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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:21 pm 
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With my hi-top's design, it would be tough to incorporate something like this, (at least without it looking like someting Dr. Frankenstein cobbled together), but it is a cool idea...

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Selah, WA
-96 GMC Safari AWD Hi-Top Conversion -->Stalled 5.3L swap & 5" lift
-74 Ford Bronco -->Far from perfect but mine!
-99 V-10 Ford Super Duty Super Cab 4x4 -->Stock with 285 Cooper ATs
-00 Ford Focus Wagon -->The Red Turd
-95 Ford 24' Class C Motorhome -->My big block sleeper
-07 Can-Am Outlander XT -->My yellow 4x4 quad for work & play
-04 Ski Doo REV Summit -->Still several chassis behind!


No new projects until the current ones are done!


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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Fri Jul 02, 2010 5:43 pm 
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mdmead wrote:
With my hi-top's design, it would be tough to incorporate something like this, (at least without it looking like someting Dr. Frankenstein cobbled together), but it is a cool idea...



Oh we've got something else in mind for your high top \:D/ (I thought we already had this discussion?).

http://www.expeditionportal.com/forum/s ... hp?t=23254

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 Post subject: Weekend Donor Teardown
PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2010 8:24 pm 
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Unfortunately, I still don't have any really good pictures. I forgot to bring a good camera to my friend's shop for my first day of teardown, so these are all from my Blackberry. The upside is that I made some good progress and I now have a pretty good understanding of the construction of a GTRV pop top Astro/Safari.

For those who want all the gory details, my fully annotated image log is here.

Image
Awning works pretty well, but needs some cleanup.
Image
Tent fabric is in good shape.

Image
First thing, need to remove this plastic shelving installed in the back. Not sure what's going on there...

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Questionable implementation of a "layback" sofa/bed - stock seat modified with pins through the hinge bracket to allow this position. Second seat (on top) is a rough, but unmodified, stock rear bench.

Once I removed as much of the stock interior plastic trim as was practical, I started on the "conversion" headliner and trim.

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The rear bed platform is just some padding over the roof sheetmetal.

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The rest of the area has the headliner fabric wrap over the exposed edges and is glued down to the top of the van, covering the vinyl strip that secures the bottom of the tent to the top of the van.

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After the carpet headliner is removed, we can finally see the steel reinforcing ring that surrounds the hole cut into the van roof. It is bonded and riveted into place.

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Next I removed between 200-300 posidrive screws to release the tent and vinyl trim from the van.

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Tent now attached to top shell only.

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Then proceed to drill out a couple hundred rivets that hold the reinforcing steel to the roof.

As it stands now, the only thing holding the reinforcing ring to the roof is the adhesive that was applied. I'll go after that with a heat gun next. The pop-top is now attached to the van only by the hinges and lift struts (10 screws total), so that can be removed as soon as its convenient. I'm leaving it on for now, just because the van is still stored outside my friend's shop, so it's easy to close it up.

More to come!!

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"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Tue Jul 06, 2010 11:16 pm 
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Rotor wrote:
I am very curious on how the curtains are setup on the GTRV Astro. When you get around to taking pictures, could you take some of the curtain setup? This looks like a really fun project!


OK, some pictures, finally:

Image

Image

Image


Hope that helps. I like the simplicity of this method, but in practice the elastic is very stretchy, so it takes two hands to open/close the curtains - one to hold one end of the curtain or elastic, the other to draw the curtain. A non-elastic cord (like paracord) might also work for this, but I wonder how much tension you could have since its just the trim plastic keeping it apart.

The solution I'm aiming towards (already ordered the stuff) is a set of aluminum tracks that I will adhere directly to the top/bottom of the windows with 3M low-profile dual-loc. That way I can pop the track off if need be. I need to cut a couple of pieces and see how its going to look...

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"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Wed Jul 07, 2010 12:09 am 
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Cool! Keep the updates coming!

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Matt
Selah, WA
-96 GMC Safari AWD Hi-Top Conversion -->Stalled 5.3L swap & 5" lift
-74 Ford Bronco -->Far from perfect but mine!
-99 V-10 Ford Super Duty Super Cab 4x4 -->Stock with 285 Cooper ATs
-00 Ford Focus Wagon -->The Red Turd
-95 Ford 24' Class C Motorhome -->My big block sleeper
-07 Can-Am Outlander XT -->My yellow 4x4 quad for work & play
-04 Ski Doo REV Summit -->Still several chassis behind!


No new projects until the current ones are done!


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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Mon Jul 12, 2010 5:47 pm 
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Saint Kimberley the Luscious (aka Mrs. Herbie) granted me another big chunk of time this weekend, so I was able to make some more good progress on the teardown.

As before, my annotated image log is here.

The primary goal on Day 2 was to get the steel reinforcing ring separated from the rest of the van. After drilling all the fasteners on Day 1, I found that a significant amount of adhesive had been used. This stuff was STRONG. If I pulled hard on the steel ring, the roof sheet metal would flex some, but the adhesive didn't budge. Well, when in doubt, apply heat:

Image

I worked my way around the perimeter with a propane torch and a wide putty knife. In most cases a little heat and sliding in the putty knife would get things separated nicely. In a few spots things were obviously under a bit of tension because just applying heat would cause the gap to separate.

Image

In a few other places, more heat and a bit more aggressive application of the putty knife were needed. Mostly where the adhesive was laid on thick and there was a lot of mating surface area.

Image

Eventually though, the glue surrendered and the ring came away, leaving just the sheet metal and what remained of the original reinforcing ribs.

Image

The carpet/glue residue looked pretty nasty after "burning", and in a few spots I really did have to burn the paint to get the glue to let go, but that's one upside of a disposable donor, I don't have to care!

Image

And here's the ring after separation. I was pleasantly surprised to find the ring is "open" at the right-rear corner. This made removal much easier and should make re-installation much simpler also, because in several places the horizontal surfaces of the ring slot in between the roof sheet metal and the stock cross bracing. This thing will have to be maneuvered into place around several such interfering areas, so the fact that I can "pinch" the ring slightly will be a help. Once in place, all of the mechanical fasteners should make it at least as strong as if the ring was welded around the entire perimeter.

The remaining white is more adhesive that I'll scrape off later. I really want to brush or blast this whole thing and at least give it a coat of primer. I hate seeing the start of rust on bare steel.

Image

I also had time to start tackling transplanting the passenger seat swivel base into my van.

I had originally installed a different swivel that sandwiches in between the slider track and the seat bottom:
Image

The problem here being that the added thickness of the slider plus the spacers needed to clear the "arch" of the slider track make the seat dangerously high. (Without a headliner in my 2003 van, a couple of my taller passengers are too close to the roof unless they recline the seat quite a bit!) My hope is to be able to transplant the older swivel base into my van.

Image

After removing the seat, I had to get past the massive amount of brushed on bedliner that covered everything on the floor of the donor van. Mostly I just brushed it off the nuts so I could remove the base plate.

The next problem was that my 2003 van includes an underseat heater duct for the 2nd row foot area. At first I thought I could clear the duct by just notching the rear of the baseplate (underside in this photo):

Image

However it turns out that the stack-up of ducting, insulation, and carpet means the studs aren't long enough to meet the baseplate. (The OE seat mount in my 2003 has a raised bracket with feet that extend to meet the studs, rather than a flat plate.) I'm still brainstorming on the optimum solution here. I may try to turn some sleeved nuts to reach down to the studs, or I may build a similar rail/foot system to clear the floor area entirely, but that will raise the seat back UP, so I may have to compensate by cutting down and re-welding the extension tube in the swivel.... ugh.

Anyhow, more to come, stay tuned!

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"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Mon Aug 02, 2010 11:38 pm 
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OK, big update today. Removed the top/tent from the donor, did a test-fit on my van, and a few other details.

I don't have time for a full writeup with annotations, that will come in the next couple of days, but for those following along at home, pictures with a few notes are available here on Picasa.

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"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Tue Aug 03, 2010 2:13 am 
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Ya know I would have picked you up at the airport and run you to north van. I live like 15 min from the the airport. Looks like a great project. Tom might think its a little creepy or he might be impressed that someone is using his van as a template.

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trailer tow pack with a 3:73 posi
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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 10:28 am 
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oh, you're in it now!!! :prayer:
lookin' good :supz:

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 Post subject: Transplant - Day 4
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 4:40 pm 
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OK, just another quicky update. This should give you an idea of the carnage I have wrought upon my perfectly serviceable Astro van:

Image

A few more photos are here. Unfortunately, I forgot my camera for Day 4, so its just blackberry pictures again!

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"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Wed Aug 04, 2010 6:09 pm 
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This is an awesome picture:

Image

No going back for sure! :muhaha: :supz:

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Vans owned:
1986 Safari 2.5L 4 speed manual - scrapped
1995 Astro 2WD conversion 4.11 posi, shift kit, DHC rock rails - sold to Skippy
1998 Astro 4x4 D44, D60, NP231, full hydraulic system with 9k# Milemarker winch and snow plow - sold to Lockdoc
2003 Astro AWD all stock - traded for a 3/4 ton truck
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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Fri Aug 27, 2010 9:51 pm 
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Progress has been a little slow this month due to busy time at work, sick baby, etc.

I also realized I never posted the images from Day 5. So here we go.

Image
The reinforcing ring is now riveted into place, and I have done the final trim of the van roof sheet metal using a combination of nibbler, air body saw, hammer, and swear words.

I'm REALLY glad I made the investment into a pneumatic rivet gun for this project. 150+ rivets would have killed my hands using a manual pop-riveter. (I have small hands so getting enough "grip" to squeeze the handles is tough, plus I already have an RSI from years of poor workspace ergonomics.) With the pneumatic tool, just insert the mandrel into the jaws (not always as easy at it sounds), then pull the trigger and pop-ffffssssssshh, rivet done.

Image

The pop-top and hinges are now fixed to the van roof with the backing plates glued in, mimicking the donor's setup.

I have not yet attached the tent to the van roof or the lifts for the pop-top, those come next, and I have a surprise up my sleeves for that installment! :)

Until next time...

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"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:06 am 
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Kidhauler wrote:
Tom might think its a little creepy or he might be impressed that someone is using his van as a template.


:muhaha: :muhaha: :muhaha:


That is a great pic, Deano. You don't have to get very far into having your first burger and pint with Herbie to realize just how much of a mad scientist the dude really is. :supz:
It doesn't get any better than this:

..."and I have done the final trim of the van roof sheet metal using a combination of nibbler, air body saw, hammer, and swear words."

And, dude, you're in California for crying outloud, not Calgary! Tent fabric is overrated! I say you get 'er out this weekend and open air it in the pop top bed! =D> :cheers: \:D/

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Church bells ringing in the middle of a gunfight.


Last edited by T.Low on Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Sat Aug 28, 2010 2:08 am 
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Looking good bro, a very interesting project to follow along :cheers:


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 Post subject: Re: Herbie's Astrolander/ZMB build thread
PostPosted: Mon Oct 11, 2010 5:22 pm 
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OK, I have been seriously slacking on the documentation end of things, but I HAVE been working. Here is an attempt to get caught up.

As always, there are more/bigger pics on my Picasa web album.

At this point in the build, it was time to attach the tent canvas to the van roof. The GTRV design basically sandwiches the canvas against the roof with this vinyl trim. When tight, this creates a (theoretically) waterproof(ish) seal against the van, sort of like a set of shingles.

Image

I used the salvaged vinyl strips to lay out the tent spacing and get everything lined up.

Image

In order to avoid more holes in the vinyl and canvas, I went ahead and used the strips as drill templates too - predrilled a dozen or so holes in a time.

Image

It was easiest to fill the strip with a line of screws, then stretch the canvas onto the screws using the existing holes, and finally drive everything tight against the van roof. This was especially important in the back corners because the tent is under extra tension from sewn-in elastic to keep things taught. I imagine when GTRV originally build these, they had a method for doing things without tension, and could just drill through the vinyl, canvas, and steel all in one go.

Image

And voila', several hundred holes and screws later, the tent is now attached to the roof of the van, making it theoretically weather-tight. At this point, the lifting struts are not installed, the pop-top was supported by a 2x4 from inside the van while I worked.

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"My minivan is cooler than your bro-truck"
2003 Astro AWD Astrolander/ZMB - GTRV Top Transplant, 4" OLV Lift, NP233 T-case, evolving interior
1995 Safari GTRV Organ donor - gutted and gone.
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