|April 19, 1999, Just worked on my first
attempts at Real Player G2 sound file creation. Several clips of the
Astro's exhaust sound can be found by clicking
here. Quite a few light to light races.. highlight being the 97
Ram Air Firebird that I outran about two van lengths on a green light race
through the top of second! Now I know for sure I will run a better
time at the track due to the Flowmasters!!
April 10, 1999, Removed the $14 mufflers.. installed 2.5" 3-chamber
Flowmasters! What a difference in sound AND performance.. much more
low end torque and the top end just as strong. I now have people following
me home to check out the van! I expect at least .1 .2 sec gain on my
60 foot times with this change alone.
March 28, 1999, Went to the track in Holt
Fl with the Astro. Look for a new page coming up with video clips
HERE. Ran 9.311 @ 78.41 MPH with a 2.241
60 time. I need those gears!
March 17, 1999, Heck yeah! Not
only do I still have a working 700r4 and new tires, but now I have
cold AC too! Have raced several more cars.. a couple of Mustangs,
one modified (3.55, full exhaust & headers) and even a limited
edition Indy 500 Turbo Trans Am! I finally lost a race - to a 95 Z-28
with exhaust, 3.73's and air box mods. Then again, I left
it in drive and it shifted from 2-3 at 4500 rpm, but it was the best
running car I've raced so far and it still might have won. Oh well!
Planning to install the 3.73s & posi today or tomorrow!
March 9, 1999, Fifth day on the new 700R4
and all I can say is...... WOW! It's holding up and shifting strong.
Definately spins hard on the 1-2 shift when on the gas. I ended
up with a B&M 12" converter (part of the loaner) and I knew it would
be too tight.. planning to order a 10" non-lockup some time this month with
at least 2200 (ACTUAL) rpm stall. No problems with the tranny.. installed
a cheap set of Futura 235/60-15's on the rear over the weekend. I had
tried to make it up to Power House 1/8 drag strip but something was going
wrong with one of the rear tires (may pop?) and I went straight to the only
tire place open on Sunday - - Pep Boys! Anyway, the wheel hop
problem went away and traction is much much better. Maybe I'll make
it to the track next weekend.
March 4, 1999, Installed the 'built' 700R4
with a lack of confidence in it.. I don't trust 700R4's after prior experiences,
but hey! This one is a loaner so I can't lose! If I break
it, I pay $250 and I'm off the hook. No break, no cost!
If it holds up for a while, I'll send the Astro's stock 700R4 to the
same guy and have him build it. If not, definately going to Art
Carr or the like.
March 3, 1999, Transmission is ready to
go in! Drive 120 miles up the interstate in the Astro to pick it up..
Man it rides excellent on the roughest part of I-10. I like this van
more every time I drive it. We cruised around 85 MPH for about 20 miles
- no problems of any sort.
February 27, 1999, Today I decided
it was time to fix the ailing brakes on the Astro. The rotors were
not warped but they appeared very over-used.. A visit to the parts
store endowed me with a brand new set of rotors & brake pads. Also
repacked the front wheel bearings. Now this thing actually stops!
February 20, 1999, Still driving
without second gear! I'm going to be getting free use of a 700R4 from
the same guy who let me use his 383/8-71 engine combo in the camaro. Can't
wait for the tranny to get done! Also picked up a rear end today from
an S10.. can't use the housing but I'm going to use the brand new GM 3.73
gears and new GM posi (locker) unit in the Astro's stock rear end.. Hoping
this setup will hold up for a while until I can get a 9" built for it later
this year. Need posi -- having a serious wheel-hop problem.
February 8, 1999, I've been driving
the Astro now for over a week and things have been very exciting! Even
though I'm running the stock transmission, I've been very impressed
with the driveability of the van. It is smooth and it's extremely quiet
considering there's a 400 hp V8 sitting right behind the engine cover.
It's been a busy week! I have done some mild street racing throughout
the week, nothing serious from a dead stop until I get my converter.
I've raced a couple of 3rd gen firebirds, a 91ish GT, 96
Chevy P/U with 5.7 vortech and several other rides.. Also raced a low 9 (1/8
mile) second firebird in first gear only and I pulled on him just enough
to be elated! Meanwhile, I destroyed second gear in the stock
700R4 yesterday after discovering I was only getting 2/3 throttle due to
a 'rigged' throttle linkage.. I fixed the problem and on the first 1 - 2
shift, second gear went away instantly! It will spin the tires
at any speed in first gear now! I have a million stories of pulling
up to somewhere and people looking at me with this lost stare... they don't
understand how I got a V8 in an Astro! If they only knew how simple
February 2, 1999, Began driving the van
today as a replacement to my Eclipse. Destroyed the brand new altenator
during a high rpm run in second gear. It was under warranty and this
time I made sure the internal cooling fan was metal instead of plastic.
February 1, 1999, Today the exhaust system
was installed!! Too bad it's not as quiet as I had hoped, but
it's not bad. Inside the van it's as quiet as I had hoped, but
for the mustanger sitting in traffic next to me, he won't have much
trouble guessing there's a V8 in there. This evening, I drove
the van and really got into the gas pedal... Weak link #1 found!
Improperly secured, perfect condition stock radiator becomes mangled,
useless mass of aluminum and plastic. $180 later, I was back
on the road -- but with a severly damaged ego (and wallet). Immediately
installed custom steel brackets to secure radiator on BOTH sides.
January 30, 1999 at 1:00 pm, I drove the
V8 Astro outside to make a few test runs! I instantly experienced carb
problems (the BG carb has been sitting for several months), so a carb
change was in order. We had a 750 vac sec Holley laying around, so
I installed that and then discovered that when I tried to save $5 and used
an old fuel line & filter, I screwed up! Removed the needle/seat
valves and cleaned out the garbage, cussed, put them back in
and cussed some more! Next, I bled the front brakes and discovered
that something has gone wrong with either the vacuum booster or master cylinder.
I show 10-12 inches of vacuum, but running the engine makes no difference
in the feel of the brake pedal. Oh well, more money to spend.
Damnit! Next, I modified a set of cat's attached to some
3" collectors (we use them as mufflers on the engine test stand). I
had to cut about 20 inches out of the pipe and then welded the two remaining
pieces together. This will be my temporary exhaust system until next
week when I get the true duals ran all the way to the stock location behind
the right rear tire. Finally, I installed the engine cover inside the
cab - BOY! What a difference in sound, heat and
fumes! Even with the loud temporary exhaust arrangement, it's
a very acceptable level with the windows up. Drove the van around the
block several times. It needs a converter and a better gear out back
because it takes forever to hit 4000 rpm where my engine really kicks in.
Once you get the rpm up, it feels really strong. I think
I'm going to like this thing! Also finished putting the grill and AC
condensor/etc back on today.
January 29, 1999 at 12:30
am, I made the first V8 powered movement
of the van. I'm still running open headers so I stayed inside the shop.
I backed up to the front and attemted a few powerbrakes and launches.
The stock converter was a bit tight for my setup and trans (soon to
be upgraded) probably needs a fluid change, but I was very impressed
with the traction. I don't have a G80 option code, but it left
two black marks on the shop floor - - after MUCH finessing of the throttle
and brakes. All it really wanted to do was push the van forward.
Tonight I will be working on bleeding the brakes, extending the
throttle, detent and cruise control cables, as well as putting a return
spring on the carb!
January 28, 1999, I installed the radiator,
waterpump, transmission cooling lines.. bolted up the torque converter,
dropped the fuel tank and removed the fuel injection pump, installed
the driveshaft and installed the bellhousing bolts that had been left out
during the engine install. Also installed a mechanical fuel pump and
ran 3/8 tubing from pump to the tank feed located about half way back to
the tank. This was the first day I was able to start the engine
in the van and allow it to run for a while. It's looking good!
January 27, 1999, I installed the remaining
bolts on the accessory bracket (a couple of holes in the bracket needed to
be elongated). Installed the TCI starter and plugged in the remaining harness
wires. I also primed the carb with fuel and ran the engine for about
30 seconds. Man, this thing really torques the van over when
you rev it! It's a much different feeling when you're sitting high
above the engine than when sitting behind it as in my Camaro.
January 23, 1999, I plugged the
wiring harness in to all sensors/etc and energized the whole system. All
gauges look good, the distributor feed is hot and I'm a happy camper.
I would test fire the engine, but I need to install my TCI starter
and didn't feel like dealing with it today.
January 22, 1999, The engine is in and
the body is back on the front sub-frame!
January 15-21, 1999, Worked on the van
when I had time.. removing the parts I could get to before putting it on
the lift. Finally put it on the lift on the 20th and did the engine
swap over the next two days. I can't wait to drive this thing!!
January 11, 1999, Towed the van up to
my friend's shop today. I'll get started on the engine swap in a few
The following information is from my original page for Haulin' AssTro.
December 2, 1998
The real pictures are online! Yes, by the miracle of modern technology,
you too can see the actual van as it appears (for now).. check
here for the
pics. Today I ordered the bearings & gaskets to get my ZZ3
back together. I think I sold my small 144 B&M blower today which
will help fund the headers/exhaust for the astro as well as get a roll cage
in the camaro!
November 25, 1998
I have installed some of my stereo equipment and fixed a few minor problems,
oiled all hinges and latches and cleaned up some of the interior. Carpet
looks pretty shot, so I will probably just order a new one.
November 23, 1998
Today was the day! I purchased a 1987 Astro
CL with plenty of options. It needs one new fender, a
windshield, a rear seat and the 4.3 L engine has a rod knock. The
van is extremely straight and low miles (for an Astro) at 135k. Most
of the options seem to work, including the factory AM/FM, Cass stereo
system. As I write this update, I'm waiting for the flatbed to
deliver the van to my driveway where I can begin checking all parts out.
Pictures coming soon. I anticipate having the ZZ3 installed within
November 14, 1998
I've decided I want to buy an 85-90 model Astro minivan and install my ZZ3
Crate motor into it!