January 2, 2002
Three years into the project. Time to move on. Sold the Astro.
October 30, 2001
Since the last update, I have installed the DJM two inch drop spindles, dropped the rear one more inch (put stock rear shackles back on for that), installed the roll pan and have pretty much finished up the driver side bodywork. I can swear my engine is making a strange sound but I'm just not sure what - yet!
October 18, 2001 - Tonight I received the phantom grille and roll pan from Stillen. Everything arrived in good condition, so I decided to go ahead and install the new grille. Awesome! I love it!!
October 16, 2001
Last night I began doing bodywork on the Astro. In anticipation of the roll pan arrival, I also removed the rear bumper. It looks like the rear Belltech flip kit shackles will cause a problem with the roll pan.. I'll have to figure this out when it arrives! I also started a new Astro Bodywork Page that will detail the work as it proceeds. I should mention I am a complete newbie to bodywork, so don't expect to see anything in terms of "professional"! I did stay at a Holiday Inn Express once, however. My first night resulted in about 1/3 gallon of wasted body filler and the discovery that sanding files are not all the same size! Doh, bought the wrong lenth file paper.
October 10, 2001
Took the Astro on a short trip of 120 miles today. It ran great! I just got the van back from the exhaust shop this morning. I'm very pleased with the results of the cross-over tube (H-Pipe). My well experienced butt-dyno feels about 30-50 ft lbs more torque than I've ever had in the Astro. I'm shocked at the difference both in sound and performance. The sound is a compromise.. it is much quieter and smoother, but at the expense of losing the aggressive sound I've been so used to hearing. Hearing? More like SUBJECTED to for the past almost three years! I made a short video (1.5 MB) tonight so you can hear the new sound. Still loud out back, just ten times quieter on the sides, front and inside.
October 9, 2001
I just ordered a smooth roll pan and phantom billet grill from Stillen! These guys absolutely ROCK and I will definitely do more business with them in the future. Tell them I sent you if you call. Also today, I have the van at the exhaust shop getting a cross-over tube and new tail pipes installed.
I moved all of my links to my new site for Astros and Safaris. You can find them at www.astrosafari.org/astrosafarilinks.html.
September 19, 2001
Last night I installed the Belltech rear flip-kit for a 2.5" drop. Even with a lift and a host of power tools available, this turned out to be one long & dirty job. My van sat up pretty high in the rear, so the 2.5" drop only brought the back end 1/2" below the stock front end. I'm going to play around with the rear shackles to see if I can get one more inch off the rear height. Also, I took some new pictures and made two new videos of the Astro with the new wheels and rear drop. Look for them on the video page. I will install the drop spindles soon.
September 14, 2001
I just got back from a 550 mile cruise in the Astro. I went down below Gainesville Florida to buy the wheels! They look to be in excellent condition. The Astro ran good and got about 12.5 mpg cruising at 75 mph with the AC on. I did have an oil pressure problem on the last leg of the return trip - I have leaking valve cover gaskets (long story). Threw in some oil and no more problems. When I got home, I immediately installed the wheels! .
September 9, 2001
The Astro is still running ok.. My TPI lower intake and upper plenum have been bead-blasted. The valve covers and oil pan have been sand-blasted and primed. I located and purchased a ZZ4 camshaft as planned. The short-block of the used tpi 350 I bought still needs to come apart and possibly rebuilt.
September 7, 2001
The new windshield's leak has been resolved. I found a set of used 17 X 8 Eagle Alloy wheels with BFG tires for sale. The wheels are only several months old and I think I'm going to buy them. He also has a six month old set of DJM drop spindles. I wasn't planning on getting wheels yet, in fact, I was just about to order spindles and a flip kit when I ran across the post selling the wheels. Oh well, I'm gonna buy them!
September 1, 2001
Another disaster! @#%@&%! The new windshield leaks, and it leaks BAD. We had a ten minute rain shower and the front of my Astro was completely flooded - paperwork on the floor is soaked. I pushed my Camaro back out of the garage and quickly put the van in there since more rain was on the way.
August 24, 2001
New windshield installed today. Found a lot of rust on the top part of the frame.. this is where the leak was coming from.
August 23, 2001
The Air Conditioner is now fully functional. I am experiencing a problem with the engine temperature that I've never had with the AC on in the past. I think it is the thermostat.
August 21, 2001
Installed new ignition key cylinder and turn signal auto-shutoff springs. Working on taking old air condition parts off tonight and installing the new stuff tomorrow. New windshield is going in on Thursday or Friday of this week.
August 20, 2001
Well, today marks a new beginning. Project TPI 350 is now officially rolling. After six months of delays, thoughts of a replacement vehicle and much brainstorming of "what to do", I have returned to my original plan of putting the TPI 350 into my Astro. This engine will replace my ZZ3 350 which will go back into my 86 Camaro.
To see older entries, please visit the original ZZ3 Project Journal.