1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

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1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by Poppashango on October 19th 2010, 9:33 pm

So here is where I started on this project. I have a 1991 Chevy Astro Van the runs like a dream and didn't look too bad either. Although it was a little too "Sing A Long Road Trip" for me.



So here is where the body rot was, just in front of the drivers side wheel. Coincidentally, this rot started from where the running board was attached. So word to the wise, if you have these running boards on your van or truck, to keep an eye on them and check of they are causing a problem. It seemed like a simple fix. Cut out this small area and shape a piece of sheet metal in to replace it.


However, I started tapping the metal from underneath with the pick side of the body hammer and it just kept punching through. I soon realized that the only thing holding this side together was the paint. I used my RotoZip cutting tool and cut away the panel.




So I jumped on the net and ordered a panel from the states that went from door to wheel. When it arrived I cut it to size and shot some self-etching primer on it then treated it with Tremclad anti-rust paint.


I steel brushed all of the loose rust off the inside of the body, grinding as well. Then treated with rust converter. Once dried the converter becomes a paintable surface. I then painted with more Tremclad anti rust paint.


I know I should have welded this piece but I don't have the equipment and I was trying to keep the cost to a bare minimum on this project as more of a curiosity. So I chose to rivet the panel in. If I run into problems I can always go back and weld it in... and get a new welding setup in process! I installed the panel and used Bondo glass to blend it in with the remaining panel.


I then went over the whole repair with Bondo Gold.


Sanded flat and smooth I hit with some red oxide. The area on the door was where the ASTRO emblem was installed. I broke one of the pins off when I was removing them and decided to shave them from the van. Oh and by the way, there was a 3 1/2 inch decal running the perimeter of the van which separated the two colors. These things are always a pain to get off, but I made the investment of 4 dollars and change and bought a 3M Eraser Wheel. I use them on bikes I repaint, and it peels off the decal like nobody's business. I removed the whole decal in about 40 minutes.


The whole van roughed up.



I then removed the grill and bumpers and painted behind them, then reinstalled everything because unfortunately I have haul my tools in the van to work, so I still have to drive it. At this point I was prepping to take some time off work to complete the job. I also painted the grill and light bezels along with the rear door jams, I will do the 3 remaining jams after winter do to time constraints.




So I decided to go with Tremclad Black Semi-Gloss. I like a rougher home grown rat roddish look, but I don't think a flat black would stand up to the uv's. I had a 65 Riviera that was flat and I had to touch up the paint every year. A semi-gloss seemed to a good choice.
Here is the van ready for the first two coats.


Here is the van after the first two coats. I am using Tremclad thinned 50/50 with mineral spirits. But I got runs and sags... ugh! Now I found that 60/40 paint/mineral spirits works great with light coats.


Pulled her out to sand her down with 600


I found that when you apply the paint it's very glossy, however as it dries it flattens the shine... whew.. I was worried for a moment! 3rd coat, applied the 4th just today, and will be sanding and going for the 5th and 6th coat tomorrow... that's where I am at thus far folks! More to come.




Last edited by Poppashango on July 18th 2011, 4:37 pm; edited 6 times in total (Reason for editing : Final update)

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by ANeat on October 19th 2010, 9:54 pm

Oh yea, are we going for a transformation of some kind??

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by Poppashango on October 19th 2010, 11:12 pm

ANeat wrote:Oh yea, are we going for a transformation of some kind??

I suppose we can call it that! LOL

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by Tommy Hillbilly on October 20th 2010, 12:13 am

Poppashango wrote:Oh and by the way, there was a 3 1/2 inch decal running the perimeter of the van which separated the two colors. These things are always a pain to get off, but I made the investment of 4 dollars and change and bought a 3M Eraser Wheel. I use them on bikes I repaint, and it peels off the decal like nobody's business. I removed the whole decal in about 40 minutes.
Awesome! Where did you get it?

From what I read on the net, they are closer to $20 - at least here.
I just found out about eraser wheels last night. I'm going to get one, because think about the 1 inch molding stripe all the way around an '88 Mustang GT. Then consider 2 layers on some portions... mad3

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by Poppashango on October 20th 2010, 2:32 pm

Tommy Hillbilly wrote:From what I read on the net, they are closer to $20 - at least here.
I just found out about eraser wheels last night. I'm going to get one, because think about the 1 inch molding stripe all the way around an '88 Mustang GT. Then consider 2 layers on some portions... mad3

I picked mine up at a NAPA Pro Shop. It was around 5 bucks, maybe it was on sale or something, but I have had several of these I can't remember paying more than a few bucks for them. By the way, I forgot to mention these will not damage the finish is used properly. Tommy, check around at your local automotive paint shops and get the best deal you can find. They are worth it.

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by Poppashango on November 1st 2010, 12:06 am

Finished Project!!!!

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by Tommy Hillbilly on November 1st 2010, 12:22 am

redx

We are certainly in suspense...grin

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by Poppashango on November 1st 2010, 12:28 am

So I hit the proverbial iceberg the next day. I still went with my 60/40 mix which had been working great, but weather did not hold out for me. The temperature dropped to 2 Celsius / 36 Fahrenheit. Previously I had been rolling at a temperature of 9 C / 48 F and things were going great. So I did not suspect this drop would make any difference, but it did. The paint rolled on fine, but I started to get some sagging. When I went back to the panel to roll over the sagging which was only several minutes after I first rolled it, the brush left definite brush stroke lines. I am pretty sure that what was happening was this thin layer paint was freezing to the body of the vehicle. However I did not notice this happening as I was waiting for the paint to level out as had been doing previously. Disappointed and pretty much pissed off at myself I thought about the solution to this problem the remainder of the day. The weather was taking a turn for the worst, but I could not let this go. The hood was the worst of the finish.

That evening I set up a portable heater in the garage and decided to use a Preval Kit I used for painting a bike frame in the dead of winter. These Preval Sprayers are great and some would argue that in most cases it can shoot comparably to an HVLP sprayer. Look it up on the web. I mixed the paint the at the same ratio 60 Tremclad / 40 Mineral Spirits put it in the bottle and attached the Preval unit. I shot the hood with several coats waiting 15 minute between each coat. Perfection! The finish dried smooth and the brush strokes were gone. So I am not going to push it any further this year as the weather is now too unpredictable. So next Spring I will hit the remainder of the van with 1500 wet dry and shoot a panel at a time with the Preval. The Preval charger unit can be bought for between $5 and $10 and you can easily do I would say two panels with one unit. I now think that in the future, when I do this again, I will roll on the first 6 coats, and shoot the last few coats a panel at a time with a Preval for a smooth final coat.

So now here is the finished look of my Astro Van. ( I got some sunshine the last two days! )

You will notice that I also shot the rims that were blue with Tremclad Semi-Gloss.




So here is the lower panel I replaced

Another interesting thing I want to point out is the door guard / trim around the wheel wells and down the length of the body.
I have always had trouble the trim. It always looked chalky, and I would put a dressing on it and it last about 2 days then go chalky again. So I decided to use a degreaser paint prep on all of the trim and painted them with Krylon Fusion Plastic Paint. The trim is plastic so I figured I would give it a shot. Wow, they came out great and always look like I have a fresh coat of dressing on them. You can see the difference on the bumper caps and air dam compared to the wheel well trim and door guards. it this works out, I'll never have to dress this trim again.


So this final photo was taken this evening. I have now painted the bumper caps and the air dam.


So there is my 1991 Astro Van completed. This is first stage of this project, I am planning on lowering the van and getting some new wheels and tires for it as well. I also had a new exhaust with a Flo-Pro muffler installed this week. I discovered the old muffler had a hole in it when my wife complained she could smell the exhaust in the van. I would suggest that you have an everyday vehicle and you are working with a budget, rolling is the way to go! I am very pleased about the look of my van now... a far cry from the sing-a-long road trip van it once was.

Total cost for repairing and painting my van was $233.60 which included paint, sandpaper, body fillers, some tools and the new panel I needed.

Total cost the Chevy dealerships body and collision shop wanted to repair and repaint my van....unknown. But this is how the conversation went.
Me: "so I have some body rot here I want fixed and the van repainted the same color it is now.
The Estimator: "can I ask you a question? How much did you pay for this van?"
Me: "I paid $1900 for it"
The Estimator: " I am going to be honest with you. I can't fix this for you. I would have to charge you more than what you paid for it to fix this hole and repaint it. I would suggest you jam as much bondo in the hole as you can get in there and drive it until it wheels fall off. Then go get another van and do the same."

So there you have it. I count this as a win on my part!
Best wishes on your project!


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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by mapexgurl on November 1st 2010, 9:02 am

It's a major improvement! Good job!

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by ANeat on November 1st 2010, 9:38 am

Heck yea, I like it, the whitewalls even work with the "Rat Rod" look.

Good save on the paint, the weather can really mess things up.

I think if you removed the bowtie from the grill it might complete the "shaved" look (unless there is some goofy mount behind it)

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by Tommy Hillbilly on November 1st 2010, 12:19 pm

Yeah, no doubt. Or even black out the bowtie. Tint the windows darker, and use some of the black-chrome paint on the bare aluminum on the rims, and she will be totally murdered out. You're already 95% of the way there.

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by Poppashango on November 1st 2010, 8:57 pm

mapexgurl wrote:It's a major improvement! Good job!
@mapexgurl Thanks! I saw your project as well and you are doing a major one at that! Your project is going to turn heads for sure! I am predicting your Charger will be the one to set the standard! You Rock!

ANeat wrote:Heck yea, I like it, the whitewalls even work with the "Rat Rod" look.
Good save on the paint, the weather can really mess things up. I think if you removed the bowtie from the grill it might complete the "shaved" look (unless there is some goofy mount behind it)

Tommy Hillbilly wrote:Yeah, no doubt. Or even black out the bowtie. Tint the windows darker, and use some of the black-chrome paint on the bare aluminum on the rims, and she will be totally murdered out. You're already 95% of the way there.
@ANeat and Tommy Hillbilly Thanks! That (The Rat Rod look) is exactly what I was shooting for. I never even heard of the ďMurdered OutĒ look until my son said it. lol
I still have to get my tires and wheels and I am planning on dropping it, but I will post another final when I get to that point. Also you are correct about the bowtie, itís molded right into the grill. My first thought was to paint it black, but then I thought it would look like I just got lazy and didnít mask it off ..lol. So I opted for leaving it. Thanks for your comments!

ANeat, your Dodge is Awesome! I bet people flip out at the before and after and loose their minds when they find out how you painted it.

Tommy keep at it your Five O is coming along and itís going look gooooood!

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by ANeat on November 2nd 2010, 10:21 am

You can call it.

"Shaved and bra-less........a middle aged mans dream ride" Shocked Laughing

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by mapexgurl on November 2nd 2010, 11:16 am

Poppashango wrote:
mapexgurl wrote:It's a major improvement! Good job!
@mapexgurl Thanks! I saw your project as well and you are doing a major one at that! Your project is going to turn heads for sure! I am predicting your Charger will be the one to set the standard! You Rock!



Embarassed Thanks! I hope it turns out like I'm picturing. I don't want to let you down! lol

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by kx59 on November 23rd 2010, 5:19 pm

beautiful Poppa, I've got the same honeycomb cast aluminum wheels on my '89.
I'd love some pointers on how you masked them for painting. Which brings to mind..how'd you mask out the bowtie on your grill?

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by Poppashango on November 23rd 2010, 8:41 pm

kx59 wrote:beautiful Poppa, I've got the same honeycomb cast aluminum wheels on my '89.
I'd love some pointers on how you masked them for painting. Which brings to mind..how'd you mask out the bowtie on your grill?

Thank you for the compliment! When I masked the wheels I ran masking tape along the face of the wheel where the honeycomb and the outer rim meet. Then masked around the outer edge to protect to polished portion. I then took a razor blade and followed along the groove that separates the honeycomb and the out rim, leaving the tape on the just the rim tabs where the honeycombs mount. I hope that makes sense Wink

I shot the rims right on the vehicle as an afterthought...I was looking for another set of wheels (which I found, 1978 Chevy Truck Rally's) so I wasn't going for perfection, I just wanted them black instead of blue for continuity..lol Also, I used the same procedure on the bowtie. Cover entirely and razor off the excess. Best wishes!

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by HD_Jeep on February 9th 2011, 10:04 pm


So this final photo was taken this evening. I have now painted the bumper caps and the air dam.



Great looking work you have done there any update on how its looking and holding up?

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by Poppashango on February 16th 2011, 11:33 pm

Hey HD_Jeep, Thanks for the props! No, I have not done anymore work because of the severe winter we have been experiencing. However I will have more work to come. As of two days ago I discovered yet another hole under the passenger side front door! Evil or Very Mad So I am going to have to check out the whole right side of the van and replace the sheet metal. Also on the list is a new Bell Tech drop kit (2" Drop spindles and a Flip Kit on the rear) which should be here in a week or so. I have also picked up a set of Chevy 8" Steel Truck Rally Wheels from the bone yard and will add them to the final product. I had planned to repaint the sides because I put the final coat on when the temperature dropped too low. This resulted in a dry brush effect which I did not like. But, everyone who saw the van thought it looked great and never noticed any imperfections...maybe I am being too critical. Thanks for the input!


HD_Jeep wrote:
So this final photo was taken this evening. I have now painted the bumper caps and the air dam.



Great looking work you have done there any update on how its looking and holding up?

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by retired plumber on February 19th 2011, 11:02 pm

You are your own harshest critic, at least I know I am mine Laughing There will come a time when you will say "enough is enough".
I really don't care for flat/semi gloss paint (I like flake, pearl, metallic,candy, etc) but I am kinda liking yours. Just don't lower it too much.
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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by 78StangII on February 19th 2011, 11:24 pm

Wow! People out there are still lowering their cars. Around here they try to get them has high as a monster truck. Unbelievable! I think a 2" drop would look good with a nice of wheels.

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by LARRYBOMB on February 20th 2011, 1:24 pm

That van turned great. Nice job on fixing that rusted out panel.

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Thanks!

Post by Poppashango on February 22nd 2011, 3:54 pm

retired plumber wrote:You are your own harshest critic, at least I know I am mine Laughing There will come a time when you will say "enough is enough".
I really don't care for flat/semi gloss paint (I like flake, pearl, metallic,candy, etc) but I am kinda liking yours. Just don't lower it too much.
Mike

Hey Thanks Mike! Believe me..this will be a subtle lowering job. I don't like the slammed look myself. But I just want to eliminate the air between the tire and the wheel well.

Thanks for posting.

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Re: 1991 Astro Van Rat Rod Project

Post by sinformant on February 22nd 2011, 3:57 pm

wow i don't like astro vans much at all, but it looks good in that color. imho it shoud be dropped a hair, possibly have a bright red glossy pin stripe put on. Good job!! and maybe http://www.allstartire.com/p-3973-villain-black.aspx or http://www.allstartire.com/p-3955-phantom-black.aspx

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Thanks!

Post by Poppashango on February 22nd 2011, 4:00 pm

78StangII wrote:Wow! People out there are still lowering their cars. Around here they try to get them has high as a monster truck. Unbelievable! I think a 2" drop would look good with a nice of wheels.

Hey I know raising the height seems to be hoppin' up here too. There are two cars in my area that are lifted and they look cool. Hey you're Mustang rocks! I have always wanted that Body style. I saw a film in driving school way back before video..lol.. that talked about car safety. Ironically, there was a MustangII in it that the kid had lifted a bit, and had wide slicks on the back with those skinny's up front. The narrator was very insistent that this was a bad thing...lol. We all thought it was the coolest car in the movie..LOL

thanks for posting

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New photos to come.

Post by Poppashango on February 22nd 2011, 4:02 pm

LARRYBOMB wrote:That van turned great. Nice job on fixing that rusted out panel.

Thanks Larry...I guess I will be posting more photos on this new repair I am going to have to do this spring/summer..lol

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