2000 column shift linkage problem

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steeplecab
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
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How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4
Location: Helena, Montana

2000 column shift linkage problem

Post by steeplecab » Fri Jan 03, 2020 7:47 am

My 2000 Astro had a lot of hard use before I got it. Most of what I've done to it is pretty straightforward stuff to bring it back to life, but I've run into a problem I need ideas on. It's been getting more difficult to get from Park or Reverse into Drive, but it would jump to 2nd and then up to Drive. I backed into a friends garage the other night to unload a water heater, and when I went to pull out I pulled down on the shift lever and it went 'crunch' and wouldn't move. The shift lever was pretty sloppy at that point.

It sits where it broke and I've disconnected the battery and pulled the air bag fuse.

I've gotten into the steering column housing enough by taking out the machine screws to find out the 'Gear Shift Lever Assembly Support Bracket' is broken. Apparently one of the screws came out and the casting itself got torqued and broke. Well, I can probably sort that out if I can find some used parts, but I'm having trouble getting the housing around the steering column out of the way. The factory manual wants me to pull the steering column out of the van to fix it, but it seems like if I could just get the shroud out of the way I could work the parts in and out. Does anyone have any ideas for pulling the column housing without pulling the column? Do I need to cut the lower housing to get around the tilt lever?

Also, is there a way to work the shift cable manually to be able to drive the van back to my place? It appears the cable came off the ball at the top end. Any useful suggestions would be appreciated.
Dano

2000 Astro LX with 260,000+ miles (60,00 on a rebuilt 4.3, rebuilt transfer case, replacement rear end)
2002 Astro LX with 185,000 miles (rebuilt transfer case) (Mama's favorite)
2004 Ranger XLT LX4 Off Road package with 135,000+ miles
And they ALL use TorxPlus fasteners somewhere on 'em. *sigh*

steeplecab
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed May 20, 2015 5:50 am
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4
Location: Helena, Montana

Re: 2000 column shift linkage problem

Post by steeplecab » Sat Jan 04, 2020 6:41 am

UPDATE - A visit to the local salvage yard today procured a steering column for donor parts. Getting the housing off was a problem there as well. I'm hoping I can just remove the lower dash panel and install the parts from below. But that miserable lower shroud is still a problem.
Dano

2000 Astro LX with 260,000+ miles (60,00 on a rebuilt 4.3, rebuilt transfer case, replacement rear end)
2002 Astro LX with 185,000 miles (rebuilt transfer case) (Mama's favorite)
2004 Ranger XLT LX4 Off Road package with 135,000+ miles
And they ALL use TorxPlus fasteners somewhere on 'em. *sigh*

Captn. Crunch
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How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4
Location: southeastern ct

Re: 2000 column shift linkage problem

Post by Captn. Crunch » Sun Jan 05, 2020 3:01 am

Steering column is actually a part I have never messed with. Sooo following. I guess this is where someone is supposed to say “ if you’d taken a minute to investigate the original symptom.. bla bla bla”
Sorry I can’t help on this one but give a fresh look at what it’s gonna take to swap out the column
Captn. Crunch
"I don't beat my rig-I use it to it's maximum potential"
1994 Safari conversion (sold) and miss'n it!
1999 Safari SLE AWD junked
2003 GMC Safari AWD SLT
cast iron Torsen equipped front diff
S-10 leafs-G80 rear w/3.73’s
2” body lift w/Falken Wildpeak AT’s

steeplecab
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed May 20, 2015 5:50 am
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4
Location: Helena, Montana

Re: 2000 column shift linkage problem

Post by steeplecab » Sun Jan 05, 2020 11:15 pm

Thanks for your input, Cap'n. I appreciate that someone is here who is following along. Some days the crickets seem to get pretty loud. Right now I'm not interested in what I should have done. That's a waste of time right now, and I need to solve the problem, not complain about it. Finding blame is for arm chair quarterbacks and non-participants. I'll let everyone know the background after I've fixed it so they can perhaps avoid it.

At this point I think swapping out the entire column is a fool's challenge. There's just too much wiring and stuff to mess with. The bracket that broke supports the shift selector assembly and just bolts to the column on the right side with what looks like three self-tapping flat head Torx+ machine screws. The only connections between the bracket and the rest of the column are a single wire going to the ignition and the ball-and-socket type connections to the shift cable and the neutral safety switch assembly. The shift arm slides into a tube and is retained with a single screw.

One concern I have is that one of the self tapping machine screws may have a messed up hole. I'm going to look on the rest of the column I have for parts and see if I can find another that might be just a little longer, since the hole it goes into is open through and threading clear through might give a little more hold. I don't know if it's worth drilling and tapping and putting a helix in or not. I'm also wondering if LockTite on the screw would help hold it.

The more immediate challenge is getting into the space to do the swap, as It's protected by covers to keep the occupants away from this stuff. More later as I learn more...
Dano

2000 Astro LX with 260,000+ miles (60,00 on a rebuilt 4.3, rebuilt transfer case, replacement rear end)
2002 Astro LX with 185,000 miles (rebuilt transfer case) (Mama's favorite)
2004 Ranger XLT LX4 Off Road package with 135,000+ miles
And they ALL use TorxPlus fasteners somewhere on 'em. *sigh*

Captn. Crunch
Site Admin
Site Admin
Posts: 530
Joined: Wed Feb 01, 2012 8:10 pm
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4
Location: southeastern ct

Re: 2000 column shift linkage problem

Post by Captn. Crunch » Mon Jan 06, 2020 1:01 am

I’m a firm believer in that before you are allowed to be a automotive design engineer you need to have five yrs. as a mechanic!!
I most assuredly wasn’t giving you a hard time, just dropping a pearl of wisdom my dad taught me in the hopes that it helps someone who’s dropped by and reads this thread. That whole stitch in time saves nine kinda thing. Yes my dad was Ben Franklin :muhaha: Good luck and keep us informed
Captn. Crunch
"I don't beat my rig-I use it to it's maximum potential"
1994 Safari conversion (sold) and miss'n it!
1999 Safari SLE AWD junked
2003 GMC Safari AWD SLT
cast iron Torsen equipped front diff
S-10 leafs-G80 rear w/3.73’s
2” body lift w/Falken Wildpeak AT’s

Bret Schmerker
I get chills without my van.
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How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4
Location: Byron, CA, USA

Re: 2000 column shift linkage problem

Post by Bret Schmerker » Thu Jan 09, 2020 5:52 am

@steeplecab My 1997 GMC® M11006 has the same column design as broke on you. Haven't needed to remove 'em so far, but the upper and lower shrouds should be joined with a number of either Philips- or Torx-head sheetmetal screws. Remove these and the Combination Switch (left) and Ignition Switch Assembly (right) should be directly visible; the Gearshift Lever Assembly is immediately forward of the Ignition Switch Assembly. I reckon that access to the Gearshift Lever Assembly will require removing at least the knee panel; there's not much room for lowering the column, given the steering-shaft angles before the firewall. Can't rule out having to pull the steering wheel, and the Supplemental Restraint System airbag with it, to pull the Ignition Switch and Gearshift Lever Assemblies due to the way General Motors keyed both into the steering-column casting.
1997 GMC M11006 (Safari SLE, 2WD, V6-4300/4L60-E/7.625" 3.73:1 open)
Acquired Jul 2018 / In service Sep 2018 - present

steeplecab
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed May 20, 2015 5:50 am
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4
Location: Helena, Montana

Re: 2000 column shift linkage problem

Post by steeplecab » Sun Jan 12, 2020 10:12 pm

Yes Brent, you've described it pretty well. My problem isn't figuring out how to fix it, but rather how to get TO the parts to replace them and fix it. Whoever made the comment about vans having 10 pounds of mechanism in a 5 pound sack was dead on.

I'm attaching th diagram from the factory manual. Maybe this will help some following along.
2000 Astro steering column diagram, no index.jpg

I've dropped the knee panel and gotten the lower column shroud out of the way enough to get out the upper half of the gear shift lever assembly [50 and surrounding] out. Unfortunately I've discovered that the top screw goes into the Steering column support assembly casting [53], and the ear that the screw goes into has broken off through the screw hole. Replacing that casting means pulling everything above it up to the steering wheel off to get to it. I'm wondering if I can use JBWeld to reattach the broken off ear part of the casting and probably retapping the hole.

For now, the lower part of the gear shift lever assembly is in place. and the pivoting part that connects the shift cable and linkage to the BTSI actuator [57] (I think this is the neutral lockout switch) is intact. I can move the linkage manually and hope I can get the rig running to get it home. The shift selector will think it's in park, but with the key in the lock and turned, it seems like it should run and drive. (I'm trusting that the park lock cable assembly [49] controls the shift going out of park, and isn't a tell-tale into the ignition.)

It's winter up here, and it's the worst time of year to fix something for us shade-tree mechanics. It's in a garage right now, but unfortunately it's not mine and I have to get it moved. It's also not something ordinary mechanics want to touch for less than a fortune. But when you have Astros that you want to keep, well, we work around things.
Dano

2000 Astro LX with 260,000+ miles (60,00 on a rebuilt 4.3, rebuilt transfer case, replacement rear end)
2002 Astro LX with 185,000 miles (rebuilt transfer case) (Mama's favorite)
2004 Ranger XLT LX4 Off Road package with 135,000+ miles
And they ALL use TorxPlus fasteners somewhere on 'em. *sigh*

steeplecab
I am merely driving my van
I am merely driving my van
Posts: 5
Joined: Wed May 20, 2015 5:50 am
antispam: No
How many wheels are on an Astro van? (4): 4
Location: Helena, Montana

Re: 2000 column shift linkage problem

Post by steeplecab » Tue Jan 14, 2020 9:11 am

Well, I got the beast home tonight. By reaching up to the back of the shift lever assembly, which was broken away from the front part of the shift selector assembly, I was able to put the van into drive, pilot it back home, back it into it's parking space, and then put it in park. It wasn't elegant, but it worked fine. Now I can at least work on it without going 10 miles out to it. I'll let you all know the next episode in this saga. Hopefully it will be after the weather warms a little. It was 7°F by the console thermometer on the way in. I hate working on rigs in cold weather.

BTW, I want to note that it was someone else's post (probably jamie "astromaddox") that gave me the hint that it could be shifted by hand with the top end of the shift cable. That gave me the idea that let me get it home without having to do a full repair.

I'm going to try to reattach the broken part of the Steering column support assembly casting [53] with JB Weld before I try teaing down the steering column to put on a replacement. There are some pretty interesting videos on YouTube about strength testing the product and it seems worth a try. See:




Dano

2000 Astro LX with 260,000+ miles (60,00 on a rebuilt 4.3, rebuilt transfer case, replacement rear end)
2002 Astro LX with 185,000 miles (rebuilt transfer case) (Mama's favorite)
2004 Ranger XLT LX4 Off Road package with 135,000+ miles
And they ALL use TorxPlus fasteners somewhere on 'em. *sigh*

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