1. bigmoparjeff

    bigmoparjeff Senior Member

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    Ever start a project that you knew was a mistake right from the beginning, but you did it anyway? Here's one of those projects:

    A long time acquaintance of mine is pretty much an expert at destroying vehicles, whether it be by crashes or mechanical abuse. Two of his latest victims have been sitting at my house for at least the last two years after the township made him get them off his property. He was considering junking them, but being a person who can't stand to see things that still have life in them go to waste, I ended up purchasing the pair.

    I've done quite a bit of work to both vans since he purchased them. Both are model year 2000, a Town & Country LXi, and Dodge Grand Caravan Sport. Right now I'm working on getting the Dodge back up to snuff. It's been off the road for at least four years now, after he ran it out of oil and spun a bearing. That wasn't too long after I did a total brake job, front and rear, along with a timing chain, oil pan, and a bunch of other work to it. Earlier this year my father's '92 Custom Cruiser was retired due to a rusty frame, so I figured I could get the Dodge into the shop and have it back on the road in fairly short order. I already had an engine and trans sitting in the shop that we got at a u-pull-it a couple years ago, so I ordered up a truckload of parts from Rock Auto that I knew that I would need for the job.

    What I didn't plan on was how much the van deteriorated from sitting for four years, two of those parked over grass. This van had been much better than average when it came to rust, and I was quite shocked to see how bad it had gotten from sitting. All the brake parts that had been replaced were now junk and needed to be done again. I'm pretty OCD when it comes to rust, so something was going to have to be done about the mess underneath the van, and now it's become a restoration project.

    My father's '94 Town Car is on it's last year due to frame rust, so the Dodge will be replacing that car, and I'm hoping that we can get ten years of mostly trouble free driving out of it. Here we go!

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    Crusty and rusty front end parts
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    Rusty in the back too
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    Brake lines at ABS pump
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    Rear axle out for clean-up
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    Not sure how well ABS would work with this much corrosion on tone wheel
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    Brackets off for blasting mv brackets.jpg

    Blasted and painted. Much better!
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    Rear axle cleaned up
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    Painted
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    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
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  2. bigmoparjeff

    bigmoparjeff Senior Member

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    Drivetrain out. That rusty booster is going to have to go.
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    Steel lines for rear heat rusty and leaking. Wouldn't want to do these with engine in the van.
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    Engine is actually still pretty clean inside.
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    Fuel pump failed while I was using it to pump out the tank. Add that to the order.
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    Original knuckle next to eBay knuckle from California.
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    Rock Auto to the rescue!
    IMG_7408.JPG
     
    Last edited: Jul 23, 2019
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  3. odcics2

    odcics2 Active Member

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    PA road salt works!!

    Looks like you are taking care of all the needed updates!

    :thumbsup:
     
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  4. Rapidtrans777

    Rapidtrans777 Well-Known Member FCBO Gold Member

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    You must really love mopar minivans.
     
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  5. bigmoparjeff

    bigmoparjeff Senior Member

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    I do like the design, and they are comfortable to drive. Before making the purchase, I did go out and look at one of the many $1500 vans on Craigslist. Even though it looked great in the pictures, it needed a bunch of work and had more rust than either of these, so I decided it was best to just stick with what I had.
     
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  6. BIGBARNEYCARS

    BIGBARNEYCARS Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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    I'd guess you already know those wheels are 5X114MM? I scoured the country to find 4 Silver Snow Flakez that would fit my 2000 Grand Caravan. Think I don't like hubcaps? Good luck with your swappin' out Jeff. I like what I see happenin', OH Yeah? You do know you can buy 3/16 line in 20'- 25' lengths that'll bend like ah pretzel without it crimping don't you? Or you can pick up a length of 3/16" shielding and do the same thing old fashioned way if you can't find the 3/16" flex line, Jer
     
  7. bigmoparjeff

    bigmoparjeff Senior Member

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    Thanks for the info! I think you'll be surprised at how the brake lines will be handled. Saving that for a future episode, once I see how things go.
     
  8. MarPar

    MarPar Meat Man with a Hat FCBO Gold Member

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    Still in Dry Dock
    :wideyed:
     
  9. mrfury68

    mrfury68 Well-Known Member

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    Here in SW Pennsylvania the body panels rot away before the rust has a chance to start on the hard parts.
     
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  10. bigmoparjeff

    bigmoparjeff Senior Member

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    Haven's spent as much time as I would have liked on the van project, but here are the latest progress pics:

    Decided to replace the ball joints and control arm bushings. Bushings are a real nut buster to get out. I recommend just buying the complete new arm assemblies.
    IMG_8019.JPG

    Bushing had to come out in pieces and outer sleeve cut with saw to get it to loosen in the control arm
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    Blasted and assembled arms ready for paint.
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    Blasted knuckles, subframe bushings, and hardware.
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    Bought four new hub assemblies. I had four used ones that felt fine, but figured that the grease was probably pretty dry by now and it was worth the $100 investment for new ones.
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    Some of the finished parts. IMG_8165.JPG

    Resealing power steering pump
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    Finished unit ready for paint.
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    Rusty coolant lines and booster.
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    New coolant line assembly and nicer used booster installed.
    IMG_8085.JPG

    Jeff
     
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  11. 71Polara383

    71Polara383 Kid with ballcap FCBO Gold Member

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    I don't know how many of those I ripped apart and fed to the crusher while working at a local boneyard. Feels good seeing some get some loving and being saved. Nice work!
     
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  12. bigmoparjeff

    bigmoparjeff Senior Member

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    The '96-2000's are getting scarce in the junkyards these days. Five years ago there would always be at least 20 of them in the big u-pull-it near me, now there's usually only 3 to 5 at any one time.
     
  13. BIGBARNEYCARS

    BIGBARNEYCARS Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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    AH Jeff. Nobody ever told you about www.car-part.com? They advertise 140,000,000 partz in their inventory and most have 800#s. Type it in just the way I'm sending it to you with the .s and -s and scroll down 'til you find the one that mentions the 140 Million partz or you'll be on the wrong site. Sorry C-Body Car-budz , Some places say that they have the old stuff but the truth iz mostly FWD stuff from 1980 on up. .... I've got Four bone yardz within a half hour of me here in Wilmington, N.C. and they've all got 20 of more mopar Mini's in 'um. When I got tail ended in January, I found a 2000 Grand Caravan in one of those yardz that was even in my color. My pealing roof got a new squirt plus clear coat out of that little deal. Only thing the body shop had to do waz swap my good rear wiper blade for the junk that waz on the T-gate I bought, Jer
     
    Last edited: Aug 19, 2019
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  14. bigmoparjeff

    bigmoparjeff Senior Member

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    Thanks for the tip on car part! Keep in mind that up north we are about five years ahead of you in the junk cycle due to rust. The quarters and rockers rust out pretty bad on these vans up here, and that's why there aren't many in the yards any more. Right now our yards are full of the '01-'07 vans, which rust even worse than the '96-'00, and the u-pull-it's are starting to get quite a few of the '08 and up body style in too.

    I found a very nice '00 Dodge Grand caravan ES in my local U-pull-it that I got lots of stuff off of for the project. Installation of those items will be in future episodes. I couldn't find decent knuckles around here that weren't all crusty, so I had to get those from California, along with a nice ABS unit from the same ebay seller.

    Jeff
     
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  15. bigmoparjeff

    bigmoparjeff Senior Member

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    Engine, trans, and fuel tank fresh from taking a bath.
    IMG_8078.JPG

    I've got three engine harnesses: The original one from the van was chewed by a ground hog. Someone cut off some of the connectors from the junkyard harness before we grabbed the engine. I was happy to find a third harness in my parts collection, until I noticed that I had cut off some of the connectors for some reason. :(
    IMG_8080.JPG

    Disassembling the junkyard engine.
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    Not horrible, but not as clean inside as I had hoped it would be. Actually a bit grimier than the bad engine that came out. Looks real dry inside because we took it out 2 or 3 years ago and it's been sitting in the shop since.
    IMG_8163.JPG

    Chain is sloppy, but I've seen worse. Probably has 130-160K miles on it. Crank sprocket is a nut-buster to get off and usually requires some heat.
    IMG_8166.JPG

    Common failure point on 3.3 and 3.8 engines. Timing cover was re-sealed before and is due again.
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    New Cloyes chain set installed. Only about $40 from Rock Auto.
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    World's narrowest intake manifold.
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    Putting new O-rings on the fuel injectors. Blue are genuine Mopar, black are aftermarket.
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    Going back together.
    IMG_8179.JPG

    Jeff
     
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  16. bigmoparjeff

    bigmoparjeff Senior Member

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    Repaired and re-wrapped wire harness. Ended up using the one that the ground hog chewed.
    8186b.jpg
    Lots of shiny new parts!
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    Had some reservations about buying this rebuilt starter off of ebay. Not sure if it's really the same Lucas that's known for electrical problems on older British cars. Not too many companies are rebuilding things in the US anymore, so I decided to give them a shot.
    IMG_8200.JPG

    Probably not the safest technique for installing the engine, but I managed to roll it around without knocking it off the wood blocks. IMG_8201.JPG

    Wouldn't want to do this without a lift.
    IMG_8202.JPG

    Starting to feel like I'm making some progress now. :D
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    Genuine Mopar? Or an Anchor or DEA mount with a Mopar sticker?
    8205b.jpg

    I keep my "cheat sheet" close by. Much easier than finding the photos I took of the disassembly process.
    IMG_8195.JPG

    Jeff
     
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  17. BIGBARNEYCARS

    BIGBARNEYCARS Senior Member FCBO Gold Member

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  18. bigmoparjeff

    bigmoparjeff Senior Member

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    Last week's progress:

    Tried to clean out the inside so I could read the level. Didn't work and waste of time. Rock Auto has new, genuine Mopar for $13. Unfortunately, the best price I could find for the hose that goes from the reservoir to the pump was around $60, and mine was petrified.
    8248b.jpg

    Clever design: battery tray is also vacuum reservoir.
    IMG_8211.JPG

    Probably still works fine, but cruise servo too rusty to reuse. Found better in junkyard.
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    Left side of engine bay pretty much finished.
    IMG_8243.JPG

    The electric fan relay is hidden under the left headlamp. It's also the air intake for the engine, so they're using the air flow for extra cooling.
    8219b.jpg

    Jeff
     
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  19. bigmoparjeff

    bigmoparjeff Senior Member

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    The rack and pinion unit that was in the Dodge is rusty and leaking, which is a shame, since I put new inner tie rod ends on it a while back. I had a much nicer rack in my parts inventory, so that got installed.
    IMG_8221.JPG

    Lower sub frame bushings were pretty bad. Still available from Chrysler for a reasonable price. Front and rear are a different part number and different rubber compound. Luckily, uppers were still ok as they are fairly expensive.
    IMG_8222.JPG

    Inline Tube makes stainless brake line kits for these vans, though they have the application incorrect. They have them listed on ebay and say they fit vans with ABS, rear height valve, and rear disc brakes. First off, vans with ABS didn't use the rear height valve. Second, as far as I can tell, the lines are bent for rear drum brakes, which by far, would be most common. Some of the lines are still available from Chrysler, but it won't do much good, since you'll need all of them.
    7423b.jpg

    Completed sub frame ready to go back in.
    8225b.jpg

    Would have liked to use my transmission jack for this, but too much work to get it out from where it's buried. Put it on my cart, and lowered the van down onto it.
    IMG_8227.JPG

    Half shafts need blasting and some paint, but I forgot to take a pic of the finished product.
    7693b.jpg

    Installed sub frame. There's quite a bit of available movement on these, so you're supposed to mark things before taking them apart, though the mounts will leave pretty decent witness marks on the body to show where it was.
    IMG_8245.JPG

    Possibly my least favorite Chrysler idea of all time: using silicone to seal the trans pan. A major pain in the ass when just doing a service and still have fluid dripping when you want to put the pan back on. I tried using the gaskets that come with the filter kit, but they leak, probably due to the totally flat mounting surface on the pan. The original pan had a hole drilled in it by the junkyard. Was going to weld it, but got a new one for $15, so it wasn't worth the trouble to get the welder out.
    IMG_8228.JPG

    Engine and trans pretty much done. Waiting on parts to complete both suspension and radiator installs.
    IMG_8247.JPG

    Jeff
     
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  20. 65sporty

    65sporty Old Man with a Hat

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    Quite the project there. It all looks really familiar to me, but I have seen lots of them in the shop over the years. Your doing some great work, it should last your Dad for many years to come.:thumbsup:
     
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