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Thread: The "Tan Brick" aka my 1997 Express Cobra conversion

  1. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1project2many View Post

    You can tell if your park brake has the auto tensioner by looking for a single flat piece of metal resting against a clear piece of plastic below the pedal arm. When you apply the brake this piece moves away from the clear plastic and creates friction to hold the drum that pulls the cable.
    I am having a hard time telling based on your description but I snapped some pictures. Tried to get many differemt angles.












  2. #17
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    I have made some progress the last couple of days.

    Got the old shocks off and the new ones on.





    Noticed the rear bump stop/spring thing-a-majigs were wasted.



    Got some new ones even though I plan to ditch this rear-end around fall for the 10.5.



    Rear suspension is looking alot better. I hope the way it drives reflects the time and money invested.



    It seems to sit higher with the new shocks on all 4 corners.


    I got the junkyard hydroboost pedal cleaned up, the pin is closer to the pivot on the Hydroboost pedal on the left.



    I cleaned and test fit the booster and master cylinder.




    With the right parts Hydroboost is a bolt-on swap for a G1500 Express.


    My harness was a mess due to lack of space when doing the 0411 swap a few years ago. I started cleaning up that aspect of the harmess but in doing so basically am having to do the swap over again.







    PCM back in the holder only have the "BLUE" side left to rework, install the hydraulic hoses, install the booster, bleed the brakes, and hope the engine starts and everything works correctly after the wiring harness work. This project has kicked my butt! Oh and I finally ordered wiper cowls and grille clips that GM wants a small fortune for.

    Last edited by Fast355; 05-18-2015 at 09:50 PM.

  3. #18
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    You are going to love the hydroboost. I have converted my 79 cherokee and 93 wrangler and I will NEVER go back to a vac booster.
    79 Jeep Cherokee, AMC 401, T-18 manual trans, hydroboost, 16197427 MPFI system---the toy

    93 Jeep YJ Wrangler, 4.0L, 5 speed, 8.8 rear, homebrew hub conversion and big brakes, hydroboost, 2.5in OME lift, 31x10.50's---the daily driver

    99 Jeep WJ Grand Cherokee limited, 4.0L, auto, 2wd, leather and power everything, 99% stock---the long distance highway ride.

  4. #19
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    Attachment 9042

    The lever (green arrow) is part of a spring wound around the cable take-up. The lever contacts the stop (blue arrow) when the brake pedal is released. This causes the spring to "unwind" slightly and release the take-up. The take-up is spring loaded and attempts to "wind up" the cable and take up slack. When the pedal is pressed the lever moves off the stop, the spring around the take-up contracts, and the take-up is held tight so the park brake can be applied.

  5. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1project2many View Post
    Attachment 9042

    The lever (green arrow) is part of a spring wound around the cable take-up. The lever contacts the stop (blue arrow) when the brake pedal is released. This causes the spring to "unwind" slightly and release the take-up. The take-up is spring loaded and attempts to "wind up" the cable and take up slack. When the pedal is pressed the lever moves off the stop, the spring around the take-up contracts, and the take-up is held tight so the park brake can be applied.
    So it looks like I need that K30 parking brake pedal assembly and the instructions on how to make it work. The parking brake has never applied very well on this Express. In fact if you set the parking brake, put the trans in gear, at anything above idle speed the van will move with the brake set.

  6. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeepsAndGuns View Post
    You are going to love the hydroboost. I have converted my 79 cherokee and 93 wrangler and I will NEVER go back to a vac booster.
    I KNOW!!!! I have driven these with Hydroboost and don't understand why GM cheaped out so much on these Express vans as even the same vintage Astro/Safari vans came with Hydroboost.

    Then again the brainiac that is truly to blame is the idiot that felt the need to offer a 1/2 ton van as an upfitter package for a conversion van. Should have been a 2500 series as a minimum with all the extra stuff it is carrying around. The weight killed the 4L60E TWICE in 78k miles (4L65E spec rebuild went in at 38K) and the 8.5" died shortly after the 4L80E went in. Then again it gets driven a bit hard and was not exactly stock for the 4L65E spec trans and the 8.5s death. As big and heavy as these vans are, NONE of them should have had the 8.5 or the 4L60E for that matter.

  7. #22
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    The G30 cable needs to be cut shorter to work with the K series pedal. On the actual cable are two crimped steel "beads." One is at the end of the cable, the second, a larger rectangular bead, is about 4" - 5" from the end. We cut the "extra" 4-5" off the end and insert the larger rectangular bead into the new pedal. Red arrow shows bead... it must be cut in half.

    GMC offered "2500" vans for upfitters for years that had few observable differences from the half ton cousins.

  8. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1project2many View Post
    The G30 cable needs to be cut shorter to work with the K series pedal. On the actual cable are two crimped steel "beads." One is at the end of the cable, the second, a larger rectangular bead, is about 4" - 5" from the end. We cut the "extra" 4-5" off the end and insert the larger rectangular bead into the new pedal. Red arrow shows bead... it must be cut in half.

    GMC offered "2500" vans for upfitters for years that had few observable differences from the half ton cousins.
    Let me see if I follow. I bet the G1500 cable is the same, atleast on the pedal end. The K30 (Is this the HD truck or your normal K3500 4x4) pedal bolts right on, cut the extra off the cable by cutting that rectangular bead in half.

    I know they offered those. While they are extremely rare, I have seen a couple of conversion vans on G3500 with 454s and 8100s. Most notable one I can remember was sent to Quigley first for a 4wd conversion then went to a high end conversion company. 8100 + 4x4 + Conversion and was pretty tricked out.

  9. #24
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    I looked up a pedal for a 1999 K30 on Ebay, couldn't find one, but found a listing for a K3500. List to be the same pedal from 96-99 in the OBS trucks. I think I have one of these left over from the 1999 K1500 Suburban we parted out.

    http://www.ebay.com/itm/95-98-Chevy-...029b55&vxp=mtr

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    Sorry. I had to run off to a prior appointment.

    Let me see if I follow. I bet the G1500 cable is the same, atleast on the pedal end. The K30 (Is this the HD truck or your normal K3500 4x4) pedal bolts right on, cut the extra off the cable by cutting that rectangular bead in half.
    Yes. The K30 was a normal truck.

    I looked up a pedal for a 1999 K30 on Ebay, couldn't find one, but found a listing for a K3500. List to be the same pedal from 96-99 in the OBS trucks. I think I have one of these left over from the 1999 K1500 Suburban we parted out.
    They probably are the same in all C/K trucks in those years. We had a K30 here to borrow a pedal from on the day we were trying the first swap, so I always ordered a new pedal for that vehicle.

    That 4WD conversion van sounds cool. I once found a Quigley conversion bus at a reasonable price but no matter how I tried I couldn't get upper management to go for it.

  11. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1project2many View Post
    Sorry. I had to run off to a prior appointment.


    Yes. The K30 was a normal truck.


    They probably are the same in all C/K trucks in those years. We had a K30 here to borrow a pedal from on the day we were trying the first swap, so I always ordered a new pedal for that vehicle.

    That 4WD conversion van sounds cool. I once found a Quigley conversion bus at a reasonable price but no matter how I tried I couldn't get upper management to go for it.
    No problem! I got busy with work as well.

    It was threatening rain this evening and the mosquitos are worse. Even Deep Woods OFF was not stopping their thirst for my blood. I only managed to get the wiper cowls fitted. I found a battery terminal puller makes getting the wiper arms off a breeze.


  12. #27
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    Finished up the wiring harness repairs at the PCM this afternoon. Ended up not labeling a wire somehow. Just pinned everything else in and tried to start the van. It started and ran, missing badly. It was luckily and injector wire and was easy to figure out.



    PCM Harness Finished


    Booster & Master Cylinder installed


    At this point if the used Booster and Master cylinder function correctly all I have left is to bleed the brakes and install the hydroboost power steering hoses.

  13. #28
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    Finally finished this project and it has been very worthwhile. Test drive revealed much better handling and ride. The hydroboost/larger bore 1-ton master also works so much better than the vacuum setup. I am having to learn how to brake all over again.


  14. #29
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    Hahaha, I know the feeling. When I did the swap on my wrangler, I had already converted to rear discs and larger dual piston front calipers. I had more pedal travel than stock (but not a unsafe amount) I went from the stock disc/drum 1 inch bore MC, to a 1-1/8 bore disc/disc MC and hydroboost. First time I hit the brakes I thought I was going to stand it on its nose and go through the windshield.
    79 Jeep Cherokee, AMC 401, T-18 manual trans, hydroboost, 16197427 MPFI system---the toy

    93 Jeep YJ Wrangler, 4.0L, 5 speed, 8.8 rear, homebrew hub conversion and big brakes, hydroboost, 2.5in OME lift, 31x10.50's---the daily driver

    99 Jeep WJ Grand Cherokee limited, 4.0L, auto, 2wd, leather and power everything, 99% stock---the long distance highway ride.

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by JeepsAndGuns View Post
    Hahaha, I know the feeling. When I did the swap on my wrangler, I had already converted to rear discs and larger dual piston front calipers. I had more pedal travel than stock (but not a unsafe amount) I went from the stock disc/drum 1 inch bore MC, to a 1-1/8 bore disc/disc MC and hydroboost. First time I hit the brakes I thought I was going to stand it on its nose and go through the windshield.
    Mine was just the opposite. My stock master was 1 1/8" or 28.57mm. I had already stepped up to a 34mm 2003+ Express 1500 master cylinder for disc/disc. With the original master cylinder the pedal was very vague and then transitioned to rock hard with about 1" of height off the floor. With the 34mm newer master cylinder the pedal response was honestly quick, maybe even too quick, but the pedal effort was very high and under panic type braking, it really felt like it had less stopping power than stock and it may very well have. Not really enough to be dangerous IMO, but enough to be noticeable. The 1996-2002 G3500 single rear wheel master cylinder is 1.25" or 31.75mm bore and setup for disc/drum. Its right in the middle of the two extremes above. Perhaps the reason it feels like the best of both worlds. The pedal response is quicker than stock, a little slower than the 03+ master, yet with the Hydroboost the pedal effort is less than it was stock. It would be very difficult to explain the difference to somebody that had not already felt the difference in their own rig. When I first hit the brakes hard, I felt like I was going to face plant the dashboard which is no small feat in a 6,200 lbs Express.

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