6 are back up inside the van body. I'm hoping to have it driving in 2-3 more weeks. Stay tuned.
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » January 19th 2021, 11:33pm

As I went to reinstall the V6 exhaust manifolds I ran into what the internet says is a somewhat common thing The manifolds "shrink" enough that you can't get all the bolts back on. And the internet says I can buy a "stretcher" that looks like a heavy duty turnbuckle. I thought that was asking for trouble. So I knew that worst case I would buy a pair of new manifolds. But what the hell - why not try cutting them in half and re-welding at the correct length? I've got the welder and nothing to lose. If they hold I'm a hero and if they crack and fail at some point then I will know that welding doesn't work and buy the new set at that point. So here you go - notice how far I had to move the leg of the manifold in order to get it to center back up on the tapped holes in the heads!! That's about .060-.090" which is freaking huge!
018.JPG

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By the way I am really proud of those welds. MIG on cast steel is a little tricky. :banana:
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby dcsleeperdcsleeper is online! » January 19th 2021, 11:57pm

> " and had a nice IPA. " <

go on...


I'd love to have your troubles.. "Do I put it back in, or upgrade with more cylinders? "

congrats on the welds! Did you preheat the work?

and don't be silly. Put the freshly gasketed v6 in the burner and make money on it!
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby SportsBoy » January 20th 2021, 4:00am

You make weeks of work sound so casual lol - sounds like quite the trial you've been through.
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » January 20th 2021, 4:14pm

dcsleeper wrote:> Did you preheat the work?


I have a MAPP gas torch so I used that to preheat - but also to keep it from cooling as best I could after the weld. Tack welds and shorter beads tended to crack at the end but a long bead and a bead that ended at solid metal did just fine.
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » February 15th 2021, 4:29pm

Here are some more pictures of my e-fan installation.
The yellow things are my weird mounting brackets. I am proud of how they turned out. They had to dodge a lot of hoses and stuff and were a real challenge to mock up and create the threaded mounting points.
017.JPG

019.JPG


Here's the humble origins of those brackets.
006.JPG


Also a shot of the small gap between the fan and the radiator. I'm going shroudless for now and will wait and see how I do for cooling power.
020.JPG


And here's the Volvo fan speed relay assembly along with a master relay to the right that doesn't energize the fan relays unless there is ignition power. I didn't want the fans running with the key off. You can also see the ends of some extra wires that I pulled up from the engine bay to the overhead console.
018.JPG


I've added some rocker switches to my overhead console and one of them allows me to turn the e-fan at high speed if I need it.
021.JPG
Last edited by Sparkydog on February 15th 2021, 5:52pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » February 15th 2021, 4:40pm

With the e-fan mounted and the radiator being about 1.5" higher after my 3" lift but 1.5" motor mount lift, I needed to scallop the bottom of the air intake /filter housing a bit.
A shot after I cut open the bottom of the housing and then added a layer of thick cardboard to create a space between the fiberglass patch and the top of the e-fan.
026.JPG


The aluminum foil allows me to more easily peel the tape and cardboard form off the housing after the resin has cured.
027.JPG


I will add a couple more layers of mat and then sand and paint everything. But for now... "It will suck air!"
029.JPG


I also shaved off the little mounting horns/hooks that used to slip onto studs on the factory fan shroud. I've also plugged these holes with fiberglass. I saved the little horns and may graft them back on at a later point in the build.
022.JPG


For now the modded intake housing just hangs there.
016.JPG
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby dcsleeperdcsleeper is online! » February 15th 2021, 4:48pm

Sparkydog wrote:Here are some more pictures of my e-fan installation.
The yellow things are my weird mounting brackets. I am proud of how they turned out. They had to dodge a lot of hoses and stuff and were a real challenge to mock up and create the threaded mounting points.


Noice!!!
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » February 15th 2021, 5:16pm

And last but not least, "It will turn!" I've done my preliminary fender clearancing - but first some glamour pics.
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036.JPG


And some details of the current shape of the fenders.
040.JPG

039.JPG
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » February 15th 2021, 5:22pm

Like many of you before me, I removed the 3 side molding pieces (that are easy to take off). Then I made my initial cuts into the rockers. These were not intended to change anything but just so I could verify what was inside the rockers before I made more serious cuts.
004.JPG

005.JPG


After mounting the tires again and checking, I decided to cut as shown in the sketches.
006A.JPG

007A.JPG


This was good enough for me for now, but I just slapped a quick cover patch onto the end of the rocker and want to drive the van for awhile before doing a proper job of sealing up the end of the rocker. I wanted something to stabilize the end of the rocker in case my tire tries to grab the metal and rip it out. The temp "end cap" should do the trick for now.
024.JPG

025.JPG


The front of the left rear tire is rubbing on the side molding. I know that I need to shave most of those corner flares off the wheel openings.
039A.JPG


I have a rough idea of how I want to accomplish that while still retaining a little bit of the factory look. But that will have to wait for a couple of weeks. The last step before I can resume driving the van is to get air bled out of the ABS. Then I can drive the van for the first time since last Labor Day. :dance:
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » February 15th 2021, 5:51pm

Oh yeah I forgot about this other mod to the exhaust pipe. I broke off 2 of the three studs on the muffler half of the connecting flange so I decided to just chop off the factory flange, weld a little bit of pipe back in and use one of these aftermarket couplings. The exhaust hangers were also extended 1.5" to match my motor mount/trans lift of the same amount.
002.JPG

003.JPG

004.JPG
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby AstroWill » February 15th 2021, 9:36pm

Damn Sparky! Great thread!

Thanks for bringing us with on your journey, going to be one badass Astro, that is for sure.

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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » February 22nd 2021, 6:40pm

I finished plugging up the remaining holes on the air intake housing.
001.JPG

002.JPG

005.JPG

007.JPG


And finished the installation of the temperature switch that will control the fan speeds.
017.JPG


And started cutting up a practice body trim to see how "clean" I might be able to make the bigger wheel arch look.
015.JPG

016.JPG
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby cowgirlcullen » February 23rd 2021, 4:23am

Steve, awesome thread, thanks! When you were going to do the V8 swap, what all equipment did you use to lift the body? Thanks
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby AstroWill » February 23rd 2021, 4:47am

Sparkydog wrote:There are a few flaws on these doors but it looks like maybe I got some newer aftermarket speakers as part of the deal.
Image


I just noticed that I had put the same speakers in the front doors of my 03POS, super duper cheap but they work well.

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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » February 23rd 2021, 4:15pm

cowgirlcullen wrote:Steve, awesome thread, thanks! When you were going to do the V8 swap, what all equipment did you use to lift the body? Thanks

Cribbing Blocks under all 4 wheels to start with.
006.JPG


Then higher up on these freakishly tall jack stands I made.
008.JPG


All with the help from my favorite floor jack.
007.JPG


And then I probably would have had to lift the front end a few more inches using my engine hoist but I never got that far.
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Re: Sparkydog's 2003 Safari AWD

Postby Sparkydog [OP] » February 23rd 2021, 4:29pm

A picture of my air intake housing support bracket. I'm not sure I'll keep it but for now it's good enough.
001.JPG

002.JPG
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