Thread Rating:
  • 2 Vote(s) - 4 Average
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
my 2005 Astro AWD conversion
#1
A few months ago I bought a 2005 Chevrolet Astro AWD cargo van off Craigslist. I figure it was fate since it was waiting less than 2 miles from me, and had everything that I was looking for, a late model (it was the last year they were made), all wheel drive, A/C, body in good shape, mechanically good, but there were a few problems. It needed a complete set of tires, the A/C didn't work, the switch for disabling the dome lights didn't work, the service engine light was on, and a few other miscellaneous glitches.

At one time I worked as a car mechanic, and then later as an aircraft mechanic in Vietnam (thanks Uncle Sam!), but both of those have given me a good understanding of and ability to get mechanical things working. A few days later I had the A/C working, it needed a vacuum line and the blower motor switch and connector replaced. The service engine light was caused by a dirty MAF sensor, a $7 spray can of cleaner and it was fixed. Then I found a set of tires (also on Craigslist) that were brand new, complete with wheels off a 2014 Jeep CJ. For $250 I had a brand new set of tires plus a set of Jeep wheels to sell! And there were many other little glitches that I took care of.

I have already decided I want to insulate it, cover the floor with plywood and lino, build a bed platform with storage under, put in a table with seating, and put in some other storage for a water container. I also decided to put a roof rack on it and a ladder on one of the back doors.

So this is how I started, first the floor:
I used heavy wrapping paper to make a template, just tape it to the van's floor and carefully go around the periphery with a pencil. You'll have to cut the template in places just so you can form it to fit. Then clamp it to the plywood and trace around it:
[Image: DSC01596.JPG]
Here's the first piece of plywood sitting in place:
[Image: DSC01592.JPG]
[Image: DSC01593.JPG]
This is my baby:
[Image: DSC01594.JPG]

I'll get more posted as I remember where the pictures are...
Andrew
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. -- Benjamin Franklin (attrib.)
[Image: RVNsvc1966.jpg]
Add Thank You Reply
The following 1 user says Thank You to anm for this post:
SweetMarie1965 (11-15-2014)
#2
Great start to the build! Keep things flexible till you try it out.
Add Thank You Reply
#3
After the plywood floor I built the bed/storage compartments. I have a storage compartment fore and aft of the driver's side rear wheel well, that will support a foam mattress on top. There will be (a) movable plywood piece fitted between the storage compartments that will do double duty as part of the bed, and will also become a dinette table.
Here are a couple more pix:
[Image: DSC01619b.jpg]
and
[Image: DSC01620b.jpg]

I've got most of my conversion finished but wanted to show how I did it for others...

Progress Report:

This weekend I put down a layer of foam underlay, laid the plywood floor, and then attached the two storage boxes that make up part of the bed by running bolts and washers through the floor with nuts and washers on the underside. Separating the boxes is a collapsible table that becomes the center part of the bed. Shown on the bed is an air mattress which will be replaced with three foam-filled cushions.

[Image: DSC01643.JPG]
[Image: DSC01644.JPG]
The center part of the bed raises to form a dinette table. I still have to put some sort of catch to hold the table close to the van side, and a hinged leg (where I've got the wooden brace right now).
[Image: DSC01645.JPG]
[Image: DSC01647.JPG]

This weekend I also fixed the dome light override, a wire was cut disabling the push button, that also enabled turning off the DRL system. I also removed the GPS reporter, which wasn't working anyway. I was going to fix the radio since the key does not shut it off, but I forgot. Old-age and forgetfulness can be a problem, but they also have their benefits, I can watch a movie I bought a year ago and it's all new!
Andrew
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. -- Benjamin Franklin (attrib.)
[Image: RVNsvc1966.jpg]
Add Thank You Reply
#4
(07-14-2014, 09:09 AM)anm Wrote: This is my baby:
[Image: DSC01594.JPG]

Cool Van! I don't remember seeing one with a goat patch before.

Guy
"We're all bozos on the bus, so might as well sit back and enjoy the ride."

Wavy Gravy

Add Thank You Reply
#5
(07-14-2014, 10:42 AM)gsfish Wrote: Cool Van! I don't remember seeing one with a goat patch before.

Guy
lol, I live in El Paso and we have a tumble weed problem...

June 25th (I should have dated each of the prior posts...)

I have almost completed the last major piece of Van furniture, a combo water jug holder and storage. The lower shelves can either be used for additional water (or beer) containers, or other storage:
[Image: DSC01680b.jpg]
[Image: DSC01683b.jpg]
I will be doing the walls and ceiling next, sound deadener, and insulation and possibly paneling...

July 4th

I've cut styrofoam to fit in those areas where the outside wall is accessible and have glued them in place and caulked around them. The inner structural members I have painted gray. My plan is to leave the inside like that, though I would like to get some pictures and paste them on the styrofoam panels. Some shots of the Martian surface would be nice...

I'm planning on going to a junque yard and get the rear half of a passenger van headliner and slip it in above the existing cargo van headliner, and I've got a roof vent to install. I'll try and get all that done next week.

Here are my latest pictures of my conversion:

The 'table' is held up by a pair of magnetic latches made from magnets bought at Harbor freight, the 2 4-screw clusters hold flat pieces of steel that the magnets latch onto:
[Image: DSC01716b.jpg]

[Image: DSC01721b.jpg]

[Image: DSC01722b.jpg]

My plan is to cover the floor in sheet vinyl but lack of money has put that on hold so for now so I've just painted the plywood floor with porch and deck paint. I still need to get the foam and make up the three cushions, but I'm liable to put that on hold too and just use an air mattress for now. I'm anxious to take it out somewhere and see how it is. There's a couple of old volcanic cones and the remnants of a lava field near here that I've been wanting to explore, so it will be my first field test.

July 9th

My latest change has been the addition of a roof vent. I opted for one of the 9" vents on eBay since it would allow minimal cutting of the roof's reinforcing members. The back reinforcing piece I didn't alter at all, the vent occupies some of the space formerly taken up by the foam rubber between it and the roof. I narrowed the front reinforcing piece a little by cutting off a flange. Hindsight being what it is, I think I could have just made the small cross-wise cuts and then bent the flange flat against itself with a pair of pliers and it would have given me all the clearance I needed.

Anyway, here's some pix:

Here is the only reinforcing piece I cut, I removed about a 9.5" long piece of it, but I could have just made the cuts at the end and then bent the flange flat against the piece you see here:
[Image: DSC01726b.jpg]

I drilled .5" holes at the corners and then used metal snips to cut out the square piece:
[Image: DSC01727b.jpg]

After drilling all the holes:
[Image: DSC01733b.jpg]

I chose to pop-rivet it in, but if that proves problematic, I will replace the pop-rivets with #10 stainless screws and nuts:
[Image: DSC01734b.jpg]

And there it is, looking like it belongs there:
[Image: DSC01736b.jpg]

These are the shears I used, made by Wiss and called Pipe and Duct Cutting Snips, $20 from Home Depot, and well worth it. They make 2 parallel cuts and don't distort the metal (not much anyway) (they won't cut a curve though, just straight lines):
[Image: DSC01729b.jpg]
Andrew
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. -- Benjamin Franklin (attrib.)
[Image: RVNsvc1966.jpg]
Add Thank You Reply
#6
What wonderful, creative work!! I love seeing posts with ideas I'd never considered before and you have several!!

The dinette is the most intriguing me but I can't quite picture how it works. Is it three pieces hinged together and the one is hinged to the bed? I don't understand the magnets? Can I ask you for a big favor and take some close ups of different parts of the mechanism that turns it into a dinette. Also, if possible could you take some photos of it in-between opened into a table and closed as a bed?

I have storage under my bed with a hinged plywood top also but once I have my foam pad and blankets on I find it a pain to get it open. You may want to consider putting some openings into the two boxes so you can just reach under. Just a thought.

Great work!!!!
Bob
2015 GMC Savannah 2500 van, 480 watts of Solar Panels--and a wonderful furry best friend named Cody. I'm out to change the world!
Add Thank You Reply
#7
Cleaver set-up on the table.

Not sure of your budget or the flooring cost. I've been happy with weight mat on the floor. Very durable and easy on the knees, insulates and dampens sound too. Comes in 24" squares, super easy install.
Here's an old pic
[Image: e4y6uqe5.jpg]
Add Thank You Reply
#8
(07-14-2014, 06:30 PM)Bdog1 Wrote: Cleaver set-up on the table.

Not sure of your budget or the flooring cost. I've been happy with weight mat on the floor. Very durable and easy on the knees, insulates and dampens sound too. Comes in 24" squares, super easy install.
...
I was at Academy this past weekend and was considering that very same stuff, right now it's fairly high on my list...

(07-14-2014, 03:35 PM)akrvbob Wrote: What wonderful, creative work!! I love seeing posts with ideas I'd never considered before and you have several!!

The dinette is the most intriguing me but I can't quite picture how it works. Is it three pieces hinged together and the one is hinged to the bed? I don't understand the magnets? Can I ask you for a big favor and take some close ups of different parts of the mechanism that turns it into a dinette. Also, if possible could you take some photos of it in-between opened into a table and closed as a bed?

I have storage under my bed with a hinged plywood top also but once I have my foam pad and blankets on I find it a pain to get it open. You may want to consider putting some openings into the two boxes so you can just reach under. Just a thought.

Great work!!!!
Bob
Thanks Bob!

Here is a picture with it in bed-mode:
[Image: DSC01756b.jpg]

You can see the 2 magnetic catches affixed to the side of the van:
[Image: DSC01755b.jpg]

Here's a closeup of one, the actual magnet can move around so it can adhere flat onto the steel bit on the bed/table:
[Image: DSC01754b.jpg]

Here are the steel bits:
[Image: DSC01757b.jpg]

And a closeup:
[Image: DSC01758b.jpg]

And this is how it folds. The diagonal piece is a free-hanging leg, it is hinged to the underside of the table and supports it:
[Image: DSC01759b.jpg]

The 2 magnets line up with the 2 steel plates, keeping it in table-mode, but not preventing it being transformed into the bed:
[Image: DSC01760b.jpg]

This is the underside of the table showing the home made hinges and the central leg:
[Image: DSC01761b.jpg]

And this is the 'socket' on the floor that the leg fits into. It prevents someone from inadvertently (or advertently (is that a word?)) kicking the leg out from under it:
[Image: DSC01763b.jpg]

My plan is to have three separate cushions make up the mattress (possible with a thin topper). 2 of the cushions will also be used for seating, and the one on the table top will be removed when in table-mode.
Andrew
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. -- Benjamin Franklin (attrib.)
[Image: RVNsvc1966.jpg]
Add Thank You Reply
#9
And this is it in table-mode:
[Image: DSC01721b.jpg]
Andrew
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. -- Benjamin Franklin (attrib.)
[Image: RVNsvc1966.jpg]
Add Thank You Reply
#10
Here is a couple of other pictures of my baby.

This shows a sliding shelf I added below the water container. The shelf has a hole cut into it and inserted into it, a stainless steel bowl (don't tell the dogs!) for washing. A magnetic cupboard door catch stops it from sliding out while driving:
[Image: DSC01740b.jpg]

Here's a shot of my baby in the Chihuahuan desert, at my favorite picnic area outside El Paso. In this picture you can see my 3 external addons, the roof ventilator, the roof rack, and the ladder. The roof rack and the ladder came from my favorite junque yard, $17 for the roof rack and I think about $7 for the ladder. I had to pay full price for the ventilator on eBay:
[Image: DSC01742b.jpg]
Andrew
Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for dinner. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote. -- Benjamin Franklin (attrib.)
[Image: RVNsvc1966.jpg]
Add Thank You Reply
The following 3 users say Thank You to anm for this post:
akrvbob (07-15-2014), dvdchris (07-15-2014), gymrat44 (07-15-2014)


Possibly Related Threads...
Thread Author Replies Views Last Post
  Green Beastie...2005 Minivan Conversion...and Launched! CoachOnTheRoad 2 532 06-13-2017, 01:02 PM
Last Post: AbuelaLoca

Forum Jump:


Users browsing this thread: 4 Guest(s)

Powered By MyBB, © 2002-2018 MyBB Group.