Astro Van with LD28

This is where we can post about our rigs, specs, ongoing plans, etc., links to pics.

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dieseldorf
Posts: 187
Joined: 12 years ago
Location: Oracle, AZ

Astro Van with LD28

#1

Post by dieseldorf » 12 years ago

I am starting this thread to introduce my project and answer any questions to folks interested in converting an Astro van to LD28 power. Most of the work is done, engine is running. I could possibly have a test drive today :lol:
All the work was done in my driveway in three months. I imagine, it could be done in shorter time, since I had to wait for some parts.
It seems that the Astro van is a natural donor vehicle for the LD28. I am not a fan of GM or Chevrolet, however upon examining several pick-ups and SUV's, the van promised the best fit. The engine fits perfectly, like the van was made for the LD28. Even the engine mount brackets need little alteration. I chose a basic 1985 "shorty", short wheel base van without all the power-everything crap. Originally it had the 2.5L "Iron Duke" 4 cyl engine and AT. I think this beast weighs as much as the LD28. I insisted on a manual transmission, so I had to install the clutch pedal and the hydraulics for that. Some of the early Astro's (until '89) were available with MT. Although only roughly 1800 were made. So these were very rare. The MT attaches to the original cross member with a simple self made bracket.
I am using the power steering pump from the Astro. It installs on the original Maxi bracket with some alterations. I will use the Astro's AC system with the Nissan compressor (not done yet).
Rough summary ( to be continued):
Special Tools used:
engine hoist
3 ton jack
40A plasma cutter (very helpful, may be rented)
electric welder
Special parts ordered to be made:
oil pan welding $200
drive shaft $300
power steering hose $66
exhaust pipe $120
Other parts:
Air Filter from Buick Century
Plastic air filter connecting pipe from Neon
Radiator from Ford (Taurus?)
Power steering pump original Astro however, the Maxi pump can be used if the hose is made longer.
I will post some pictures next time.
Last edited by dieseldorf 5 years ago, edited 3 times in total.
Astro Van with LD28 propulsion
'84 Mercedes 190D 2.2L 5-Speed Manual purchased 06/12 SOLD 06/13
'86 Ford Escort Wagon Diesel MT Sold 07-17-08

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asavage
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Location: Duvall, Wash.
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#2

Post by asavage » 12 years ago

I sure hope you took lots of pics along the way, because this is a conversion that my boss has been trying to talk me into for months!
Regards,
Al S.

1982 Maxima diesel wagon, 2nd & 4th owner, 165k miles, rusty & burgundy/grey. Purchased 1996, SOLD 16Feb10
1983 Maxima diesel wagon, 199k miles, rusty, light yellow/light brown. SOLD 14Jul07
1981 720 SD22 (scrapped 04Sep07)
1983 Sentra CD17, 255k, bought 06Jul08, gave it away 22Jun10.

goglio704
Posts: 726
Joined: 14 years ago
Location: East Tennessee

#3

Post by goglio704 » 12 years ago

dieseldorf,

Thank you very much for the post. I had never considered the Astro van for an LD28 swap. Keep us posted on your progress, please!
Matt B.

83 Maxima Sedan, LD28, 5 speed, white, 130k miles. My original Maxima.
83 Maxima Sedan converted from gasser, LD28, 5 speed, 2 tone blue, 230k miles
82 Maxima Sedan, LD28, 3 speed auto, 2 tone Gray/Silver, 140k miles
81 810 Sedan, LD28, 3 speed auto, rust, rust, and more rust!

2005 Jeep Liberty CRD

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dieseldorf
Posts: 187
Joined: 12 years ago
Location: Oracle, AZ

Update

#4

Post by dieseldorf » 12 years ago

I did my first test drive around the block. I could not drive any farther because of the noise. I do not have any muffler installed yet, only the down pipe.
So far, no problems. I am waiting for the weather to improve a bit to continue on this project. Currently we have the worst weather in the nation :x I finished engine wiring. Having the wiring diagram, I could modify the original wiring for the diesel engine. However, not all could be adapted.
I need to install an after-market water temperature gage. The original gage will not work with the Nissan sensor. I used the "check engine' light as the GP indicator light and another unused light for the oil pressure warning light. An alternator charging lamp had to be also installed.
To do list:
exhaust, speedometer hookup, gear-shift stick extension, AC, fresh interior.
In the future, a new paint.
Astro Van with LD28 propulsion
'84 Mercedes 190D 2.2L 5-Speed Manual purchased 06/12 SOLD 06/13
'86 Ford Escort Wagon Diesel MT Sold 07-17-08

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dieseldorf
Posts: 187
Joined: 12 years ago
Location: Oracle, AZ

Progress in pictures

#5

Post by dieseldorf » 12 years ago

Image
Old "Iron Duke" ready to be pulled
Image
Right engine mount with original LD28 cushion
Image
Left mount, taken from Astro's tranny support

Image
Preparing the engine for a new timing chain
Image
Top time marks aligned
Image
Oil pan cut-out

Image
New oil suction pipe installed

Image
Oil suction pipe support. One of the crankshaft bearing caps has a M8 threaded hole that I used to bolt the pipe bracket to.
Image
Reversed oil pan installed

Image
LD28 and tranny go in.
Last edited by dieseldorf 11 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
Astro Van with LD28 propulsion
'84 Mercedes 190D 2.2L 5-Speed Manual purchased 06/12 SOLD 06/13
'86 Ford Escort Wagon Diesel MT Sold 07-17-08

User avatar
dieseldorf
Posts: 187
Joined: 12 years ago
Location: Oracle, AZ

More pictures

#6

Post by dieseldorf » 12 years ago

Image
Radiator fan and power steering pump installed
Image
Radiator (Ford) installed
Image
All connected
Image
Tranny mount and custom drive shaft
Last edited by dieseldorf 11 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
Astro Van with LD28 propulsion
'84 Mercedes 190D 2.2L 5-Speed Manual purchased 06/12 SOLD 06/13
'86 Ford Escort Wagon Diesel MT Sold 07-17-08

rlaggren
Posts: 541
Joined: 12 years ago
Location: San Francisco

#7

Post by rlaggren » 12 years ago

Aw, that looks easy... <GG>

Thanks for the pix. Did you take any from the interior? Just wondering what sort of doghouse it's going to get and also if you needed any floor pan cuts.

Did you just bolt the right side engine mount on? What happened with the left side - was that the complete tranny mount and you just drilled holes and bolted it onto the pad? Does the LD mount fit right over that?

My interest is very slightly practical. A buddy and I run a couple plumbing trucks and old Astros are starting to look like the truck of choice. Ford provides the full size vans, but it's approaching $5/call to run a big one and there's a lot of travel you can't bill for. I've read Astros had various options and not all were real work trucks, but some were - and I don't know any other midsize van that comes close to being built heavy enough to take the abuse. Al has done good with a ford middy but he only abuses it once a week!

Cheers, Rufus

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asavage
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#8

Post by asavage » 12 years ago

Rufus, one of our three locksmith service vans that gets heavy-though-rural use is a '98 Astro. It has held up as well as can be expected, but urban use is much harder on them than where I am.

I am just returned from points south, and Chris was generous enough to allow me to visit his Astro LD28 and take a few more pics. No sheet metal was cut or reformed at all in his conversion, aside from a hole in the floor to allow the MT shifter through. The doghouse looks as if it will fit without modification at all; certainly, the engine clears the doghouse perimeter handily.

It's scary how well it fits. Only the oil pan mod is really on the difficult end. The EGR valve is fairly tight but does clear the firewall. Though he didn't use it, the LD28 PS pump could have been used (Chris uses the Chev Four's pump and a remote-mount plastic Volvo reservoir). While the A/C isn't plumbed, there is plenty of room for the compressor etc.

He's finding that the battery location might be a problem. I forgot to ask why the Chev OEM location no longer works.

I was looking at Astros in the JY today, and the Ford radiator Chris chose does give more room than the OEM radiator. I do not know how this impacts the A/C condensor location (if installed).

(click on any image for much larger)
Image Image


Almost an inch of clearance on that fan. Because of my bias, I'd probably go electric fans (more than one) and maybe try for the OEM radiator -- only to get enough room for the A/C condenser. But the fit on Chris' install is really good.
Image



You can't tell from this pic, but there is plenty of clearance from the drag link to the oil pan, and though this perspective doesn't make it look like there's much room, the A/C compressor will fit fine above and to the rear of the drag link.
Image



Here's the left-side motor mount. Practically a bolt-in.
Image


EGR valve is a bit tight but does not contact the sheet metal, at least in the driveway. Under load/torque still to be tested.
Image


There's so much room above the IP, you could swing a cat in there! (though, as a Douglas Adams character remarked in a similar situation, "it would have to be a reasonably patient cat . . . "
Image Image Image


Lots and lots of room on the left, rear, and right.
Image Image Image


I wimped out on underneath shots. I would like to know about trans-top-to-floor clearance (because I would be interested in an AT installation, which is fatter up front), but it obviously all fits.
Last edited by asavage 7 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
Regards,
Al S.

1982 Maxima diesel wagon, 2nd & 4th owner, 165k miles, rusty & burgundy/grey. Purchased 1996, SOLD 16Feb10
1983 Maxima diesel wagon, 199k miles, rusty, light yellow/light brown. SOLD 14Jul07
1981 720 SD22 (scrapped 04Sep07)
1983 Sentra CD17, 255k, bought 06Jul08, gave it away 22Jun10.

plenzen
Posts: 841
Joined: 12 years ago
Location: Cochrane Alberta Canada

#9

Post by plenzen » 12 years ago

Nice job! 8) Ambitious for sure!!
Do you think that it will need a shroud for the fan to help get the air through it, or does the LD usually run cool enough to get away without one :?:

P
Retired Pauly
Problem with being retired is that you never get a day off.
1987 D21-J SD25 KC
KJLGD21FN

goglio704
Posts: 726
Joined: 14 years ago
Location: East Tennessee

#10

Post by goglio704 » 12 years ago

Is it my imagination, or is the engine more upright than it would normally be in the Maxima? In other words, is the cylinder centerline vertical or nearly so?
Matt B.

83 Maxima Sedan, LD28, 5 speed, white, 130k miles. My original Maxima.
83 Maxima Sedan converted from gasser, LD28, 5 speed, 2 tone blue, 230k miles
82 Maxima Sedan, LD28, 3 speed auto, 2 tone Gray/Silver, 140k miles
81 810 Sedan, LD28, 3 speed auto, rust, rust, and more rust!

2005 Jeep Liberty CRD

User avatar
83_maxima
Posts: 423
Joined: 13 years ago
Location: Denver

#11

Post by 83_maxima » 12 years ago

Nice work. Thanks for the thread.

I plan on dropping my spare LD28 into an old Jeep of some sort or a Scout. I don't want to use the Nissan tranny. Would like to mate it to a different trans that will be compatible with the 4WD.

Waiting for someone to do a swap but with an adapter plate. :D

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kassim503
Posts: 1027
Joined: 14 years ago
Location: Stony Brook, NY

#12

Post by kassim503 » 12 years ago

definitley a nice install!

I think the motor seems to be standing a bit proud, but not by much.
'83 maxima sedan, l24e, a/t, black

227K SOLD 6/7/2012

User avatar
dieseldorf
Posts: 187
Joined: 12 years ago
Location: Oracle, AZ

#13

Post by dieseldorf » 12 years ago

To answer some questions.
The original Astro AC condenser will fit in front of the radiator with the original rubber mounts. I will use an electric fan from a Mercedes 300D in front of the condenser and radiator, pushing the air. There is plenty room there and the fan is only 5-6" thick. I think, that the fan is large enough to get rid of the belt driven fan. Two years ago, I drove in June through Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, California and back to Washington with my VW-pickup Diesel without a functioning radiator fan. The fan relay broke in Utah. There was only one risky moment when I was stuck in traffic in Phoenix. I turned the heater fan on and made it trough.
The original battery mount is above the left fender, way to small for a 900 CCA battery. My air filter is mounted there now. The new battery place will be between the front seats (plenty room) or somewhere under the floor. I did not decided yet. Update: use the Interstate MTP-65 battery since the beginning. As of 06/2015 still holding full charge! 8)
And yes, the engine is mounted strait up. There is no reason to tilt it. :lol:
Last edited by dieseldorf 4 years ago, edited 1 time in total.
Astro Van with LD28 propulsion
'84 Mercedes 190D 2.2L 5-Speed Manual purchased 06/12 SOLD 06/13
'86 Ford Escort Wagon Diesel MT Sold 07-17-08

rlaggren
Posts: 541
Joined: 12 years ago
Location: San Francisco

#14

Post by rlaggren » 12 years ago

Chris, you may have started something. And Al's pics make it all look BEEaUtiful. <g>

I also was curious about the tranny mount, and wondering if there is another tranny that would survive better than the Nissan. However, if "phase 1" lasts for a year or so there'll be time to gather funds and energy for changing the tranny in "phase 2". Don't fix it until you break it? <g> Guess the cost of the driveshaft would make you think a bit though.

Al, in past reading (about a year ago) I noticed that some Astro rear springs were some kind of composit (fiberglass?) instead of steel. Owners reported that they didn't last, but it was not a big deal to change them; the bushing also differed. But a friend just got an Astro (mid 90's?) and he says it seems a LOT flimsier than his old one in every way. It sounds like some model variatioins were significant on this vehicle.

Rufus

goglio704
Posts: 726
Joined: 14 years ago
Location: East Tennessee

#15

Post by goglio704 » 12 years ago

dieseldorf wrote:...And yes, the engine is mounted strait up. There is no reason to tilt it. :lol:
Doesn't that mean the trans is now tilted? Oh, and just to be clear, I'm not being critical, just curious. Very nice work.
Matt B.

83 Maxima Sedan, LD28, 5 speed, white, 130k miles. My original Maxima.
83 Maxima Sedan converted from gasser, LD28, 5 speed, 2 tone blue, 230k miles
82 Maxima Sedan, LD28, 3 speed auto, 2 tone Gray/Silver, 140k miles
81 810 Sedan, LD28, 3 speed auto, rust, rust, and more rust!

2005 Jeep Liberty CRD

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