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Astro update

Barry Cade

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Just back from a couple of days away in the Astro, did  about 200 miles, and it seems to be doing 22mpg, which is better than expected, but more painful than I imagined, especially when the tank holds 27 gallons, sk if you splash out and put 50 quid in it, it disappoints and disapproves and shows a quarter of a tank. 😔

It's about 80% a camper now, still got a proper sink/cooker to put in, as well as some sort of fridge, but its perfectly usable and very comfy. We spent the night at Glenshee and it got down to just above freezing but we're were toasty but I do think the 5kw Diesel heater is a bit of overkill. A 2kw would have been better but are more expensive and harder to find. The Eberspacher I had in the Vito was more controllable but they are £1000 more...

I built a  split charge setup with voltage sensing relays,  but a night out a few weeks ago left me with a very slow starter in the morning. A whiff of Camping Gaz got us going but it seemed like the relays were allowing both batteries to be drained..  now swapped for a different system and it's cured the issue. I am still using a 11 year old Ford Focus battery as the habitation power though 😁

The bed is proper comfy and I always sleep better in a van than a house. Bed is longer than a standard bed too, which is great as I'm 6ft4. Last night I was sitting in 24 degrees, feet up, with a Wießbeer reading RIDE magazine at the top of the Cairnwell Pass at 2200ft, listening to the Grouse and deer. The clouds even cleared for a while to see the stars!

I do have a noise from one of the pulleys,actually I think it's the alternator,  so I'll have to check that out but otherwise I'm up to date with maintenence etc. It's had a full service, and coolant flushed, etc . It's far from being the easiest thing to work on, and to get to the rear of the engine, all the Starcraft wood has to come out, followed by the Chevy plastic and then the metal doghouse. I had it running with everything off and it feels like you are working in a blast furnace.. 


I've fitted a swivel passengers seat too, which gives so much more space and opens up the whole van. Obviously you can't get an off the shelf one here in the UK, so I got a universal one and set out to make it work, with the huge,heavily padded leather captains  chair. I keep all my leftover towbar brackets and bolts and got the whole thing fitted only needing to drill 2 holes.. result! It still works electrically and looks standard. Only thing is I had to fit the swivel unit upside down so the lever doesn't turn with the seat.. not a big deal.20231011_144321.thumb.jpg.72b91e4befb2ba99c7646bdc320aceb3.jpg20231011_162836.thumb.jpg.c8d6417bb5dd2f29033275ae7f9b4483.jpg20231011_182949.thumb.jpg.6c6c6d916b9becd62f98883a409cdfe6.jpg

Looking forward to testing out the AWD if the snow comes, these things are supposed to be pretty capable, would like some All Season white letter tyres though..



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  • 3 months later...

Bugger. Had a slight loss of coolant in the Astro for months now, which recently turned into a big loss of coolant.Had to take all the dash apart to see what was happening, and access is..... a little restricted. Water was pouring down the back of the cylinder heads and I concluded the inlet manifold gaskets had finally given up gasketing, so I pulled off the plenum and the inlet manifold. Its a squeeze, but you are working inside, diesel heater keeping the chill off and some good tunes on the radio..The old gaskets were rock hard and took some serious work to get the faces cleaned up. Got a pair of proper Fel-Pro gaskets and built it back up. I filled up the radiator, then left it for another day as half eleven at night working on an old American van in the street late at night was causing some curtain twitching..

I went out this evening to get a bit more done, and there was water pouring down the back of the cylinder heads...  Turns out it was a heater hose that had gone all squdgy and had some tiny cracks, and the leak was running down, straight into the Vee but was pretty impossible to see from inside or from under the bonnet..... Harumph.



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