WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby WinnieVan [OP] » July 17th 2019, 7:34pm

Yea -- I thought about that too... but frankly, the Hayden unit or just using a single temp thermoswitch is a good solution.


I don't think I've ever had my van toggle high speed due to engine temperatures. My van boiled over once on a trail, but that was before I installed and Efan and a new 3 row radiator. I think to get my van onto high speed, I'd have to open the throttle pretty substantially at idle for a long time.

But I, like most people on this forum, love the bells and whistles... so I always WANTED 2 speed fan control even if it was just a superfluous feature!

Honestly -- if you're really stuck on it -- might be worth just taking that inline adapter into a machine shop and asking them to tap it out for you. I don't know how much it would cost -- but I imagine you could probably get it done for ~$20??

I'd definitely recommend asking in person -- I've never had luck asking for small jobs on the phone -- they just don't want to waste their time planning for you to come in for such a small job. But if you happen to show up when they have 20 minutes of slack time and you present a small job, sometimes they'll just do it on the cheap for cash.
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby SportsBoy » July 17th 2019, 10:04pm

WinnieVan wrote:
I'd definitely recommend asking in person -- I've never had luck asking for small jobs on the phone -- they just don't want to waste their time planning for you to come in for such a small job. But if you happen to show up when they have 20 minutes of slack time and you present a small job, sometimes they'll just do it on the cheap for cash.

Solid tip :rockon:
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby WinnieVan [OP] » February 1st 2020, 10:00pm

Well -- a new era has begun (well it begun quite a while ago, but I thought I'd fill you in now)...Meet WinnieVan III.


I'm a Ford guy....:o

I found this 7.3L diesel hightop van in Mississippi with about 210K on the odometer. It was at a bible school about 100 miles from Jackson, MS -- apparently the middle of nowhere -- French Camp, MS.
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I paid a mechanic to drive out there and check it out -- and well -- he said it was great. So Wimptech, being the awesome dude that he is -- offered to fly out there and drive it back for me. Did I mention what a good guy Wimptech is?

So Wimpy gets there and the ball joints are shot -- get that done. The tires have flat spots, got that done. The rear end was bone dry when Wimpy got it -- but I did pay the mechanic to fix the AC (spoiler -- the compressor is now leaking) and change the oil, so at least we got that going in our favor!

Wimpy got it back to SoCal and then I flew down to finish the trip up to Berkeley.

She's rough around the edges and the interior is ROUGH... but my wife and I are planning to gut it and turn it into a camper anyways, so that was more of a feature than a bug.

Impulse buy? Yeah I think so -- but after some hard work on this thing, I'm happy. I've:
- cleaned the crap out of the engine and valley...
BEFORE:
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AFTER:
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wayCleaner.jpg


- replaced the up-pipes (turbo boost is back)
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- rebuilt the fuel bowl (no more leaking diesel - woo!)
- steam cleaned the engine bay
- replaced the front sway bar bushing
- steering linkage looks ok -- but I'll probably get a redhead steering gear when I get around to it
- replaced a leaking power steering pump
- transmission filter and fluids
- New windshield (it had like 50 cracks in it)
- Detailed the front interior
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- New side view mirrors (was missing the passenger side one)
- oil filter and fluids (nearly 3.5 gallons!!)
- replaced the rear diff fluid (about 5 teeth on the ring gear are lightly rusted -- so it's noisy but it's probably fine mechanically...
diff.jpg

- removed the WOODEN 2x4 running boards
- removed the towing mirror mounts (now to patch the holes in the door :doh)
- replaced all the door latch cables (Ford really messed up on materials for this this up on this era of vehicle)
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- pulled the valve covers for a compression test and threw new glow plugs in there while I was in that deep
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Long term plan is a 4x4 swap -- so I'm not too worried about the rear diff or the health of the transmission (all that is coming out eventually) -- but I was worried about the engine once I got it here. I've since got it running REALLY smooth and the compression looks great -- 405 to 390 PSI across all cylinders -- Ford spec is about 400+ or like 425 new.

No smoke, quick starts and now that I've got the up-pipes fixed, the boost is back.

These 7.3 vans are a hoot -- but boy I've spent a lot of time cleaning this thing up. My guess is it sat in a field for years... the last owner (the bible school/camp) put 3k on it in 4 years. I'm guessing it was a donation and they just decided to sell it for money.

Long term plan:
- brakes, tires,
- hutch/harpoon mods in fuel tank w/ external racor aux filter (this is 7.3-speak for fixing problems with the fuel tank)
- interior build
- then 4x4 swap
- Body work and paint...

Wife and I are pumped to have a larger van to work on -- we love our Astro -- but we've always wanted something a bit bigger for the two of us!

I don't have a build thread anywhere -- but we've already started to gut it...
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That last picture is of a piece of carpet we found that was protected since it was intially installed... look at the difference! This thing was DIRTY!!!

This is my latest toy too -- a 138Ah Lithium Iron Phosphate Battery from Valence. I got it locally for a GREAT deal -- like as cheap as a new 200Ah AGM. These come out of salvaged EV delivery trucks -- it's gonna be my new house battery -- it has 24 cycles on it...
I
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To make it even better -- I've been renting my Astro out on Outdoorsy (like Airbnb for campers!). Doing this has pretty much already paid for everything I've done to this new van thus far. It's really a nice equilibrium -- someone rents my van for 10 days, I get some money and then I spend it on parts for the new project -- keeps my accountant (err -- wife) happy and I get to tinker - I call it a WIN-WIN-WIN!

It's even allowed me to buy some new tools I've been wanting -- this ratchet and mini impact (250 ft-lbs of breakaway) are my new favorites. Milwaukee ain't cheap -- but I'm pretty much a fanboy now.
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So greatful for this community and what is has enabled for me -- if you remember, I hadn't even changed the oil on a vehicle when I purchased my first Astro... so if you're thinking you CAN'T do it... you're wrong! You can!

Much love ladies and gents!
:driving: :banana:
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby 6door74 » February 1st 2020, 11:12pm

Nice ford! I have E350 with the V10 myself. Wanted to do 4x4 but that was too expensive/complicated for me. Hence how I wound up on the astro safari route.

Now the E350 will serve as the extended family road trip/pick up furniture/ kids to and from college/tow vehicle for a travel trailer which is why we got it to begin with. I'm actually looking at renting trailers from outdoorsy/rvshare in the meantime. What has been your experience as an owner? Good luck with the new project!
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby WinnieVan [OP] » February 2nd 2020, 5:53am

6door74 wrote:I'm actually looking at renting trailers from outdoorsy/rvshare in the meantime. What has been your experience as an owner? Good luck with the new project!


Honestly everyone has been pretty great -- most people are just taking it to Yosemite or Big Sur. I tell them they are allowed to explore graded forest roads but no OHV or anything like that. If they break those rules -- they pay for the damage and recovery, which I inform them can be VERY expensive!

Most people don't even take it off the road is my guess -- someone took it to death valley and it came back really dusty but that was all.

I should probably install a low-voltage alarm for my house battery since most people don't understand how batteries work -- but other than that, it's been a win-win!

Honestly -- cleaning the van before people pick it up is the biggest annoyance -- but I really try to make it spotless, as that's what I'd want if I were renting something from someone.
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby WinnieVan [OP] » September 4th 2020, 11:33am

Well -- my build isn't dead yet! I had an itch to learn how to design stuff using CAD -- and I honestly am hooked. Designed some ARB quick-release brackets that are suited perfectly for the Astro/Safari OEM roof rack!



I took it upon myself to cut my teeth at CAD using ALibre Design. Honestly, though, I'm not happy with their sheet metal tools -- so I'll probably leverage my status as a student to start working in SolidWorks instead.

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The ability to fail quickly is huge - like when I didn't leave enough clearance for bolt heads -- no big deal -- just change the whole design from the start!!

The whole process has got me thinking I might make a career change -- this felt like legos for grown-ups -- and I'm incredibly persnickity when it comes to design so it's nice to have the flexibility of CAD to try to "get it just right"...

Do you CAD for a living? PM me -- I'd honestly love to pick your brain about how you like your career. I imagine it could get VERY monotonous, depending on the job.
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby sixsix » September 5th 2020, 12:52am

WinnieVan wrote: ... Do you CAD for a living? PM me -- I'd honestly love to pick your brain about how you like your career. I imagine it could get VERY monotonous, depending on the job.


Yeah, it could be - if not paid well enough. Could be if paid out the yingyang, too.
Truly depends on your LCA ( lifestyle, culture, attitude ) and whether stuck comfortably in front of a monitor all day is "Your Thing".

On the other hand, if able to get out in the shop, do applications or programming or have an integral part in the Manufacturing Process it can be extremely gratifying, satisfying and well paying in many ways.

And just for an example now: 'Investment Casting' grade exotic metal printing "From Paper to A-Arms" can make Sidewalk Engineers actually real world champs.

I have been working with AutoCad / Inventor / Dussault Draftsight in one form or another since the mid eighties.
Great times seeing your design working on screen in a semi-dynamic environment. Machine Tool Manufacturing provided a wealth of opportunities that can branch in literally any environment, study or process.

Here's my latest:

...Well, I was going to post a jpg of our Deck.dwg from Draftsight.
It seems since 3 weeks ago - free versions or paid version 2018 and prior are no longer avail.
I guess the Maker of the Mirage Jet A/C can no longer support a free download and have made everything DEAD.
And, my standalone $99 Draftsight, upgraded in 2018 is no more.

Such is this new day...
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby SoFar,EH » January 12th 2021, 6:25am

Hi, WinnieVan. I'm very new to here, & it has been suggested that U did a great write up on HOW to mount a 2nd battery (house batt) under the Astro's floor & outside of the van interior. Since I haven't successfully track'd that down from whatever I try as a search, would U be able to help me to accomplishing this? Or at least pondering Ur experiences? Thx in adVANce. ;)
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby WinnieVan [OP] » January 12th 2021, 7:19am

Not me -- I know TurnNBurn did one like that -- and I think Wimptech did one too.
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby WinnieVan [OP] » February 19th 2021, 2:39am

WinnieVan wrote:Replaced the alternator with a 145A one intended for a Silverado. My voltage has been sub 14 for awhile now and the OE alternator can barely hang on with the fan on high. Add in the house battery charger, blower motor, etc. and I think I could easily out-Amp the OE alternator at idle.

I was going to get a 253A one intended for a Silverado, but the budget priced ones don't put out much at idle apparently :shrug:.

I went with an AC Delco 334-2529A Reman unit on Amazon Warehouse deals for cheap. I've read here and other places a 1" longer belt (96.7") is required when doing this modification so I got a Continental Elite 4060967 Poly-V, which is the same as a Goodyear Gatorback, just a new name:
https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000C ... UTF8&psc=1

It was plug and play and with that mechanical fan out of the way the swap was easy peasy. Turns out one of the mounting ears on my alternator bracket was broken, but some JB weld shored that up really easily.

Voltage is 14.7 at idle now. Fan on high at idle the voltage drops to 14.3. Much better than the 13.9 and 13.3 respectively I had before.

Happy van. Happy owner.


Well -- I've been battling some belt squeal for a long time, especially when wet out. It was so bad this weekend that I could smell the belt legitimately melting at the end of my drive. I knew I had to do something.

I was going through belts like crazy and just assumed it was alignment problems -- but I finally got out the measuring stick and pulleys are all within 1/32" of each other.

So I thought -- maybe it's just a loose belt...

Per the alternator upgrade -- I started with 96.7", 96.6", 96.5"... and it always came back -- sometimes 5K miles, other times sooner -- but the squeal when wet was pretty constant. I tried gatorbacks -- I tried delco -- I tried Continental -- nada zip zilch.

So this time I took a bigger jump this time and went down to 96.0" and the van is WAY happier. It's wet AF out -- and my van didn't make a single squeal.

Much quieter -- idles smoother, doesn't stumble when I put it in A/C at idle. It it probably a bit tighter than "spec" but I'm ok with that for now. I reckon 96.1 or 96.2" is probably the sweet spot -- but I cannot complain.

Can go back to not being embarassed in the parking lot too -- that's a good thing!
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby CopperFiremistCopperFiremist is online! » February 19th 2021, 6:57am

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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby WimpTech » February 19th 2021, 3:47pm

Ohhhh man that Furd was DEEEEEscusting! I thought my PigPen was bad, sheesh. Yeah the mechanic missed a ton of stuff, but the guys in his shop made good on a bunch, liked working with them. I replaced the starter while there too, it would barely turn.

It was that adventure that found me my new home. It started with the thought "I'm in Texas... where can I get the best biscuits n gravy for breakfast??" Magnolia Table in Waco apparently, best biscuits i've ever had in my life. Leaving there and taking the long way home, I found this beautiful little town and eventually a 110yo farmhouse on 10 acres. We sold our house the next month and never looked back. I'm enjoying semi-retirement and have the best frozen neighbors a fella could ask for. Welp, gotta go replace some busted pipes. Thanks for the shout out DMan, and thanks for that great road trip!
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby WimpTech » February 19th 2021, 3:53pm

SoFar,EH wrote:Hi, WinnieVan. I'm very new to here, & it has been suggested that U did a great write up on HOW to mount a 2nd battery (house batt) under the Astro's floor & outside of the van interior. Since I haven't successfully track'd that down from whatever I try as a search, would U be able to help me to accomplishing this? Or at least pondering Ur experiences? Thx in adVANce. ;)


My Pig Pen van came with it already done. Check out my build for pictures and details ----> https://www.astrosafari.com/viewtopic.p ... 4&start=20
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby WinnieVan [OP] » February 22nd 2021, 8:45am

WimpTech wrote:Thanks for the shout out DMan, and thanks for that great road trip!


Only Wimpy would thank you for giving him the privlege of driving an absolute beater across the country -- I had some real oh **** moments after he got there -- but hey -- it's all good now....

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She ain't quite done (and these pictures are quite dated) but now that the days are getting longer and warmer -- I'm hoping to get back to it!
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby dcsleeper » February 22nd 2021, 6:12pm

We need a good ole fashion, sittin' round the beer, story tellin!!
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby sixsix » February 22nd 2021, 8:00pm

I say Wow with the same Gusto!! excitement as Golly!!
Best Gray I have seen since... well, I don't know when.

( since he frequents here )
Wimpy, can I have a word...

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So... Waco is the new Wimpy domicile
Seems the rest of Cali will be there soon...
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Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby WimpTech » February 23rd 2021, 2:28pm

Whoops, thanks, I killed that commie crap.
WimpTech - Precision Guesswork... Questionable Results.

My Van Build: viewtopic.php?f=127&t=103714
My Other Van: http://www.vcvc.org/showthread.php/3013 ... ersion-Van
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WimpTech
Firing on 4 Cylinders (L5)
Firing on 4 Cylinders (L5)
Years of Membership: WimpTech has been a member for 5 full yearsWimpTech has been a member for 5 full yearsWimpTech has been a member for 5 full yearsWimpTech has been a member for 5 full yearsWimpTech has been a member for 5 full years
Posts: 4405
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Joined: January 2016
Location: Texas!
Alias (AKA): =Wimpy=
Van Model Year: 2000
Van Make/Model: GMC Safari
Extra Info: AWD 3+1 Lift

Re: WinnieVanII -- 2004 Astro AWD Build

Postby AstroWill » February 23rd 2021, 6:32pm

Fantastic job Winnie! Looks like it's coming together.

Trolls take away from productive work, best to ignore & go about your business. See: Dark Tetrad
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AstroWill
Technical Director
Technical Director
Firing on 8 Cylinders (L7)
Firing on 8 Cylinders (L7)
Years of Membership: AstroWill has been a member for 12 full yearsAstroWill has been a member for 12 full yearsAstroWill has been a member for 12 full yearsAstroWill has been a member for 12 full yearsAstroWill has been a member for 12 full yearsAstroWill has been a member for 12 full yearsAstroWill has been a member for 12 full yearsAstroWill has been a member for 12 full yearsAstroWill has been a member for 12 full yearsAstroWill has been a member for 12 full yearsAstroWill has been a member for 12 full yearsAstroWill has been a member for 12 full years
Posts: 11649
Topics: 108
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Joined: February 2009
Alias (AKA): Critical Thinking+Common Sense
Van Make/Model: Chevrolet Astro
Extra Info: I love peaches

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